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ODS123

Advice for Beginners - consider this test from an audio club

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A few weeks ago I urged beginners to heavily skew their spending toward speakers by suggesting that audible differences b/w modern amplifiers that are engineered to be linear (which is pretty much ALL solid-state and any good tube amps these days) will sound pretty much alike.  As a followup and to support my point, take a look at what this audiophile club in Guadalajara Spain did a few years back.  http://matrixhifi.com/ENG_contenedor_ppec.htm  They compared two entire front-end systems that shared the same speakers.  Rather than use a switch box (and invoke criticisms of how they reduce audible differences), they simply concealed the whole rig and had two people manually  switch cables so eople did not know which front-end they were hearing.  Of course, great care was taken to ensure that each system played at same SPL (by matching voltage levels at speaker terminals).

 

To summarize:

System A: About $260 today
Behringer A500 integrated amplifier (presently avail for  $199 from Sweatwater electronics)
Cheap Sony DVD/ CD Player (equiv. to a $40 player today)
Cheap interconnects: Described as “Standard RCA white/red (15 feet) bought in a 7/11 like store”
All placed on a shaky wooden chair

 

System B:   I’m guessing $8000 or more at the time.
Classe CAP-80 Line Stage
YBA 2A Amplifier
Wadia 6 CD Transport, VRDS 20 bit DAC
MIT Terminator 3 proline XLR interconnects
Audican Power Cord
CD player placed on an expensive spiked Lovan vibration absorbing (allegedly) table, other components placed on what appears to be sand-filled purpose-built audio component stands.

 

Both Systems were played through ATC SCM 12 passive Studio Monitor speakers connected w/ Tempflex speaker Cables

 

The findings?  

38 persons participated in this test
14 chose the "A" system as the best sounding one
10 chose the "B" system as the best sounding one
14 were not able to hear differences or didn't choose any as the best.

 

Of course, this is just two systems and just 38 listeners.  ..So devoted subjectivist audiophiles will say this doesn’t prove anything.  Also, this wasn’t really a double blind test as those who were switching the cables knew which was playing.  However, how many of these devote subjectivist audiophiles would have predicted these results??

 

So, again, if you’re new to this hobby and you’re budget constrained, give serious thought before devoting a big chunk of your budget to a pricey amplifier, cd player and cables.   ..Spend the bulk of your money were it matters most: you’re speakers. 
 

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Well that makes life easy, I'm going to best buy and dumping all my other amps, preamps and DACs.   Why would ANYONE buy anything other than insignia brand?   You would be a fool to buy anything else if everything sounds the same.   Thanks for the enlightenment.  What is weird is that there are so many audio companies in business for some time.   I'm scratching my head as to why thay would be?   Doesn't make sense if it is PROVEN that there is no difference.   

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that's not testing whether or not one system is better than the other... it's testing whether or not an extremely SMALL sample can tell the difference between one or the other.

truth

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54 minutes ago, ODS123 said:

audiophile club in Guadalajara Spain

Ah yes, those crazy Spaniards.

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1 hour ago, Westcoastdrums said:

What is weird is that there are so many audio companies in business for some time.   I'm scratching my head as to why thay would be? 

Can you say Bose?

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Since everyone will be having a fire sale and dumping all of their nice gear that I can't afford, how about a nice package deal for me?  Remeber, there is ZERO difference between your 10k tube amps and a car stereo head unit. Buy the insignia receivers FAST before they go up ten fold in price.  People will catch on fast.  

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A study group of just 38 is pretty small. That said, if you are in such a group and cannot hear a difference between these two systems buy the cheaper one or try a different pair of speakers with both setups, then decide.

 

Wb

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Statistically speaking, if you take a group of people, give them a choice of two similar items, and ask them which they prefer, among those who actually have a preference about half will choose one and the remainder will choose the other. That's pretty close to what we see here.

 

I believe it works with chocolate and vanilla ice cream, too.

Edited by Edgar
clarification
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25 minutes ago, Wolfbane said:

A study group of just 38 is pretty small.

