Non-Smoking Man

Cognitive Bias

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4 minutes ago, PuritéAudio said:

On the contrary, listening sighted you are completely at the mercy of bias, remember the primary reason to compare unsighted is to establish in the first instance if there is any difference whatsoever, once you have established there is an identifiable difference , then you can decide a preference at your leisure.

Keith

Of course, listening sighted we are at the mercy of bias. I actually said exactly that. My point was suggesting that listening unsighted *also* had it's pitfalls, mainly the issues around being in a scenario where one is listening actively for difference or no difference and the complex interplay of cognitive/expecttion bias the brain happily creates for itself in this scenario. 

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In other words listening blind will also allow the mind to play tricks and likely hear a. Differences that aren't there or b. Not hear differences that are there. If you say to someone can you hear a difference, unsighted or sighted, then immediately the brain can and will start to play tricks.

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Super Dealer

No, you are just comparing two clips of music and trying to decide whether you can hear a difference , hardly anyone does of course, if they did expensive cable sales would fall through the floor.

Keith

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4 minutes ago, Headcoat said:

Whilst making no inference to kit sounding the same or different, the concept of blind testing is surely flawed due to the nature of the mind. Once we start to listen for differences we are at the mercy of all sorts of expectation or cognitive bias. And listen for differences is surely what we will do. Somewhat paradoxically listening for a difference, without any cue, might well make distinguishing a difference almost impossible; under pressure we may well miss differences.

On the other hand listening sighted over an extended period while potentially allowing the mind to settle to a point of where differences may be observed will also open up a can of worms in terms of expectation and cognitive bias. There's so many variables at play that I'm really not sure listening alone can settle if, or if not, amps, DACS, cables etc sound any different in level matched scenarios. Likewise measurements are only what we know now, though a good reference point they are likely to be far from everything. 

This includes a number of issues routinely brought up to debunk the idea of controlled testing.

Supporters of controlled listening tests are usually much more circumspect in drawing conclusions, they know that such testing is not perfect and that what it tells us is usually quite specific. Rigorous testing is long winded, tedious and expensive and the implication of the results is often not understood by regular enthusiasts, for these reasons it is rarely attempted in hifi circles.

My suggestion is to carry out some informal controlled testing for yourself. This can be organised in the manner of regular 'bake offs' and can be kept quite simple.

Choose a source/preamp, digital or analogue and say, three integrated amplifiers perhaps one valve, one regular class AB and one digital and of course a pair of speakers. The levels can be matched quite easily by measuring the voltage at the speaker terminals and the amplifiers switched from behind a screen.

Having organised such tests in the past I would be pretty surprised if you were not amazed.

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5 minutes ago, PuritéAudio said:

No, you are just comparing two clips of music and trying to decide whether you can hear a difference , hardly anyone does of course, if they did expensive cable sales would fall through the floor.

Keith

No, point being the mind can play tricks either way. Blind testing is far from perfect and not a natural scenario, unsighted cognitive bias can and will likely play a role. That cogntive bias might be I can't hear a difference. It's paradoxicall but listening for a difference can actually, due to the way the mind works, prevent us from hearing differences that are there. Of course if one has zen master like control of the mind an effective and objective/unbiased blind testing could be undertaken. I buy well made cheap cables btw and very much doubt cables, as long as well made and suitable, make a difference. 

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9 minutes ago, MGTOW said:

This includes a number of issues routinely brought up to debunk the idea of controlled testing.

Supporters of controlled listening tests are usually much more circumspect in drawing conclusions, they know that such testing is not perfect and that what it tells us is usually quite specific. Rigorous testing is long winded, tedious and expensive and the implication of the results is often not understood by regular enthusiasts, for these reasons it is rarely attempted in hifi circles.

My suggestion is to carry out some informal controlled testing for yourself. This can be organised in the manner of regular 'bake offs' and can be kept quite simple.

Choose a source/preamp, digital or analogue and say, three integrated amplifiers perhaps one valve, one regular class AB and one digital and of course a pair of speakers. The levels can be matched quite easily by measuring the voltage at the speaker terminals and the amplifiers switched from behind a screen.

Having organised such tests in the past I would be pretty surprised if you were not amazed.

