Do you ever doubt you ears ?

I think I have very good hearing, probably better than average based on occasions when listening together with others. I have years of experience listening to a huge range of systems and equipment, a-b
comparisons etc., and I have also read an enormous amount about the subject. No doubt many here are at a higher level than I am.

When comparing cables I sometimes get confused. I hear big differences/improvements sometimes but when I go back to the reference a week later it sounds better. Switching around confuses me more. Bass is always the easiest and most consistent to compare. I start doubting my ears or my memory, especially when my opinion is 180 degrees different to reviews.
Maybe that is why I like to have a component or cable around for a few weeks before making a decision. It is to easy to listen to something that is different and think it is better, especially if you have to make the decision in a few days. At least for me, having heard it for awhile and then going back to what I was using tells me really quick what I like and why
It is easy to notice something is different, immediately.
Then, after awhile I can't tell anymore. And going back, it doesn't sound so different.
I think because I got used to it, and WAS used to the old sound too, so it is not "new" to me. AND the part that noticed is not actually a part of my 'usual' self awareness.
I am big on the mind being much bigger than consciousness. And that is why double blind tests do not work. Double blind tests are geared 100% to the fully conscious mind. The rest of our large awareness is disregarded by double blind testing. IMO the non-conscious mind behaves in some ways like a bored teenager. And only gets involved when something new pops up, or is somehow special.
In a way a little like a 'peak' experience, but sort of a halfway peak experience, where an unused part of the mind gets involved.
Crude explaination, but I hope it is clear enough.
(and you thought I was crazy before??)
Does a pilot doubt his/her instruments??
NO, I have not started doubting my ears yet.

I think the best way to 'listen' is to not 'listen' specifically for anything, give it at least two weeks and then switch back, keep the conscious mind out of it, the instruments themselves will show weaknesses etc. things like tonal balance and soundstage will become apparent relatively quickly. Things like inner detail may take a bit longer to identify.

IMO YMMV of course...
I don't think that I ever had that thought before, but with the way you articulated it, I think that I would have to agree. In my years of experience with the amps, speakers etc. that I have used, the "larger awareness"" as you say will find it's clear preferences in the long term, without necesarily being able to state the exact reasons, or even needing to.
No, I never doubt my ears! and I have really good aural memory as well...

My problem, even with years of listening both in live situations, and with various systems, is what part of the system, if something is amiss, are my ears hearing "it" from? Cart set up - azimuth and hall info a little off or is that speaker set up? Or should I go back to Baerwald from Loefgren B? A Cable on the carpet again, loosing focus in the stage in one channel... or component footers under something being exposed by something new in the system? Are the preamps tubes loosing it a bit? I hear "it"... but from where? LOL! My upgraditis is my systems biggest weakness...
I did once but I was wrong. LOL.
I don't doubt my ears, but my brain seems to interpret things in very funny ways at times. Folks in this hobby who have SOs who also listen have a big advantage on those of us who suffer our systems alone.
When I do A/B/A comparisons, the final hearing is definitive. With some things, such as line stages and ac filters, this is difficult. But yes, I trust my ears. There is nothing else as I think same/different 30 sec. comparisons have nothing to do with listening to music. With many tweaks, the final A listening is with it out. Frequently, I prefer it out. I have quite a few tweaks lying around no longer in use.
I don't doubt my ears as much as I doubt what I am hearing.
As mentioned at the end of your question, evaluating cables is most difficult for me. It takes several attempts to decypher the differences once the process begins. Blind Tests are best but very difficult with only one person.
What you describe is the way the equipment has been marketed over the years. A company comes out with a new driver or new amplifier or new upgrade to existing piece of gear. You hear it and you hear "big differences" so you upgrade. Six months later you wonder what happened. Sure the bass got bigger but it doesn't go lower, just seems to overload your room. The pre amplifier has a new cap in it. Now the highs are supposed to be "better". 6 months later your ears are burning.

I don't doubt my ears if I am satisfied with my system for years. I doubt my brain if I fall for the hype...
i hear differences in recording technigues. one cd will sound open and dynamic and then another will sound flat. no gear,accessories change but the sound sure does.
Hotmailjbc, yes, me to. I don't think for a moment that it is uncommon to hear meaningful differences.
05-29-11: Philjolet
NO, I have not started doubting my ears yet.

I think the best way to 'listen' is to not 'listen' specifically for anything, give it at least two weeks and then switch back, keep the conscious mind out of it ...
I agree. I don't pay attention to the sound *per se* so much as pay attention to my emotional response to the music. Moods and other things vary so it takes multiple listenings over a period of time to be sure.

But I no longer specifically listen for higher highs, l bass extension, lower detail, etc. I pay attention to how much the music moves me, and if the swap improves resolution, I'll notice it along the way (e.g., I never noticed the backup chorus before). And if the music irritates me more than before, I'll notice that too.
The point here gentlemen and Elizabeth is that if you have a set up in your home and you have a couple months to listen, then no, your ears will not lie.

