Decision Made - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 27 Old 06-02-2020, 01:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Decision Made

You may know that I've been debating whether to add a 2ch setup to my Integra DTR 50.3 HT with B&W CM10s2's up front in my problematic room. You have helped me with many posts. Here's the outcome.


I was able to persuade a local dealer with a very good reputation to actually come to my house and see what the problem was with my room, speaker location etc. He played with my system, asked questions about what music I liked to listen to, input, volume, etc. He rearranged the speakers, which helped. He then recommended the Parasound HINT6, even tho he knew I was looking at he P6/A23+ combo and that I would even consider spending more if he recommended something more expensive. He said the HINT 6 would do the job on my particular needs very nicely.


But then he suggested a CD player that was almost twice what I planned to spend. When I balked he said he had brought one in his truck and asked if he could hook it up to the Integra for an audition. He brought the boxed Arcam in and hooked it up. It sounded great. Same CD played on my older OPPO 93 and there was a very noticeable difference. I don't know if it was the transport or DAC in the Arcam or what, but I agreed to buy it on the spot.


So, he's working on a proposal for the Parasound HINT6, Arcam, and installation. I'm excited about it. Thanks for all the helpful advise you all have provided.
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post #2 of 27 Old 06-02-2020, 03:31 PM
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You probably now hold the all-time record for most new threads about making a purchase: 6.

I hope the new gear works out well for you.

PS: You do not need to start a seventh thread if you wish to update us after installation. Simply post here.

Music room: Cary SLI-80 tube integrated amplifier, McIntosh MA6500 integrated amplifier, Quad 99 preamp, Quad 909 power amp, Acoustic Research AR9 loudspeakers, Yamaha CD-N500 CD player, Teac UD-503 DSD DAC, Phase Linear 8000 II linear-tracking turntable.
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post #3 of 27 Old 06-02-2020, 03:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok Alex, Thanks.
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post #4 of 27 Old 06-02-2020, 07:16 PM
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He brought the boxed Arcam in and hooked it up. It sounded great. Same CD played on my older OPPO 93 and there was a very noticeable difference. I don't know if it was the transport or DAC in the Arcam or what, but I agreed to buy it on the spot.
Most likely a level difference between the 2 units. And no, your VC is not good enough to adjust for it, nor your ears with program material.
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post #5 of 27 Old 06-02-2020, 07:35 PM - Thread Starter
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A9x, he adjusted the volume down and I lowered it even further. I was aware of often used sales tactic of unequal volume comparisons. That music just sounded better, on my music, on my machine, in my room. Maybe I was hoodwinked but I don’t think so. I was a trial lawyer for over forty years and have a pretty good “bull**** detector “. I was also influenced by the fact that he was not trying to sell me the separates or other more expensive electronics. Maybe it was snake oil-I just don’t know Thanks for the kind advice, I certainly am no expert in this area.
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post #6 of 27 Old 06-03-2020, 02:16 AM
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A9x, he adjusted the volume down and I lowered it even further. I was aware of often used sales tactic of unequal volume comparisons. That music just sounded better, on my music, on my machine, in my room. Maybe I was hoodwinked but I don’t think so. I was a trial lawyer for over forty years and have a pretty good “bull**** detector “. I was also influenced by the fact that he was not trying to sell me the separates or other more expensive electronics. Maybe it was snake oil-I just don’t know Thanks for the kind advice, I certainly am no expert in this area.
Which player? The CDS50? That has a nice ESS 9038 dac in it. I have no doubt it will sound better than an 93. I've looked at getting one myself.

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post #7 of 27 Old 06-03-2020, 06:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Yes glangford, CDS50. Thanks for your input. I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas.
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post #8 of 27 Old 06-03-2020, 01:47 PM
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A9x, he adjusted the volume down and I lowered it even further. I was aware of often used sales tactic of unequal volume comparisons. That music just sounded better, on my music, on my machine, in my room. Maybe I was hoodwinked but I don’t think so. I was a trial lawyer for over forty years and have a pretty good “bull**** detector “.
To do proper comparisons so that the louder one doesn't sound better, you need to level match to about 0.1dB. You can't do that with your ears. As for the sales stuff, I unfortunately lived with a car salesman for a long time, so you could easily have been played.
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post #9 of 27 Old 06-03-2020, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by A9X-308 View Post
To do proper comparisons so that the louder one doesn't sound better, you need to level match to about 0.1dB. You can't do that with your ears. As for the sales stuff, I unfortunately lived with a car salesman for a long time, so you could easily have been played.
Lesson for the day: When test driving cars, to make a proper comparison, level match them to 0.1 db.
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post #10 of 27 Old 06-03-2020, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Dfndr View Post
A9x, he adjusted the volume down and I lowered it even further. I was aware of often used sales tactic of unequal volume comparisons. That music just sounded better, on my music, on my machine, in my room. Maybe I was hoodwinked but I don’t think so. I was a trial lawyer for over forty years and have a pretty good “bull**** detector “. I was also influenced by the fact that he was not trying to sell me the separates or other more expensive electronics. Maybe it was snake oil-I just don’t know Thanks for the kind advice, I certainly am no expert in this area.
I think the true test is when you have it hook up and just enjoy it for a day or two. You will know whether you like it better or not, nobody tell you one way or the other, just relax and enjoy, you'll know.

