Originally Posted by torii
so if wires are all similar...can snake oil be used for cd/dvd/br players? amps sounding same, has to be some measurements we are not taking into consideration...do subwoofers sound the same if level matched? I just feel like alot of stuff sounds different. cant afford most of it, but everything in a system is important or contributes to the sound.
Subwoofers typically measure different enough that one can know that some will sound different before one listens to them. This is because there has been research into the question of what types of differences tend to be audible, and how much of a difference it takes. Of course, if something is on the edge, so to speak, of what has been proven to be noticeable, then one may not know if there will be an audible difference or not.
The same idea applies to other speakers. They commonly measure sufficiently different that one would expect to be able to hear a difference. This is not just frequency response and distortion, but with speakers, there is also the issue of dispersion, which will affect how the sounds bounce around in a room.
And the same idea applies to many analog sources, like cassette decks, with significant differences in frequency response and wow & flutter. (Thinking about this is reminding me of why I switched over to CDs back in the 1980's.)
Now, if you do not properly level match two pieces of equipment, then you will likely hear a difference between them, as one can hear differences in volume, if they are different enough. And because human hearing is not linear, a difference in volume will be perceived as tonally different, with the louder one seeming to have more bass and a little more treble. (This is what those "loudness compensation" controls deal with on old stereo equipment, to boost the bass and treble for listening at low volumes, to make it sound more natural than it would if one just has the volume low.) And, of course, one will be able to hear more details in the one that is slightly louder.
So, sure, if you go into a stereo shop and hook up two amplifiers, or two CD players, or two of almost anything that affects the level, you will likely hear a difference. But if just turning up the volume control will make up the difference, then paying extra for one over the other would be a waste of money.
And, because humans are not test equipment, one needs to be careful about how to deal with human bias, which is where the double blind testing comes in. Of course, most people are not going to do this for themselves, but it is the sort of thing that has been done, and so there is scientific information about how much of a difference matters, and what kind of a difference matters, for actually hearing a difference.
In the case of well-made modern amplifiers, with them sounding the same when operated within their design parameters, that still does not mean that there is no reason to pick one over the other. For one thing, the design parameters are often different, with one being more suitable for a wider range of speaker impedances, one may be capable of putting out vastly more power, etc. Plus there are unexciting things, like reliability, as some brands have gotten too sloppy in their manufacturing and sometimes make a receiver that is unreliable (which should never happen these days, given the state of knowledge of how to make such things, and how reliable these things can be). But, of course, companies want to maximize profits, so they like to make the things as cheaply as possible.
In my case, I have some nominally 3 ohm Apogee ribbon speakers, and so (when I first got them) I decided to buy an amplifier rated for such a low impedance, instead of just using what I had that was rated for 4 ohms minimum. I might have been able to get away with using what I had (I think I probably
could have), but I do sometimes listen at fairly high volumes for extended periods of time, and I did not want my amplifier to go up in a puff of smoke (possibly also destroying the speakers in the process). It may have been okay, but I did not want to take the chance, and so I purchased a more capable amplifier. At least at low volume, I noticed no difference in sound whatsoever. Of course, I did not buy the amplifier to improve the sound; I bought it to prevent damage from using an amplifier in a manner not consistent with the warnings on the back. Since I could afford buying a better amplifier (though I saved a lot of money by buying it used), I figure it is better to be safe than sorry, as the trite old saying goes.
So when one pays attention to the science of what is going on, one still often has reason to not buy the cheapest piece of equipment one can find. (In fact, the science will tell you not to, when one finds things that are very cheap that measure very badly.)