James Randi’s attack on high performance audio - Page 59 - AVS Forum
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post #1741 of 1770 Old 11-16-2007, 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael Grant View Post

Speco, does that mean you are certain he will be able to tell the difference? I for one am not. After all, those network boxes could roll off way high---note CharlesJ's last post above. So for me it's not a useless test. Yes I won't be shaken if he passes, but think about if he doesn't!

No I am not certain, but again unless we have specs of the cable it is NOT APPLES TO APPLES.
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post #1742 of 1770 Old 11-17-2007, 05:03 AM
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But that's true whether or not the cables are straight wire. No cables measure exactly the same. And the measurements can come just as easily after a (passed) test than before.

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post #1743 of 1770 Old 11-17-2007, 05:45 AM
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Originally Posted by speco2003 View Post

No I am not certain, but again unless we have specs of the cable it is NOT APPLES TO APPLES.

Well... being one that 'knows' that cables can make a difference, my take is that you're never comparing 'apples to apples'... unless of course, you're using the exact same set of cables in both instances.

As far as measurments go. I think measurements are fine if used for engineering or comparing. But the end all of end all's, still have to be the way they sound.

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post #1744 of 1770 Old 11-17-2007, 05:49 AM
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Originally Posted by speco2003 View Post

OK well thanks for clearing that up. I will not have to wait for any results then. Thanks for doing a completely useless test.

And thank you for another completely useless post.

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post #1745 of 1770 Old 11-17-2007, 06:15 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mike lavigne View Post

the way the volume control works on the darTZeel preamp would make it unlikely to be able to level match.

Mike maybe someone you know owns a True RMS multi meter like this?

http://www.radioshack.com/sm-extech-...i-2104750.html
Tones and a true RMS (root mean square) meter would help in level matching. Also time permitting one could plot any emphasis or de-emphasis the Opus is contributing. This would also show how the darTZeel interacts with any potential change in load characteristics due to the Opus network.
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post #1746 of 1770 Old 11-17-2007, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by tbrunet View Post

Mike maybe someone you know owns a True RMS multi meter like this?

http://www.radioshack.com/sm-extech-...i-2104750.html
Tones and a true RMS (root mean square) meter would help in level matching. Also time permitting one could plot any emphasis or de-emphasis the Opus is contributing. This would also show how the darTZeel interacts with any potential change in load characteristics due to the Opus network.

i don't have one of those......but i do have one of these....

http://us.fluke.com/usen/products/Fluke80SeriesV.htm

and one of these.....

http://mixonline.com/gear/reviews/au..._paa_portable/

and two of these......

http://images.google.com/images?q=ea...mages&ct=title

......which i prefer to the first two.

of course, some might say the problem with me is this......

http://images.google.com/images?q=br...mages&ct=title
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post #1747 of 1770 Old 11-17-2007, 06:48 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mike lavigne View Post

i don't have one of those......but i do have one of these....
http://us.fluke.com/usen/products/Fluke80SeriesV.htm

Perfect..Fluke is laboratory grade stuff.. I personally use the 8060A..Anyway level matching is easy. With a simple sine wave at ~ 500Hz, then match the AC Volts at the speakers binding post. If a tone generating source is available a simple FR plot could be documented.
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post #1748 of 1770 Old 11-17-2007, 06:58 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mike lavigne View Post

and two of these......
http://images.google.com/images?q=ea...mages&ct=title

Hey shouldn't those be golden
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post #1749 of 1770 Old 11-17-2007, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by tbrunet View Post

Perfect..Fluke is laboratory grade stuff.. I personally use the 8060A..Anyway level matching is easy. With a simple sine wave at ~ 500Hz, then match the AC Volts at the speakers binding post. If a tone generating source is available a simple FR plot could be documented.

the Model i have is the Fluke 87V True RMS Multimeter.

it's all over my head......but the guys that will be here today will know what your talking about and whatever my tools can measure i'm certainly open to being measured. or if they bring their tools that's ok too.

i do have a RTR tape deck and some alignment tapes with tones as well as a few different CD's with steady state tones. whatever these guys want to measure is fine.
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post #1750 of 1770 Old 11-17-2007, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by tbrunet View Post

