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  • Soap
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Hearing/believing
Reply #25
I never thought of unconscious bias. Excellent point! And how do those subconscious and unconscious levels of bias manifest in how we perceive sound?


A:  soap.  Not Soup.

B: I was talking about unconscious bias in you

The problem I see in this thread right off the bat is your broad general claims as to audiophiles speaking in unison as to how a <HARDWARE_UNIT> sounds.  There are two likely causes for this:

1 - The audiophile community (like any subject of marketing) has been primed with marketing terms.  This creates expectation bias in them.

2 - When asked about your original claim "do you have examples" you replied "What I mean is that, for example, certain amplifiers may be assumed to have a bright sound which is shared by other people, even in the same evaluation. The anecdotal reports are shared by people, but the same things are often shared. I've seen these things all the time on internet forums, don't ask me to cite a specific example, but if you have been browsing and reading enough of these audiophile discussions you'll find them." 

IOW you don't have concrete objective examples.  You have a subjective impression of the sorts of things audiophiles say.  We all have those, we all have read such threads.  But those very subjective impressions are very susceptible to expectation bias.  It would be quite normal for you to read a subjective review of <HARDWARE_UNIT> in which the word "airy" was used.  You then over the course of a few weeks read other reviews, none of which use the word "airy".  These reviews don't get remembered well, but the next review you read which does use the word "airy" gets associated with the first in your memory and actually sticks.

This is a cognitive bias in your impression of how correlated the reviews are with one another.  It is quite possible (if not plausible) that the words used in subjective reviews of <HARDWARE_UNIT> are actually found to cover the full gamut of gobbledygook if objectively indexed, but that certain words stick in your head better so reviews using said words make a deeper impression in your memory causing an undue (and incorrect) conclusion that most reviews use said words.
  • Last Edit: 12 March, 2013, 05:54:06 PM by Soap
Creature of habit.

  • Yahzi
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Hearing/believing
Reply #26
Quote
IOW you don't have concrete objective examples. You have a subjective impression of the sorts of things audiophiles say. We all have those, we all have read such threads. But those very subjective impressions are very susceptible to expectation bias.


Yes, it is a subjective observation. I know people personally who believed they heard similar things in a casual sighted test and I've read plenty of accounts of people thinking they heard the same or similar things. Do you really want me to scour the internet finding these reports?

You seem a little confrontational for some reason.  I don't think I've given you reason to be. Sorry for misspelling your alias, that I do apologise. Won't happen again.
  • Last Edit: 13 March, 2013, 06:59:06 AM by Yahzi

  • Porcus
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Hearing/believing
Reply #27
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We all have those, we all have read such threads.

Do you really want me to scour the internet finding these reports?


Let me take a guess: “no”? ;-)

  • Soap
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Hearing/believing
Reply #28
Yes, it is a subjective observation. I know people personally who believed they heard similar things in a casual sighted test and I've read plenty of accounts of people thinking they heard the same or similar things. Do you really want me to scour the internet finding these reports?

You seem a little confrontational for some reason.  I don't think I've given you reason to be. Sorry for misspelling your alias, that I do apologise. Won't happen again.


Not confrontational, just pointing out the apparent willingness to believe that audiophile subjective impressions of hardware were more suspect than your subjective impressions of their opinions, and the apparent misunderstanding of my original post about biases.

For I do believe it would be an interesting topic to explore ("Why do autiophiles use similar words to describe hardware which tests flat if there is no measurable difference?") if there was any actual evidence that they independently do.  I don't believe there is - and "I've read plenty of accounts" doesn't rise to the bar.
  • Last Edit: 13 March, 2013, 07:33:23 AM by Soap
Creature of habit.

Hearing/believing
Reply #29
It's easy to see how people sharing the same room, in particular if they share the same opinions, would eventually converge to the same impression. It's just a matter of conversation and social influences that'd make you agree with them, even if doubtfully. You know, that "well he's probably right. If I think about it, yeah, I think it's like that" effect. There's probably a technical term for that.
Also, and this is relevant for people abroad sharing the same opinions too, if there is an original claim for a certain characteristical change, people are going to want to look for that. So they fall prey to the same expectation bias as everyone else who's trying that out. Considering how extremely well connected the international audio enthusiast (well except those who don't have internet I guess, but they're probably not relevant for our purposes as they generally don't partake in tests organised over the internet) community is, it's not hard to see how they would all influence each other.
why is it that those who claim audible differences exist often hear the same things, with the same equipment?

