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Positive ABX test of loudspeaker cables
Dirk95100
post Jul 27 2011, 16:49
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Is it possible to make recordings of the soundsystem with only the speakercable as variable?
Then use abx software to determine audible differences?
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DonP
post Jul 27 2011, 19:57
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QUOTE (Notat @ Jul 27 2011, 09:58) *
QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Jul 26 2011, 06:16) *
Our need for DBTs becomes clear if one considers the story of "Clever Hans" a horse that "did arithmetic" but was actually sensing the right answers from his handlers.

The handler and the horse never see one another in this test. I know that it can be subtle but I don't see a mechanism for conveying information to the participant.


From a page back:

QUOTE (hybris)
1. The listener was not removed from the room while the change was taking place, so the listener could see the person who did the change.

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Notat
post Jul 28 2011, 04:18
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I assume the subject can't see what the technician is doing. I assume the subject and technician are not in cahoots. This is not like the trainer's posture as the horse does math or the physician's demeanor as he writes a script for a placebo. The technician leaves the room while the subject listens and answers the ABX. I guess it is possible there's something I'm overlooking and better to be rigorous than to have to question. On the other hand, if you establish such a rigorous standard, you give yourself a mechanism to reject results you don't like. This introduces a whole different sort of bias.
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DonP
post Jul 28 2011, 11:08
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QUOTE (Notat @ Jul 27 2011, 23:18) *
I assume the subject can't see what the technician is doing. I assume the subject and technician are not in cahoots. This is not like the trainer's posture as the horse does math or the physician's demeanor as he writes a script for a placebo. The technician leaves the room while the subject listens and answers the ABX.


In neither of the other cases are the tester and subject in cahoots either.

Yes, it is like the trainer's posture or the physician's demeanor. If the tester has a different attitude toward the expensive cable that's reflected in something similar to what the horse was picking up then the damage is done before the listening starts.

The listener was not alone for a whole ABX trial. The tester had to enter the room to change cables for every switch between A, B, and X.
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krabapple
post Jul 28 2011, 19:50
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QUOTE (Notat @ Jul 27 2011, 22:18) *
I assume the subject can't see what the technician is doing. I assume the subject and technician are not in cahoots.


Doesn't matter. Scientists don't assume that either. The DBT requirement rests on other grounds -- the fact that cueing can be *unconscious* or 'unintentional' to both 'sender' and 'recipient' .

QUOTE
This is not like the trainer's posture as the horse does math or the physician's demeanor as he writes a script for a placebo. The technician leaves the room while the subject listens and answers the ABX. I guess it is possible there's something I'm overlooking and better to be rigorous than to have to question. On the other hand, if you establish such a rigorous standard, you give yourself a mechanism to reject results you don't like. This introduces a whole different sort of bias.


Those who study perception (and the journals that publish their work) would not consider it over-rigorous; they would consider it standard operating procedure.
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Canar
post Jul 28 2011, 22:12
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QUOTE (Dirk95100 @ Jul 27 2011, 08:49) *
Is it possible to make recordings of the soundsystem with only the speakercable as variable?
This. It may be as trivial as a different frequency response in the cable. Perhaps there's some inductance and/or capacitance involved in the cable configuration. Coiled a certain way?

Also, how many people have tried ABXing loudspeaker cables? Has it happened 200 times (inverse of the p-val) before? We'd be due for a solid false positive if that were the case. tongue.gif The point of ABX is that you can get the probability arbitrarily low. I'd like to see them get a better result before I'm willing to accept this. It's too at-odds with what I've been able to demonstrate to be true. I can ABX MP3 at 320 vs. FLAC on at least a few samples. Cables have never made a significant difference, unless they're pretty obviously faulty.


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Notat
post Jul 29 2011, 17:56
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QUOTE (krabapple @ Jul 28 2011, 12:50) *
Those who study perception (and the journals that publish their work) would not consider it over-rigorous; they would consider it standard operating procedure.

As long as that's applied uniformly to all results, we're good. This implies it is not fair to use cursory listening to decide whether DBT is required.

I prefer to be guided by Mr. Sagan, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." If the two cables measure significantly differently, the test described here has not produced an extraordinary result and we should be able to accept them without demanding additional rigor.
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Notat
post Jul 29 2011, 18:13
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QUOTE (Dirk95100 @ Jul 27 2011, 09:49) *
Is it possible to make recordings of the soundsystem with only the speakercable as variable?
Then use abx software to determine audible differences?

Yes, this is possible. It has limited usefulness. If you can hear a difference in these recordings, esoteric arguments aside, you'd be safe to conclude that you would be able to hear a difference in the room. If you don't hear a difference on the recording, you might still be able to hear a difference in the room because limitations of the recording may prevent you from hearing them.

