my take on blind tests

ABX tests shows that there are no difference between cables. However, many of us would disagree. I took similar test and must admit that I had problems with hearing the difference.

And then it came to me. There is a difference between listenig and hearing.

Even if there are no differences in sound we can hear them because we are listenig. Listening is paying attention to the whole experience and not only to allow our ears to enter the sound.

Bottom line is, if you hear the difference when you see which cable is on and hear no difference when you cannot see, let it be.

We pay for the whole experience, not sound waves alone.

What do you guys think?
"Even if there are no differences in sound we can hear them because we are listenig"

Is there a possibility to be more obscure?

People frown on dbt because it indicates that they can't REALLY hear a difference, but have so much invested in believing that they do, they think up ways, (usually pretty pathetically) to demean dbt, or use the old "your system is incapable of adequate resolution bs.

"We pay for the whole experience, not sound waves alone."

You should sell that as a marketing slogan to a cable or power cord company.
Well you have satisfied yourself that despite logic, whatever you perceive, whether right or wrong, present or imagined, repeatable or not, satisfies you. You know you have entered the twilight zone of subjective audio.
If I were to take a double blind test, the biggest problem would be that I am completely unfamiliar with the entire audio system being used in the test.

The place I notice differences the quickest and easiest is at home; for the simple reason that I have a long memory of how it sounds and feels. So anything new introduced is immediately apparent.

At a store, a friends, an audio show, I can get an pretty quick impression of the entire setup, but individual items are hard to differentiate. If I spent all day, maybe I would reach a point where small changes were easier to distinguish. In those tests, they won't give you all day for your ears to adjust. They won't even give you ten minutes.
"If I were to take a double blind test, the biggest problem would be that I am completely unfamiliar with the entire audio system being used in the test."

Do it at home with your own system. Have someone swap out cables, cords, etc. or use different cables in different inputs and have someone else switch back and forth via remote.

Plenty of ways to do it. Most of the reasons I've heard so far are just excuses rather than having to admit that there is really little difference.

Or if there is so much difference, then the presumption would be confirmed.

You said it very well. If you can't hear a difference in a blind test then the difference must be quite small. Given that most people can hear a change in tone control of around 1 db - it implies that these differences are very small indeed.

I would agree that as the differences get smaller it may take much longer to discern and much greater familiarity with the sound of the system (as per Sugarbrie). I think this is because eventually you find out what to look a tiny knick in a wood floor - once you know where to look then you can find it even it it may take hours for someone else to find the damaged spot. Think Jig saw puzzle.

However, small is still small. If you want to spend $1000's of dollars on small and barely audible differences (like repairing a small scratch in your wooden floor) then go for it!
If you don't hear it, don't buy it.
The differences between cables are as significant to my ears as what I hear when evaluating electronics and speakers, but of course I don't close my ears (or my eyes) when making such evaluations. Perhaps I'll give this blind testing thing a shot when selecting my next automobile.

Many times I have stuck something in my system with the preconceived notion that is would be better. It just had to be better. But it was not. I'd spend hours trying to convince myself that is was really better, but something else was off. In the end it was not better. If I am just imagining things, it would have always sounded better in those situations, since I was favorably biased going in.

In a classical music context, there are many who think the conductor does not matter. After all, the top orchestras have world class musicians in them who know what they are doing.

About six-seven years ago I heard a young (roughly 32 year old) unknown guest conduct in Baltimore. I was very impressed. Six months later I heard him conduct again. I heard the same excellence. Was I imagining things? Well, he was just hired (still under 40 years old) to be the new Music Director of the New York Philharmonic. The only other time they hired someone young was Bernstein. People that young just don't get jobs like that with million dollar salaries. So I can't be the only person who heard what I heard.
"The only other time they hired someone young was Bernstein. So I can't be the only person who heard it."

