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Testing audiophile claims and myths

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by prog rock man, May 3, 2010.
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  1. StandsOnFeet
    Yep. Me too. Keith is producing Trollish posts, and I've put him on my "Ignore" list. I don't need the aggravation.
  2. KeithEmo
    Good idea.... otherwise you might risk learning something.... even if it's just the limits of your own knowledge.
    (I assume I didn't insult anyone who isn't reading my posts... right? :beerchug: )

  3. KeithEmo
    Here's the catch....

    Here at Emotiva, we do frequently conduct internal comparisons, both sighted and unsighted...
    Both between different of our amplifier and DAC models...
    And between various prototypes and the final product...
    And I've also done so numerous times at home...

    Sometimes there are no audible differences...
    Sometimes there are barely discernible, and quite dubious, differences...
    And sometimes there are what seem to be quite obvious differences...

    Recently, over a two day period, we invited several groups of customers to compare a new prototype DAC to our then-current DC-1....
    In both sighted and unsighted tests, the majority universally preferred the sound of the new prototype, and were able to identify it most of the time....

    These tests were NOT properly documented and so don't deserve publication....
    And I most certainly don't expect them to convince skeptics who didn't participate in them....
    But they certainly served to convince me (and us) that audible differences do in fact exist....
    At least some of the time....

  4. Steve999
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
    PhonoPhi, bfreedma, gopack87 and 2 others like this.
  5. gregorio
    1. Here we go again, round and round, making up fallacies, ignoring the facts, etc! Accused of confusing hearing acuity with listening skills, you respond by confusing hearing acuity with listening skills, impressive! Sure, when we're young some of our absolute hearing thresholds are superior and then gradually deteriorate with age, high frequency response being an obvious example. However, listening skills are pretty much the exact opposite, they improve with time, experience/age, training and practise. And again, there's a massive collection of test results to back that up and the only people who "question it's accuracy" are a tiny number of deluded audiophiles, who've presumably never experienced any listening skills training. So, if we want to test whether humans can listen for and identify differences between two different things, how does it "make obvious sense" to choose our test subjects from among the human demographic we already know has the worst listening skills? Your "makes obvious sense" is in fact the exact opposite, it couldn't make less sense ... Welcome everyone to the world of audiophile marketing!!

    Your argument makes no sense on a completely different level either! Even if it were only about absolute hearing thresholds (rather than listening skills) and therefore a positive result could be obtained from very young children, how many of the audiophiles here on head-fi (or anywhere else) are at kindergarten? And, to whom are you marketing your amps, adults or young children? Maybe you assume that we here and/or your potential customers have the knowledge and critical thinking ability of a young child, maybe it's just you who have the critical thinking ability of a young child or maybe you're just trolling us again? Either way, here on this sub-forum, you're posts are insulting!

    2. You've certainly expanded the limits of my knowledge. For example: The lengths to which someone trying to sell audiophile products is willing to go, a whole bunch of new fallacies, obfuscations, misrepresentations and BS and how to insult everyone's intelligence while avoiding contravening the terms of service. Err ... thanks?

  6. bigshot
    I am in the HeadFi Facebook group. It's interesting that Facebook isn't quite as regimented as the rest of this site. The poetic descriptions stand alongside people talking about DBTs. I think by separating sound science off as a separate group, they may have kept all our pesky comments out of the bread and butter groups, but it also tended to entrench both sides. I honestly have no idea why the few folks with irrational arguments bother to post here. Their comments aren't appreciated and it's certainly not adding to their reputation. I think it's a case where any kind of attention they can get is what they crave.
  7. KeithEmo
    So far, this discussion in this forum has in fact been about "the absolute limits of human hearing", and previous claims have always been stated as "no human can hear any difference". Now that I have shown that none of the current tests seems well designed to substantiate THAT claim, because they failed to test a significant portion of the total human population, you seem to be suggesting that we should instead change the claim to "no audiophile on this forum is likely to hear a difference". I have no objection to that change - but note that, in detail, it is a somewhat different topic.

    I think a discussion about "what differences are significant enough to justify spending more money on a product" would be quite useful to many people.
    However, the goals and intent of such a discussion should be stated, concisely and completely, as just that.
    (And it should not disguised as "a purely scientific discussion in the limits of human perception".)

    As to your other assertion. As of this point, we have no actual evidence about the relative importance of "listening acuity" and "listening skills" to this particular sort of test. Therefore, we don't actually know what effect the admittedly superior hearing acuity and arguably inferior listening skills of youngsters may have on the results. It may be that children, not knowing what to listen for, hear no difference... or it may be that, even without formal knowledge of what to listen for, they consistently find one device to "sound more like the real thing" than another, because of some tiny difference that the rest of us are unable to hear, which would suggest that there is some sort of audible difference. Clearly nobody has been interested enough to conduct a proper test to determine that either way. And, unless you've actually seen the results of such a specific test, then we're both simply stating our hypotheses on the subject (making educated guesses).

