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Old 04-15-2014, 01:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've heard the placebo effect and that biases can make us hear things even if they aren't really there.

But I would like to discuss differences that ARE there, but are caused by other means. Take a power amp for instance. Many people swear up and down that adding a power amp made a huge difference to the sound.

I would like to discuss the possible reasons why adding a power amp may result in this difference, other than clipping. For instance, if I add a power amp, could it not be playing much louder than my receiver at a given gain?

This thread is not about bias or illusions, but real causes that result in real differences. If I add a Pass Labs power amp to my receiver, or connect some other power amp to an integrated, what could happen that may contribute to hearing a difference other than the usual suspects?
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Old 04-15-2014, 03:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Heinrich S View Post

I've heard the placebo effect and that biases can make us hear things even if they aren't really there.

But I would like to discuss differences that ARE there, but are caused by other means. Take a power amp for instance. Many people swear up and down that adding a power amp made a huge difference to the sound.

I would like to discuss the possible reasons why adding a power amp may result in this difference, other than clipping. For instance, if I add a power amp, could it not be playing much louder than my receiver at a given gain?

That depends on the relative gain of the power amplifiers in the AVR as opposed to the gain of the external power amp.
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This thread is not about bias or illusions, but real causes that result in real differences. If I add a Pass Labs power amp to my receiver, or connect some other power amp to an integrated, what could happen that may contribute to hearing a difference other than the usual suspects?

As you may recall I was the proud owner of a Pass 4e power amp not that long ago. It was big, it was heavy, and if I had really badly designed speakers that I was married to for life, it might have made sense to keep.

Let's face it. Matching levels accurately enough is a giant mystery to most audiophiles. Symptomatic of that is the fact that if you tell them to match levels, they usually grab for a SPL meter.

The only possible audible differences between two good amps is level matching. And there is more than enough level mismatching to go around. ;-)
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Old 04-15-2014, 05:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

That depends on the relative gain of the power amplifiers in the AVR as opposed to the gain of the external power amp.
As you may recall I was the proud owner of a Pass 4e power amp not that long ago. It was big, it was heavy, and if I had really badly designed speakers that I was married to for life, it might have made sense to keep.

Let's face it. Matching levels accurately enough is a giant mystery to most audiophiles. Symptomatic of that is the fact that if you tell them to match levels, they usually grab for a SPL meter.

The only possible audible differences between two good amps is level matching. And there is more than enough level mismatching to go around. ;-)

Yes, it does appear to be a mystery, but there appears to be no easy way for audiophiles to match levels properly! As in a step-by-step tutorial. If someone could clearly document the process, without getting too technical, it would probably go a long way in helping people to be more proactive about it.

But when people are asked to level-match, it's Greek to them because they don't know how they are supposed to level-match. Knowledge is power, and all that.
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Old 04-15-2014, 05:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Heinrich S View Post

I've heard the placebo effect and that biases can make us hear things even if they aren't really there.

But I would like to discuss differences that ARE there, but are caused by other means. Take a power amp for instance. Many people swear up and down that adding a power amp made a huge difference to the sound.

I would like to discuss the possible reasons why adding a power amp may result in this difference, other than clipping. For instance, if I add a power amp, could it not be playing much louder than my receiver at a given gain?

This thread is not about bias or illusions, but real causes that result in real differences. If I add a Pass Labs power amp to my receiver, or connect some other power amp to an integrated, what could happen that may contribute to hearing a difference other than the usual suspects?

In an area (like music) where art meets tech it is impossible to completely separate subjective from objective. Belief is the most powerful force in the universe. If you believe then it IS real to you no matter what. So this in itself can be a real difference to you or I while perceived as an imaginary difference by others.
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Old 04-15-2014, 05:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by William View Post

In an area (like music) where art meets tech it is impossible to completely separate subjective from objective. Belief is the most powerful force in the universe. If you believe then it IS real to you no matter what. So this in itself can be a real difference to you or I while perceived as an imaginary difference by others.

We are both on the same wavelength, because I believe the very same thing! It is a truism to the person listening to the equipment, whether the difference exists in reality or not. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
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Old 04-15-2014, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Heinrich S View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

That depends on the relative gain of the power amplifiers in the AVR as opposed to the gain of the external power amp.
As you may recall I was the proud owner of a Pass 4e power amp not that long ago. It was big, it was heavy, and if I had really badly designed speakers that I was married to for life, it might have made sense to keep.

Let's face it. Matching levels accurately enough is a giant mystery to most audiophiles. Symptomatic of that is the fact that if you tell them to match levels, they usually grab for a SPL meter.

