Why Do So Many Audiophiles Reject Blind Testing Of Audio Components?


Because it was scientifically proven to be useless more than 60 years ago.

A speech scientist by the name of Irwin Pollack have conducted an experiment in the early 1950s. In a blind ABX listening test, he asked people to distinguish minimal pairs of consonants (like “r” and “l”, or “t” and “p”).

He found out that listeners had no problem telling these consonants apart when they were played back immediately one after the other. But as he increased the pause between the playbacks, the listener’s ability to distinguish between them diminished. Once the time separating the sounds exceeded 10-15 milliseconds (approximately 1/100th of a second), people had a really hard time telling obviously different sounds apart. Their answers became statistically no better than a random guess.

If you are interested in the science of these things, here’s a nice summary:

Categorical and noncategorical modes of speech perception along the voicing continuum

Since then, the experiment was repeated many times (last major update in 2000, Reliability of a dichotic consonant-vowel pairs task using an ABX procedure.)

So reliably recognizing the difference between similar sounds in an ABX environment is impossible. 15ms playback gap, and the listener’s guess becomes no better than random. This happens because humans don't have any meaningful waveform memory. We cannot exactly recall the sound itself, and rely on various mental models for comparison. It takes time and effort to develop these models, thus making us really bad at playing "spot the sonic difference right now and here" game.

Also, please note that the experimenters were using the sounds of speech. Human ears have significantly better resolution and discrimination in the speech spectrum. If a comparison method is not working well with speech, it would not work at all with music.

So the “double blind testing” crowd is worshiping an ABX protocol that was scientifically proven more than 60 years ago to be completely unsuitable for telling similar sounds apart. And they insist all the other methods are “unscientific.”

The irony seems to be lost on them.

Why do so many audiophiles reject blind testing of audio components? - Quora
artemus_5
Yes it’s a very imperfect world out there but Audiogon members on threads are working hard to somehow make it better.  Thank G-d they got their hifis and what they think they hear to help stay sane. 
Because the eyes have ears?
Because the sound of one hand clapping can only be heard through the eyes?
What they think they hear is the same as what they hear! 

dletch2,
You are in no position to make this judgement. This is my whole point. Just because you seem to find solace in double blind tests doesnt mean that our observations without are any less viable. Those of us who have been around the block more than once are comfortable with our decisions and your validation mean nothing. At least not to me. Nothing helps critical listening more than experience and detailed comparisons between components sighted or not.

So lets whip em out, place them on the table and compare. Give me your background in terms of 2 channel and your current system specifics. Analog or digital, etc. Also list room treatments, dimensions and any other relevant information like age. If you want to include degrees and your profession that is fine.

Please stop trying to place all enthusiasts in the same small box simply for your peace of mind. And stop ascribing the same motivations and biases to all as if this were some cosmic constant.
@audition_ audio

So even when dletch2 does his informal blind tests, he only proves that in his system and at that moment his taste says that one component betters another.

Indeed, what has been proven? It seems that some here want to get away from all biases as if that is even possible? Suppose the guy next to you or the operator gives an approving gesture or says "Wow!" every time he likes the sound? Then what bias kicks in? We are human, different & unique, Not machines. But even machines often have bias

Seriously dltech2, you have to come up with something better than cults. You are wasting my time with these stretches. You are the one asking us to join the blind listening cult and telling us that without this method we are being duped. We are not asking you to change anything in your regimen we just propose that it doesnt accomplish what you think in all cases and are not asking you to join our cult. Make no mistake, as per your definition, these are both cults apparently.

I Think he believes that its just a matter of putting on a blindfold. From what I have read, there is a lot more to it and really is not worth the time considering the results.