How big is your matrix - how we bias or enjoyment.


Looking at cables all over again provided some fascinating insight into how people use information. The site that most surprised me, or made me aware of our weakness to bad data, was; http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm

If you go read this post, it is most interesting in that the author is so sure of himself, and his data set, that he omits the ability to even question his authority. That being, zip cord is all you need in the proper AWG size for distance and don’t let it get any corrosion on the wire. He goes on to point out “other” peoples experiences with the famous black-box wire comparing devices (we had one, too, but we found out it was so colored that it masked the wire being compared!) to support his view. This gentleman is NOT a development engineer where open minded and constant re expression of data is necessary.

A perfect wire shares the same send and return path (impossible in reality) so it has no inductance (fields cancel), is in a vacuum so it has no capacitance, and it has no tilt (nonlinear attenuation or attenuation). I see no wire close to this ideal and the longer they get the less ideal they get. Physics says wire does make a difference, and is a series of compromises to arrive at a good “sound”. As time moves on, we adapt to physics to come closer to an ideal design.

How do we get wrapped up in this blind-sided “knowledge” acquisition? First, we, at some point, set a bias in our knowledge base. The data is true, but simply not the universe of all the information out there. Once we set our feeling of authority (we often use knowledge as just that, to form out tribe if you will) we further bias our data set by finding support for our side and that sets our directional bias. This cycle repeats until data can simply become a belief system and not even real data or knowledge at all and thus, restricting the ability to enjoy the remarkable things in the world around us. Stereo equipment being on that list.

I call this a serial approach to data acquisition. The real data on any subject is huge. We set a bias to cover but a small part of it (zip cord is all there is in the right size!) and serially hit only those data sets that support our bias. If this was a ski slope, gravity is your bias, and the moguls (those snowy bumps) are your data points to get over to arrive at your destination, to the bottom of the hill.

Data is not serial in nature at all. Data is a matrix, and even 3D matrixes of data. The slope matrix is flat (no bias) and to have true knowledge, every mogul has top be experienced. How do you do that? With Audio, you probably can’t. But to know you should allows a more open experience and enjoyment in this hobby.

Let’s have some fun with this. There was a time when only American cars were supreme in the 1950’s to 1970’s and two or three generation felt this way. Then, the Japanese cam along and drove (pun intended) another several generation to buy and support ONLY Japanese cars. Who was right? Actually, neither was right. Right is a constantly CHANGING argument. Let’s buy a car in 2000. ANY car is a vastly superior car than in the past, so either the old American iron followers, or the Japanese car followers, wouldn’t know to look at ALL cars marketed. Their “knowledge” base, which might have been roughly right at the time, is now worthless. They serially biased their data set, and some still are!

The Japanese, and others that followed them, and eventually the Americans, too, learned statistical process control or SPC for short. We taught the Japanese how to do manufacturing after the war but were too stubborn to listen to our own teachers. What SPC does, is allow the large data sets that seem unrelated to be all considered to arrive at a very probable answer, or how to do things with the highest odds of success. In short, it is a way to cheat the system as it were by NOT having to ski over every mogul on the ski slope, but enough to form an answer with a high degree of probability. Their data set was a MATRIX of information that was looked at in ALL directions. Bias was eliminated and better products produced with lower material cost and better designs. Some would say materials were even of less quality (a real cost on every widget) but with better overall design (cost is amortize over the life of all the widgets) overcoming the cheaper materials. But they only had to be a good car with fewer on the road problems than the American iron over a comparable time span at the time, and they were. They met success with a procedural removal of bias.

What does this have to do with Hi-End Audio? EVERYTHING! We are all subject to serial bias in this hobby like I have never experienced anywhere else. We like solid state amps, so we only buy and listen to them. Why? Because a tube amp didn’t sound good…sometime ago, anyway. Well, if we think we like solid state amps, it seems you would continue to extensively listen to, and evaluate, tube units. Why? Because if you don’t, you are serially biasing your data set to omit what might be BETTER than your limited experience of tube amplifiers. The MATRIX is living and expanding all the time. It is us that sit there and do nothing to experience it. We tuck our heads in and ski down the bias that creates our slope.

Getting back to CABLE, I have the best audience in the world. Two people who do not care about stereo at all. They don’t understand it, or know what it is even doing. My wife and stepson could not be any more different. My wife is a decades long choir singer in a large city choir that supports a city symphony. My stepson is an MP3 generation that isn’t even aware that there are two speakers on his head when he uses headphones. Music just comes out. Neither “knows” you can’t tell the difference in wire if it’s the proper AWG size! My own “knowledge” base was thirty years old (and was mostly zip cord based!). I was literally OFF the MATRIX, or my matrix was so small and unpopulated with new data to be essentially worthless.

