Thoughts from the Dark Side (ABX)
Before all “ABXers” are burned at the stake here, I would like to offer a few non-confrontational comments on the legitimacy of the “scientific method” in the world of faithful music reproduction.
First, I did not assemble my present system using double or single blind testing. (See Virtual Systems as “British Budget Performer,” if curious.) I used my own senses, advice and home trials from a couple of good dealers, along with the help of members on this site, to steer me toward components that I have employed. I thank you all profusely. Because of you I have a chance to absorb myself in the healthiest vice I enjoy.
There are people who profess to hear drastic sound characteristic changes with cables, cones, points, line filters, etc… and we read lots of recommendations for “must have” favorites in many different flavors. (I, myself, believe to perceive differences in some of these as well, although, in my experience, the changes are subtler.)
This is where the skeptic in me comes out. Why? Because I know I like the beauty of some components over others. I also appreciate the attitude, value, and reputation of some manufacturers more than others. Therefore, prejudices will exist in my own mind, and I am then commenting on more than audio waves when I state preferences. This, for me, however, does not make those holistic comments illegitimate! I pay attention to them. They simply cannot be looked at as definitive truths, which is what those with research experience are trained to strive for. While I believe blind testing would be the most accurate measure of my opinions, I am enjoying my system without it, and obviously understand that you can enjoy yours without it, as well. But, I am resigned to take some claims with a “grain of salt” as I can’t trust that any human being is above enjoying, and being swayed by, the multi-sensory ambience that occurs with the aesthetics and panache of owning a particularly great piece of technology.
There should be a place at the table for us all. I read people on both sides of the fence, here, and in a speaker user’s group. (With apologies to both,) the most credible “scientist” I am familiar with is Dr. R.E. Greene who writes for The Absolute Sound. As, (I believe,) a professor of mathematics, numbers and statistical analysis are a language he has obviously mastered. My impression is, for him, sound is measured, and the numbers speak for themselves. (All that remains is to try to translate them to the unclean like me.) He does not seem to understand the need, for some, to have and use objective descriptions of the listening experience. In that same group we also have Bob Neill, who is as eloquent and descriptive of the subjective as you will find. Some of their exchanges are priceless. [:)] These gentlemen represent, for me, a balance in the evaluation process of audio components. The scientist in my academic background is comforted by the measurements, while the artistic side is stimulated by the enthusiasm and poetic prose. Left brain: right brain. (?)
I hope that the voiced problems with “ABX” here are more due to “how you say it,” vs. “what you say.” Dogma from either side seems argumentative, at best.
Good luck to you all in your music pursuits,