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The walking dead and "blind listening"


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I keep seeing this literature referred too but never any links. AES? JAMA?

 

A variety of peer reviewed academic journals (nothing from AES - not sure papers there are all peer reviewed).

 

I would like to do an article for CA with this as one of the themes. If I do, I would not have all the citations clogging up the web version, but would make the fully footnoted version available on request. On the other hand, writing such an article and being careful to footnote everything takes an amount of dedicated time that is not easy to find. If I see I won't be able to write the article after some period of time, I will provide the references here at CA.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical Ethernet to Fitlet3 -> Fibbr Alpha Optical USB -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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High Fidelity generally refers to an absolute respect for the recorded signal.

And, in theory, one should have High Fidelity as main objective.

 

But this would require that the recording itself was done in such a manner as to provide a reasonably realistic recreation of the original musical event and this is not always (or hardly ever) the case.

Most pop and rock recordings are made in semi-anechoich environment, with the (often monaural) mic positioned where one's ears would never be or the instruments directly connected to the mixing console, the players often performing alone in a boot while listening to a mix of his colleagues' previously recorded parts (so much for a musical event), with the final mixture EQ'ed to taste... "Realism" is not a goal.

And even in "classical" music one one will soon realise that there isn't a standard for "naturally" sounding (timbre- and perspective-wise) recordings, although I tend to think that some engineers intentionally ignore the best practices in favour of techniques that will make their work recognisable (i.e. 2L.no)... Ego gets in the way?

 

So whilst an absolute respect for the recorded signal may make sense for "classical" listeners, its usefulness is less obvious for rock and pop lovers.

 

And we are ignoring the fact that even the best recordings will not sound "real", even when playback by the best systems in the most adequately purpose-built rooms.

 

R

 

I haven't read posts here or posted here (obviously) for quite a long time and all seems much the same as it ever was, particularly when it comes to threads like this one--on and on with very little to show. Except where it comes to this newish member--semente. Great insights and thoughts, at least in my in my subjective :) opinion.

 

I do think that insults have become much tamer--at least in this thread, than when last I was here, and I'm surprised people are complaining about them.

 

Chris

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The Blind leading the Deaf

By J. Gordon Holt, Stereophile 4/1987

 

Read more at The Blind leading the Deaf | Stereophile.com

 

Thanks Semente for the link, I found this quote particularly enlightening:

 

“JA has suggested what strikes me as the most likely explanation for why "controlled testing" doesn't seem to work. His hypothesis is that the two conditions of listening—leisurely, unpressured experience of listening to music in the home, and controlled, high-pressure listening as part of a panel—call on different parts of our brain: the right cerebral lobe, which controls the motor functions for the left side of the body, for holistic impressions and emotional responses; and the left "brain," which controls the right side of the body, for serial processing of data and making logical comparisons and analyses.

 

It is well known that these functional divisions between the left and right brain exist: that the right deals with sensory input on an intuitive level, while the left specializes in the cognitive and analytical treatment of sensory information. We know that the ability to make fine sonic discriminations is learned, often over a period of many years. And all of us do 99.99% of our listening over time, under relaxed conditions, which allows time for us to form holistic impressions about the sound of a component. So it is the left brain which we train to detect and react to small sonic differences. The right brain functions as the information receptor; the left brain then analyzes these impressions in a logical manner to yield specifics about the sound that reviewers such as myself report on in Stereophile. But how much opportunity do we have to train the left brain as the primary information receptor? Very little, because that isn't the way we normally listen. So, naturally, when the left, logical, unemotional cerebral hemisphere is called upon to detect sonic differences using music as a test signal, all of us become untrained listeners, incapable of distinguishing anything less than the grossest differences.”

 

Suitably high quality amplification and speakers, optimized room acoustics, highest quality source material ,( NOT via flawed USB either) and optimized seating for all participants, (no big heads/upper bodies in the way) and to be scientifically valid, numerous repeats without generating listener fatigue which will result in false negatives…

 

But sighted evaluations require none of that.....

 

Sandy K (Alex) is correct. Any evaluation (blind or sighted) would require all of that, otherwise important sonic differences can be hidden. Remember an audio system is only as good as its weakest link.

