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post #421 of 465 Old 05-21-2020, 12:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by R Harkness View Post
Are you sure? And how do you know? That would surprise me.
I didn't literally mean I know for a fact he's never compared DACs listening to music under double blind conditions. What I meant was he has never stated nor documented that he has ever compared DACs listening to music under double blind conditions.

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post #422 of 465 Old 05-21-2020, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
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I thought this was just the type of objective data, over purely subjective data, that you preferred? Why would he
need to compare one to another directly?
In audio you've never encountered a comparison of one device to another via listening to them?

The entire topic of this very thread is about a listening test, Foobar ABX, not technical measurements.

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post #423 of 465 Old 05-21-2020, 01:00 PM
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In audio you've never encountered a comparison of one device to another via listening to them?

Of course, but Amir's SINAD ratings are based on blind audio testing results: the results that inform us as to what thresholds of distortion are audible and which aren't.


If a DAC distortion measures below audible thresholds, why bother blind testing it against another similar DAC?


Would I infer correctly that you'd like to see blind comparisons of the DACs showing SINAD distortion in the audible range? If so, I'm wondering what you'd like to get out of that. It already tells you that any difference you hear will be the result of added distortion, and you don't want that right?


I'm just wondering what the ABXing of the DACs would tell you, that you care about in your search for a transparent DAC, that the measurements don't already tell you?
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post #424 of 465 Old 05-21-2020, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Wine is not a great analogy because it is subjective taste. For example, one person may prefer a sweet taste and another a dry taste. There is no right or wrong. With DACs there is right and wrong. Right: perfect audible transparency. Wrong: discernible alteration.

Contrary to the propaganda spread by many vendors and the magazines they advertise in, the job of a DAC is to faithfully and accurately transduce the signal from the digital domain to the analog electrical domain without any discernible coloration/alteration, aka "transparency", assuming one's goal is high fidelity. That's what makes a DAC audibly perfect.
For reproduction, absolutely! However, when used to create "art", anything the DAC does is just part of the "art". In that vein, as part of a chain of mixing gear, so long as what the DAC did makes it to the final product (mix) (*), I don't care how transparent it is or not. Of course, I suppose you covered this case. In my example, the "goal" is "create art" not "high fidelity reproduction".

That said, I'm unsure how many DACs strive to add an audible signature sound, so...this may be a moot point altogether.


(*) as opposed to, for example, a DAC sitting, say, just before the studio monitors adding sound to the playback chain that I'll never get to hear "in the mix".
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post #425 of 465 Old 05-21-2020, 01:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by R Harkness View Post
Of course, but Amir's SINAD ratings are based on blind audio testing results: the results that inform us as to what thresholds of distortion are audible and which aren't.
Usually the terms "blind" and "double blind" are reserved for listening tests. Amir doesn't conduct either blind nor double blind tests on DACs; instead he measures them and then may give some sighted [opposite of blind] evaluation in the listening/conclusion sections such as: "The sound was OK but bass is week and dynamic range just not there."
source: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/f...adapters.5541/

Back when he was posting here he would repeated misapply research from Feidler [spelling?] suggesting that 120dB DR was the goal and anything less was potentially compromised from the perspective of audibility. This is false but I assume it is still his model despite Arny correcting him on this point repeatedly.

Nobody needs (nor is there any music recorded with microphones that gets anywhere even remotely close to) 120dB DR.


The point is he is setting up goal posts to meet his agenda. Any DAC not reaching his arbitrary color ranked bar chart levels of green/blue is "inferior" in the minds of readers. This is by his intentional design. In truth DACs almost never matter. $7.99 and up can get you a perfect one. [Although if they are part of combo device such as an AVR or headphone amp then there can be other differences down the pike including only modest amplifier sections, noisy preamps, etc. which can clip/add hiss etc. especially if pushed beyond their means, but that's not really the DAC chip's fault; it's other components down stream.]

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Originally Posted by R Harkness View Post
If a DAC distortion measures below audible thresholds, why bother blind testing it against another similar DAC?
SINAD is his favorite metric, and it certainly is an important one [I personally prefer to keep SNR and distortion separate rather than smashing them together as one number, but whatever] but it does not speak to things like "bass" which he claims he can detect differences in under sighted conditions.