What do you mean by that? Do you have examples?

If you mean the broad, vague stuff like a 'wider soundstage' or a 'clearer sound', those who claim these things usually hear the same things even with different equipment. Every celebrated tweak somehow seems to add depth to the soundstage or more clarity. I really wonder how deep the soundstage of some tweak-heavy setups has become. 

Astronomers know the answer.
  • Last Edit: 04 April, 2013, 10:19:40 AM by Wyld Stallyn

  • BigE
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Hearing/believing
Reply #30

Let's make this about a very specific example.

I have seen many anecdotal reports about gold RCA's being "warmer" sounding than silver RCA's, which are generally characterized as "bright" or "lean" sounding.

I have never seen an anecdotal report about silver being warm or gold being bright.

Can this be explained solely by social means? or, Should any significance be given to these anecdotal characterizations?


  • db1989
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Hearing/believing
Reply #31
Not stating conclusively either way, but I can perfectly believe that would be due solely to the widely held synaethesia about orange-esque colours being warm and blue or grey colours being cold, which itself is presumably based upon the similarity of the former to fire or something.

  • BigE
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Hearing/believing
Reply #32
Not stating conclusively either way, but I can perfectly believe that would be due solely to the widely held synaethesia about orange-esque colours being warm and blue or grey colours being cold, which itself is presumably based upon the similarity of the former to fire or something.


That is a very interesting possibility.  Thank you!

  • db1989
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Hearing/believing
Reply #33
It’s plausible, at least. Where there is no scientific reason for a difference, people can still perceive one for whatever reason. Even the slightest association with some other phenomenon, however unconscious it might be, can alter someone’s perceptions if their test is sighted. And when you have people selling effectively identical products at grossly inflated prices, there’s a lot of psychological pressure to justify the latter. An irrelevant association with some other sense is a good way to bolster this, and I would bet that it’s been exploited many times.

Of course, we’re overlooking the much simpler possibility that people just think of the reputation of gold as an element and spuriously extrapolate that to an idea that it’s better in all respects, even in cases where there’s no physicochemical reason whatsoever.

  • dhromed
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Hearing/believing
Reply #34
I had never heard about such an RCA difference before, but now I have, and now the idea is planted in my head as well.

  • Woodinville
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Hearing/believing
Reply #35
I had never heard about such an RCA difference before, but now I have, and now the idea is planted in my head as well.


Well, I have seen a difference in RCA connectors, but it was due to centerclipping in a corroded (not very much, and fixed by reseating) connector that wasn't plated.
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J. D. (jj) Johnston

  • Porcus
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Hearing/believing
Reply #36
a corroded (not very much, and fixed by reseating) connector that wasn't plated.


It is actually not uncommon to think that gold is a better conductor. (Which is right as long as compared to rust.)

  • Woodinville
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Hearing/believing
Reply #37
a corroded (not very much, and fixed by reseating) connector that wasn't plated.


It is actually not uncommon to think that gold is a better conductor. (Which is right as long as compared to rust.)


Gold Plating serves only to prevent as much corrosion. It is not a better conductor.

Tin on gold is bad, actually, in the long term.
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J. D. (jj) Johnston

Hearing/believing
Reply #38
Where there is no scientific reason for a difference, people can still perceive one for whatever reason.
I remember a few interesting (old) studies about the influence of our brain on what we hear, as reported in Blauert's book Spatial Hearing. JJ/Woodinville, can you comment on the amount of brain correction that can be expected in cases like this (is it limited to lateralization)? Is this similar to getting used to e.g. the sound of a new control room?
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If the sensitivity of one ear is artificially increased, as may be accomplished by corrective surgery (Betzold 1890, Röser 1965), or by partly plugging the opposite ear (Bauer et al. 1966), subjects first report a systematic shift of all auditory events toward the more sensitive ear. After a period of hours, days. or even weeks this shift can recede, and the subjects react once more in a way normal for persons with symmetrical hearing. Clearly a relearning process is at work, since the time of adjustment can be shortened by appropriate training (Bauer et al. 1966).
It is clear from the descriptions of these phenomena that lateralization in connection with interaural sound pressure differences is a time-variant process. Short-term variations can occur in connection with adaptation and fatigue, and long-term variations occur in connection with learning processes.
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