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Trust your ears

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6 hours ago, Allan F said:


Your story is a good example of confirmation or expectation bias, but IMO it does not support your conclusion to most of those who "trust their ears". That is because they do not draw conclusions based solely on listening immediately after making an equipment change. Rather, they listen to a variety of music with which they are very familiar over an extended period of time to determine if they hear a difference. And that necessarily also involves comparisons. They have no cause to share your laughter.


Well, I am definitely not like most of you who "trust your ears". And I have to respectfully disagree with the logic of your argument here. My point was because I expected a significant increase in sound quality, I thought I actually did hear a very big improvement. And I was listening to a track that I've played for years by Mark Knopfler, so I was very familiar with it. 


I would fully expect that my mind's expectation bias would continue had I listened to additional familiar albums over an extended period of time. If I had not heard a significant improvement in sound quality after the immediate equipment change, that would be a different narrative.


But perception is reality, and if people hear improved sound from $1000 speaker cables, power conditioners, and the like, I have no issue with that. I do have issue with arrogant "audiophiles" who talk about their golden ears, if you can't hear a difference in sound with some equipment it's because you don't have a high enough system, etc. Too many people in this "hobby" have a stick up their ass. 


I have friends who have spent $17K on network streamers, huge amounts of money on high end speaker and interconnect cables and always challenge them to a $1000 bet they can't distinguish something like their $17K streamer to one one of my Raspberry PIs, both outputting to the same DAC. Nobody has taken me up on my offer to date.

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5 hours ago, Allan F said:


So what! This says far more about you than it does about them. You apparently have a need to prove that you are right, whereas they are content - as am I and most who trust their ears - to be guided by their experience and simply enjoy the music. They have neither the need nor the desire to take you up on what they see as needless (annoying?) challenges. 🙂


No, you got it totally wrong dude. I am totally content with my audio and home theater systems. I love music, I have no interest in upgrading fuses and trying out $1000 power cables. However *they* challenge me, telling me I need to upgrade my equipment, that everything matters, that you get what you pay for. In their mind it's impossible a $17K network streamer and $50 Raspberry Pi could generate exactly the same sound quality if they both feed the same DAC. It's impossible a relatively inexpensive speaker or interconnect cable could sound the same as something from Nordost or Audience.


So in response, like anyone born in Brooklyn, I say put up or shut up. So far, they've all shut up.

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5 hours ago, Allan F said:


So what! This says far more about you than it does about them. You apparently have a need to prove that you are right, whereas they are content - as am I and most who trust their ears - to be guided by their experience and simply enjoy the music. They have neither the need nor the desire to take you up on what they see as needless (annoying?) challenges. 🙂


A specific example is it was suggested I upgrade one of my Raspberry Pis (I have several that act as network streamers) to a Lumin U1. A U1 costs $6,100, doesn't have built-in Wifi, and has a small, monochrome text display. My $120 Pi setup does have built-in Wifi, along with a color touchscreen interface. So would I "upgrade" to a Luminary's U1? That's a question for an insanity test. It would be a downgrade.

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30 minutes ago, One and a half said:

The question is did you review/test the Lumin U1 over the Pi over a period of time. That's using your ears, oh wait, you laugh at that. I have a U1 and contemplating a Pi to use as a sequencer for powering up the audio system and a daily driver PC, so I have to use my ears as they are the only qualified analytical tool I have and are portable.


How could I possibly test or review a Lumin U1? The closest dealer to where I live has this website: http://www.sounddecisionsaudio.net "Built by WebSite Builder", Copyright 2013. Yeah right.


Hey, I like the machined aluminum case the U1 has, but I will challenge anyone a large sum of money that in a blind test they could not differentiate the sound of U1 from a Pi using the same DACs. 


And yes, I have researched this topic, reading articles like this, of people who did invest a significant amount of time and effort trying to understand would there be a difference of networked streamers in general: https://archimago.blogspot.com/2019/02/musings-computer-audio-mythos-comment.html


I'm sure @Archimago would be happy to do a test of a Lumin streamer if someone would loan him one.

