Blind fold hearing test


How many of you could be blind folded or put in a room in total darkness and know what kind of speaker amp and preamp are being used. Another words if u came blind folded in my listening room could u tell I was using a Krell amp a ARC pre and B&W speakers? Not necessarily the models but more or less the brands. I would be the first to say for me it would be no. Would love to see how many of you could. Should be interesting. 
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I can imagine the perfect credibility destroying nightmare scenario.

You come into the room sit down settle in and have a good listen and then proclaim the system to be running large speakers off giant monoblocks. It must be so because the bandwidth and imagery are both huge.

Then the blindfold is removed and lo and behold - you are a facing a midi system!

Identifying systems will be hard enough, never mind individual brands. 




No I couldn’t. But...
- I could probably identify electrostatic speakers from any other kind.
- I’d have a fair chance of separating most valve amps from transistor amps.
- I could definitely tell if TC and/or mats were in use in the system or not.
- I could tell if adequate vibration damping/isolation was in place or not.

It would also depend on the hour of the day. I could make much better judgements after 12 midnight.

Everything sounds different in different rooms and in different systems. Thus, you won’t be able to figure out what speakers, what amps, what cables, etc. you’re listening to if you were blindfolded.

The corollary of that statement is you cannot foretell what a system will sound like by knowing what components or speakers or cables are in the system. Nor can you tell what a system would sound like by looking at a picture of the system and the room. I’m afraid, gentle readers, those are all old wives tales.
No way!Maybe type of speaker or amp but not specific brands.
This is like asking what camera a picture was taken with.  People spend all kinds of money on different camera bodies, but most people wouldn't be able to pick out a shot taken with a cell phone vs a $5,000 DSLR and few if any could say that image was created with a _______ camera.
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I'll trust my own, five, senses, thank you.
Call me a nut, but there are plenty of times when I can see what equipment is being used, swap and can't hear a damn difference.

I still spend an extra $20,000 on the one with the fancier face plate.
Not a problem.  If it was a solid state amp I could probably tell you, not just the brand and model of the power transistor used, but also the factory and batch run.  Not everyone can do it, but I can.  It's my superpower.
@elizabeth. No it doesn’t matter but there are really some people that could. It’s just a fun question. Relax. 😂
It would be "blind luck".....No pun intended....or maybe.....
It might be easier if I was using a $20,000 blindfold!
I could. At your house.  Now that you have told me what you own.  I pretty sure I would nail it every time. Ha!  But other than that no. I’d like to see someone who could. That would be fun. 
@vinylfan62 Dang it you beat me to it.
Some one had done that experiment I am not sure BBC or Discovery or NatGeo... I remember at about 20 years back  had seen a video where a blind folded listener made to hear an artist live performance, a high end 2way (white small Bookshelf) stand mount speaker and low end speaker at 5-8 mt(my guess) away in Vajrasana position on the parquet floor.May be room is not treated front wall(behind speaker) was full glass wall. Room again I guess, arounf15X20X>9 ft. The listener came out with correct assessment. 
It seems that to able to ID any one cone in a box speaker would be 
impossible. To tell different style apart, certainly. Electrostatics should be
the easiest. Okay Stereophile and others, get the deal going. There can be many ways to setup this test. Let's see which magazine does it best!!  This I would like to read!! 
The history of blind listening is pretty consistent. Everybody, including golden ear reviewers, can't hear differences when they can't see the component (this doesn't apply to speakers). @firstnot - you will never see a major magazine do such a test because their reviewers wouldn't participate. After several famous (infamous?) embarrassments where the Emperor was found to be naked Stereophile came out aggressively against blind tests, saying that they aren't valid.

Several audio societies have put together A/B/X blind tests to see if their members could hear the difference between two competitive components. In every case I'm aware of the members failed to statistically identify a difference.

Speaking for myself, the idea that I could blindfolded identify the brands of the components I was listening to is ludicrous. I'm not sure I can even hear any differences between interconnects. I think we hear with our eyes much more than we care to admit.
I realize that this is somewhat off topic but I have to relate a story about identifying different brands of a product, in this case beer. I used to work in the malting industry (malt is the main ingredient in beer). I attended a conference of brewing people who all knew beer very well. Budweiser, Miller, Coors, Pabst, Rainier, Olympia, Henry's, and a few other brands were represented as well as folks from the hops industry. Most of the people in the room (including me) had been through formal taste training. There were about 30 people there. One of the sponsors put together a taste-test to see if we could identify the various brands of regular American beer. I think there were 7 or 8 beers in the test.

