"The Audio Critic" B.S. or what?

Has anyone ever heard of this magazine? In a nutshell, their premise is that audiophiles are ridiculous. They claim that all high-end equipment is marketed to audio magazines and their foolish readers. One particular area they sounded off about was cable and interconnect theory. They claim that spending hundreds and even thousands of dollars for cables is a joke and is a total waste of money. They claim that companies like Kimber are selling us a bunch of "snake oil." I just breezed through a copy and now it's got me wondering if we audiophiles are just masturbating each other with our concepts and discussion of "high-end" equipment and cables. Please tell me this is a bunch of sh*t. I'd like to think that we're getting at least a bit of "high-end" for our hard-earned $$$$
Dude, if you need someone to tell you it's ok to spend lots of your money on wires, I am not that guy. I, however, can hear a difference, and do spend quite alot on wires, etc. If you hear a difference, really hear a difference, it shouldnt matter what anyone else thinks. I hear it, and I could care less whether anyone else does. True, there are some areas of our hobby that seem "vodoo" even to old, salty audiophiles, but in all cases, you should use your ears. IF you cant hear it, to me anyway, it's not worth spending the money to keep up with the Jones(er)s.
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A person who is tone death will tell you listening to any music on anything is a waste of time. Thomas Edison tried more than 5000 times to find a good filament for a light bulb. Do you think he cared if the average person thought he was nuts ?? I doubt it. A good friend thinks I spend too much time on the computer while he sits around day after day in the same chair reading old western novels. To each his own.
Chuke thanks for advising me (us) about these fools. Yes I've heard of them before (just to ans. your question) but never was curious; now know why. You don't need anyone to tell you that CABLES can make or break a system. My proof was when I assembled several noteworthy components into a rig that just wasn't happening. I said to myself "this is all good stuff - why doesn't it synergize?". Then I started experimenting around with different AC cables, interconnects & speaker cables. This made the rig come alive! Now anyone who tells me that cables don't make any difference I know they're full of it. If this were true then I might as well sell my >$20K system & get a clock radio from WallMart.
Audio Critic, if it is still owned by Peter Azcel, ripped many people off, including myself, by stopping publication some years ago, promising refunds, as per their subscription policy, & NEVER REFUNDED MY MONEY OR MANY OTHERS. I wouldn't give this morally bankrupt person any of my money.
This reminds me of a thread at another site entitled "All solid state amps sound the same". Who advertises in the rag? Also think they should change the name to "Audio Bliss".
To further highlight Azcel's questionable business practices, didn't he design and/or manufacture a speaker (Fourier?) and then review it in his mag without disclosing that he was the designer/owner? I've read two issues of the AC and I actually found it quite entertaining. Nothing is wrong with having your beliefs challenged. If anything, it's always good to occassionally re-examine your core audiophile values.
Where does one find The Audio Critic, to subscribe to or to read online. I've seen several references to his "Top 10 Lies" article, which I would especially like to see.
The Audio Critic, in its current incarnation, is the foremost proponent of the notion that high-end audio is subject to the laws of psychoacoustics, a branch of psychology that studies auditory perception. The most basic principle here is that sighted listening is an unreliable means of judging a sound because your brain is taking in and processing other information as well. Hence, only blind listening tests can truly determine whether two cables sound different, for example. Needless to say, this view (and it's more than just a view--there's a damned lot of peer-reviewed journal articles to back it up) doesn't sit well with the manufacturers of certain products, or the magazines which rely on those manufacturers for advertising revenue. By the way, Aczel and his crowd are audiophiles, too. It's just that they pursue "the absolute sound" by concentrating on the things that really matter, particularly speakers and speaker-room interaction.
Drubin. You can find it at Barnes & Nobles Bookstores. It is interesting reading. I agree with Onhwy61 that it reinforces our core audiophiles values. Its true that cables and interconnects can improve your sound system, but you dont have to spend the kind of money that some of these manufacturers charges us. Go to some of the DIY Sites and make your own. I made some of my own Speakers and IC Cables and it sounded as good, if not better than some of the ultra-expensive cables, for a fraction of the costs
TAC doesn't have a Web site, but any search engine will turn up plenty of reviews posted by manufacturers (obviously only the positive ones, of which there are fewer than for other mags). Note: reviews from the 70s and early 80s pre-date TAC's embrace of objectivism, so won't reflect its current thinking. Subscriptions ($24/4 issues) can be ordered from PO Box 978, Quakertown, PA 18951. The publication schedule has been spotty (to say the least), but there's a new publisher with the promise of more regular issues. You should read it even if you don't agree with it, for the same reason that liberals should read the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal--it broadens the mind.
