Credibility of "Professional" Speaker Reviews dealt a Death Blow - Page 2 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #31 of 145 Old 08-09-2019, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by RayGuy View Post
All reviews, whether here, on youtube, or some audio magazine, should be looked at with a critical eye. All reviewers are subject to their own personal biases, the room they test in, perhaps even their mood on a particular day. If you follow a reviewer over time, you will understand their biases, and whether your tastes coincide. What they don't say can be just as important as what they do say. Even if somebody is being paid to do a review, they still have to maintain some level of credibility with their audience. If they outright lie, then they quickly lose their credibility and their audience. So, read between the lines for the real scoop!
All that, yes. Add friendships with PR people, deadlines, sample to sample variation, etc. to the mix. Audio reviewers are humans, not robots, and therefore possess all the flaws that come with being human.

How speakers interact with a given reviewer's room is assuredly non-trivial. That's why I like reviewing speakers using room correction.

And then as a cherry on top, if the reviewer qualifies for AARP membership, it's fair to wonder if they can speak to what's going on above (let's say) 14 kHz or so—where you find those on-axis treble humps that are a "feature" of many designs.

I'm 48, my high frequency hearing limit is now a hair under 17K and I'm quite careful, don't go to concerts, typically don't listen to anything loud, and when I am on the road I wear ANC headphones (like on subways). Many factors involved, but the point is I don't expect to hear this well when I'm 68 but of course I hope I'm wrong.

Anyhow, I turn it up for evening music sessions and movies.

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post #32 of 145 Old 08-09-2019, 02:21 PM
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Not all reviewers are suspect. I had SoundStage magazine review a design that I did and nothing was asked for in return. The reviewer kept the speakers for a reasonable amount of time and they sent them to the NRC for measurements at their expense. I later read a post by one of their editors. He said that they found good content attracts readers and in turn that attracts advertisers.

Sadly this isn't the norm; in fact, I had a bad experience with one magazine where I was put in a difficult situation. They apparently "pay' their staff by requesting large equipment discounts when a manufacturer declines to advertise with them. Others get compensated by borrowing speakers for long periods. Not long ago I was asked by a reviewer for a pair of speakers and when I asked how long he would need he replied eight months. I said "no thanks".

Fortunately the magazines no longer have a stronghold on reviews due to the Internet and now social media. The downside is that we now have the shills / brand ambassadors, etc. who can get on YouTube or an audio forum and spread a great deal of misinformation. There are cases where good companies have been slandered and lost sales by someone getting paid under the table by a competitor.

On the other side you may have an honest review, one not that positive, and the manufacturer throws a tantrum to undermine the credibility of the reviewer. Reviewers who are brutally honest often find that manufacturers stop sending product to them. I know of one situation where a company declined to send speakers for review because they were not 100% certain it would be positive. The reviewer had a reputation for not pulling any punches.

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post #33 of 145 Old 08-09-2019, 05:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmiles View Post
First most important most if not all “professional reviewers” have day jobs that are NOT related to AV.

Next they get to keep great gear for months.

Last if they like it they can buy often for 65-70% off MSRP.

I am not saying this is the standard for all. In the past I have met with a few that have magazine following as well as discussed the “necessity “ of having reviews with manufacturers.

Both sides offer interesting insight...
Have you seen this? Another perspective...
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post #34 of 145 Old 08-09-2019, 05:42 PM
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^^^

Not sure of my take. To be honest it sounded more like a sincere heartfelt commercial for his channel.

All jobs have their own ups and downs.

It really depends on what you review. If it’s a $50,000 pair of speakers the will deliver and remove

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post #35 of 145 Old 08-10-2019, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave in Green View Post
If we cease trusting all professional reviewers because of a few rotten apples then we should apply the same logic to other groups such as amateur reviewers on forums.
To be honest, I can probably count on half a hand how many posters' speaker opinions I pay any attention to at all, and probably the same amount of reviewers. Not necessarily because of rotten apples, but because subjectivism (especially when involving biases) cannot be correlated, especially on limited samples.
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post #36 of 145 Old 08-10-2019, 11:28 AM
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Another old saying I think has wisdom is the one about it being good to have some degree of healthy skepticism about everything in life. What is healthy skepticism? Somewhere between gullibility and paranoia.
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post #37 of 145 Old 08-10-2019, 12:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
I'd add that we should all be on guard against any claims of 100% certainty and "objectivity"....

Like posts from a loudspeaker company's staff that they can determine with 99% accuracy which speakers are preferred?
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post #38 of 145 Old 08-10-2019, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrimeTime View Post
Like posts from a loudspeaker company's staff that they can determine with 99% accuracy which speakers are preferred?
That's controlled blind testing. If that was done, how do you think the Tektons would fare?

