James Randi’s attack on high performance audio - Page 10 - AVS Forum
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post #271 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 12:08 PM
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When folks keep mentioning wine tasting, it is important to recognize that most of the serious wine tasting (wine spectator, Wine advocate) do all blind tasting. and of course this results in some notable issues when from time to time something cheap breaks its way in.

So comparing wine to cables is not valid.

And QQQ, my comment about "there must be SOMETHING" was not meant to be a simplistic view. in order to have a logical debate, i think you have to put the opposing view to a point in your mind where it could be true in order to have an open mind in any discussion. I do not believe it for a second, and there are some whose minds have changed over the years (in both directions) so all i am saying is that something must be happening. I feel it is a good chance that it is all in your head, but in order to add to the discourse, i have to leave a part of my mind open to the possibility that there is something physical there.

And Ken, i look forward to your new cables being put in a DBX somewhere. if they indeed finally prove a difference in cables, then it will be exciting to see what is happening.

Proud Daddy to Anastasia and Christopher.
Born October 26 2005.

Ob was the delivery doc.

Since i cannot rant on a soapbox in the town square...
http://commonsensehasdied.blogspot.com/
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post #272 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rutgar View Post

Actually QueueCumber, you weren't one of the one's I was refering to. Your posts are actually more on the civil side of things. As far as my attitude goes, it comes from reading all of the different threads on AVS about "Randi's" Challenge.

While I haven't heard differences in cables I've compared, I do think that Randi is an egotistical, self-promoting blowhard. The only thing that separates him from the people he declares war against is the side he takes. He is just as eager to exploit people for his own benefit... Both the people who agree with his point of view, and the unfortunates who were manipulated by the side that he rails against. His bread and butter is made from their misfortunate just as the huckster's bread and butter is as well.

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post #273 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 12:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Grant View Post

I've been pretty hard on Evelyn here so this may sound hypocritical---but I agree. Shawn's first response was quite sufficient.

Mike,

Look at the time-stamps; a lot of these responses came within a few minutes.

I'm multi-processing - trying to debug some code on one computer; and when it's
crunching; I turn to the other to compose my response.

At the time I began my response, Shawn had not yet posted. That may also be
true for others.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
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post #274 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 12:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morbius View Post

I'm multi-processing - trying to debug some code on one computer; and when it's
crunching; I turn to the other to compose my response.

What language?

"It is worse still to be ignorant of your ignorance."
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post #275 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 12:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QueueCumber View Post

What language?

QeueCumber,

The environment's mixed. There's both C and C++ in this code.

What makes it REALLY tough sometimes is that our debugger "Totalview" doesn't
understand much about C++. One of our most important datastructures has recently
been converted from a C language typedef struct to a C++ class. That makes it
difficult to examine memory locations in that datastructure.

C++ has some nice features; which we use for high level driver functionality.
However, the low-level Physics routines are in C. After all, Physics is
procedural in nature, and a procedural language like C maps better to Physics.
The driver functions of a code that is interacting with a user; maps better to
an object-oriented language like C++.

However, mixing the two can be a real software jungle.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
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post #276 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 12:29 PM
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Further (on the topic of Randi), what side one is on doesn't excuse a person from acting like a jerk either IMO. You could have all the science of the world behind you, but if you act like a jerk while trying to convey it to someone else, all you'll do is alienate the person, i.e. you will have accomplished nothing with all of that knowledge...

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post #277 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 12:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Here's a smaller part of the reference material I quoted above.

It says that a claim was made that the signal be digitized, at least that's what it looks like to me:

John noted that Arny's PCABX protocol requires that one digitize the output. This introduces an unverified mode of testing and adds variables to the mix, first in the nature of the digitizer, which conceivably (if not indubitably) alters the original sonic data, and second in the unknown nature of the amplifier over which the digital files are played back.

I don't see the PC ABX person refuting that.

