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Hydrogenaudio Forum => Listening Tests => Topic started by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-09 10:19:33

Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-09 10:19:33
There is much discussion that revolves around a/b type listening tests, mostly concering the results of course, but also a large amount concerning the details of the tests and how they are carried out. However so far I have never seen anyone express concern about the fundamental premise of listening tests, and to whether they can ever produce really meaningful results. It seems to be just accepted that the idea of listening tests is a good one, its just a matter of figuring out how to best carry them out.

There is, I believe,  such a huge and very fundamental difference between listening to music under normal circumstances and listening to music during a listening test. Normally when we listen to music its not a purely concious process, rather its more or less an automatic process - we simply let the music kind of wash over us, and leave it up to our subconcious mind to do the work, to  invoke an emotional response, and to provide us with a pleasurable sensation (hopefully).

This is very different to the very concious process during a listening test, where people sit in moods of deep concentration and furrowed brows, focussing their attention on bits of the music, comparing, making notes, remembering, judging, etc.

I dont believe the two processes are comparable enough to draw any conclusions that might apply equally to both scenarios, apart from very crude and broad ones. Normal listening and listening tests are as different as chalk and cheese. If I can invoke a slightly rude example, it is like the difference between a couple having passionate, romantic sex in the privacy of their own bedroom versus doing it in a laboratory in front of technicians and cameras.

Its only when you are really listening to music, as opposed to examining it under a microscope, that you can fully appreciate all the nuances of it - the nuances that will go right over you head and out the window in a listening test. You might think you can hear them, but your ability to pick them up will be skewed by the mood and state of mind you have to be in to do the test.

My advice to anyone trying to evaluate a codec is to convert a large portion or indeed all of your music to the codecs you want to test, load each one successively onto your player, listen to it during the course of a day (and i mean listen normally, not examine), and note down at the end of the day how much enjoyment and pleasure you got from the experience. Take particular note of the times you felt really enthusiastic about the music, when you enjoyed even some of your least favourite tracks, and the other days when you found you kept wanting to skip past tracks, or found your attention wandering from the music.

This is I think much the best way to really properly judge a codec, or a piece of equipment. I found that when I conducted a/b type listening tests with mp3 and wma codecs at high bit rates, I was unable to pick large differences, and wound up thinking that mp3 sounded quite ok. However, subsequent actual lsitening experience revealed that mp3 was very unsatisfying, and during the days I had mp3's on my player, I almost completely lost interest in listening to music. When I put wma versions of the same music on my player, I was suddenly interested once again, and enjoying the music once again. I actually performed this test by accident, accidentally replacing the wma with mp3, which i discovered later -  a perfect example of unbiased testing.

You normally listen to music with your subconcious mind, but compare and judge it with your concious mind. Make no mistake the two are very different.

My advice is by all means conduct listening tests, but take them with a pinch of salt. The best way to judge music is when you are listening normally, not when you are in judgement mode.

Anyway, thats my two cents worth (or less?) for now.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: db1989 on 2010-03-09 10:42:59
I'll let someone else handle this. Did anyone bring popcorn?
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: andy o on 2010-03-09 11:21:36
I don't know if this topic is gonna be deleted, cause the "argument" has been said a million times before.

Quote
Its only when you are really listening to music, as opposed to examining it under a microscope, that you can fully appreciate all the nuances of it - the nuances that will go right over you head and out the window in a listening test.


Actually, I don't know about you, but in high school biology class, we could see even more nuances when we put the onion skin under a microscope. Maybe you need to focus your microscope a bit, or turn on its light.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: pdq on 2010-03-09 11:39:18
Nobody here cares how you evaluate what you are listening to as long as you meet one critical requirement. You must not know which version you are listening to. Beyond that there are many many valid approaches to "listening tests".
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: RonaldDumsfeld on 2010-03-09 14:25:12
He has got a point. Sort of anyway. If he thinks it sounds better it does sound better. To him.

Provided he doesn't try to convince anyone else it really does sounds better simply on the basis of his own opinion I cannot see any harm done.

If my wife buys a new handbag and it makes her happy then I'm happy. I wouldn't dream of telling her I cannot detect any functional difference between the new version and all the others.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Notat on 2010-03-09 15:06:02
Would you step in and correct her if she exaggerated some of its virtues or made unsubstantiated claims while chatting with her friends?
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: shakey_snake on 2010-03-09 15:16:33
There is much discussion that revolves around a/b type listening tests, mostly concering the results of course,

This is all I've read of the OP so far, but he's already wrong.

All objections to A/B testing are on the basis of methodology. Results are of no consequence when the methodology is obviously stupid.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Gag Halfrunt on 2010-03-09 16:12:09
Is the neurophysiology for 'listening to music' materially different to that of 'using music to evaluate something'? That's not a facetious question, BTW.





Title: what value listening tests
Post by: RonaldDumsfeld on 2010-03-09 16:19:11
Quote
Would you step in and correct her if she exaggerated some of its virtues or made unsubstantiated claims while chatting with her friends?


lol. How mad do you think I am? On second thoughts please don't answer that.

I know what you mean though. Just attempting to maintain an unreverential tone in a conversation we have had rather too often and which may well be a troll in any case.

 

Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Notat on 2010-03-09 16:37:12
You are wise be cool on both of these fronts.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: timcupery on 2010-03-09 16:42:34
The OP may be a troll, or an audiophile, or an honest guy who has an argument with some face plausibility.
Let me assume the latter for the moment.

It's true that, for many people, listening to music carefully for the sake of seeking out differences is different than most experiences of listening to music.
However, it is likely that, in careful listening when you are trying to hear differences, you will notice more nuance, not less. Comparable to how many details you notice in a picture when you're doing one of those "find all the differences between these two pictures" games.

However, it is at least possible that careful concerted listening for the sake of comparison and differentiation puts the listener in a different enough psychological state from normal listening, that he/she will no longer be able to notice some things.

For example, let's say the listener's emotion is sparked by "highs" in the music which are perceived at a subconscious level. Let's say, furthermore, that these "highs" are some of the data lost in the lossy encoding process. The subconscious perception --> emotional reaction link isn't engaged very well by blind testing with careful listening for differences.
But to people who pose this sort of example, I say: set up a different sort of blind listening test. Where you're listening to music as you otherwise would. And see if you experience the "highs". Maybe your wife can set up the test for you. Play the lossless or lossy version of an album, without telling you which one.

Now if the listener is held back from open emotive enjoyment by the awareness that "this music may or may not be the original"... well, sorry, you've lost to placebo already.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Gag Halfrunt on 2010-03-09 17:02:29
It's true that, for many people, listening to music carefully for the sake of seeking out differences is different than most experiences of listening to music.
However, it is likely that, in careful listening when you are trying to hear differences, you will notice more nuance, not less. Comparable to how many details you notice in a picture when you're doing one of those "find all the differences between these two pictures" games.


I don't agree.

There's a strong possibility that the psychological (or even neurological) conditions that apply when a person is enjoying a piece of art are materially different to those that apply when the same person is studying that artwork for authenticity. The second condition is not necessarily an amplified version of the first.

If that is the case, there might be different perception pathways between a person listening to a news report and the same person listening a piece of poetry, for example. So, does does music 'appreciation' differ from music 'evaluation' and using music as an evaluative tool in audio development?
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: pdq on 2010-03-09 17:16:55
Let us not overlook that the arguments presented by the OP are typical of someone who believes he hears a difference in a sighted test, but is unable to prove it in a proper double-blind test.

The bottom line is that if you design the test in a way that you think will prove that you hear a difference, and as long as it is a proper double-blind test and the results are statistically significant, then we will accept that you can indeed hear a difference. Anything less will not be accepted.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: richard123 on 2010-03-09 18:11:25
Now if the listener is held back from open emotive enjoyment by the awareness that "this music may or may not be the original"... well, sorry, you've lost to placebo already.

A problem with ABX testing is that it discounts the placebo effect.  Tests show that "expensive" wine tastes better than "cheap" wine (even if both samples are the same), placebo effects in drugs are real (many people taking placebos experience physiological changes), etc., etc.

For some percentage of the population, 128kbs will never sound as good as 320kbs, whatever a well designed test shows.  These people will have a better music experience with the higher bit rate.  That the experience can be simulated with a lower bit rate but telling them it's a higher bit rate is not really relevant to their enjoyment of the music.

Otherwise, the OPs objection can be solved by better designed listening tests, as others have noted.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: greynol on 2010-03-09 18:18:52
Yawn!  Well there is not one single thing in magneticrabbit's post that hasn't already been covered to death in this forum, but I'll indulge for a few minutes of my time...

My advice to anyone trying to evaluate a codec is to convert a large portion or indeed all of your music to the codecs you want to test, load each one successively onto your player, listen to it during the course of a day (and i mean listen normally, not examine), and note down at the end of the day how much enjoyment and pleasure you got from the experience.
There is no reason why this cannot be done and there is nothing in ABX methodology prohibiting this from being done, though you will need to decide ahead of time how many days you will need to conduct such an experiment.  I'm thinking you're going to need a minimum of 10 or 12 and that you need to be right on each and every day in order to demonstrate any statistical significance.

When I put wma versions of the same music on my player, I was suddenly interested once again, and enjoying the music once again. I actually performed this test by accident, accidentally replacing the wma with mp3, which i discovered later -  a perfect example of unbiased testing.
I flipped a coin once and called it heads; it landed heads.  That certainly must mean I can always predict the outcome when flipping a coin.

Is this an admission that since this was just an accident and that all the rest of your so-called "a/b" testing was sighted?