 

indeed it is… 

 

I'm not debating that this test falls well short of a perfectly constructed and conducted DBT.    Still, it’s at least a good faith attempt on the part of some earnest audiophiles to do a controlled comparison of two systems.  That stands in stark contrast to the ocean of comments here and on other websites where people claim to hear huge and important differences between amps, cd-players, cables, etc..  without ever making any attempt whatsoever to introduce controls into such comparisons.

 

As for those 38 audiophiles..  ..I’m betting EVERY ONE OF THEM, like most of you here (!), thought they had the experience and hearing acuity to discern differences before engaging in the listening test.  

 

Curious to know what they think now,.
 

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11 minutes ago, Edgar said:

Statistically speaking, if you take a group of people, give them a choice of two similar items, and ask them which they prefer, among those who actually have a preference about half will choose one and the remainder will choose the other. That's pretty close to what we see here.

 

Not true..  This test allowed people to pick A, B, or No Difference.  It did NOT validate that people could reliably distinguish one from the other.  That would have required a different study design.

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37 minutes ago, ODS123 said:

 

Not true..  This test allowed people to pick A, B, or No Difference.  It did NOT validate that people could reliably distinguish one from the other.  That would have required a different study design.

 

Yeah, OK; allowing the third choice changes the rules. But the point is that choosing between subtly different audio presentations is not like choosing between chocolate bars and broccoli.

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3 hours ago, Edgar said:

Statistically speaking, if you take a group of people, give them a choice of two similar items, and ask them which they prefer, among those who actually have a preference about half will choose one and the remainder will choose the other. That's pretty close to what we see here.

 

I believe it works with chocolate and vanilla ice cream, too.

 

"two similar items".....  A and B were NOT similar items.  Right? 

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6 hours ago, Schu said:

that's not testing whether or not one system is better than the other... it's testing whether or not an extremely SMALL sample can tell the difference between one or the other.

truth

 

Well, that's one way of looking at it.  But you can bet that each of these 38 had the same extreme confidence about their ability to distinguish differences as people in this forum.  

 

 

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You keep maintaining that there is no difference, yet 63% heard a difference. Not not only did they hear a difference, but they had a clear preference. 

 

Based on the outcome, my advice would be for beginners to take a hard look at the Berhinger amps, which by the way actually have a pretty good reputation. Notice that they did not use a POS low tier HT receiver. 

 

Those remaining 10 are just deaf. They thought they could hear, but they can’t. We can only pity them. 

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"

Those remaining 10 are just deaf. They thought they could hear, but they can’t. We can only pity them." 

 
Hahahaha
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1 hour ago, Deang said:

You keep maintaining that there is no difference, yet 63% heard a difference. Not not only did they hear a difference, but they had a clear preference. 

 

Based on the outcome, my advice would be for beginners to take a hard look at the Berhinger amps, which by the way actually have a pretty good reputation. Notice that they did not use a POS low tier HT receiver. 

 

Those remaining 10 are just deaf. They thought they could hear, but they can’t. We can only pity them. 

 

Hmm.. I'm surprised you wouldn't find it a bit eye-brow raising that in a comparison of a $260 to an $8000 audio system 28 of 38 people either preferred the $260 system OR heard no difference.  ..I think newbies would find this to be evidence to not over obsess on the front end of a system.  To my thinking, this undercuts the audiophile notion that pricier amplifiers, cd-players, interconnects, and power cords, and component racks sound better than cheaper ones.

 

Besides, the test was not powered to capture whether or not those who heard a difference could reliably pick their preferred system a statistically significant percentage of times (ie., > than chance).  Other tests that have been powered to capture this have generally shown that people can't

 

 

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13 hours ago, ODS123 said:

...

So, again, if you’re new to this hobby and you’re budget constrained, give serious thought before devoting a big chunk of your budget to a pricey amplifier, cd player and cables.   ..Spend the bulk of your money were it matters most: you’re speakers. 
 


Yep! As an adolescent I had a mono single Altec-Lansing 15" studio monitor to listen to, and as an enterprising kid good at soldering and hooking up electronics I ran a speaker jack out of my 120VAC clock radio and plugged my 15" Altec-Lansing into it and it sounded fantastic!!!

Speakers are the instrument that transmits the actual sound to your ears. Very important link!

John Kuthe...

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