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How do I convince people that audio cables DO NOT make a difference

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by 3602, Apr 4, 2010.
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  1. Maxx134
    Not that specific topic recently.
    I do have a degree in recording engineering & electronics though I am not in that field.
    I only focused on electronics with headphone modifications as a hobby.
    So TBH the answer is indirectly and no unfortunately I don't have the luxury to delve into this, which is why I actually value tapping into your brain.

    That's quite an article, thanks for posting.
    Yet that one guy that had 8 out of 10 actually proves it can be done(!)
    That test points out possible digital degradation, which admittedly most didn't notice, but doesn't compare actual analog to digital source recordings...

    I think the frequency response may not the factor at play here at all.
    One reason being that member BigShot mentioned that most music is not in that range.
    Most instruments and, if I recall correctly, ear sensitivity would be in the midrange.

    It could be your sensitivity at certain frequencies as well.
    It could be bias.
    It could be your turntable has a more pleasing cartridge.
    It could be your dac is not working as should.
    It could be your source files are not as good.
    It could be your CD player opamp chips suck (!)
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2019
    SpeakerBox likes this.
  2. bfreedma

    One person scoring 8 out of 10 in one test certainly doesn’t prove anything. You would need to average at least 8/10 on a large series of tests to get anywhere near statistical significance, let alone proof. Flip a coin in a handful of sets of 10 and you’re likely to get 8/10 on a single trial. A single score of 80% is statistically insignificant and is well within the expected results if guessing the answer.

    You’re certainly throwing a lot of stuff at a wall in the hopes that something will stick. Perhaps it would be better to dig deeper before claiming some kind of “victory”. At least read this thread so you don’t continue to rehash debunked studies and theories.
  3. Steve999
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2019
  4. old tech
    As stated by Bfreedma, one person getting 8/10 in 153 trials is not a statistically valid positive - it is well within normal probabilities to get the same result for a 10 single throws of a fair coin in 153 trials.

    As for a comparison between analog and digital sources, try digging up the research in Geringer, J., Dunnigan, P. "Listener Preferences and Perception of Digital versus Analog Live Concert Recordings." Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education. 1 Jul. 2000, Number 145: 1-13.

    The subjects in this test listened to simultaneous digital and analog recordings of the same concert performance played back on CD and analog tape respectively. It was recorded unequalised and unmixed (so no mastering differences). They were able to switch back and forth between the two level matched recordings at will, and everything was blinded and well controlled. Overall, the digital version was preferred in all ten scoring areas. However the recording media for this test were compact disc and cassette tape*, so it's not directly comparable to a vinyl record. The researchers concluded:

    Results showed that music major listeners rated the digital versions of live concert recordings higher in quality than corresponding analog versions. Participants gave significantly higher ratings to the digital presentations in bass, treble, and overall quality, as well as separation of the instruments/voices. Higher rating means for the digital versions were generally consistent across loudspeaker and headphone listening conditions and the four types of performance media.

    * One criticism of this study was the use of a cassette recorder rather than reel to reel. However, the authors responded to that by stating the test would not have been practical as there are no consumer reel to reel recordings released in 2000 and in any event, hardly anyone still uses reel to reel playback (even less so in 2019). In addition, they publishing the metrics of the professional grade cassette tape and recorder which surpassed vinyl playback and almost equaled professional open reel to reels running at 7.5 ips.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
    Maxx134 and Steve999 like this.
  5. Maxx134
    I just tried and got 6right! Lol

    For you its rehashed because you know.
    For me it's learning and I appreciate you and everyone who gives me balance.
    I will take your advice and read threads beginning.

    Yes I have been throwing what I feel were valid ideas to try.
    I always believe humbling your pride and being open is best way to approach new ideas.
    Personally, I still think 8 out of 10 is hard to do, haha
    If its not repeatable, then its a fluke right?
    I don't know if they ever tried to make that guy redo the test.
    Oh well.
    Onto the wire topic.
    I am out of possible reasons/explanation for this thread title so will wait for you to answer!
  6. gregorio
    No, it's not "hard to do", in fact the opposite, it's almost inevitable. Do the same number of trials (467) and see how hard it is NOT to get 8/10 at least once, haha!
    For your further information, you might find the video below useful. Although it's seemingly about a different subject (a type of meter used to measure dynamic range) the video excellently demonstrates how vinyl differs from CD. It's clearly shown that LP distorts the transient peaks and if you listen carefully you'll hear that the LP has a little less high/high-mids and is somewhat smoother/less well defined in the mids compared to the CD. The result is that the LP could be described as "less harsh" and/or "warmer" and therefore, relative to an individual's preferences, "better". However, it's not actually better, it's actually worse, it's distorted and would be more correctly described as having lost "punch" and "mid/high freq detail". In other words, while you might prefer the "less harsh" vinyl, you're getting lower fidelity and missing out on the intentions of the artists/engineers who wanted that amount of "harshness".

    Of course, it's entirely your choice which you prefer but if you truthfully want to explain your preference for vinyl, then the answer lies entirely within your personal preference/perception. If you try to explain it in terms of vinyl being in some way technically better/superior (like freq response for example) you're going to end up contradicting at least some of the well demonstrated science/facts! Arguably the most common problem in the audiophile world is that someone has a preference (or wants you to have a preference), asserts that preference is due to some audible, technical superiority and backs that assertion up with some actual facts/science. Unfortunately, even when those quoted facts/science are actually true, they omit other salient/important facts which invalidate their facts. For example (and getting back on topic), I've seen various audiophile cable makers quote the science/fact of "skin effect", how it causes signal loss and how their cable uses exotic (expensive) materials/construction which improves the issue. Their scientific fact is correct but invalidated by the omitted fact that in any decent/average cable, skin effect would cause a signal loss of about a hundredth of a dB! Same problem with your linked article.