Hey shouldn't those be golden

seriously; i don't believe in 'Golden Ears'. unless a person has specific hearing problems it really is a matter of the degree of exposure to SOTA music reproduction. over time you do condition your senses to pick up on nuances and recognize what the more highly resolving gear can do......this 'experience' makes it easy to 'recognize' the presense or lack of resolution.

i will agree that some people with lots of listening experience to SOTA gear are much quicker to figure things out than others with the same experience. those people i would call the 'Golden Ears'.......and it's a relative thing. i know a few people that are quicker to pick up on subtle issues than myself......and others where i am quicker.

in any case; mostly it's being motivated and then aquiring experience that results in listening abilities.....and it's not the hearing but the knowing what to listen for that counts.

the best person i have come accross is a Symphony Conductor friend who is also an audiophile. he is the Music Director of a regional orchestra as well as conducts and teaches 2 youth symphonies. he has some commercial recordings he has done which he has brought over to my room frequently.

sitting there as he is listening to his music on my system has always been great fun as he comments on how it compares to the exact recording process and choices.

if anyone has 'Golden Ears' it would be him. he has the best reference and the most practice.
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post #1751 of 1770 Old 11-17-2007, 07:37 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mike lavigne View Post

in any case; mostly it's being motivated and then aquiring experience that results in listening abilities.....and it's not the hearing but the knowing what to listen for that counts.

Mike you did notice the

fwiw it's one thing to have damaged hearing or sight, but I don't subscribe to the concept that one needs to know or learn how to 'hear or see' the sublime . Also perception is subjective..someone’s perfection is anothers marginal.
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post #1752 of 1770 Old 11-17-2007, 07:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbrunet View Post

Mike you did notice the

which was why i started with 'seriously'.....thanks....i did not take offence in any case.

Quote:


fwiw it's one thing to have damaged hearing or sight, but I don't subscribe to the concept that one needs to know or learn how to "hear or see" art. Also perception is subjective..someone’s perfection is anothers marginal.

agree....

but some art lovers will be able to see 'into' the piece of art and see the process of construction or creation.....they will recognize the type of tool used or stlyle of brush strokes. if they have seen lots of works by a particular artist they can tell if it is real or fake. those abilities are the result of knowledge and experience. a newbie can enjoy but may not understand or recognize the significance of what their senses are telling them.....they may see but not notice.

we are speaking to the question of how could one person be able to pick out differences where another may miss them. first; regarding my test i think anyone with decent hearing would both hear and recognize the differences assuming they were paying attention. second; i think the more experienced listener would hear those differences sooner and the test proceedure could be less friendly but still have success.
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post #1753 of 1770 Old 11-17-2007, 07:54 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mike lavigne View Post

but some art lovers will be able to see 'into' the piece of art and see the process of construction or creation......

I edited my last post in an attempt to be a little more succinct, I should have used the word sublime' it's better adjective than just art.
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post #1754 of 1770 Old 11-17-2007, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by tbrunet View Post

I edited my last post in an attempt to be a little more succinct, I should have used the word sublime' it's better adjective than just art.

me too.....i added a paragraph to my last post.

i suppose we are just having a conversation here.......
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post #1755 of 1770 Old 11-17-2007, 08:35 AM
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If I were doing a practice run on ABX speaker cable tests. First I would start with something easy like 50 feet of that 22ga stuff that comes with cheap speakers against 12 feet of the real good cables. Once I learned the differences, I would work my way up.

Kevin
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post #1756 of 1770 Old 11-17-2007, 09:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rutgar View Post

Well... being one that 'knows' that cables can make a difference, my take is that you're never comparing 'apples to apples'... unless of course, you're using the exact same set of cables in both instances.

As far as measurments go. I think measurements are fine if used for engineering or comparing. But the end all of end all's, still have to be the way they sound.


Yes you can compare apples to apples. If the gauge is the same and and there are no network boxes in place then you have something. Otherwise his little test is just pissing in the wind.

And you missed the boat on the measurements. We would like to see the measurements of the magic cables he has to see what they may be doing to the frequency response. If anything. It is very simple. And the if it sounds good it must be good argument is old as well, and has been hashed in this thread to death.
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post #1757 of 1770 Old 11-17-2007, 09:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike lavigne View Post


we are speaking to the question of how could one person be able to pick out differences where another may miss them. first; regarding my test i think anyone with decent hearing would both hear and recognize the differences assuming they were paying attention. second; i think the more experienced listener would hear those differences sooner and the test proceedure could be less friendly but still have success.



