Processor Blind Listening Test - Page 4 - AVS Forum
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post #91 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 08:04 AM
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OK, here is a link to the old Stereo Review article where they did blind testing of different amps. They found no significant difference. It's quite an interesting read, if you enjoy discussions like we're having here. So to make sure I give proper credit
Stranger89 provided this link in post 117:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...7&page=4&pp=30
And dorsai78664 provided this link in post 137:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...&&#post7694893

Here is the actual article:
http://bruce.coppola.name/audio/Amp_Sound.pdf

I think I'll provide this information in our older amp blind test thread. Link here:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...ght=blind+test
For archiving purposes, in case it's of interest to anyone out there trying to learn about these things. Although I am reviving that thread with great trepidation.
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post #92 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 08:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noah katz View Post

I'm with -k-; what an ingrate. Steve and friends go to a lot of effort to perform the test and share the results, and you did - what? Not a damn thing, and yet you demand that he should do more. Sheesh.


Yeah, right Noah; you go girl...

Meanwhile, I'll reserve my gratitude for things more monumental than the briefly notated remembrances of someone hosting three friends to play guessing games with two mid-fi receivers and a dated entry-level pre/pro. While mildly interesting as a conversation starter, this is hardly a seminal effort that compels me to express anything, beyond my interest in further discussion of the issues raised here. In my view, this test delivered little more than the expected conclusion: that three unremarkable pieces of gear sound similarly unremarkable.
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post #93 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 08:22 AM
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People with a good understanding of electronics theory, scientific methods, and the purpose of a blind test, will appreciate the value of Steve's listening test.

The others will continue to find excuses and argue to the contrary. This is how it has always been, I don't see how this time should be any different.

Nice job Steve!
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post #94 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 08:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thebland View Post

Perhaps where the processor Has a real gain over a receiver is not in judging individual parameters but all of the bonus features as a cumulative whole. .

Quote:
Originally Posted by ---k--- View Post

I agree with theBland. DACs don't make the receiver. Lots more there. I have a Pio 1015 right now, and am constantly thinking about upgrading it to seperates. Not necessarly because it sounds bad, but I want more features - more cross over options, ect. [/b]

Kind of off topic:
So you guys are saying that separate processors actually have more features than mass market receivers? Interesting. I thought it was supposedly the other way around. That processors, generally from smaller companies, tend to have fewer of the latest gizmos but better sound quality. And that mass marketed receivers have all the gewgaws, but possibly less sound quality. At least, that's what I thought the generalizations tend to be.
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post #95 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 08:40 AM
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"however, I think much can be learned especially when people hear a difference sighted that vanishes in a DBT. "

I completely agree.

I was just pointing out that some in this thread seemed to be taking the results further then they support. If they didn't hear a difference in this test it does not *prove* there are no differences in equipment in all cases. You can't prove a global negative.... just that they didn't hear differences in *that* test.

OTOH... if someone passes a ABX test between two devices like this it *proves* there is a difference. The difference may only be heard in a few systems or with only a few people but it is there none the less.

"In the end, most subjectivists attack the DBT in general or the specific test itself as being unscientific"

True, they dismiss them out of hand as they are afraid of accountability.

But, in some cases people that try to perform DBTs do them poorly and don't follow the guidelines of how a test should be run. In those cases the results of the test (no matter what they are) are IMO irrelevant as far as good DBT test data. This has happened at least once on AVS during a big amplifier comparison that even used an ABX Comparator for example. No one wants to hear all the work they did trying to setup a DBT was done poorly... but sometimes it is.

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post #96 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 08:45 AM
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Does anyone think that if they isolated the DACs in a couple of decent to really great receivers/processors and tested just that, they would come up with differnt results?

The results would be the same. Other audio celebrities have done esoteric DAC
ABX tests, results the same, people fail.

Digital to analog conversion is a 'piece of cake' from an electronics design point of view.
There is nothing stopping someone from making better DACs but human hearing can't detect it, but they do and they sell because people think they have super human hearing.

Think about this for a moment. Lets say someone was brave enough to do a blind
test where they compared compressed music {MP3} vs. not. For sake of argument,
lets say 95% of the people tested failed to indentify the compressed music, then how
in the world are you going to detect a DAC if you can't detect canibalized music ?
{assume light compression}



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The perfect setting for things to come......