The beauty of a DBT like Foobar ABX is we need not worry what specifically makes "A" (possibly) sound different than "B" [SINAD doesn't measure everything. For instance, it does not measure frequency response error.], we only need to determine if there's any humanly discernible difference of any kind at all. If no differences are found then one knows that "differences" one heard in the bass under sighted conditions was just a figment of one's imagination. That's why modern science uses blind listening tests, not sighted.

So Amir is "hearing" a deficiency in the bass and weak dynamic range, neither of which have much to do with SINAD measurements, under sighted conditions and he attributes it to the DAC. I'd bet had he conducted a proper double blind test this deficiency would have disappeared. That's why DBTs rule.
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post #426 of 465 Old 05-21-2020, 02:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by R Harkness View Post
I'm just wondering what the ABXing of the DACs would tell you,
If there's an audible difference, like "sublime", "deficient bass", and/or "poor dynamic range". Or if its simply a figment of his imagination or his inability to identify when over-driving a headphone amp occurs.

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post #427 of 465 Old 05-21-2020, 03:49 PM - Thread Starter
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However, when used to create "art", anything the DAC does is just part of the "art". In that vein, as part of a chain of mixing gear, so long as what the DAC did makes it to the final product (mix) (*), I don't care how transparent it is or not. Of course, I suppose you covered this case. In my example, the "goal" is "create art" not "high fidelity reproduction".
I have no objection to the artist doing whatever they want, nor a listener doing whatever they want in regards to distortion, erm, I mean "enhancement". Problems arise however when a manipulative marketer like Neil Young at Pono (if they still exist) or Bob Stuart at Meridian/MQA says something along the lines of "I have figured out how to make the sound more like it did in the original studio through my special process", yet in truth they subtly tweaked the sound away from accuracy and are conning us. That's not high fidelity; it's flim flam.

I was surprised to learn the earliest versions of intentional distortion were accomplished by wads of paper stuffed into the cabinet, pencil stabs into the woofer cone, and razor blades:

Cool. . . . Maybe I should try that with my woofers.

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post #428 of 465 Old 05-21-2020, 04:24 PM
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I have no objection to the artist doing whatever they want, nor a listener doing whatever they want in regards to distortion, erm, I mean "enhancement".
Indeed! Unfortunately, it'd be nice if a DAC were meant to be "artistic" it would at least advertise itself that way. Honestly, would it be that hard to say, "we strive for accuracy" and "we strive for signature sound" right on the box?! There's a place in the world for both...hell, there's possibly a place for both in the same product. But, and I know we're on the same page here, I only want one type in my reproduction chain and I shouldn't have to wade through crap reviews and specs to figure out which type the DAC wants to be!

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Problems arise however when a manipulative marketer like Neil Young at Pono (if they still exist) or Bob Stuart at Meridian/MQA says something along the lines of "I have figured out how to make the sound more like it did in the original studio through my special process", yet in truth they subtly tweaked the sound away from accuracy and are conning us. That's not high fidelity; it's flim flam.
100% agreed!

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I was surprised to learn the earliest versions of intentional distortion were accomplished by wads of paper stuffed into the cabinet, pencil stabs into the woofer cone, and razor blades:
https://youtu.be/iYU90XajYmU?t=200

Cool. . . . Maybe I should try that with my woofers.
That interesting! Maybe you should try it! Bet it sounds great ...come on, be a trend-setter!

Does remind me how pissed my dad was upon, one night after loading up his gear after DJ'ing a bar gig, finding inverted one of his speaker cones. He never did fix it though. Guess dad figured it wouldn't make much difference to the drunken idiots at the bar. Besides, he was pretty sure he knew who punched it and wasn't going to fix it just to have it occur again.
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post #429 of 465 Old 05-21-2020, 04:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Dome tweeters can sound terrible if pushed in but woofer cones, when it's just the center dome part (the "dust cap") are often still listenable at lower volume levels. You can also often suck them back out with a vacuum cleaner nozzle . . . .or if you're feeling, um,"frisky", your mouth.