If you are so experienced then do the test between 12 gauge zip and some other 12 gauge cables without the boxes.
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post #1758 of 1770 Old 11-18-2007, 09:31 AM
 
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Morning!

I got back a little late last night and didn't do a writeup then, I figure Mike will post his impressions at some point too.

First of all, kudos to Mike for being the always-gracious host, and also for his fairness and open mindedness for this trial. It is fair to recognize that he only had something to lose, and nothing really to be gained except perhaps an objective vindication of his position.

And to cut to the chase, Mike could not identify the Monster from the Opus MM with any accuracy (nor the reverse, which also would have been a positive result if he had been consistently wrong) using our testing methodology. We stopped the test a little less than halfway through, I think we got through 8 A/Bs before we gave up.

There were 4 of us present at the test. Mike had performed sighted listening tests on his own, and before I arrived he performed sighted listening tests while wearing a blindfold to acclimate himself to the testing method. His blindfold was a pair of duct-taped safety glasses. He could not see anything except a tiny bit directly below him. Theoretically, he could have strained his neck and been able to see the floor by the speakers where the wire was, but this was not allowed. After all, cheating would only serve to cheat himself. While switching wires, Mike wore earmuffs to minimize any possibility of identifying wires by the noises of switching the wires.

The plan was to do twenty A/B trials, which were chosen by flipping a coin. This was done before I arrived. After I arrived, we decided to check the level-match between wires. We did not have a method to level-match the wire if they were non-matched, however we also felt that the wire should match. Because the Opus uses some kind of network box, it conceivably would be possible that the signal were attenuated or otherwise altered and change the level, making it possible to identify the wire this way, rather than by sound 'quality' per se. The levels matched with a sine wave tone within 1/100th of a volt, the difference between the two sides was several hundredths of a volt with both wires. The difference between the L and R channels was greater than the possible difference between wires, which anyway was insignificant. We decided to check this because while we had no way of matching levels precisely, if there were a level difference we would have added a step to our methodology by turning down the volume all the way and then allowing mike to adjust the volume up, which would eliminate the ability to judge any difference in volume. We didn't need to do this, so Mike could listen without having to change the volume all the time, however he was free to change volume if he wanted.

There was, being generous, about one minute of a wait between changing cables. This was the case for both the sighted preparatory tests, and the blind tests. His amp basically goes straight through, so even with it turned off, it is feeding the speakers for a while. We would wait a little bit after turning off the amp before disconnecting the speaker wire and switching wire. We took care to be quiet while putting the wire down so as not to make any noise which could distinguish the wire. We changed the wire each and every time, regardless of whether switching to the other cable. At each time Mike would wear the earmuffs, even if he was going back to a known test, again to eliminate any possibility of identifying the wire by the noise of changing the wires.

We did at one point stop and go play pool for a few minutes and then come back to the test, doing a sighted (though still blindfolded) test to re-familiarize Mike with the cables.

So our results with Mike as our listener were clear: for this particular methodology, Mike could not accurately identify a difference in the cables. Again, a backwards result of Mike wrongly identifying the cables reliably also would have been a positive result.

I went into this with a fairly open mind. I did not have a previous opinion on the difference in speaker wire. However, I am fairly objective, and I did have two main expectations. First was that speaker wire, even if it did have an audible difference, would be very insignificant in the scope of the overall system. If there was going to be a difference, I was expecting it to be extremly subtle, and small. In other words, being objective about speaker wire tells me that it is fairly straightforward if you have sufficient gauge that the wire should basically get everything to the speaker with a precision that exceeds our hearing ability. Second, if there was going to be a difference, the suggested possibility of the network box in the Opus rolling off the highs may have caused an expectation of slightly less brightness/detail.

I personally went through the first few trials sighted, helping to change the wires. Going into the test I had no set opinion beside the expectations I just described. And while I am quite objective, objectivism also tells me things about vinyl which are quickly disproven in Mike's system. So I am open to these kinds of subjective things as well. As I went through 3 sighted trials, I began to form an opinion which basically told me that there WAS a difference in cables. Subtle, but I can say with confidence that it was present. I thought the Monster cable was a bit harsher, with a little bit less separation between instruments. This may have been a bias from my expectation that the Opus network box could have been attenuating the high frequencies, but I swore it was there. It is interesting to me that while I formed this opinion not having heard Mike or anyone else describe what they thought the difference was, after we stopped the whole test, Mike described what he previously thought the sighted difference sounded like (what he was listening for in the test) was practically identical to what I thought I was hearing sighted.