I had them both listen to several sets of speaker cable (three that I made from scratch) to the tune of $30,000 bucks worth of stuff. I asked them what they would like to listen to given the choice that I turn the stereo on, walk away, and let them be. Both participants selected wire, and did so easily, based on the sound. I did this twice and they kept picking their “sound”. My stepson thought it was all the same cable and I was “adjusting” it somehow! He thinks it’s weird to have all that money in a stereo and no tone controls. Later, I did this with interconnects with just my wife, and she finished that with a favorite. By now, they both know I’m changing just the cables. When she turned to head upstairs she said, “I hope I saved you money”. Nope, she picked the most expensive XLR interconnect I had to audition.

How can two people clearly hear differences in cable that can’t be heard? I did not say rate them, so much as pick what you like. There is no right in audio. I know, you hate me saying that, but there isn’t. I have two different solid state amps. One sounds better on some material than the other does. I’m forced to decide which is better based on my “knowledge” of listening tests. Can I ever be right? No, I can’t. The reason is that the SOURCE MATERIAL is highly subjective in quality. If I only listen to rock (heaven help me), the compressed and synthesized material is hard to accurately judge and would bias the answer to the softer sounding amp. Or even simpler, my data is biased by my musical tastes (what I buy) and the quality of those recording. I may have mostly good recording, or mostly bad. That would influence what I think the amps abilities are. If all my source materials were real poor, I’d be better off with the cheaper amps. I already have the music, so a better amp won’t change that.

Go to; http://www.thecableco.com/Catalog/Speaker-Cables
Look at all the vendors of speaker cable out there, and this isn’t all of them. I bought cable on all the moguls I could ski over, but not nearly all that would make a statistical likelihood I picked the “best” cable to my ears. To compare cables at all, I had to use a given dealer who would let me walk away with $30,000 of cable and compare them at home. Is price a factor? No, it isn’t. And not for reasons we all like to think. Some manufacturers live on small margins, some live on large margins. They could make the exact same cable, but it would sell at a large price difference. Are materials? No, they aren’t. A good example is Teflon. It is not as good a dielectric as polyethylene. Teflon has a higher dissipation factor at the same solid state or equivalent foam factor (some call this the loss tangent) than polyethylene. The dielectric constant of Teflon is slightly lower than Polyethylene (2.1 verses 2.25) so a smaller cable can be made. But as far as “sound” goes, Teflon is mostly expensive. Isolated design can use Teflon to good effect (do things PE can’t), but Teflon is NOT universally the better material, and most of Teflon’s outstanding properties goes to no practical use in an audio cable. Consider for a moment too that the material cost of the cable is a minor point to the sell price. Manufacturers amortize development cost (the real cost) over their customer base but that doesn’t mean they still won’t levy an outsized sales margin, too! Big companies can absorb smaller margins, but they don’t have to. Design? Yes or no. Good design / good materials is a yes, good design with bad materials maybe (design may overcome materials) a no.

So what are we to do? I’d have to listen to subgroups of cable, and move the winner of that subgroup to text, and next and next till I heard every cable in the matrix. If I listened to 40%, or 60% or 80% of the cables, I could calculate the odds of picking the best one at each percentage of the universe of cables. But it is just the "odds” and not the answer. That would take awhile so I am forced to make a decision based on knowledge that really isn’t the answer. But I know this, and that keeps the matrix open for me.

I like Solid state amps, so I make a point of listening to tube amps and pre amps. I expand my matrix, I don’t create a downhill bias and follow the SS guys. I am aware that when I feel the urge to continue to push in one direction, that I’m probably heading in the wrong direction. I did this with speaker and interconnect cables. I stopped one day and asked myself, why am I afraid to re listen to cable? Knowledge is used as power. And if I found out I was wrong, my power was taken away from me. My “tribe” is gone. I’m alone again. Good. I can now go and experience the new MATRIX and remember to find “knowledge” that may never well be the “answer”, as I’ll never hear all the DATA. But isn’t that what makes this hobby so much fun?

Unlike the author of that recent paper @ http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm, I’m fond of feedback. It expands the matrix that people need to get involved in. The real data matrix has the good, the bad, and the ugly in it, with no bias. The Japanese auto industry studied the Americans methods in the states incessantly to learn every thing we did in manufacture, but to be sure they recognized the biggest mistakes so they wouldn’t make them. They plugged those methods into the matrix, and use statistics to let the best methods be found using an unbiased SPC methodology. This is harder to do with audio as the audience is one, you.