I do not know what was in the Stereo Review box that they were so proud of, and I admit that. I may have been assuming too much, but the digitizing part sure seems to be there. If digitization was necessary, then in 1983 it had to be going on within the comparitor itself as there were no outboard digitizers mentioned, which would be even more problematic anyway.

If digitization is occurring in the process of an ABX test, it can also account for a whole room full of people suddenly becoming unable to differentiate between anything and anything else.

If I am responsible for bringing cold fusion into the mix, it is, as I said, not as the inventor but as something I read about.

I also admit that I haven't put time into the topic of ABX comparitors. I've been pretty clear on what my path has been, and it is one of using the built in tools I have to evaluate things, not finding ways to test myself.
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post #278 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 12:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morbius View Post

QeueCumber,

The environment's mixed. There's both C and C++ in this code.

What makes it REALLY tough sometimes is that our debugger "Totalview" doesn't
understand much about C++. One of our most important datastructures has recently
been converted from a C language typedef struct to a C++ class. That makes it
difficult to examine memory locations in that datastructure.

C++ has some nice features; which we use for high level driver functionality.
However, the low-level Physics routines are in C. After all, Physics is
procedural in nature, and a procedural language like C maps better to Physics.
The driver functions of a code that is interacting with a user; maps better to
an object-oriented language like C++.

However, mixing the two can be a real software jungle.

You could always add a function in the object to print out the data structure elements, or add cout lines to the iterator. You could even do it within an inhereted class so you don't mess with the original class at all. Or, you could just add a line of code asking the iterator to go through the elements and cout them all...

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post #279 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 12:42 PM
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Evelyin---fair enough. ABX is just a methodology and does not prescribe a particular piece of hardware or software. PCABX and QSC's hardware comparator are simply different ways of enabling ABX testing and they have their plusses and minuses.

PCABX software has proven to be very useful in testing lossy encoders (MP3, AAC, etc.) and certain other tests where the source signal is digital to begin with. But certainly it seems less suited for testing differences in analog signals, because as you note it requires digitization. For that purpose the QSC box is better suited but it certainly isn't necessary---it just makes things easier.

Michael
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post #280 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QueueCumber View Post

You could always add a function in the object to print out the data structure elements, or add cout lines to the iterator. You could even do it within an inhereted class so you don't mess with the original class at all. Or, you could just add a line of code asking the iterator to go through the elements and cout them all...

QueueCumber,

Yes - but it all kind of defeats the logic of having an interactive debugger like Totalview.

You find some "bad data" somewhere - and you ask "Where did THAT come from?"

You suspect that it might have come from one of these C++ datastructures that one
would not normally edit; but are just used in performing the calculation. So you have to
stop, write yourself an inquiry routine, recompile and build the code...

I didn't mention but this is a HUGE code; running on some of the world's most powerful
computers [ using 7.5 Megawatts of power ] like our ASCI Purple:

https://asc.llnl.gov/computing_resources/purple/

Also Heaven help you if one of your supporting libraries - like a graphics package - was
compiled with a different C++ compiler than the one you are using.

Code compiled with differing C++ compilers don't usually "play nice" with each other.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
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post #281 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 12:54 PM
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Quote:


I do not know what was in the Stereo Review box that they were so proud of, and I admit that. I may have been assuming too much, but the digitizing part sure seems to be there. If digitization was necessary, then in 1983 it had to be going on within the comparitor itself as there were no outboard digitizers mentioned, which would be even more problematic anyway.

The 1983 box used by Stereo Review did not digitize the signal. Why you insist on using an article about the PCABX comparitor to claim that it does is really a mystery to me. Unless you are intentionally trying to mislead people...
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post #282 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 12:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Subjectivity and the making of high fidelity audio gear:

High performance audio equipment is made by people who do subjective evaluations, for people who can enjoy the difference.

Bob Carver stands out as an anomaly, and puts pretty much the rest of U.S. and European makers of high-performance audio components into perspective. He would be the champion of those who claim that measurements and specifications are all you need.