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post #97 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 08:48 AM
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"Does anyone think that if they isolated the DACs in a couple of decent to really great receivers/processors and tested just that, they would come up with differnt results?"

You can't typically just isolate DACs. The circuitry supporting the DACs may be different and the line stages and volume controls of different are also different. You aren't just listening to DACs in those situations.

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post #98 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 08:53 AM
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I bet that in 1987 this sort of test would have gone the other way. Back then I don't think D/A conversion was so well understood;

I'll be brave and say that if you took an early 80's CD player, the test results would
be the same I had a lot of experience with these first units and the SQ is amazing
then as it is now. I don't think the human ear is good enough to tell the difference if
you only blind tested the DAC.



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The perfect setting for things to come......

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post #99 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 08:56 AM
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"The comedy ....

Even by using that primitive method of level matching (RS SPL) which would favor
the listener, they still failed. "

Why is that comedy? To perform a valid listening test levels need to be matched to 0.1dB. You can't take the side of objectivist and not support that point too.

Mismatched levels in no way shape or form automatically 'favor the listener.' It is well known a louder component can tend to sound 'better' then a quieter component. Now take the hypotetical situation of two pieces that do in fact sound differently as shown via proper level matched ABX tests. What happens when the one most would say is 'better' is compared against the 'lesser' component at about 1/2 a dB lower volume in an improperly controlled ABX test?

You can't say..... I can't say.

That is why level matching to 0.1dB is important.

If you don't control the variables you don't know how they effect the outcome. Scientific method at work....

Don't be a wannabe objectivist who doesn't really understand what needs to be done in an ABX test. You make the real objectivists look bad to the subjectivists.

Shawn
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post #100 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 09:05 AM
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"OK, here is a link to the old Stereo Review article where they did blind testing of different amps. They found no significant difference. It's quite an interesting read, if you enjoy discussions like we're having here."

Do you have a link to the same sort of tests performed by E. Brad Meyer in somewhere around the same time frame? He compared a tube amp vs. a transistor unit. The ability to pass a DBT between the two amps depended upon the speakers used during the test.

On the impedance compensated speakers the two amps weren't able to be told apart in the ABX test.

However, when speakers of wildly varying impedance were used the two amps where proven to sound differently in DB ABX testing.

Why?

Because of the well know interaction between an amplifiers output impedance and the impedance it is driving.

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post #101 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 09:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:


I agree with theBland. DACs don't make the receiver. Lots more there. I have a Pio 1015 right now, and am constantly thinking about upgrading it to seperates. Not necessarly because it sounds bad, but I want more features - more cross over options, ect.

I guess some people are getting thier panties in a bunch, because Steve concluded that the dacs sounded the same (because this was all they were testing), so a cheaper receiver was good enough for him. This is probably a bit of a simplification.

Lets discuss the test, and nothing more or less. They found that the DAC in these three receivers sounded the same. Does anyone think that if they isolated the DACs in a couple of decent to really great receivers/processors and tested just that, they would come up with differnt results?

Thanks for reeling it back in ---k---. Again, I never said sound quality as a result of processing is the only parameter to consider, some of you guys just made that up so youy could argue or so your feelings wouldn't get hurt. Sure, we can pretend now that it is and was commonly accepted that DACs will all sound the same, but prior to starting this thread, aside from a few people here, that WAS NOT the commonly held belief. There are probably at least 5 long threads from within the past year about DACs in which the majority of participants would argue to the end that the more expensive DACs found in more expensive equipment would equate to better sound quality. Just take a look in the CD player forum, there is a huge one in there. I can find a few pre/pro manufacturers who would still make that argument as well.

I shouldn't even have to do this, but to reiterate, the test was not about features or amplification - if you read post 1, those variables weren't in play in this test - it was all about pure sound quality as a result of the DACs and analog prestage. We've already done a test on amplifiers, all that is left is post processing, something which I am no longer very interested in. If you are, please conduct your own test.
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post #102 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 10:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveCallas View Post

that WAS NOT the commonly held belief. .

that is the power of facts / evidence.

more often than not, this place is populated by people who are rich in their personal believes and poor in facts. They expect everyone else to accept their believes and get easily offended if others have the smallest question or ask them to provide any evidence to support their believes.

What Steve has done for the community is to provide well established test procedures and concrete facts and solid evidence. When you put that in front of personal believes, facts win every time.