    However, yes, I would consider it pretty obvious that superior hearing acuity at least MIGHT REASONABLY BE EXPECTED to be associated with the ability to hear differences that people with inferior hearing acuity are unable to hear. I don't know whether it will turn out that way or not, but I am not prepared to claim that it won't without actually testing it. And, yes, it absolutely makes sense to be sure to include test subjects from EVERY demographic that REASONABLY MIGHT show a preferential result.... and that includes men and women, of a variety of ages, and a variety of ethnic and genetic backgrounds, with a variety of listening skills.

    Again, as has been pointed out repeatedly, this thread is NOT intended to be about marketing, or about audiophile purchasing habits, but about pure science.
    This has been stated repeatedly at various points in the discussion.

  8. bigshot
    You haven't proven anything. You can't even put together an argument without loading it up with semantic arguments about definitions, complete speculation, straw men misquotes built on absolutism, goalpost shifting, more than a few logical fallacies, and a wide variety of completely irrelevant analogies- which you gleefully follow as tangents even when no one else has any interest in going down that road with you. If you think you are "winning" here, you should probably take a step back and think about what you are trying to say and how you are actually saying it.

    This is a circular discussion because as soon as you get pinned down on one thing, you drop it like a stone and bring up another. When that one gets dismissed, you revert back to the first one. Rinse and repeat. I'm not interested in fetching each unsupported argument like a dog running after a bone. Other people have more stamina for that sort of thing. I cut to the chase.

    I don't know about everyone else, but I feel like I'm standing on the sidelines watching you ride an argumentative merry-go-round. It's been speculated that there are commercial reasons you are posting this blather. For the life of me, I can't see what those commercial reasons might be, because I don't see anyone here rushing out to buy the products you have to sell them.

    And by the way, this thread isn't about "pure science". It's about exposing the lie behind audiophile claims and myths. Look up at the title of the thread. I suppose you are helping us do that. But I don't know why you are such an enthusiastic whipping boy to help us make that point. We can do that just fine without your help.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
  9. KeithEmo
    I don't really see anything to "win" here...
    All I did was to point out that your claims are somewhat overgeneralized and far from as conclusive as you seem to think they are.
    (I guess it just bugs me when folks seem determined to pretend that reasonable conclusions and practical approximations are actually edicts handed down on iridium tablets from on high. :beerchug: )

    I agree with you... the title of the thread is: "Testing Audiophile Claims And Myths".
    My problem is that lately it seems to have become: "A list of things that we are convinced no longer NEED to be tested because they have become unassailable truths."
    At that point it magically morphs from a discussion about testing to a long sermon on: "What Thou Shalt Not Be Foolish Enough To Bother Testing".

    I think a thread about how we could actually test some of these claims, concisely, accurately, and thoroughly, would be somewhat interesting...
    However, so far, all we have is a collection of outdated tests that, to be frank, wouldn't have earned me a B grade in any of my college science classes...
    And, yes, some of them have produced good enough results to be at least suggestive...
    And even to be suggestive enough to be given serious consideration when deciding what equipment to buy...
    HOWEVER, while it might be interesting to design new and better tests, that might provide new and better results (which might well prove the previous results correct).
    All I keep hearing is how marginal results are "good enough that it's offensive to even consider questioning them"...

    A better subject for the current thread would be: "Debunking Audiophile Myths"....
    Although, to be honest, such a title would suggest that you wrongly assumed that ALL audiophile myths are by default false - without wasting the effort to test them.

  10. Steve999
    Untrue. In a previous post today you stated that this thread was so far about the absolute limits of human hearing and previous claims were always stated as no human could ever hear any difference. Which of course was also untrue. Study the first post of this thread thoroughly. Some of the tests are recent and some have positive results. The OP went out of his way to post what he could find of positive test findings. For example:


    A very expensive amp and a second amp had audible differences. They found audible problems in an audiophile amp by doing double blind testing and figured out why by taking measurements. So not all amplifiers sound the same! The audibly different amps were clipping about one percent of the time. There is a very cordial and involved technical discussion in the thread about the chain-effect havoc clipping can cause in multiple parts of the amp and its effect on sound and measurements.

    Which in no way mitigates or contradicts the findings of:


    "...the evidence would seem to suggest that distinctive amplifier sounds, if they exist at all, are so minute that they form a poor basis for choosing one amplifier over another. Certainly there are differences between amps, but we are unlikely to hear them." -Stereo Review January 1987 Pg 78

    By “distinctive amplifier sounds” and “differences between amps” they did not mean “clipping.”
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
  11. bigshot
    An audibly transparent amp is by definition the same sounding as any other audibly transparent amp. If the amp *doesn't* sound the same, that should be an alert to look for a problem somewhere. Amps with defects that don't perform to manufacturer's spec might sound different. Proper amps sound the same.