I have experience that I picked one amp during the testing and deemed to be the best, but when I thought it's all settle and just use it, after a day or two, I had to change it out because I just like the other one better. In my case, I really want to like it more, but my ears disagreed and I had to change it out after 2 days. Just make sure you can return it if you change your mind.

I used to think level matching is very important and really match them well first. I have all the equipment to match beyond any normal people have and I marked the volume knob and the whole works. But later on from my experience is it's not that important. I think that's something people tries to invalidate you impression that you don't know how to listen, that you don't know how to judge.

I actually tried intentionally change the volume, my experience is nobody change their opinion when I did that. In fact, one time, one person actually told me "hey, this is louder, it's not better, turn it down a little!!!"

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post #11 of 27 Old 06-03-2020, 04:58 PM
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I think that's something people tries to invalidate you impression that you don't know how to listen, that you don't know how to judge.
I'm basing it on my long experience of testing, as well as actual reports from people like Dr Johnson that it's necessary. I wish Arny and Tom were still here to give their long experience as well, but my first reference of this was in Audio or Stereo Review tests, I think by Tom, a long time ago. Echoic memory is also really short, so comparisons days later aren't valid.


Basically, I think the type of comment I quoted is a cheap shot to invalidate proper testing back to "I say it's true, so it must be" type of bollocks. All our senses are infallible and we're not susceptible to any sort of bias, right?
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post #12 of 27 Old 06-03-2020, 07:58 PM
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Maybe I was hoodwinked but I don’t think so. I was a trial lawyer for over forty years and have a pretty good “bull**** detector “.
I suspect what you might not be getting is that the salesperson themselves may be, to use your word, "hoodwinked". If you gave them truth serum (let's pretend), for example, their story would not change. The have enthusiasm for a product, you sense it, and then you have enthusiasm for the product. It's called expectation bias.

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post #13 of 27 Old 06-03-2020, 08:17 PM - Thread Starter
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M, I think I get that and I don’t disagree with the concept. But what is the practical import of it?If a representative of a product or idea is expirienced In the field and has a good faith belief why is that necessarily to be disregarded? If one establishes a bias based on experience, training and actual evidence is that that not a rational method of judgment? That is, once the speakers motive and actual basis for their opinion is considered, is there not anything valid to base your own “bias” or opinion on?
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post #14 of 27 Old 06-03-2020, 08:18 PM
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But then he suggested a CD player that was almost twice what I planned to spend. When I balked he said he had brought one in his truck and asked if he could hook it up to the Integra for an audition. He brought the boxed Arcam in and hooked it up. It sounded great. Same CD played on my older OPPO 93 and there was a very noticeable difference. I don't know if it was the transport or DAC in the Arcam or what, but I agreed to buy it on the spot.
I was a high end audio dealer for over two decades. This sales technique he used is called the puppy dog close.

"Walk into any puppy store with a dog lover and watch how emotionally attached they can become. Now, what do you think would happen if the store owner allowed the pet lover to take a puppy home for a few days before deciding whether to buy the puppy or not. What do you think will happen?

You guessed it. The puppy will never see the inside of the store again. Allowing potential customers to "try out" a product with no obligations is considered the puppy dog close. It can be a highly effective closing tool if used correctly.​"
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post #15 of 27 Old 06-03-2020, 08:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok. I get that and don’t disagree once again. But, what is the importance of that in my case. I went into the process with the intention of buying something at that point. I did not rely on “faith” in someone or some dogma. I didn’t buy just because someone said “Trust me,I know”.
Being a trial lawyer for decades, I know their are techniques and methods to “selling” things or ideas. Some can be honest and valid and not necessarily deceptive or in bad faith.
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post #16 of 27 Old 06-03-2020, 08:49 PM
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I did not rely on “faith” in someone or some dogma. I didn’t buy just because someone said “Trust me,I know”.
Which other CD players besides the ~$1200 MSRP Arcam did he bring that you compared against the Oppo?
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post #17 of 27 Old 06-03-2020, 08:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Good point. So I’m getting ready to go to bed now. Nice talking with you

I’m thinking, “A salesman, a lawyer and a clergyman are sitting at a bar...”