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1 hour ago, PeterG said:

Maybe if you had a higher end DAC you could tell the difference between sources?


I have a Mc/B&W main system comparable to yours, and an NAD/B&W secondary system that costs about 1/10 the price.  Schiit Yggy DAC on the main, Schiit Modi on the secondary.  I recently bought a Bluesound Node that sounds just fine on the secondary system, but is a big disappointment compared to ripped CDs on the main system.


But the Bluesound Node has a built-in DAC, doesn't it? So are you bypassing that and just sending the digital output to the Modi?


I would love to test the sound of a Schiit Yggy, but don't want to pay the restocking fee should I not hear a difference in sound quality. If I ever get down to L.A. from Palo Alto I would love to drop by the Schiitr and do some sound comparisons of their DACs, amps and preamps.

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3 hours ago, PeterG said:


Good questions!  I did this a year ago, so you've forced me to go back and double check my memory.


The Bluesound Node 2i DAC is bypassed when one uses the COAX OUT, which I do.  But I was wrong about my choice of DAC--I have the Bifrost on my second system, not the Modi.  The original source on the secondary system was ripped CDs on an SSD from a Mac Mini with Amarra, stripped down and using a USB decrapifier (I cannot remember which one, I've had several).  It was easy to choose the Bifrost DAC over the internal Bluesound DAC last year.  But with both sources using the Bifrost into NAD C326BEE and B&W CM-1 with REL T5 sub; I would not assert there's a significant difference in sound from streaming Qobuz on the Node compared to the ripped CDs on the Mac.  This matches your experience.  But as I wrote before, it was easy to dismiss the Node from my more expensive system--Naim Uniti Core, Yggy, Mc C22/MC275, B&W 805 w/DB3D sub. 


On the restocking fees--it's funny where price sensitivity kicks in for different people (and I include myself in this boat).  A few hundred dollars is less than the sales tax on the price of your speakers, but physically painful (haha) as a penalty if you don't like the DAC.  I've risked restocking fees 3 times on highly reviewed products unavailable at my local dealer, and kept the products twice.  Given the Yggy's rave reviews, the price delta vs the Modi from the same company, and your great amp/speakers, I think there's an excellent chance you will keep it if you try.


I've seriously considered getting a Yggy. Right now I have two Modi's - an older multi-bit I use in my main stereo room and a standard one paired with a Magni for headphone listening. I just got an Apple CCK to output digital audio from my iPad to the Modi/Magni to test out Dolby Atmos from a free trial of Apple Music. Some of the Atmos tracks, like Nora Jones, are really incredible. It's easy with this setup to turn Atmos on/off quickly and it's been a lot of fun comparing the standard stereo and Atmos tracks.


I'm totally content with the sound of my main system, but it's a good question if I did want to do an update, where should I start? Step one is getting a big rug - my stereo room is all hardwood floors. I had to upgrade from my 22 year old Bryston pre-amp due to it dying and being beyond the 20 year warranty. Extremely happy with my Schiit Freya - never had anything with tubes before. So the question is, would I get a bigger improvement adding a Yggy, or upgrade the power amp. And if it's the latter, then I'd have to decide do between a Vidar or Aegir, and then would it make sense to get two to run as mono-blocks. With the sensitivity of my B&W speakers I'm concerned the Aegir might. not have enough power, but perhaps as mono-blocks that wouldn't be an issue.


I have three music sources connected to my Freya. The Modi multi-bit, a Pi with an Allo BOSS I2S DAC attached, and an older Pi with an IQAudio I2S DAC. It's interesting comparing the sound of all three. The IQAudio is the oldest DAC, and still sounds good, but definitely a notch below the BOSS and Modi. But comparing the BOSS and Modi, I can't really say one sounds better, they just sound different. Not a huge difference, but definitely different. Adding a Yggy would make for an interesting experiment.


And getting back to the story in my original post, I did hook up my Squeezebox to my Freya a few months ago. It still works, and sounds good, but all of these new DACs sound a whole lot better.