We forget how to learn. We form tribes, collapse the matrix and get stuck in time. Sometime we crash and burn on a mogul that knocks the senses back in and sometimes we ski down the bunny slope all our lives. I’d rather be knocked around and expand my matrix.

OK, just to let you know, I selected the NORDOST tyr2 3 meter XLR interconnect to go between my XP-10 and MOON W-8.
rower30
How big is your head!

Much ado about nothing!

You just want to stir up an endless debate.
That is officially the the longest post I've seen.
good points....
Most adults can monitor their involvement in voluntary communications. Those that can't, well...sorry to hear ten minutes is the length of your attention span.

I see people stuck in this all the time. It greatly limits the ability to improve your system. It is VERY hard to not develop a serial bias. If a few read this and see that they have, good, improvements are on the way when you work with your hobby. Always recheck your "facts" with your ears and know when they were established and why. My 1983 cable facts could have blown-off cable for years till I realized I had a serial bias against them. Why? No reason at all but bias to old facts.

No, this isn't a debate, it's how it works, and what people do with information. Entire manufacturing cycles have risen to the top, or stayed at the bottom, that don't "get it". You can indeed measure and weigh thing through DOE experiments and statistics to get it right, without emotion. The Audio circles seem to avoid this more than most. It really good to know when you don't know, and why, too. That stops the emotion.

How cable works is physics. Someone said if we don't understand the universe, maybe it's our math (measurement system) that is really broken. Well, with audio that's a BIG part of the emotion...a broken measurement system. Audio doesn't do emotion.

I want my head to be exactly the size statistical process controls and design of experiments says it should be. And, that's much smaller than people who run off emotion and improperly weight facts.
Lord in heaven! This is way too complicated. I need a new hobby!
My Mother owns a Toyota Matrix, does that count?
Rower I think every time one looks for a component or to improve a system and one doesn't trust someone else to narrow it down to a few items for you, and you are afraid you won't get the very best component at the very moment in time and space you are checking these things out, you do have to check every item that is available in the universe, no? An impossible task. Or so I assume it is, but I thought an OP like we have here might be impossible, but I can see it is not. To me it seems to make sense with the time one has, ask a few intelligent questions, use the experience and knowledge they have with what equipment they can look at and be happy with the results. Otherwise we get OCD, which not most but many here seem to show they have. People with OCD do not enjoy the things they have, or if they do it is for a very little while. So while I think a these little changes and major changes in what we have are nice and can be fun and I appreciate the input we get here on audiogon quite a bit, I need to keep them in their place for me to enjoy what I have or, what I am going to do. Your process seems a little to involved for me but your post was well written and expressed, thanks for relating your experience and results.
Yep, we humans love tribalism & limiting the matrix. Doing so makes life easier.

We randomly select groups to have faith in. And as such, limit our input & minimize our experiences to fit preconceived paradigms.

Relationships are made, decisions are concluded, products and ideas are bought & sold, and we decide on whether we're going to the good place, the bad place, or no place after we assume room temperature.

At some point, one must shoot the engineer & ship the product.

The question of when enough, is indeed enough, is the all important one!
Rower30
Most adults can monitor their involvement in voluntary communications. Those that can't, well...sorry to hear ten minutes is the length of your attention span.

Of course there are many reasons, besides a short attention span, a person would limit their involvement in voluntary communication. Sorry to hear you don't realize that.
Timrhu,
What do you want? Your purpose?

Marqmike,
So true. I get sick of the buying phase pretty fast and just want to listen to music again...for about 30 more years. I'm trying to get there...again. Also, VERY good point about enjoy what you have.

Mrmb,
Yes, exactly! Great comment. My point is that the bias this matric compression creates can, as you said, drill you into some mighty strange "beliefs" when all you want are the facts. And, we'll never get them. My point is how best to at least keep a grip on "facts" verses beliefs and keep the real ball rolling forward.

Still, is is very curious the interaction of cables and sound. The prices are stupid silly but the changes are audible. I keep changing leads to prove I'm, just hearing things, only to form the exact same impression on a set of leads as I had before. Not so much good to bad, as yes they are different.

I'd love to find two sets of leads that measure the same, and be "different" designs to acheive the same numbers, and hear that they sound the same. This, to instill confidence in the measured numbers. The good news is we can better drop the ball here, than the enjoyment of the hobby.

I notice sites that are numbers guys like Audioholics, don't seem to much comment on the emotion of the sound. An AM radio can be measured and makes a sound, so why buy hi-fi to do just the numbers? Like Marqmike says, in the end we want an emotional connection to those sounds, not the numbers.

So, I like the numbers but the sound is still most important, "perfect" or not. Perfect is what you like, not what it is.
Rower
Your are right you can get a emotional connection from an am table radio. I hope you many years of enjoying your journey and listening.
**** Let’s buy a car in 2000. ANY car is a vastly superior car than in the past****

Really? I would reconsider that assertion.