Well now, we have a good subject for diversity of opinion which is at the heart of the subjective/objective debate. I have alot of audio software and hardware,some of it, comparatively expensive. I have been enjoying this hobby since the early '60s. I agree that, if you believe that some intangible manifestation exist, it does, FOR YOU, exist..whether or not its existence can be reliably demonstrated to anyone else. I don't agree with many of the above characterizations of The Audio Critic (TAC). TAC, unlike many publications, has been consistent in their philosophy and has continued to call it like they test and hear it. Isn't that essentially what Stereophile(e.g.) attempts to do? I see TAC as a breath of fresh air in a room filled with emanations of garlic, onions, and occasional fruity mouthwash. TAC has consistently attempted to remove some of the mysticism and pseudo-science which seems, at times, to permeate this hobby (surely, most of you agree that these are characteristics which exist within audiophilia). Having participated in this hobby for many years with the added experience of high-end sales and as a full-time professional musician for many of those years, I long ago recognized the highly subjective nature of equipment evaluation sans any testing apparatus. The great advantage of objective evaluation is that it doesn't rely upon the very variable results of ears-only testing. Just read the Letters To The Editor section of Stereophile, or for that matter, these forums, to see the obvious disparity of opinions regarding audio hardware. Naturally, most of us prefer to have our tastes and decisions reenforced by the agreement of a perceived authority. A number of us are susceptable to what is referred to as the placebo effect. This effect essentially allows for a belief in some of our expectations having been fulfilled. This psychological characteristic, has been verified in many areas of human experience, including the subjective (and sometimes objective) evaluation of audio equipment. This is acommon human trait and I suspect that it influences all of us occasionally. This is a powerful justification for the use of the relatively consistency of the machines. The truth they reveal to us might not be preferred or even palatable. But it is usually consistent. As an example; objective testing might indicate high distortion within a component. This high distortion may be preferred (tubes?). As a matter of taste though, preference is all that is required. So, TAC is criticized by those who subjectively disagree with some of its conclusions. I would conjecture that some of those same critics, if they are owners of products by Arragon, HSU, Marantz, Sunfire, Velodyne, Legacy, Bryston, BK, Paradigm, McIntosh, Sony, and others would have agreed with TAC's favorable comments regarding some of these mfrs. products. BTW, these and other well-reputed mfrs. have indeed advertized in TAC. In addition to the dispelling of certain objectively unproveable audio mythologies, TAC attempts to demonstrate that at a certain point, money can and is being wasted on highly questionable product benefits, overpriced products of inherent lower value, and overbuilt, highly priced hardware. If you can find a copy, try to read it without bias. You might find the counterbalance of their perspective to be ultimately beneficial to you. I have. And if for no other reason, cherish it for the technical descriptions and comments of Dr. Rich. I also agree with the above comments of Jostler.
Waldhorner: You've set up a distinction between measurement and what you call "ears-only testing" that I think is misleading. TAC does do measurements (as does Stereophile), but it also does "ears-only testing." What it doesn't do (and what S-pile does) is "eyes-and-ears testing." It's the eyes that get you into trouble, if you're trying to make judgments based solely on sound. Otherwise, your comments are right-on.
I assume that almost everyone closes their eyes when evaluating gear. What is the big deal? Are we not supposed to ever view the gear before evaluation. I would love to partake in the blind auditions. I used to be able to identify any of a dozen beers or so while blindfolded when I tended bar in the mid 70's (it was a suckers bet that the local attorneys, my customers, liked to spend money on), I now feel that it was more of a gift from them to a poor college student. It was just as easy with or without the blindfold. A flavor is a flavor and a sonic signature is a sonic signature, that's the way I hear it anyway, maybe I am just too simple.
...so i would like to subscribe. Anybody have an address?
