My position throughout this debate is simply that our hearing cannot always be trusted and perhaps more importantly, when we do hear real differences, the cause of these differences is often not what we think it is.
I agree......but that doesn't mean that it can never be trusted.
I'm very much of the "live and let live" camp......if people want to listen to my advice / experience, great; if they don't, that's also fine. From experience, ingrained attitudes are unlikely to change, so there's little point in getting worked up over it.
See this hifi game is pretty simple after all. I am a strong believer in the moto 'If it sounds good it is good'.
I just don't pretend that it has much to do with high fidelity......
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.
Be aware of expectation bias when testing, and take it into account.
Errr, you can't, that's the point. (unless properly trained apparently)
I think we've been here before. Time for cards on table, again: as a time-serving university professor, I've worked for 25 years in this field, and I've read very extensively in the scientific literature on cognitive biases. There's no evidence to suggest that you can't overcome expectation bias by, as Cno rightly says, taking it into account and adjusting your responses accordingly.
The idea of being "properly trained" is a red herring. Someone brought this up on another thread, don't know why. It's not about training, it's about making the effort to think rationally for yourself, which we're all capable of.
There's another egregious error in this idea that expectation bias can't be overcome. Consider this:
1. we all suffer from expectation bias and can't do anything about it
2. expectation bias means that our judgements are unreliable
3. therefore the judgement "1. we all suffer from expectation bias and can't do anything about it" is unreliable
Go figure ...
What classical music are you listening to?
Thanks to all who've replied. On the strength of various recommendations here and a bit of digging around other posts, I've decided to try some pro-Audio Van Damme xlr interconnects which will only involve an outlay of around £25 or so initially. Then I'll go from there if they don't give me what I expect in terms of what I remember from my demo.
Good choice of cables (I use generic pro XLRs). One word of caution, if the system sounds different at home from the demo room it will almost ccertainly not be because of the cables. The different room acoustics, positioning etc will have a far greater influence. So don't be tempted to try and 'correct' any deficiency by spending big on cables. Instead, move the speakers, turn the speakers, move your seat and consider acoustic treatment.
HiFi / A/V / Bedroom
The suggestion that cables should make up 10% of the system cost clearly came from a cable company.....
I think it is upto 10%, not 10%.
There does seem to be a common figure. Check out 'Chapter 4' http://www.whathifi.com/video/get-the-best-from-your-hi-fi
They would, no surprise there. Pity they don't do blind tests.
Very good point, Cno. The EDITED of it is, though, that you don't know that you're experiencing expectation bias until way after the event. I had it, with my speaker cable. When I first listened to it, I told myself it was so much better than the cable it replaced. Months later after swapping between the two, I realised they were exactly the same. I was at first gutted, then relieved because it's meant I dont spend silly money an cables anymore
GyroDec SE - TechnoArm A - Grado Reference Platinum 1 cart
Rotel RCD-991 - Exposure VII Pre amp (Dual Mono) - 2 x Exposure VI PSU - Exposure Super VIII Power - Rogers Studio 1A
Optoma HD33 projector - 106" screen - Sony STR-DA1200ES - Tannoy Eyris Surround Package - REL Strata II
"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."
Errr..... That would have been you. (sorry, I dislike this kind of argument, it gets miles away from the point))
I keep trying to bring this back to hifi and what happens in the real world.
There is no evidence that experienced listeners fare any better in blind tests than novices, journalists are proven, time and time again, that they cannot hear in blind tests what they regularly 'hear' in sighted test, yet this does not stop them writing about them.
I fail to see much in the way of 'influence of experience' there.
Quite right. My apologies.
I didn't mean 'experience in listening', I meant 'experience in countering expectation bias'. The point at issue is whether, if one makes the effort, one can improve one's ability to make objective judgements. I suspect what happens in all these blind tests of hifi is that the participants treat it as a bit of a laugh and not seriously related to their day-job. And they do it once or twice and then never again. I'm on your side inasmuch as I think that hifi journalism would be much healthier if blind testing were the norm, and if hifi journalists made the effort (and it does require effort) to learn how to do it.
My problem with this evidence is that AFAIK none of it was produced under robust experimental conditions, whereas the really robust evidence suggests that expectation bias can be counteracted.
Sorry matt, but what does that have to do with anything? I'm not interested in an academic discussion, neither am i interested in a 'you said - I said' argument.
