No one is suggesting that all amplifiers sound the same, or all cables or all anything else.
There are real differences but they are often overshadowed by other factors. Many cheap products, amplifiers to take your example, are not competant designs by hifi standards so you are simply not comparing like with like.
Take a decent entry level design from someone like Denon or Pioneer, and compare that to your Marantz in a blind test that is configured to make sure that both amplifiers under test are working within their capabilities.
That means setting up a systen with a good and noise free source (digital noise in particular can upset some amplifiers and not others), speakers of appropriate sensitivity and impedance characteristics, beneign speaker cables, level matching the output of both systems then making sure that both amplifiers are operating within their design parameters.
Under those conditions I would be astonished if anyone could tell the two amplifiers apart so the two amplifiers sound essentially identical in this situation. In the real world, the amplifiers are having to deal with external (electrical) noise, difficult loudspeaker loads, unusual speaker cables and, more often than not, an owner who always wants the music 'just a touch' louder.
These factors can cause real differences, suffuciant in some cases to tell one amplifier from another (still listening blind of course), but it important to realise that in sighted tests these differences are swamped by the effects of expectation bias, placebo effect etc, etc.
I know it is hard to believe that you will be taken in by such effects, especially when you know what to expect, but you will be, everyone is. It's the way the brain works and there is nothing you can do about it!
We do so many shows in a row,
And these towns all look the same,
We just pass the time in our hotel room
And wander 'round backstage,
Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,
And we remember why we came.
With all due respect, I don't think you'll find any psychologists (I mean academic researchers in psychology who study precisely this area) who'd agree with this. It's certainly true that in many situations most people will experience some form of bias in their judgements. It's equally true that most (psychological) biases can be overcome with training. There's a lot of idle talk about how our brains are 'hard-wired' to respond in certain ways. In fact, almost all of this supposed 'hard wiring' is susceptible to e.g. the influence of experience. Those who've advocated the 'hard wiring' form of argument, e.g. people like Paul Ekman, Silvan Tomkins, Paul Griffiths, generally agree that there are only a very small number of 'hard-wired' systems in the human brain that are impervious to training. These are the emotions of happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust.
In other words, most people may be susceptible to biases in many situations, but it is possible to overcome most biases if you work at it.
What classical music are you listening to?
I don't want to take this too far from the realms of hifi but you are correct, there are plenty of researchers who play down the effects of expectation bias and placebo effect, just as there are plenty who do not.
I use these effects, expectation bias in the main to offer an explaination why, in sighted tests differences are often described as huge, night and day etc yet the same observers comprehensively fail to identify very different items in blind test.
This to me is the point, the experimental evidence is overwhelming, time and time again jounalists and other audio professionals fail blind tests comprehensively, so much so that few will now participate in them.
Just for amusement, take alook at this....
I think regardless of the belief in subjective bias or not, the results of such blind tests designed to remove the bias are unequivocal. With such overwhelming evidence, it would be wise to consider this when choosing some new equipment on merits of sound quality alone.
Of course, anyone is free to spend their money however they wish, but personally, I think it better to have a genuine understanding of what is being bought and why.
Mac mini > AVI ADM9Ts
I'll take your word for this but do you really think that people who make claims about cables etc want to overcome their biases? They want to believe it and will avoid at all costs anything that might undermine that belief.
I agree that knowledge of the technical merits of equipment should play a role in any decision to buy. I'd never suggest otherwise. But that's an entirely different argument.
As for the evidence for subjective bias, you've missed my point. I didn't say there wasn't any evidence. What I said was that the scientific evidence doesn't support categorical statements of this kind:
I also think statements like that do a disservice to open-minded debate. By all means let's be mildly and politely sceptical about some of the claims people make to have heard differences between pieces of kit. But scepticism has to be accompanied by a bit of humility about one's own knowledge/ignorance, e.g. in the matter of the psychology of expectation bias. That's the point I was making.
Lol...... you're so crazy......
No, just educated.
The crazy i'm picking up....the educated...no...no..naaah, its not coming through.....just teasing.
Seriously Pauln, do you think that makes sense 'sonic illusions' - I mean think about it, sonic illusions, if your music sounds more detailed or bassier after the change of a cable say, its more likely a sonic illusion than that your speakers getting more or less of a signal and altering the sound accordingly that the human ear/brain can actually hear/differenciate ....seriously?
Yes seriously, you really need to do your homework.
Just for amusement, a very simple illustration of how easily the brain can be fooled by what we do or do not hear.
Honestly, utter piffle.....
What does playing various tones at varing phase shifts really have to do with listening to music on a domestic set in your home?