This is much harder to accomplish via dbt.
Actually orchestras do blind testing. Not in the case of conductors, but most major orchestras do blind open auditions of musicians applying to fill a full time rank and file position. They play behind a partition. The judges cannot see who it is. They have to vote solely on what they heard.
there are two errors in listening: fialing to hear what is present and hearing what isn't there.

what is needed is replication, numerous times, to try to eliminate or reveal these errors.

in the end, if a person is satisfied with the performance of a stereo system after changing a component, all "tests" are irrelevant.
Who cares at this stage about the much maligned DBTs? Hell, I would settle for a bit more method and objectivity on the part of audiophiles in assessing equipment, but, unfortunately, that is sadly lacking, since the most outrageous claims are believed to be the most valid ones. Woe is to anyone who honestly declares not to hear any difference.
What we need are more Vulcans in the audio hobby. They are very logical thinking beings.
"in the end, if a person is satisfied with the performance of a stereo system after changing a component, all "tests" are irrelevant."

So then are reviews and reviewers.

"Woe is to anyone who honestly declares not to hear any difference."

Obviously your system then does not have sufficient resolution" ;-)
Vulcan's have better hearing also....
The appearance of a product, its reputation and other factors can certainly influence how we perceive its performance. It has been well proven in science that it is very useful to evaluate all manner of things on a blind basis in order to eliminate or minimize subjective factors.

However, people in the audio world often have a very limited black or white view of blind testing as if there were only one kind. ABX is only one particular form of blind test. Double blind isn't the same thing as single blind. There is a continuum. How exacting one needs to be depends on what one is trying to prove or accomplish. (Think of it as a number. Sometimes "about 3" is good enough, other times you need 3.14159265 - or better - for a calculation.)

If I am buying something for my own use, I only need to compare until I am happy. That may not include an effort at blind comparison - or may not even include a comparison at all!

The catch is that many audiophiles like making declarations of universal scientific certainty from casual or poorly conducted blind tests.

The often heard "I had my friend swap wires and I could hear the difference so that PROVES there is a difference in cabling" is a good example. It is a perfectly valid test for justifying your purchase of a particular brand of something, but it is hardly something you base your next peer reviewed article on for a science magazine.

To be honest, well done, tightly controlled double blind tests in the audio world are very hard to set up, and as such rarely done. Almost every one I've ever seen has enough "wiggle room" in it to allow an out for any party that wishes to disagree with the results.
I think we aught to have a contest with a large "Randy" type award going to the person who can in a short period of time ID what is going on with two similar products over the entire bandwidth.

Its relatively easy to hear broad dips or bulges spread over several octaves, especially in the higher frequencies, but what about those sharp narrowband deviations. How does one pick those up in DBT tests unless someone has pointed the way? I'll miss them every time because I'm usually predisposed to hearing, or not hearing, something. I just don't pick up narrow band problems except over the long haul, especially when they are peaks. This applies to all products, not just wires & tweaks.

When I think about it, and I seldom do, I don't even know why folks care about DBT in the first place.
"When I think about it, and I seldom do, I don't even know why folks care about DBT in the first place."

It's because when we hear about those "relevations", which probably couldn't pick it out unless there was a huge blinking neon light above it, it brings some legitimacy to statements.

"I just spent $3000 on this mega power cord, and it's a soundstaging champ, with outstanding PRAT but uhhh, I can't identify it against this Home Depot cord unless I'm told which one it is".

Wouldn't you like every ephiphany validated by dbt? Then I could believe some of the things I read here. Power cords statements should all have to be dbt'd before posting.
"What we need are more Vulcans in the audio hobby."

I agree with Tvad. We need more logic and less emotion in audio. A choice made on logic would certainly be more enjoyable than one based on emotion, right?



"What's love got to do with it?" TT
I'm too lazy to conduct double blind tests.
Hey Gunbei! You've been too lazy to post lately as well. How the heck are you? Long time no see.
DBT's are irrelevant, IMO. Everyone who intimately knows their system will most likely be able to detect a change (or lack of one) with a new component inserted. But to sit there and try to differentiate between cables, amps, rubber feet, whatever, is, in my view, an exercise in futility. Why? To catalogue their sonic signatures? Leave that to the bat-eared solons at the audio mags with their bottomless box of adjectives.

