Audiophile Placebo
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ILikeMusic

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Bojamijams /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Good counter point.



A little sarcastic perhaps (sorry), but surely you see the (multiple) logical fallacies in the original statement?
 
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post-5630987
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dharma

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ILikeMusic /img/forum/go_quote.gif
And therefore, if there are people who can tell a difference between a $6 and a $600 power cord then there are people who can wave their arms and fly.


Yeah, but same way i can ask, why some guy who is saying in one thread, that he do'nt hear any differencies between lossy 245kbs audio signal and lossless audio signal, is saying in other thread, that there is no any difference between any cables (power or audio), because he do'nt hear it ... (and demands scientific proof, that there is difference in cables). Where is scientific self criticism??
 
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ILikeMusic

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Quote:

Originally Posted by dharma /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Yeah, but same way i can ask, why some guy who is saying in one thread, that he do'nt hear any differencies between lossy 245kbs audio signal and lossless audio signal, is saying in other thread, that there is no any difference between any cables (power or audio), because he do'nt hear it ... (and demands scientific proof, that there is difference in cables). Where is scientific self criticism??


I don't know if you're refering to my comments specifically, but I'm not saying (nor are most others) that you can't hear a difference in cables because I can't, rather just because it is physically impossible. I can't fly by flapping my arms but that doesn't stop me from knowing that you can't either.

Beyond that I'm not sure I'm understanding your question...
 
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shigzeo

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the flying comment was actually perfect. the comment that was referenced was about expensive cables i think and how there is probably placebo there. but you cannot take placebo from an expensive digital cable and not apply to unshielded parts or this solder versus that solder.

the point i think that was broken was that by saying people who have really good gear and maybe even perfect pitch, golden ears and bottled hands have nothing better to determine quality than anyone else. if you have a flawless system -- flawless, your listening is still influenced by outside sources. what made you buy that brand versus another?

people who drop more money into a system are probably more likely to hear things that are not there because they have to.

a recent stereophile article that made its way around headfi is of course nothing new but pertinent to say the least.

if the original argument was in support of people who have really high end systems, the arguer cannot then discount high end monster cables as by default, high end components from other manufacturers should be discounted as well and then eventually the system unravels. what is indicated by bringing up monster is that there is brand awareness that sneaks up into our opinions and probably especially the opinions of owners of the most distinguished systems on the planet.
 
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Omega

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This topic of placebo has come up multiple times, but this thread is the most germane so far
.

Something I've always wondered about placebo effect:

Say you have a medical condition called "blue-foot-itis" and go see a doctor. There is no clinically approved treatment for blue feet. So your doc prescribes a sugar pill and says "this is a sample of a new drug that will hit the market next week. It completely eradicates the blue footed condition. It is awesome." You take the pill, leave the office, and that night your feet become slightly less blue. And then your foot turns gangrene and falls off.

Now, sugar pills do not cause feet to fall off, everyone knows this. You were just unlucky, or had a pre-existing gangrene condition. Will you sue the doc for malpractice? After all, she knowingly prescribed a placebo treatment to you and might have failed to treat your foot-falling-off-ness. Still, she obeyed every clinical procedure and neither she nor anyone else could not have foreseen the foot-falling-off problem.

This is the reason why doctors don't prescribe placebo--liability. I've always wondered why placebo is not an approved clinical treatment when there is nothing else available. I mean, surely any positive benefit is worth pursuing in cases where there is no alternative? I've never heard of negative placebo in a clinical setting.

However, for fields where there is no risk of death/liability, why not make use of placebo? Tell all your dinner friends that this bottle of wine is very exclusive and costs $120. Buy expensive audiophile treatments for your cables (which may be a poor value in cables, but much cheaper than buying equivalent improvement in room treatment/source/amplification/etc). Tell your husband that your ring really should "be" top-grade, flawless, colorless diamond from Tiffany, regardless of what and where be buys. I mean, people engage in self-deception all the time. Except for isolated circumstances in medicine where an alternative treatment would be worthwhile, where's the harm in taking advantage of placebo?
 
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post-5631331
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dharma

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ILikeMusic /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I don't know if you're refering to my comments specifically, but I'm not saying (nor are most others) that you can't hear a difference in cables because I can't, rather just because it is physically impossible. I can't fly by flapping my arms but that doesn't stop me from knowing that you can't either.

Beyond that I'm not sure I'm understanding your question...



No, 'question' was'nt adressed directly to you...

And i do'nt ask from you to list all those scientific researches on what ground you are believing/stating 'it is physically impossible' (not so many are willing to find all those scientific researches, what they are talking about).

Before hot air ballone was invented, every rational and normal person could say: 'it is physically impossible' to fly, and yes they were right, because at this moment nobody could do it (there was no nolidge, scillful means, ...).

Happily those 'it is physically impossible' things are happening all time even in science.

We could not measure/study many things in even recent past (there was no devices, no methodology...), but it does'nt mean that we can't do it in future because 'it is physically impossible'.
 