The people from the brewing companies all said that they could absolutely identify their own brand of beer and likely the others. There was even a few side bets between competitor friends.

These experts totally bombed this test. Nobody got more than two of of them right. The only beer that was consistently identified was Henry's, due to its distinctive hop flavor. The vast majority of the tasters could not identify their own brand of beer.

To say that this shocked the group is an understatement. My point is that blind testing tends to slay even the most accomplished experts.
@8th-note, now that is surprising.

I guess that until the differences become as large as those between Pepsi (smoother) and Coke (harsher/ more bite) we're just deceiving ourselves, or  shooting in the dark in you prefer a pun. 
I absolutely refuse to get sucked into another blind testing debate but suffice it to say if blind testing was such a critical thing don’t you think, gentle readers, that amplifier designers and speaker designers would employ blind testing to obtain optimum results? Of course, nobody does as far as I know, well, maybe one.
Nonoise
“I’ll trust my own, five, senses, thank you.”

One sense we don’t have is to stay out of threads that have no real porpoise 🐬.
Doubt if I could tell the difference unless it was side by side. Glad I have not spent a $150,000 on sound system that in blind test I couldn't tell from a $1500 system. Did one of these tests on you tube to see how far my hearing has gone south. Used to shoot guns, go to live rock concerts and operate heavy equipment in a mill. At age 74 my hearing goes from about 22 Hz to 4000 Khz.
geoffkait,

One sense we don’t have is to stay out of threads that have no real porpoise 🐬
True, but the ones that serve a real purpose end up going sideways so we have to pick and choose.

All the best,
Nonoise
Thanks for all your responses. Didn’t mean to make it sound like a non sense thread. I just thought it sounds interesting. Just thought some of us that have been into high end systems for years and years and maybe all their lives could tell what was being used. Maybe it would of made more sense to say could u hear the difference of a tube amp or a ss amp and a tube pre or a ss pre. 
Not a non sense thread at all. Just a bit of snark from us usual culprits. 
Perhaps we audiophiles are not seeing the wood for the trees.

Perhaps most of the so-called huge, night and day differences in performance we often read about are in fact barely perceptible?

I recall being struck by the sheer honesty when I heard that McIntosh themselves claimed no sonic advantages of any of their lovely amplifiers.

Anyway, as I’ve just ordered a copy of West Side Story CD (1957 original Broadway cast) it will be interesting to discover just how much better this Sony Mastersound SBM version is than the stock issue. I do think it’s telling that one of popular music’s most dynamic recordings was done over 60 years ago!

As is the fact that another highly regarded audiophile album, (the Cowboy Junkies much feted Trinity Session) was recorded on a Sony Betamax SL-2000 video cassette deck, albeit with a super duper microphone.


cd318
Perhaps we audiophiles are not seeing the wood for the trees.

Perhaps most of the so-called huge, night and day differences in performance we often read about are in fact barely perceptible?

>>>>Not everyone reports night and day differences. Some people report modest differences. Some people report no differences. And, can you believe it, some people report worse results?

I recall being struck by the sheer honesty when I heard that McIntosh themselves claimed no sonic advantages of any of their lovely amplifiers.

>>>>I doubt that’s true. If it doesn’t make sense it’s probably not true.

Anyway, as I’ve just ordered a copy of West Side Story CD (1957 original Broadway cast) it will be interesting to discover just how much better this Sony Mastersound SBM version is than the stock issue. I do think it’s telling that one of popular music’s most dynamic recordings was done over 60 years ago!

>>>>Depends on the system and the listener to some degree. Could the SBM version be worse than the original? Happens all the time. There’s no guarantee.

As is the fact that another highly regarded audiophile album, (the Cowboy Junkies much feted Trinity Session) was recorded on a Sony Betamax SL-2000 video cassette deck, albeit with a super duper microphone.

