Originally Posted by josh6113
The clear conclusion is that ABX testing does not back up many audiophile claims, so they become audiophile myths as they show cables do not inherantly change sound.
Any change in sound quality comes from the listeners mind and interaction between their senses.
I don't agree with the "any". Many changes in sound quality come from the poor quality of the tests that naive audiophiles perform. Most such tests are performed by means of manually swapping cables. It takes 10 or more seconds to swap a set of cables under the most ideal conditions. In that time period two things have happened:
(1) The music being listened to progresses through the natural changes that happen all the time in music, and it becomes a somewhat different piece of music. The last thing listened to was a verse and now we are listening to a chorus. The intensity of the music builds and enough time has passed for it to build up significantly. It's a different verse. The pace may have changed.
(2) As others have pointed out, our brains only maintain a detailed image of sound for a few seconds at the very most. So now our sonic comparison of cable A to cable B becomes a comparison between faded memory and a fresh memory. This might be the "change in sound quality (that) comes from the listener's mind" mentioned above, but to me it is more of a change in sensation than a change in perception.
What is claimed to be audible is not reliably so
Agreed. Another meaning of the phrase "change in sound quality (that) comes from the listener's mind" may have taken place. Things like self-affirmation. The excitement of believing that a significant change has been made.
Blind testing is also sometimes passed off as ABX. But blind testing is not really testing, it is a review of a product without seeing it, and that allows claims to be made about sound which have not been verified.
I think you may be referring to the confusion that some people have over the word test
A test involves a comparison to a reliable and fixed reference. This implies a back-and-forth comparison between two items or experiences. Most audiophiles seem to do one-way evaluations. They have their old system, they change something, and then they give a review of what they think has changed based on their memory (which I have already shown to be inherently defective) of their old system. There is no reliable fixed reference that they are comparing the new system to.
If hifi is all about sound and more specifically sound quality, then we should, once the other senses have been removed be able to hear differences which can be verified by being able to identify one product from another by only listening. But time and again we cannot.
So you can either buy good but inexpensive hifi products such as cables, amps, CDPs and be satisfied that the sound they produce is superb. You do need to spend time with speakers as they really do sound identifiably different. Or you can buy expensive hifi products such as cable tech and luxuriate in the build and image and identify one hifi from another by looks and sound. But you cannot buy expensive and identify it from cheap by sound alone.
I agree that speakers are among the last areas where you can spend more money wisely, and get better sound. It still costs money to build a powerful subwoofer, for example.