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Thread: Comparative Listening Tests

  1. #191
    [Industry Expert] Addicted to Best! DaveC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KlausR. View Post
    No, we didn’t, “compensation” was done by ear. The gold-doped silver strands were from a Dutch manufacturer (Siltech I believe) who uses/used these strands in one of their high-priced cable lines. Our test was just to see whether we could hear a difference between a cable using high-end ingredients and my El Cheapo, but other than this level difference we couldn’t. We never had the ambition to do a serious test anyway, since my colleague, just like me, does not believe in cables sounding different.



    By ear there was a difference, but we did not measure. If I remember correctly my colleague thought of impedance being the parameter responsible, because of the way he “designed” his cable, but in view of the impedance he would have expected SPL to go the other way than it actually did. On the other hand, generating this internal loop within my preamp could also have been the cause, because of for instance the amp’s grounding scheme. But as I said, we did not investigate further.
    I've gotta admit that's a little disappointing.

    I doubt there was any actual difference in SPL, it just seemed that way. These are the kinds of observations you guys (just in general, not you specifically) ridicule others for, telling them it's all in their heads. Without measuring why do you think this was not just your imagination?

    I have to assume the level adjustment done by ear put the silver cable at a huge disadvantage because it was actually at a lower SPL vs your cable.
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  2. #192
    Quote Originally Posted by stehno
    Originally Posted by KlausR.
    We did these tests several years ago, so I don’t remember what exactly how we proceeded. If I remember correctly my (professional) pre-amp allows to create internal loops which can be inserted into the general circuit. This allows to switch to the cable instantaneously and do direct A/B comparison. My colleague, who DIY-ed this particular cable is electronic engineer, he was surprised himself and on the spot could not find an explanation, but we did not pursue this issue any further, and compensated for the level difference. .…
    You and your science colleague conducted tests several years ago and your findings confirmed DaveC's findings which according to an earlier post confirmed a listener's findings.
    Are saying that DaveC used exactly the same cables, sound system, room acoustics, music selection as we did in our test? Because if he did not, our test didn’t confirm anything at all!!! And btw. we did not do several tests, only his DIY cable vs my El Cheapo.

    In your tests, you say here that you can't recall how you conducted your tests, that you're unsure what you did, yet you realized the same phenomena that DaveC realized and the listener realized. You go on to say that your science buddy (assuming you too) were surprised by your findings as perhaps were DaveC and the listener. Yet you did not pursue the issue further?
    I very well recall how we did the actual test: play a tune and listen, insert the cable loop and listen. What I do not recall is how exactly that internal loop was created. We did not make an effort to see what could be the cause for the level change we perceived, because a simple level change is nothing which would make a cable special or worth the amounts of money that some manufacturers will charge you with. If a level change is all a cable is capable of producing, then you simply turn the volume knob on your amp.

    IOW, how much was spent on your and your buddy's education, the lab, the test bench, time, and other resources…

    Surely you or your science buddy took notes, compiled your findings and entered into a database…
    Where did I mention that we were intending to conduct a test of scientific value? Our test has exact the same scientific value as any other audiophile test without any controls: NONE WHATSOEVER. Where did I mention that we were/are science types? Two engineers with some interest in all things audio doing such a test for fun can hardly be qualified as science types! And please don’t think that we did or do take these cable matters seriously, because we don’t. I assume that education plays a role, and on top of that reading the really serious stuff related to audio and listening tests.
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  3. #193
    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC
    I've gotta admit that's a little disappointing.

    I doubt there was any actual difference in SPL, it just seemed that way. These are the kinds of observations you guys (just in general, not you specifically) ridicule others for, telling them it's all in their heads. Without measuring why do you think this was not just your imagination?
    I never did ridicule anyone for what he perceives and never will, because individual differences of in-ear response alone could explain differences in perception. The scientific literature clearly shows that for example there are differences between perception thresholds of the individual listeners participating in the tests, so I cannot exclude that someone else perceives the same sound event I a very different manner than I do.

    All I say is that without appropriate controls you cannot be sure that what you hear is not the result of bias of some sort. If audiophiles want to believe in uncontrolled listening tests, fine, be my guest. Sensory evaluation techniques take great care to make sure that all potential sources of bias are eliminated, so that only the sense used for the particular test is having an influence on the result.