>>>That recording was done in a church, which largely explains the sound quality.
I've been in blind amp tests and I can emphatically say "No", I can't tell the difference in amps. I seriously doubt if anyone could tell speaker brands unless they've been repeatedly exposed to those speakers, have material they're familiar with, know which brands are in the test and there's a "tell" about them. For instance, put my Paradigms and Maggies side-by-side and yeah, it's easy. Especially on metal or acoustic.
There are several perfectly valid reasons why some people don’t hear differences between amps or between anything. A Blind test result that has negative results actually does not mean much. Now, if there is a pattern of many independent negative results that would perhaps be more convincing. It depends on the data, how many negative results and how many positive results. 
@jssmith, "I've been in blind amp tests and I can emphatically say "No", I can't tell the difference in amps. I seriously doubt if anyone could tell speaker brands unless they've been repeatedly exposed to those speakers, have material they're familiar with, know which brands are in the test and there's a "tell" about them. For instance, put my Paradigms and Maggies side-by-side and yeah, it's easy. Especially on metal or acoustic."

Thanks for that. It concurs with the opinion of many users and virtually all of the data.

When it comes to amps, the main factor, above any infinitesimal sound quality differences, is their ability to drive the matched speakers. 

With easy to drive loudspeakers there is no obvious difference. Even sighted tests wouldn't change that fact, only the illusion.




jssmith
"
I've been in blind amp tests and I can emphatically say "No", I can't tell the difference in amps."

If you can not tell the difference between high end amplifiers for use in Music Reproduction Systems then you must have one very bad sounding system because the differences are substantial, significant, and profound.
Shirley Temple; I don’t go all the way.

J. Edgar Hoover: I don’t go all the way, either.

Before I got into the "high end" Hirsh Houck of Stereo Review was my Guru, and he couldn't tell the difference between high quality amps, so I assumed there was little or no difference, but later on I discovered his hearing wasn't the best, although his answers to questions was as honest as the day is long. Those who can hear well know there are many subtle differences.

What is left out of the equation here, is how well we hear, as well as how well we listen. The differences between high quality "mid-fi" and legitimate "high-end" amps are both large and small. The price difference is usually huge, and justified as well due to more expensive parts, but can you "hear" the difference. Since those differences, such as "sound stage holography", depend on how well you hear, are not worth it to everyone, and a good Yamaha, might be as good as an "ARC" amp.

Awhile back I had a small hearing deficiency in my left ear; that's worse than an equal deficiency in both ears because you can never get the sound stage right. Now that my hearing has come back somewhat, I realize how subtle that sound stage thing is, especially when the left channel of my hearing comes in.

Whether or not high end audio is worth the cost depends on how well we hear; if you can not hear it, it ain't worth it.

Maybe everyone should have the blindfold test before they buy.


I think that you are speaking of Julian Hirsch. He was my primary instructor for the rigorous Society of Audio Consultants course in New York.

I can tell you first hand that, at least at the end, Julian acknowledged that amps did sound different. He also felt that the differences were of no consequence compared to the differences in speakers.

Interestingly, I took a very contrarian position, and he was always gracious to me. 

Just wanted to set the record straight.

Than you for setting the record straight in regard to the person, I referred to the lab, but I still have my Stereo Reviews where he stated he could not tell the difference between high quality amps.

I held Julian Hirsch in high esteem and doted on every word he wrote, but it was revealed that his hearing was not the very best, as knowledgeable as he was. I only know what I read in "Stereo Review".

To have had Julian Hirsch as an instructor certainly adds validity to what you write, but with all due respect to you and Mr. Hirsch, his hearing was not the best. I read him for many years, and believed what I read. Much later I discovered he was in error on some of his amp reviews. Since I'm positive he would not lie, his reviews meant he stated what he heard.

Out of the many years I read him, those were the only errors I discovered, and since he told the gospel truth in regard to what he heard, the only conclusion one can come to is, "his hearing was not the best".
You may have referred to the lab, but you used the word “he” when you did.

I can’t speak to Julian’s hearing, but he absolutely did know that amps sounded different. I think that his primary focus on bench testing predisposed his judgement to the belief that these differences were of no particular import. Often our beliefs color our perceptions. I’m not sure that meant his hearing was the best, or the worst, simply that he did not value some of the differences that he heard. IMHO, if bench tests can’t discern what the ear hears then you are probably measuring the wrong things, or your measurements do not have sufficient discrimination.