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ILikeMusic

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Omega /img/forum/go_quote.gif
... where's the harm in taking advantage of placebo?


There is none. The reason the issue comes up so often here is that if people repeatedly mention how 'copper sounds warmer than silver' (etc.) and no one calls them on it then some poor newbie might actually believe that there's some reality to it. Anyone's allowed to believe anything they want of course but the counterpoint argument is important. If they're heard the debate and still want to to believe then more power to 'em... there is one born every minute after all and they need stuff to buy.
 
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Catharsis

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Hirsch /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Thank you. I assume that we can agree that a person with perfect pitch is going to hear music a bit differently than those of us who don't have that capability.

However, it's also important to remember that many auditory discriminations are learned phenomena. The more we experience and learn, the better we will be at making small discriminations. To switch areas, look at wine tasting. A good wine taster may be able to taste a wine, tell where it came from, and approximately when it was made. I don't drink wine, so give me the same test, and I'll simply say "I like it" or "I don't like it", but wouldn't have a clue about going further. You can't identify what a Bordeaux wine tastes like unless you've tasted Bordeaux wines, along with other wines, and learned to tell the difference. The same type of learning applies to audio. If you haven't had a wide variety of audio experiences, you're not going to be able to interpret the raw sensory input in the same way as someone who has had a lot of experience with different gear.




I can see where we're going with this (regarding a number of recent posts - not only by Hirsch). I think we're getting mixed up with acute senses, and expectation bias.

Different wines taste different because they are. You can run the wine through a chromatograph thingy and spectrometer and you'll notice that there are actual MEASURABLE differnces in bioflavanoid content, tannins, polyphenols, etc. This is a Pepsi challenge, and is quite different.

I'm talking about hearing differences when physics (the RULES) state that there is no difference between $50 cable y and $1000 cable x when the only variables that determine the transfer of an electrical signal are inductance, capacitance and resistance (experimentally verified), and even the $50 cable has more bandwidth than necessary. Yet some people claim to here the difference. The acid test would be if I use two identical cables, and dress one of them up real pretty and tell you that the pretty one is $1000 dollars, and seeing who tells me it sounds better.

BTW Hirsch, I'm not directing this post specifically to you, but your wine tasting analogy got me thinking. That was a good contribution.

I have no doubt that there are golden ears out there, I'm simply stating that we don't know who they are. I've seen a professional taster pick out 10 different makes of vodka by taste alone; which is incredibly impressive, but the vodkas in this case were actually different.

This has also opened up a discussion about whether the most sensitive technology (VERY SENSITIVE) can be outdone by the human senses. After all, technology has allowed us to detect wavelengths of energy FAR FAR FAR outside the spectrum of human senses (e.g. x-ray, gamma, ray, ultraviolet, infrared, radio, mircrowave etc), and here we are talking about how great our ears are! If the technology / science can't tell the difference between $50 cable and $1000 cable how can we by hearing alone?
 
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Publius

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I'm not going to wade into this debate too much, but I did want to make a couple points.

I would like to point out Sean Olive's assertion that blind testing improves the listening abilities of listeners: they are better able to distinguish changes in speaker position in a blind test compared to a sighted test. Audio Musings by Sean Olive: The Dishonesty of Sighted Listening Tests

The predominant "bad thing" about placebo - assuming you're dealing with situations where "placebo" effects are confused with "real" effects, and admittedly the two are not always distinguishable - is that the cost of audio increases. Consumers purchase equipment on placebo grounds rather than on "real" grounds, so to achieve the same "real" quality, more money must be spent on more features. For the same dollar value, less "real" audio quality may be available, as products are promoted more on placebo effects than they otherwise would be.

I fully admit this placebo/"real" example is a little bit of a strawman, or at least a thought experiment - but I believe it does describe and perhaps justify the skepticism and criticality that many of us have about this whole endeavour. That's the worldview we are coming from.
 
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Hirsch

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Catharsis /img/forum/go_quote.gif

I'm talking about hearing differences when physics (the RULES) state that there is no difference between $50 cable y and $1000 cable x when the only variables that determine the transfer of an electrical signal are inductance, capacitance and resistance (experimentally verified), and even the $50 cable has more bandwidth than necessary. Yet some people claim to here the difference. The acid test would be if I use two identical cables, and dress one of them up real pretty and tell you that the pretty one is $1000 dollars, and seeing who tells me it sounds better.



Excellent example of the use of a negative control. However, cables do have difference inductance, capacitance, and resistance. So, claiming that cables sound the same in the absence of those measurements for the cables in question is somewhat misleading. This also assumes that these are the only measurements that matter, which is far from clear to me. One manufacturer is now advertising that measurements taken at the University of Toronto show that his proprietary methodologies in cable manufacture produce an increase in slew rate (hey, I'm only the messenger). But we now have a measurable effect of a cable technology. Is this audible? No idea, but his cables sound great to me.