****There is no right in audio. I know, you hate me saying that, but there isn’t.****

Please reconsider that one too.

You make some interesting and provocative observations, but I think you overlook how you, yourself, fell victim to the bias that you speak of.

We all have biases. To understand our own biases in any and all aspects of life is one of the greatest goals that any human being can strive for. Open-mindedness, as you state, is desirable as a way to expand one's horizons and to be truly open to all the possibilities in life; not just audio or cars. But, the real challenge, and ultimate goal, is to be able to filter all that our "open-mindedness" urges us to consider, AND STILL have the confidence and sense of self to determine what is RIGHT.

Yes, there is a RIGHT, and there is a WRONG, and to live by that belief does not necessarily belie close-mindedness nor bias. Getting back to audio and cables:

I spend several hours each day around the sound of acoustic instruments. I KNOW what they are supposed to sound like; I KNOW which cable, in my system, gets me closest to that sound. That knowledge is not simply preference or "like"; it is knowledge of what is RIGHT. Should I overlook that knowledge, and instead live in a "matrix" of relativism in the spirit of open-mindedness? I have no interest in having anyone see things my way (in audio; anyway), but the answer has to be: No thanks, life is too short.
Frogman: Bravo, I 2nd. ALL of your comments and sentiment!

Introspection -- the understanding of one's self & motivations is indeed something that I feel is very important and work hard to continuously do.
Among other positives, the ability to be objective is an outcome.

Indeed, there are "right" and "wrongs" in this hobby and life in general. With of course some exceptions, I always thought that the premise of using one's grandmother as a barometer is a thought provoking one -- i.e., if your grandmother wouldn't think it is "right", then don't do it!

I really believe that most of us that have been immersed in this hobby for at least a few years, have much more in common in terms of what we believe is "right" than otherwise. Far too often I feel we're disagreeing about nuances rather than really meaningful differences.

For example, I recently went to an audio buddy's house. He collects & repairs 1920's - 30's radios. While at an event involving like folks, he acquired a pair of 1950's NOS raw 15" drivers with a tweeter mounted in their center, with 1 capacitor apparently acting as a crossover. Not having a clue about speaker design, he quite randomly mounted these in the first enclosures he found in the Parts Connection catalog & did no tweaking. Surprisingly, they did more things "right" than otherwise. My son & I focused on their positives and enjoyed the music. Would either of us want to live with them? Not really. But the point is that these couple hundred dollar transducers bought us much nearer to the performance, than the Paradigm floorstanders that were adjacent to them.

This whole hobby should be more right brained than left. Most of us arrived here from a great love of music. We simply want to have the performances be as believable & emotionally moving & involving in our homes as we can make them. Measurements & other's experiences help designers get close to that end, but our ears and emotions are the final arbiters of what's "right". Can what we have be better, you betcha'! But that defines the human condition doesn’t it -- always wanting more.

There is a fine line between constantly chasing "better" and being satisfied with what we have and experience. I really believe we get much too caught up in the chase because that's what we find easy and fun to do, but we must work at simply enjoying what we have & in the case of audio, the beautiful sounds & music that most of us are presently experiencing & enjoying!

As a "great" philosopher once said via verse: "Don't worry, be happy"....and enjoy the music)!!!
hi ftogman:

you overlook variations in perception--the physiology of the nervous system.

two people could listen to an instrument. then, hear a recording of that instrument, and disagree as to which recording sounds closer to the timbre of the instrument.

knowledge cannot come from sense perception, so it is possible that you are confusing fact from knowledge.

the results of sense perception are subjective, not objective.

knowledge is of the mind, it is obtained from logic and mathematics.

so, you cannot assert right and wrong in audio, as it is an aesthetic medium, which is based upon fact and opinion not knowledge, which requires proof.
Mrtennis, I don't subscribe to the idea that you frequently present re the necessary separation of perception and knowledge. I believe your argument is flawed:

****you overlook variations in perception--the physiology of the nervous system.

two people could listen to an instrument. then, hear a recording of that instrument, and disagree as to which recording sounds closer to the timbre of the instrument.****