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post #39 of 145 Old 08-10-2019, 12:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrimeTime View Post
Like posts from a loudspeaker company's staff that they can determine with 99% accuracy which speakers are preferred?
ROTFL, exactly
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post #40 of 145 Old 08-10-2019, 01:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrimeTime View Post
Like posts from a loudspeaker company's staff that they can determine with 99% accuracy which speakers are preferred?
It's not 99%. Please do not misrepresent the research.

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-sp...l#post58357510

http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2010/1...on-how-to.html

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post #41 of 145 Old 08-10-2019, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Soulburner View Post
It's not 99%. Please do not misrepresent the research.
It would be fair to say that PrimeTime exaggerated the NUMBER / percentage.

However, he did *not* exaggerate the general TONE---usually triumphalist and dogmatic-sounding---of various posters who love to refer to F.O.T.'s work right before trotting out their usual "just go buy JBL or Revel speakers, end of story" jingle.

The tendency towards smugness/bombast is undeniable, IMO...and if some people suspect that some of these folks might be shill "influencers," who can blame them?
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~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)

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post #42 of 145 Old 08-10-2019, 02:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
It would be fair to say that PrimeTime exaggerated the NUMBER / percentage.

However, he did *not* exaggerate the general TONE---usually triumphalist and dogmatic-sounding---of various posters who love to refer to F.O.T.'s work right before trotting out their usual "just go buy JBL or Revel speakers, end of story" jingle.

The tendency towards smugness/bombast is undeniable, IMO...and if some people suspect that some of these folks might be shill "influencers," who can blame them?
I think you are exaggerating a bit here. People aren't saying "just go buy JBL or Revel speakers, end of story". They are saying look at speakers that have certain characteristics. Yes, JBL and Revel have those characteristics because they have designed their speakers around the results of the listener preference research, as any smart company would. But they are not the only ones. Others talked about are Paradigm, PSB, Buchardt, RBH, and more. Really all it's saying is that most people prefer neutral (uncolored) sound and for off-axis sound to not change that much from the direct sound, else your room will sound like a different speaker playing at the same time.
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post #43 of 145 Old 08-10-2019, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Craig View Post
That's controlled blind testing. If that was done, how do you think the Tektons would fare?
It doesn't matter what controlled blind testing would show. The folks that criticize existing research would reject any findings for any number of reasons. The list is long.
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post #44 of 145 Old 08-10-2019, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Soulburner View Post
I think you are exaggerating a bit here. People aren't saying "just go buy JBL or Revel speakers, end of story". They are saying look at speakers that have certain characteristics. Yes, JBL and Revel have those characteristics because they have designed their speakers around the results of the listener preference research, as any smart company would. But they are not the only ones. Others talked about are Paradigm, PSB, Buchardt, RBH, and more. Really all it's saying is that most people prefer neutral (uncolored) sound and for off-axis sound to not change that much from the direct sound, else your room will sound like a different speaker playing at the same time.
Here is a quote from Floyd Toole from post # 10499 of the Revel Owners thread:

Quote:
""A correlation coefficient of 0.86 is not perfect". True, but some context helps to explain the shortfall. Those same papers explained that bass extension and smoothness accounted for about 30% of the factor weighting in the sound quality ratings. Because the 70 loudspeakers in that test included full range floor standers and small bookshelf units it was obvious that some of the variation was due simply to the differing bass performances - a good speaker with bass beats a good speaker with less bass. When a subset of bookshelf speakers was tested - having similar bass performance - the correlation coefficient was 0.995 - i.e. perfect. So, when "apples" are compared to "apples" in terms of bandwidth, the correlation is truly amazing.
Olive, S.E. (2004a). “A multiple regression model for predicting loudspeaker preference using objective measurements: part 1 – listening test results”, 116th Convention, Audio Eng. Soc., Preprint 6113.
Olive, S.E. (2004b). “A multiple regression model for predicting loudspeaker preference using objective measurements: part 2 – development of the model”, 117th Convention, Audio Eng. Soc., Preprint 6190."
I'm not sure how to link to the exact quote, but here is a link to the page:

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-sp...hread-350.html

Again, post # 10499.
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post #45 of 145 Old 08-10-2019, 05:31 PM
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^ the page number is different depending on users "posts per page" setting. Best way is to quote the post, then copy the whole thing here. But you've copied the most relevant part. Amazing that the correlation is so strong when bass is taken out of the equation. I've long known that to be a big factor, but I wouldn't have guessed it to be that high.

FWIW, I've been enabling my crossover when comparing speakers for a while now, having experienced the effect first hand.