The only possible audible differences between two good amps is level matching. And there is more than enough level mismatching to go around. ;-)

Yes, it does appear to be a mystery, but there appears to be no easy way for audiophiles to match levels properly! As in a step-by-step tutorial. If someone could clearly document the process, without getting too technical, it would probably go a long way in helping people to be more proactive about it.

But when people are asked to level-match, it's Greek to them because they don't know how they are supposed to level-match. Knowledge is power, and all that.

(1) Obtain a good DVM. In principle just about anything will work, but well-designed tools reduce confusion. I recommend this one:

http://www.amazon.com/BestDealUSA-Handheld-Desktop-Digital-Multimeters/dp/B00ATKNJ5E



Check the user reviews!

(2) Set it up to measure AC volts across loudspeaker terminals. This cable can help:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Cable-screw-dual-banana-with-socket-to-dual-banana-plug-15A-test-probe-leads-1M-/251471667469



Note that these plugs allow you to remove a banana connector from a speaker terminal, insert the test lead, and plug the speaker lead into the top of the test lead plug. Your existing banana plugs may allow just plugging the test lead into it. Do the easiest thing.

(3) Obtain a source of a steady test signal at a number of frequencies, such as from a test CD like this one: http://www.ronelmm.com/tones/.

(4) Set the system volume control as high as you can stand. Steady test tone are hard to listen to for long.

Going back and forth between the two signal paths that will be compared, make such adjustments as are required to obtain the same reading on the DVM +/- 1% which is about the same as +/- 0.1 dB. Repeat for all relevant channels, and once you have completed one round of adjustments repeat to make sure that later adjustments didn't upset earlier adjustments. Repeat for several frequencies such as 15 KHz, 1 KHz, 100 Hz, and 20 Hz.
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Old 04-15-2014, 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Heinrich S View Post

I've heard the placebo effect and that biases can make us hear things even if they aren't really there.

But I would like to discuss differences that ARE there, but are caused by other means. Take a power amp for instance. Many people swear up and down that adding a power amp made a huge difference to the sound.

Many people swear it but it usually isn't true. Usually it is a result of hearing bias. It can also be a result of mismatched levels.
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I would like to discuss the possible reasons why adding a power amp may result in this difference, other than clipping. For instance, if I add a power amp, could it not be playing much louder than my receiver at a given gain?

If the gain is the same the SPL will be the same. The amps will play at the same loudness until one of them runs out of power. Most of the power in modern amplifiers isn't used. It is overhead and overhead has nothing at all to do with sound since it isn't used. The only time a separate amplifier affects sound is a situation in which the internal amplifier was being stressed so that it exhausts all of its overhead and the separate amplifier does the same job while maintaining some overhead..
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This thread is not about bias or illusions, but real causes that result in real differences. If I add a Pass Labs power amp to my receiver, or connect some other power amp to an integrated, what could happen that may contribute to hearing a difference other than the usual suspects?

This thread is about bias and illusions. They always are. As long as the integrated had some overhead left, the Pass amp would do the same job but with more overhead (unused power.) If the integrated was overdriven into clipping, then the Pass amp may be able to produce that volume level without clipping, thereby improving the sound. You are talking about linear amplifiers. They have distortion, noise and variance from a flat frequency response below the level of audibility. As long as they are operating within their design limitations, they will all remain linear. There is no magic involved. In order to get an amplifier to sound different from another, one or more of these parameters must not be linear and must rise above the level of audibility. There simply aren't any other options. There are amplifiers that are designed not to be linear and they do have a sonic signature. I consider those to be bad amplifiers.
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Old 04-15-2014, 08:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

(1) Obtain a good DVM. In principle just about anything will work, but well-designed tools reduce confusion. I recommend this one:

http://www.amazon.com/BestDealUSA-Handheld-Desktop-Digital-Multimeters/dp/B00ATKNJ5E



Check the user reviews!

(2) Set it up to measure AC volts across loudspeaker terminals. This cable can help:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Cable-screw-dual-banana-with-socket-to-dual-banana-plug-15A-test-probe-leads-1M-/251471667469



Note that these plugs allow you to remove a banana connector from a speaker terminal, insert the test lead, and plug the speaker lead into the top of the test lead plug. Your existing banana plugs may allow just plugging the test lead into it. Do the easiest thing.

(3) Obtain a source of a steady test signal at a number of frequencies, such as from a test CD like this one: http://www.ronelmm.com/tones/.

(4) Set the system volume control as high as you can stand. Steady test tone are hard to listen to for long.