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Back when Michael Lavorgna was the editor of Audiostream, I found his commentary to be among the most obnoxious "Trust you ears" reviewer out there. Although not a day job for him, Jay Luong of audiobacon.com has now taken over. Check out his posting on the 27 Best Audiophile Power Cables: https://audiobacon.net/2019/08/17/27-audiophile-power-cables-reviewed/


So of course he could never distinguish any of these cables in a blind test, so he needs up front to deflect this:



Blind tests are pointless for the same reason why the skeptics request them – your mind is always playing tricks on you. – Audio Bacon


Read the comment thread and audiobacon describing objectivists as "measurement morons". Even Lavorgna was never this acerbic. It gets better as people ask audiobacon's opinion on the best matching power cable with their system. And audiobacon talks about power chords that are warm, cool... It's totally crazy stuff, and some of his readers obviously believe him.


Now let's take a look who is advertising on his site. Audience cables. What a surprise. So let's click on the ad abd go to the Power Chords part of the site: https://audience-av.com/powerchord/


$1000 power chords. Is there anything on the site that backs up Audience's claim of not only an improvement in sound, but one that is "nothing short of transformational". No, instead, there is the standard questioning of "conventional science" and "existing test procedures".



Not all electronic phenomena are understood by conventional science or revealed through existing test procedures. The superior sonic enhancement of a good high performance audio/video power cord is no exception. While aftermarket power cords are a most controversial subject, the improvements they offer are also the most easily demonstrated. In many systems going from a stock power cord to a high quality cord designed for audio/video playback can be nothing short of transformational.


So science can't explain it, existing test procedures can't measure it, but you are going to hear a difference that is transformational. Did I read that right? I've read similar things in interviews with Bob Stuart on MQA. This almost mystical like thing that science just can't explain it all, so that's why you should trust and believe in him.


I don't see a very big difference between the Qanon crowd believing that Trump was fighting a cabal of Satanic cannibalistic pedophiles that ran a global sex trafficking ring and the people following audiobacon's every word about $1000 dollar power, USB and ethernet cables. 

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16 hours ago, Allan F said:


Surely, you are not seriously suggesting that people can't hear the difference between lossy formats such as MP3 and lossless Red Book standard audio. And despite your opinion to the contrary, the issue under discussion is very much a matter of opinion based, in the case of subjectivists, on repeatable experience. Accordingly, I see no point in carrying on this "debate" any further. Bye!


When Archimago tried to determine whether people could hear the difference between lossy and lossless formats he determined some could. And especially for those with higher-end systems, they actually preferred lossy MP3 over lossless:



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3 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:


I don't think there is a commonality "between the audiophile "trust your ears" subjectivist camp and the larger antiscience movement." 


I see the larger anti-science movement as much more political, religious, and involving perceived freedom. I see the audiophile "trust your ears" camp as people who have disposable income (a lot or a little) and find this stuff enjoyable. 


It's interesting Chris, I actually first made this point back in 2015 to, of all people, Michael Lavorgna, when he was the editor of Audiostream. I posted a comment on an article of his, questioning whether he was being objective or catering to his advertisers and he went ballistic. He emailed me with a really obnoxious message, threatened to ban me on Audiostream should I ever question his intentions again, etc. This was the year before Trump won the presidential election. 


I told ML I thought what I observed in much of high-end audio was similar to what I was seeing in the political world. That was six years ago. So yes, except for people being careless when upgrading fuses, nothing in the subjective audio world will kill people. However, I think the thought processes and approaches to knowledge formulation that I see in much of the subjectivist audiophile world do have a potential of cross-over into other domains.

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57 minutes ago, Iving said:


imo it makes sense to divorce the macro from the micro.


At the macro level, perhaps it's legitimate to argue an "antiscience" (or similar) case wrt big business. I understand that people might want to grind an axe regards deception and rip-offs. This would be a quasi-political endeavour. I think if you're going to take a pejorative view of a particular business you should be willing to defend your position - because of the potential harm done if your position is faulty or unfair.