Provided you're not just a troll, you need to read this before continuing this discussion:
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=16295 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=16295)

My advice is by all means conduct listening tests, but take them with a pinch of salt.
Just as you should take any claims that people make about sound quality from either a sighted test or a test with only a few trials with a pinch bag of salt.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Axon on 2010-03-09 18:40:06
There is nothing inherent in the results of a listening test which guarantees a correlation with subjective listening perception. And subjective listening perception is how humans listen to music.

At the same time, there is nothing inherent in the results of a subjective listening test which guarantees correlated a subjective response with other people. That's the definition of "subjective", after all: it fundamentally varies from person to person, because human perception is not a logical process. (Otherwise, all listening tests would be objective.) Disagreements are plainly found to exist between two people listening to the same component. And even when there is complete agreement, sources of error remain with subjective listening which are strongly proven to reduce the ability to discriminate fine differences in sound.

Neither of those points in isolation matter - what makes them important is communication. And clear and meaningful communication about audio quality demands blind listening tests. When people speak, they generally want to be listened to. In the context of audio, the speech should be meaningful. A subjective evaluation be absolutely meaningful to the speaker - the evaluation correlates exactly with his/her subjective experience. But it might be completely meaningless to anybody else, for any number of reasons. Look at how often flamewars happen on a relatively unregulated subjectively-oriented audio forum over this sort of thing. Either they are extremely common - reflecting the mutual meaninglessness of the posters' subjective opinions - or they are not, BUT the board will almost always have a policy in place to prohibit attacks on posters' listening abilities or experiences - again, reflecting the mutual meaninglessness of the posters' subjective opinions.

In contrast, a well-run listening test may not have a direct correlation with the subjective evaluations of the testers involved, but the results of the test are universally meaningful. The results may be challenged based on specific merits but otherwise are not questioned once they are released. When a positive result is found, it is virtually universally accepted. When a negative result is found, in many cases, the result can still be meaningfully applied to one's listening experience.

In summary: Controlled listening tests are in some sense a sociological phenomenon, reflecting our need to communicate with greater meaning. I myself can have subjectively influenced perceptions which might vary wildly from what is demonstrated from listening tests. But I don't relate them to others, and I never feel like I should relate them to others, because they are meaningless to everybody else but me.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: timcupery on 2010-03-09 19:11:42
I don't agree.
There's a strong possibility that the psychological (or even neurological) conditions that apply when a person is enjoying a piece of art are materially different to those that apply when the same person is studying that artwork for authenticity. The second condition is not necessarily an amplified version of the first.

If that is the case, there might be different perception pathways between a person listening to a news report and the same person listening a piece of poetry, for example. So, does does music 'appreciation' differ from music 'evaluation' and using music as an evaluative tool in audio development?

entirely plausible. but you'll notice that the third paragraph and beyond of my post are devoted precisely to detailing the sort of case you're raising here, noting how there can be a difference in things perceived with diff types of listening, and also arguing that you could set up a blind test to replicate this.
As others have argued since then in this thread.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Gag Halfrunt on 2010-03-09 20:31:30
entirely plausible. but you'll notice that the third paragraph and beyond of my post are devoted precisely to detailing the sort of case you're raising here, noting how there can be a difference in things perceived with diff types of listening, and also arguing that you could set up a blind test to replicate this.
As others have argued since then in this thread.


Yes, but my point is that AFAIK, no-one's performed such a test.

Title: what value listening tests
Post by: greynol on 2010-03-09 20:47:51
Probably because the people who fabricate these silly excuses about the subconscious aren't inclined to perform them to begin with; they're likely just grasping at straws.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Light-Fire on 2010-03-09 21:12:15
... when we listen to music its not a purely concious process, rather its more or less an automatic process - we simply let the music kind of wash over us, and leave it up to our subconcious mind to do the work, to  invoke an emotional response, and to provide us with a pleasurable sensation (hopefully).


Don't worry. Your subconscious will present in a double blind test too.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: RonaldDumsfeld on 2010-03-09 21:15:27
Quote
Tests show that "expensive" wine tastes better than "cheap" wine (even if both samples are the same),


I'm afraid i have to say that is a poor analogy.

If I played the same sample but told my listeners A was a .WAV and B was an MP3 many would say that A sounded 'better'. That's suggestion. Not a ABX.

In my experience most if not all people can tell two wines taste different and will generally, but not always, prefer the taste of the more expensive.

They generally don't have the experience or shared vocabulary to determine the grape variety, style or age but they do know they differ and which one they like the most.

So it's a totally different situation.

Title: what value listening tests
Post by: timcupery on 2010-03-09 22:47:48

Yes, but my point is that AFAIK, no-one's performed such a test.

Probably because the people who fabricate these silly excuses about the subconscious aren't inclined to perform them to begin with; they're likely just grasping at straws.


[quote author=Light-Fire link=msg=692601 date=1268169135]
... when we listen to music its not a purely concious process, rather its more or less an automatic process - we simply let the music kind of wash over us, and leave it up to our subconcious mind to do the work, to  invoke an emotional response, and to provide us with a pleasurable sensation (hopefully).

Don't worry. Your subconscious will present in a double blind test too.
[/quote]

To both of these I say: awesome. thanks for the well-framed comments, greynol and Light-Fire
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: krabapple on 2010-03-09 22:55:32
Now if the listener is held back from open emotive enjoyment by the awareness that "this music may or may not be the original"... well, sorry, you've lost to placebo already.

A problem with ABX testing is that it discounts the placebo effect.  Tests show that "expensive" wine tastes better than "cheap" wine (even if both samples are the same), placebo effects in drugs are real (many people taking placebos experience physiological changes), etc., etc.


It doesn't "discount'  placebo effects.  It reveals them.  In the case of audio, ABX indicates whether an effect is related to a real difference, or an imaginary one.  If the 'effect' is not correlated to whether A or B is really playing -- which is the raw data that ABX gives you -- then one can begin to conclude that it's the subject's biases/beliefs, and not the state of A or B, that are causing it.

No one says imaginary differences can't have SUBJECTIVE effects (like, 'this one sounds better').  The points, that's all they are: subjective.

Quote
For some percentage of the population, 128kbs will never sound as good as 320kbs, whatever a well designed test shows.These people will have a better music experience with the higher bit rate.  That the experience can be simulated with a lower bit rate but telling them it's a higher bit rate is not really relevant to their enjoyment of the music.


Sorry, what are you trying to say here? That some people can really tell 128kbps from 320kbs?  This is not news.  Or is it that when people BELIEVE they are hearing 128kbps, and have been told that this is bad quality, they will tend to hear bad quality sound -- even if it's 320kbps?  This is not news either.

Am I missing your point?
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: krabapple on 2010-03-09 23:03:41
entirely plausible. but you'll notice that the third paragraph and beyond of my post are devoted precisely to detailing the sort of case you're raising here, noting how there can be a difference in things perceived with diff types of listening, and also arguing that you could set up a blind test to replicate this.
As others have argued since then in this thread.


Yes, but my point is that AFAIK, no-one's performed such a test.



Blind tests where the subjective *preference* or emotional response rather than difference is evaluated, are such tests: MUSHRA, etc. 


This is my problem with armchair 'skeptics' in many fields.  They seem to think no scientist in the field could have considered their point before.


(OTOH, if you're going to complain that no one has performed EXACTLY a certain test you might have in mind -- e.g., in THIS PARTICULAR living room with THIS PARTICULAR piece of gear/music -- please don't bother.)



Title: what value listening tests
Post by: richard123 on 2010-03-09 23:15:56
It doesn't "discount'  placebo effects.  It reveals them.  In the case of audio, ABX indicates whether an effect is related to a real difference, or an imaginary one.  If the 'effect' is not correlated to whether A or B is really playing -- which is the raw data that ABX gives you -- then one can begin to conclude that it's the subject's biases/beliefs, and not the state of A or B, that are causing it.

Perhaps a bad choice of words on my part.  Agreed

Quote
Am I missing your point?

I was trying to draw an analogy to the placebo effect seen in drugs. 

A pill without any active ingredient can nonetheless cause a physiological change in a person.  Bitrate information can have an effect on listeners, even without a basis in reality.  Discussions of ABX testing seem to dismiss this effect too quickly.

Perhaps a strained analogy and not anything new.


Title: what value listening tests
Post by: greynol on 2010-03-10 00:20:10
To both of these I say: awesome. thanks for the well-framed comments, greynol and Light-Fire

I'm not so sure about the framing, but I think my comment is pretty spot-on; and not only having the OP conduct such a test himself, there's a good chance he won't even come back with a follow-up post.

Some people seem to want to dismiss placebo effect as a possible reason for subjective differences in favor of some other phenomena that doesn't hasn't been reliably demonstrated to exist to the extent that placebo effect has.

I don't need to remind everyone of JJ's presentation on steering in Ethan Winer's Audio Myths Workshop (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYTlN6wjcvQ), do I?
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Gag Halfrunt on 2010-03-10 02:56:58
Blind tests where the subjective *preference* or emotional response rather than difference is evaluated, are such tests: MUSHRA, etc. 


This is my problem with armchair 'skeptics' in many fields.  They seem to think no scientist in the field could have considered their point before.


(OTOH, if you're going to complain that no one has performed EXACTLY a certain test you might have in mind -- e.g., in THIS PARTICULAR living room with THIS PARTICULAR piece of gear/music -- please don't bother.)


Hmm, I think I diluted my own question.