Good night.
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post #18 of 27 Old 06-03-2020, 11:32 PM
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I'm basing it on my long experience of testing, as well as actual reports from people like Dr Johnson that it's necessary. I wish Arny and Tom were still here to give their long experience as well, but my first reference of this was in Audio or Stereo Review tests, I think by Tom, a long time ago. Echoic memory is also really short, so comparisons days later aren't valid.


Basically, I think the type of comment I quoted is a cheap shot to invalidate proper testing back to "I say it's true, so it must be" type of bollocks. All our senses are infallible and we're not susceptible to any sort of bias, right?
Good for you that actually go through the testing yourself like I did. Not just talk loud and a lot and not even have real experience.

I actually had many tests with people, I don't read article and quote. I walked the mile. Like I said, I actually for a while level matched very exact. I found it's not useful. And I sure would not tell others that their testing and impression is not valid if they don't follow the supposedly " the right way".


Real first hand experience is very important. I would not even talk if I have not walk the mile and experience in first hand.

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post #19 of 27 Old 06-03-2020, 11:45 PM
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Good for you that actually go through the testing yourself like I did. Not just talk loud and a lot and not even have real experience.

I actually had many tests with people, I don't read article and quote. I walked the mile. Like I said, I actually for a while level matched very exact. I found it's not useful. And I sure would not tell others that their testing and impression is not valid if they don't follow the supposedly " the right way".
Listening to the two devices being compared at the same volume is critical. I think I learned that concept when my age was measured by a single digit and it made complete sense to me then as it does now. Tom Nousaine's published article in the scholarly Journal of the Audio Engineering Society describes a test he conducted with thirty-one people which illustrates the problem with small, often unintended/inadvertent "loudness differentials" quite well. Here is the excerpt from the August 1997 Stereo Review version of his article with the same name, starting on page 53. The part I put in bold text explains why it is so important:

"I conducted an experiment several years
ago where thirty-one subjects were
asked to listen to ten sets of musical
passages, with each set containing two
30-second samples.

In half of the sets, both samples
were played at precisely identical vol-
umes. In the other half, there was a 1-
dB difference in level between them.
Although people had a strong tenden-
cy to "prefer" the louder alternative
(especially when it came as the second
of two), not one of the subjects report-
ed volume or level as a discriminating
factor. All comments on how the
sound changed were couched in quali-
ty terms such as "cleaner" or "more
harsh" even though volume was the
only thing that had changed."

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post #20 of 27 Old 06-04-2020, 01:15 AM
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Listening to the two devices being compared at the same volume is critical. I think I learned that concept when my age was measured by a single digit and it made complete sense to me then as it does now. Tom Nousaine's published article in the scholarly Journal of the Audio Engineering Society describes a test he conducted with thirty-one people which illustrates the problem with small, often unintended/inadvertent "loudness differentials" quite well. Here is the excerpt from the August 1997 Stereo Review version of his article with the same name, starting on page 53. The part I put in bold text explains why it is so important:

"I conducted an experiment several years
ago where thirty-one subjects were
asked to listen to ten sets of musical
passages, with each set containing two
30-second samples.

In half of the sets, both samples
were played at precisely identical vol-
umes. In the other half, there was a 1-
dB difference in level between them.
Although people had a strong tenden-
cy to "prefer" the louder alternative
(especially when it came as the second
of two), not one of the subjects report-
ed volume or level as a discriminating
factor. All comments on how the
sound changed were couched in quali-
ty terms such as "cleaner" or "more
harsh" even though volume was the
only thing that had changed."
You did experiment yourself or you just blind quote? Do your own test and get the result. I did, like I said, I trusted that it's important from reading here. I tested, and I disagree.........FROM MY OWN EXPERIENCE. I would keep the volume very close, but I would NOT invalidate people that does not.

