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post #61 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by es2mac
Is ABX testing the only way?
I mean, is there any measurements of sorts?

btw ProtoCat, I AM on my third pair of stock cables for my HD600. one time a sennheiser t-shirt came with it
ABXing would suit the needs of those who claim 'you need to hear it to understand' since the double-blind test is literally comfirming you're hearing *something* (not nessicarily what you think you're hearing, only that you hear a difference)..

Personally, the recent thread I saw in the headphone forums about Headroom's measurements made me a bit curious. If there is an audiable difference between interconnects and cables, then there should also be a physically measureable way to prove a difference, no matter how minute. The changes people describe in the various ranges of highs, mids, lows, etc. -- Should all be able to be measured physically. I think that this would be a bit of a challenge few aftermarket cable providers and their followers would really like to see, since I'm fairly certain that it'll really confirm diminishing returns (I'm still open to the idea of at least *some* return, however) and there will be another slew of arguements that it's something 'you have to hear' (Once again putting the ball back in ABX's court).

Really, all I want is stuff to just *last*. Eventually I'll be moving to Omega IIs and that'll just really be the end of the entire set of questions for myself -- if there's better out there, I've already assured friends and loved ones they could beat me to death with the gold brick it'd cost to buy it.
post #62 of 66
Quote:
If there is an audible difference between interconnects and cables, then there should also be a physically measurable way to prove a difference, no matter how minute.
That's right. It's hard to accept audible differences with components that show no significant deviations in the measurings. Even harder in the case of a component which doesn't seem to be able to alter the signal at all because it simply consists of electrical conductors. While I can't offer an explanation for the very clear sonic differences caused by cables I hear, specifically headphone replacement cables, I'm ready to accept them as a fact. Actually you have the same situation with amplifiers: in most cases no significant measuring differences, but very distinct individual sonic characteristics.

Now what's mainly used for measuring amps are sine waves, and what's measured are frequency response, S/N ratio, harmonic and intermodulation distortion. But does anybody pretend to hear differences with sine waves? You even would have troubles to distinguish top high-end speakers from cheap consumer ware that way. Nevertheless that's what's demanded from measuring equipment. It's no surprise to see it failing at a certain point. What would be necessary is to measure the behavior with complex dynamic signals. I'm sure corresponding oscillograms would show easily detectable deviations. The difficulty in this connection is that there are no corresponding normed signals and it would be hard to interpret and especially to valuate the deviations. I don't think that's the reason why this method isn't practiced, let alone established, although I can imagine that the commonly relatively conservative and technocratic attitude of measuring technicians who are used to have numbers to do the rating would have troubles to do the latter's job. No, I guess it's rather the established opinion that the current measuring methods are appropriate and deviating listening impressions must be imagined.

It's healthy to keep a certain skepticism in the field of audio. There's enough snake oil and enough potential for self-delusion. But it is a very bad thing to give up with trusting yourself, your own ears, and just trust data. How could you ever evaluate gear matching your individual taste, say speakers, if you just rely on specs, without auditioning? Well, this may be a not so lifelike scenario, because speakers show very big differences audible even with untrained ears, so normally you would chose your preferred pair (or quintet) of speakers on the basis of a preliminary audition. But what if the differences are more subtle, say with CD players or amps? Here's where the attitudes begin to differ. Some say there are no audible differences. Based on what? Maybe some promises about the «perfect» sound from CDs no matter what player, or the specs that show no significant differences... What if you believe to hear differences? Are you obliged to doubt them and call for blind tests? Of course not! Why should there be no audible differences! The same applies to cables, although they make sonic differences even harder to understand or accept.

But please (!) don't give up to trust yourself, your ears! It would be a poor world if nobody would believe in his own capabilities, his own senses. Do you own a record player? You may know that it requires quite a bit of fine-tuning to sound at its best (tracking force, tracking angles...). The perceived differences from the single steps in such a procedure are quite subtle, and you have to approach yourself to the ideal sound with several detours. Can you imagine to do the same thing with constant blind ABX comparisons? It's not possible, and it would take the whole pleasure away, let alone the feeling for the subtleties. I can tell you that the simpler above procedure works fine and leads to satisfying up to perfect results. BTW, as a former speaker builder I can tell that with speakers, at least for the finishing polish with the sound tuning (of the crossover network) you need your own ears, not just measuring equipment. Nothing can replace them. Although I know people who pretend the opposite. I wonder if they could convince an instrument builder...

post #63 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by JaZZ
[b]
If such sonic differences shouldn't be confirmed in blind tests, I'd heavily doubt the validity of such tests.
But you know there still is an alternative: doubting the validity of one's subjective impressions. The crucial question is: why do you think it would be more appropriate to doubt the validity of blind tests? What is the basis of your choice? It is a tricky problem, I admit.