When J. Gordon Holt left the world of commercial audio magazines, having worked for both Audiocraft and High Fidelity, to begin his own publication it was his belief in subjective evaluation of audio gear that really separated him from the rest of the pack. In that sense Julian is the poster boy for the old guard.



Before continuing my discussion with Viridian, I'll answer the blindfold question. For a multitude of reasons it's irrelevant; one reason is that there would have to be a significant difference between the components, which would also be in price as well, in order to tell the difference in a short time blindfolded; why bother?

If you're going to make an intelligent purchase, which is the only reason to take the time for the test in the first place, too many factors must be known that can not be determined in a short time.

Julian Hirsch and Hirsch Houck laboratories were synonymous; he spoke for the labs.

Although you had personal contact with Julian, we both had an affection for the man. Mine was from reading his reviews for so many years and considering every word gospel until I got into the "high-end"; that's because specifications don't mean as much, more is determined by one's ability to hear.

As we age, our hearing diminishes, that's a fact of life. While the price difference between high quality "mid-fi" and high end is huge, the audible benefits are only worthwhile if you have the ability to hear all the subtle differences. The same goes for tube gear with expensive NOS tubes.

In regard to "tubes" he states all the drawbacks, and skims over the reasons some of us have gone back to tubes; he states,

"I am less than enthusiastic about about them, principally because they appear to be inferior to comparable solid-state amplifiers in respect to cost per watt, heat generation, frequency response flatness, distortion, and perhaps ultimate reliability as well".

While that statement had much truth in it, the fact that tubes reproduce music better than solid state was left out.

In his reviews, he omitted the subjective part that was included at the end of a "Stereophile" review, relying solely on his technical measurements to speak for themselves.

Time, and time again he bypassed, or omitted anything that required a subjective listening or hearing call, and when he did, while he stated there may have been differences between high quality SS amps, he didn't hear the difference.

What I'm stating is my sum total of 20 plus years of reading his reviews on high quality SS audio amps; his omissions spoke volumes to me after I got into the "high-end" and heard all the things Mr. Julian Hirsch didn't hear.

             


If I’m not mistaken, what Julian Hirsch actually stated is that generally amplifiers that measure the same sound about the same. Which is obviously different than saying all amplifiers sound the same. Of course, today, 40 years later, we know there are many more variables involved in the sound of an amplifier including, but not limited to, vibration isolation, speaker cables, power cords, fuses, capacitors, and room acoustics.

I don't recall him reviewing "high-end" tube amps, but that didn't matter because I wasn't buying them at that time, but the kind he was reviewing were mostly high quality SS "Mid-fi", and I agreed with him that those amps which measured about the same, sounded about the same.

It was only when he commented on the differences between high end and mid fi; such as when you replace capacitors with very expensive "Black Gates", plus substituted other components, he couldn't hear the difference after this was done with a mid-fi amp; he stated that in his own words.

As knowledgeable as Mr. Hirsch was about all things audio, his ability to discern the audible difference between high quality mid-fi and high end amps was not the best, which is something that's probably going to happen to all the "golden ears" if they live long enough.
Maybe he didn’t know capacitors take a long time to burn in. 🤗

Let me carry this conversation that began between me and Viridian to the end of the line.

I shared my room in the hospital with a patient I really enjoyed talking to; that made for an easy stay, and we both had hip surgery. I told him I liked to putter around building things in my basement, an interest he shared.

That's when he began talking about his shop, which was something he worked as hard putting together as an audiophile would work putting an award winning rig together. As he went on describing his shop in minute detail, I could picture one you would see in "Popular Mechanics" that was so well organized that you could put your hands on whatever tool you needed with the lights out in the dark. I know what it takes to put that kind of shop together, and it's just another one of my dreams that I will never obtain.

After telling me about his magnificent shop in minute detail, he told me he was going to have leave it and move into an assisted living home; that brought tears to my eyes.

Not long ago, we had a conversation here about "audio holography". Some said it didn't matter, others said it was some kind of trick. I have it, and while it took many years to obtain, it's no trick; however, there is a trick to it, you have to have 20-20 hearing in order to hear it.

Recently I had problems I couldn't determine the cause of; my holography was not in focus. Since I couldn't find any fault in the rig, I went to an ear specialist. They told me the fault was in my left ear; it has some hearing loss. Now I clean it as best I can with hydrogen peroxide, and on some days I can still hear the holography. Such is life.