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how to listen?


babadono
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First off this has probably been talked about before but what the heck. I've only been around on this forum since 2011 and perhaps discussions predated my membership. I know there are other new members here also. I could just search but there wouldn't be any contributions from the newer members. So I have been a Klipsch owner since 1977 when I bought my LaScalas. I prefer horn loaded loudspeakers for their dynamics and relatively low distortion. YMMV.

What lead me to start this thread was another thread where opinions were being expressed about the worth(or worthlessness) of doing A/B comparison tests. Whether blind or not. So is there no merit to testing? Is it all subjective 100%?

Back in the day when I was a young adult but had already acquired the LaScalas I attended a few meetings of the Southeast Michigan Woofer and Tweeter Marching Society. I met Earl Geddes there and also met a Gent named David Clark. David and his associates had a small company called ABX (now defunct I believe) that made audio test switching equipment.  Their equipment as you might suspect from the name was used to switch back and forth from two sources A and B and then randomly select X which was either A or B. Not withstanding the argument pro or con of A/B/X testing the part that I liked about their equipment is the switching was  immediate and noiseless. So while still subjective and using  human hearing  as the measuring device it was using your immediate auditory memory. Not your 10 minute or hour or day (however long it took you to switch components) longer term memory. The idea of being able to switch immediately has merit to me. Not to prove or disprove anything but to help one decide which one sounds "better" to them.

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Double blind testing doesn't test whether something sounds better... it tests whether or not you prefer one or the other. When results are cobbled together in mass, a trend begins to appear... but without the benefits of thousands or tens of thousands of data points,  all you really are assured of is Variance.

 

Banish all double blind tests.

 

Even in your personal space, you can't really simply swap out the Klipschorn for the la scalas and then the Jubilees, because there are to many factors that influence the sound characteristics of each set up... having each system optimized for each listening session is highly unlikely.

 

FWIW... we all hear differently (meaning everyone has differing ideals of importance).

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If it makes me smile when I listen to it, then it's good!  For me, that's what matters.  :) 

 

Currently I have three 2 channel systems.    All three are vintage Pioneers driving vintage Klipsch speakers (1989 La Scalas, 1978 Heresies, and 198x KG4s).  They all sound different, but they all make me smile.  Sometimes I just sit and listen while I read, sometimes I listen intently to the music.  But, they never fail to put a smile on my face.

 

I didn't buy my gear to impress other people.  It's for me.  B) 

 

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27 minutes ago, Schu said:

Double blind testing doesn't test whether something sounds better... it tests whether or not you prefer one or the other. 

This makes no sense at all.  If you prefer it, then it sounds better (to you), simple as that.  A/B/X testing or double blind or whatever you want to call it, has lots of merit (to me).  

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4 minutes ago, jimjimbo said:

If you prefer it, then it sounds better (to you), simple as that.  A/B/X testing or double blind or whatever you want to call it, has lots of merit (to me).

 

Those two sentences don't seem to go together.  I agree with the first one.  But if something sounds better to me, it doesn't matter how I came to that conclusion.  A/B/X, DBT, etc. isn't necessary.

 

Unless you're trying to sell it to someone else.  Maybe that's the difference with me; I'm not trying to sell anything to anybody.  I just want to enjoy my music.  :)

 

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Many people seem to listen with their eyes instead of their ears, especially members of the audio press. Blind tests remove this bias, often embarrassing the golden ears who find that the megabuck cables they thought they were listening to and gushing over were not hooked up at all.😥

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I believe in the "if it sounds good to you, it is good" philosophy. Everyone's idea of what sounds good is a different as what their "go to" song for critical listening is. I often ask what the first song you will play on your new speakers, and get a wide range of answers. Everyone's hearing is as different as each one's eyesight, sense of smell, taste etc. I can only see a limited amount of different colors. I would think hearing is similar. Age plays a role as well (60 here)

The only time I ever attempted a A/B comparison test is when I bought my second pair of Belles, this time with complete Volti "upgrade". It was a great deal so I jumped on it. I had four Belles in my living room. They looked identical but sounded different. I could switch via remote from one to the other through my NAD integrated amp. Most everyone I subjected to the test picked the upgraded version. Me? I could hear subtle differences, but could not choose a winner, both sounded great. I never claimed to be a good critical listener, but I can always detect bad speakers. Just my 2 cents, YMMV.

 

post-60988-0-01480000-1456691182_thumb.jpg

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OK; have a glass of wine and test speakers "A."  Open another bottle and test speakers "B." If "B" is better than "A,"  have another glass of wine.  If "A" is better than "B," you are drinking cheap wine and should switch to something better. Problem solved :D 

Cheers, Emile

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If you used each person as their own control then you could ascertain clearer results. Test the same person weekly for a month and compare them to themselves to assess decision continuity. Then study a group of people in the same fashion, using the same systems, environments and music and look for crowd preference patterns. The bigger the test group the greater the validity of the results (good or not-so-good). You have to assume that focus group studies similar to this is done by Klipsch and others. This ABX tool sounds ideal for this stuff.