At the micro level, I have been a career academic scientist, yet have no trouble (let's say cognitive dissonance) building my system without recourse to blind tests etc. I think I should be able to share my experiences socially on this Forum free of demand for proof. If I am wrong about something, there's no harm done except to myself. I read other people's experiences with a pinch of salt. We are adults and can do that. If we hobbyists are fooled by each other, well then we deserve our mugging.


About "ears". I've said the like before. There's a twilight zone in which knowledge and understandings have not yet been established but *could* be - invoking the scientific method that is. It's such a disappointment that polar positions are resumed as soon as conversations begin. There's so much unexploited diverse talent and expertise here. For example, I'd like to see, in Objective-Fi, folks posting an interesting and answerable research question accompanied by a proposed method for addressing it. There would only be any point in doing so if a positive, conspiratorial debate ensued culminating in an actual experiment. That's why I don't do it!


Never mind. It is a fun hobby. And this *is* a fun place!


As you can see from my profile, I don't post a lot here. And I don't post on any other audiophile forum. So when I'm not listening to music I try to do something useful for the community at large. I spent many hours nights and weekends creating Volumio's Spotify plug-in a few years ago. It was a lot of work, and my first major project coding in Node.js. But it was a lot of fun and it feels good to know that many of the 400,000 active Volumio users are enjoying listening to Spotify with the code I wrote.


And as for my original post here, it itself was bit of an experiment. I was curious what range of reactions the post would elicit, and wanted to see how quickly somebody would personally insult me. It didn't take that long. That's why I don't usually post stuff here.

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2 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Where’s the personal insult? I will take action. 


No need to take action, it was this:



So what! This says far more about you than it does about them. You apparently have a need to prove that you are right, whereas they are content - as am I and most who trust their ears - to be guided by their experience and simply enjoy the music. They have neither the need nor the desire to take you up on what they see as needless (annoying?) challenges.


What Allan F totally missed is I am sitting here thoroughly enjoying my music, and I have people telling me I need to upgrade my Raspberry Pi to a Lumin stream to get better sound quality. I need to upgrade my 22 year old Bryston Amp. I need to upgrade my Modi's to Yggy's. No, I don't, I am happy as is. And when someone tells me I need to do an expensive upgrade to achieve better sound quality, but it won't, I challenge them to prove it to me with a simple bet. Nobody has ever taken me up on this.



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16 hours ago, Racerxnet said:

Glad to see someone else with Bryston products. They are a solid company and warranty. Sorry if this is OT, 


Yeah, I shipped my amp back to them after 17 years due to the power chord fraying. Fixed for free. Unfortunately my Bryston pre-amp died at 22 years or so. I like brands that back their stuff.


I got some KEF powered desktop speakers a few years ago. Sounded great, but one died after a week. KEF sent me replacements, but they died after 14 months. KEF had a one year warranty. It would have been cheaper to buy new speakers over getting them repaired. So I replaced them with a pair of Sonos One's for my home office here. Love the sound. Sonos only has a one year warranty too, but I've had a bunch throughout the house for several years now and no issues at all.

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16 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Given this is the objective sub forum, do you know how your 22 year old amp measures compared to the day it was released? Would be really interesting to see how well it has held up, given there are parts that age within the amp. 


I have no idea, but that certainly would be interesting to find out. I believe when I sent the amp for the frayed chord  back to Bryston they "tuned up" everything, perhaps upgrading some capacitors and other things. And I know they did do measurements on it before they sent it back to me.


If I could get my hands on some Schiit Aegirs and Vidars I would love to A/B them compared to the Bryston. But I'm not confident enough that I will hear a difference to risk having to pay for the restocking fees.

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19 minutes ago, Racerxnet said:

After I get settled in the new home, I will send in the 2 7BSST amps to Bryston for a check up. I can ask Mike for the before and after results. This will not happen until after March or so of next year, but will be interesting to see the results.


It was several years ago, but I remember when I talked to the Bryston tech on the phone he mentioned how they fully measure/test every piece of equipment sent to them for repair and ensure the product meets their measurement criteria before shipping it back to you. I thought that was really interesting. I think Bryston tech repair in the U.S. is one dude working in Vermont. If it's the same one, he's very friendly, and would probably tell you in more detail what their process is here. 

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