There are a fair number of blind tests that have been carried out under 'robust experimental conditions' and subjected to rigorous statistical analysis, and serious debate, see here for example: http://www.head-fi.org/t/486598/testing-audiophile-claims-and-myths
But even this is far beyond the reach or the need of ordinary enthusiasts, almost any kind of blind testing, so long as care is taken to match listening levels, will teach the listeners a lot about what they are hearing. It can be quite chastening to to discover that you cannot tell one cable (or amplifier, or DAC) from another despite 'knowing' that the differences are 'night and day'.
Some people resolutely refuse to take part, knowing they will be shown up, others refuse out of shear ignorance ('I know what I am hearing') but to me this is the crux of the thread, reality and opinion do not make easy bedfellows.
I'm probably being very simplistic, but I wonder how the example from horizon of hearing 'fa' or 'ba' depending on how you see the lips moving fits into the notion that you can train yourself to take into account (and ameliorate) expectation bias. They say on that programme that even though you know the sound is the same, you hear two different sounds depending on the accompanying visuals. My experience accords with that, so I am seemingly unable to change my perception to take into account expectation bias.
I'm not interested in an academic discussion ...
In which case we're arguing from different premises.
We're talking about completely different standards of robustness (in the same way as I'm interested in an academic debate and you're not).
Another possible factor is the economics of the hi-fi business. Wine journalists and critics do blind tastings all the time; it's simply part of the job. These days most of them have formal qualifications, e.g. the Master of Wine exams contain very rigorous tests in blind tasting. I've seen these people in action may times: they're really good. The fine wine business can support this extensive training because it has the money. High-end hi-fi is tiny by comparison. I'd hazard a guess that the toal sales of high-end hi-fi in any year are roughly the same as the value of wine produced by 2 or 3 top Bordeaux chateaux.
Back to the OP. The above advice is absolutely essential. It is far more important than cables.
The 10% thing has been around for decades from when hifi mags percentaged out your spend re source, amp, speakers. Nowadays with didital it is pretty easy. You are almost certainly never going to tell the difference between digital cables so if you spend very little money it won't matter. So long as it fits properly, isn't too long or flimsy then it will be fine.
Apple Lossless - ATV3 - AVI ADM 40 also ATV3 into AVI ADM 9T [my wife's system]
and Grado SR80i
Sorry, did not mean to sound so blunt, I am interested in any discussion that does not turn into a p*ssing competetion and fully accept that your expertise in psycology is sufficient to render any discussion we try have on the subject pointless. I have learnt a couple of things (from your references) and that is always a plus.
I would take issue with your comments about the robustness of blind testing, many are not taken that seriously, fair enough, but some are and the results subject to serious statistical analysis. A match for many of the wine taste tests you mention.
There are of course many instances of supposed wine experts being fooled by blind testing, non experts are fooled all the time and the reports of such testing are easily found.
Perhaps not the best example, though your suggestion that people can learn about tasting wine (during a course of study, say) such that they can pass blind tests is interesting. Perhaps we should have such a course for hifi enthusiasts.....
The apology is thoughtful but unnecessary. No need to apologise for bluntness (not to me anyway). This is a forum after all ...
I likewise have benefited from technical (acoustic) engineering expertise that you and others on this site have. One good reason to come back here.
From a link in one of your previous posts I got to this mildly interesting paper, which is quite relevant to the OP's question about interconnects:
The conclusions suggest that different cable designs do yield different electronic measurements. Whether that converts to differences in SQ is another matter. But it certainly doesn't give much support to the idea that we should spend much money on cables.
Yes, I didn't mean to suggest wine blind tastings were inherently more robust than hi-fi blind tests. What I meant was that there exists a large number of wine experts who do perform very well in blind tastings, and that one reason for this might be the amount of time they spend doing it.
That would be a real step forward, though I'm not optimistic about it ever happening. Who would fund it?
The 10% thing seems to have become semi-institutionalized. When I bought an amp and DAC several months ago, the retailer was doing an offer: free interconnects up to the value of 10% of your spend on other kit. Needless to say, I took them up on the offer, though it might have been fun to say "You can keep your fancy interconnects, they don't make any difference!", just to see the look on their faces. (Of course, I did try the 'I'd rather have some money off the amp and DAC" line, but Head Office wouldn't have it.)
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