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4 hours ago, babadono said:

Back in the day when I was a young adult but had already acquired the LaScalas I attended a few meetings of the Southeast Michigan Woofer and Tweeter Marching Society. I met Earl Geddes there and also met a Gent named David Clark. David and his associates had a small company called ABX (now defunct I believe) that made audio test switching equipment.  Their equipment as you might suspect from the name was used to switch back and forth from two sources A and B and then randomly select X which was either A or B. Not withstanding the argument pro or con of A/B/X testing the part that I liked about their equipment is the switching was  immediate and noiseless

I was there too, as a member of the AES for a short period of time.........late 70's I think. They had to match within 0.1 db of each other and get 12 out of 16 trials to be statistically significant.

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9 hours ago, jimjimbo said:

This makes no sense at all.  If you prefer it, then it sounds better (to you), simple as that.  A/B/X testing or double blind or whatever you want to call it, has lots of merit (to me).  

I'll just leave this here.

 

This surprises me not even one little bit......

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11 hours ago, Bosco-d-gama said:

If you used each person as their own control then you could ascertain clearer results. Test the same person weekly for a month and compare them to themselves to assess decision continuity. Then study a group of people in the same fashion, using the same systems, environments and music and look for crowd preference patterns. The bigger the test group the greater the validity of the results (good or not-so-good). You have to assume that focus group studies similar to this is done by Klipsch and others. This ABX tool sounds ideal for this stuff.

 

That's a whole lot of trouble just to decide what sounds best.  Why go through all of that, unless you are trying to sell something?  And if you are trying to sell something, there's your bias.  I can't put much faith in these sorts of elaborate tests/evaluations/comparisons.  There is always some sort of agenda involved.

 

If one enjoys examining the technical accuracies of things for their own self satisfaction, that's fine.  But, that doesn't mean that I should give much credence to your results.  I need to hear something to decide whether it sounds good to me.  All the graphs, charts, diagrams, waveforms, etc. cannot tell me if I will like the way it sounds.  I would rather hear someone describe their experience in listening to something rather than have them show me test data that shows "...there's hole at 132.5 Hz, and at 3500 Hz there's a 7 dB peak..." or  "...73.4 percent of people preferred the sound of A over B..."

 

Listening to music is, or should be, an emotional experience; not a scientific one.

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23 minutes ago, Opus said:

 

That's a whole lot of trouble just to decide what sounds best.  Why go through all of that, unless you are trying to sell something?  And if you are trying to sell something, there's your bias.  I can't put much faith in these sorts of elaborate tests/evaluations/comparisons.  There is always some sort of agenda involved.

 

If one enjoys examining the technical accuracies of things for their own self satisfaction, that's fine.  But, that doesn't mean that I should give much credence to your results.  I need to hear something to decide whether it sounds good to me.  All the graphs, charts, diagrams, waveforms, etc. cannot tell me if I will like the way it sounds.  I would rather hear someone describe their experience in listening to something rather than have them show me test data that shows "...there's hole at 132.5 Hz, and at 3500 Hz there's a 7 dB peak..." or  "...73.4 percent of people preferred the sound of A over B..."

 

Listening to music is, or should be, an emotional experience; not a scientific one.

 

 

I agree completely. But we are in the minority here. Don't ever describe your listening experience on an emotional level, or use words like "liquid midrange" or "musical" or "PRAT".  And be careful preferring one amplifier over another because of how "it sounds" (yeah I know, wrong thread).

 

There are some things that must never be mentioned.........

 

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26 minutes ago, Shakeydeal said:

But we are in the minority here. Don't ever describe your listening experience on an emotional level, or use words like "liquid midrange" or "musical" or "PRAT".  And be careful preferring one amplifier over another because of how "it sounds" (yeah I know, wrong thread).

 

Yeah, I know.  But, being in the minority doesn't bother me.  I have no issue with those that enjoy A/B testing and technical analysis; as long as they don't try to tell me that I'm wrong in what I like because I don't evaluate things the way they do.

 

As I said previously, I have three different vintage Pioneers (2 receivers, 1 integrated amp), all from the same era.  Each one of them has a unique sound (to me).  Oh yeah, I have a Sony AVR from the 90s.  It too has a unique sound; one that I don't care for.  :)

 

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56 minutes ago, Opus said:

 

That's a whole lot of trouble just to decide what sounds best.  Why go through all of that, unless you are trying to sell something?  And if you are trying to sell something, there's your bias.  I can't put much faith in these sorts of elaborate tests/evaluations/comparisons.  There is always some sort of agenda involved.