Granted, we will still have people who insist on the acceptance of their believes, who cry foul when they cannot support their believes. However, Steve's tests showed for me how important it is to convince others with facts and evidence, not with personal believes.

Afterall, we are not discussing religeons.

Are we?
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post #103 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 10:23 AM
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Just for the record, performance in two channel does not equate to performance in surround sound listening. I believe Steve has done a sufficient job in proving that the two channel performance of the three units tested are very similar. However, one should not draw the conclusion that multi-channel performance of the three units would also be similar. As Steve mentioned in his first post, the Pioneer 1014 has "a reputation as being great for movies and not so great for music." How could that be if two channel performance = multi-channel performance?

BTW, I've been through moderately priced separates in my system over the last year (Parasound C1/A51 combo being the most expensive) and ultimately came back to using an HK 435. So please leave me out of the 'defensive 'cause you insulted separates' camp.
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post #104 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 10:27 AM
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Why is that comedy? To perform a valid listening test levels need to be matched to 0.1dB. You can't take the side of objectivist and not support that point too.

If someone fails a blind test where level matching was higher than 0.1dB, then it's
moot to redo the test with a higher level of precision.

Some ABX testers do qualifying rounds where level matching is 'coarse', lets
say 1dB. If the person passes, then the test is recalibrated to let say 0.1dB.
Many folks fail 1dB level matching, so why recalibrate to 0.1dB if not needed.

Mismatched levels in no way shape or form automatically 'favor the listener.'

It's easy to identify two comparibles when the test has a high level of mismatch
which 'favors the listener' into being able to identify. If made a bet and told you
that I level matched to 3dB, you have the advantage and should win the contest,
if not, comedy.



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The perfect setting for things to come......

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post #105 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 10:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buddha33 View Post

Just for the record, performance in two channel does not equate to performance in surround sound listening. .

of course it doesn't: one is two channel and another is multi-channel.

However, that doesn't mean that one cannot infer from this the two channel performance on DACs: the DAC doesn't know if it is being fed a multi-channel or two-channel signal. All it sees is a bunch of 0s and 1s, and it will assembly them into an analog signal in a pre-determined fashion.

Unless someone has designed a DAC or althorithm that specifically discreminates one vs. the other, I think it is hard pressed to say that the two-channel performance test is not indicative of multi-channel performance.
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post #106 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 10:33 AM
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Great test guys! Definitely makes one think. You out to shoot of the results to PS Audio.

I agree that you guys should move on to speakers next. It would defiantly be interesting to read your results.

-Brian

Brian R. Smith
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post #107 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thebland View Post

Then, you will always have poor equipment as there is no way to consistently and absolutely compare processors and amplifiers.

We know more powerful amps will do better for some speakers that require the increased current. We know processing (and post processing) is an important part of home theater. Personally, I rely on my own past experiences in choosing my equipment. I have owned many receivers and processors of all prices. Sound of Lexicon is improved over my past products but by how much I don't know. Equally important is all of the features (calibrating speakers in 1/2 db increments, time alignment, true analog bypass (a nice feature for HD DVD), tilt algorithm, etc, etc. All of these features add up to more accuracy and better sound (not to mention Logic 7, etc).

Perhaps where the processor Has a real gain over a receiver is not in judging individual parameters but all of the bonus features as a cumulative whole. Judging one parameter of a complicatged piece of equipment and then trying to extrapolate that a receiver must be as good as a procesor is a good recipe for arguments. Processors allow for better set up and add features receivers can't add. All totalled, the processor has an advantage. Moreover, my wattage adds up to over K. Not many receivers out there can come close To a fraction of that.

Moreover, I imagine the naysayers have never owned a processor (nor spent the $5K to $10K to get a good one). I've owned processors and receivers and at all price points. Processors add up to a better home theater experience in my 20 years experience).

Jeff,
As Steve and ----k---- were stating, I'm not saying it's not worth it to own high end gear. But I also would like to be able to tease out what makes the better gear better. And it appears that DAC's play little to no role in ths equation the majority of the time ( unless they suck bad enough).
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post #108 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 10:39 AM
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"If someone fails a blind test where level matching was higher than 0.1dB, then it's
moot to redo the test with a higher level of precision. "

Wrong, the level mismatch could have been the reason for the failure. A 'superior' unit may not be heard as such when the 'inferior' unit gets the cards stack in its favor by being played back louder. That is the point... of level matching to 0.1dB. It eliminates that possibility.