Then, for my own curiousity, I did the remaining 5 A/Bs before we stopped the test at 8 A/Bs blinded. I didn't wear ear muffs, and I just closed my eyes. I could have cheated if I wanted, but I did not (I guess you just have to take my word). I also, to check the rigor of our methdology, tried to actively listen to the cables being switched and see if I could identify either, to see if there was a way of identifying which was which that might have influenced mike even with earmuffs. There was no way to identify wire this way. I had looked at our test sheet, but I made no effort to try to memorize the sequence or have any idea what I would be listening to. In my 5 trials, I was certain on 3, and relatively uncertain on 2. I only matched 3 our ot 5, which is basically just blind luck, and I only got 2 of the 3 I was certain about correct. In other words, as a second, just self-interested and self-blinded tester, I could not with any reliability identify a difference in the cables.

The results for Mike and also the non rigorous one for myself certainly undid the opinion I was forming during my sighted listening. To characterize the position I've come to, I think it's fair to say that the objectivist arguments have a great deal of merit. It is fair to say that the onus is on subjectivists to discern speaker cable differences reliably. However it is ALSO fair to say that it is very difficult to prove a negative, especially for people with a subjectivist bent. Objectivists must also be honest about what our test results tell us: that with this methodology, and with this methodology ONLY, we could not reliably discern any differences in the cables. This does not prove that there are no differences with the cable, only that there were no differences discerned with this method.

In my personaly opinion, doing a long line of tests like this is generally unpleasant to do, you get tired of listening to the same stuff over and over, and after a little while it all starts to sound the same. Also, Mike only went back to a known A/B once during the test. I still would be interested in a similar test but spread out in time, doing maybe only one or two A/Bs at a time. This keeps fatigue down, and things don't all start to sound the same (again, just for the sake of argument assuming that there is an audible difference).

However, this test does tell us that even assuming for the sake of argument that there is a difference, that such a difference is extremly small, since it could not be percieved reliably with this method. After we finished the test, for curiosity we cut the ends of 16 gauge extension cords, and connected them to the system. We did this sighted. And the system sounded absolutely fantastic. The result I came away with through the whole experience is that people should generally not fret about speaker wire. Using a speaker wire of sufficient gauge for the task gets the job done. Even the unreliable sighted 'impressions' I had of the difference between Monster an Opus, which can not in any way be fairly attributable to actual difference, was extremely subtle. And the 16 gauge sounded basically exactly the same too.

After the test Mike was very gracious, and very fair and honest in accepting the result. I think he is probably curious to do some more testing in a different A/B format, perhaps along the lines I suggested. Or perhaps an ABX type test. It was curious that after the test, he characterized his certainty that during the test, it seemed fairly clear which was which. However, he was not identifying the cables with any consistency (rightly or wrongly) during the test. He did stop though and we left to go play pool to get away from the testing, so it seemed to me as an observer anyway that he was beginning to have difficulty, at least from his perspective, in identifying which was which. However, he was before that time not being at all consistent.

So I think that's basically everyting that either side would want to know. And I'm sure there's plenty of ammunition for both. I can say now that I am of the opinion that speaker wire basically makes no significant difference in sound quality, given sufficient gauge. Even the 16gauge extension cord was fantastic. I am still open to the possibility of audible differences with speaker cable, however such differences must be quite small and very subtle.

After the test, Mike played a handful of records, and I played some CDs as well. And what I came away with perhaps more than that is that Mike has probably the best overall system I've ever heard especially for BIG music. Big orchestral and rock sounded simply unbelievable. Santana, the Gates of Kiev, and Zeppelin among others on vinyl were just absolutely incredible. A completely new experience. I was trying to be extremely picky, and while I've heard a system here and there do small things differently in ways that in my opinion were slightly better, stepping back and considering the whole picture: it's simply an absolutely incredible system. The best I've ever heard big complex music.

So thanks again to Mike for being open and fair through the whole test and setting it all up and putting in the time and effort even though he really had nothing to gain. And for the pizza!