My original question was regarding neuroimaging - whether 'listening to music' is materially different to 'using music to evaluate something.' Are the two activities neurologically distinct? This was the test that I am not sure if anyone has performed - not 'armchair skeptic', but genuine inquiry.

Does anyone know of a paper on this?




Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Light-Fire on 2010-03-10 04:25:23
...My original question was regarding neuroimaging - whether 'listening to music' is materially different to 'using music to evaluate something.' Are the two activities neurologically distinct? This was the test that I am not sure if anyone has performed - not 'armchair skeptic', but genuine inquiry.

Does anyone know of a paper on this?


ABX listening tests performed in this forum have the objective of finding out how much can we reduce the file sizes without incurring in audible differences. So we can use that information to efficiently encode our music and listen to it later without any audible artifact.

Contrary to what you may think. It is way easier to find a problem when performing and ABX than it is when casually listening to music.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Slipstreem on 2010-03-10 04:39:33
[quote author=Light-Fire link=msg=692648 date=1268195123]Contrary to what you may think. It is way easier to find a problem when performing and ABX than it is when casually listening to music.[/quote]
I'm in full agreement with this (or am I actually saying the opposite?) purely on the basis that I know I can ABX better in the comfort of my own home on familiar audio equipment than I would at an official meeting of some kind.

If any of my other senses are stimulated to any noticeable degree then I'd be suspicious that any of those could have created a temporary mask via distraction to my auditory senses. I've found that the most accurate ABX-ing I've carried out have been those of minimum distraction. I'm not busting a blood vessel by forcing myself to listening so hard that my ears bleed, I'm just listening.

Maybe I'm atypical and it doesn't work for everybody else in the same way that it works for me, but give me a comfortably warm, relaxingly darkened room on a familiar sofa shortly after an evening meal for my ABX tests anyday. The less distractions from my auditory pleasures the better, thank you very much.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-10 05:29:25
Let us not overlook that the arguments presented by the OP are typical of someone who believes he hears a difference in a sighted test, but is unable to prove it in a proper double-blind test.

The bottom line is that if you design the test in a way that you think will prove that you hear a difference, and as long as it is a proper double-blind test and the results are statistically significant, then we will accept that you can indeed hear a difference. Anything less will not be accepted.


Proof in a test means nothing if the test is not valid. Of course, if someone like myself attacks the validity of the test, one can easily make the charge that he is only doing it because he has failed the test. Its a nice circular kind of reasoning, although wrong in my case. If you cannot tell the difference between two test sounds in an a/b codec comparison, does it mean the codecs are equally good, or does it indicate a lack of discernment in the listener? Since this is all subjective, no one can ever really know.

I am amazed that with something as nebulous and hard to define as the sensation of music (i defy anyone to describe what it is or disseminate it in any meaningful way), people are so sure you can stick it under a microscope and examine it as if it were something visible. All I can say is that these a/b tests are not much of a microscope. The sound of a hi-fi systems changes even with the humidity content in the air, the air temperature, dust particles on the tweeter cone, etc, but if you want to believe you can pin down the subtleties of sound in this way, then jolly good luck to you.

Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-10 05:33:30
I don't know if this topic is gonna be deleted, cause the "argument" has been said a million times before.

[


Its nice to know that millions of people agree with me. I thought I might be out on my own with this one.

 
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: krabapple on 2010-03-10 05:41:19
I don't know if this topic is gonna be deleted, cause the "argument" has been said a million times before.

[


Its nice to know that millions of people agree with me. I thought I might be out on my own with this one.





So, you think it matters that 'millions' of people agree, without specifying what those people actually *know*?  You sure you want to go there? 


Go away , troll. 

Title: what value listening tests
Post by: krabapple on 2010-03-10 05:48:38
A pill without any active ingredient can nonetheless cause a physiological change in a person.  Bitrate information can have an effect on listeners, even without a basis in reality.  Discussions of ABX testing seem to dismiss this effect too quickly.


No, they don't.  They only 'dismiss'  (or more carefully stated, support or fail to support)  that the ACTUAL (versus BELIEVED) state of A or B is what makes the difference. 

I appears you don't understand what DBTs are.  That's OK, but it's not OK to make claims about them, in that case.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-10 05:50:20
Nobody here cares how you evaluate what you are listening to as long as you meet one critical requirement. You must not know which version you are listening to. Beyond that there are many many valid approaches to "listening tests".


As you rightly point out, not knowing in advance which version you are listening to is one important aspect of listening tests, in effect taking steps to avoid prejudicing the listener, and shows that people understand the importance of the listeners state of mind during the test and how easy it is for them to be influenced by external factors.

Unfortunately, as I have said in my post, the one factor you cannot filter out and which can have a very large influence on the mood of the listener, is the fact that they are in a listening test. Until you can devise a listening test where those taking part are unaware of the fact they are in a listening test (impossible perhaps?), no test will ever be unbiased or natural.

For a test to be properly scientific, ALL unusual external factors need to be accounted for, not just some.

Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-10 05:53:15
I don't know if this topic is gonna be deleted, cause the "argument" has been said a million times before.

[


Its nice to know that millions of people agree with me. I thought I might be out on my own with this one.





So, you think it matters that 'millions' of people agree, without specifying what those people actually *know*?  You sure you want to go there? 


Go away , troll.


I raised an argument - you said millions of others have raised the same argument - that suggest that millions of others agree with me. That simple.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Light-Fire on 2010-03-10 05:56:15
Its nice to know that millions of people agree with me. I thought I might be out on my own with this one.


Science does not agree with you.
     
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-10 06:09:03
[quote author=Light-Fire link=msg=692659 date=1268200575]
Its nice to know that millions of people agree with me. I thought I might be out on my own with this one.


Science does not agree with you.
 
[/quote]

I am not really interested in who does or not agree with me. Its the subject I am interested in, not people. What matters to me is the validity of my argument, or lack thereof. And for someone to prove to me its false, I have to see some eveidence in the form of reasoned argument. IF I am shown its false, I will retract it.

Besides, scientists used to think the Earth was flat,  and that Earth, Water, Air and Fire were elements. They don't always get it right, you know.

Title: what value listening tests
Post by: 2E7AH on 2010-03-10 06:17:40
Besides, scientists used to think the Earth was flat,  and that Earth, Water, Air and Fire were elements. They don't always get it right, you know.

no, those were philosophers and you are lacking basic school knowledge for 10y kid
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: andy o on 2010-03-10 06:31:05
I am not really interested in who does or not agree with me. Its the subject I am interested in, not people. What matters to me is the validity of my argument, or lack thereof. And for someone to prove to me its false, I have to see some eveidence in the form of reasoned argument. IF I am shown its false, I will retract it.

Why the hell did you bring up that millions of people agree with you then, as if that had any validity? You're "not interested in who does or does not agree" with you, but you are interested in how many do agree with you? Reality is not decided by votes.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Light-Fire on 2010-03-10 07:16:02
...Its the subject I am interested in, not people. What matters to me is the validity of my argument, or lack thereof. And for someone to prove to me its false, I have to see some eveidence in the form of reasoned argument. IF I am shown its false, I will retract it.



You are the one that have to prove your argument is right.

Why don't you try some codec ABXing to find out how "golden" are your ears? It is an "eye-opening" experience.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: stephanV on 2010-03-10 07:59:31
I am not really interested in who does or not agree with me. Its the subject I am interested in, not people. What matters to me is the validity of my argument, or lack thereof. And for someone to prove to me its false, I have to see some eveidence in the form of reasoned argument. IF I am shown its false, I will retract it.

The custom is normally that if you make an argument, you also provide the proof for it. Since you haven't provided any so far, I feel free to dismiss it.

If I read it correctly your argument can be summarized that you have a bigger chance of finding a difference when you are paying less attention to what you are listening. This is at least seems to be contradiction, so it's up to you to provide the proof.

And no, I don't take examples from your personal life as proof.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: db1989 on 2010-03-10 08:03:17
Quote
For a test to be properly scientific, ALL unusual external factors need to be accounted for, not just some.

To a limit of practicality. How can you ask someone to evaluate whether or not they hear a difference, without asking them whether or not they hear a difference?

Quote
Besides, scientists used to think the Earth was flat, and that Earth, Water, Air and Fire were elements. They don't always get it right, you know.

Utterly asinine.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: cpchan on 2010-03-10 08:35:12
Besides, scientists used to think the Earth was flat,  and that Earth, Water, Air and Fire were elements. They don't always get it right, you know.


Huh, Metaphysics is not Science. It is a branch of philosophy.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-10 09:57:38
[quote author=Light-Fire link=msg=692670 date=1268205362]
...Its the subject I am interested in, not people. What matters to me is the validity of my argument, or lack thereof. And for someone to prove to me its false, I have to see some eveidence in the form of reasoned argument. IF I am shown its false, I will retract it.



You are the one that have to prove your argument is right.

Why don't you try some codec ABXing to find out how "golden" are your ears? It is an "eye-opening" experience.
[/quote]

I have ABX'd codecs on many occasions. Thats why I use almost exclusively WMA - it seems to handle transients the best. I nearly always max out the bitrate, since sound quality is high on my list of priorities. At least I never go below about 160kbits even when I need to cram lots of stuff in a small space. Fortunately all my players bar one have SD slots, and with SD cards now hitting 32gigs, there is less and less need to do high compression. I find MP3 to be the worst codec of the lot. I would rather have WMA at 160kbits than MP3 at 320k. MP2 seems way better than MP3 to me. My current codec preference is roughly WMA, MP2, MPC, AAC / Vorbis, ------------------------------------------> MP3. I have never heard a codec at any bitrate that sounds as good as a CD. They sound close with a cursory listen, but extended listening on good equipment always reveals the full truth. But a good codec at a high bitrate can get close enough to work well on a mid-fi DAP.