The rest of us are going along doing back and forth between engineering and listening. It takes tremendous time and patience to refine designs this way. If the people designing high endstuff were confident that test devices could tell us what we need to know we would all have had everything so much easier.

You can pick on analogies if you want, but to someone who has spent uncountable hours refining very subtle nuances by ear, to make a component that's as good as it can possibly be, it's a little like being a chef in a fine restaurant, and watching a food skeptic measure, weigh, and computer-analyze a nice dinner.
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post #283 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 12:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Grant View Post

For that purpose the QSC box is better suited but it certainly isn't necessary---it just makes things easier.

Mike,

Yes - although I would point out that the PCABX software was introduced in 1999; and
therefore could not be used by Stereo Review in 1983.

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Physicist
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post #284 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 12:58 PM
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You know, I am going to keep picking on you to quit making overstatements until you stop doing it, Evelyn.
Quote:


He would be the champion of those who claim that measurements and specifications are all you need

There are no such people here. Period. Certainly not among us on this forum. Get over it. If you want to twist something Tom Nouisane or someother said to support your suggestion, fine, but let's cut the crap, nobody here has said, and nobody here believes, that measurements are all you need.
Quote:


To someone who has spent uncountable hours refining very subtle nuances by ear, to make a component that’s as good as it can possibly be, it’s a little like being a chef in a fine restaurant, and watching a food skeptic measure, weigh, and computer-analyze a nice dinner.

Perhaps because you are determined to see objectivism only in their most extreme caricatured form.

Besides, I would be very careful drawing culinary analogies here. Wine tasters do their tasting double-blind. Does anyone accuse them of "not tasting" just because they acknowledge the power of suggestion and work to counter it?

Michael
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post #285 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morbius View Post

Mike,

Look at the time-stamps; a lot of these responses came within a few minutes.

I'm multi-processing - trying to debug some code on one computer; and when it's
crunching; I turn to the other to compose my response.

At the time I began my response, Shawn had not yet posted. That may also be
true for others.

Morbius, agree that the multiple reponses may not have been intentional....i still think that maybe there needs to be a bit more inquirey before passionate responses begin.

overall; this thread has kept on the civil side of the things from where i sit.

i'm sympathetic to your multi-tasking mindset....it's what i do all day at work.
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post #286 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WilliamZX11 View Post

The 1983 box used by Stereo Review did not digitize the signal. Why you insist on using an article about the PCABX comparitor to claim that it does is really a mystery to me. Unless you are intentionally trying to mislead people...

William,

THAT's the part that gets me.

We are discussing what Stereo Review did in 1983; and Evelyn backs up her position by
posting a reference to the PCABX software that didn't exist until 1999.

http://www.provide.net/~djcarlst/abx_hdwr.htm

PCABX Comparator
New in 1999

I would also conjecture that referring to the PCABX software is an attempt to mislead.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
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post #287 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 01:04 PM
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ok, ok already! Evelyn admitted she didn't know what the Stereo Review box was. I know you're multitasking Morbius but it's over.

Michael
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post #288 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike lavigne View Post

.i still think that maybe there needs to be a bit more inquirey before passionate responses begin.

Mike,

Yes - and additionally, there should be a bit more scholarship and "due dilligence" on
the part of the original authors, as well as those that respond.

Posters should not attempt to "win the battle" by asserting something that is self-serving -
even though it is false. Just like my example with Pons and Fleischmann and "Cold Fusion";
if you don't do your homework and try to make a big splash - then when the truth comes out,
you have to expect to get called on your poor scholarship.

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Physicist
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post #289 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Let me make this clearer; there are things I don't know very much about, and ABX boxes are among those things. I gave my references and my reasoning, and flat out admitted that I did not know what was in the Stereo Review box. Apparently I came to an incorrect conclusion.

The problem is partly in the mix of time frames.

The account of an introduction of some kind of ABX testing into a hi fi store nullifying the differences between $200 CD players and $2000 CD players is, I think, more recent. I asked for details about it, but didn't get much in the way of specifics. I made a guess about what could account for it.

