Reality is illusion
Mar 2, 2006 at 4:03 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 15

AtomBoy

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 22, 2005
Posts
121
Likes
0
There's an interesting article here on Science Daily about expectation affecting perception. The jist of it is that things tend to be like what you expect them to be like. The study used taste, but I believe you could easily substitute the sonics of silver vs copper wire for the taste of sugar and quinine.

If you want to prove to yourself how hard your brain works to create reality for you, try to find your blind spot.(.pdf)

From this and other reading its clear to me that the effect of expectation happens not in the conscious brain, but in the mechanical/ pre-processing parts of the brain. We're not lying to ourselves- that cool looking volume knob really does make it sound better. Or we are lying to ourselves, but the lie happens so far before our consciousness that it may as well be real.

I think it would be useful and valid to examine our prejudices and preconceptions and incorporate them into our audio projects. I like stuff that has a certain home-made/ 30's/ mad scientist look to it. Sure enough my low buck, point to point Millett done on a slab of al plate with cheap parts and screws everywhere sounds better than my high buck/ sanitary on the pc board version- to me- in my head.
 
Mar 2, 2006 at 4:24 PM Post #2 of 15

NeilR

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 2, 2005
Posts
929
Likes
12
I believe that is what is referred to as the "Placebo Affect" and because of that I discount 90% of the opinions I read (regarding audio sound and similar things). Sometimes I think everybody hears what they read, to a greater or lesser extent. I'm just agreeing with your point, I think, not trying to start a debate about what people think they hear; that is an unarguable phenomenon.
 
Mar 2, 2006 at 4:24 PM Post #3 of 15

Liver

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 1, 2004
Posts
615
Likes
12
Quote:

Originally Posted by AtomBoy
If you want to prove to yourself how hard your brain works to create reality for you, try to find your blind spot.(.pdf)


I understand differing expectations rendering different perceptions. That is why the scientific method is useful.

Creating a reality and finding the optic nerve are way different things. The brain integrates binocular vision to give a cohesive image. Sight from one eye covers the blind spot (i.e. optic nerve) of the other. Nothing there, however the perception may be different. Hence glass 1/2 full, 1/2 empty or 1/2 way to another drink.
 
Mar 2, 2006 at 5:28 PM Post #4 of 15

AtomBoy

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 22, 2005
Posts
121
Likes
0
Quote:

Originally Posted by Liver
... The brain integrates binocular vision to give a cohesive image. Sight from one eye covers the blind spot (i.e. optic nerve) of the other. ...


The brain doesn't just cover the blind spot with info from the other eye. It will make up what it thinks should be there and put it in.

Here's a better demo.

The red dot isn't there. You know its not there, but you see it anyway. Wild!
 
Mar 2, 2006 at 5:33 PM Post #5 of 15

fewtch

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 23, 2003
Posts
9,559
Likes
31
Quote:

Originally Posted by AtomBoy
There's an interesting article here on Science Daily about expectation affecting perception. The jist of it is that things tend to be like what you expect them to be like.


I don't think it's always that simple. For example, I recently swapped opamps in the ground channel my amp, and noticed it was sounding more detailed. Guess what -- the cover was off, and I was looking at the electronic parts at the time! When I put the cover back on and went back to looking at flat black plastic, it sounded less detailed again. No conscious expectations at all, it just happened. Maybe I should leave the cover off...
tongue.gif
 
Mar 2, 2006 at 7:46 PM Post #6 of 15

kin0kin

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 4, 2005
Posts
2,804
Likes
12
Quote:

Originally Posted by AtomBoy
There's an interesting article here on Science Daily about expectation affecting perception. The jist of it is that things tend to be like what you expect them to be like. The study used taste, but I believe you could easily substitute the sonics of silver vs copper wire for the taste of sugar and quinine.

If you want to prove to yourself how hard your brain works to create reality for you, try to find your blind spot.(.pdf)

From this and other reading its clear to me that the effect of expectation happens not in the conscious brain, but in the mechanical/ pre-processing parts of the brain. We're not lying to ourselves- that cool looking volume knob really does make it sound better. Or we are lying to ourselves, but the lie happens so far before our consciousness that it may as well be real.

I think it would be useful and valid to examine our prejudices and preconceptions and incorporate them into our audio projects. I like stuff that has a certain home-made/ 30's/ mad scientist look to it. Sure enough my low buck, point to point Millett done on a slab of al plate with cheap parts and screws everywhere sounds better than my high buck/ sanitary on the pc board version- to me- in my head.



true. the only way to get a truely unbiased impression is by doing a blind test without telling the price, model, make, and etc to the person testing.
 
Mar 2, 2006 at 9:22 PM Post #7 of 15

JJ15k

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Posts
557
Likes
11
cover has an effect on the EM waves, I had until recently an ASL amp that would sometimes exhibit a "coil buzz" and having the tube cover on or off distincly affected the buzzing
On topic: Blind tests and electrical/oscilloscope/whatever testing should be systematic!!!! That s what I d call a PROFESSIONNAL review. I have no doubt ppl reviewing have great ears, good memory, write in good faith but their methodology leaves much to be desired.
People on the forum of course cannot do that and their impressions are very valuable (that s why i m here) but magazines with lots of money definitely should do more
 
Mar 3, 2006 at 3:50 AM Post #8 of 15

jcx

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 24, 2002
Posts
2,371
Likes
368
ignoring level matching and Fletcher_Munson loudness curves is living in a fantasy land

virtually everyone posting here has access to their pc sound card and could level match before wasting bandwidth on obviously flawed listening comparisons (at least of amps, comparing headphones requires stable microphone and coupler) - all that is needed is a y adaper and some freeware

Hearing differences when the levels are not matched is not an illusion, levels must be matched to within 0.1 dB (~1%) in a valid listening test

When levels differ by more even perfectly flat systems will sound different and have different apparent frequency response balances

when they nearly match even pros can’t reliably attribute the difference to the small level difference and usually the slightly louder system will be rated as “better”
 
Mar 3, 2006 at 5:18 AM Post #9 of 15

AtomBoy

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 22, 2005
Posts
121
Likes
0
If I had a point, it might have been that psychoacoustic effects could be considered as real. You could examine and acknowledge them and plan for good ones. Become an accomplice to your own sonic deception because there is an astonishing amount of deception going on anyway. I'm not referring to marketing hype, but rather the universe of synapses between your eardrum and your conscious perception of music.
 
