if a double blind test performed correctly (10-20 participants or more, suitable long listening sessions, properly administered questions, etc.)reveals no statistical difference in sound in a comparison between, power cords, cables, etc. --- then any perceived "improvement" of one cord or cable over another by an individual is some combination of that individuals imagination, desire to justify a purchase, liking one esthetically over the other, some preconceived notion that they hold that "A" should be better than "B," and/or buying into the hype (directly from a salesman or indirectly from a review). Tell them what difference they "should" hear and they likely hear it --- tell them nothing and let them assess (again, proper double blind)... and if no statistical difference is observed... then that means no difference is there to be heard. Now... that is not to say that one will not like one over the other... but if so... it is because of other reasons.
One cautionary note... system synergy is paramount --- a given item in one system shown not to have a statistical difference relative to another item may, in fact, be statistically different in a different system.
Gfcf424892, Difference between two components is often very complex. Judging it in one session, comparing few recordings is not optimal IMHO. I like to keep new gear at least a week to get general feel. I might like it more for one type of music/recording and less for another. I need overall picture to make decision.
I agree with Kijanki, that it takes a while to hear subtle differences between components. Often the differences can't be heard on every song, or volume level, etc. And some times it takes listening for a while, then going back to realize the differences between pieces.
And on a related note - A EE degree gives absolutely no insight into how we hear, so a EE's opinion on differences in what sounds a certain way, or DBTs, or anything having to do with audio (not audio gear) is as good as anyone else's (Ask me how I know). I have never understood it when people mention EEs as if they somehow understand these things better than others. A Psychologist would have better insight.
Better get your asbestos drawers on!
this has been beaten to death, search the arvhives if you like, but... agree w Kijanki. Extended listening is required for me.
"properly conducted" is somewhere between very difficult and impossible.
autiophiles' main issues are not whether indiviudal components are any good, it is with how they work together, or what your personally preferences are. There's a reason the magazines, not to mention opinions here, are focused on subjective experience.
Finally, someone is willing to admit that the sonic differences between components is subtle.
If it takes weeks of listening, then why not run blind tests for weeks. Blind listening, whether a test or not, is very good at removing preconceptions and biases.
not too much required for me.
i can hear the music and tell who's playing a particular instrument and what's the brand of this instrument electric or acoustic.
i would not be able to hear any wire a/b blind at any time.
also easy to hear tube and solid state components on blind a/b.
i would be able to define also a lack of power on blind a/b between poweramps.
The sound of a component also depends on the rest of the system -- components that sound similar in one system may sound quite different in another.
Different parts of the brain are involved in trying to compare immediate changes, under stress to comply, vs the part which enjoys music the most.
Not many people can connect the two without a LOT of practice.
So most of the issues with DBT is this issue, that the two parts, enjoying music, and making judgements, are not well connected in the vast majority of folks minds.
I agree a long term DBT comparo would be ideal. Removing the stress part.
Perhaps two 'black boxes' with identical appearance, and no sneaking a peek inside. Could work in a long term trial.
How 'bout $5k amps plus or minus, preamps etc. vs $20k vs mega buck electronics, ICs, power cords? Subtle, dramatic or, as Consumer Reports says: "Best Buys?"
I am in essential agreement with most of what has been said above.
I want to add, though, that I take exception to what seems to be a not uncommon tendency to segregate audiophiles into one or the other of the two opposing groups you referred to. There is a vast spectrum that lies in between, and as with most things in life the truth with respect to any given audio-related issue will probably lie closer to the middle of the spectrum than to either of its extremes, IMO.
FWIW, I am an experienced EE, as is Kijanki who responded earlier.
Every poster who has reported that their jaw dropped, a veil was lifted, whole 'nother reality, etc, whatever nonsense audiophool jargon should be made to do double blind testing and see just how effective the placebo effect is.