Going back and forth between the two signal paths that will be compared, make such adjustments as are required to obtain the same reading on the DVM +/- 1% which is about the same as +/- 0.1 dB. Repeat for all relevant channels, and once you have completed one round of adjustments repeat to make sure that later adjustments didn't upset earlier adjustments. Repeat for several frequencies such as 15 KHz, 1 KHz, 100 Hz, and 20 Hz.

So you set the master volume at some figure? Like -20 on both? And then use the trim controls? If you want to listen to music and compare amplifiers level-matched, how does one do this?
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Heinrich S View Post

So you set the master volume at some figure? Like -20 on both? And then use the trim controls? If you want to listen to music and compare amplifiers level-matched, how does one do this?

You measure the voltage across the speaker terminal while playing a test tone. You adjust both sides of the comparison to the same voltage.
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heinrich S View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

(1) Obtain a good DVM. In principle just about anything will work, but well-designed tools reduce confusion. I recommend this one:

http://www.amazon.com/BestDealUSA-Handheld-Desktop-Digital-Multimeters/dp/B00ATKNJ5E



Check the user reviews!

(2) Set it up to measure AC volts across loudspeaker terminals. This cable can help:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Cable-screw-dual-banana-with-socket-to-dual-banana-plug-15A-test-probe-leads-1M-/251471667469



Note that these plugs allow you to remove a banana connector from a speaker terminal, insert the test lead, and plug the speaker lead into the top of the test lead plug. Your existing banana plugs may allow just plugging the test lead into it. Do the easiest thing.

(3) Obtain a source of a steady test signal at a number of frequencies, such as from a test CD like this one: http://www.ronelmm.com/tones/.

(4) Set the system volume control as high as you can stand. Steady test tone are hard to listen to for long.

Going back and forth between the two signal paths that will be compared, make such adjustments as are required to obtain the same reading on the DVM +/- 1% which is about the same as +/- 0.1 dB. Repeat for all relevant channels, and once you have completed one round of adjustments repeat to make sure that later adjustments didn't upset earlier adjustments. Repeat for several frequencies such as 15 KHz, 1 KHz, 100 Hz, and 20 Hz.

So you set the master volume at some figure? Like -20 on both?

Whatever works. -20 might be a good starting point.
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And then use the trim controls?

Probably not, because trims on modern AVRs have a fairly large step size. There probably needs to be some kind of an analog volume control in line with each of the two paths being compared.
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If you want to listen to music and compare amplifiers level-matched, how does one do this?

Replace the CD with the test tones with a music CD or a music or video DVD or BD.
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:33 AM
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You need to understand the whole audiophool mentality.

There has to be a difference! Any change causes a difference! The polarity of the difference, i.e. positive or negative, is directly related to the cost of the said upgrade.

This is a religion. Those who participate at that level MUST ALWAYS HEAR DIFFERENCES! Take away their differences and you take away their god.

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Old 04-15-2014, 09:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Probably not, because trims on modern AVRs have a fairly large step size. There probably needs to be some kind of an analog volume control in line with each of the two paths being compared.
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Probably? How are ignorant audiophiles supposed to know how best to tackle this problem? You say there probably has to be some kind of analog volume control in line with each of the two paths being compared? How are audiophiles supposed to know this, and how are they supposed to know how to compensate if such a condition arises? As I said, there is more to this than what is being said. It's not really a straight forward process.
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Replace the CD with the test tones with a music CD or a music or video DVD or BD.

Okay, so you listen to music with one amp. Then you spend a few minutes ensuring everything is voltage-matched with a second amp to the same set of speakers. By that stage, everything would sound different because of the time lapse! So then what good is level-matching? Some of you say that audiophiles are ignorant and that they can't fathom how to do it, but it's really NOT a straight forward process. There are things that they need to look out for, things they need to compensate for, and the whole process is somewhat redundant if switching is not quick.

So audiophiles are kinda in a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' category. If they don't do it, then they're ignorant and/or lazy. Or they don't know how. And if they do do it, their testimony is not entirely legitimate because you can't expect them to trust their own anecdotes minutes apart. Poor audiophile. frown.gif

I think the main problem is that there is a lack of transparency when discussing these subjects. The subjects are not clearly explained to the layman, so of course they probably won't know how to do it, or know how to do it properly! If someone could do a step by step tutorial, post it on Youtube, it probably would go a LONG way to helping people. Make it easy for people to know how to do it and more people would probably do it!

