How many necessary pieces of equipment we need in an hi - end system? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 141 Old 06-01-2013, 09:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi,

I am a rookie to this field, I first set up my system with a multi- channels AVR and now Im moving to 2 channels system for hi - end music but I have encountered some completely strange equipment: Pre - Amplifier, Power - amplifier ( is this the normal one we use ? ), Digital to Analog converter

If there is something more which i dont know yet, please list them with short definition. I really appreciate your help.
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post #2 of 141 Old 06-01-2013, 10:33 PM
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Hi Liam,

My personal opinion: If you already have a decent AVR, then all you need are good speakers. Unless your speakers and room are working really well, nothing else will make much of a difference. Even then, you won't get as much bang for the buck.

Avoid boutique audio gear, as the main difference between that and mainstream gear is the price. And sometimes also the styling. You can get some awfully nice-looking gear for enough money, but they typically won't sound any better. Speakers are the exception.
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post #3 of 141 Old 06-01-2013, 10:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you, MarkHotchkiss

At this time, I dont have any intention to move up in to those splendid " unknown machines ". My aim opening this thread is just to enrich my knowledge. It's a little bit uncomfortable to see some nice gears around without knowing what they are used for. Anyway, thanks again for your advice
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post #4 of 141 Old 06-01-2013, 10:51 PM
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+1 with Marks opinion.
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post #5 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 05:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liamnguyen View Post

It's a little bit uncomfortable to see some nice gears around without knowing what they are used for.

Although it's not universally true, a lot of that gear you mentioned, especially the "high end" stuff, is used to empty your wallet and possibly satisfy your ego.
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post #6 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 06:32 AM - Thread Starter
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I havent tried any of them yet, but if the manufacturers can earn money and survive by their products, I believe there are things I may need to know. Just in case, I can apply the knowledge into future use biggrin.gif
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post #7 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 09:01 AM
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I have listened to audio gear for 50 years (and designed and built some of my own amplifiers and speakers).

People who say that a cheap AVR is just as good as amplifiers and preamps built with superior components and lower distortion are either simply too inexperienced to know the difference or are
trying to justify the cheap crap they own to themselves.

I learned the hard way.

For example, in 1981 i bought the first set of Polk RTA 12 speakers (the demo units from the Las Vegas CES that year) for around $800. They sounded fabulous in the store, but sounded like crap in my home.

After some experimentation, it became clear that my 120 watt Yamaha integrated amplifier was making everything sound like crap.

I replaced it with a much less expensive NAD 3020 integrated amplifier (which only put out 30 watts per channel), and they sounded wonderful.

So much for the clowns who say "all amplifiers sound pretty much the same". They are completely out of touch with reality They need to have someone do a good A/B demo for them between their cheap AVR and a good amplifier.

A good integrated amplifier or preamp and power amplifier will sound better because it can do a better job of driving speakers, because it has a larger power supply that can minimize the effect of speaker impedance variations.

Speaker impedance and current drive phase angles very from frequency to frequency in the audio band, and these cheap AVRs do not have the muscle to drive speakers without significant distortion.

A large capable power supply costs a lot of money to build, and the cheap ones in most AVRs are feeble; they don't cut it. Anyone who thinks a $600 receiver has five capable amplifiers and an adequate power supply to run them is living in la-la land. Any engineer who designs this kind of gear for a living knows that. Hell, a good 2-channel amplifier costs over $1000 to build.

I have listened to and owned lots of gear over the last 40 years, and I only trade up when I CAN CLEARLY HEAR AN IMPROVEMENT IN THE SOUND QUALITY!!!!!

I do not waste money; I don't have THAT much to waste...lol.

My current system consists of an Audio Research LS-26 preamp, a Bryston 3BSST2 power amplifier, and Vandersteen Treo speakers, all of which cost around $20,000 (including the turntable and OPPO BDP-95).

If I could have found cheaper gear that could deliver the same sound quality, I would own it. I tried, believe me. I have owned a lot of other good amplifiers and speakers over the years, but this system sounds better.

If something cheaper floats your boat, that is great.

But don't try to tell me that it sounds as good as my system, because i've been there and heard it, and it doesn't sound as good.
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post #8 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 09:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post


So much for the clowns who say "all amplifiers sound pretty much the same". They are completely out of touch with reality They need to have someone do a good A/B demo for them between their cheap AVR and a good amplifier.