One reality that golden ears shows you with music is that the most professional recordings have only so-so sound quality. The small number of excellent recordings are greatly outnumbered by the average ones. It does not matter what sort of codec you use - a bad recording is a bad recording - aint nothing you can do about that. And there are so many bad ones.

I don't understand why you say I have to prove myself right. I am not trying to prove anything. I have formed a theory which I believe is correct (otherwise I would'nt be writing about it), and am communicating this idea to others for their consideration. They are at liberty to read it, ignore it, laugh at it, or even print it out and wipe their bum with it. I could care less one way or the other.

If someone is convinced I am wrong, and wants to try and convince me of their position, I will be glad to hear about it, and as I say, if I feel they have proved me wrong, I will retract my former opinion and aknowledge the correctness of their argument. If I do not find their argument convincing, I will say why. The cycle may then repeat, depending upon the other persons reaction to my rebuttal.

But as to proving myself right - I really have no interest in doing that. Which is probably fortunate, since in my past experience, no one ever admits they are wrong, so I would have little chance of doing so anyhow.

Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-10 10:05:12
Quote
For a test to be properly scientific, ALL unusual external factors need to be accounted for, not just some.

To a limit of practicality. How can you ask someone to evaluate whether or not they hear a difference, without asking them whether or not they hear a difference?

Quote
Besides, scientists used to think the Earth was flat, and that Earth, Water, Air and Fire were elements. They don't always get it right, you know.

Utterly asinine.


Agreed you can only do whats practical. Nonetheless, this inability to fully isolate the listener from the environment of the test still has an impact, whether you like it or not. Just because you cannot solve a problem, does not mean the problem will conveniently go away.

If I had thought there was a way to solve this problem, I would have suggested it. I can't, just as you can't, which is why I say that listening tests are not really as useful as you might think.

Asinine - why? What I said is true. Factual. Accurate. Everyone knows this. Scientists are not God. They make many mistakes. Todays great science is tomorrows embarassing nonsense.



Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-10 10:12:49
I am not really interested in who does or not agree with me. Its the subject I am interested in, not people. What matters to me is the validity of my argument, or lack thereof. And for someone to prove to me its false, I have to see some eveidence in the form of reasoned argument. IF I am shown its false, I will retract it.

The custom is normally that if you make an argument, you also provide the proof for it. Since you haven't provided any so far, I feel free to dismiss it.

If I read it correctly your argument can be summarized that you have a bigger chance of finding a difference when you are paying less attention to what you are listening. This is at least seems to be contradiction, so it's up to you to provide the proof.

And no, I don't take examples from your personal life as proof.


This is a chat forum, not a court of law. If I wanted to prove this idea to the world, I would have published it in a science journal. I am not interested very much if you believe it or not. What you do with the info is up to you. I am presenting it in a chat forum simply to have a .... chat? By all means feel free to ignore it.

My personal life example was to show you why I believe what i do, not too convince you. As to proof - how can you ever prove what I am saying? Something that is totally subjective? If you could figure out how to do that, I would love to hear about it.

If you have a fully double blind listening test which has the result that AAC is a better codec than say, WMA - is that proof? The subjective judgements of a handful of ordinary human beings like myself? That proves nothing, except perhaps tha the people in the test are no judge of good sound. How can you tell who is a good judge of sound - do they have a sign on their forehead or something?

Believe me, the word "proof" does not belong in any conversation about sound quality. Its just far too subjective.

Title: what value listening tests
Post by: andy o on 2010-03-10 10:43:12
Asinine - why? What I said is true. Factual. Accurate. Everyone knows this. Scientists are not God.
Who said they were?
Quote
They make many mistakes.
Yes, like all other Homo sapiens. Difference is that science thrives from mistakes, as it learns from them. Even more so, trying to falsify others' (and ONE'S OWN) hypotheses is a key element. Pseudoscience peddlers such as relativists and New Agers and "postmodernists" are exactly the opposite. They cling to their mistakes.

Quote
Todays great science is tomorrows embarassing nonsense.
As you've already been told, what you said was not science. Science also progresses, and as time passes it gets more and more solid. Why don't you talk about Newton instead? Or Darwin? They did probably the most important science, centuries ago. Is it embarrassing nonsense yet? If you think the science of today is going to be embarrassing nonsense tomorrow, what the hell are you doing using a computer, and presumably cellphones, cars, airplanes... You don't want to be one of the red-faced idiots when it's proven that the principles that make them work are embarrassing nonsense, do you?

Pseudoscience babblers and relativists, "science has been wrong before, therefore it can't be right" people, may not spout embarrassing nonsense, just because they have proven to have an uncanny inability to be embarrassed.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Gag Halfrunt on 2010-03-10 10:50:43
[quote author=Light-Fire link=msg=692648 date=1268195123]
...My original question was regarding neuroimaging - whether 'listening to music' is materially different to 'using music to evaluate something.' Are the two activities neurologically distinct? This was the test that I am not sure if anyone has performed - not 'armchair skeptic', but genuine inquiry.

Does anyone know of a paper on this?


ABX listening tests performed in this forum have the objective of finding out how much can we reduce the file sizes without incurring in audible differences. So we can use that information to efficiently encode our music and listen to it later without any audible artifact.

Contrary to what you may think. It is way easier to find a problem when performing and ABX than it is when casually listening to music.
[/quote]

With the greatest of respect, you are missing the point. I'm interested in the neuroscience behind different kinds of listening and whether there is any neurological change in the perceptive states of listening. I want to know if any research has been done on this. I've searched and cannot find anything, except some recent papers about fMRIs performed on musicians while performing and research on brain injury and musical perception.

My reasons for this interest are entirely unrelated to ABX testing - one of the major symptoms my father noted as he was dying of his glioblastoma was a complete change in the way he perceived music. He lost his emotional connection to music entirely in the space of an afternoon, saying that he could only perceive it as a technical exercise. He was a professional pianist and composer, and his new-found musical 'autism' (his words) did not affect his playing at the time (that went later), but it affected his appreciation of his playing. If anything, his playing became wildly emotional, even though he couldn't perceive it as such. This radically changed the music he would listen to (goodbye Bartók, hello Bach) for the remainder of his life. Reflecting on his death, the change caused by having something the size of a baseball growing in his head seemed to have a parallel in the way music lovers listen to music and the way audiophiles listen to the sound of music.

I find it strange that this seems a non-topic.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: stephanV on 2010-03-10 11:34:37
My personal life example was to show you why I believe what i do, not too convince you. As to proof - how can you ever prove what I am saying? Something that is totally subjective? If you could figure out how to do that, I would love to hear about it.

We can start with proving that you can hear a difference between codec X and codec Y. This is an objective matter.

Quote
If you have a fully double blind listening test which has the result that AAC is a better codec than say, WMA - is that proof? The subjective judgements of a handful of ordinary human beings like myself? That proves nothing, except perhaps tha the people in the test are no judge of good sound. How can you tell who is a good judge of sound - do they have a sign on their forehead or something?

Statistic always have an margin of error. If we make the assumption that the test is intended for the general populous, than a large enough random sample of the general populous will be a good judge of sound.

Quote
Believe me, the word "proof" does not belong in any conversation about sound quality. Its just far too subjective.

You are confused here I'm afraid. I'm not asking proofs about sound quality. I'm asking for proof for your original claim that one can hear differences better under non-listening test conditions, whatever you make those up to be. If you do not wish to discuss this statement then why bring it up in the first place?
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: pdq on 2010-03-10 11:41:33
This is a chat forum, not a court of law.

I'm sorry that you are under the false impression that this is a chat forum. Perhaps you had better go back and read the terms of service, especially the part about making unsubstantiated claims.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: andy o on 2010-03-10 14:16:49
omg, I just ran into this (http://www.jakearchibald.co.uk/homeopathy/). Just substitute "homeopath" for "audiophile". EVERY SINGLE AUDIOPHILE TROPE. (Well, except one, but we're waiting to be accused of government conspirators any time now.)
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: timcupery on 2010-03-10 14:47:08
Besides, scientists used to think the Earth was flat,  and that Earth, Water, Air and Fire were elements. They don't always get it right, you know.

Asinine - why? What I said is true. Factual. Accurate. Everyone knows this. Scientists are not God. They make many mistakes. Todays great science is tomorrows embarassing nonsense.

false. this is a VERY common misconception. but very wrong. I would even say asinine, except that so many people believe that scientists used to think the earth was flat, that it's easy to accept.

This isn't a big deal, but everyone quotes it all the time to make a point, and as such is an invalid argument.
the classic debate in Galileo's case was whether the sun revolved around the earth or vice versa. but scientists or "natural philosophers" as they were called then and earlier, have never put much stock in the earth's being flat. the pre-eminent medieval astronomy text was entitled "sphere." and understanding of earth as a sphere extends to classical Greek philosophers as well.

Now I do agree that scientists have been wrong on many things. and theories get stuck in paradigms that resist change. etc., etc. these may become embarrassing later on. But much of natural science in the 20th Century hasn't been paradigm shifts and throwing out old paradigms, but rather incremental steps forward, adding nuance, etc. Total reversals and embarrassments don't happen very often.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: timcupery on 2010-03-10 14:59:55
also, it's worth noting that this thread was resolved a long time ago, and the debating since then hasn't gone anywhere. Just the OP appearing to be more of a troll, but not certainly so. (e.g., it may actually be that WMA at 160kbps sounds better to his ears than mp3 at 320kbps. that's not the case for most people, but it's plausible that it could be for some.)

the main question still in play is whether people's brain states differ, for different sorts of listening. if this is true, it will vary between individuals - some people's "critical" filter will probably be always turned on, whether they are ABX testing or not.
But testing could still be set up for this, you'd just need to trick people (which social psych tests to all the time) by testing something different than what people think they're being tested on.

