Originally Posted by krabapple
You haven't shown me anything that fits this description:
The ears are more sensitive to sound than any measurement tool you can throw at us. They've evolved over millions of years, and we all have a pair, but we probably don't know everything that the ear/brain mechanism picks up on.
It's not that every bit of distortion couldn't be measured. It probably could be, if we knew what we were looking for. Until we know every type of distortion that exists and have eradicated all of them, I'm going to believe that there are audible differences.
I once read an article on fractals that was very enlightening. Yes, it was in Stereophile, so if you want to stop reading, go right ahead. The basic idea is that analog signals can be more accurate than digital signals. It talked about the resolution of low level detail and compared a digital signal to a painting.
A painting made up of blocks or dots may look perfect from a distance, but as you get closer and closer, the individual dots or blocks would become more and more apparent. A digital image on a 1080p TV would be another example. Great from 10 feet away, not so great from 2 feet away. An analog signal when taken down to the lowest level gradually fades away into nothingness. The closer you get the more you see (or hear.) Go tell a photographer a digital image is more accurate than an analog image, I dare ya.
Digital music when you get down to the lowest level loses it's resolving power as well, and if you have linearity errors in a DAC that resolving power can be even worse.
Stereophile just reviewed a McIntosh Music Server that suffers these linearity errors (I know, they pointed out a problem! Maybe McIntosh didn't pay their advertising bill??? Take that conspiracy theorists!) and I read elsewhere on the site that this error results in the McIntosh being more equivalent to a 14 bit digital system than the 16 bit system it's supposed to be. Now maybe you can or maybe you can't hear that. It can be measured. And this poor performance comes from a VERY expensive high end manufacturer.
If a high end item that costs thousands of dollars can have such problems, why not a $79 cd player? If you had a PERFECT 16 bit digital system, it may be impossible to hear differences. Call me crazy, but I don't think anyone's produced that perfect system to this day. If there's a system out there with perfect linearity, perfect (zero) distortion and perfect (again zero) jitter performance, I'd like to hear about it. It stands to reason that if there are measurable differences, then there may be audible differences.
I know, I know, but what about double blind testing? What about it?
Can anyone offer up a perfect double blind test? Is a level matching device going to be completely transparent? Does anyone listen to their music while under the stress of being "tested?" Do people do these tests in the comfort of their own home with equipment they're completely familiar with?
Lastly, if people think they hear differences in equipment, and you don't, what do you care? I don't believe in gods, but I don't tell people they're crazy for having religion. No one can prove the existence of any deity, yet BILLIONS of people are religious. Are they as nuts as we audiophiles, or more so?
What we're talking about here is open to debate. Nobody has proven or disproven that audible differences exist. I hear differences. Maybe I'm a nut, who knows for sure?