A laser interferometer can determine if the driver is no longer acting pistonically, i.e. if the deformity is causing cone breakup prematurely.

Pistonic motion:

https://www.hifinews.com/images/919vault.breakup.jpg

Breakup:
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post #430 of 465 Old 05-22-2020, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DreamWarrior View Post
For reproduction, absolutely! However, when used to create "art", anything the DAC does is just part of the "art". In that vein, as part of a chain of mixing gear, so long as what the DAC did makes it to the final product (mix) (*), I don't care how transparent it is or not. Of course, I suppose you covered this case. In my example, the "goal" is "create art" not "high fidelity reproduction".

That said, I'm unsure how many DACs strive to add an audible signature sound, so...this may be a moot point altogether.
The vast majority of DACs are just like this test's $7.99 one: audibly perfect. This is not to say that all products made which contain DACs (DAC chips) are audibly perfect.

For instance, my 24" LCD TV in front of me has a DAC in it (the chip itself is probably fine, although I have no means to measure it directly) however the sound of the TV in general is abysmal, largely because of its little, I'd guess 1.5" speakers.

Similarly, all modern AVRs have one or more DACs but there is no means for an average consumer, nor a professional reviewer, to directly measure their performance. This does not stop people though. They measure ports such as the zone out pre outs or the main pre outs and seem to pretend to their readers that these additional, high gain preamp sections the signal is forced to pass through for this measurement is somehow "invisible" and introduces no additional noise and distortion itself. [Psst: it does] They then compare this performance to other stand alone DACs that weren't forced to pass through secondary electronics (such as high gain preamp circuits) and compare them on a continuum of other "DACs" implying it is a fair comparison. It is not.

I've also come to learn that on some AVRs they've tested, where they use the Zone outs, they weren't even measuring the main room's DAC! Often to offer the user the convenience of listening to one source in the main room that's different from the Zone out room, the manufacturer throws in a secondary, lower quality DAC specifically for the zone out. If you want "mutli-source sound", say radio in the kitchen while the living room does DVD, you need two DACs working simultaneously. To save money the manufacturer often uses a lower quality DAC (and analog preamp level circuitry) for the Zone out since they know this quality is less important to many customers. It's often just a kitchen and they are often just ceiling speakers, after all.

An example is the Pioneer VSX-LX303
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The main room is a higher quality Asahi KASEI AKM4458 whereas a separate DAC is used for the zone so one can have "multi-source" capability and listen to a completely different digital source in the secondary "zone", simultaneously to what digital source is being converted by the better chip in the main room. The lower quality zone DAC is made by Texas Instruments, a PCM5101.

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post #431 of 465 Old 05-22-2020, 10:09 PM
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Can you imagine having a web site called "wine science review" yet neither you nor any panel of experts you hire ever tastes and compares the wines reviewed against each other?! It's crazy.
I've heard there are annual wine ratings where all the 'golden' nosed elites or whatever they're called, 'decide' the best wines available, or whatever, I'm not a wine drinker. They definitely don't do blind tasting. When they have been talked into such tests, the winning wines change significantly, much less expensive, much less French. The tasters weren't very happy with the results. It's been a long time since I read about this, but if memory serves, some of them voiced objections to the tests that sounded quite analogous to how some golden ears react to failed DBTs--it seems the gilding exposed as transparently thin.
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I've heard there are annual wine ratings where all the 'golden' nosed elites or whatever they're called, 'decide' the best wines available, or whatever, I'm not a wine drinker. They definitely don't do blind tasting. When they have been talked into such tests, the winning wines change significantly, much less expensive, much less French. The tasters weren't very happy with the results. It's been a long time since I read about this, but if memory serves, some of them voiced objections to the tests that sounded quite analogous to how some golden ears react to failed DBTs--it seems the gilding exposed as transparently thin.