If many audiophiles haven't done level-matching then one can't assume it's because they're all lazy or incompetent. I think it's because there isn't a clear explanation on how to do it. Some people just assume it's a foregone conclusion that they supposed to know how.
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Heinrich S View Post

So audiophiles are kinda in a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' category. If they don't do it, then they're ignorant and/or lazy. Or they don't know how. And if they do do it, their testimony is not entirely legitimate because you can't expect them to trust their own anecdotes minutes apart. frown.gif

Well they could start by throwing away those rags like 'the Absolute Sound", "6Moons", and even "Stereophile" and start learnign electrical theory. Then they would begin to understand how this "stuff" really works.

Otherwise, yes, they are shooting in the dark.

There is no free ride to true knowledge. Learn it!

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Old 04-15-2014, 09:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Glimmie View Post

Well they could start by throwing away those rags like 'the Absolute Sound", "6Moons", and even "Stereophile" and start learnign electrical theory. Then they would begin to understand how this "stuff" really works.

Otherwise, yes, they are shooting in the dark.

There is no free ride to true knowledge. Learn it!

So you are suggesting that audiophiles learn electrical theory in order to know how to level-match two pieces of audio equipment? If that's the case, no wonder audiophiles don't bother with it!
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:01 AM
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In the other thread, I post the double blind test that Arny participated in. Here it is again:
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Originally Posted by amirm View Post

If I may, let me present this double blind test:
i-nTpXsqF-L.png
This test was published in the Audio Amateur magazine in 1982. I trust it is acceptable to show as meeting your criteria since you were one of the three authors of that article.

Here are the amplifiers under test:
i-xjPp4w3-S.png

So pretty powerful amplifiers were used. The explanation goes to say :

i-3tbhPL7-M.png

Given the previous slide, and the 5 ohm impedance, we are pumping in the neighborhood of 180 watts into these speakers. How did the testing turn out? Here are the results:

i-zfdGz3C-XL.png

Notice the highlighted section in yellow. One of the clips generated "random" results. The others showed convincing difference in amplifiers. The text does not say why these tracks were selected. What if they had gotten "unlucky" and the other two tracks they selected were the same as the track "Lightfood?" That is, non-revealing? We would have had all "random" results and verdict would have been that the amplifiers sounded the same. Yet the problem would have been that of the people who created the test, not knowing what material is designed to bring out the difference we are trying to find.

Here is the bit from Conclusion of this article:
i-NVbTMcL-M.png

Is the message in yellow what we get in these discussions? How an amplifier sounds when stressed is our most plausible explanation of why they may sound different. We have a double blind test that shows exactly that. Yet, there is not one copy of this report anywhere online. Through thousands upon thousands of discussions and posts across countless forums, Arny did not think to post this. I had to buy a copy of the paper in an auction to get access to it. Why the reluctance? Why not present the data and let it speak for itself?

By the way in Arny's list and this test there is a critical protocol error: lack of control. A control is necessary to make sure the test fixture is working correct, that we are operating the test properly, and have listeners with the required discrimination. The authors got lucky in that they got an accidental control which was the different sounding amp. Had that not been there, and the outcome presented as "random," we would not have known about any protocol errors.

Are folks say that the testers imagined these differences they heard?
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for posting that Amirm! There is always more to the story. It absolutely is not as clear-cut as some would have us believe.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:24 AM
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Thanks for posting that Amirm! There is always more to the story. It absolutely is not as clear-cut as some would have us believe.

Why do you say that? Nobody has said that all amplifiers sound the same.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:25 AM
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So you are suggesting that audiophiles learn electrical theory in order to know how to level-match two pieces of audio equipment? If that's the case, no wonder audiophiles don't bother with it!

Yes I am suggesting exactly that. Now they certainly don't need to become a full fledged engineer or technician but since when did it hurt to understand at least the basics of what you are doing versus just painting by numbers?

And FWEIW, I do believe there are differences in the sound of different amps. I have heard it myself. But be assured, those differences can be measured and a technical explanation easily arrived at by an EE with a communications technology background or an experienced technician. There is no magic involved.

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Old 04-15-2014, 10:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Why do you say that? Nobody has said that all amplifiers sound the same.

I never said they did. But it's clear that, outside of the usual suspects (clipping, poor frequency response etc), you firmly believe that two amps can't sound different in a controlled test. Amirm's test contradicts your belief in the matter. There is evidence that amps can and do sound different in a controlled test outside of the usual qualifiers that members around here seem to parrot to no end.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes I am suggesting exactly that. Now they certainly don't need to become a full fledged engineer or technician but since when did it hurt to understand at least the basics of what you are doing versus just painting by numbers?