    I test every piece of equipment I buy for audible transparency. I have yet to find a single player, DAC or amp that isn't audibly transparent in normal use. I can see why someone would just assume that every amp sounds the same. It might not be true of every amp ever made in the history of man, but I'm pretty confident that it's true of any amp you buy from Amazon or other electronics retailers. And Stereo Review says that sound quality is a poor basis for choosing one amp over another. I'm confident that is true as well.

    I'm not going to discuss whether all audiophile myths are false or not. That is a dumb thing to waste time discussing. I have better things to do. Comments like that make me think you're just pretending to be smart.
  12. bfreedma
    Why even introduce this post to the discussion? You ran a bunch of insufficiently controlled listening tests - what possible value, other than once again muddying the waters - does that test serve in this thread? If the tests, by your own admission, don’t deserve publication, then they shouldn’t convince you or anyone else. The only significance I see here is that you’re so determined to be “right” that you state that a test you consider improper convinced you of something. Broken logic.

    It’s almost as if you’re intentionally avoiding running a proper test...

    If you want to do this thread a real service, next time obvious differences in amps are evident, take some measurements that actually demonstrate those differences. If they are obvious to the human ear, they should be trivial to show in data.
    sonitus mirus likes this.
  13. bigshot
    EDITED: Sorry. I replied here because I had people who waste my time on block and missed the thread of thought. “Here at Emotiva...” That tells you what you need to know. This isn't about sound at all. We're getting sales pitch masquerading as science. The last time I encountered that I posted photos of a tear down of a "sound enhancing" dongle and showed it to be a pair of wires wrapped in tin foil with sand packed in around it. That didn't end well. I think we all know what is going on here. I don't see a need to turn blocked comments back on. If you are doing tests and getting random and inconsistent results, you're probably doing something wrong. Who owns Emotiva? He should rethink his PR. (getting myself in trouble again!)
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
  14. bigshot
    Am I missing something because I blocked the jokers?

    Edit: Yeah I saw the quotes and saw the context.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
  15. gregorio
    1. This statement is an absolute beauty, which highlights no less that 3 separate fallacies/falsehoods!
    A. You stated "it seems to make obvious sense to choose our test subjects from among the human demographic group that we already know has the best hearing acuity. It hardly makes sense to accept test subjects who we know have less than optimal hearing acuity." but now you're admitting that you have "no actual evidence" to support it! It's just an assumption that you've made-up and misrepresented as fact, on the basis that an alternative "hardly makes sense". A typical audiophile/marketing tactic!!
    B. Your statement is false anyway! "We" (collective human knowledge) have a wealth of actual evidence, covering many decades and many tens of thousands of subjects. There are various papers which deal directly or indirectly with "listening skills" and "hearing acuity" pertinent to this particular type of test (although many of them are not easily currently available) but even including these, it represents less than the tip of the iceberg of actual evidence. For example: In formal higher education arguably the single most important area of study is listening skills and degree courses in audio engineering typically have listening skills modules across all 3 years of study, the only subject area where this is the case. These skills must of course be evaluated every year under controlled (examination) conditions. That's many tens of thousands of subjects every year, all over the world but none of this is published as in many/most countries it would contravene data protection laws. Additionally, professional engineers and apprentices/trainees (of which there are countless thousands) reasonably often perform controlled tests which are very rarely/never published. So "we" have a huge wealth of actual evidence, what you actually meant is that YOU personally don't but because you don't and presumably because it fits your agenda you falsely state "we" don't! Another typical audiophile/marketing tactic!!
    C. And what does this huge wealth of actual evidence actually demonstrate, baring in mind that with a few abnormal exceptions the young (teenage) students have significantly better hearing acuity than those lecturing/training them (who are typically around 20 or so years older) and of course, that their hearing acuity does not improve as they age, over the duration of their course/training? I'm willing to bet you already know the answer to this question, although there's a good chance you'll try to pretend that you don't and/or obfuscate or misrepresent it. Another typical audiophile/marketing tactic.

    2. Isn't it obvious that a comparative determination that "one device sounds more like the real thing than another" in the first place requires some considerable experience of what "the real thing" is? Do you know many kindergarten kids with considerable experience of anything? A comparative determination against a reference of "the real thing" also requires some critical thinking and listening skills.
    2a. Clearly, that statement is false because numerous people across the world have been interested enough to conduct countless proper tests to determine either way. Although this has been done with teenagers rather than kindergarten children, the principle is the same as they typically have significantly better hearing acuity than the lecturers/examiners//pros instructing them but significantly poorer experience and listening skills. And yes, I have seen the results of such specific tests on countless occasions and so I'm basing my statements on actual evidence, while your statements are not only based on "no actual evidence" but are contrary to the actual evidence! Yet another typical audiophile/marketing tactic!!

    3. Exactly, so why are so many of your statements nothing more than "typical audiophile/marketing tactics"????

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