Yes I've heard the same thing. Also there was a test where they poured two glasses of white wine and then secretly (out of view to the wine experts) they added a few drops of completely tasteless/odorless red food coloring to one of the glasses of wine to make it appear to be red. Not a single taster thought it tasted the same showing a classic example of expectation bias making human sighted judgment worthless.

Update: https://io9.gizmodo.com/wine-tasting...-why-496098276
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post #433 of 465 Old 05-22-2020, 10:44 PM
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Yes I've heard the same thing. Also there was a test where they poured two glasses of white wine and then secretly (out of view to the wine experts) they added a few drops of completely tasteless/odorless red food coloring to one of the glasses of wine to make it appear to be red. Not a single taster thought it tasted the same showing a classic example of expectation bias making human sighted judgment worthless.

Update: https://io9.gizmodo.com/wine-tasting...-why-496098276
From your source:
Quote:
A 2006 study, published by the American Association of Wine Economists, found that most people can't distinguish between paté and dog food.
Well, that's interesting, and hilarious, and makes me feel a lot better about some culinary choices we made for grandma

Another good bit:
Quote:
If you think you can consistently rate the "quality" of wine, it means two things:

1: No. You can't.

2. Wine-tasting is bull****.
Change a few words and you have a great reply to a lot of posts I've come across here.
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post #434 of 465 Old 05-22-2020, 10:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Their link got me nowhere but I assume it was some tiny study. I don't think most ethics boards used by major institutions would sign off on feeding people dog food without their written consent because such food is not quality controlled by the FDA the same way human food is.

Me and my buddies have done blind tasting of beer, champagne, tequila, vodka, gin, and cola.

The tests were nearly double blind except that the server entering the room and placing down the sample tray was the person pouring the liquids so his awareness and then visibility to us, even though he said nothing to us, alters the test from being a double blind test into a single blind test.

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post #435 of 465 Old 05-22-2020, 11:47 PM
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I found it https://www.researchgate.net/publica..._from_Dog_Food

They used "Newman's Own® Organics Premium Pet Food is made exclusively from "human grade" agricultural products"

The fact that double blind testing is required if you want reliable results that can be trusted says an awful lot. That's something I keep repeating, but it can't be stressed enough. It should be a WTF kinda thing that's also profound--the smartest most dedicated scientists and researchers know that no one, including themselves, using whatever safeguards they can come up with, if they're aware of what's getting tested, can keep themselves from biasing the results no matter how hard they try. The first time I learned of this, I thought it sounded kinda crazy.
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post #436 of 465 Old 05-23-2020, 12:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Good find on the test. So it was "human grade" actually. That explains it.

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Me and my buddies have done blind tasting of beer, champagne, tequila, vodka, gin, and cola.
I love double blind tests and find them to be great fun but here at this forum getting people to perform them is like pulling teeth.
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Good find on the test. So it was "human grade" actually. That explains it.



I love double blind tests and find them to be great fun but here at this forum getting people to perform them is like pulling teeth.
Well, this is weird. I was going to ask you if you would gain any benefit from me taking the test seeing as how I have no expectation of doing any better than chance due not only to me thinking that's what the results would be for anyone but I also suck at these kind of tests. I thought I would set the two tracks up in foobar anyway so I downloaded them and the hashes don't match. Even weirder, there are two files with almost the same names which I think were the example files I played around with earlier while watching the video. AND, I'm beginning to question my sanity now, the only two PCs I would have done this on, one of them its foobar didn't have the ABX plugin and the other PC had no foobar, it's a new setup and it's entirely possible I hadn't installed foobar on it though I thought I had. PLUS, the earlier sample files I played around with in the ABX plugin that apparently never got installed are bad now, they got corrupted somehow??? Who the **** knows, this is when defenestration begins to look so inviting.


Are these files you had somewhere for giving the ABX plugin a go?
tr0130sDACd.wav
tr0130sec.wav


Am I missing something other than my marbles?

Update: OK, I figured out why files were messed up, I tried to rught-click save link but that doesn't work with dropbox files it seems, so I got them DLed now. I think the other problem is I mightr have installed the plugin in virtualbox system and the latest update to VirtualBox might have killed all of my virtual systems so I haven't been able to run them for a while, I hope that's it because otherwise my marbles have left the vicinity, unworried by the corona threat it seems.