Making a recording is similar to making the measurement I've suggested. If we had such recordings using the same source material and both sets of cables, I'd not bother listening to them. I'd analyze them and look for frequency response differences.
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pdq
post Jul 29 2011, 18:34
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I would think that this kind of ABX test would be almost impossible to conduct. The sound reaching the tester's ears would change if anything or anyone in the room moved, let alone small changes in the listener's position or orientation. Add this to the significant delay in switching among A, B and X, and it seems highly unlikely that anyone could successfully identify a subtle difference.
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krabapple
post Jul 31 2011, 23:01
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QUOTE (Notat @ Jul 29 2011, 11:56) *
QUOTE (krabapple @ Jul 28 2011, 12:50) *
Those who study perception (and the journals that publish their work) would not consider it over-rigorous; they would consider it standard operating procedure.

As long as that's applied uniformly to all results, we're good. This implies it is not fair to use cursory listening to decide whether DBT is required.

I prefer to be guided by Mr. Sagan, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." If the two cables measure significantly differently, the test described here has not produced an extraordinary result and we should be able to accept them without demanding additional rigor.



...and I suggested measuring the cables in my first thread post. But simply measuring 'differently' is still not a free pass for accepting an anecdote as accurate, and bypassing rigor. Measured differences, though 'real', are not necessarily audible. The magnitude and type of difference matters.

This post has been edited by krabapple: Jul 31 2011, 23:02
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knutinh
post Aug 1 2011, 15:04
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QUOTE (pdq @ Jul 29 2011, 19:34) *
I would think that this kind of ABX test would be almost impossible to conduct. The sound reaching the tester's ears would change if anything or anyone in the room moved, let alone small changes in the listener's position or orientation. Add this to the significant delay in switching among A, B and X, and it seems highly unlikely that anyone could successfully identify a subtle difference.

Toole and Olive have deviced adequate tests for loudspeakers in rooms. Why would you think that testing cables is any harder?

-k
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2Bdecided
post Aug 1 2011, 15:48
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QUOTE (pdq @ Jul 29 2011, 18:34) *
I would think that this kind of ABX test would be almost impossible to conduct. The sound reaching the tester's ears would change if anything or anyone in the room moved, let alone small changes in the listener's position or orientation. Add this to the significant delay in switching among A, B and X, and it seems highly unlikely that anyone could successfully identify a subtle difference.
Yet people report large sound quality differences in sighted evaluations, even though the exact same "unlikely that anyone could successfully identify a subtle difference" problems exist. wink.gif

Let's be honest - if the difference becomes undetectable if you move your head by a few mm, it doesn't matter.

That's not to say that the difference must be larger than that which occurs when you move your head a few mm. Moving your head a few mm can create a large measurable difference. But our brains can often "tune this out" to track down a much smaller (but consistent) difference. If it's really there and audible at all.

Cheers,
David.
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earwaxxer
post Aug 21 2011, 00:03
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I have no doubt that cable does make a "difference" in sound. Crossed that bridge a long time ago. What I do doubt is the ability to identify those differences (statistically significantly). I have tried myself to differentiate "differences" on demand and have come up short. Too many human variables at play
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DVDdoug
post Aug 22 2011, 23:14
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QUOTE
I have no doubt that cable does make a "difference" in sound. Crossed that bridge a long time ago. What I do doubt is the ability to identify those differences (statistically significantly). I have tried myself to differentiate "differences" on demand and have come up short. Too many human variables at play
Without reliability, repeatability, and statistical significance, the "results" are useless...

This is about economics & marketing, and if an expensive speaker cable doesn't sound consistently & repeatedly better than zip cord, it's a waste of money (assuming sound quality is the criteria). If I can secretly switch-out someone's expensive cables and they are not 100% sure something's changed, they have wasted their money.

What if I claim that drug A is more effective than drug B, but it's not statistically better? (The FDA would tell me I cannot advertise that claim.)

Or, what if I say my Camero is faster around the track than your Mustang, but it's not statistically or repeatably faster? What does that even mean??? (If you are a Mustang owner, you are likely to strongly disagree with my conclusions!)

Statistically non-reliable information is of no use any use to anybody!
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knutinh
post Aug 23 2011, 07:53
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QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Aug 23 2011, 00:14) *
...If I can secretly switch-out someone's expensive cables and they are not 100% sure something's changed, they have wasted their money.

What if I claim that drug A is more effective than drug B, but it's not statistically better? (The FDA would tell me I cannot advertise that claim.)
...

Even if they are not 100% sure that something has changed, the difference might be worth something for somebody if they are 99% sure, or 51% sure. The question is if it is any larger than pure luck/chance.

In most cases I would probably not be able to tell the difference between my current flac collection of music, and the same converted to sensible mp3 files. However, the added cost for going flac is negligible for me, and the peace of mind knowing that all files are sample-for-sample identical to their CD original is worth something - it might even have practical value in a few corner cases.

The only difference between me and a lunatic audiophile in this case is that I am willing to spend a few dollars worth of hard drive space on something that might or might not audibly matter. Hard-core audiophiles might be willing to spend $10.000 on cables that probably wont audible matter. No big difference if you have the money.

-k
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2Bdecided
post Aug 23 2011, 18:23
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QUOTE (knutinh @ Aug 23 2011, 07:53) *
No big difference if you have the money.
It has a big difference in terms of it's effect on the audio industry though.