This may be true, but the disagreement does not necessarily invalidate knowledge. This is a flawed argument often used in an attempt to invalidate the relevance of using the sound of live instruments as a reference for judging the sound of playback equipment. Let's use your chosen musical aspect, timbre; and logic, which you claim is "of the mind" and necessary for "knowledge". Logic tells us that the mechanisms that allow us to perceive timbre are the same wether we are listening to a live instrument or the recorded sound of one. Any given listener's hearing acuity, or deviation from perfect frequency range perception will be the same wether the sound is live or recorded. There is no physiological reason that would cause a listener to perceive the sound differently simply because it is recorded vs live; other than the necessary deviation from the sound of live that are a result, to varying degrees, of the record/playback process. There may be emotional issues that may affect one's reaction to being in the presence of a live performer vs a machine, but that's a different discussion. The key issue is familiarity with the sound of that instrument; casual or momentary exposure to the sound of that instrument is not enough for true understanding of the timbre of that instrument. There are no shortcuts for this, especially since our aural memory is so short. Let's use a different (non-musical) example to illustrate my point:

I don't know if you are a parent, but please indulge me if you are not. Say your ten year old child is just starting to come down with a cold. Most parents would immediately notice a difference in the timbre of the child's voice as being slightly raspy and or thicker. Do you think that the child's soccer coach, who has far less frequent exposure to the sound of that child's voice, would be able to tell the difference in the sound of that child's voice? Unlikely. You may insist on calling it perception, but in my book that parent has "knowledge" of the sound of that child's voice due to extensive exposure to that sound.

Now, you say that knowledge "requires proof". Let's say that three days later that child is laying in bed with a fever. Is that proof enough?
the issue is the unreliability of sense perception.

if two people go to a concert sitting next to each other, and the concert is recorded.

at some point in time, say one of them purchases the cd.

both concert goers listen to the cd of the concert they heard live.

it is likely that there will be a disagreement as to the relationship between each listener considers the sound of the recording 's timbral accuracy.

it's like looking at a tree. the color perceived can vary between viewers as well as what an individual reports from time to time.

a better example is witnesses to an accident.

two "witnesses" may create entirely different reports of what they saw.

so the issue is unreliability of perception and dfferences in perception between perceivers.

by the way, the jury system is flaawed based upon the same reasoning.
...I spend several hours each day around the sound of acoustic instruments. I KNOW what they are supposed to sound like; I KNOW which cable, in my system, gets me closest to that sound. That knowledge is not simply preference or "like"; it is knowledge of what is RIGHT. Should I overlook that knowledge, and instead live in a "matrix" of relativism in the spirit of open-mindedness? I have no interest in having anyone see things my way (in audio; anyway), but the answer has to be: No thanks, life is too short....

Well, I've heard that a bunch of times. I don't buy the, "I'm a (fill in the blank) so I'm better than you at 'right' ". That's about as bias as you get.

No, I'll stick with my statements. Statistically any universe of 2000 era car will beat the pants of production universe of '60's iron. But then to make yourself feel "right" you can find just ONE example that works. Good for you. In 1960 reliability was more accident by far than 2000. The "matrix" isn't one dot at a a time.

I'll say it yet again, there is NO RIGHT in audio. Why, because there is no metric for comparison on a consistent basis. The "universe" is never the same. Recorded music is a complete mess. Let’s say you design a system to play your "right" music. Now it's more wrong on the "wrong" music because it fails to normalize the deficiencies to where "it" is closer to right. We keep equalizing at all levels to a given source, that now CANNOT change! It does. So you have something that is right on one source, but wrong on all the rest. Is that right? Is more music closer to right more right, or less music relative to a given source?

No one can even claim a recording (a mess in itself) is right even before we play it back.

I mean seriously, EVERYONE is "right" and NO ONE is even close to sounding the same. And, we have a universe of expert that are more right than the next guy yet everyone of you would duke it out in a closed room as to who was "right". Yet we all claim to know right? Some one, a lot of someone's, are really wrong.

Don't even get me started on the pathetic transient response / dynamic range of systems, and the ridiculous notion we can play back an orchestra from the stuff we use. Maybe, just maybe, a small folk band might get close to real dynamic range and image focus.

My system? Inaccurate for sure. Sounds good, though. That's all you can do is realize this is enjoyment, and NOT a test. Who gives a hoot if you can assemble the bass blaster 1000 at 120 dB if that's what you want? To sit around and play the accuracy game? Yes, life is too short. I play the, "get it like I want to listen" game. There are enough challenges in life.

My MATRIX thread is about getting the sound YOU like to hear, and realizing things change over time (cables are able to tune the sound much more than before) and to reasses what "you" like to hear, to move your system to what pleases you. THAT is what's right.

A proper DOE tunes input to maximize your desired output. It points out the maximum attributes that effect the process or design attributes YOU want to move most efficiently. Is it "right"? Well, maybe we all want to work on our cars every weekend like our 1965 Dodger Dart (it was even "reliable" in the day) and reliability isn't what we should have improved.