A few hours in a dealers show room, or at the CES show can be deceptive.
I notice when something is wrong...a pair of new supposedly decent balanced cables recently sounded SO bad I refused to wait for whatever the break-in period was, and replaced 'em forthwith. Also a weird thing I bet most of us experience is when you take a shot at upgrading something just for the hell of it (curiosity, great reviews, you have too much money lying around, etc.) and realize, man, you REALLY improved things you didn't think needed improving. Always a pleasant surprise and good for what I call "self calibrating". You can call it that too, but avoid using florid words like "forthwith".
No, I can easily hear differences, even if I can't articulate them better than saying there is an overall correctness and ease and transparency and grip to the sound, and that's what I look for in a cable (IC or power or speaker.)
God it makes a huge difference, and I cringe at all the statements that it's all hocus-pocus, as I've been at this with so many cables for so long.
Usually, the biggest chalenge for me is not when something is better than the other but simply different and both good. To complicate that, and speaking of cables, one might be slighly preferable with one recording and the other with another one. And I don't really want to change cables back and forth.
I agree that one should give oneself enough time to eventually choose; let's say, a few weeks. Not only for cables, for everything.
I think "waiting a few weeks" should be for MINOR but arguably important improvement...if something is unlistenable I say life is too short to wait for it to come around. But then I'm old.
Compared to my brother, who has trained his ears for decades as an audio engineer/designer, my ears are crap. What's annoying is that he understands why.
When life is unlistenable and you are old for it to come around, minor waiting will not make things worse.
Minor waiting: good...things that take weeks to supposedly "break in": bad. Although I do like it when a really sweet sounding component surprises me by getting better. That's VERY good.
Wolf_garcia, my sentiments also about sweet sounding things getting better after breakin. Nevertheless, I have grown willing to wait a short time after I unplug interconnects and plug them in somewhere else for them to settle down. Audio excellence is leaving your system on and cables undisturbed.
Wolf, Even those 50's Fenders, when sitting for some years, will sound better after running some juice through them for a while :)
(only after full variac treatment, of course)
I refuse to leave my system electron manipulation hobby devices hew to my absolute control...sometimes I even listen to it when it's off...a sort of high level meditative all just sits there peacefully waiting for my command. Actually, my break-in limit is maybe 3 days (unless the item is SO bad I reject it immediately). Anybody who leaves a 50's Fender sitting for some years should suffer a custody intervention...just the thought of that makes me sad.
I doubt, therefore I measure. I also shave and pluck - hair on/in my ears has been growing like crabgrass on steroids while the hair on my head is falling out at an alarming rate. Aging ... oy.
Yes absolutely! I very much doubted my ears on occasion only last night, after many many years, my wife told me she no longer had a headache!

Bad a boom.
Wolf, I recommend amplification emancipation!
At late fifties and beyond you better believe it.
how about : "how confident are you in the acuity of your hearing? ".

sense perception is imperfect so whether one doubts one ears are not it is possible to be certain of one's perception.

They are what I use to listen to the music with.

Reading the sheet music or looking at component specs never gives me the same enjoyment as listening with my ears.
Perception by its very nature defies certainty...that's what makes it interesting, and what makes music musical.
>>Do you ever doubt your ears?<<

Do I trust my ears? I do and I don't. The problem to me, is what others have alluded to. I can always hear a difference in any change to my system. but is it better, or just different?

I believe our brains are hard wired to seek change, differnce, in what we see, hear etc. This means an inate prejudice to what is new. To me it nearly always sounds better. The only answer, as URu975 says, is does the change meet the test of time. Does a new component make you want to listen more over time? Are you listening to different music? In other words, has the change favoured a particular genre of music? For example, I have just added a SET amp to a hybrid integrated, both are wonderful, but I find myself picking out small scale Jazz or singer songwriter albuns, rather than classical symphonies.
I don't doubt my ears when differences in the sound of components are to a very substantial degree. If I do catch the upgrade bug, it would be after several years of listening to my current system and then upgrading each component at a time, preferably at least a year apart. Before this, I read as many reviews as I can and then make a final decision based on my ears alone and how the new component synergises with the rest of the system.
To quote a character in the movie Ronin, "If there is any doubt, there is no doubt". So, don't make that upgrade if there is any doubt at all in your ears and in your mind about the "improvement" in sound. I find differences in digital components and speakers are more easy to detect by ear, probably because the technology would have improved by leaps and bounds after about 3 years with your old ones. Power amp differences are not so easy to hear.
But if there is an itch to upgrade, go for something that is several times the quality of the old one to remove any doubt(here is where all the reviews, especially the comparative ones, have helped me). If I can't afford the upgrade, I leave my current system alone for economic reasons.
A hifi item "Several times the quality" often means several times the price with a very small (or undetectable) improvement in sound...with something as difficult to quantify as "sound quality" I think we Audio Gear Hobbyists sometimes just change for change. I recently "upgraded" nearly everything in my stereo heap to relatively inexpensive used or discontinued different (but well regarded) things and it sounds a LOT better and for now I'm happy...but that pretty turntable at Goodwin's over there would make me a better person...and that thick, well reviewed power cable would make the electrons more organized and perkier...and most of my friends won't listen to any of it.
It isn't always about the money. A component that is way much more expensive than your current gear may not give you the night and day difference to warrant an upgrade. So, if there is any doubt at all with regard to the improvement in sound quality wrought by a specific component upgrade in the chain(synergy and the law of diminishing returns are extremely important considerations), then there should be no doubt at all in your mind that you should shell out the extra moolah for the upgrade. Cheers!
El redundo amundo. Indeed, that is pretty much exactly what I said.
in fact our senses are imperfect. sometimes we hear what does not exist and other times we fail to hear what does exist.

it is natural to occasionally question your perceptions. at other times one may be confident.

as long as we recognize the imperfection of the process, the question is essentially irrelevant.
only when I have a head cold
I know the sounds in my head are really there...I just do.