So flame on. If I were Mike, I frankly wouldn't care that much anyway, cable difference or not, it's one hell of a music system.
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post #1759 of 1770 Old 11-18-2007, 09:47 AM
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I haven't kept up on this thread, or I probably would have found an excuse to come down..

An excellent writeup Chris! Your test pretty much covered how I would have done the a/bing, and the outcome was pretty much expected (coming from an objectivist like me! ).

Now I'm REALLY curious as to Mike's comments. Mike, has this test changed your mind about cables, or ??

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post #1760 of 1770 Old 11-18-2007, 11:48 AM
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well that certainly is a little surprise. Maybe it means that the network boxes are as big a myth as the 10 dollars woth of parts in the PSAudio noise harvester.

I find the extension cord test very telling as well.

And I would really like to hear records again on a good system so count that as a plus for you.
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post #1761 of 1770 Old 11-18-2007, 11:51 AM
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Kudos all around to those involved.

I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith, I am nothing." ~ D.Adams
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post #1762 of 1770 Old 11-18-2007, 12:56 PM
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Kudos to Mike and all those involved.
It be nice to hear Mike's impressions of the test.
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post #1763 of 1770 Old 11-18-2007, 01:07 PM
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Can all of those who are normally on an insulting and sarcastic bent please try to be adult.

The results here are (to my interpretation) far more about sighted biases than anything else.

And as will undoubtedly happen, they will be stated to be valid only for mikes system. "of course if they used system ABC, then it would have been clearly obvious"

Kudos to mike for stepping up. ANd Like Curt, i am most interested in mikes take on the test.

unless he is sitting in his barn weeping (joke, just kidding)

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post #1764 of 1770 Old 11-18-2007, 01:31 PM
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Given the boxes on those cables I would not have been at all surprised if they were screwing with the signal enough to make an audible difference.

On the other hand I'm not at all surprised either that no difference could be heard but I'd feel more confident about that if an ABX switcher had been used.

I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith, I am nothing." ~ D.Adams
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post #1765 of 1770 Old 11-18-2007, 01:49 PM
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[quote=AdrianMills;12252132]Given the boxes on those cables I would not have been at all surprised if they were screwing with the signal enough to make an audible difference.
QUOTE]


Except they made no difference which probably means they are useless.
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post #1766 of 1770 Old 11-18-2007, 01:54 PM
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I made comments quite a while back on some other thread about this. When i talked to a friend of mine about this type of testing, he said that for unknown sounds, when comparing for subtle difference (i am REALLY paraphrasing here as this was a 2 hour convo) human auditory memory is about 4 seconds. i am talking a straight passage to passage comparison. Now the more knowledge i have (if i am a professional musician, then i can take those "tones" and put them into the context of what note they are, if the pitch is correct... etc) the longer that gap can be. but in general terms, our ability to tell if they are the same level or slightly different or such things, fades pretty quick after 4 seconds.

Not saying this as an excuse, but as another piece of info for the whole testing methodology thing. This is the reason why an ABX box is preferred, instantaneous switch.

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post #1767 of 1770 Old 11-18-2007, 02:08 PM
 
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Well done...basically proved what I and many other friends of mine have known for a long long time...cables are pretty much cables...and it is indeed next to impossible to tell the differences between them when blindfolded. SO it all boils down to placebo effect I guess.

Sad to see so many folks spend a bunch of $$$ on cables thinking they are going to hear an "amazing difference" like the marketing guys who sell them like to spin it all.

Congrats to all who participated in helping dispell the cable myth...at least to some degree.
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post #1768 of 1770 Old 11-18-2007, 02:12 PM
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Well, I'm also surprised. However, I agree that everyone should try to remain adult about this. Also, we should wait to see what Mike has to say as well.

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post #1769 of 1770 Old 11-18-2007, 02:24 PM
 
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Quote:


Well done...basically proved what I and many other friends of mine have known for a long long time...cables are pretty much cables...and it is indeed next to impossible to tell the differences between them when blindfolded. SO it all boils down to placebo effect I guess.

Sad to see so many folks spend a bunch of $$$ on cables thinking they are going to hear an "amazing difference" like the marketing guys who sell them like to spin it all.

Congrats to all who participated in helping dispell the cable myth...at least to some degree.

I agree.
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post #1770 of 1770 Old 11-18-2007, 02:24 PM
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i think that from here http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...9#post12250499

this should be a new thread with all of its inevitable back and forth.

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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