Originally Posted by fcwilt
I'm also starting to question if subtle differences that ARE detectable via an ABX test are meaningful, in a real world sense. Let me try to explain.
If you have two rooms, one painted bright red and one painted bright blue and put me in one room I will be able to say which room I am in.
If you have two rooms, one painted white and one painted very slightly off white and put me in one room I will be most likely NOT be able to say which room I am in.
However show me the two paint samples for the white and the very slightly off white, side by side, and I likely WILL be able to say which is the white.
Why? Because humans are very good at detecting differences, not so good at absolutes.
Very well said on the testing part.
Originally Posted by fcwilt
How does this apply to music systems? If I ABX test two high quality systems I may be able to detect subtle differences.
However a week later put me in a room with one of those systems and I likely will NOT be able to tell you which system I am listening too.
If you cannot walk into the room and identify which system you are listening to, then for all audible purposes, the two systems are the same.
Here is where you lost me and one of the many examples where I see people claiming to cling to science but using data in ways that are not supported by science. If there is a detectable improvement, then there is an improvement. The degree of improvement isn't really relevant to determining whether or not a component change makes a difference, which is what we are all trying to determine since this is a science forum. To say there is an improvement, but it isn't meaningful because it's subtle, is applying subjective judgment to objective data. It's fine to say the difference is subtle, it's not fine for anyone to say it doesn't make any difference because a proven change is subtle.The rest of this post is not directly responding to fcwilt's quoted comment but is related to the subject discussed above:
Another area of subjective misstatements you see here are the comments that cumulative benefits don't matter. Science dictates that if you have multiple subtle improvements, the result of all changes will be less subtle. "Improvements" can go up or down -- things like high quality cables or adding more weight to a speaker in the example just cited will mostly have only the potential to improve, so downside risk is slight. Changes to internal speaker crossovers has a very high risk to go either way, and probably more likely down because of the time manufacturers spend tweaking them. But most "quality upgrade" or noise/vibration isolation tweaks are likely to go up if they make any difference at all. At a minimum, the benefit is 1+1=2 (figuratively). In fact, it can also be 1+1=2.1. Let's say hypothetically you determined a speaker wire upgrade had benefits (the first "1"). Then you subsequently upgraded an IC earlier in the signal path you determined has benefits (the second "1"), then the speaker wire improvement may be slightly more profound because an improved signal is coming from the amp due to the IC upgrade (hence the 1+1=2.1 -- I did not use 3 because the added benefit to the initial speaker wire change is likely to be subtle, but nonetheless it can happen). For anyone to suggest that multiple subtle changes (when all individual changes were not negative) doesn't result in less subtle improvements overall is imposing their subjective opinion over scientific fact. It is also true is that if changes are done are high risk (changing speaker drivers or internal crossovers or heavy equalization for example) the cumulative effect can be quite negative -- it's also easier to see -1+-1+-1 = -10 potential if multiple heavy alterations are done (which I'll call the Joan Rivers Syndrome since MJ is no longer with us).
The other example of subjective coloring here is to use distraction. For example, "room is much more important than cables - room, room, room, and room". We've seen this 50 thousand times and most of us knew it already. You had us at the 487th "room" - we all get that room is much, much more important than something as subtle as cables, but that has absolutely no bearing on whether cables can make a difference. Scientists want to know every change that can make a difference. Then they will use that information to make value judgments on what they buy, but when people say room is so important that cable doesn't matter, that is not a scientifically sound statement and is a major distraction to the discussion. If the question in a thread is specifically about value, then the room comment is ok, if it's just asking if a particular component can be improved it's not appropriate to drown out the discussion with the room card because you are imposing an answer to a question that wasn't
asked to the detriment of the question that was