So go ahead, pick something. But someone can always say it is wrong. So what. The choices are yours, make sure you enjoy it.
****the issue is the unreliability of sense perception.

if two people go to a concert sitting next to each other, and the concert is recorded.

at some point in time, say one of them purchases the cd.

both concert goers listen to the cd of the concert they heard live.

it is likely that there will be a disagreement as to the relationship between

each listener considers the sound of the recording 's timbral accuracy.****

Funny you should use that example. Just yesterday, I was speaking to an old college buddy, about the several times, back in the 70's, that we went to hear Bill Evans at the Village Vanguard in NYC; very memorable to say the least. We were in complete agreement (35 years later) about how well recordings such as "Sunday At The Village Vanguard" and "Waltz For Debby" capture the sound of that venue and of Bill Evans' piano sound. I assure you there was much more agreement than disagreement in our discussion. The point is that we have each been to TVV several times, and are very familiar with the unique sound (long, low ceilings, below ground) of that venue. It is unlikely that after only one or two visits, anyone would be able to have an aural imprint of that sound.

****a better example is witnesses to an accident.

two "witnesses" may create entirely different reports of what they saw.****

Yes, but someone who has had perception training such as done in law enforcement training would do a remarkable job of remembering details that would elude you and I. The key point is the amount of training and experience that someone has.
****Well, I've heard that a bunch of times. I don't buy the, "I'm a (fill in the blank) so I'm better than you at 'right' ". That's about as bias as you get.****

Rower, I think that if you read my comments again you will note that I made it clear that I have no interest in having anyone see it my way. I have no interest nor need to feel "better than you at right". The question then becomes: why does it bother you that I believe that I know what is right; for me? That is not the same as saying that you are wrong; that is your business not mine.

I always find it curious how often those who claim to be the most open-minded, about anything from audio to politics, are themselves the most intolerant of the views of others. Is insistence on one's brand of open-mindedness not the worst kind of intolerance and bias?

“By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.”
― Richard Dawkins
Oh, I don't know if I'd say people hear differently or perceive things very differently at all. I do think we all sometimes need someone to point out some peculiarity or characteristic of the sound, then we might say, oh, yeah, I see what you mean. Certainly it could be argued there's an issue regarding experience in listening and especially experience in listening to very good systems. Listening to run of the mill, bog standard systems doesn't kick the can down the road very far.
There is no right in audio...the reason is that the SOURCE MATERIAL is highly subjective in quality. ... my data is biased by my musical tastes (what I buy) and the quality of those recording. I may have mostly good recording, or mostly bad. That would influence what I think the amps abilities are. If all my source materials were real poor, I’d be better off with the cheaper amps...
So go ahead, pick something. But someone can always say it is wrong. So what. The choices are yours, make sure you enjoy it.

Here, here... Or should I say Hear, hear ;-)
Well said, Rower30.
hi geoffkait:

could you clarify your statement about differences in hearing and perception ?

your statement , if taken literally, contradicts many research papers in psychology.

the field of psychopyhysics, with its study of the differential threshold would seem to be at odds with your first sentence.
Mrtennis, I am saying that hearing is the same thing as perception. But I can certainly understand why folks might disagree. I am not saying that there can't be psychological aspects to listening, but I think they can be eliminated. If they couldn't how would we be able to progress in this hobby?
Fascinating thread.Personally,my system favors beauty over truth.I love so much music that was not recorded well so have chosen to manipulate the signal path.Has anyone been to multiple performances of the same band,orchestra,etc. in different halls and notice a wholly different aural experience each time?Some will prefer one venue,some another.IMO it's a matter of what you enjoy and what is "right" and pleasing to you personally.My bias is to have the recordings I play at home sound as if they were well recorded in a decent[IMO] venue.
Has anybody read "Your Brain on Music" or seen the PBS special?Really interesting stuff!
Frogman,

What my comments mean, is that when people use their "background" to justify your rightness is insecurity in itself. WHY pray tell is it necessary to paint your personal picture if you are confident in your perception(s)? It isn't. The only reason people do it, is to let their background bias their opinions by pushing them to a different "level" than those around them. "I'm an expert (fill in ad nausea) and I think this (fill in what you think)". I call this a push tell comment system. "push" your credential and then "tell" your story.

An opinion, right or wrong, doesn't change one whit based on the background of who said it. It's just as wrong or right. I like to use good old physics and my ears to evaluate information. I could give a hoot the background of who brings it. That means ANYBODY has an equal say in their perceptions. Someone said, In God we trust all else bring data." Well, the same is true even with the data. Doesn't matter who brings it, don't trust it till you verify it.

Should I have "trusted" the experts who say all cord sets are the same? I'd never have revisted cords after 30 years to find, WOW...they sound NOT the same. It's OK to not understand the physics of exactly why, just don't deny the difference in sound because you can't.