+1000

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post #9 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 10:04 AM - Thread Starter
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thanks Commsysman,

I really appreciate your help by bringing me your own experience

So, what do you suggest me for my hi end 2 channels system ?
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post #10 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim19611961 View Post

+1000

1000 times your +1000.

That's not to say that you can't have an 'enjoyable' system with lower cost gear. But yes, due to simple physics and economics, bigger and better sound generally has a certain price tag attached to it. And every piece matters.

It just all depends on what you're looking for, and whether or not you catch the 'disease' called 'audiophilia'. tongue.gif
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post #11 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 10:53 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

So much for the clowns who say "all amplifiers sound pretty much the same". They are completely out of touch with reality They need to have someone do a good A/B demo for them between their cheap AVR and a good amplifier.
Quote:
After some experimentation, it became clear that my 120 watt Yamaha integrated amplifier was making everything sound like crap.

I replaced it with a much less expensive NAD 3020 integrated amplifier (which only put out 30 watts per channel), and they sounded wonderful.
Was it through doing a good A/B demo? To what precision did you match the levels between 120 watt Yamaha integrated amplifier and NAD 3020 integrated amplifier?
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post #12 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rutgar View Post

1000 times your +1000.

That's not to say that you can't have an 'enjoyable' system with lower cost gear. But yes, due to simple physics and economics, bigger and better sound generally has a certain price tag attached to it. And every piece matters.

It just all depends on what you're looking for, and whether or not you catch the 'disease' called 'audiophilia'. tongue.gif

Now I am waiting for the crowd to come along that says a 100 watt Sherwood receiver sounds 99% as good as a 100 watt Mark Levinson eek.gif

Oh wait! We didnt do the blind A/B test correctly, so what we think we are hearing isnt real rolleyes.gif

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post #13 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 10:57 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liamnguyen View Post

thanks Commsysman,

I really appreciate your help by bringing me your own experience
Think twice before you take his words seriously. Here's why:
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

I have listened to audio gear for 50 years (and designed and built some of my own amplifiers and speakers).


I have listened to and owned lots of gear over the last 40 years, and I only trade up when I CAN CLEARLY HEAR AN IMPROVEMENT IN THE SOUND QUALITY!!!!!

My current system consists of an Audio Research LS-26 preamp, a Bryston 3BSST2 power amplifier, and Vandersteen Treo speakers, all of which cost around $20,000 (including the turntable and OPPO BDP-95).
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

I have been an audio hobbyist for 40 years and have a main audio system that I have $30,000 invested in
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Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

Mine happen to be based on 30 years of amplifier design experience
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Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

I designed amplifiers for a living for 30 years, and I have put hundreds of amplifier circuits through distortion tests on an analyzer
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(but it took me 30 years of critical listening and auditioning dozens of components to get
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post #14 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 11:10 AM
 
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Oh wait! We didnt do the blind A/B test correctly, so what we think we are hearing isnt real rolleyes.gif
If you listen to components at different volume levels, the difference you hear would be real. You can do that even with the same component. Just set the volume variance of 0.5 db or more. Try it if you haven't.
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post #15 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 11:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diomania View Post

If you listen to components at different volume levels, the difference you hear would be real. You can do that even with the same component. Just set the volume variance of 0.5 db or more. Try it if you haven't.

rolleyes.gif

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post #16 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 11:52 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jim19611961 View Post

rolleyes.gif
People often do hear differences between amps. The problem is not realizing what caused it. You should read more on that on this forum.
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post #17 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 12:02 PM
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People often do hear differences between amps. The problem is not realizing what caused it. You should read more on that on this forum.

I dont need any forum to tell me what I am hearing when listening to a new amp. Its actually insulting to suggest that someone might be fooled into liking one amp over another simply because the volume levels are not within 0.5db of each other.

This would be a bit like saying when test driving a new car that you must drive it at a certain speed, the exact same speed of your previous car in a A/B driving test, to be able to discern the difference.

Please.

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post #18 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 02:30 PM
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I say four pieces of kit, plus a good room. Source, amp, and a pair of speakers.
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post #19 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 03:16 PM
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I say four pieces of kit, plus a good room. Source, amp, and a pair of speakers.

The OP didn't really express a budget or source preferences. Generically, I would think the most basic 2-channel setup would be a CD/SACD player (with accessible DAC for future music server options), Integrated amplifier or receiver (with HT bypass should he want to incorporate Home Theater), and Speakers. Obviously you have to have a room. You can't just set everything up outside (it would get wet when it rained wink.gif). Addressing room issues themselves, is a major chore and can get expensive as well.