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post #21 of 27 Old 06-04-2020, 09:17 AM
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You did experiment yourself or you just blind quote? Do your own test and get the result.
I have both participated in and conducted many level matched, blind tests of myself and others for several decades. Here's one, for example, I conducted (and happened to video) two decades ago of amplifiers through a 2ch. system then costing ~$13K (it was about $16K actually if you include all the wiring and other accessories, which would be almost $24K in current dollars). The expert listener, a friend of mine who was an audio expert in general and recording engineer, hand picked the high end amp, all the connected peripheral gear (including the speakers, Stereophile Class-A Recommended Component, reference 2ch. only SACD player, and wiring), the music, the venue (a nice isolated room with professional grade, acoustical room treatment panels), the time, the pace, the amount of pre-training with the exact setup and music he brought specifically for the test (conducted without me, on his own), and the switching methodology.* He selected a nice brand of speakers I carried, Sonus Faber, which currently sells some models costing over a quarter of a million dollars, but the ones he picked for the test (and knew well) were only a few thousand dollars. The reference amplifier was made by Proceed, the companion line to Mark Levinson, however a year or so after the test the manufacturer announced they were going to re-badge the amp, without any electrical modification, and sell it as Mark Levinson because they decided to phase out the Proceed line but wanted to keep its "best and most successful products" in production but under the Mark Levinson name.


*Despite everything being done to his design spec., in order to maximize his odds of being able to identify the amps by their sound quality (to win the bet as easily as possible), he failed.

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post #22 of 27 Old 06-04-2020, 10:35 AM
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I did experiment also, I find level matching to the extreme of 0.1db is full of it. I found the better the equipment is, the sound will open up at lower level than the cheap stuffs. For high end stuffs, when you turn up to some level, you get the sound stage, the 3D and all. Beyond that, it just gets louder, not better.


From crappy stereo I had before, the more you crank up, the better it sound. Maybe that's one of the reason people crank up really high to listen. The better the stuffs are, the lower the volume to get into the sweet spot.


I disagree from MY OWN finding that matching to 0.1dB is necessary, maybe to 1dB ( about 10%) is good enough because anything more, it will be obvious one is louder than the other.

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post #23 of 27 Old 06-04-2020, 11:20 AM
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I disagree from MY OWN finding that matching to 0.1dB is necessary, maybe to 1dB ( about 10%) is good enough because anything more, it will be obvious one is louder than the other.
Level matching to a mere 1dB precision is woefully inadequate. Here's my own finding, done moments ago, in a double blind test showing that a level difference of less than half that, .424 dB, is easily discernible to me in 15 out of 16 trials, hence with excellent statistical significance [p-value: 0.0003 (0.03%)]:

foo_abx 2.0.6d report
foobar2000 v1.5.3
2020-06-04 11:04:09

File A: 1 second of pink noise amplified .424 dB by MZ.wav
SHA1: 03e34d57a6ba95763a2641aeadef8083c3ad2f84
File B: 1 second of pink noise by MZ.wav
SHA1: 1a7d84c3f73918a8135e9dbf3081315a7725ce50

Output:
DS : OUT 1-2 (2- BEHRINGER UMC 204HD 192k)
Crossfading: NO

11:04:09 : Test started.
11:04:29 : 01/01
11:04:45 : 01/02
11:04:59 : 02/03
11:05:25 : 03/04
11:05:44 : 04/05
11:06:11 : 05/06
11:06:31 : 06/07
11:06:54 : 07/08
11:07:37 : 08/09
11:07:52 : 09/10
11:08:16 : 10/11
11:08:36 : 11/12
11:08:49 : 12/13
11:09:11 : 13/14
11:09:57 : 14/15
11:11:16 : 15/16
11:11:16 : Test finished.

----------
Total: 15/16
p-value: 0.0003 (0.03%)

-- signature --
1942891ecded389bb975a5735369baa46c171c02


So to summarize:


.424 dB I can clearly hear, as seen in today's off the cuff, impromptu test I did over coffee (with my annoying refrigerator compressor making tons of noise in the background, I might add)

.3 dB starts to become sketchy but is still way too close to detectable, so not good enough in my book

.2 dB is usually good enough for me if betting small amounts of money. . . but heck, if you have the means to do .2dB why not do .1dB?

.1dB is what I need to see if I have a lot of money on the line.

UPDATE: I'm attempting to attach the test tracks should anyone else wish to ABX them. Please stand by. Here they are in a folder which needs to be de-zipped to use:
Attached Files
File Type: zip .424 db Level discrimination test tracks for ABX.zip (163.8 KB, 9 views)

Last edited by m. zillch; 07-02-2020 at 11:18 PM.
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post #24 of 27 Old 06-04-2020, 11:44 AM
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It's my own finding also that as long as people cannot tell the difference in volume, it doesn't sway opinion one way or the other. Yes, I did this few times already and I did conduct my own test on amplifiers. People consistently picking the same amp every time as their favorite and they can describe what is the difference.