I got banned at AudioAsylum among other things because I voiced support for blind testing as a means to detect differences between equipment. Unfortunately, there is a group of hard-core zealots who think that blind testing is the worst kind of heresy. Their arguments are in my opinion blatantly flawed. Naturally many manufacturers side with them since blind testing in most cases shows that differences between equipment are a lot subtler than most manufacturers want to you to know. Likewise reviewers are scared to death that the industry and consumers may require them to write reviews without knowing what it is they are reviewing. This would expose a lot of them as charlatans and could threaten many of the cozy relationships between publishers and manufacturers. In fact, with double blind testing frequently no differences are detected. However, double blind testing in my opinion is objectionable because it's effect is to "dazzle" the mind of the reviewer, making it difficult to detect differences. Sort of like testing perfumes in a department store: at some point you can barely tell them apart. However, testing procedures can be adapted to the audio world and provide insightful results. In spite of the above, I believe TAC goes too far in its attack of almost every well-established audiophile mantra. A magazine that is in the complete opposite side of the spectrum, The Absolute Sound (TAS), is paradoxically much more entertaining and insightful. Although TAS rarely does blind testing they subscribe to an interesting philosophy: namely that in order to assess equipment you need to train yourself to hear the right things. Reason #2 I was kicked-out of AudioAsylum is that I subscribe to this view! Again, the same group of hard core zealots decries this as heresy #2. In their view the only, and ultimate, test, is your own pair of ears, whether "educated" or not. What they don't seem to understand is that while your ears (actually your brain) may think they know what they like, over time they will invariably go through this learning process and end up changing their view of what constitutes good sound. The same is often the case with wine lovers: they start unable to distinguish wine quality but over time their palate trains itself and they are able to distinguish true quality. What is the conclusion of all this? That it is indeed a requirement to educate your "ears" to be able to accurately evaluate equipment. And the best education is to listen to live music. But also, no matter how educated your ears are, unless you use a blind test, it is very likely that your judgement will be colored by the knowledge of what you are testing. For instance, if you are reviewing the $80,000 Nearfield Acoustic Pipedreams you won't stop until you find a set-up that makes them rock. Don't read me wrong, I own $15,000 worth of audiophile equipment (each piece considered high bang for the buck, which is my real mantra) and I do believe there are sonic differences even between cables. Just that the differences are not as big as some people would want you to believe. Read TAS all the same and have fun -most reviews are delightful.
Just to expand on the above (and excuse the length of the post), I believe measurements are very useful, but not sufficient in themselves to evaluate equipment. Ideally you would have blind testing (not double blind testing) by someone with the right musical/audio training, and once that person writes his/her review you would use measurements to try to explain what that person was hearing in technical terms. The science of audio measurements is very far from the point in which measurements are sufficient to understand the performance of a piece of gear. That is, for instance, the mistake that other magazines like Stero Review have fallen into.
I'm glad that Joe is the sole possessor of the knowledge, of how to function in this hobby. That way, he can tell everyone else how to "do it right". You got banned for more than that, Joe...and that is what you really know how to do: get BANNED from discussion websites. I'd rather not learn how to do that...and I can already hear better than you anyway...the proof's in the pudding...................You even contradict yourself about DBX testing. First you state that "since blind testing in most cases shows that differences between equipment are a lot subtler than most manufacturers want to you to know", and then retract it by: "However, double blind testing in my opinion is objectionable because it's effect is to 'dazzle' the mind of the reviewer, making it difficult to detect differences". IF YOU THINKI IT'S "OBJECTIONABLE", WHY DO INSIST THAT THOSE REVIEWERS WHO ALSO OBJECT TO IT "MIGHT BE" CHARLATANS? Unless of course, you're a charlatan yourself...
Eldragon: Subscriptions ($24/4 issues) can be ordered from PO Box 978, Quakertown, PA 18951.