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post #438 of 465 Old 05-23-2020, 09:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, this is weird. [snip]
I admit it: I probably could have picked better file names. Also the fact that one forum member got their own hand picked song thrown in mid thread, "Mining for Gold" by Cowboy Junkies ["tr0130sec" and "tr0130sDACd"], and the file names are only slightly different from the main ones doesn't help either.

If you follow my instructions in the opening post on how to download and install Foobar and then the plugin "ABX Comparator" you should be good to go. If not let me know.

I barely speak PC and Apple is a completely foreign language to me. I don't even like computers but they are a necessary evil I have to learn to get by, so I have no idea what you meant by "virtualbox". That went straight over my head.

Even if you don't think you'll hear a difference I still think you'll find it educational and fun. Once you learn Foobar ABX you then can apply it to all sorts of things. For instance, try the Million Dollar Stradivarius Violin challenge.
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post #439 of 465 Old 05-23-2020, 10:45 AM - Thread Starter
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^Psst: I've just now added a new video to help people key on what is different about the violins: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/91-au...l#post59696146
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post #440 of 465 Old 05-23-2020, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
I admit it: I probably could have picked better file names. Also the fact that one forum member got their own hand picked song thrown in mid thread, "Mining for Gold" by Cowboy Junkies ["tr0130sec" and "tr0130sDACd"], and the file names are only slightly different from the main ones doesn't help either.

If you follow my instructions in the opening post on how to download and install Foobar and then the plugin "ABX Comparator" you should be good to go. If not let me know.

I barely speak PC and Apple is a completely foreign language to me. I don't even like computers but they are a necessary evil I have to learn to get by, so I have no idea what you meant by "virtualbox". That went straight over my head.

Even if you don't think you'll hear a difference I still think you'll find it educational and fun. Once you learn Foobar ABX you then can apply it to all sorts of things. For instance, try the Million Dollar Stradivarius Violin challenge.
I won't bore you with the details but virtualbox is a way to fake running another computer inside a program on yours, like you can have a linux computer running on your PC, or even a Mac but Apple being Apple they make it difficult. It's a very cool thing and provides a lot of capabilities, it's also pretty geeky.

My problem was just trying to DL the files in a way that wouldn't work. I'll give both tests a try, it'll be interesting for sure.

The violin thing and the wine thing make me think that all those scenes you see in movies where someone takes a sip of wine and asks, 'Oh, this must be the '47, no?' are probably mostly BS.
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post #441 of 465 Old 05-24-2020, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
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The violin thing and the wine thing make me think that all those scenes you see in movies where someone takes a sip of wine and asks, 'Oh, this must be the '47, no?' are probably mostly BS.
I think in the movies the actors aren't even drinking real wine; its red food colored water or something similar. Often they have to redo a take dozens of times and if in shooting that scene you were to see them drinking sips of real wine you'd have drunk actors by the time they need to move on to the next scene, even though in the final cut we only see one sip!
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Just as your DAC test didn't require comparison to another DAC to establish audible transparency.
Actually my DAC test did have the listener listen to another DAC, playing the exact same original music file. That's what a listener hears when they play File A: They are hearing the same song played directly through their own system's (ostensibly more expensive) DAC:

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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
A for analog and D for digital:

File A is: D ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------>digital input on audio playback system of the listener's choice.

File B is: D ----->$7.99 D-to-A----->analog RCA wire----->A-to-D --------------------------------------->digital input on audio playback system of the listener's choice.

IF A and B are found to be indistinguishable from each other in my listening test then all those added steps in B are perfect to the ear, i.e. they successfully resolve every single detail/nuance in the music and add no discernible alteration.
Assuming they are of the mind they have a good quality DAC, listening to File A gives them a reference for how the music should sound.