I design and build my own amps, they are look the same, the power supply and output stage, and the wiring is all the same. The only difference is the front end. People definitely tell the difference between each amp every time. This is the picture of the 3 amps I designed and built, they all looked EXACTLY the same, people cannot look at the amp and have bias one way or the other. They can easily pick their preference.

I went through extensive test first hand to say that. Amp has different sound signature. My test is very scientific, same room, same source, same speakers, same speaker cables, every amp are with same output stages, same power supply. Only difference is the front end. One is Krell type, one is my own design and one is the basic Blameless design used by Nelson Pass. They all sounded different.


Like I said many times, how much amp and speaker cable matters depends completely on what speakers used. You can sway the result by using a very easy to drive speakers and claim there is no difference. My friend had a pair of Klipsch horn ( the top of the line Klipsch). He used a 20W Pioneer receiver ( the cheapest of the cheap) and it sounded fantastic. Klipsch seems to be easy to drive and very efficient, you don't need any special amps.


My two pairs of Focals are hard to drive, every bit matter. That's where a good amp and a knitted speaker cable shine. I know enough to conduct test, I know enough to rig the game to get the outcome I want. I don't just talk here, to every hour I am here, I spend at least 10+ hours working on my amps and test and all.
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Own designed power amps, own designed preamps, JM LAB Focal Alto Utopia and Spectral 913.1 speakers, Rythmik F12SE sub.
Not hooked up: Nakamichi Stasis PA-7 power amp, Velodyne VA1210 sub, Kef Reference Series center, Kef Bookshelf speaker, Monitor Audio bookshelf speaker, Infinity rear speakers. Acurus 3X200W amp.

Last edited by alan0354; 06-04-2020 at 11:50 AM.
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post #25 of 27 Old 06-08-2020, 05:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Deal is done.

Just placed order and paid deposit. Parasound HINT 6 and Arcam CD. Dealer to deliver, install with HT bypass to my HT and calibrate speakers and room, etc.


The thing that I didn't buy was the high end cabling . I am a fan of Audioholics and I'm following his advice to forgo the "super" cables. My dealer uses AQ Evergreen cables for the interconnects when you don't upgrade. I'm also using the powercords that come with the units. I have Monoprice 12 guage for the speakers. Hope it all sounds nice together.


Thanks for all the help you all have been.
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post #26 of 27 Old 06-08-2020, 06:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A9X-308 View Post
Most likely a level difference between the 2 units. And no, your VC is not good enough to adjust for it, nor your ears with program material.
Good point. The Arcam has a stated output level of 2.2V for the unbalance output, 4.5Vrms balanced, fixed (no variable option). Assuming the Oppo has an industry standard unbalanced output level of 2.0V this means in a properly wired A/B comparison the Arcam will have a .83 dB higher level. Perfect for fooling the ear under the principle Nousaine describes in the article I linked to above, yet not sounding as if the volume is any different.

Of course there doesn't have to be any difference at all for people to prefer one over the other. Even the world's very first audio marketer was well aware of how expectation bias works:

“People will hear what you tell them to hear.” - Thomas Edison

Last edited by m. zillch; 06-08-2020 at 06:45 PM.
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post #27 of 27 Old 06-08-2020, 07:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dfndr View Post
Just placed order and paid deposit. Parasound HINT 6 and Arcam CD. Dealer to deliver, install with HT bypass to my HT and calibrate speakers and room, etc.

The thing that I didn't buy was the high end cabling . I am a fan of Audioholics and I'm following his advice to forgo the "super" cables. My dealer uses AQ Evergreen cables for the interconnects when you don't upgrade. I'm also using the powercords that come with the units. I have Monoprice 12 guage for the speakers. Hope it all sounds nice together.

Thanks for all the help you all have been.
Please give us an update after you have had an opportunity to listen to the new gear. Here's hoping the tunes are tops!

Music room: Cary SLI-80 tube integrated amplifier, McIntosh MA6500 integrated amplifier, Quad 99 preamp, Quad 909 power amp, Acoustic Research AR9 loudspeakers, Yamaha CD-N500 CD player, Teac UD-503 DSD DAC, Phase Linear 8000 II linear-tracking turntable.
Theater room: Panasonic 65S60 plasma television; Yamaha RX-A2020 (preamp section); Adcom GFA-5503 and GFA-5400 amplifiers; Polk LSi25, LSiC, and LSiF/X loudspeaker system; Velodyne FSR-18 servo-subwoofer.
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