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Leonard Smalls

Imaginary Changes?

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T'other day I swapped the jumpers between bass and mid/treble drivers on my Leemasfor 10mm earth cable, thinking that everyone raves about how getting rid of those crappy bits of brass will do wonders..

So after much faffing to get it in (fnurr), I switched on the system, and it soundedslightly more detailed, slightly more real, slightly less harsh. In other words it sounded absolutely grand.

However, after listening for a couple of hours it dawned on me that it had always sounded absolutely grand, and that there may not have been a difference at all - just a slightly dodgy audio memory.

So my point is, how real are minor tweaks? It took me about 10 minutes to change the jumpers, during which time the gear was switched off. Is audio memory to be trusted to that level of accuracy, or should I be wiring my whole system with 10mm earth, or go the whole hog and try and shoe-horn 16mm in?

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As you say, there were maybe no changes at all, and you had simply unconsciously tried to convince yourself there would be, and reality won over...this may be the same syndrome that convinces people that there hifi sounds so bad the only way to sort it out is to spend £5k on a CD or £500 on a mains lead.

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This cuts both ways - on the one hand expectation can definitely be self-fulfilling, but equally our brains very quickly adjust to even major changes in sonic signature, especially if the music listened to is very familiar asmemory fills in the gaps as it were. Curiously sceptics only acknowledge the former phenomenon... :roll:

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I think the best thing you can do is not listen for changes.

Put on one of your favorite albums and go about doing something else, e.g. cleaning or read a magazine. If you find yourself compelled to sing along, look up, oryou get goosebumps without dedicated listening then you've probably done something right. If you don't get any of those -switch back.

I for one, have conviced myself at the time of trying new things that the change has positive results, only to realise later that it actually had negative ones. Especially if I've bought blind.

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PARAGON wrote:

As you say, there were maybe no changes at all, and you had simply unconsciously tried to convince yourself there would be, and reality won over...this may be the same syndrome that convinces people that there hifi sounds so bad the only way to sort it out is to spend £5k on a CD or £500 on a mains lead.

Maybe they do thisbecause they can afford to and want to.

Do you have an issue with that?

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earl of sodbury wrote:

This cuts both ways - on the one hand expectation can definitely be self-fulfilling, but equally our brains very quickly adjust to even major changes in sonic signature, especially if the music listened to is very familiar asmemory fills in the gaps as it were. Curiously sceptics only acknowledge the former phenomenon... :roll:

That was the problem - I listened to a new LP (Voice of the Seven Woods - brilliant btw) - and it sounded great. Then I watched a movie, which was when it started to all sound familiar again.

However, the DVD is only wired in with Chord Pacific, but the TT has Clearaudio Trident wiring, and of course the DVD was £200, the TT/phono combo over £3k!

So it's possible there was a difference - maybe I'll stick the jumpers back in and have a good listen to Bootsy's "Ultra Wave" before and after. Luckily I've got about 20m of 10mm earth cable lying around from a wee jobbie so it's a very cheap experiment if I replace all the speaker cable!

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A minor tweak in total isolation is just that - a minor tweak.

Put a whole series of minor tweaks into your system though and it might be another ball game entirelywith the cumulative effects being quite considerable, with one or more previous tweaks benefitsbeing revealed by another later addition elsewhere in the chain, but not immediately apparent when applied

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They may have made a real difference and you just got used to the sound. Or your satisfaction ata job well done may have made you feel better and therefore enjoy your hifi that bit more.

I have no idea which is true. Those brass plates don't look ideal to me. But then.. maybe they are, it's juts a gut feeling with tweaks like this isn't it.

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Leonard Smalls wrote:

earl of sodbury wrote:
This cuts both ways - on the one hand expectation can definitely be self-fulfilling, but equally our brains very quickly adjust to even major changes in sonic signature, especially if the music listened to is very familiar asmemory fills in the gaps as it were. Curiously sceptics only acknowledge the former phenomenon... :roll:

That was the problem - I listened to a new LP (Voice of the Seven Woods - brilliant btw) - and it sounded great. Then I watched a movie, which was when it started to all sound familiar again.

However, the DVD is only wired in with Chord Pacific, but the TT has Clearaudio Trident wiring, and of course the DVD was £200, the TT/phono combo over £3k!

So it's possible there was a difference - maybe I'll stick the jumpers back in and have a good listen to Bootsy's "Ultra Wave" before and after. Luckily I've got about 20m of 10mm earth cable lying around from a wee jobbie so it's a very cheap experiment if I replace all the speaker cable!

Minor tweaks tend to be most obvious only after they've been in place for a long time and are then swapped back out - they are after all minor.

Frank's point is a good one, and is certainly true of the mods we make inside the cases as well as those outside.

churz, eofs

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Another problem is the way you listen.

Many is the time I have gone to a shop demo and thought 'wow, I have never noticed that before, this is a good amp/CD/speakers'. Then I have gone home and listened to my system and realised the sound is there after all. The only explanation I can think of is that in the shop dem I was listening for things I hadn't heard (or noticed) before. But at home I was listening to the music as a whole, except for the time immediately after the dem.

I suspect this is what has happened in this case.

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mikehit wrote:

Another problem is the way you listen.

Many is the time I have gone to a shop demo and thought 'wow, I have never noticed that before, this is a good amp/CD/speakers'. Then I have gone home and listened to my system and realised the sound is there after all. The only explanation I can think of is that in the shop dem I was listening for things I hadn't heard (or noticed) before. But at home I was listening to the music as a whole, except for the time immediately after the dem.

I suspect this is what has happened in this case.

Damn good point Mike :^ When I'm upgrading internal components I ofteninclude deliberately unfamiliar music for listening afterwards in the hope of minimising this influence.

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mikehit wrote:

Another problem is the way you listen.

Many is the time I have gone to a shop demo and thought 'wow, I have never noticed that before, this is a good amp/CD/speakers'. Then I have gone home and listened to my system and realised the sound is there after all. The only explanation I can think of is that in the shop dem I was listening for things I hadn't heard (or noticed) before. But at home I was listening to the music as a whole, except for the time immediately after the dem.

I suspect this is what has happened in this case.

I've experienced this phenomenon on many occasions, but my theory is that some things highlight certain instruments or noises more than others, so a slightly brighter system may reveal a cymbal you hadn't heard before a fraction more than your own system. It's always been there, but it's revealed, if you like, half a decibel lower than another instrument which your home system is more adept at revealing.

Once you know the sound is there, though, you can specifically listen for it, and so will usually hear it in your system.

Not sure if I've explained that terribly well, but I know what I mean.

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Mike - I think you make an excellent point there.I have a pet 'theory' that when actively listening for either a small tweak or a major change, the left hand side of the brain which deals with analysis, evaluation, problem solving etcbecomes engaged and your listening becomes more analytical, ie you are almost guaranteed to detect a change whether eal or imaginary. But the real enjoyment from the music comes from the right hand side which deals with emotion, feelings, creativity and such other stuff and is the way we mostly listen to music slobbing out on the sofa.Which leads me to conclude that the best way to detect an improvement is to live with the change for a while and see whether your enjoyment improves.

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notaclue wrote:

I reckon Smalls should give 'the Funk' a rest and listen to some fey female singer-songwriters in order to sharpen up his listening skills.

The Funk will never rest. It moves, but cannot be re-moved. Dig?

bootsycollins02.jpg

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