Observations of a controlled Cable Test - Page 5 - AVS Forum
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post #121 of 384 Old 11-21-2007, 10:37 AM
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If the test protocol is wearing, just do it exactly the same way the person determined they could hear a difference in the first place, i.e. casual switching, except that someone else does the changeouts and the listener doesn't know which cable it is.

For a lazy guy like me, that would be *less* stressful.

Unless of course I cared which one sounded better.

Noah
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post #122 of 384 Old 11-21-2007, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Dizzman View Post

I will agree with the stress thing.

Almost any kind of testing is stressful. not because i might fail or pass, but because i have to pay attention to things that are normally not part of my focus.

But how would that be different in a 'sighted' comparison -- which is what
'audiophiles' tend to do? Any audio comparison of two things is not quite like 'normal listening'...where you're not comparing anything. Yet every audio component review is at heart a comparison. Are all those guys (it's almost always guys) in Stereophile and Absolute Sound and the mainstream mags stressing themselves out? Doesn't sound like it from what they write.

Mike L. seemed to have no 'stress' problems when comparing cables on his own. He heard those 'obvious' difference just fine.
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post #123 of 384 Old 11-21-2007, 01:56 PM
 
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Remember the difference was not subtle.
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Originally Posted by mike lavigne View Post

......the Monster cables are quite easy to identify as different than the Transparent Opus. i could get into the details of in what way and how much but it really does not matter

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post #124 of 384 Old 11-21-2007, 02:10 PM
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Of course testing can be and usually is stressful. I can not fathom how anyone who's ever actually done any testing could not see that. Are you familiar with "testing anxiety?" That's some "elementary" stuff, pun intended, in the field of psychometrics. Part of designing any test is to try to make sure you are measuring what you are actually intend to measure. You can be measuring something but that something can be "test anxiety" and not what you think you are measuring. This just a small educational study which has results that are typical http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal...accno=EJ616811 . I always suggest that my younger relatives take the ACT and SAT several times, for example. The truth is that they are not going to learn a lot between the different testing dates. They may learn some things which will improve their score. As someone in the field of psychology I know that the more they take the test, the less anxiety they will have and that is correlated with the score they will recieve. For example, if say they need a minimum score to gain admittance, once that is met, test anxiety should go way down. Then when they take the test, with nothing to lose, their scores usually go up. The anxiety factor has been diminished. This is also why it can be difficult to replicate results on test of single subject. If you keep giving the same subject, the same test, what you may be measuing may not an "improvement" on the testing subject but rather a reduction of testing anxiety. To have a test that you can replicate, you use the same testing condition with subjects with the same level of experience under the same testing condiions. Usually, NO, experience is preferable.

Never become so involved with something that it blinds you.
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post #125 of 384 Old 11-21-2007, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by tbrunet View Post

Remember the difference was not subtle.

Today's word is "indictment".

Let's keep in mind that Mike has admitted that he couldn't tell the difference, regardless of what he said in the past. Even the most egregious sinners are allowed to recant in search of forgiveness

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post #126 of 384 Old 11-21-2007, 02:14 PM
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Remember too: when Mike started feeling stressed, he took a break and played some pool. And they tossed out the trial where he thought 'stress' was a factor. (I wonder if he got that one right or not?)
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post #127 of 384 Old 11-21-2007, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by krabapple View Post

Remember too: when Mike started feeling stressed, he took a break and played some pool. And they tossed out the trial where he thought 'stress' was a factor. (I wonder if he got that one right or not?)

i never did make a choice for #6 since clearly i could not get my bearings on any differences.....it was at this point i recognized that my aural memory had reached it's limits and i needed to re-establish it.

since they had already started test #6 they decided to throw it out and go to #7 instead of re-doing #6.

with 20/20 hindsight it is evidant that my aural memory had failed by test #2....but it was not till test #6 that i became aware of that.

my future efforts will be focused on how to duplicate my performance on test #1 and #7 where my aural memory was most strong. it's also possible i was just 'lucky' on #1 and #7 and i never really heard any differences. time will tell.
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post #128 of 384 Old 11-21-2007, 03:20 PM
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Hello Mike I do not know how the test was done, but I find when doing my a/b testing with different components that a particular word or phrase in a song will have a different characteristic ie ; more emotional or better delininated. If I am trying to listen for multiple differences in a longer test setting it gets frustrating. Some pieces of course just sound better or worse and its a no brainer, but when your system is comprised of high end components the differences are subtle.
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post #129 of 384 Old 11-21-2007, 06:36 PM
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Of course, if you'd been using these:

http://www.machinadynamica.com/machina44.htm

THEN the test would have come out otherwise.