A friend of mine is an electrical engineer who also happens to know a bit of hi-fi. His wife once told him that "better" cables and interconnects did not sound any better when he got those expensive wires. His wife is not a dieshard; yet, I know she has good opinions about good sounds. So, he took all the cables to his work and did some measuring and experiments. I am not a true audiophile and am not interested in tech talks, so I do not remember all the details in precise terms. Nevertheless, the gist of his findings was that there was not a big difference between expensive cables and decent cables -- I won't name the brands. Then, he did a rudimentary blind test himself with a little help of his wife. Without the benefit of preconception, he failed to differentiate cables and interconnects, of which the price differential was huge. So, I borrowed the high end wires and experimented with them. Allowing myself to get aquainted with the wires for about several days, I did a rudimentary blind test with some help of my wife -- she was unhappy about it. I got 50% right out of 6 tries (3 with the better wires, another 3 with the mundane counterparts at reasonable volume level). Just fulfilling the law of average. My friend did even worse than I did defying the statistical odds -- less than 50%. Our equipments were reasonably good albeit not super. The friend of mine was trying to get deeper into the subject by making inquiries as to whether the signal difference he attained in his lab was sufficient enought for human brain to detect. He must have been told something about it, but I have not heard him about it. Nor am I interested in delving into the matter any more deeply. It is good if there truly is a difference we can appreciate between mundane and high end wires and shields. But, I obviously failed to appreciate it. So, the issue is simple for me now: save the money for the wife and the kids, or CD's and live entertainments. Unless you are rich enough to sniff at the amount. By the way, the interconnects and speaker cables that I am using for music listening did not cost me more than $200 (at max) altogether.
I've heard the difference between ALL the different cables I've tried over the past few years, and I don't care if there are those out there who don't hear a difference. Please do not profess to pooh pooh on me, and I won't do the same on you. MY OWN BROTHER AND SISTER IN LAW BOTH, ARE ELECTRICAL ENGINEERS. She has had a problem hearing in one ear since childhood, so she doesn't care much about my system in any of its incarnations (yet). And when listening to my system, he (my brother) has had ZERO trouble ever hearing the difference between cables, CD's and CD-R copies...and the one that troubled him most: The fact that an old copy of a rock album ON VINYL...killed the CD so badly. He knows I'm not nuts anymore...And I don't just spend thousands of dollars "on wire". I've gotten most of it used (like the rest of my system). I don't call getting a $3100 cable, for $795, "being bad with money". And it has beaten all the others I've thrown at it, so there!
Jostler: Thank you for your feedback. You will note that I stated "TAC...to call it as they test and hear it". I do believe that, while having significantly more reliability than sighted evaluation, double blind "testing" absent accurate measurements, is not at all consistently reliable. This has been demonstrated repeatedly by those who claim reliable accuracy under double blind conditions and fail, often to the point of preferring a sample to itself. In well controlled tests comparing the influence of the visual aspect,it was found that the Brand name of the product was the strongest influence upon listener preference. The more subtle the distinction becomes, the more difficult it is to reliably recall or identify that distinction. And communicating those distinctions via totally verbal descriptives is far too subjective to be truly useful. I am, of course, not referring to gross differences, which can be difficult enough for some.
cables do make a difference they all have their own sound and you have to try out variuos ones to find the one that works in your system.That said one does not need to get fovered by the MIT Nordst and Kimbers of the world.I dont care if you paid 800 for 3100 cable you still got fovered. Let look at MIT.If i suggested your preamp have bass and treble control almost all Audiophiles would jump on me.This is considered adding noise and junk to the signal path.Then why would anyone pay for cables with a box which is acting like a tone control.Is not pure and simple and un colered what we strive for.Yet people are takin in by MIT hype.They are coloring the sound by what is in their circuit.Tara labs ans others are also guility of this.Belive me you can find the wire of your dreams for 200\300 range.If you need an ego stroke go nuts.If you want bang for the buck.Get an Electricain to run dedicated lines.Thers is a good spot to sink 1k into.
I wanted to share a story from last week. Spent the holiday at my brother's place visiting family. Dan has an "average" consumer rig: Dennon budget receiver, plastic Sony CD changer, Infinity bookshelf 2-way's. The living room is really bad: 20' vaulted ceiling & all-open to everywhere in the house (reflections everywhere). Carpet, but no drapes(vinyl blinds) one sofa & stuffed chair are the only absorbtion. Room is so hot you can hear it echo with a single finger-snap. To make matters worse, speakers are on stands in corners, & firing long-ways into the room; one firing right into the sofa (I tried to explain spkr. placement, but they're where he wants them). I brought along an abandoned pair of old oxidized Monster Cable & an equally old $20 pair of IC's to give him. He was open-minded, but hardly enthusiastic. First the IC's were swapped out - warmed up the sound; added punch & body. Then the speaker cable was temp. connected. Dan really didn't want to replace the spkr. wire; it was a real pain working in his cabinet. So we temp'd it in anyway & the improvement was significant, enough so that he ripped out that old 18awg. Radio Shack wire asap. I also brought along a pair of Lapis IC's just for fun; now he *asked* to hear them! Sound became leaner & more detailed (his words) the typical sonic signature of silver. We put back the $20 patch cords (brand name long forgotten) & he's a happy convert to 'upgrading via rewiring'. No blind testing done here, but here's a guy who knows next to nothing about sound & (used to) think that wire is wire. "you can't argue with success"
Good story, Bob. And Leafs, what does fovered mean? Is it liked 'rogered' or more like 'buggered'?