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post #46 of 145 Old 08-10-2019, 07:36 PM
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I don't know why people get so defensive about the Harman research, especially since they don't even post the results of the listening tests. I personally used their research with comparing speakers and ended up not choosing the Revel speaker but comparing speakers blind was enlightening and I wouldn't do it any other way after the experience. Not only does it remove any biases you may have but I was surprised at how much easier it is to spot differences between speakers when the only sense you have available is your hearing.
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post #47 of 145 Old 08-10-2019, 09:45 PM
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They can't post listening test results obviously, because it may lead to products that win over theirs. No way.
they don't even post measurements most of the time on their website.

Their testing method is questionable too, especially since they insist on multisub configuration for bass. (probably there are test we don't know of, so maybe I'm wrong)

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post #48 of 145 Old 08-10-2019, 11:18 PM
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Their testing method is questionable too, especially since they insist on multisub configuration for bass.
What is wrong with multiple subs, and what does that have to do with the their testing methods? I don't believe subs were used during speaker switching.

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post #49 of 145 Old 08-11-2019, 12:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aats View Post
Their testing method is questionable too, especially since they insist on multisub configuration for bass.
What is wrong with multiple subs, and what does that have to do with the their testing methods? I don't believe subs were used during speaker switching.
That's the whole point. If a company insists on multiple subwoofers then all products should be tested with multiple subwoofers, aren't they?
who knows how that m2 vs salon ended up if multisub was used with each.
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post #50 of 145 Old 08-11-2019, 01:09 AM
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That is not how this works.

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post #51 of 145 Old 08-11-2019, 01:31 AM
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Why not?
They mentioned a lot of times that the best way of bass management is multisub. And that speakers with different bass are harder to compare.
so why not compare them with best bass option available connected to both?

I can only see a situation where you want to compare speakers without any bass management like a pair for stereo.
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post #52 of 145 Old 08-11-2019, 06:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aats View Post
Why not?
They mentioned a lot of times that the best way of bass management is multisub. And that speakers with different bass are harder to compare.
so why not compare them with best bass option available connected to both?

I can only see a situation where you want to compare speakers without any bass management like a pair for stereo.
I suspect there is merit in both approaches.

By using subs (with bass management), you can can more accurately compare the midrange and treble performance of various speakers. However, with this method you cannot accurately compare the bass performance of one speaker against another. Their testing method likely contributed to their discovery that bass performance accounts for approximately 30% of of overall preference.
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post #53 of 145 Old 08-11-2019, 08:15 AM
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At least in a "premium" segment I don't see a point of comparing speakers without recommended bass performance system deployed.
Basically in this segment I'd consider a bass management system a part of speaker itself.

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post #54 of 145 Old 08-11-2019, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by aats View Post
At least in a "premium" segment I don't see a point of comparing speakers without recommended bass performance system deployed.
Basically in this segment I'd consider a bass management system a part of speaker itself.
Not sure I understand your comment. Nevertheless, if the bass was perfect and identical in each study conducted, the researchers would never be able to tell how important bass is in determining listener preferences.
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post #55 of 145 Old 08-11-2019, 09:42 AM
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The subjective rarely equates to the objective. Marketing 101...Professional reviews tend to be overly positive simply because negativity tends to hurt business and reputation over time. Bad and negative information tends to travel faster than the truth that slowly marches to the front regardless of whether it's positive or negative....and that includes consistent statistics from multiple reputable sources. Marketing 101.1... Materialistic consumers tend to rush to new products based on anything they can self rationalize and then tend towards convincing others how good their choice was/is....(no one ever saw a hearse pulling a u-haul). Captain Obvious is a dysfunction genius and irrelevant. Smart folks do their do-diligence and listen for themselves...tip..(the room you listen in is the greatest variable so listen in YOUR room preferably where you already have bass management you intend to use with the speakers you are auditioning). Really good products and companies speak for themselves over time. Choose wisely what you read, hear, believe and what influences you. Smart folks do their do-diligence and listen for themselves....Yep I said that twice. lol Rant over.

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post #56 of 145 Old 08-11-2019, 10:34 AM
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First let's make a distinction between a Professional Reviewer (ie: Stereophile) and a reviewer who makes money from reviewing equipment (ie: YouTube). We assume a Professional Reviewer is someone who has spent a lifetime in audio and has heard a very wide range of Source Players, Amps, and Speakers. He has a broad enough range of experience that allows him to have some perspective on equipment. Conversely any punk can set up a YouTube Channel, though some YouTube Channels are very good (Tharbamar).