Also, each comment has to be taken separately. True, some have a poor statistical accuracy, but a right answer is still a right answer, no matter how many wrongs are on either side of it. Some time a bunch of wrongs make the "right" answer all the more compelling that it was even found.

So I trust your answers just as much because it simply you, frogman. I don't think that most of us are trying to mislead. But true, everything should be "used" in practice before we, "believe it". My matrix was not used for too long and became a belif system. I had to use it to reset the coordinates of current realities. If anyone else reads this thread opens their minds to something long after they think they "know" the truth, I'm happy with just that. Odds are they are able to change things for the better.

No, my mind didn't drop anywhere. It's as aggravating to some of you as it's always been - - - So sorry!
Dear Rower30, I thought that this issue had been put to rest; but, it seems that I struck a chord earlier since you have brought it up again. One of the things that I really like about this forum is the opportunity to exchange ideas. But, the person that initiates an idea should be prepared to hear (read) opposing views. I still find it curious why it is that you have a problem with the notion that I feel confident about this specific aspect of audiophilia. I have made it clear that I am confident of what is right FOR ME; not you, not anyone else, FOR ME.

Now, you posed an idea (matrix) that seems to promote the notion that open mindedness is a kind of end-all in this hobby. I agree that open mindedness is desirable. But our disagreement seems to be rooted in your objection to my feeling confident in "knowing" what is right for me and for my system. You seem to prefer that a person remain in a state of uncommited ambiguity as concerns perceptions and viewpoints, and to relegate to the labels of "like" and "preference" what I prefer to consider MY truth and MY knowledge; knowledge that is the result of extensive experience with a particular subject. As I said before: no thanks, I prefer to live my life differently. But, a problem arises because you seem to think that my viewpoint is a reflection on you and/or others; it is not. Besides, we are talking about audio, for crying out loud, and I hardly even know you ;-)

Now, you did write something that I find particularly interesting:

****An opinion, right or wrong, doesn't change one whit based on the background of who said it. It's just as wrong or right. I like to use good old physics and my ears to evaluate information. I could give a hoot the background of who brings it. That means ANYBODY has an equal say in their perceptions****

Really? Wow! OK, to go back to my earlier example: So, my son is now in bed with a cold; now his fever is up to 103F, and I call his doctor. The doctor says "bring him in so I can check him out". On the way there, some well meaning matron says: "oh, the poor thing, but don't worry, just take him home and give him some chicken soup and he will be all better tomorrow". Who do you listen to?

Mars and Venus. It's obvious that what we have here is the clash of two very different belief systems (as you name it). I am comfortable with the fact that yours is very different than mine. Why aren't you comfortable with that as well? Where does the real "insecurity" lie?

Regards.

LOTT: Wayne Shorter "Atlantis". Some of the best fusion jazz from one of the legends of the saxophone. Even more than being a great player, a fabulous composer. Great sound on this Columbia vinyl, and sealed copies can still be found.
Very well said, Frogman, as is everything in your earlier posts, IMO. The sick child examples illustrate points that, to me, seem self-evident. Fabulous quote from Richard Dawkins, as well.

Best regards,
-- Al
Thanks for the kind words, Al.

Regards.
Frogman,

??? Not so sure where you got all that. But if you like to form conclusions (...you have a problem with the notion that I feel confident about this specific aspect of audiophilia...) to make a point to someone...go ahead. I wasn't even talking about you. Masking knowledge by touting credentials isn't confidence. Confidence stands on it's own. Your opinion is fine (for or against), and I said so (I trust your answers just as much because it simply you, frogman.). But, if you really need to be that confident that you jump to conclusions, assume I'm referring to you (nope), fine.

Now, how many filaments did it take to invent the light bulb? Plenty, and if you took the "failures" one after the other to doubt the inventors intuition, we'd all have been in the dark a whole lot longer. Most would think the guy didn't know what he was doing, but an insight completed is worth 100 ideas never put to task. Failure is a "wrong" answer, but I'd rather fail to success than try to preserve my record and do little to nothing.

Medicine is a weird science. My wife had breast cancer. Funny, the doctors were wrong on eight of ten issues. Oh, but they were doctors. My wife sat behind a PC and figured it out on her own. Credentials aren't an "answer" but simply a sort of odds of getting a right answer. But, like I said, the answer still has to stand on it's own to be "right" or "wrong". More right answers in front of the wrong answer don’t change it.