You are so dim witted that you can't read my post properly. Blind testing is not the same as double blind testing. And I suggest you go see a shrink about that anger.
The "boxes" are not filters per-se... The inductors, caps, R's in the networks are, to my understanding, a Group Delay Equalizer. This accomplishes the time-alignment of various frequencies traveling down the cable, such that they arrive at the speaker's terminals simultaneously. MIT explains that this phase-correction may contribute to perceived louder-sounding (and quieter = less noisy) performance than with a non-aligned cable operating at the same power level. I only have their 3rd, or 4th-best cable down from the top. Still kinda pricey, but so worthwhile! GREAT product. Spectral even 'requires' the use of MIT with their gear. Certainly a respected manufacturer, not to mention their design guru Keith Johnson. Think he just might know something?
I think Jostler has made the most sense here so far. How can so many refuse to acknowledge the mountains of evidence in the annals of psychology? One note to "Joe-coherent"--before we have another Carl-Joe fight on our hands--when you made a distinction between "blind" and "double-blind" did you mean the distinction between blind and blind A-B testing? When you mentioned the example of the perfume shop wherein one could be confused by the propinquity of the stimuli I thought you might be referring to blind A-B testing rather than double-blind testing per se, which I believe means that the person administering the blind test to another is also unaware of the nature of the sample contents being tested. As versus the single-blind test where the person administering the test would know the nature of the contents. I would agree with you that listeners can be "dazzled" by types of A-B tests, especially when the differences are subtle. However I don't see why all audiophiles don't regularly test blind, like beer and wine testers do. If people knew ahead of time that it was Chateau d'Yqem they were tasting instead of a Mongolianian Sauterne...(not that I have anything against wines from Tuva). Professional beer tastings even insist on using the same glassware for all the beer to be tested as people's decisions are known to be affected by their aesthetic response to different glassware. Often beer is tested in opaque containers because the dark coloured beers "taste" more bitter when they can be seen to be dark by the taster than when they can't be seen. Surely audiophiles are not immune to analogous effects. Why not do everything we can to reduce these effects? I am disappointed that professional reviewers aren't naturally inclined to do this. I am not denying the validity of the claims of Dekay, Bob_bundus, Gthirteen, Carl_eber and Sugarbrie etc. They could be hearing things I'm not able to perceive. Carl especially, seems to have extensive experience in the pursuit of this hobby. I'm curious--what are the reasons for not doing blind testing?
What does it matter, what you suggest, Joe? It amounts to nothing at all. I suggest you double up on visits to YOUR shrink. It is you who is angry, not me.
To ICYR Anus: Blind testing introduces tension variables, such that even obvious differences become less obvious. Also, I firmly believe that you need visual stimuli and room orientation, for the "aural memory" to function properly. When you are in a blackened room, or wear a blindfold, all sorts of things can happen as your brain perceives the sound. YOU AREN'T USED TO DOING THIS SORT OF THING, UNLESS YOU ARE WITHOUT SIGHT TO BEGIN WITH. For instance, nobody denies that it enhances the enjoyment listening to do so in a darkened room. It's easier to "see" with your ears that way, and forget that you aren't at the concert hall. BUT WHAT IF YOUR HEAD SLOWLY SCEWS OFF IN ONE DIRECTION, AND YOU DON'T KNOW IT? SUDDENLY THE IMAGE CAN BE SLIGHTLY LOPSIDED, AND YOU DON'T KNOW WHY (or even consciously realize that it actually is lopsided)...since you cannot orient to the room/speakers. And there in lies the problem. Personally, I have not been able to listen with the lights off, without getting lulled into such a trance-like state, that it forces/compels me to CEASE ANALYTICAL THOUGHT COMPLETELY...and I just enjoy the music in a very "pure" way. My mind starts involuntarily imagining myself as floating, or even swimming around in the air, amongst the musicians/performers. The point is, I could still be hearing things like cable differences, but my aural memory forgets them, or else forgets to pay attention, and I don't even realize it. With the lights on, and myself changing the cables, I pay attention to every detail. Then I switch cables back and forth several times (I'm not a firm believer in settling times of cables, so long as they've all been up and running in the very recent past). I confess that if I (as many do here) forced myself to listen to a cable for months at a time, without changing it, I would get used to it's sound, and definitely could not remember how it's character affected music in a different way, from the previous one months before. I don't understand how anyone could make cable choices that way. In any case, if I can change cables back and forth, play the same piece of music, then move to a different piece of music...and I STILL hear the different signature as cables are changed, WHY SHOULD I QUESTION MY OWN HEARING, WHEN I JUST REPEATED THE TEST WITH DIFFERENT MUSIC, BUT HEARD THE SIGNATURE OF THE CABLE EXHIBIT EXACTLY THE SAME SORT OF EFFECT ON THE MUSIC? This has always been the case for me, when I compare any type of cable, and frankly, I have no reason to doubt what I am hearing...It isn't my fault that others might not trust their hearing, and want to take a "court of law" mentality, where everything MUST be controlled (so that the person who is listening is somehow out of control). WHY IS THAT MORE VALID THAN MY WAY? I guess it's like Parliamentary procedure, or something. Some people just can't make decisions for themselves, unless they get permission to do so from a group of people. I'm kind of a maverick individualist, I guess, and I like to do things my way...epsecially when I've never had a valid reason to doubt my own hearing. And yet, I DO have plenty of reason to doubt the hearing acuity of those a generation older than me...