Regards,

L.
post #64 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leporello
But you know there still is an alternative: doubting the validity of one's subjective impressions. The crucial question is: why do you think it would be more appropriate to doubt the validity of blind tests? What is the basis of your choice? It is a tricky problem, I admit.
That's something everybody has to decide for himself. My own perception is no proof for someone else, but blind tests with (possible) negative results are no proof for me. Actually they are no proof in an absolute sense, because they just can show that no test person could detect significant differences in a single case, not that it's principally impossible or that there are no differences to detect.

My point is that nobody doubts audible differences with speakers and headphones, only few doubt audible differences with digital sources and amps, but quite some people doubt audible differences with cables. I say the differences are only gradual; there is no reason to call for blind tests when the audible results are clear enough, independent of the category.

I don't remember a single case (may have missed it) where a person has found no difference between the stock HD-600/-650 cable and one of the popular aftermarket cables. All calls for blind tests come from people who haven't heard them, with at the same time clearly reserved attitude towards cable sound.

post #65 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by JaZZ
[/i]But please (!) don't give up to trust yourself, your ears! It would be a poor world if nobody would believe in his own capabilities, his own senses.
I never for a moment stopped trusting my own ears. If I thought my hearing was poor, I wouldn't ever have bothered with ABX tests in the first place, having written it off as not being able to hear a difference at all. As it stands, I used to do pretty extensive ABX testing on various lossy compression encoders as a hobby. I think that's where a lot of my perspective on this subject is coming from.

When it comes to measurements, I agree with you to an extent, as there's a similar equiv when it comes to lossy compression. A lot of people have mistakenly thought that they could judge quality of compressed sound by spectrum analysis. As someone put it, 'You don't listen to a picture'. A good lossy encoder is supposed to rip out and mangle a lot in the name of compressing -- that's the whole point. Not to say spectrum analysis is completely worthless in this, but given that the only real way to know what's going on is to listen to it, you need a methodology. This is *science*, not an *art*. So, you need a way of confirming what you hear as actually there to better tune what you are working on, else you could be running in circles for the rest of your life.

However, when it comes to the subject of cables, there's just no way around the fact that if it's changing qualities of sound, down to certain frequency ranges as many have claimed, then actual measurements of the headphones themselves in a controlled environment where the same source, amp, etc. are all being used at consistant levels should be able to be detect changes in response. That's a bit foregoing actual measurement of the cables themselves, but instead measuring the final result. If there's nothing noticible as a result, then we can all just go home and use zip cord. If there's something there, then ABX can come into this to see if we can actually really hear and appreciate such a difference.

I'm not sure how to respond to your assertion that ABXing is not possible nor is it pleasurable. I know it's certainly possible, because I've done blind testing with sound before, what we're discussing is sound and really not any different or special than trying to judge and tune lossy compression. For the pleasure part I think that depends entirely on the person, I happen to rather enjoy experiments and science. I enjoy my music as much as the next person here, but I don't exactly enjoy spending more than I really need to for an optimal (or in some cases, sub-optimal [!]) experience. I could be using that money on more music, instead!

Anyway, I'm going to duck out of this thread and go back to lurking for massive ammounts of time again, since while this has remained a very civil conversation (which I *really* appreciate) this is one of those things that everyone is going to be divergent of opinions on and everyone is 'right' -- myself no exception. Thanks again, guys!
post #66 of 66
I'd love to see a blind test where said blinded testers were first asked to listen the stock cable, then told they were being switched to some other high end cable...but actually the same stock cable was still in play (i.e., no switch was ever made).

I guarantee that, given a large enough sample size, there absolutely will be some listeners who will wax on with gushing, glorious hyperbole over how much better the "upgraded cable" sounds, when in fact they've been listening to the stock cable the whole time.

That said, I am a believer that better components (including cables) generally equals better (or at least different) sound...but there's not doubt that there is at least some mental aspect in play here.

Peace,

Graz
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