 

Another problem is the "sweet spot" for most systems is very small, perhaps two or three people sitting very close together. One needs to be in the sweet spot to be able to hear the important details on the recording.

 

Also lights need to be turned off or at their lowest setting.

 

Given that sighted testing doesn't improve echoic memory I have to ask how it is people can announce huge deltas of improvement after they have swapped components out.

 

You're correct, the difference is not sighted versus blinded. An A/B comparison won't reveal more just because it is sighted. And of course there are the additional problems of potential bias with sighted testing.

 

I agree with Jud, the problem is AB’ing (blind or sighted) doesn’t work with human beings as that is not how humans listen to music, IMHO only long term listening will reveal the sonic attributes and problems with any music software or audio hardware. Read the quote above about the differences between right and left brain activity.

 

Also, I would like to add: Why is it objectivists think hearing is different than our other senses? Remember the Coke and Pepsi blind tests that showed there is no statistical difference between them, yet people still prefer their favorite beverage and are not asked to justify their choice. How about the blindfolded test between ground beef and ground chicken? I am sorry but anything human beings enjoy cannot be broken down analytically.

 

Human beings are very poor at comparisons when it involves memory and any of our senses. The only thing I believe is reliable are things that can be compared at the exact same time, such as side by side video displays. If memory, even very short memory is involved everything goes out the window, just read some of the conflicting reports of eye witnesses at crime scenes. And I am talking about normal people who have undamaged memories.

I have dementia. I save all my posts in a text file I call Forums.  I do a search in that file to find out what I said or did in the past.

 

I still love music.

 

Teresa

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I haven't read posts here or posted here (obviously) for quite a long time and all seems much the same as it ever was, particularly when it comes to threads like this one--on and on with very little to show. Except where it comes to this newish member--semente. Great insights and thoughts, at least in my in my subjective :) opinion.

 

I do think that insults have become much tamer--at least in this thread, than when last I was here, and I'm surprised people are complaining about them.

 

Chris

 

We missed you. :)

 

Post over in Album of the Evening some time - always interested in new (or old) music.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical Ethernet to Fitlet3 -> Fibbr Alpha Optical USB -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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A variety of peer reviewed academic journals (nothing from AES - not sure papers there are all peer reviewed).

 

I would like to do an article for CA with this as one of the themes. If I do, I would not have all the citations clogging up the web version, but would make the fully footnoted version available on request. On the other hand, writing such an article and being careful to footnote everything takes an amount of dedicated time that is not easy to find. If I see I won't be able to write the article after some period of time, I will provide the references here at CA.

 

Jud, if and when you find the time I would enjoy reading your article. (:-)

I have dementia. I save all my posts in a text file I call Forums.  I do a search in that file to find out what I said or did in the past.

 

I still love music.

 

Teresa

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I agree with Jud, the problem is AB’ing (blind or sighted) doesn’t work with human beings as that is not how humans listen to music, IMHO only long term listening will reveal the sonic attributes and problems with any music software or audio hardware. Read the quote above about the differences between right and left brain activity.

 

Then why are forums peppered with evaluations of just newly acquired gear if only long term listening will reveal sonic attributes and problems?

 

Some a quick as just minutes or hours of said gear being put into operation.

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Human beings are very poor at comparisons when it involves memory and any of our senses. The only thing I believe is reliable are things that can be compared at the exact same time, such as side by side video displays. If memory, even very short memory is involved everything goes out the window, just read some of the conflicting reports of eye witnesses at crime scenes. And I am talking about normal people who have undamaged memories.

 

Then how is it one reviewer can compare 4 different Ethernet cables and walk the differences right up the line that happen to improve related to the price?

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Then why are forums peppered with evaluations of just newly acquired gear if only long term listening will reveal sonic attributes and problems?

 

Some a quick as just minutes or hours of said gear being put into operation.

 

I have seen that too, that is way too quick to form a solid opinion IMHO. As the newness wears off and/or becomes more broken in one can actually hear its real sonic attributes and sonic problems.

 

I used to wait a month to comment on new equipment, but nowadays I wait at least six months, it takes me that long, even before my memory problems, to actually describe what I do and don't like about anything audio. With recordings I wait until at least 5 playings before commenting.

 

Some people just speak too soon.

I have dementia. I save all my posts in a text file I call Forums.  I do a search in that file to find out what I said or did in the past.