I agree, but then people should be more understanding about this. Not all people can dedicate time to in-depth research. After all, this is about musical enjoyment, not sticking your head into text. I find it irritating when people just say 'go level-match', but in reality it's not actually that simple. As I said, lack of transparency doesn't help anyone, certainly not ignorant audiophiles.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Heinrich S View Post

I agree, but then people should be more understanding about this. Not all people can dedicate time to in-depth research. After all, this is about musical enjoyment, not sticking your head into text. I find it irritating when people just say 'go level-match', but in reality it's not actually that simple.
I agree with you. Having said that, if we agree that without such research, then it's fair to say opinions stated without the research should be, at best, taken with a grain of salt, if not ignored completely.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:47 AM
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I agree, but then people should be more understanding about this. Not all people can dedicate time to in-depth research. After all, this is about musical enjoyment, not sticking your head into text. I find it irritating when people just say 'go level-match', but in reality it's not actually that simple. As I said, lack of transparency doesn't help anyone, certainly not ignorant audiophiles.

OK, then those should just sit back and enjoy the music. But if you are going to compare products and speculate why there are differences, then you need some background as to the technology at work.

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Old 04-15-2014, 10:51 AM
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OK, then those should just sit back and enjoy the music. But if you are going to compare products and speculate why there are differences, then you need some background as to the technology at work.
Same should hold true if folks say there is no difference. Yes?

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Old 04-15-2014, 11:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by David James View Post

I agree with you. Having said that, if we agree that without such research, then it's fair to say opinions stated without the research should be, at best, taken with a grain of salt, if not ignored completely.

Sure, but are opinions considered sacrosanct? Opinions are just that, opinions. On that day, that audiophile heard a difference, whether real or imaginary, but he surely heard something. So to him, it's a fact that he heard whatever he claimed to hear. Unless one has mind reading abilities, or can measure the individuals brain wave patterns, you can't really argue to the contrary. A difference to him/her was a difference to him/her and to them, the origins of that difference is immaterial. You can't expect audiophiles not to get irritated when complete strangers are claiming their experiences to be false, however well intentioned.
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Old 04-15-2014, 11:01 AM
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Same should hold true if folks say there is no difference. Yes?
Yes, the good news is many with the requisite knowledge have done the research. Which is why I'm not an audiophool smile.gif
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Old 04-15-2014, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Heinrich S View Post

Sure, but are opinions considered sacrosanct? Opinions are just that, opinions. On that day, that audiophile heard a difference, whether real or imaginary, but he surely heard something. So to him, it's a fact that he heard whatever he claimed to hear. Unless one has mind reading abilities, or can measure the individuals brain wave patterns, you can't really argue to the contrary.
I won't argue with them. any more then one who has claimed to see bigfoot. I will ask them for evidence if they become more insistent, however wink.gif
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Old 04-15-2014, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by amirm View Post

Same should hold true if folks say there is no difference. Yes?

Absolutely. Or to be more precise I guess one should say there are "no measurable differences - today". I agree there is always room for the impossible. But it's the audiophile junk science that gets me going. If someone can't prove why it sounds different to them, then just say so. I'm fine with that.

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Old 04-15-2014, 11:23 AM
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I never said they did. But it's clear that, outside of the usual suspects (clipping, poor frequency response etc), you firmly believe that two amps can't sound different in a controlled test. Amirm's test contradicts your belief in the matter. There is evidence that amps can and do sound different in a controlled test outside of the usual qualifiers that members around here seem to parrot to no end.

You are reading an article that was written long enough ago that amplifiers weren't linear. What we post in these forums relates to modern amplifiers which, for the most part, are linear. While all amplifiers don't sound the same, most of them do because most of those manufactured today are linear.
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Old 04-15-2014, 11:51 AM
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But it's clear that, outside of the usual suspects (clipping, poor frequency response etc), you firmly believe that two amps can't sound different in a controlled test. Amirm's test contradicts your belief in the matter.
How so? If what set those amps apart wasn't clipping or FR differences, what was it, Heinrich?

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Old 04-15-2014, 11:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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You are reading an article that was written long enough ago that amplifiers weren't linear. What we post in these forums relates to modern amplifiers which, for the most part, are linear. While all amplifiers don't sound the same, most of them do because most of those manufactured today are linear.

Okay, but you appear to be cherry picking when the argument isn't going your way. So the article is old, so what. So are most published DBT reports. You guys all love to quote decades old DBT reports when it suits you. But when the results contradict your beliefs, you run around and try to wriggle your way out of the argument. It's despicable.
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