So you have different examples of how "knowledge" is gained, used, and improved. Sure, you'd like to have "old" knowledge be accurate (medicine) over "new" (inventivness) as. But, better compare notes in either case if you can. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

People want to simply give in to the "odds" of getting a right answer. Credential tell the probability of a right answer, and just says I'll more than likely find it correct. But find it I will. I examine each answer one at a time, and different perspectives as new information arises. The matrix isn't static. In God we trust, all else bring data.

So my system is never "done" per say, even if I keep it forever (that doesn't mean it's perfect by any means). I'll just know that things are better out that should I do so.
hi rower30:

i think you have been ambiguous in your analysis.

it seems your concern is listener bias.

for example, dislikintg solid state, before auditioning solid state components.

you have not stated such a concern or other analogous examples.

essentially, bias denotes a sentiment about that which has not been sufficiently experienced,. another example would be to generalize , based upon limited experience.

you have not commented on the common usage definition of bias, as applied to matters audio.

if you develop preferences based upon a sufficiently large experience set, or because of one's nervous system, one prefers odd order harmonic harmonics and certain coloration(s).

you have not distinguished between bias (prejudice) and genuine, justified preferences.

it is not unreasonable to have preferences, after extensive listening. those preferences do not constitute bias.

so, i would appreciate a coherent statement as to what you mean by "bias" in audio.
Mrtennis,

Good question. Bias is the conclusion that information that you have gathered is still "true", and "fair" or the most accurate representation of a physical outcome.

When we stop collecting additional data to support a "bias" we now have a "belief system", or a choice made using what is incomplete and not fair. Once you stop challenging your data, you can no longer be as confident that it is right. It still could be, mind you, you just can't say that it is statistically as accurate without new data involved.

Look at anti-oxidants and aging, new data says it's bunk.
The Gulf-stream mechanisms warming Europe is being challenged by global ocean sensors (more accurate than a hypothesis derived 100 years ago). The "old" model is being taken apart as wrong (we believed it for 100 years!).

I could go on, but that's my general premise...people (like me!) take what data we want to "believe" and then STOP the process once it agrees with our "belief" system. But, it's not totally true, is it? A belief system is static, and unfair.

Human nature and date is very odd.
We'll spend 20 bucks a month on the lottery. Our odds are millions to one to win, and have nothing. We could put the twenty in a mutual fund and in 30 years have six figures. What do most people do? Here we have a preference, though. We KNOW the odds are terrible, but we do it anyway. There is nothing wrong with that.

I don't call bias preference. Preference does not involve a degree of bias, it is a choice based on what is right. I HATE a truly accurate stereo as it has too little bass energy to make me happy. The test equipment is right, but I'm not happy. Still, I KNOW what is right from wrong. My PREFERENCE is more bass. Still, I know what is right...that's the key difference. It is a "fair" choice, as I know what right is.

From my original example of one small matrix I neglected to address were cables. I "knew" (stopped collecting data when I had enough data to support what I wanted to believe) cables made little difference. That "was" true with 1980's technology, but not so today. I didn't "prefer" to think cables made no difference, I though I knew that they didn't make a difference. This wasn't a "bias" in my mind as it was "true" (NOT!). I didn't think I was unfair, but to exclude new data says that I actually was. You can only have a preference when you know the truth (no bias), and decide to move to, or away, from it. So a preference is supported with an accurate depiction of what is possible to chose from.

BIAS - Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

That said, I am fully aware of this bias. There are many aspects of things that I think I have the most "right" answer to, which are undoubtedly incorrect. This may not be a conscious bias to be unfair, but it is, even if I don't know it. You can never stop expanding the matrix with new data to reset your data sets "bias" to as small a value as you can. Any data set that does not include all the data on a given subject is "unfair" and hence, bias.

A preference does not have to be right, you just like it. And, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that when you make the choice against the most accurate representation of "right" at the time.

That's why this hobby is so much fun. We get it all "right" in our heads, or we all try to as best we can, and then place our "preferences" against the data sets. This is different than BIAS, where we exclude data so our preferences are less accurate as to what we "could" have chosen from. Time moves on...so does the data.

I didn't know I could change cables to improve my system 30 years ago. Today? I have a "preference" to cables I've listened to for sure, but my "bias" that they don't make a difference has been reduced, not eliminated, by listening to many, many cables. I can now select from a much less bias data set and get a much more accurate preferred sound.
Say what Dude!!
Ebm, I forgot, you're right...you can always just guess!
This always make me think about generate data matrix under word with font
After all that, was it really so hard to end up landing on an XLR IC?

There is a good technical basis for why that is a professional standard. Not much of a mystery really.

Not that any other wire might not "sound better", but forget about any "standards" there that will help put things on an even playing field.

CHoose your game, that's really all it is.

Not sure what barcode generation software has to do with the topic though. Now I am really confused and uncertain! :^)