"Many folks fail 1dB level matching"

1dB level mismatch tests (of the same source) are *easy* to hear provided you have fast switching between comparisons. I pass 25 of 25 on them. If you can't hear 1dB level differences then no further discussion is needed.

"why recalibrate to 0.1dB if not needed."

Because it is needed to get below the known threshold of audibility... 0.3dB to remove that variable from influencing the test.

By any standard of what consititues a valid DB ABX test you will see level matching to 0.1dB as one of the requirements. If you don't level match to that degree you don't meet the requirements and therefor don't have a valid test. End of story.

Shawn
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post #109 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrJon View Post

Kind of off topic:
So you guys are saying that separate processors actually have more features than mass market receivers? Interesting. I thought it was supposedly the other way around. That processors, generally from smaller companies, tend to have fewer of the latest gizmos but better sound quality. And that mass marketed receivers have all the gewgaws, but possibly less sound quality. At least, that's what I thought the generalizations tend to be.

Jon,
No, I'm not saying that. From what I have seen when I looked around, it seems like it is a mix bag as to which has more features.

I know that the amp in typical receivers (that are in my price range) are sub par. Therefore, I would like to get a seperate amp. To me, having a sperate amp is having seperates, I don't care what is being used as the front end. Yeah, that techinically isn't correct. Flame away for using the wrong term.

As far as front ends go, it seems like to get some of the features I want (like a differnt cross-over for the surrounds than the mains) requires a higher end receiver/processor. I've been looking at the Outlaw gear. It looks like it is at a good price point. The front ends is ~$1000 which is what I would pay for a receiver anyway.

But, I'm probably going to hold out a while on upgrading the receiver until the new audio codecs in HD-DVD and BD become more common and make it onto the receivers.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.
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post #110 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tlf9999 View Post

However, that doesn't mean that one cannot infer from this the two channel performance on DACs: the DAC doesn't know if it is being fed a multi-channel or two-channel signal. All it sees is a bunch of 0s and 1s, and it will assembly them into an analog signal in a pre-determined fashion.

Unless someone has designed a DAC or althorithm that specifically discreminates one vs. the other, I think it is hard pressed to say that the two-channel performance test is not indicative of multi-channel performance.

Then please explain why some processors like the Pioneer 1015 are considered so-so with music but better with movies. It seems real world experiences like this would challenge your theory.
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post #111 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Just for the record, performance in two channel does not equate to performance in surround sound listening. I believe Steve has done a sufficient job in proving that the two channel performance of the three units tested are very similar. However, one should not draw the conclusion that multi-channel performance of the three units would also be similar

Wow, you still don't get it. Different DSPs will all route the same digital information to the same channels in DD or DTS, so unless you are using some form of post processing equalization, YES, this test is an indicator of surround sound quality, we just tested with two speakers to eliminate as many variables as possible.

If you want to test a new medicine for lions, you don't jump out of a Jeep, wrestle the lion to the ground, and force feed the medicine down its throat, you shoot it with a tranquilizer dart, take the lion back to your research center, and administer the medicine there. Yeah, yeah, bring on the jokes, but it relates - too many challenges with testing with 7 speakers, a sub, and a compressed format to be confident in your results, much easier to just test with two speakers and higher quality recordings to get the same results.

Quote:


As Steve mentioned in his first post, the Pioneer 1014 has "a reputation as being great for movies and not so great for music." How could that be if two channel performance = multi-channel performance?

First off, you're only looking at half of the story. That reputation was made when comparing it to other pieces of equipment, so they would say it's great for movies but not as good for music as say the HK 635, which they would then say is more musical. Second, to directly answer your question, it seems obvious to me. People figure "Hey, it's only $400, it can't be good for movies AND music" - this gets back to people wanting to feel justified for paying more in ALL REGARDS to performance - the better amp, more features, and more inputs must not be enough, it also has to sound better - which we found just isn't true.
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post #112 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 10:58 AM
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Steve's test simply tests a single facet of the big machine that is surround processing. There is far more to the story but it's a start.

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 #113 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 11:02 AM
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"What Steve has done for the community is to provide well established test procedures and concrete facts and solid evidence.

Well established is level matched to 0.1dB, not higher then that.

"When you put that in front of personal believes, facts win every time."