 

If one enjoys examining the technical accuracies of things for their own self satisfaction, that's fine.  But, that doesn't mean that I should give much credence to your results.  I need to hear something to decide whether it sounds good to me.  All the graphs, charts, diagrams, waveforms, etc. cannot tell me if I will like the way it sounds.  I would rather hear someone describe their experience in listening to something rather than have them show me test data that shows "...there's hole at 132.5 Hz, and at 3500 Hz there's a 7 dB peak..." or  "...73.4 percent of people preferred the sound of A over B..."

 

Listening to music is, or should be, an emotional experience; not a scientific one.

Agreed. Individuals always have the final word about their preferences. Agree as well that companies require studies like this to try to bring to market products that stand to succeed. Disagree regarding study bias. Research certainly can devise studies with meaningful results.  Manufacturing anything is very costly so genuine market research is a paramount part of predictable business. Try and obtain business financing without product development research in your business plan. Without that data, those charts, the understanding of market segments, customer profiles, etc...... and your business will navigate on a wing and a prayer. Pragmatism has its rewards.

 

As end users we often make choices based on performance graphs and other data. Others just accept advertising BS and end up with BOSE. Your preference is very real. But customers rarely have the occasion to preview all of the equipment in its endless configurations in person. Ultimately you decide to buy based on something and the more you know about the product the better informed will be your purchase. You can simply shoot craps or you can do the research........ so you’d better hope that somebody gives you valid research and that you know the difference between good and bad data/presentation.

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29 minutes ago, Bosco-d-gama said:

Research certainly can devise studies with meaningful results.  Manufacturing anything is very costly so genuine market research is a paramount part of predictable business. Try and obtain business financing without product development research in your business plan. Without that data, those charts, the understanding of market segments, customer profiles, etc...... and your business will navigate on a wing and a prayer. Pragmatism has its rewards.

Understood.  However one must realize that the results that are presented from such evaluation/research do contain some bias, and weight them accordingly.  As I said before, I tend to put more weight on the personal listening experiences of myself and others.  I have always been, and always will be, skeptical of claims made by anyone trying to sell something.  That doesn't mean I completely discount those claims, I just realize there is some bias in them somewhere.  Does that mean that I have bought some audio gear that I ultimately did not like?  Sure.  But, there was value in spending some time listening to it.

 

As for babadono's original question; is there merit to A/B testing?  Maybe.  But, I feel like I am happier with my choices regarding the gear I use after long-term listening.  I might like something after a brief listening session, but after spending a few weeks with it decide I don't care for it as much as I originally thought.  After all, I plan to listen to music over the long term, not just for 10 minutes, or an hour.

 

Maybe another thing that affects my approach to this is that logic and critical analysis are a big part of my job every day.  In my leisure time, it's nice to escape from that and just enjoy the emotional experience of well-reproduced music.

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14 hours ago, ClaudeJ1 said:

It's harder to test electronics rather than speakers, which are very easy to tell the difference.

Since I was present during the very beginnings of the "AB/X Box" and experienced it for myself, I think I have a positive viewpoint to contribute here. This, as opposed to all the negative viewpoints for those who have had ZERO AB/X experience and are missing the basic premise. Are we clear? Here we go:

 

David L.Clark and Earl Geddes were local Michigan AES "superstars" even 40+ years ago and they are Audio Engineers who design, develop, test and present papers and demos. They were also members of the Audio Nerd club, which, at the time, and mostly since has had mostly male membership, just like here. That much has not changed.

 

The AB/X box was created as an objective tool that delights inquisitive engineers and strikes fear into the hearts of the, so called, "Golden Ears," who claim to hear a 1 PicoBel drop across a Relay Contact and attempt to invalidate the veracity of the box.

 

Much the same way that (except in an emergency), you don't use the butt end of screwdriver to drive a nail, you don't use an AB/X box for "Emotional Testing," which is an Oxymoron at best and the "method" primarily presented by the detractors here.

 

The basic premise is simple: The two ELECTRONIC devices are gain matched to within 0.1 db at 1 Khz. (industry standard). Then the guy/gal in the sweet spot listens to HIS/HER speakers with the 2 different pre-amps, cables, DACs, power amps, etc. by pressing A with their favorite songs from the same source then switch to B of the same songs until they are satisfied. After this, the trial begins. X is the randomized between A and B without the listener knowing what is what...............as they hit the X button 16 times while listening to the same material, taking as much time as they like on each trial. IF and only IF, they identify A or B CORRECTLY, when hitting the X button, 12 times out of 16, then it is with minimum statistical CERTAINTY that there truly IS an audible difference. The object is NOT to identify WHAT the difference is. It is ONLY to detect whether or not there is or isn't a difference by OBJECTIVE data created in that particular listening session. It's also considered Triple or Quadruple  Blind testing if you close your eyes with the lights out when you do the test (kidding, but true).

 

Which one the listener ends up preferring via price, sound, or other criteria is beyond the scope and intent of the AB/X box. But it's a start when trying to pursue the veracity of outrageous claims by manufacturers, as there are many WTF moments by us techies that have the same BS tolerance as PWK did!!

 

 

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