    Of course, without measuring that perceived change in SPL could be imaginary, but so could each and every difference observed by any audiophile when comparing components.
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  4. #194
    VIP/Donor [VIP/Donor] microstrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KlausR. View Post
    (...) If audiophiles want to believe in uncontrolled listening tests, fine, be my guest. Sensory evaluation techniques take great care to make sure that all potential sources of bias are eliminated, so that only the sense used for the particular test is having an influence on the result. (...)
    IMHO you must define the objective of listening tests to debate them.

    The objective of audiophiles is evaluating and selecting components to build systems and improving their subjective performance, not to test their sensorial capabilities. The audiophile tests have a control - their outcome. People go one using them because in the end they get a better result than chance or just reading magazines to create bias. I would risk that 99.99% of the great existing high-end stereo systems are assembled and tuned with sighted listening. IMHO the fact that the technique is successful means we are perceiving the differences and incorporating them in our choices.
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  5. #195
    Addicted to Best! PeterA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KlausR. View Post
    No, we didn’t, “compensation” was done by ear. The gold-doped silver strands were from a Dutch manufacturer (Siltech I believe) who uses/used these strands in one of their high-priced cable lines. Our test was just to see whether we could hear a difference between a cable using high-end ingredients and my El Cheapo, but other than this level difference we couldn’t. We never had the ambition to do a serious test anyway, since my colleague, just like me, does not believe in cables sounding different.



    By ear there was a difference, but we did not measure. If I remember correctly my colleague thought of impedance being the parameter responsible, because of the way he “designed” his cable, but in view of the impedance he would have expected SPL to go the other way than it actually did. On the other hand, generating this internal loop within my preamp could also have been the cause, because of for instance the amp’s grounding scheme. But as I said, we did not investigate further.
    Klaus, I suppose this is no different than my friend and I "believing" that we heard one of the two cables sound louder than the other. We did not measure, but we both had the same impression. Our host told us afterwards that he level matched the two cables, but I don't know how reliable his method was and we did not compare levels with an SPL meter at the time.

    You heard a difference but you did not measure it, or even investigate it further. So, is it correct to describe this volume difference as a perceived subjective listening impression that could not, or was not, proven objectively? It seems that we can not know what caused this impression and that its value, as an anecdote, is relative and not dissimilar to my experience. I, however, believe there are audible differences between cables, precisely because I think I have heard them. You entered this experience not believing that cables sound different. Yet, your ears/brain told you that you heard a difference. How do you reconcile this, especially if you did not pursue an explanation?
    Last edited by PeterA; Today at 02:53 PM.
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  6. #196
    Addicted to Best! RogerD's Avatar
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    There are perceived or actual SPL differences in cable break in. Being that since November I have added to my ground scheme about 2 times a week and every time it resets my cables. The sequence goes like this normal,forward,distant,forward,normal. In that sequence the volume pot level fluctuates. The level of clarity tied to dynamics i'm sure has an effect on perceived levels. Can the break in of cables and a settled cable make a long term difference in SPL? I would say only in the regard that clarity and dynamics improve substantially and with out a doubt if the listener is very familiar with the system. The increase would be minimal,but noticeable. YMMV

    Another comment...A listener has his system and listens many hours in a week. He makes a cable change and is excited because in his opinion the change has been dramatic. He invites fellow audiophiles over thinking that this dramatic difference should be recognizable instantly. The guest says...yes it sound very nice and I think I hear what you describe (not sure). This happens all the time....there are exceptions. My point is I think everybody at some point in their system building journey has had this experience.
    Last edited by RogerD; Today at 11:54 AM.
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  7. #197
    [Industry Expert] ddk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KlausR. View Post
    Wasn’t high-end audio initially “conceived” as high-fidelity without regard to technical effort and cost? Meaning to use all available resources to obtain a system that introduces as few errors as possible, so that you come closer to the original event when playing the recording? If this is the case than there is no room for bias, ideal, emotion, simply because then the sound system would only be supposed to reproduce well/flawlessly, but not to sound good in the sense of a musical instrument.

    If on the other hand high-end does not stand for highest possible fidelity, then knowing the truth obviously makes no sense, and bias, ideals and emotions may play their role. In this case I could understand that people would try to get a sound system that pleases them, but in that case a digital equalizer would do the job very nicely IMO, since it provides flexible tone controls and not fixed ones like an interconnect or a preamp, so you can tailor the sound to your needs and ideals, and this every day anew.
    Hi Klaus,
    Looks like you're going to be busy answering a lot of people below . I have no objection to controlled tests what I was pointing out is that biased opinions are just as valuable to the purchasing consumer and a company doing market research; science alone can be too dry and has it's limitations.