The only thing in this thread that still needs (or deserves) to be addressed is Gag Halfrunt's question:

My original question was regarding neuroimaging - whether 'listening to music' is materially different to 'using music to evaluate something.' Are the two activities neurologically distinct? This was the test that I am not sure if anyone has performed - not 'armchair skeptic', but genuine inquiry.
Does anyone know of a paper on this?
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: krabapple on 2010-03-10 17:30:28
also, it's worth noting that this thread was resolved a long time ago, and the debating since then hasn't gone anywhere. Just the OP appearing to be more of a troll, but not certainly so. (e.g., it may actually be that WMA at 160kbps sounds better to his ears than mp3 at 320kbps. that's not the case for most people, but it's plausible that it could be for some.)

the main question still in play is whether people's brain states differ, for different sorts of listening. if this is true, it will vary between individuals - some people's "critical" filter will probably be always turned on, whether they are ABX testing or not.
But testing could still be set up for this, you'd just need to trick people (which social psych tests to all the time) by testing something different than what people think they're being tested on.

The only thing in this thread that still needs (or deserves) to be addressed is Gag Halfrunt's question:

My original question was regarding neuroimaging - whether 'listening to music' is materially different to 'using music to evaluate something.' Are the two activities neurologically distinct? This was the test that I am not sure if anyone has performed - not 'armchair skeptic', but genuine inquiry.
Does anyone know of a paper on this?




It might be that much of this sort of work is done on hearing of speech.  I would assume there must be a physiological/neurological difference at least between nonattentive and attentive listening (e.g. background chatter versus the person who is speaking to you at a party). 

Or perhaps Daniel Levitan's book might have some clues (This Is Your Brain On Music).


Title: what value listening tests
Post by: greynol on 2010-03-10 17:46:14
There's a strong possibility that the psychological (or even neurological) conditions that apply when a person is enjoying a piece of art are materially different to those that apply when the same person is studying that artwork for authenticity. The second condition is not necessarily an amplified version of the first.

If that is the case, there might be different perception pathways between a person listening to a news report and the same person listening a piece of poetry, for example. So, does does music 'appreciation' differ from music 'evaluation' and using music as an evaluative tool in audio development?

Here's the problem...

It seems that there's some kind of implication here by some that "appreciation" cannot be a metric to distinguish a difference in a double-blind test.  At the same time these people want to then say there is indeed a difference between sample A vs. sample B for the listener because one makes him feel better than the other.

Sorry, but you can't have it both ways!
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2010-03-10 20:44:40
Or perhaps Daniel Levitan's book might have some clues (This Is Your Brain On Music).


Good book. There is an online archive of Levitan's papers at Levitan's papers, some online (http://www.psych.mcgill.ca/levitin/researchpubs.htm)

The answer to the basic question comparing and contrasting the physiology of listening for pleasure and listening analytically is probably in there somewhere.

He sheds some light on the physiology of listening for pleasure in Levitan's Online Paper About Listening For Pleasure (PDF) (http://ego.psych.mcgill.ca/labs/levitin/research/Menon&Levitin_2005.pdf)

He also seems to be interested in the phenominon of perfect pitch, which might be a good example of listening analytically. One or more of his papers about perfect pitch might be studied to compare and contrast the physiology of listening for pleasure and listening analytically.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Axon on 2010-03-10 20:46:36
Is anybody going to comment on my post, or did I respond to the wrong question? 
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Gag Halfrunt on 2010-03-10 20:56:13
Or perhaps Daniel Levitan's book might have some clues (This Is Your Brain On Music).


Good book. There is an online archive of Levitan's papers at Levitan's papers, some online (http://www.psych.mcgill.ca/levitin/researchpubs.htm)

The answer to the basic question comparing and contrasting the physiology of listening for pleasure and listening analytically is probably in there somewhere.

He sheds some light on the physiology of listening for pleasure in Levitan's Online Paper About Listening For Pleasure (PDF) (http://ego.psych.mcgill.ca/labs/levitin/research/Menon&Levitin_2005.pdf)

He also seems to be interested in the phenominon of perfect pitch, which might be a good example of listening analytically. One or more of his papers about perfect pitch might be studied to compare and contrast the physiology of listening for pleasure and listening analytically.


Thanks for this... Levitan's book came out about the same time my father passed and it kind of got pushed aside. I read Oliver Sacks book, but it was not very informative, IMO. I'm a bit wary of both because I dislike pop-science.

His papers seem usefully academic. Will check out.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Gag Halfrunt on 2010-03-10 22:49:28
Here's the problem...

It seems that there's some kind of implication here by some that "appreciation" cannot be a metric to distinguish a difference in a double-blind test.  At the same time these people want to then say there is indeed a difference between sample A vs. sample B for the listener because one makes him feel better than the other.

Sorry, but you can't have it both ways!


No implication implied.

My guess (and it is just a guess at this time) would be the 'evaluation' part only kicks in when someone is listening to evaluate. At all other times, the 'appreciation' pathway holds. That would mean neither should interact with each other, and is likely why someone can appreciate a piece of music qua music even when the signal quality is heavily degraded.

The interesting part (for me at least) is whether these two potentially different neurological pathways ever clash. More significantly, do they have a 'use it or lose it' quality... audiophiles often seem so obsessed with quality of sound that they seem to forget there's a musical component to audio. I'm just wondering if this is something that eventually hardwires, making it harder for someone who spends their life evaluating sound to appreciate music under any circumstances.

I know a lot of audiophile nonsense is basically OCD with a credit rating, but those twitchy, unable to sit through a piece of music without changing something audiophiles appear to demonstrate a fundamental inability to separate music appreciation from audio evaluation.

I'm conscious that this is thread crapping, but OTOH, it's a crap thread!
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-10 22:53:16

also, it's worth noting that this thread was resolved a long time ago, and the debating since then hasn't gone anywhere. Just the OP appearing to be more of a troll, but not certainly so. (e.g., it may actually be that WMA at 160kbps sounds better to his ears than mp3 at 320kbps. that's not the case for most people, but it's plausible that it could be for some.)


Would somneone please explain what it is about my post that makes me a troll? I am not, but obviously there is something I am doing that makes people think i am - perhaps you could help?

Its not so much about how much distortion a codec has intorduced in total, but about the different types of distortion and which ones you are more sensitive to. If I had to do an a/b between 160kbs wma and the cd source versus 320kbs mp3 and the cd, I do not doubt it would be much easier to notice the difference with the 160kbs wma than the 320kbs mp3. However, for me, the mp3 is never enjoyeable to listen to - there must be some aspect of the sound my subconcious is very sensitive to.

I am very sensitive to anything that diminishes the transient attack and clarity of music, more so than almost anything else. I can put up with large tonal variations for example - too little bass, prominent midrange, etc, things that are real easy to spot in an a/b comparision -  but provided the details in the music sound clear and the soundstage is not blurred, I can adjust to the other deficiencies. But if the soundstage detail and transient attack is blurred, I cannot lenjoy istening to the music, no matter how good it is in all other respects.

Thats one reason I am making this post, to note that there are some differences that are easy to pick up in listening tests, and some that are much harder. However, often the more subtle and difficult to spot differences have more impact on the music than the more obvious things. IF for example a codec adds even a small amount of boost to the treble, it can be very easy to spot - at least it is for me. But then this would not bother me - the frequency response of the system you are listening on is never flat, and their are treble tone controls. But slight changes to transient attack may be, for those not like myself who are sensitised to it, much harder to spot. They are also much harder to deal with - there are no "transient attack" controls on the mp3 players.

I will plainly admit that I find it hard to tell the difference between 320kbps mp3 and a cd source, especially with certain kinds of material, but I do know that the pleasure centre of my brain seems to be able to do it subconciously, since I never sem to enjoy listening (as opposed to scrutinising) to mp3's.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-10 22:58:35
Besides, scientists used to think the Earth was flat,  and that Earth, Water, Air and Fire were elements. They don't always get it right, you know.

Asinine - why? What I said is true. Factual. Accurate. Everyone knows this. Scientists are not God. They make many mistakes. Todays great science is tomorrows embarassing nonsense.

false. this is a VERY common misconception. but very wrong. I would even say asinine, except that so many people believe that scientists used to think the earth was flat, that it's easy to accept.

This isn't a big deal, but everyone quotes it all the time to make a point, and as such is an invalid argument.
the classic debate in Galileo's case was whether the sun revolved around the earth or vice versa. but scientists or "natural philosophers" as they were called then and earlier, have never put much stock in the earth's being flat. the pre-eminent medieval astronomy text was entitled "sphere." and understanding of earth as a sphere extends to classical Greek philosophers as well.

Now I do agree that scientists have been wrong on many things. and theories get stuck in paradigms that resist change. etc., etc. these may become embarrassing later on. But much of natural science in the 20th Century hasn't been paradigm shifts and throwing out old paradigms, but rather incremental steps forward, adding nuance, etc. Total reversals and embarrassments don't happen very often.


In future when I make this kind of quote, I will say "Scientists used to think the sun revolved around the Earth", or "Scientists used to think heat was a weightless fluid called caloric". Actually I chose this example because I thought more people would be familiar with it, and also I did'nt realise how pedantic people would be, and the modern tendency to for people to nit pick everything to bits.