Quote:

This has also opened up a discussion about whether the most sensitive technology (VERY SENSITIVE) can be outdone by the human senses. After all, technology has allowed us to detect wavelengths of energy FAR FAR FAR outside the spectrum of human senses (e.g. x-ray, gamma, ray, ultraviolet, infrared, radio, mircrowave etc), and here we are talking about how great our ears are! If the technology / science can't tell the difference between $50 cable and $1000 cable how can we by hearing alone?


A sensitive measurement is only useful if you know what to measure. No matter how sensitive the measurement techniques, they don't help much if you're supposed to be measuring something else, as yet unknown. John Atkinson has been taking measurements for Stereophile reviews for years now, and has yet to discovery any real relationship between what he's measuring and what sounds good to people. A worthy attempt that may someday reach critical mass as more parameters are measured, and sensitivity improves.

The human nervous system is complex in its own regard. It's very sensitive to some distortions in sound, and very forgiving of rather large distortions in other dimensions.

"placebo" has become a somewhat catchall tool that misses the real point. It's only an answer to questions of audio differences if a difference is expected. For example, I tried the Cardas Golden Reference cable long ago. Highly respected, and not particularly cheap. To me, it also sounded like crap. Killed dynamic range, and persisted in doing so over a fairly long period of time. Away it went. If a "placebo" effect which depends on expectancy had been present, I should have loved the things. "Expectancy" is a better word for audio, because it embodies a necessary condition for a placebo effect to occur in fields where they have been better documented, without having the connotation of an inactive substrate. Use of "placebo" effects as an alternative explanation for perceived effects fail miserably when perceived sound differs from expectations.

As the original poster noted, placebo effects are also only present for a limited time period. You can get away with them for a bit, but they do dissipate (for lack of a better word) over time as the listener becomes more experienced with the gear. Expectancy may well explain short-term euphoria over new gear, with long-term disillusionment. However, expectancy has real problems when someone likes a piece of gear, or a cable, over the long haul.

There is actually fairly little known about placebo's in pharmacology, as it is very difficult to study them ethically. We cannot deny treatment to a patient if one is available, even though our real interest is the placebo. So, we're limited to how placebo's behave in clinical trials of other medications, but can't study the placebo directly. We know surprisingly little about them.
 
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Catharsis

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Hirsch /img/forum/go_quote.gif

A sensitive measurement is only useful if you know what to measure. No matter how sensitive the measurement techniques, they don't help much if you're supposed to be measuring something else, as yet unknown. John Atkinson has been taking measurements for Stereophile reviews for years now, and has yet to discovery any real relationship between what he's measuring and what sounds good to people. A worthy attempt that may someday reach critical mass as more parameters are measured, and sensitivity improves.



I couldn't agree more. I think this might actually be the real issue at hand.

I also deal with homeopathy (system of medicine) on a regular basis, and though it REALLY defies all known scientific theories, it somehow manages to produce postive results in double plind placebo controlled studies.

I can't deny that it works, but it's just so ridciulous. Small advancements have been made in understanding the exact mechanism of action, but I have a feeling that we're just not looking in the right place, or our technology / measuring cability hasn't been brought up to the required speed.
 
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Bullseye

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Quote:

Originally Posted by dharma /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Before hot air ballone was invented, every rational and normal person could say: 'it is physically impossible' to fly, and yes they were right, because at this moment nobody could do it (there was no nolidge, scillful means, ...).

Happily those 'it is physically impossible' things are happening all time even in science.



That was a bad argument. Flying for a human being is still and will always be PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM. However birds DO FLY, don't they?
We developed machines that help us cross the skies at high speeds (for some of them it is a must they go at elevated speeds, if not they will never fly), even go to space, but our body was not "designed" to fly, nor it was to hear ultrasonic frequencies.

Every human has a frequency range that can hear. Some more than others, but always within limits. With that I mean that even if there are differences between cables in some frequencies, no matter how hard you try you will NEVER be able to listen to a change in the 200 KHz band.

So then, why do some cables "sound" different than others? Well, Placebo as the main theme in this thread is one that is always present in our everyday lives. So, why discard it? Then, when using a 2$ cable or a 400$ cable, it will be obvious for you to hear differences in sound, if one of them is badly made (that is bad connections, for example). But when talking about two different cables, no matter in which price range they move, 2-5 $ or 400-500 $, or in between them, assuming all of them are well made, any change in SQ you hear has as explanation PLACEBO, mood, disposition, etc... Because physically speaking your brain does not get ultrasonic frequencies.

To what extent, and when does Placebo really affect how we listen to music? That is still to be determined.

EDIT: Why am I using cables as the main subject? Well because it is where placebo is more present, in a bigger percentage than other components. By using DBT you will be amazed how some DACs and amplifiers "sound" the same.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Bullseye /img/forum/go_quote.gif
By using DBT you will be amazed how some DACs and amplifiers "sound" the same.


Yes -- but does that really speak for DBT?
.
 
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