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post #20 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 05:39 PM
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I dont need any forum to tell me what I am hearing when listening to a new amp. Its actually insulting to suggest that someone might be fooled into liking one amp over another simply because the volume levels are not within 0.5db of each other.

If you take two amps and level-match them, then make A/B comparisons, you know this - they're at the same or close to the same db listening level. Any differences should then become rather apparent, say if one really does have a difference in "sound quality".

I'm skeptical that this is the case with non-clipping properly-designed (flat frequency response) solid state gear, but to each his own.
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post #21 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 05:55 PM
 
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I dont need any forum to tell me what I am hearing when listening to a new amp. Its actually insulting to suggest that someone might be fooled into liking one amp over another simply because the volume levels are not within 0.5db of each other.
You sure don't need any forums to enjoy your own system at your own domain. No one here is saying otherwise. If they have, please show some via quotes. It's when people start posting extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence, the challenges start to come up, at least on this forum. That's just the way it is here. Fortunately for those who don't like to be challenged, there are other forums that are not like that. Also, you have the freedom to choose.
Quote:
This would be a bit like saying when test driving a new car that you must drive it at a certain speed, the exact same speed of your previous car in a A/B driving test, to be able to discern the difference.

Please.
Please, not another car analogy to audio equipment. rolleyes.gif Driving cars require tactile and visual experience. You can't do a double blind test of cars. Try to come up with a better example next time.
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post #22 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 06:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

People who say that a cheap AVR is just as good as amplifiers and preamps built with superior components and lower distortion are either simply too inexperienced to know the difference or are trying to justify the cheap crap they own to themselves.
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Originally Posted by Rutgar View Post

But yes, due to simple physics and economics, bigger and better sound generally has a certain price tag attached to it. And every piece matters.
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Originally Posted by jim19611961 View Post

Now I am waiting for the crowd to come along that says a 100 watt Sherwood receiver sounds 99% as good as a 100 watt Mark Levinson

If you spend an extra $1000 on an amp, maybe you will hear an improvement. Maybe you won't.

But if you spend that same $1000 on better speakers, you will hear a serious improvement.

And that $1000 invested in room-treatments will go even further.

The best amplifier will not fix a bad room any more than a cheap AVR would. Due to DSP processing, the cheap AVR might even do a better job mitigating a bad room.
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post #23 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 06:58 PM
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. . . You can't do a double blind test of cars.
A blind test with cars - now there's a scary prospect. I'm in!
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post #24 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 07:24 PM
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Please, not another car analogy to audio equipment. rolleyes.gif Driving cars require tactile and visual experience. You can't do a double blind test of cars. Try to come up with a better example next time.

Amps have different parts, design goals, power output, but solid state amp makers largely (if not completely) design the amps to have a flat frequency response across the audible spectrum. Like you said, making the car analogy is difficult to do, because you are comparing apples to oranges.
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post #25 of 141 Old 06-02-2013, 09:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Im in Vietnam where there is not so many gears for me to choose, if yes, they are sure to get out the reach of my budget. I came up with an Onkyo NR 616 and a pair of Castle Knight 2 for both music and movie ( movie is my aim for the system ). I love them but when writing a review about these pieces I have, people here laughed at me and thought I have a low sense of " feeling music ".

I made some walks around to learn more about 2 channel - amp but I dont have any chance yet to connect one with my Castle to feel the different. While searching around, these gears came up and I opened this topic. I didnt expect my topic has gone this far and I have learnt new things from both sides.

In my opinion, each one feels and enjoys audio differently. I respect all the ideas came above will go for further research according to you guys then see what I feel.
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post #26 of 141 Old 06-03-2013, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diomania View Post

You sure don't need any forums to enjoy your own system at your own domain. No one here is saying otherwise. If they have, please show some via quotes. It's when people start posting extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence, the challenges start to come up, at least on this forum. That's just the way it is here. Fortunately for those who don't like to be challenged, there are other forums that are not like that. Also, you have the freedom to choose.

I dont think its an extraordinary claim to simply say a $2500 pre-amp/amp combo could sound substantially better than a $350 AVR receiver.

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Please, not another car analogy to audio equipment. rolleyes.gif Driving cars require tactile and visual experience. You can't do a double blind test of cars. Try to come up with a better example next time.