I have found good blind testing sufficient for what I do.

You may need an ABX tester as a tool for what you do, but since its something I don't use I haven't gone deeply into the subject. OK?
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post #290 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 01:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Probably blind food tasting should not be done in restaurants, come to think of it.
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post #291 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 01:31 PM
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Perhaps, if time permits Evelyn, you can give one example, say with wires, of your blind testing protocol.

"I've found that when you want to know the truth about someone that someone is probably the last person you should ask." - Gregory House
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post #292 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 01:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evelyn Sinclair View Post

Probably blind food tasting should not be done in restaurants, come to think of it.

Agreed. Presentation is an important aesthetic component of any fine meal. But then again, it clearly does nothing to enhance the taste, except with respect to it's possible effect on individual psychology.
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post #293 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 01:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Actually I ws thinking more of the mess....
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post #294 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 01:38 PM - Thread Starter
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To Michael Grant,

Remember this?
http://www.randi.org/jr/080504string.html#8
A reader has a few words about "hi-end" audio matters:

The first person who told me that people who claim supernatural powers never seem to be able to make them work in the presence of magicians, was an old friend named Paul Ierymenko. He worked for me designing and building various electronic products in the mid 70's. He is now the head of R&D at QSC Audio. They're one of the makers of the ABX Comparator. I remember talking with him, back then, about the differences between the sound quality of various audio devices, especially amplifiers. He maintained that any reasonable quality amplifier, operating within its specified limits, is acoustically indistinguishable from any other. Ditto for many other devices as well.

That was someone James Randi quoted approvingly. (This was kind of what I thought this thread was going to be about, actually.) I'm not saying anyone here has the same opinions. You are free to take something personally if you think it fits you, but try not to do so unnecessarily.
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post #295 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 02:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rto View Post

Agreed. Presentation is an important aesthetic component of any fine meal. But then again, it clearly does nothing to enhance the taste, except with respect to it's possible effect on individual psychology.

Aestehetics are also important in audio gear. Otherwise, we all would have unfinished, high density fiber board speaker cabinets and flat black metal component boxes sitting on cinder block shelves in our rooms. So although the audio is the main course, the aesthetics work on our mindsets to be able to enjoy the music. So let's not pretend that it's unimportant.

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post #296 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 02:05 PM
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Evelyn, if you want to debate people who are not on this thread, go do it! But you have been debating us, here. I think it's reasonable to assume you're addressing us when doing so.

Besides, even if I grant that you were only talking about, say, Paul Ierymenko and James Randi, his statement is not the same as saying that "all you need are measurements." For one, he doesn't say all devices sound the same when operating within their specified limits; "many" is not the same as "all". Secondly, James could very well be overstating Paul's position. That wouldn't surprise me. There are differences in civility and tone in the debate in this thread, and James Randi would be one of the more irritating participants were he here.

Furthermore, I wonder what Paul would say now. After all, DBT testing has since been used to detect differences between amplifiers! And the discussion James is referring to was in the 1970's. A lot has been learned since then about amplifier distortion, just like a lot has been learned since then about digital audio reproduction. Not so much about electricity flowing through wire.

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I know a bottle of my 2002 Jos Phelps Insignia will taste better in the evening, over a great steak and with good friends....rather than at a hockey game in a plastic cup...

So, esthetics, mood,a comfortable chair and all else unrelated to cables are important, impacting factors when listening..... I know if I had a slick , metallic like glistening, thick as rope interconnects lit up in their snaking between my amp and speakers, I'd feel pretty good about them before the CD player was even cued up..

Oh the nice bottles of Burgundy and Bordeauxs you could hav for a pair of Pear cables.....or Cabernet? Colgin or Harlan Maiden anyone???? (instead of cables)????