    I very much doubt that the high-end pioneers like WE, RCA, Telefunken, Siemens, Zeiss etc. had a money no object approach to audio, they were commercial goal orientated conglomerates who invented and built real high end products at realistic competitive pricing for their intended markets. This entire money be damned mentality we see today is something else and worse of all spending it doesn't guarantee any quality. IMO opinion "high end" today stands for very little, it's just a broad term that encompasses many overpriced junk from companies who might or might not have the engineering knowledge but are equally clueless when it comes to creating music makers, numbers alone mean nothing specially in this day & age of hype!

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  8. #198
    Addicted to Best! stehno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bonzo75 View Post
    It doesn’t best the transport. The good Estoteric transports are K01 – K03 and then P01 to P03. The UX are not considered the same level. Also, stehno was probably hearing the Esoteric dac as well, hence his dissatisfaction. The Oppo transport was even bested by my Mac air with HQ player, and the Esoteric K01 killed my Mac Air
    FWIW, I used to be an in-home dealer for Estoric so I have/had some familiarity with their product line. Esoteric for years has had an excellent overall reputation for performance, construction quality, some nice bling, and especially for their VRSD transport mechanisms and I'm familiar with their external Master Clock generators too, well the G-03 but not the G-01. I zero'ed in on the UX-3SE because with the SE (special edition) version, it had over 100 internal parts that were upgraded over and above the standard X-03 and performance-wise was nearly on par with the X-01 but at nearly half the price. I'm also familiar with the performance of the custom APL-converted CDP's and used to own one of APL's earlier models so I have some familiarity there too. And many are familiar with Ed Meitner's units where he also was granted a license to use Esoteric's VRDS transport units and I've heard a fair share of Meitner's CDP listening experiences too.

    I never owned nor sold a K01-K03 or P01-P03 combo, but I've heard them plenty of times in various systems including at shows and at Esoteric's exhibiting rooms. Sure they're better units than the one I owned but I'm pretty confident based on what I've heard they are not night and day difference. And even if somebody claimed a night'n day difference as some-to-many followers might, I often times it must be taken with a grain of salt. Some will claim night'n day differences even when in reality it may be a fairly measily 10 - 15% overall performance gain.

    When did I say I was ever dissatisfied with the Esoteric? I owned the Esoteric for years and was never dissatisfied with its performance, ever. I used it at every show I exhibited in and the majority of visitors thoroughly enjoyed the overall sound. As for me, I was always pleased with its performance thinking it could hold its own against many. So you might imagine my surprise when the OPPO 105D by its 3rd day out of the box was already just a tad better. I actually had no intention of getting rid of the Esoteric but after reading up on the OPPO, I suspected there might be something there. Were it not for OPPO's satisfaction guaranteed or money back I never would have bothered auditioning it.

    Maybe it would help to clarify what you mean by transport. There's the transport unit itself like the VRDS transport and then there's the transport-DAC chassis separates like the K or P series separates you mentioned.

    The OPPO 105D's performance via its transport (CD drive) was just a little better than the Esoteric and perhaps this is what you compared to your Mac air. BTW, which OPPO model are you speaking of? It was only after I utilized the OPPO's passive volume attenuator (which provided additional sonic benefits as perhaps many passives might) and especially after taking advantage of the OPPO's streaming capability via it's USB ports and by-passing the CD drive. With these two options and especially after the USB signal chain burned in, it became quite a serious CDP IMO.

    Are there better Esoteric units than the OPPO when utilizing these extra features? A guy like you might say not in a million years. Whereas a guy like me might say, perhaps but I probably wouldn't bet the farm on it.

    Am I willing to defend the OPPO's performance to the death? Hardly. It's just a surprisingly excellent performing CDP at least in my config when exercising some of its additional features. And considering its price at just $1300 in light of my somewhat limited experiences with Esoteric and other lines in time past I'm just a rather satisfied customer.

    ---------------------------------------------------------
    BTW, you bring to mind an interesting point. There are plenty of inferior CDP's out there. For example. Sony's old flagship, the SCD-1, was one of them though many swore it was the cat's meow. But the interesting point I've observed is that there seems to exist a percentage of audio enthusiasts with a special passion / loyalty to certain CDP mfg'ers / product lines that IMO is often times over and above the usual passions / loyalties with say amplifiers / pre-amps, speakers, cables, etc. I'd almost swear it can be cult-like. Yet in all my experiences, including friends who dove head first into this "passion" and spending much money in the process, it seemed for the most part they were swallowing camels while choking on gnats. Anyway, just my observation.
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