Mar 3, 2006 at 6:26 AM Post #10 of 15

Garbz

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
May 19, 2004
Posts
3,573
Likes
12
That's the crux of the issue. So even if cables don't make any difference as many of the engineers here believe some people can literally hear a difference. Regardless of what causes it to them they hear a difference and will fight to the ends of the earth for that belief.

I'm not using this to devalue their claims, I'm saying they obviously hear something so let them.
 
Mar 3, 2006 at 2:27 PM Post #11 of 15

Heady

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 8, 2004
Posts
213
Likes
10
Quote:

Originally Posted by AtomBoy
The brain doesn't just cover the blind spot with info from the other eye. It will make up what it thinks should be there and put it in.


Scary but true. Was reminded of this documentary I watched of the shootdown of an Iranian airliner by an American cruiser in the Persian Gulf. The radar operator was so tensed up, he saw the airliner was diving to attack the cruiser and reported it to the captain who then authorised the shootdown.

Radar recordings later showed the airliner was flying level and at constant speed. Scary what the brain can do to you.
 
Mar 3, 2006 at 3:57 PM Post #12 of 15

NeilR

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 2, 2005
Posts
929
Likes
12
Quote:

Originally Posted by jcx
ignoring level matching and Fletcher_Munson loudness curves is living in a fantasy land

virtually everyone posting here has access to their pc sound card and could level match before wasting bandwidth on obviously flawed listening comparisons (at least of amps, comparing headphones requires stable microphone and coupler) - all that is needed is a y adaper and some freeware

Hearing differences when the levels are not matched is not an illusion, levels must be matched to within 0.1 dB (~1%) in a valid listening test

When levels differ by more even perfectly flat systems will sound different and have different apparent frequency response balances

when they nearly match even pros can’t reliably attribute the difference to the small level difference and usually the slightly louder system will be rated as “better”



Taking this a step further, if we want to improve our audio systems we have a choice:

a) Spend thousands of dollars on new gear, or in our case new parts, and spend hundreds of hours building things or...

b) turn the volume up a notch.

Somehow the first option is more satisfying

k1000smile.gif
 
Mar 4, 2006 at 3:48 AM Post #13 of 15

fewtch

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jul 23, 2003
Posts
9,559
Likes
31
Quote:

Originally Posted by AtomBoy
If I had a point, it might have been that psychoacoustic effects could be considered as real. You could examine and acknowledge them and plan for good ones. Become an accomplice to your own sonic deception because there is an astonishing amount of deception going on anyway.


I suspect people do that anyway. I'm really enjoying my new (old) Rotel RCD-855 CD player... big, black, heavy, nice display, chunky transport, probably sounds great partially because of all those things.

Lots of 'audiophiles' go for pretty looking gear, and likely because good looking gear tends to sound better (because it looks better). Not that everyone would acknowledge that, nor am I saying that it holds true for everyone either.

There's so much variety in the way people react to things that I suspect consciously "planning for one's own sonic deception" would be very difficult. Far easier (and probably better) to leave it to happen subconsciously... aren't most of us obsessive enough already?
tongue.gif
 
Mar 4, 2006 at 4:18 AM Post #14 of 15

Teerawit

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 21, 2005
Posts
3,988
Likes
11
Quote:

Originally Posted by fewtch
Maybe I should leave the cover off...
tongue.gif



How about some translucent acrylic panels?
tongue.gif
 
Mar 4, 2006 at 4:54 AM Post #15 of 15

AtomBoy

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 22, 2005
Posts
121
Likes
0
Quote:

Originally Posted by fewtch
...Lots of 'audiophiles' go for pretty looking gear, and likely because good looking gear tends to sound better (because it looks better). Not that everyone would acknowledge that, nor am I saying that it holds true for everyone either.

There's so much variety in the way people react to things that I suspect consciously "planning for one's own sonic deception" would be very difficult. Far easier (and probably better) to leave it to happen subconsciously... ...



I maintain that everyone's senses can be 'fooled' by their expectations to some extent.

It seems very common to expect expensive stuff to sound better. This might be a rational expectation normally, but I'm sure we all have our own favorite examples where its just not true. When we see someone insisting that these magic beans have brought their system to new heights of sonic purity we might think they are liars or nuts, but they have convinced their subconscious that the beans really do work- and they do- in their heads- but its still a 'real' effect! (See study in original post.)

I am also positive from my own experience that we can reprogram ourselves. If you can honestly examine your expectations- you can change them. Instead of the expensive magic beans, tell yourself that some blue paint will work better. The funny thing is- you don't even have to believe it! You're not trying to fool your rational self. You're trying to fool your subconscious- and its like a kid who will believe almost anything!

I think what would be most dificult would be to eliminate all prejudice and expectation and become a perfect scientific instrument.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top