?
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: greynol on 2010-03-10 23:05:12

So long as it keeps psychiatrists and psychologists in business then I'm all for it.

Seriously though, I wasn't trying to single you out and I do think you have a very good point as does the common sense notion that the "evaluation" part involves a higher level of scrutiny and greater attention to detail as opposed to the "appreciation" part.  Nonsensically, the OP is actually trying to suggest the opposite is the case.

To be candid, my comment was actually aimed at the recent developments in the other thread (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=38041) that is currently active on the same topic.  A recent poster seems to be trying to attach credibility and justification for some of the night and day subjective nonsense that we commonly see: "Additionally, long term exposures and subsequent judgments might reveal preference differences between stimuli that are also not perceptually different using ABX. If this is the case (and I suspect it very well could be), then short term and/or long-term processing differences might be at the root of some people's apparent discomfort associated with lossy codecs, and even 44.1/16 bit digitization."
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: greynol on 2010-03-10 23:09:41
I will plainly admit that I find it hard to tell the difference between 320kbps mp3 and a cd source, especially with certain kinds of material, but I do know that the pleasure centre of my brain seems to be able to do it subconciously, since I never sem to enjoy listening (as opposed to scrutinising) to mp3's.

This is the placebo effect, it has nothing to do with your subconscious.

If I had to do an a/b between 160kbs wma and the cd source versus 320kbs mp3 and the cd, I do not doubt it would be much easier to notice the difference with the 160kbs wma than the 320kbs mp3.

As an act of good faith, let's see some ABX logs, magneticrabbit.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: greynol on 2010-03-10 23:17:59
When I put wma versions of the same music on my player, I was suddenly interested once again, and enjoying the music once again. I actually performed this test by accident, accidentally replacing the wma with mp3, which i discovered later -  a perfect example of unbiased testing.

Is this an admission that since this was just an accident and that all the rest of your so-called "a/b" testing was sighted?

I'll take your lack of response to this question as a yes.  All the rest of your posts have given me no reason to believe otherwise.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-10 23:19:21

So long as it keeps psychiatrists and psychologists in business then I'm all for it.

Seriously though, I wasn't trying to single you out and I do think you have a very good point as does the common sense notion that the "evaluation" part involves a higher level of scrutiny and greater attention to detail as opposed to the "appreciation" part.  Nonsensically, the OP is actually trying to suggest the opposite is the case, though it is clear that this individual is clueless about scientific method.

To be candid, my comment was actually aimed at the recent developments in the other thread (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=38041) that is currently active on the same topic.  A recent poster seems to be trying to attach credibility and justification for some of the night and day subjective nonsense that we commonly see: "Additionally, long term exposures and subsequent judgments might reveal preference differences between stimuli that are also not perceptually different using ABX. If this is the case (and I suspect it very well could be), then short term and/or long-term processing differences might be at the root of some people's apparent discomfort associated with lossy codecs, and even 44.1/16 bit digitization."


I guess there is a consderable incentive to Hydrogen Audio forum supporters to reject the notion that sound quality is too ephemeral and subjective to ever properly quantify, and the brain too poor an analytic tool to accurately measure these things we cannot see, since if it were true some part of the raison d'etre of Hydrogen Audio would vanish in a puff of smoke.- or at least thats how it seems to me at the moment. Hydrogen Audio sems to me to be very "pro-test".

And I guess no way you can every change anyones opinion on this - how can you prove that something cannot be proved? People that believe whole heartedly in the scientific method will not accept any proof that the scientific method does not work unless the proof is in the form of the scientific method. Catch-22 I think.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: greynol on 2010-03-10 23:21:53
Yawn! (reprise)

As has been said before, I claim there is a pink elephant in orbit around the planet Uranus.  Until you can prove I am wrong, my claim must be true.

PS: I see you caught my post before my edit.  While it is painfully obvious that you are clueless about scientific method and even seem to reject it in favor of false world view based on blind and unprovable faith, it really had nothing to do with my point which is why I removed it.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-10 23:25:47
When I put wma versions of the same music on my player, I was suddenly interested once again, and enjoying the music once again. I actually performed this test by accident, accidentally replacing the wma with mp3, which i discovered later -  a perfect example of unbiased testing.

Is this an admission that since this was just an accident and that all the rest of your so-called "a/b" testing was sighted?

I'll take your lack of response to this question as a yes.  All the rest of your posts have given me no reason to believe otherwise.


My test was the best kind of test ever. Not only was it "unsighted", but I was not even aware I was conducting a test. It was a non-test test. How can you improve on that?

Since I was not conciously conducting a test, but simply doing normal listening, it was an absolutely pure situation, unaffected by any unnatural external infuences. Far superior to any kind of normal test where the listeners know they are in a test - no matter how scientifically you conduct it.

This is why I place so much stock in what happened.

I would have thought you would have loved this situation - its the ideal for all listening tests - a test where the listener did'nt even know it was a test.

As someone who has been listening to high end hi-fi since I was in my early teens, I long ago abandoned listening tests for selecting hi-fi systems. I found it impossible to relax in hi-fi shops when auditioning equipment, and unable to make any meaningful judgements about sound quality under those forced conditions. Since I place no real value in listening tests, all my other tests were sighted, yes. Why not? I was not performing the tests for anyone other than myself. Nearly all my other tests were not however codec comparisons, but bit rate comparisons, the object being to determine if raising the bitrate led to any appreciable gains in quality. This is was in the days when my mp3 player only had a few gigs of storage on it.

But most of my tests were not forced A/B tests - you might have noticed i don't believe in them - but rather I would convert all my music to a particular codec, and then listen normally for some days, and see if I was enjoying the music, and if I was noticing any deficiencies in the sound. Try one codec for a couple of days, and then switch to another. Was that better, or worse? Thats what I do, and it seems to work well - for me.

On this basis, I selected the wma codec. I find that when I have my music encoded in that format, I enjoy listening to the music. Week after week, month after month. I find if I encode the music in mp3, i almost immediately lose interest in listening - over days, weeks or months. Its not a mood swing on any particular day. I have no reason to dislike mp3 per se - in fact every reason to like it - it has the most support. And as noted above, I disliked listening to mp3 even when I thought i had wma on the player but had mp3 by accident, suggesting that its not any form of auto-suggestion.

And yet many people on this forum are telling me I should do an a/b unsighted test that will reveal that I cannot tell the difference between the mp3 and the cd source, and force myself to listen to mp3, despite hating the sound, because its scientifically proven that its as good as the source. It would'nt work. No matter how much scientific proof you produced that the 320kbs mp3 was so near the cd that it would be hard to tell them apart (for me to), I still would hate the sound. Thats all there i to it. QED.


I would also like to add that I hate Microsoft with a passion, and so I was very peed off when I found that I preferred the wma codec. In addition, I love the ideals of open source and use Linux in addition to Windows when I can (more of that Microsoft hatred again i suppose), and so have a natural inclination to try and use Vorbis or other free codecs when I can, like MPC. So the fact that I end up selecting wma is not due to some subconcious inclination, but based purely on what sounds best to me.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: greynol on 2010-03-10 23:28:22
if it were true some part of the raison d'etre of Hydrogen Audio would vanish in a puff of smoke.

Feel free to try, though I won't be holding my breath.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: greynol on 2010-03-10 23:30:31
My test was the best kind of test ever. Not only was it "unsighted", but I was not even aware I was conducting a test. It was a non-test test. How can you improve on that?
By repeating it.  Otherwise it is completely dismissible.

Far superior to any kind of normal test where the listeners know they are in a test - no matter how scientifically you conduct it.
Your opinion is noted and rejected.

This is why I place so much stock in what happened.
Go back and read my anecdotal comment about being able to predetermine the result of a coin-flip.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Gag Halfrunt on 2010-03-10 23:35:35
My test was the best kind of test ever. Not only was it "unsighted", but I was not even aware I was conducting a test. It was a non-test test. How can you improve on that?

Since I was not conciously conducting a test, but simply doing normal listening, it was an absolutely pure situation, unaffected by any unnatural external infuences. Far superior to any kind of normal test where the listeners know they are in a test - no matter how scientifically you conduct it.

This is why I place so much stock in what happened.


The problem here is that it's just one test. Did you get the 'right' result because your test demonstrates something that does not parse under other conditions, or did you get the result through pure chance?

Accidentally repeat this test enough times to be statistically significant and you have a chip in the game. Otherwise, you're still playing for matches.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Gag Halfrunt on 2010-03-10 23:50:00
To be candid, my comment was actually aimed at the recent developments in the other thread (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=38041) that is currently active on the same topic.  A recent poster seems to be trying to attach credibility and justification for some of the night and day subjective nonsense that we commonly see: "Additionally, long term exposures and subsequent judgments might reveal preference differences between stimuli that are also not perceptually different using ABX. If this is the case (and I suspect it very well could be), then short term and/or long-term processing differences might be at the root of some people's apparent discomfort associated with lossy codecs, and even 44.1/16 bit digitization."


I think this is a new form of audiophile dogma. As ABX testing doesn't give the result they are looking for and AB testing is just lobotomized ABX, they've regrouped and come up with a new 'test'. This time with extra magic.

I would imagine long-term exposure to a thing would only serve to help you 'learn to love' that thing. Isn't that what 'puppy dog' selling is all about?
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-10 23:57:06
Yawn! (reprise)

As has been said before, I claim there is a pink elephant in orbit around the planet Uranus.  Until you can prove I am wrong, my claim must be true.