My Home Theater of the Month- Le Petit Trianon

There are more than a handful of [op amps] that sound so good that most designers want to be using them as opposed to discreet transistors. Dave Reich, Theta 2009
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post #298 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 02:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Chu Gai,

I figure several people will rip apart whatever I write, but I'll give it a try anyway. Then I'll go do something else while people figure out what's wrong with it.

No lab coats were involved.

Cable testing is a big pain in the butt to do. You have to have someone swap out cables while you wait (with your eyes closed). The person doing the swapping has to be really good at the whole thing to be both quick and accurate (like not accidentally get something out of phase). The fact that there are sometimes differences in how loud things are is problematic. Do you compensate by turning down the volume, or not? Good reasons against both.

If the attitude of the listener is important, then I'll include mine: I was really wishing the whole thing weren't necessary, but I did my job, the same way I evaluated the other stuff that had to be listened to. There are many expensive things, by the way, that I was very unimpressed with. I felt resentful that we had to give so much attention to magic boxes that the press was touting, when they were in. We had a clutter of Mitch Cotter's blue boxes lying around on the shelves for years as a result of one of those enthusiasms. When fancy cables came into fashion, I figured it was more of the same. In some cases it was, and in some it wasn't.

This probably won't sound like scientific methodology the way I'm writing it, but the routines got established well enough that we were doing good evaluations. I mean, we didn't do things we didn't need to but did everything that was necessary to prevent contaminating our evaluations. The people listening couldn't see what was changed. We only changed one parameter at a time. We avoided discussion that would give away what was going on. Most of it was just quiet, businesslike, and very very tedious.

My results were consistent with those of others when they got to be the earsand have me do the switching. I certainly heard things I was not expecting to hear, and some times I heard things I definitely did not want to hear - such as when a customer brought in some new preamp that was (gasp) better than what we had to offer in the same price range!

So picture a person, eyes closed, in the comfy listening chair, and a very revealing setup, listening to I'm Your Man by Leonard Cohen. The listener knows the CD well, and recalls that there's a kind of throaty growl going on in one of the tracks, and hears it as usual. Then a change is made, and suddenly there is clarity that makes the blurry sound a lot less blurry. There is new clarity, plain and simple. Oh, crap, the listener thinks. Now I have to pay attention to cables.
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post #299 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by thebland View Post

Oh the nice bottles of Burgundy and Bordeauxs you could hav for a pair of Pear cables.....or Cabernet? Colgin or Harlan Maiden anyone???? (instead of cables)????

I think we can all agree that a nice bottle Cabernet will do wonders on how music on our systems sound.

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post #300 of 1770 Old 10-07-2007, 02:19 PM
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I hope we can disagree without being disagreeable.

I love psychoacoustics and audio because I can perceive things that are clearly illusion! That is part of the fun of the hobby. There is so much cognitive bias in listening to audio equipment that listening comparisons are really hard to do. People who are predisposed to hear no differences will do so. People who are predisposed to hear differences will hear them.

It really is that simple, and we all get to vote with our pocketbooks. Manufacturers use quantitative measurements and listening tests to perfect their products. If we like the result, we should buy them. I don't get the 'subjectivist' vs. 'objectivist' debate. I am both.

The rub, I think, comes when reviewers and other third parties are involved. I really don't see how they do it. Some of the verbiage is unbelievable. So I don't, (believe) and I listen for myself.

I have been through a lot of speaker cables in my system, all on loan from from the local audio salon. They are a PITA to compare. Up/down/connect/disconnect ad nauseum. After I got past the Kimber 4TC, I could no longer detect any difference, so I spent money on other things. Other people can hear differences and should spend accordingly, always with the option to return the product with no penalty within a reasonable amount of time.

I wonder, how many folks here have used an A/B/X comparator? I asked this many posts ago. I used a DLC box extensively when I was designing for a living. No one has answered in the affirmative. There is a fair amount of tedium and pain involved in the process. I have to give credit to the people who are willing to do this, just as I give credit to the good people at our local audio shops who listen extensively and can point me in the right direction.
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