Dean Roddey
Chairman/CTO, Charmed Quark Systems, Ltd

www.charmedquark.com

 

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post #130 of 384 Old 11-21-2007, 07:19 PM
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I don't have much to add except to say that I'm MOST impressed by the way Mike has conducted himself.

I strongly doubt that the cables skeptics (and I include myself in this generalisation) would have been as gracious in accepting the results had they been otherwise. It would have been instant...'you didn't do this correctly, or what about that...'

Thankyou Mike for doing the test, and even more so thankyou for the manner in which you have reported it.
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post #131 of 384 Old 11-21-2007, 07:23 PM
 
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Wow what a thread....

So basically in a nutshell and in plain English, w/o all the "what if's" or "if I practice beforehands" etc let me see if I got this straight.

The listener, Mike, who is adament that he CAN tell the sound differences between cables,was sat down, blindfolded, told to listen to cable A....a bit later told to listen to cable B. This was done a few times and most of the times the listener, Mike, had no real clue which one was which, and in the end basically guessed to the best of his ability because ...well...it was basically impossible to tell the audible differences between the two...am I pretty close in giving this Cliff Notes non flowery assesment of what happened?

If so, why all this talk of "I need to prepare better next time" or "I was stressed" etc etc...I mean isn't the GIANT point of this test to plug in one set of cables, play music, switch to the other set, and say "Yeppers, cable A is brand "X"..I can tell because the lows sounded deeper..." or whatever....and in the listeners perfect world, he would be able to without a shadow of a doubt pick the same cable over and over and over again??

I don't understand why the listener needs to have more practice sessions to better understand each cable etc..or a less stressful environment...shouldn't you be able to just plop down blindfolded in a chair...listen to A then B and w/o a doubt pick out the cable you say is so easy to tell apart from the rest???

Please enlighten me as to why the story/test and the after effects are getting spun all around...if the listener couldn't tell a difference, then that should be the end of it...he couldn't tell a differnce, end of story, and he can move on...he can of course buy whatever he like, but now he will know in the back of his mind that there really are little to no differences between most if not all cables and marketers have indeed lined their pockets with cash for many years claiming their cable will INDEED sound better than most everyone elses..and people buy into it with their hard earned money.

Am I completely off base here???? My apologies if I am...it just to ME, seems VERY black and white..no real middle ground.

Oh and again, Mike you indeed were a brave soul to go through with the test and in the end find that your beliefs were indeed based on what could be very good marketing spin on the part of the boutique cable maker(s)...most folks in your boat would never have been willing to be proven "wrong" if you will about your former cable beliefs....cheers for taking the test.
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post #132 of 384 Old 11-21-2007, 09:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon Shumway View Post

Wow what a thread....

So basically in a nutshell and in plain English, w/o all the "what if's" or "if I practice beforehands" etc let me see if I got this straight.

The listener, Mike, who is adament that he CAN tell the sound differences between cables,was sat down, blindfolded, told to listen to cable A....a bit later told to listen to cable B. This was done a few times and most of the times the listener, Mike, had no real clue which one was which, and in the end basically guessed to the best of his ability because ...well...it was basically impossible to tell the audible differences between the two...am I pretty close in giving this Cliff Notes non flowery assesment of what happened?

Not quite right....he thought he was identifying the cables correctly; he didn't think he was 'guessing' (except for the discarded trial).
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post #133 of 384 Old 11-21-2007, 09:34 PM
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The moral of the story is that, if cables make a difference, but you can't reliably tell in an A/B situation, even with a minute between cable changes, it doesn't improve your *enjoyment* of music, except through the knowledge that it's there.

IOW, I use regular 14 gauge cables, not because I don't think some high-end cables aren't somewhat better, but because it really won't affect how much I enjoy music. I guess I'm kind of the opposite of the "I heard something, I must be enjoying music more now" crowd.

John
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post #134 of 384 Old 11-21-2007, 09:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post

Of course, if you'd been using these:

http://www.machinadynamica.com/machina44.htm

THEN the test would have come out otherwise.

OMG, and I don't think it is a joke.
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post #135 of 384 Old 11-21-2007, 10:00 PM
 
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OMG, and I don't think it is a joke.

Nope..it's real and I bet there's someone on this site who has purchased one or more...
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post #136 of 384 Old 11-21-2007, 10:04 PM
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Hi Gordon,

being an objectivist myself it would be nice to say that this proved that all cables sound the same but unfortunately this test was not only flawed for what it was trying to show but even if it hadn’t been, it still wouldn't have shown that there, as you put it, "really are little to no differences between most if not all cables".