I recently made a cable change and my wife noticed from the other room! She came into the room and asked what happened to the treble. People who say cables don't make a differance either have poor hearing or have never experimented with cables in a high resolution audio system. I don't care about blind testing. I did a blind test once with strawberry and rasberry jam and could not make the correct choice more than 50% of the time.
If we are truly to trust our ears, then blind listening is the preferred path. My idealized method for evaluating equipment would be a sound room where the listener cannot see any of the equipment. Some sort of sonically transparent fabric can separate the listener from the speakers. The listener can direct an assitant to insert or remove the product under scrutiny. The listener can listen to whatever music they like for as long as they like. The key is that the listener has no knowledge of what equipment they are listening to. Whatever, opinion is formed would then be a completely unbiased opinion based soley upon the sound quality of the product. Obviously listening like this is impossible in a home setting, but an audio dealer could easily implement such a setup. I wonder if any are brave enough?
Crispianus, in double-blind testing the reviewer does not know even whether a swich of equipment has been made (i.e. he is not told whether he is listening to A or B). I believe that is too extreme. It should be sufficient for the reviewer to know whether he is listening to the A or B equipment at each point in time if he doesn't know which is which. By the way, "blind" testing has nothing to do with being blindfolded. Whether or not the reviewer has his eyes open is, in my opinion, irrelevant (obviously so long as he doesn't look at the equipment, which can be coverred). I agree with your points on wine and beer tasting, and I agree the analogy is good. Finally, I don't take eber's opinions seriously for one second.
onhwy61, yure correct - ya don't have to be blind to do blind testing. while i have heard differences between amps, pre's, cables, etc., for reviewing purposes, when lotsa times, there's really a lot of hair-splitting, it would be helpful if there was some sorta review-proces whereby the "sighted" listener would *not* know the identity of the product being reviewed. sure, a $2k interconnect may be better than a $200 ic. but, *how much* better? is it really a major difference? or is it something more subtle? i'd bet some $200 cable comes pretty close to the expensive stuff. shouldn't be too hard to arrange this - speakers, it would seem to me, would be difficult, cuz of the *transparent* fabric needed - would it really be transparent in all applications? and source components would need a 2nd person to change the software. it would be pretty hard to disguise the identity of anything related to vinyl playback; cd-playback being only slightly less difficult. but, i still see no reason why commercial review publications could not have dedicated reviewing rooms where equipment is reviewed. the reviewers could also use their own home-systems as tangent-points. regards, doug
I agree with Sedond. I believe cables and interconnects have their unique sound qualities but to spend thousands of dollars for a pair of ICs? I think that money will be better spend in upgrading your Speakers/Amps/Preamps. I have witness in a blind test where identical ICs were used but with different color jackets. And to everyone's surprise, every person that participate in the demonstration said that the blue ICs are more detailed, warm or better imaging than the Red ICs or vice versa, even though they are the exact interconnect? Try this on your friends....you will be amazed
I do not see anything wrong with blind testing, but I do not believe that it is an "end all." No two people perceive reality in exactly the same fashion IMO. And since it all boils down to personal taste anyway (since we do not all share a common system), I again say "what's the big deal." I do not nit pick when it comes to my opinions on gear. What purpose would it serve as we all hear and judge differently. The most a review/opinion can give me is the "general" characteristics of a piece of equipment. The fine points are left (as always) to my discretion. Taking into consideration how much the listening room, system synergy and even the shape of our ears (both internal and external) affect the sound, just exactly how accurate can any review/opinion be? When you also take into consideration the inter working of the individual mind, "get out of town" with the fine details. These details are most likely yours and yours alone, or theirs and theirs alone. Carl noted how different music sounds when we listen with our eyes closed. Yes, it sounds way different IMO. There are too many variables involved to achieve an accurate "anything" that can be used by those of us that are trying to push the envelope, so to speak. These types of reviews and opinions are entertaining to read, but they are not gospel, not in my book anyway.