OK a better one. Say you follow a certain conductor, and you here him conduct the same classical piece in two different venues. The odds are, the SPLdb between the two are not within 0.5db at you listening position. Secondly, while you have gone from A to B, you cant go back again to A. But despite all this, easily one can discern the difference in the acoustic character of what each hall sounds like.

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post #27 of 141 Old 06-03-2013, 08:23 AM
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Quote:
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If you spend an extra $1000 on an amp, maybe you will hear an improvement. Maybe you won't.

But if you spend that same $1000 on better speakers, you will hear a serious improvement.

And that $1000 invested in room-treatments will go even further.

The best amplifier will not fix a bad room any more than a cheap AVR would. Due to DSP processing, the cheap AVR might even do a better job mitigating a bad room.

I agree money put into room treatment is probably the best bang for your buck. After that, speakers. But the other pieces in the chain count (have clearly audible differences) also is my claim. And that level matching within 0.5db isnt necessary to discern what difference there is.

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Rega - DAC
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Jenzen Next ( http://www.troelsgravesen.dk/Jenzen-NEXT.htm )
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post #28 of 141 Old 06-03-2013, 08:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bo130 View Post

If you take two amps and level-match them, then make A/B comparisons, you know this - they're at the same or close to the same db listening level. Any differences should then become rather apparent, say if one really does have a difference in "sound quality".

I'm skeptical that this is the case with non-clipping properly-designed (flat frequency response) solid state gear, but to each his own.

Ill agree level matching helps with discerning differences. I just dont think its critical. I dont know about other folks, but when my system has been unchanged for a good while, the things I play often have a very good memory imprint, and usually I can pick up small differences immediately without a A/B type of test at all.

Healthy skepticism is a good thing. But I get miffed when people suggest that what I claim to hear is somehow an illusion, or is psychologically induced because the test comparison wasnt a blind A/B one with near perfect level matching (no one has said that in this thread, but has been in others).

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My Music
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My Equipment

Rega - Apollo
Rega - DAC
Goldpoint Passive
(2) Classe CA-100 bridged power amps (350w)
Jenzen Next ( http://www.troelsgravesen.dk/Jenzen-NEXT.htm )
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post #29 of 141 Old 06-03-2013, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by jim19611961 View Post

I agree money put into room treatment is probably the best bang for your buck. After that, speakers. But the other pieces in the chain count (have clearly audible differences) also is my claim. And that level matching within 0.5db isnt necessary to discern what difference there is.

If the level difference is the causal factor in hearing differences, and that's not a big "if" by the way, don't you think you should control for it?
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Originally Posted by jim19611961 View Post

Ill agree level matching helps with discerning differences. I just dont think its critical. I dont know about other folks, but when my system has been unchanged for a good while, the things I play often have a very good memory imprint, and usually I can pick up small differences immediately without a A/B type of test at all.

Healthy skepticism is a good thing. But I get miffed when people suggest that what I claim to hear is somehow an illusion, or is psychologically induced because the test comparison wasnt a blind A/B one with near perfect level matching (no one has said that in this thread, but has been in others).

None of us are immune to subconscious influences on perception, so don't think you're being singled out here. Human perception is more composed of your brain filling in the blanks than direct sensory input. Don't take it as a criticism, it's certainly not worth getting miffed over. Tons of evidence strongly suggests that our hearing is fallible, like it or not. But to deny what we have learned, particularly that which stands up to scientific inquiry, sounds more bull-headed than skeptical to me.
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post #30 of 141 Old 06-03-2013, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Wayne Highwood View Post

If the level difference is the causal factor in hearing differences, and that's not a big "if" by the way, don't you think you should control for it?
None of us are immune to subconscious influences on perception, so don't think you're being singled out here. Human perception is more composed of your brain filling in the blanks than direct sensory input. Don't take it as a criticism, it's certainly not worth getting miffed over. Tons of evidence strongly suggests that our hearing is fallible, like it or not. But to deny what we have learned, particularly that which stands up to scientific inquiry, sounds more bull-headed than skeptical to me.

Fallible? Not perfect? OK

But how many of you cant remember what your mothers voice sounds like? Wouldnt notice if she was slightly hoarse? Or something as slight as her mood being a certain way wouldnt be detectable?

Our memory is pretty dependable when talking about things we hear often. Things we have heard over a long period of time in the same way.

Now, if I was at some elses house, with a piece of music I wasnt familiar with, with a room and gear I wasnt familiar with, and we were comparing amps. Whole different story.

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