The fun of the hobby is to experiment and build something that your satisfied with, within your means. Getting caught up with the impossible preposition that differences must (must!) exist in and among every component - add into that electrical power quality, room treatments and tweaks of all sorts - just puts you on a fast track to an audio obsessive disorder that interferes with the ability to enjoy music. If that's the bottom line, and if DBT's are your way of getting there, who's to say otherwise.
hi snofun3:

what is your point ?

on a personal level, one can prefer the sound of component a as opposed to component b. perhaps, using certain sources someone can hear a difference, with others a difference is not detectable.

this is not a test. there is nothing to prove. it's not that testing for differences is not useful, it may not be relevant to equipment purchases.

if i can borrow an amplifier and live with it for 30 days, i either like the sound of the stereo sysytem with the amp or i don't.
"Bottom line is, if you hear the difference when you see which cable is on and hear no difference when you cannot see, let it be. We pay for the whole experience, not sound waves alone."

Absolutely right. Some amps sound better to me, I suspect, b/c they look better. And the whole idea of tubes really gets to me. But my question is in connection with cables: why are some folks willing to shell out 2k for what is essentially a placebo effect? I'm not doubting the placebo effect in the least, but I do wonder how manufacturers got people to pay so much for it. Imagine an aspirin manufacturer that charged $1000 per bottle b/c some people actually felt better when they took, and thought of themselves taking, very expensive aspirin.
As I noted earlier, blind testing serves a useful function in audio as well as other sciences, but is hardly a mandatory requirement for an individual buying a piece of stereo equipment. People should buy what makes them happy, whether the underlying reasons are based on emotion, cold clinical analysis or some combination thereof.

That said, I think the people who completely pooh pooh blind testing on a wholesale basis are being short sighted. They are discarding an important tool that has been helpful in challenging old ways of thinking and developing new ones.

With any science it is always important to put existing beliefs under the magnifying glass. That's the way we can begin to separate the "old wives tales" from the traditions that have serious fundamentals underpinning them. Of course, any time a cherished belief is questioned, there will always be those who discount any results that conflict with their existing views.

The audio world is a tough case as it is at the intersection of electronics, art, psychology, the biology of hearing and chemistry of the brain. In general there are simply a zillion variables to track.

So, sure, you don't need a DBT setup the next time you component shop, but to belittle the usefulness of the practice at the levels of design and research is like throwing away your hammer and thinking all you need is a screwdriver and saw to build a house. You just end up cheating yourself.
The whole thing has been debated for so long. I hear the new breed of audio equipment is being designed as I write by chimps on a strictly emotional basis.

Goodnight Nyquist.
Ray Charles used to swear by DBT.
Hell, my whole system can sound bad to me one week and a few days later it sounds great. So much is due to my mood, my ears, my work week, my Amex bill, the weather. Who knows? I think one's ears are so much more subjective than one's eyes.

that said, I have not done double blind testing but I have heard differences in cables that were immediately apparent; this was in speaker cables mostly and IC cables to a lesser extent, not power cords. I think power cord differences are extremely subtle if they exist at all. But do I buy the aftermarket powercords? You bet. why not it's fun.

One last story, I put new Siltech speaker cables into my system a couple of years ago and put on the first CD to listen. My wife came into the listening room and said "Wow that sounds so much better." I was floored; in all previous upgrades she had never had a strong point of view or was somewhat cynical.
The old "my wife came into the room" anecdotal evidence bit. I'm floored myself. You know what, whatever I put in my system and even when listening to my second system, my wife tells me it all sounds great to her. A pleasant and joyful thing it is to be thankful.
Cables are the biggest rip off in HiFi audio. Been there-done-that, wasted LOTS of $$!
The only blind test I'd be comfortable with would in my own system with music I'm familiar with. Any other method would introduce too many variables.