PS: I stopped subscribing to the mags over 20 years ago. With the advent of the Internet, I much prefer the varied opinions from forums such as this.
Well stated, DK. To add to that thought, an important aspect of these tests not yet broached in this discussion is the severe polarization of the camps. Naysayers with unswayable opinions are so prevalent that it's actually surprising the discussion herein has been so civil. (But then, you guys never cease to amaze!) Even if a manufacturer were to undertake a blind or double-blind test using the most stringent of controls, and they probably have, publication of the results would undoubtedly be welcomed with cries of "improper methodology" and "no validity". It's a no win situation.
I think the thing that we audiophiles should remember is that this hobby can be enjoyable. Really! I know first hand. It can be whatever we choose it to be. I seek my own pleasure from it, and do not worry what others believe(or hear) or don't. I invest in my own tastes, and if someone heard my system and thought it was the most God awful noise producer in the world, I would care not a bit. Different people focus on different things. My favorite thought about life is that's why they make vanilla AND chocolate(and more these days). The goal is there for all of us to reach. Whether you are an objectivist or someone who only trusts their ears, think all amps sound the same or not, or whatever... Happy listening.
In medical research, "double blind" studies are the "gold standard." For example, this is where neither the researcher nor the patient are aware of whether they are giving/receiving the researched drug or a placebo. This eliminates prejudicial judgements. Double blind testing in audio could/should be unneccessary as long as the "helper" is not giving any hints and is completely fair/impartial with the set up of the a-b comparison. Charlie
There seems to be some confusion here between "deciding what you like" and stating that one thing sounds better (or different) than another. If all you're about is "deciding what you like," you can go about that any way you wish--sighted, blind, standing on your head. But if somebody tells you that a particular cable has a certain sound, you need to know how he came to that conclusion in order to decide how much credence to give him. As for Charlie's point about blind testing, scientists long ago figured out that even the most unbiased helper gives subconscious cues that can throw off a test. That's why they always use double-blind listening tests.
I think you missed the point Jostler3. How could you go about "deciding what you like", without knowing that one thing sounds better(or different) than another? I don't rely on other people to do my hearing for me. I try my darndest to audition before buying. Yes, I use others as a first step(a tool). But pity the audiophile who buys sound unheard.
Trelja: For one thing, there are lots of reasons besides the sound to choose one component over another. For another, many audiophiles attempt to judge the sound of a component in a way that allows factors other than the sound to intrude on their perceptions. (They will tell you they can ignore those other factors, but the truth is our brains are not wired that way.) The point I was making was that if they want to listen that way, that's their business, and nobody should tell them, "Oh, but you should listen double-blind" or whatever. But if they want to pontificate to others about what things sound like and which things sound different from other things, then they need to do their listening in a way that takes into account what psychologists have learned over decades about the foibles of human hearing. Otherwise, their observations are completely meaningless to anybody else. And to get back to the original point, that is the difference between The Audio Critic and, say, The Absolute Sound.
