Originally Posted by antoniobiz1
Theory is completely irrelevant, here. The question is just: "Can you hear it?". Rest doesn't matter, at all. And now, for the first time, you are admitting that there's no such thing as hitting play and hearing it. I don't think I'm too far from the truth comparing this to an admission that you would have failed Mayer and Moran. You're saying that if you just play music (which one third of this forum is all about, the other two thirds being video and videogames), you won't hear a difference.
Good question, as the saying goes. ;-)
Long ago I realized that ABX can be an overly sensitive test in the sense that seems to be illustrated above.
ABX can make a big thing out of differences that the casual, one-time or infrequent listener won't notice.
Frankly, the market that ABX was designed for is people who obsess about perfection in audio. That would characterize most if not all of the 6 people in the original ABX development team.
There is a saying - "An ear worm" that describes a sound that gets trapped in the mind of many of us and for some time we will hear it in our minds again and again.
"An earworm, sometimes known as a brainworm, is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person's mind after it is no longer playing. Phrases used to describe an earworm include musical imagery repetition, involuntary musical imagery, and stuck song syndrome. The word earworm is a calque from the German Ohrwurm and was, according to Oliver Sacks, first used in the 1980s."
According to research by James Kellaris, 98% of individuals experience earworms. Women and men experience the phenomenon equally often, but earworms tend to last longer for women and irritate them more. Kellaris produced statistics suggesting that songs with lyrics may account for 73.7% of earworms, whereas instrumental music may cause only 7.7%.
In a 2006 book by Daniel Levitin entitled This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, he states that research has shown musicians and people with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) are more likely to suffer from earworm attacks. An attack usually involves a small portion of a song, a hook, equal to or less than the capacity of one's auditory short-term memory. Levitin reports that capacity as usually 15 to 30 seconds. Simple tunes are more likely to get stuck than complex pieces of music. He also mentions that in some situations, OCD medications have been known to minimize the effects. In 2010, published data in the British Journal of Psychology directly addressed the subject, and its results support earlier claims that earworms are usually 15 to 30 seconds in length.
Scientists at Western Washington University found that engaging the working memory in moderately difficult tasks (such as anagrams, Sudoku puzzles, or reading a novel) was an effective way of stopping earworms and of reducing their recurrence. Another publication points out that melodic music has a tendency to demonstrate repeating rhythm which may lead to endless repetition, unless a climax can be achieved to break the cycle.
Jean Harris, who murdered Dr. Herman Tarnower, was obsessed by the song "Put the Blame on Mame", which she first heard in the film Gilda. She would recall this regularly for over 33 years and could hold a conversation while playing it in her mind.
So don't underestimate ear worms, they may have even gotten some people killed (just raising questions about those who say that this is not an issue of life and death). ;-)
The point is that once a momentary distortion is identified to the individual, it may become a kind of a ear worm.
Furthermore IME once a person learns how to hear an audible artifact, it often becomes far more audible. I might be suggesting that earworms have a borderline state where individuals become hypersensitive to certain sounds or distortions of sounds. They may hear them at lower levels and they may be more distressed by them than usual.
For example I spent about 12 years doing live sound in a poorly designed room that was prone to acoustic feedback. With all available technology in play, the choice was often whether a performer would be loud enough to be clearly heard but feedback was a probable risk, or whether the performer would not be clearly heard at all. People who work in those kind of environments say that they can hear feedback building long before it becomes clearly audible and if they know what to do about it, it will never be heard by almost all of the audience.
And, in that context, the hypersensitivity of ABX would appear to have some value, even great value.
It is especially true that if the distortion or artifact can be completely eliminated or vastly reduced at a reasonable cost, this begs the question, why not just do it?