Next whether seasoned professional, amateur reviewer, or someone commenting in a Audio Forum, nothing they say is anything other than one man's opinion. Even the most seasoned veteran reviewer can do no more than give his opinion, but we hope it is the opinion of someone who has been exposed to a very wide range of equipment over the years and therefore based on experience alone has some credibility. I think I have owned about 7 amps over the years (decades really); professional reviewers are exposed to that many amps in a single year.

Then we have to consider the class of equipment typically reviewed. I think you will find few reviews in any audio magazines of a Walmart $99 all-in-one Stereo system. Magazines especially have the opportunity to review well above common consumer grade equipment, and very frequently review very high end equipment. Given the engineering that goes into high end equipment, it is unlikely that any of it is going to truly sound bad. The point is, all the equipment being reviewed is GOOD EQUIPMENT, so differences and distinctions are going to be subtle. When you are trying to make a distinction between this $10,000 Speaker and that $10,000 speakers, the differences really are small and refer more to what the reviewer prefers rather than one speaker being good or bad.

- We assume a truly Professional Reviewer has a very wide range of exposure to equipment far beyond what the typical consumer could ever be exposed to.

- All reviews are nothing more than opinion, who hope opinion with wide and deep experience, but opinion none the less. This applies to Audio Magazine, YouTube reviews, and Forum comments or reviews ... just an opinion.

- The Quality of Equipment being reviewed is generally very high, so there really is no bad equipment or speakers being reviewed, which accounts for so many generally positive reviews.

- Then the matter of Context. We review a $500/pr speaker in context relative to other similarly size and prices speakers, and equally we measure $5000/pr speakers against a $5000 standard. Both could get good reviews in context, and yet the $5000 speaker could sound substantially better than the $500 speaker. Context matters. For example, Stereophile reviewed the Dayton Audio B652-Air bookshelf speaker which costs about $50/pair. The cheapest speaker they every reviewed in their history, and they gave it a very positive review .... for a $50/pr set of speakers. But that positive review doesn't not remotely mean they sound like $500 speakers or $5000 speakers.

When you compare the Marantz CD6006 ($499) to the Marantz SA-KI Ruby ($3999) do you really expect either of those to be trash? Do you expect either to get a bad review? I don't think so, but the SA-KI Ruby is very likely to sound subtly better. I've seen DVD Players that are CD capable with high resolution DACs that cost in the range of $25 to $35 with Analog Outputs, I suspect these would not fair as well as either of the CD Players from Marantz. And there is a component and build quality difference between low end and high end that can't necessarily be heard, but does add to the stability and durability of the products.

The only reason I give any credibility to a Professional Review is on the assumption that the reviewer has been expose to a very wide range of equipment, which is easy enough when you get the equipment for free, and he is using that wide and diverse range of experience to make an educated call on the specific equipment under review ... but it is still just his opinion.

Steve/bluewizard

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post #57 of 145 Old 08-11-2019, 10:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aarons915 View Post
I don't know why people get so defensive about the Harman research, especially since they don't even post the results of the listening tests. I personally used their research with comparing speakers and ended up not choosing the Revel speaker but comparing speakers blind was enlightening and I wouldn't do it any other way after the experience. Not only does it remove any biases you may have but I was surprised at how much easier it is to spot differences between speakers when the only sense you have available is your hearing.
I think it was NRC research in conjunction with Floyd Toole (and others) before he was a consultant with Harman IIRC.

Nevertheless the NRC methodology has been adopted by many companies and why wouldn't it?

"The National Research Council is the primary national research and technology organization of the Government of Canada, in science and technology research and development. The Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development is responsible for the National Research Council. "

I bet the NRC wishes it was funded by Harman!

Geoff A. J., California
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post #58 of 145 Old 08-11-2019, 11:01 AM
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Political comments removed.

Walking the fine line between jaw-dropping and a plain ol' yawn.
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post #59 of 145 Old 08-11-2019, 11:02 AM
Mark Henninger
 
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Originally Posted by gajCA View Post
I think it was NRC research in conjunction with Floyd Toole (and others) before he was a consultant with Harman IIRC.

Nevertheless the NRC methodology has been adopted by many companies and why wouldn't it?

"The National Research Council is the primary national research and technology organization of the Government of Canada, in science and technology research and development. The Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development is responsible for the National Research Council. "

I bet the NRC wishes it was funded by Harman!
Having been to both, I am confident the NRC would gladly trade up to a facility like the one Samsung (aka Harman's parent company) built: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-sp...audio-lab.html (Article by Scott Wilkinson)
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post #60 of 145 Old 08-11-2019, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by buckchester View Post
Not sure I understand your comment. Nevertheless, if the bass was perfect and identical in each study conducted, the researchers would never be able to tell how important bass is in determining listener preferences.
Right - that discovery was made by analyzing the data, after the listening study.
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