Originally Posted by R Harkness
Thanks for the replies!
BTW, though not speaker related, the issue of blind tests has become pertinent for me again due to a change I made in my 2 channel music system. Until recently I have streamed my ripped CD files (Lossless or uncompressed) from an external drive hooked to my iMac, using the iTunes interface to my Apple TV, to me Benchmark DAC, to my system.
In an effort to escape some of the hassles of iTunes, I recently moved to the Logitech Media Server platform, using a small Raspberry Pi (hand sized) computer. Now using the iPeng remote app to control my music.
Now, this is, as far as I can tell, simply streaming bits to my DAC from a different computer. There is no reason I'm aware of that would suggest any difference in sound, and I did not expect any.
And yet, my system now sounds slightly different. In a way that's actually driving me a bit nuts. There is a decidedly more thin, peaky quality to the treble, a thinner sounding midrange, just a generally brighter, "harder" edge to the sound. This is bizarre, as it is exactly those areas in which my system has always struck me as NOT sounding like that.
I kept figuring "all in my head, no reason for it." But when I finally took the hard drive and streamed again from the iMac/iTunes...suddenly my system sounded like itself again - not peaky, richer, less edge, more organic etc. Damn...this I did not expect or want, as I really need to be rid of iTunes and on to the other platform.
So, understanding, as far as I do, that there shouldn't be a sonic difference and my this could be some form of bias, I'm going to blind test between them with the help of a pal.
Just to follow up on the above...
I did manage a modest blind test with the help of my friend.
The two different digital servers - iTunes and the Raspberry Pi - were in a room down the hall from my listening room. So my friend was in a separate room out of sight, switching between the two sources. We did the testing in pairs of 2. I'd listen to a bit of the selected song, then I'd yell "switch. " Then I would yell to him which one I preferred - if any, and he'd write down the result for each pair trial.
My friend had use coin flips to determine the switching. Hence switching was random, unknown to me, and sometimes the source was actually switched, sometimes it was just played again.
Results: Random guessing pattern. Sometimes I "preferred" the sound of one, sometimes the other. Sometimes I said "there was no change" when there was no change. Other times I "preferred" one over the other, even though the source had not been changed.
I have to say that the switching scenario was not optimal - I didn't have the right connection to set up instant switching using my DAC's input, so my pal had to switch the cable manually, which created a sort of frustrating delay (maybe 30 seconds or so). And since I was tired it made trying to remember the previous sound a bit more of a struggle. However, I think the results are most likely accurate in terms of there being no audible difference between the two set ups.
After all, audiophiles will switch a DAC or amplifier or cables or any other component and report they easily "hear" the difference - and the time gaps between switching components like that is much greater than the time gap I was dealing with. If there were a distinct audible difference, I'd think it would be obvious enough in this switching process and not a struggle to discern.
Blind testing like this long ago saved me from spending silly money on high priced audiophile cables (AC and otherwise), and it's a nice tool to have in settling a case of audiophile nervosa :-)
(I'd also mention: via the same type of blind-test set up, years ago I'd also blind tested an old Meridian CD player I had, against a cheaper Sony CD player and a Mietner DAC. Used a volt meter etc to ensure the same signal strength etc. I easily got perfect scores identifying the units).
BTW, as I am still on the hunt for a possible smaller replacement for my speakers, I've been spending time auditioning in high end stores. Yesterday I listened to systems, with excellent speakers, hooked up to extremely expensive amplifiers, power conditioning, boutique AC cables etc. And, as usual, I wasn't hearing anything that my system wasn't doing at least as well at home, with "off the shelf" cabling. I'm very glad not to be stuck thinking I have to spend lots of money on cables.