I would like to be rational... but not at the expense of denying my own experiences. BTW - while some of this post is tongue in cheek, and trying to keep things light - I am trying to understand where other people are coming from, and I have no intention to disrespect where people are coming from. Variety is the spice of life, and I would like to celebrate our differences rather than feel threatened by them.
I too suffer from the delusion that I can hear differences between some amplifiers, and I believe that there is a bit of a consensus that my preference is for high distortion. I like the sound of my set 300B tube amp. I also believe that I can hear the differences between some SS amps - though they are less obvious to me. My HK sounded warmer and more relaxed to me than my Yammie receiver with def tech speakers. Rightly or wrongly, I attributed that to the HK having a bit more power, higher current, ability to drive 4 Ohm speakers compared to the Yammie's 6. The Def Techs apparently dip down to 3.9 Ohm around 40 - 45 Hz. A CD changer that replaced a different brand CD changer never sounded quite as 'open' as the first one. At the time In decided that must be an illusion, because the specs were nearly identical. I replaced a pair of cans that I gave to my son with an identical pair. I still miss the originals, 6 months later, break in is not a factor anymore. (poor memory may be a huge factor) I know some people reject the idea of break-in - but there are test numbers on driver extension that would support the notion of mechanical break-in. And my 300B sounds better after 2 hours than after 30 minutes than after 5 minutes than right at start-up... to me.
I remain unconvinced that we can measure all aspects of the sound we hear through a THD+noise figure. A sports truck and a low powered sporty car may pose the same numbers for acceleration, deceleration and road holding, but they won't drive the same because of the other performance factors, e.g. mass, center of gravity or sidewall flex.
I have read a number of Arnyk's posts, and clearly arnyk has a lot of experience in the field, a clear and analytical mind, and the capacity to communicate clearly. I respect and appreciate his point of view - but my point of hearing tells me something different. I am struggling to reconcile the test figures with the experience. Perhaps some day I will obtain some equipment that will permit me to get a disinterested party to assist me in completing a true double blind test - the parameters of that are pretty daunting. In the meantime I will sit and wonder if the people who state that they have completed a double blind test are not themselves subject to having set up an experiment that would encourage an expected outcome.
In the late 80s I had bought the Ultimate Source: A lower end Sony CDP. Sony, the co-developer of the format with Philips. What could be better. Well, my buddy's turntable that we connected to my system sounded better. I really did not want that result. Fortunately I could rationalize that at least the CD player had no pops, surface noise and infinitesimal Wow&Flutter (They still provided W&F numbers for CD players at that time
) But in all honesty the TT sounded better.
So what do I do, arnyk, mraub or knucklehead? Make a rational decision that the equipment with lower THD&N figures IS better, regardless of how it sounds to me? And then learn to appreciated the correctness of the sound reproduction, regardless of my delusion that I hear grain, a narrower, shallower sound stage, and a veiling of clarity in the knowledge that the figures tell me that this is the correct way to hear the music? That kind of rationality just does not seem logical to me, when my objective is to enjoy the music.
So I have 2 questions:
1. Is it possible that we hear sound differently? Is it possible that the Inuit recognize 30 or more different types of snow where we only recognize 4 or 5? We should be seeing the same damn snow if we are in the same location at the same time. Personally I don't want to see any snow, but that is beside the point.
2. Is it possible that we do not measure all of the variables that pertain to our experience of the sound.
Thanks in advance for giving this your thought.