And it is a fact you can only prove a positive, not a negative.

If somebody wants to take one result of no difference on three units in one test and then extrapolate that out to no differences anywhere at any time they are massively overstating what a 'no difference' result on an ABX test means.

After all... it only takes a single passed ABX test to prove differences exist.

"However, Steve's tests showed for me how important it is to convince others with facts and evidence, not with personal believes."

Agreed. So here you go.... back when the MC-12 was released I double blind tested it against the MC-1 level matched to 0.1dB (left and right channels matched) though my QSC ABX Comparator in my system. All processing was turned off in both units so they were acting like a 2 channel DAC and linestage.

I did two test of 25 trials each the first day and passed both tests with less then 5% chance the outcome was random.

The next day I took another test of 25 trials. That time I was tired and stressed from work. I failed to pass the test that time through.

I waited awhile to relax and took another test of 25 trials and passed it again.

Differences exist... fact... proven by the same method some in this thread are trying to use to claim no differences exist.

Isn't the real scientific method great?

Shawn
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post #114 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 11:04 AM - Thread Starter
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It's a pretty large facet.

If we want to put it all together, and I know this means trouble for some of you with big egos, in combination with our earlier amp test, we have found through our testing that one can buy some inexpensive pro amps and a cheap receiver that has enough inputs and features for their needs, and the overall sound quality performance is on the exact same plane as very expensive seperates. The only real issue to be taken into consideration is fan noise from the amps.

*Insert bitching and crying now*
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post #115 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 11:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveCallas View Post

If you want to test a new medicine for lions, you don't jump out of a Jeep, wrestle the lion to the ground, and force feed the medicine down its throat, you shoot it with a tranquilizer dart, take the lion back to your research center, and administer the medicine there. Yeah, yeah, bring on the jokes, but it relates - too many challenges with testing with 7 speakers, a sub, and a compressed format to be confident in your results, much easier to just test with two speakers and higher quality recordings to get the same results.

While we're on the subject of bad analogies, why are you judging the performance of a Porsche on its ability to drive 35 mph? You should probably stick with a stereo receiver or preamp. One of these days you'll "experience" my point...until then, you've got your theory and can stand by the "it's too hard to test" rebuttle.
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post #116 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 11:06 AM
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"Steve's test simply tests a single facet of the big machine that is surround processing. There is far more to the story but it's a start."

Absolutely.

What happens for example if you try doing the same test but include a subwoofer? Processing differences between the units (crossover points and slopes) will make differences in how well the sub can be matched to the system. A better match subwoofer sounds better.

Same thing for expanding bass management out to all the channels... some equipment handles it much better then others. Ditto adding time alignment on top of that. Ditto actual surround sound processing. Ditto adding room EQ or other forms of EQ like that. Etc...etc...

Shawn
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post #117 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveCallas View Post

It's a pretty large facet.

If we want to put it all together, and I know this means trouble for some of you with big egos, in combination with our earlier amp test, we have found through our testing that one can buy some inexpensive pro amps and a cheap receiver that has enough inputs and features for their needs, and the overall sound quality performance is on the exact same plane as very expensive seperates. The only real issue to be taken into consideration is fan noise from the amps.

*Insert bitching and crying now*

Heck yeah baby!
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post #118 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 11:09 AM
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[QUOTEIsn't the real scientific method great?

Shawn[/quote]YES!
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post #119 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 11:09 AM
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"we have found through our testing that one can buy some inexpensive pro amps and a cheap receiver that has enough inputs and features for their needs, and the overall sound quality performance is on the exact same plane as very expensive seperates."

No, you found that *you* can.

You can not extrapolate those tests out and apply them to everyone. It doesn't work that way no matter how loudly you want to claim otherwise. You can not prove a negative, stop trying to.

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post #120 of 504 Old 05-23-2006, 11:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sfogg View Post

What happens for example if you try doing the same test but include a subwoofer? Processing differences between the units (crossover points and slopes) will make differences in how well the sub can be matched to the system. A better match subwoofer sounds better.

Same thing for expanding bass management out to all the channels... some equipment handles it much better then others. Ditto adding time alignment on top of that. Ditto actual surround sound processing. Ditto adding room EQ or other forms of EQ like that. Etc...etc...

Awesome. So with all these things working together, how can one justify that multichannel performance can be inferred from two channel performance? You can't.
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