    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
  7. castleofargh Contributor
    ask questions if you have them. even those making big scary eyes will in fact be happy to try and answer honest curiosity.
    as for 8/10 meaning something or not, this is just basic statistic. if you flip a coin 10 times and don't get 5 head and 5 tail, would you say that it's significant and conclude that the odds for a coin falling on head aren't actually 50/50? completely failing an abx test results in guessing between 2 choices. so failure is not 0/10, but 5/10. and just like with the coin, the more trials you do, the more accurate the result at a statistical level, because the odds of you getting that result by chance become smaller and smaller as you add up more trials.
    in an actual test, if someone ended up getting 10/10, I do expect that the researchers would have that person run more tests or come back another day if it's too tiring. just to determine if it was a fluke or not.
  8. TheSonicTruth

    I had a falling out with Ian a few years ago. When it comes to dynamics vs loudness, the guy is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

    In the end, he has to bring in a paycheck, so the likes of him, Ludwig, and Lord-Alge will just squash squash away to their clients' delight!
  9. SpeakerBox
    Thanks for the info.
  10. SpeakerBox
    It could be rolled up in a bunch of stuff. That said, my CD player is a Sony NS999ES which seems to be fairly well regarded. I use it as a transport feeding a Musical Fidelity V90-DAC which also seems to be well liked. You are right about the sensitivity to certain frequencies though. The investigation continues I guess.
  11. Steve999
    As you apparently surmise, the odds of your CD player or DAC being part of the equation or problem here are exceedingly low. :)
  12. gregorio
    1. Why am I not surprised!
    1a. No, he knows his stuff. I don't always agree with his artistic mastering choices but I don't recall ever hearing anything from him on a technical/factual level that was incorrect, misrepresented or "a wolf in sheep's clothing". On the other hand, you've demonstrated some serious misunderstanding of both dynamic range and loudness.

    2. That makes no sense. In a highly competitive service industry, delighting one's clients must be the goal!

    The point I was trying to make is that if you're after the actual truth/facts, your investigation will have to continue indefinitely! You're looking for answers in the wrong place and therefore there's only two possible outcomes; either you find an answer which isn't the truth/actual fact or you will never find an answer!

    I do get it, I've fallen foul of it in the past myself, you hear/perceive something as better and then try to find a technical explanation for why it's better (or conversely, why the other thing is worse). That seems like such a logically obvious approach that it's virtually unquestionable but that's exactly why this is such a serious problem and why this thread was started! Science has proven and it's demonstrated in practice almost continually, that this is actually a very poor approach. While it usually works, there are numerous occasions when it doesn't, but because it's "unquestionable" the only option left on the table is to make-up some fallacy along the lines of "science doesn't know everything" and/or "you must be open to alternative explanations", which is particularly ironic because the situation is due to them not being open to the fact that the "unquestionable" is in fact questionable. In other words, for many/most audiophiles: If it sounds better then by definition it's obviously "better", now let's explain why it's better. In actual fact, it's often the case that if it sounds better it may not actually be better, it could be exactly the same or in some cases actually worse!

    This is exactly the trap you've fallen into; vinyl sounds better, so is better, and you are therefore "investigating" what in the CD chain (the CD format itself, CD players, DACs, etc.) is worse and why it's worse. You've just eliminated your player and DAC, you seem to have eliminated your original idea (freq response) so your investigation must continue ... what's next, digital interconnects maybe, jitter or any number of other typical audiophile myths that have been thoroughly debunked for decades, which we'll have to individually demonstrate/prove to you (as we've done with freq response)? The actual answer isn't where you're looking for it, there is no truthful technical explanation for why CD is worse than vinyl because CD isn't worse than vinyl, it's demonstrably/provably better! The actual answer therefore lies in your approach, you are going to have to question the "unquestionable", that it's not better because it sounds better, that it's actually worse. To put it another way, you're going to have to consider that you actually prefer "worse" over "better", are therefore perceiving "worse" as being "better" and therefore must question your perception. The actual answer to your investigation lies in your personal perception and preferences, you won't find it anywhere else!

  13. Maxx134
    Since the majority here claim that most sonic differences are inaudible, will anyone here claim than an Odac is as good as a Schiit yggdrasil?
  14. Hifiearspeakers
    @Maxx134 you don’t belong in this thread. These people are worse than religious zealots. Even when the tests actually show measurable differences, they say it doesn’t matter because it’s inaudible. Even when a study backs up an audiophile claim, they say it’s too small to represent anything other than a statistical average of basic odds and probability, or they say the study was biased or it was merely groupthink or it wasn’t a true double-blind, or it was blah blah blah.

    Come out of the dark side and return to people who are mostly open-minded, albeit often misguided, too. Either way, you’ll get beaten up far less than in this masochistic cesspool of condescension.
    BassicScience and Maxx134 like this.
  15. bigshot
    Never owned those particular things, but I can tell you that my high end Oppo player and DAC/amp sound the same as a $40 Walmart DVD player. (I did a controlled listening test on them.)

    This is an interesting complaint... Why would inaudible stuff matter in a home audio component? It seems to me that imperceptibility is pretty clearly a good reason for something to not matter. In fact, I can't think of anything that would matter less.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
    PhonoPhi likes this.
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