It did show that Mike's absolute certainty that he could tell the difference was misplaced.

However, there has been enough research out there showing how short our aural memory is to indicate that the time it took to switch the cables in Mike's test was just too long to pick out subtle differences even if they are there. So, what I would like to see is an instant ABX switch box trial or failing that, a similar test to Mike's but with a cable with known, obvious and unsubtle issues (silly network boxes with high end attenuation of whatever) pitted against the monster to see if real differences can be discerned under those conditions.

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 #137 of 384 Old 11-21-2007, 10:54 PM
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...but unfortunately this test was not only flawed for what it was trying to show...

I think that is a mildly unfair statement. The test was a genuine attempt to remove sighted bias from the equation. Conducting a "true" scientific experiment is not an easy task. Absent that, people can use some procedures that help them to come close. That is exactly what this test did. The aural memory issue is irrelevant, insofar as it was Mike's "skills" that were being tested, and Mike did not want instant switching.
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post #138 of 384 Old 11-22-2007, 12:02 AM
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Some might wonder if the test procedures were capable of capturing the test subject's experience?

For me, the most intriguing question is "What test procedures are necessary to capture the experience of "music changing when cables are changed"?

I suspect it will be necessary to rate a cable across criteria.

When I change tubes in my phono amplifier, I use a couple of different albums, one of which I use for changes in detail and depth, height and width of the hall, "speed" and timbre of un-amplified instruments, and the other for enjoyment of a fast paced concert. But, ultimately I'm looking for improving my enjoyment of the music, and fascination with how the instruments play with each other. Being able to identify the "sound" with a specific tube compared to another isn't part of improving my enjoyment.

A few times, I've put a different type of tube in each channel's power supply, not to play "guess which tube is in each channel", but to listen to the change in the music.

Bob
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post #139 of 384 Old 11-22-2007, 12:47 AM
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I think that is a mildly unfair statement. The test was a genuine attempt to remove sighted bias from the equation. Conducting a "true" scientific experiment is not an easy task. Absent that, people can use some procedures that help them to come close. That is exactly what this test did. The aural memory issue is irrelevant, insofar as it was Mike's "skills" that were being tested, and Mike did not want instant switching.

Okay, I'll give you a little and remove the "for what it was trying to show". I still say it was, as a testing methodology, flawed as there was no way any useful conclusion could have come out of it. And I guess that people will chime in that if he had heard something yada yada... Well, given the known limitations on our aural memory that was extremely unlikely in the first place with this testing methodology unless he's some kind of wonder man with a 1/1 billion aural memory. This is why I'd like to see the same test done with obviously different sounding cables - faked somehow if needed - just to determine if it's possible with those slow cable switches to hear the difference. My guess is probably not but it would be interesting to try.

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post #140 of 384 Old 11-22-2007, 01:06 AM
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Of course, if you'd been using these:

http://www.machinadynamica.com/machina44.htm

THEN the test would have come out otherwise.

you have got to be kidding me!!! someone is really trying to embarass audiophiles with this piece of crap.

Quote:


This is why I'd like to see the same test done with obviously different sounding cables - faked somehow if needed - just to determine if it's possible with those slow cable switches to hear the difference. My guess is probably not but it would be interesting to try.


I don't know about aural memory, but when a piece of equipment sounds a lot better it is easy to define the differences and determine which is which! Example: pre amps. The problem is that all these cable companies and their reveiwers always claim sonic differences that are equal to if not greater than a new piece of equipment. That is completely false.

Joey
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post #141 of 384 Old 11-22-2007, 01:13 AM
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Originally Posted by AdrianMills View Post

- just to determine if it's possible with those slow cable switches to hear the difference. My guess is probably not but it would be interesting to try.

does this not get to the crux of the matter though?? If I (and of course this is only my take on things) could not straight away pick a difference after spending twenty thou on an upgrade, no matter how long between switches, then to me it's simply not worth the money.

There's gotta be better bang for the buck elsewhere in the audio chain, hasn't there?
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post #142 of 384 Old 11-22-2007, 03:21 AM
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does this not get to the crux of the matter though?? If I (and of course this is only my take on things) could not straight away pick a difference after spending twenty thou on an upgrade, no matter how long between switches, then to me it's simply not worth the money.

Well, it may be that differences, larger even than subtle, can be hidden by the limitations of our aural memory. I guess, at least to a certain point, the time limit we have in which differentiations can be made is very much dependant on how large the differences are.

Also, how big a difference has to be to be worth X amount more is a value judgement that’s very much a subjective and personal call even for us objectivists isn’t it?