I mean c'mon...this is why I throw down the 'come lets have a listen' challenge to you guys, its nonesense and in real world terms is about as useful has...er...something thats totally useless ... I mean really really useless.
music is recorded - sources, amps and speakers play it back - on a given amp it will play back said track exactly the same if nothing is changed, my argument to you is if one part of said system is changed lets say the interconnect between source and amp, audible differences can be heard by the human ear, variations on certain aspects of said track can be picked up.
you don't need to do a 3year study on the subject just set your own kit up and try it for youself.....and believe your ears.
If you think otherwise I strongly advise you to take a blind or an ABX test to find out just how difficult it is.
The incredible power of expectation bias, placebo effect and the general ability of all listeners to 'hear' with their eyes is quite astonishing and, if you have never taken part in such a test, it is probably impossible to convince anyone of the truth of these statements.
Good luck, I think you're wasting your time though.
I'm reminded of the old motto. "Never argue with idiots, they will bring you down to their level and beat you with their experience".
I can't help myself, I love arguing with idiots, its so entertaining....its what the internet was made for......
I would say that it is beyond all reasonable doubt that expectation bias exists and is so powerful. The point being that it does exist and the reasons for it are largely academic, but it's effects are obvious to see. Better to be aware of the phenomena and take it into consideration when making purchases in hifi equipment.
The only categorical statement that might be contestable is that everyone is affected by expectation bias, as this is how the brain works. However, there is little evidence that I can see that points to the contrary.
Look, the argument is going in the same direction all these genuinly interesting threads go. But lets stop and look at this objectively.
Setting a hi-end amp up to sound like a budget amp is folly - and what does that have to do with anything anyway?
You want to believe you ears/brain can be fooled by your kit...thats fine, laughable...actually laugh out loudable, but fine. But the so called science, blogs by some unknown with an alleged Phd and guff easily picked up on the internet should be dismissed and like I said a genuine listening session organised, then there will be nowhere to hide differences will ether be heard or not - I can't fatham why no one wants to do this.
I have a pair of Chord Crimson plus, QED performance 2 (subtle differences), Cambridge Pacific (definate step down compared to the other 2 in my set up) some Tandy (remember them) interconnects and numerous cheapo freebie cable lying around, I alos have a QED Quenex 1 and a QED sr75 coax, I'll bring these and challenge the whole lot of you to a dare to compare session (close to me) anywhere.
Lol...I'm sitting here laughing to myself, whilst Jill Scott is singing in the background reading through this thread again thinking I should have added Winston Churchills 'fight them on the beaches' speech in that last post.....sorry, I just had to share.
No-one denies that expectation bias exists: that would be sheer folly. All you're doing here is setting up a straw man.
I see where you're coming from, and several people on this forum have said similar things, but I'm afraid the scientific evidence says that you're wrong. All the evidence I'm aware of -- and I've read more of it than I care to remember over 25 years of academic study of the subject -- says that expectation bias and other similar cognitive biases can be overcome. If you're interested in the scientific evidence, I'd recommend starting with Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow. Kahneman argues that we do suffer from all manner of cognitive biases (the 'thinking fast' of his title) but we're also capable of thinking without them ('thinking slow'). Kahneman's a very interesting thinker, the only psychologist I can think of who's won a Nobel Prize (there being no Nobel Prize for psychology).
I know I run the risk of boring many by my repetition but far too many seem to think that double blind ABX testing is incontrovertibly flawless. Please, someone put both myself & others out of our misery & show proof it works or I'll just keep repeating my doubts.
It's very important for the curious to acknowlwdge the existance of expectation bias - if we know it can colour our thinking, we can at least take quite simple steps to lessen its effects. However, some seem to assume its very existance renders all human experience suspect which ain't that enlightening or useful. I note from this thread that its not just audio fans that are dogged by opinions masquerading as facts - formally trained psychologists appear to be no better!
"The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds - the pessimist fears this is true."
James Branch Cabell
MAIN: Apple TV2, Mac Mini & iTunes Match, CA Azur 751BD or Panasonic P42V20B into audiolab M-DAC, feeding a Primare A34.2 via XLRs, 2x 5m of Atlas Ascent 2 firing up Totem Arros.
ON THE HOOF: iPhone 5S/Sennheiser MM450.
To assume that the theory is correct simply assumes that most people think 'fast' as shown by the results of expectation bias tests and it is the default human setting, it also suggests that people can be trained to think 'slow' to negotiate expectation bias and other perception bias and discount those superficial differences.
Whether people can be trained to think 'slow' or not is not the point. The point is that naturally people think in automatic 'fast' mode. If this were not the case, then expectation bias would not appear so prevalent.
It also doesn't change the fact that most people hear things that do not exist in certain circumstances.
Lol ...i'd wager most of these so called psycologist bought their certificates off the internet........this issue can be rsolved so easily, I swear.
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