PS: I see you caught my post before my edit.  While it is painfully obvious that you are clueless about scientific method and even seem to reject it in favor of false world view based on blind and unprovable faith, it really had nothing to do with my point which is why I removed it.


I never said it must be true. It is a hypothesis - a theory. Surely I can present a theory for others to chew over, simply for the fun of it, and to put new ideas into the mix. As I have said before, I thought i was submitting an idea to a chat forum, not publishing a scientific paper in Nature magazine. This is a simple chat, not Cold Fusion.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-11 00:00:53
My test was the best kind of test ever. Not only was it "unsighted", but I was not even aware I was conducting a test. It was a non-test test. How can you improve on that?

Since I was not conciously conducting a test, but simply doing normal listening, it was an absolutely pure situation, unaffected by any unnatural external infuences. Far superior to any kind of normal test where the listeners know they are in a test - no matter how scientifically you conduct it.

This is why I place so much stock in what happened.


The problem here is that it's just one test. Did you get the 'right' result because your test demonstrates something that does not parse under other conditions, or did you get the result through pure chance?

Accidentally repeat this test enough times to be statistically significant and you have a chip in the game. Otherwise, you're still playing for matches.


Agreed. But then since it was an accident and not a planned test, how could it be repeated?

I suppose I could get my son or daughter to preload my mp3 player with a different sd card each morning without telling me which one - but then I would still know I was in a test, and my subsequent listening would be conditioned by that knowledge. hence, the test would be useless to me, since as I have stated in my post, that would, for me, invalidate the test. My basic principle for listening tests is that once you know you are being tested - the test is invalid.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-11 00:05:01
My test was the best kind of test ever. Not only was it "unsighted", but I was not even aware I was conducting a test. It was a non-test test. How can you improve on that?
By repeating it.  Otherwise it is completely dismissible.

That is a very revealing comment. That the tests you are conducting are not reliable unless repeated. That suggests that the test is in itself is very unreliable, hence the need to repeat it to avoid false results. If the differences being detected were easy to detect, repetition would not be necessary i think.

Far superior to any kind of normal test where the listeners know they are in a test - no matter how scientifically you conduct it.
Your opinion is noted and rejected.

This is why I place so much stock in what happened.
Go back and read my anecdotal comment about being able to predetermine the result of a coin-flip.


Quite, but then hwo repeat a test that was an accident and not a planned test? You see my dilemma.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Gag Halfrunt on 2010-03-11 00:08:43
People that believe whole heartedly in the scientific method will not accept any proof that the scientific method does not work unless the proof is in the form of the scientific method. Catch-22 I think.


I have a real problem with this oft-repeated nonsense. This would be bad enough if you were advocating astrology or Reiki or some other New Age idiocy. However, audio components are (or at least were) built using applied science. Audiophile brands sometimes have a loose understanding of that applied science, often preferring instead to take a well-engineered circuit from a legitimate electronics engineer and pimp it out with huge transformers and capacitors. But even the most fluffy of audiophile amplifier designer will know his or her way around Ohm's law.

Last time I looked, Sony had not appointed a design shamen to help develop its next generation of OLED televisions, Nikon does not employ someone to channel positive energy into its D3S camera body to allow it to work at high ISOs and Panasonic's Blu-ray players do not have to be inspected by white witches before final sign off. What makes the reproduction of sound so special that it tweaks the nose of science and laughs in the face of engineering when all these other consumer electronic disciplines don't?
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-11 00:13:49
Yawn! (reprise)

As has been said before, I claim there is a pink elephant in orbit around the planet Uranus.  Until you can prove I am wrong, my claim must be true.

PS: I see you caught my post before my edit.  While it is painfully obvious that you are clueless about scientific method and even seem to reject it in favor of false world view based on blind and unprovable faith, it really had nothing to do with my point which is why I removed it.




Your beliefs are based on faith - faith in scientists and the scientific method. It is a valuable technique, to be sure, but it is not all powerful. It does have limitations - something you seem to be unaware of i would think.

And your comment about blind faith is ridiculous. You are applying the scientific method to thoughts, processes in the brain. To ephermeral things like emotions, colour, sound. Can you measure sound? You can measure the waveform of vibrating air, but the sound you percieve in your head, whilst it is certainly induced by the vibrations picked up by the ear, is not the vibrationa themselves. Rather it is a mental image constructed by the brain from those vibrations. The image produced depends on the individual, the emotions of the individual, etc, and effected by mood swings, health, etc, and the personality of the individual. If you think you can measure it with a ruler, I think you must be pink and in orbit arounf Unranus yourself, lol.

I have a question for you - explain to me what sound actually is - i mean sound in the brain, not sound in the air. I dare you to even try. You'll fail.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Gag Halfrunt on 2010-03-11 00:19:54
Agreed. But then since it was an accident and not a planned test, how could it be repeated?

I suppose I could get my son or daughter to preload my mp3 player with a different sd card each morning without telling me which one - but then I would still know I was in a test, and my subsequent listening would be conditioned by that knowledge. hence, the test would be useless to me, since as I have stated in my post, that would, for me, invalidate the test. My basic principle for listening tests is that once you know you are being tested - the test is invalid.


Simple.

Your son or daughter (ideally a third party, rather than someone who could accidentally bias you) preloads your MP3 player every morning. Test days are randomly selected and you have no idea which day is test day. As this would mean you might need to have a dozen or more 'accidental tests' for statistical significance, you could conceivably spread this over a period of several months. I doubt even the most test-averse subject would find that too stringent.

Title: what value listening tests
Post by: greynol on 2010-03-11 00:21:23
My basic principle for listening tests is that once you know you are being tested - the test is invalid.

This sounds like a pathetic cop-out to me.  Regardless, your "basic principle" is flawed.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: aclo on 2010-03-11 00:23:20
People that believe whole heartedly in the scientific method will not accept any proof that the scientific method does not work unless the proof is in the form of the scientific method. Catch-22 I think.


Last time I looked, Sony had not appointed a design shamen to help develop its next generation of OLED televisions, Nikon does not employ someone to channel positive energy into its D3S camera body to allow it to work at high ISOs and Panasonic's Blu-ray players do not have to be inspected by white witches before final sign off. What makes the reproduction of sound so special that it tweaks the nose of science and laughs in the face of engineering when all these other consumer electronic disciplines don't?


But here's your problem in a nutshell: you are conversing with someone who, essentially, says "audio is beyond the reach of science". Recall that science, amongst other things, got human artifacts in space, allowed us to understand quantum mechanics and relativity, lets us photograph atoms (which we are aware of due to scientific effort), map out the effects of different pieces of DNA, make digital cameras, build computers, etc etc. But music reproduction is beyond its reach! Music reproduction!

I suspect you won't convince such a person.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-11 00:25:02
Really it all comes down to this. I assert there are aspects of sound (in the head not in the air) that cannot be measured by the scientific method. My detractors (everyone?) seem to be saying either that there are no aspects that cannot be measured, or perhaps that they are only interested in those that can.

This issue really exposes the limitations of science and the scientific method. Science can only deal with things that can be measured. If you cannot measure it, then Science is not interested in it (quite rightly so i guess).

Unfortunately, there are those who seem to draw the conclusion that if you cannot measure it and prove scientifically that it exists, it must therefor not exist. QED.

I am more open minded. I accept that there are things that science cannot measure or prove wehether they exist, but I still accept that they could exist. And I believe that some things can be proven by means other than by the scientific method. I think it is logical and reasonable that there must be more to sound than can be measured in an a/b test. Sound is obviously unbelievably complex, even at the level of the waveforms themselves, not to mention what must be going on in the brain. Scientists know so little about how the brain processes sound, how the brain matches up harmonics with fundamentals, how it attaches emotions like "hard" and "bright" and "tinny" to the sound it hears. To me to make the assumption that a A/B test can explore and enumerate and encompass all those compexities, seems to me to be either madness or at best an incredible ability to over simplify. To me it seems all too obvious that you cannot meaure all that complexity with such a simple ruler.

A scientist (or several) once said that extraordinary things require extraordinary proof. If I said that it an mp3 player does not sound as good if the headphones have been dunked in a cup of tea, would everyone shout "prove it or shut up"? I think that my assertion is actually an obvious, ordinary one - that sound is very complex, and that simple listening tests do not completely describe or encompass something that complex. To me this sounds like an obvious common sense statement, one that I would have thought would not need to be proven. Quite the contrary, I would think my detractors are the ones who should have to prove their assertion, which to me sounds quite extraordinary - that a simple a/b test can measure something as complex as sound. To me that is quite extraordinary.

I believe that my experience with sound has proven (to me) that there is more to sound than meets the eye (or the ruler). That I cannot rip open my brains and show the proof to people on the forum, or expose my brains to a telepath that others could share my experience, means I cannot prove it to others. Hwoever, I believe that common sense and reason can show those with an opn mind that what I am saying at least could be correct.

But if you are a died-in-the-wool prove it or lose it wheres-my-ruler kind of person, then I may as well go somewhere else (can I hear applause?).
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: greynol on 2010-03-11 00:29:41
Your beliefs are based on faith - faith in scientists and the scientific method. It is a valuable technique, to be sure, but it is not all powerful. It does have limitations - something you seem to be unaware of i would think.
While that might be true, there is not a single thing you've said to expose any possible limitations of double-blind test methodology in this discussion.