I couldn't disagree with Jostler more. Since when do psychologists know anything about high end audio? Modern psychology is mostly religion anyway. If there is a "collective unconscious", then what am I thinking right now? The fact is, we are all individual beings with individual thoughts and desires. And if I have an opinion on the "sound" of an audio component, it is not for you to say it is "completely meaningless". It might be to you, but it may have lots of meaning to others.......I bet you are one of these people that lays your clothes out for the whole week, ahead of time. MY "METHODOLOGY", IS THAT I TRUST WHAT I HEAR THE FIRST TIME, AND DON'T DOUBT IT. THAT WAY, I HAVE MORE TIME TO MAKE MORE COMPARISONS, RATHER THAN WASTING TIME SECOND AND THIRD GUESSING MYSELF, FOR NO REASON OTHER THAN A BAD CASE OF ANAL RETENTIVENESS. The "psychoacoustics of human hearing", written in some dusty book 100 years ago are what "has no meaning", for me. What counts is what I hear right now, and no one will tell me that what I do "has no meaning whatsoever for others", and get away with it....You are NOT the sole arbiter of what is "objective observation", nor does anything in this hobby require "perfect" objectivity. EVERYTHING IS SUBJECTIVE, EVERYTHING. Heisenberg's Principle is all the "science" we need, here.
You guys should marry.Mit and Spectral committ what amounts to fraud.These he two have gotten toghther to take fools like the both of you to the cleaners.What a joke.What Keith J know is there is a sucker born every second.You and eber with his long winded dribble should spare us your lame views.Both you so called Audiophiles should realize that they are coloring the sound.pay for wire not boxes with things that get into the signal path.Why dont you both just add Equalizers to your rigs.its the same as the houcus poucus Mit put in the box.Carl please stop the long winded bable.Your lost.
not going to waste here, but you can stuff your insults Leafs. Your babble is why AGon threatened to shut down the forums: keep it up if that's what ya want...
Mr. Johnson who I've met & spent several hours with in several listening sessions, is a lot sharper than I am BTW. This statement coming from another E.E. What's your angle - car washing?
Right on, Bob!! This numbskull hasn't even read what I've said. For instance, the networks are in PARALLEL, and therefore not in the signal's path...not that you could hear the difference between a jackhammer on your eardrum, and music, Leafs, because I doubt you can hear any better than you can spell. Sleep it off, and I hope somebody yells at ya when you're hung over in the mornin!
Sorry...I'm fairly new here and didn't realize that my post would result in all this difference in opinion. IMO...that's what makes a forum such as this so diverse and informative. But what do I know...In a blind test, I picked the B&W CDM 1 NT's over the Nautilus 805's....lol. I appreciate the ALL the feedback.
This debate, although at times provocative and occasionally interesting, is a silly mery go round where each side is totally missing the point. Having worked in the audio business and met many of the scummy snake oil reps and voodoo practitioners that undoubtedly exist, I agree that insanity exists in the world of our hobby. I am also self confident enought to admit that I would probably fail double blind tests in attempts to identify differences in components whose quality I have coveted and promoted. Nonetheless, I vigorously defend every free person's right to stick weird dots on their equipment, color the edges of their CDS, reposition AC cords in astral shapes, perch their components on exotic materials even when -- in fact ESPECIALLY when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Why?! Because the point of owning fine audio equipment and listening to music is PLEASURE, CONTEMPLATION, FUN AND THE ENJOYMENT OF MUSIC. Have any of you engineering Audio Critic subscribing geniuses ever heard of PLACEBO effect? If you think alternative medicine makes you feel better, guess what? YOU DO FEEL BETTER! If you think organic peanut butter and mixed berry yoghurt smeared on the underside of your Rockport Reference turntable improves the sound -- IT DOES SOUND BETTER!!!!!!!!!! The E.E. Phd perfect sound forever crowd could better spend their time arguing that the USDA beef at McDonalds is just as good as Peter Luger's or that skid pad figures for the Corvette prove its superiority to Ferrari Maranellos. I bet you buy 100% silk ties from the Tie Rack at your local mall, drink the finest wine from screw top containers, wear cheap suits and have bad haircuts. You probably have great difficulty understanding the Swiss watch industry because quartz keeps better time for less money. Why don't you take your big brains and go cure cancer or eradicate world hunger or something. As for the subjectivists, don't be so paranoid and insecure. Relax, enjoy the music and and have fun. Who cares if you can "prove" it sounds better or not. It's just a hobby. Long live artists and audiophiles. Secret Geek Long live artists and audiophiles