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 #143 of 384 Old 11-22-2007, 03:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdrianMills View Post

Well, it may be that differences, larger even than subtle, can be hidden by the limitations of our aural memory. I guess, at least to a certain point, the time limit we have in which differentiations can be made is very much dependant on how large the differences are.

Also, how big a difference has to be to be worth X amount more is a value judgement that’s very much a subjective and personal call even for us objectivists isn’t it?

Stereophile suggest Type 2 errors in small sample testing http://www.stereophile.com/features/141/index2.html Personally I think one should look at the results of DBT in general. They typically do not show a difference on subjective measures REGARDLESS of the expermental variable. Make of that what you will. Taste test usually show no difference that's why you don't see them touted in advertisements. The taste test are never DB that you do see touted.

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post #144 of 384 Old 11-22-2007, 04:03 AM
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This is why I'd like to see the same test done with obviously different sounding cables - faked somehow if needed - just to determine if it's possible with those slow cable switches to hear the difference. My guess is probably not but it would be interesting to try.

This has been done with different guage wire and yes you can tell the difference (ie 100 feet of 18AWG vs 100 Feet of 10AWG).

Its a good point though to atleast validate the test just to show that you can hear a difference at some point.

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post #145 of 384 Old 11-22-2007, 04:07 AM
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IOW, I use regular 14 gauge cables, not because I don't think some high-end cables aren't somewhat better, but because it really won't affect how much I enjoy music. I guess I'm kind of the opposite of the "I heard something, I must be enjoying music more now" crowd.

That is a great post, I think more are like you and wonder what all this expensive stuff really gives anyone.

Heck I enjoy music when I play MP3s as much as when I play a CD (the CDs are ripped and gone now). I dont care much about doing lossless either. I dont get excited about all this stuff in the end and I wouldnt really appreciate MikeL's system at all.

Just give me loud music and girls dancing around pools


NOTE: This doesnt mean I can not hear the difference (everything under 5K is pretty well the same though!), it just means I dont enjoy it more.

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post #146 of 384 Old 11-22-2007, 04:41 AM
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This has been done with different guage wire and yes you can tell the difference (ie 100 feet of 18AWG vs 100 Feet of 10AWG).

Its a good point though to atleast validate the test just to show that you can hear a difference at some point.

That has been done with an ABX box yes, but has it been done with ~1 minute change intervals?

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 #147 of 384 Old 11-22-2007, 04:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulldogger View Post

Stereophile suggest Type 2 errors in small sample testing http://www.stereophile.com/features/141/index2.html Personally I think one should look at the results of DBT in general. They typically do not show a difference on subjective measures REGARDLESS of the expermental variable. Make of that what you will. Taste test usually show no difference that's why you don't see them touted in advertisements. The taste test are never DB that you do see touted.

It's pretty much a given that subjectivity makes a difference; but as has been said over and over, that's really not the point, at least it's not the point if you're testing for real world differences that exist outside of someone's head.

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 #148 of 384 Old 11-22-2007, 08:25 AM
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First, I'll admit I did not read this whole thread.

But I wonder, does Mike, or other testers, usually wear glasses? Maybe the reflection
off the glasses effected what he heard. Wearing something to block your sight
also changes the shape and other acoustical properties of your head. Perhaps
this interferes with your ability to discern subtle differences?
Or maybe you just can't hear the difference if you cannot see what is being played.
One day we might sort this out. Until then, the evidence seems to point toward
no difference between cables (assuming they are adequate, well made, and designed
for the job).

Everything I say here is my opinion. It is not my employers opinion, it is not my wife's opinion, it is not my neighbors opinion, it is My Opinion.
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post #149 of 384 Old 11-22-2007, 09:04 AM
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check who mixed the drinks and cooked the meal for mikel right before he took the test.

cpu8088 - OLD and SLOW !!!
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post #150 of 384 Old 11-22-2007, 09:38 AM
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Hmmm, I'm thinking I should get into the cable making business. There is money to be made. And if nothing else I could probably write off all my music costs . . . In order to make quality cables, I'd have to go to many live shows, I'd also have to upgrade my equipment. Heck, I might even have to buy a new house Then I'd have to do research
on the effects of food and drink on my cognitive listening ability. Damn, another tax deductible expense. If anybody runs with this idea, I'll expect a reasonable royalty. 5% or gross income sounds good.
Give thanks we can spend time and money debating such things.

Everything I say here is my opinion. It is not my employers opinion, it is not my wife's opinion, it is not my neighbors opinion, it is My Opinion.
dknightd is offline  
Reply Ultra Hi-End HT Gear ($20,000+)

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