There can't be that many people on the planet with enough money to buy all the things that might improve sound, but don't really. And none of us has enough time to listen to them. That's not to mention all the great music that you're actually ignoring when trying to listen for the sound of the cable! wink.gif

Cheers,
David.
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Ed Seedhouse
post Aug 23 2011, 18:56
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QUOTE (earwaxxer @ Aug 20 2011, 16:03) *
I have no doubt that cable does make a "difference" in sound. Crossed that bridge a long time ago. What I do doubt is the ability to identify those differences (statistically significantly). I have tried myself to differentiate "differences" on demand and have come up short. Too many human variables at play


What this amounts to is a claim that something that cannot be reliably detected still nevertheless exists. Very shaky philosophical ground you are standing on.

"A difference that makes no difference is no difference" is one way to phrase it. It's called "positivism" and is the philosophical ground that all modern science stands on. You are free to set yourself against the whole basis of science if you wish, of course, but if so one wonders how you can do anything but live in constant anxiety since if you believe what you seem to believe you cannot trust anything that science has produced. How can you be sure that you will not spontaneously explode at any moment? How can you trust that your words typed into your computer will appear in this forum? After all the whole worldwide web is based on science and if everything that has been developed using the scientific method in the last two centuries were to stop working a huge number of human beings would cease to exist in a very short time, me among them.

No, I am afraid that when it comes to a disagreement with competent scientists and technicians who put their insites into practical use, and your philosophically suspect assertions, I side with the scientists.



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knutinh
post Aug 23 2011, 19:06
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Aug 23 2011, 19:23) *
QUOTE (knutinh @ Aug 23 2011, 07:53) *
No big difference if you have the money.
It has a big difference in terms of it's effect on the audio industry though.

The biggest (negative) effect on the audio industry is that R&D resources are diverted from technology that affects audible qualities with large certainty, into technologies that cannot be proven to have any (significant) audible benefit.

But this is off topic. Any effort to prove the claims of the audiophiles should be applauded, and duely critizised if anything is weak.

-k
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Nessuno
post Aug 24 2011, 09:24
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QUOTE (knutinh @ Aug 23 2011, 20:06) *
The biggest (negative) effect on the audio industry is that R&D resources are diverted from technology that affects audible qualities with large certainty, into technologies that cannot be proven to have any (significant) audible benefit.


How much R&D do you think is really needed (and actually used) in audio cable industry? (well, maybe a lot, in the field of marketing... cool.gif )


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2Bdecided
post Aug 24 2011, 10:03
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ Aug 24 2011, 09:24) *
QUOTE (knutinh @ Aug 23 2011, 20:06) *
The biggest (negative) effect on the audio industry is that R&D resources are diverted from technology that affects audible qualities with large certainty, into technologies that cannot be proven to have any (significant) audible benefit.


How much R&D do you think is really needed (and actually used) in audio cable industry? (well, maybe a lot, in the field of marketing... cool.gif )
Maybe "diverted" isn't correct - maybe "nullified". Back in the day, more companies were doing more research into improving sound reproduction. It was worth it because at least a few people paid money for better sound.

Now "better sound" costs less, and the people spending silly money aren't really chasing it (though many believe they are).


Some people claim "but sound quality is now good enough - the real innovation has moved into other areas" - on one level that's true, though I rarely hear audio systems that are "good enough" (for the price). And proper immersive hi-fi surround sound is very rare.

Cheers,
David.
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Nessuno
post Aug 24 2011, 12:03
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Aug 24 2011, 11:03) *
Some people claim "but sound quality is now good enough - the real innovation has moved into other areas" - on one level that's true, though I rarely hear audio systems that are "good enough" (for the price). And proper immersive hi-fi surround sound is very rare.


Transducer technology is certainly an area where there is still plenty of room for improvement, but where a lot of R&D is needed even to archieve little gain, as laws of physic are difficult to circumvent. This, in business terms, means little return of investiment.

And in my opinion this is an area where the term "quality" has still a subjective and non ABXable meaning.

This post has been edited by Nessuno: Aug 24 2011, 12:03


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tnargs
post Aug 29 2011, 06:01
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QUOTE (hybris @ Jul 19 2011, 05:35) *
Just wanted your thoughts about a recent ABX test done be a few members(users) of the norwegian audio forum www.avforum.no.
.....
Any immediate questions or comments?

It is very easy to detect the difference in sound between two cables if one or both of them are making an audible contribution to the sound! For example, $1000 cables are sometimes 'so heroically misconceived' as to introduce a non-flat frequency response, or to resonate in the audio passband when driving into a low-capacitance or low-inductance load, etc. The directional arrows printed on the Nordost cables are an immediate source of worry.

Where is the engineering data on the cables tested?

Similarly, was the amplifier output unmodified from the manufacturer's spec? Audiophiles are notorious tweakers.

It would have been interesting to see the electrical FR and distortion of the two cables measured at the speaker terminals when connected to the speakers and amp.
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