 

I still love music.

 

Teresa

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Then how is it one reviewer can compare 4 different Ethernet cables and walk the differences right up the line that happen to improve related to the price?

 

As I said sighted or blind AB'ing does not work, and that is further proof. Believe no one, listen for yourself, with your music, in your room, with your audio system and your ear/brain system.

I have dementia. I save all my posts in a text file I call Forums.  I do a search in that file to find out what I said or did in the past.

 

I still love music.

 

Teresa

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As I said sighted or blind AB'ing does not work, and that is further proof. Believe no one, listen for yourself, with your music, in your room, with your audio system and your ear/brain system.

 

You can lead the blind into the light but you just can't make them see.

"The gullibility of audiophiles is what astonishes me the most, even after all these years. How is it possible, how did it ever happen, that they trust fairy-tale purveyors and mystic gurus more than reliable sources of scientific information?"

Peter Aczel - The Audio Critic

no-mqa-sm.jpg

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You can lead the blind into the light but you just can't make them see.

 

Perhaps you should remove your sunglasses when indoors ?

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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Then why are forums peppered with evaluations of just newly acquired gear if only long term listening will reveal sonic attributes and problems?

 

Some a quick as just minutes or hours of said gear being put into operation.

 

There was a recently started thread called "the evolution of sonic priorities" that might help explain this.

And whether our priorities are very basic or we have developed more evolved expectations, Listening - or Subjective Evaluation - requires experience of both live and reproduced sound and an adequate methodology that might benefit from some technical knowledge.

 

But I guess that quite often people are just too excited and need to share this feeling.

 

Ric

"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

 

HQPlayer Desktop / Mac mini → HQPlayer NAA / microRendu→ RME ADI-2 DAC FS (DSD256)

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Then how is it one reviewer can compare 4 different Ethernet cables and walk the differences right up the line that happen to improve related to the price?

 

Don't know, but I do know such results are to be treated with extreme skepticism by people who fall far to the objective left - at least until the first "Don't know" is answered. And with great curiosity by those who fall far to the subjective right. ;)

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Then why are forums peppered with evaluations of just newly acquired gear if only long term listening will reveal sonic attributes and problems?

 

Some a quick as just minutes or hours of said gear being put into operation.

 

You're asking questions many folks have (I had them too) that I hope to be able to shed some light on with the article if/when I write it, or the references if I don't. For now I'll say I don't think this comes down strictly to short term vs. long term, though it does have some bearing; and you also want to be conscious of what "short term" and "long term" actually mean in the context of forming impressions of music.

 

Sorry to be a bit of a tease, but I do want to save some stuff for the potential article. :)

 

(Don't expect it within a matter of days - I'm off from work today and doing further research on aspects of the article right now, but the entire process will take some time.)

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical Ethernet to Fitlet3 -> Fibbr Alpha Optical USB -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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There was a recently started thread called "the evolution of sonic priorities" that might help explain this.

And whether our priorities are very basic or we have developed more evolved expectations, Listening - or Subjective Evaluation - requires experience of both live and reproduced sound and an adequate methodology that might benefit from some technical knowledge.

 

But I guess that quite often people are just too excited and need to share this feeling.

 

Ric

 

Experience counts... know your reviewer. Agree that some gear needs break in time... one should not publish an unfavorable review

without appropriate burn in time. On the other hand some gear cries out for praise after 20 hours of use.

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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Then how is it one reviewer can compare 4 different Ethernet cables and walk the differences right up the line that happen to improve related to the price?

 

 

Ostensibly, they take notes while they are listening. Otherwise, they certainly would NOT be able to keep their stories straight. :)

George

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I am not a fan of trying to tell another person what they can or can not hear in their system. If cryo-treating your Salamander rack makes a night and day difference that results in darker blacks, tighter bass, more liquid mids, extended highs and a more expansive soundstage in your system that you've spent countless hours listening to and laboring over, then who am I to argue?

 

However I am a fan of employing sighted and unsighted listening to better understand what -I- find sounds different and/or better in my system. I've certainly demo'd gear (cables in particular), lost track of whether I was listening to the more expensive (aka "better") thing or the less expensive thing and realized that yeah, that may look nice, but it is probably not the best bang for my buck.

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