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post #443 of 465 Old 05-24-2020, 12:11 PM
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I think in the movies the actors aren't even drinking real wine; its red food colored water or something similar. Often they have to redo a take dozens of times and if in shooting that scene you were to see them drinking sips of real wine you'd have drunk actors by the time they need to move on to the next scene, even though in the final cut we only see one sip!
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post #444 of 465 Old 05-24-2020, 12:16 PM - Thread Starter
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^ Ha. Good one. [Although I'd be remiss to not mention that emulating this behavior (if it were real alcohol) is potentially lethal.]
According to this it was actually iced tea he chugged.

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post #445 of 465 Old 05-24-2020, 12:21 PM
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Well... even though John had a tolerance for abundance, chugging a quart of Jack would only be one take.
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post #446 of 465 Old 05-24-2020, 01:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Or if just using the letters A for analog and D for digital:

File A is: D ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------>digital input on audio playback system of the listener's choice.

File B is: D ----->$7.99 D-to-A----->analog RCA wire----->A-to-D --------------------------------------->digital input on audio playback system of the listener's choice.

IF A and B are found to be indistinguishable from each other in my listening test then all those added steps in B are perfect to the ear, i.e. they successfully resolve every single detail/nuance in the music and add no discernible alteration.
So far according to all posted score sheets:

The $7.99 DAC is perfect to the ear.
The $1.05 Monoprice RCA wire is perfect to the ear.
The $79.95 4-in-1 combo box's ADC is perfect to the ear.
The "free" USB cable to return to my laptop's hard drive is perfect to the ear.
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post #447 of 465 Old 05-25-2020, 10:40 AM
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I won't bore you with the details but virtualbox is a way to fake running another computer inside a program on yours, like you can have a linux computer running on your PC, or even a Mac but Apple being Apple they make it difficult. It's a very cool thing and provides a lot of capabilities, it's also pretty geeky.

My problem was just trying to DL the files in a way that wouldn't work. I'll give both tests a try, it'll be interesting for sure.

The violin thing and the wine thing make me think that all those scenes you see in movies where someone takes a sip of wine and asks, 'Oh, this must be the '47, no?' are probably mostly BS.
" 'Oh, this must be the '47, no?' are probably mostly BS." was a napa winemaker for about 20 years back in the day when there were still bottles of "the'47" around. pre-requisite to identifying something esoteric like "the '47" is you can't imagine what the '47 tastes like; must have had it before to recognize it again. One thing for sure, nobody opens something really special casually just to see what happens, 'less you've got a garage full. double blind duo-trio tests are about as revealing as it needs to get to measure discrimination. wine is a good point of comparison for high end audio. purveyors of both have an obvious bias, as in they make a living based on your finding a better than b. the trick is to pretend not to appear concerned about such bourgeois concerns. ultimately this relies on promoting the subjective over the quantitative, as in "it's a naive domestic burgundy without any breeding, but i think you'll be amused by its presumption."
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post #448 of 465 Old 05-25-2020, 10:51 AM - Thread Starter
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"Geographic origin bias

For six years (1999-2005), Texas A&M University invited people to taste wines labeled "France", "California", "Texas", and while nearly all ranked the French as best, in fact, all three were the same Texas wine. The contest is built on the simple theory that if people don't know what they are drinking, they award points differently than if they do know what they are drinking"

There's a guy in this forum who refers to wires made with "cheap Chinese copper". Although there are different levels of purity of copper one might produce and use in products*, the country of origin is immaterial.


*This is indeed a common marketing trick snake oil peddlers use: "Whereas most of our competitors use 99.99% pure copper ours are 99.99999% pure, so it has much better upper midrange imaging and micro details. Can't you hear it?. . .No? Then you need to buy our AC line conditioner." [not a real quote]

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post #449 of 465 Old 05-25-2020, 11:17 AM
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I am very amused by your presumptions that domestic atoms aren't inherently superior to the foreign, of course they won't taint the electrons like those of less exceptional origin.
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post #450 of 465 Old 05-25-2020, 11:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Since blind tests like Tom's Hardware and mine aren't finding audible differences, even with dirt cheap DACs, maybe that's the real difference: how tainted the electrons are.

"Even though you yourself may not have a sense for how tainted your electrons are, think how embarrassing it would be if an audiophile friend came over and noticed how soiled they are."
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