Originally Posted by FMW
Not an overstatement at all. Perhaps you can show me the results of some bias controlled test that had people correctly identifying AVR's with their calibration defeated? I don't think you can because they sound identical. They would be incompetently designed if they didn't. Audiophile reports of subjective sighted comparisons are meaningless whether you find them on the intenet or elsewhere.
Can you show me the results of some "bias controlled test" where people couldn't tell a difference? I'd really love to read that, if you can. Seriously, I'm not just throwing that back at you. If your position is based on any published testing, relating to real world components, not just academic theory, I would sincerely like to see it. It might save me some money.
The fact is, I can buy two Onkyo 818's (new) with all the features I want for less than one Yamaha 3020 (also new), and have a backup while one is out for service, should I experience HDMI board failure due to overheating, like some others. If the Onkyo will sound just as good, considering I've already got enough amps to fill our room, considering it's got Audyssey, which I think I'd prefer to YPAO, and considering it features the same HQV video processing, I'd be a fool to pay so much more for a Yamaha.
I get your argument. To an extent I even agree with it. If you were saying that gold-plated recepticles are inaudible, or that decoding in the AVR is no better than decoding in the player and outputing PCM via HDMI, that bits are bits as it were, I'd be right there with you, even though there are some obvious exceptions to those rules too, like decoding in the player being required for certain features, or getting around real-world compatibility issues. But, I also think of it as something of an oversimplification, from a black and white world that... I'm sorry, but I don't live in; I'm not even sure I'd want to.
I'm disinclined to go along with the notion that subjective evaluation is meaningless - though, yes it does often seem you need some degree of experience, or even expertise, to interpret the usefullness and/or accuracy of many "professional" reviews; and anything written in a forum or on amazon should be taken with a grain of salt, including what I just said, as you don't know me, where I'm coming from, or where I'm going. I'm disinclined to think that two manufacturers having essentially the same basic specs on paper, but using very different parts and even different approaches in their design will necessarily produce products with the exact same end results; or, for that matter, that any manufacturer's goal is to make products that're indistinguishable from their competitors. If they all sound the same - which, just to be clear, is not my experience at all, but I'm willing to concede that at least some portion of what I've heard outside of my own system may have been influenced by aspects of setup more than design that I was not aware of - considering at any given price point most manufacturers products are fairly consistent in feature set, usually offering a lot more features than I want or need, and these days, most have the ability to ad many features via firmware updates should they think such important to remain competitive, it would seem that whichever manufacturer comes in with the lowest bid (corner cutting involved or not) should be the clear, undisputed winner. Brand loyalty will only get you so many sells. A competitive field isn't going to survive in such a world, and there seems to be ample competition in the audio arena.
So, maybe I'm reading you wrong. Maybe I should be putting more weight on your assertion that not sounding the same, imposes some manner of "incompetence" in design. On that note, whether manufacturers are just finding new ways to sonically taint their products to the extent that they prove appealing to a broad market or they are more genuinely engineering advancements in building a better horse, there seems to be too much out there in support of variety to discount it all as hearsay. I've been away from these boards for a few years, but yours is the first I've heard it posed that there are absolutely no differences in sound character between manufacturers. Maybe my knowledge is more limited than your own, but from what I know of it, and from my own experiences over the years, that doesn't even seem possible, outside of an idealistic frame of reference that more often than not doesn't coincide with application.