The OP's original claim that the "scientific group" supports negligible differences between components is a misrepresentation of scientific perspective. The purpose of blind testing is to remove the variable of personal bias and/or expectation, not to remove or eliminate sensory differences. If upon blind testing, differences are heard at greater than chance levels, then so be it. Assuming that all components are the same, save the one component being compared, then the differences heard are perceptible for that individual.
It can take weeks of listening to tease out subtle differences of even relatively significant differences between components.
However, if someone writes that their jaw dropped when component or wire or tweak X was inserted into their system, that person should be able to identify X in a blind test.
I think that reviewers should participate in a well designed blind test every couple of years just for fun, for bragging rights, just to see what the pros can and can't hear. A lighthearted mood should be maintained during the test and no one's job should be dependent on the results.
The "of" after the word "differences" in the first line of my post above should read "or."
My view? Well, I can't see a thing. Wait, where am I, and what's all this noise about?
Having a group of sophisticated listeners blind test gear over weeks is the way to go. However feeding, housing, bathing, and generally putting up with them during the test period can be challenging, and you merely end up with a group of grumpy, whining experts who just want to go home.
very bad,because normally short memory of human brain remembers only fraction of information which was played.And long term memory remembers only those moments which impressed very much during listening,lets say tonaly,imaging
I suppose it depends on who the subjects of the DBT are. The aspects of performance you value most will be the ones readily identifiable and hence your main focus.
Marakanetz, I would wager I could fool you into thinking your listening to tubes, but really good ones.
I would be very interested in a test such as this where the two systems are identical with the only difference being expectations of the panel.
"very bad,because normally short memory of human brain remembers only fraction of information which was played.And long term memory remembers only those moments which impressed very much during listening,lets say tonaly,imaging."
Oh, sure, if we're talking about the man under the bridge you might be right, he probably has no idea what he"s listening to. But most experienced audiophiles have excellent short term and long term memory. I suspect the problem with DBT as far as it meaning anything for audio is the idea that a subject must pass 10 trials in a row with no misses. For that reason, I'm out.
Double blind testing is a complex process because neither the test subjects nor the testers are privy to the identity of the materials being tested. The goal is to eliminate bias on both sides of the experiment. Even if long term audio DBT could be done with sufficient statistical power (lots of subjects, lots of trial sessions, lots of recorded material, ideally only one type of test component), self reporting questionnaires are notoriously unreliable. DBT methodology is sound when it can be reliably applied, but I seriously doubt that's the case with reviewing and rating audio equipment.
Rpeluso: yeah, and the really HOT pair of women pretending to adjust to X condition, where the Y condition is set up by some beerbelly toating gross slob.
I wonder which will garner the best rating?
We're doing it again. Letting perfection become the enemy of good. If we can't have perfection we will have nothing and good will not be done.
There is no reason to try to set up a perfect double blind test. How about having someone outside of Stereophile set up a system in the Stereophile offices with say two different amps that are covered and a device to switch between them.
When the reviewers are in the office, they can listen and state which amp they prefer. After most have given their preference, the identity of the amps and who liked which or if they were able to distinguish between the amps would be revealed. This would be done for fun and enlightenment.
There is no need to set up a statistically valid double blind test. Isn't this hobby supposed to be for fun (and enlightenment)? Let's have some fun and let go of our tightly held dogma.
But Geoff, who's keeping score?
I prefer card tricks.
All the best,
People who feel the need to dbt equipment would be happier with another hobby....like counting trains. ;-)
I agree with those who say a long period of listening is ideal. My problem, audio memory. In my case I can only retain an impression for a short time, so I largely rely on first impressions. Changing a cartridge over for example, takes far to long for me to be able to make a meaningful comparison.
The other problem seems more universal. Because our sensory systems are tuned for change, I believe we have an inbuilt, unrecognised bias, in favour of a change in the system. So any change is likely to be seen as an improvement. That is why I use 2 amps. Both are excellent, but I enjoy my music more after a change, just because it is different.
Expensive, but very true. Good point.