I might well be. I still wouldn't be entirely convinced either way though. Keeping an open mind I would still have to allow for the fact that I might hear no difference as a. The difference is subtle, and might only be conveyed over a longer time and in a more relaxed environment and b. By listening for differences, which is exactly the purpose of any comparisoon, my brain will immediately be in a biased state which could lead to blocking out differences. Out of curiosity are you saying a valve amp will sound identical to a SS with levels matched? 

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2 hours ago, Headcoat said:

I might well be. I still wouldn't be entirely convinced either way though. Keeping an open mind I would still have to allow for the fact that I might hear no difference as a. The difference is subtle, and might only be conveyed over a longer time and in a more relaxed environment and b. By listening for differences, which is exactly the purpose of any comparisoon, my brain will immediately be in a biased state which could lead to blocking out differences. Out of curiosity are you saying a valve amp will sound identical to a SS with levels matched? 

I was trying to outline a relatively simple way whereby components can be compared under controlled conditions, this is not perfect nor is it in any way designed to scientifically 'prove' anything but to my mind it is way more relevant than 'conventional' sighted tests.

It is simply an experiment of a type that I have taken part in a fair number of times and, I think, learned something new on pretty much every occasion.

Back in the mid '70s, Quad introduced the original version of the 405 amplifier. At one of the launch events a demonstration was set up that compared the valve Quad IIs, the 303 and the new 405. None of the reviewers or industry figures present could tell which amplifier was which. 

This caused some consternation and some controversy, so a more formal test was run a couple of years later with the results published in Wireless World. This test was pretty rigorous and large enough to be statistically meaningful. None of the listeners involved could tell which amplifier was which.

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3 hours ago, PuritéAudio said:

On the contrary, listening sighted you are completely at the mercy of bias, remember the primary reason to compare unsighted is to establish in the first instance if there is any difference whatsoever, once you have established there is an identifiable difference , then you can decide a preference at your leisure.

Keith

What kind of demonstrations do you provide for your customers, Keith?

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27 minutes ago, Non-Smoking Man said:

What kind of demonstrations do you provide for your customers, Keith?

Looks like it starts with a blindfold and if you are lucky handcuffs and more :) 

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25 minutes ago, uzzy said:

Looks like it starts with a blindfold and if you are lucky handcuffs and more :) 

I wonder what Freud would have made of that!

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Super Dealer
56 minutes ago, Non-Smoking Man said:

What kind of demonstrations do you provide for your customers, Keith?

Well if it is loudspeakers, I set them up next to the customers own and leave them to it, which allows them to switch between systems at will.

Loudspeakers ‘usually’ sound different enough to not need to be compared unsighted but it is possible if desired.

Keith

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35 minutes ago, uzzy said:

Looks like it starts with a blindfold and if you are lucky handcuffs and more :) 

What about rubber gloves :D

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Super Wammer

Don't bring your alternative 'activities' into the open Eddie 😏

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6 minutes ago, MF 1000 said:

Don't bring your alternative 'activities' into the open Eddie 😏

Oops, wrong forum :doh: xD

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All this blind testing malarkey is all very well and doubtless sensible, but it is only really relevant if you carry on listening without any knowledge of what equipment you are using. 

The point is that we listen sighted, fully cognisant of the equipment we are using and with the influence of all the biases that make us human. As such any decisions regarding equipment need to take account of our biases. As an example, often people will associate valve amps with a certain type of sound particularly in comparison with SS. They may actually sound the same but that is irrelevant if we perceive them differently because of our biases. To not take into account the vagaries of our minds is to ignore, arguably, the most important part of the audio reproduction chain - us.

If I compare my DACs sighted (let alone unsighted) I can’t hear a difference (thus no need to go blind). Yet in practice I have a distinct preference for one over the others. Is it because of some subtle actual difference or the sum of various biases? In essence it doesn’t matter a flying fig; if I enjoy listening to music more with one more than the others that is all that matters to me. Of course others might wish to patronisingly tell me of the error of my way, some numpties have even called my choice of equipment effect boxes :D, but why should I or anyone care about their incomplete and “blind” understanding of the audio reproduction process.

Repeatedly wittering on about DBTs is incredibly boring after a while, I personally would rather hear about how people listen and what triggers their enjoyment of music. 

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