You are applying the scientific method to thoughts, processes in the brain.
No.  I'm applying scientific method to what is a very easily testable claim: A sounds better to you than B.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Gag Halfrunt on 2010-03-11 00:42:14
Your beliefs are based on faith - faith in scientists and the scientific method. It is a valuable technique, to be sure, but it is not all powerful. It does have limitations - something you seem to be unaware of i would think.

And your comment about blind faith is ridiculous. You are applying the scientific method to thoughts, processes in the brain. To ephermeral things like emotions, colour, sound. Can you measure sound? You can measure the waveform of vibrating air, but the sound you percieve in your head, whilst it is certainly induced by the vibrations picked up by the ear, is not the vibrationa themselves. Rather it is a mental image constructed by the brain from those vibrations. The image produced depends on the individual, the emotions of the individual, etc, and effected by mood swings, health, etc, and the personality of the individual. If you think you can measure it with a ruler, I think you must be pink and in orbit arounf Unranus yourself, lol.

I have a question for you - explain to me what sound actually is - i mean sound in the brain, not sound in the air. I dare you to even try. You'll fail.


As I've said earlier, the scientific method got you the audio system you listen to. It's kind of hard to dismiss scientific method without also dismissing the applications of that method.

We've come a long, long way in developing cognitive neuroscience in recent years. The old 'you can't see a thought' philosophical argument is eroding as we are identifying and honing neuroimaging techniques that do just that. For example, if you play a musical note, the auditory cortex (specifically Brodmanns 41 and 42) show activity under fMRI investigations; play the same note with accompanying vocal in a language you understand and Broca's area in the inferior frontal gyrus trigger as well. Play a note at a different pitch and different areas of Brodmanns 41 and 42 can be seen as reacting. Other regions also fire off, possibly as result of memories triggered by that particular piece of music. The more the music affects the listener on an emotional level, the greater the activity in these areas. At the moment, we don't have the ability to see a note-for-note activity map in the brain, and whether that will ever happen is speculative at best, but that's not bad for less than 30 years work.

So, in answer to your question, from a neurological perspective, sound is synaptic activity in the auditory cortex, excited by cochlea nerve stimulus from the basilar membrane in the inner ear.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: greynol on 2010-03-11 00:42:48
This issue really exposes the limitations of science and the scientific method.
It exposes your ignorance of ABX testing and simple common sense, perhaps; but certainly not the ability of an individual to demonstrate that he can tell the difference between two stimuli without prior knowledge of which is being presented.

Unfortunately, there are those who seem to draw the conclusion that if you cannot measure it and prove scientifically that it exists, it must therefor not exist. QED.
When faced with an alternative of fanciful and counter-intuitive psychobabble that has never demonstrated any repeatable basis in reality, it makes more sense to stick with what is well understood and commonly accepted (read: placebo effect).

I believe that my experience with sound has proven (to me) that there is more to sound than meets the eye (or the ruler).
Don't delude yourself, you've proven nothing.

Hwoever, I believe that common sense and reason can show those with an opn mind that what I am saying at least could be correct.
As can that pink elephant orbiting Uranus.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: timcupery on 2010-03-11 01:13:22
well magneticrabbit, let me give you some credit here. If your contention holds - that (for some people more than others) there are differences that may be perceived in "just" listening that might not be perceived in "careful test" listening - then there is value to a test where the listener isn't really in test-mindset.

so good for you for doing it once.
now, the reason that you need to repeat it is to rule out the possibility that you were guessing or lucky or just happened to choose the correct one, thinking you heard a difference even when you didn't. (You can call a coin flip correct at least 50% of the time)

So the question for you is, can you maintain the "it's not a test" mindset long enough to complete repeated trials, and thus figure out whether you actually can replicate the differences you think you hear?

In future when I make this kind of quote, I will say "Scientists used to think the sun revolved around the Earth", or "Scientists used to think heat was a weightless fluid called caloric". Actually I chose this example because I thought more people would be familiar with it, and also I did'nt realise how pedantic people would be, and the modern tendency to for people to nit pick everything to bits.

As for the earth-flat and science issue, it's just an example that people use all the time, and is completely bunk, and I get annoyed with it being out there b/c I study this stuff in the course of my Ph.D. work. Maybe pedantic, but you'd be amazed at how many people think that Columbus' voyage was opposed in Italy b/c the Catholic Church had a vested interest in believing that the world was flat.
If you think I'm simply an example of "the modern tendency to nitpick everything to bits" - well, then you should go read yourself some medieval natural philosophy.
I'd prefer for people to cite accurate examples when they're making an argument, that's all. And I assume that most people on this forum would prefer their own arguments to be accurate, as well.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: aclo on 2010-03-11 01:21:23
As for the earth-flat and science issue, it's just an example that people use all the time, and is completely bunk, and I get annoyed with it being out there b/c I study this stuff in the course of my Ph.D. work. Maybe pedantic, but you'd be amazed at how many people think that Columbus' voyage was opposed in Italy b/c the Catholic Church had a vested interest in believing that the world was flat.
If you think I'm simply an example of "the modern tendency to nitpick everything to bits" - well, then you should go read yourself some medieval natural philosophy.
I'd prefer for people to cite accurate examples when they're making an argument, that's all. And I assume that most people on this forum would prefer their own arguments to be accurate, as well.


Also, I have a hard time understanding how people can believe that whole civilizations, some of them mainly sea-going, could believe that the earth is flat. I grew up on an island and, let me tell you, seeing a ship come up over the horizon does not leave much room for interpretation. Maybe if you see it once or twice, but if your civilization is built on seafaring, well...
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Light-Fire on 2010-03-11 01:21:59
...If you have a fully double blind listening test which has the result that AAC is a better codec than say, WMA - is that proof? The subjective judgements of a handful of ordinary human beings like myself? That proves nothing, except perhaps tha the people in the test are no judge of good sound. How can you tell who is a good judge of sound - do they have a sign on their forehead or something?...


That proves that the handful of ordinary human beings (and probably includes you too) are unable to differentiate (not judge) between a and b so they can settle for the lowest file size without loosing any quality (they weren't able to hear it anyways).
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: aclo on 2010-03-11 01:27:14
Really it all comes down to this. I assert there are aspects of sound (in the head not in the air) that cannot be measured by the scientific method. My detractors (everyone?) seem to be saying either that there are no aspects that cannot be measured, or perhaps that they are only interested in those that can.

This issue really exposes the limitations of science and the scientific method. Science can only deal with things that can be measured. If you cannot measure it, then Science is not interested in it (quite rightly so i guess).

Unfortunately, there are those who seem to draw the conclusion that if you cannot measure it and prove scientifically that it exists, it must therefor not exist. QED.


Come on. "we" assert, not that there do not exist unmeasurable things (or that they're uninteresting), but that sound quality isn't one of them.

Your "detractors" are not arguing with that. You also asserted that you like WMA better than mp3 (or something along those lines), and that this preference cannot be detected unless one is not actively looking for it. That is actually what they (ie, the "detractors") are disagreeing with, not the existence of unmeasurable things (which is obvious: I'm married; do you really think I did this because I measured something that told me "yep, get married to her"?).

I have a hard time believing you really do not realize these points, though. So, if you're going to build strawmen, at least don't be obvious about it.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-11 01:33:13
At least one person in this thread has voiced the opinion that I do not follow or know much about the scientific method. This kind of ironic since i believe it is exactly the reverse.

In your listening tests you deliberately avoid giving the listener information about what they are listening to, in order to avoid pre-conditioning them into an expectation which could influence their judgement during the test. This is indeed following the scientific method. There are a number of other precautions you take to eliminate false results, also in line with the correct scientific method.

However, at the same time you conveniently sweep under the carpet the obvious psychological  impact that knowing they are in a test will have on the mood of the listeners, and which must also affect their judgement and affect the results of the test. It is surely impossible that a listener will be unaffected by the difference between a normal listening situation, where they are listening for pleasure, and one where they are focussing their attention of the music in order to render an objective judgement on it.

I believe that you do this because you have no other choice, simply because there is no way to eliminate this affect - no way to conduct a test without the test subjects knowing it, and without the knowledge affecting the situation. This aspect of the tests is simply being ignored.

This affect which cannot be compensated for by the scientific method is skewing the tests to some extent, and to an extent which is hard to determine, and this invalidates the tests. Either all external influence has been removed or it has'nt. The proper scientific method is to eliminate all external factors that might affect the experiment, not just some of them. If you have;nt eliminated them all, you are not doing good science.

And if, as probably in this case, is either impossible to allow for this factor, or at least no one has thought of a way to do so yet, then you should at least acknowledge this weakness in the tests, rather than present them as most seem to have, as if the result came down from God himself, as incontravertable fact, proven by proper scientific method, when in fact they clearly are not.

The reality is that the majority of the area of sound as experienced by human beings is subjective - i dont think this has to be proved - is obvious. Some aspects of sound can be objectivised and measured, but some cannot. To  suggest that people cannot even talk about the subjective bits, or perhaps even make any form of reference to this aspect of sound, without providing "proof" is rediculous. Just as rediculous is to suggest that the only bits that matter are the objective bits that we think we can measure in a listening test. Or that anyone who brings up this other area in a conversation is either a troll, or someone who is inherently unscientific. (The latter is particularly funny since science is my second love, next to music.)

I have no objection whatsoever in people performing listening tests, scientific or otherwise, so long as they are aware of the limitations of those tests. True many of my tests have limitations, most of which I think I am aware of. But these wonderful AB type tests do so to, regardless of how scientific you have convinced yourself they are. They are perhaps the best listening tests that can be conducted - but they are not the perfect measureing devices you think they are. They are badly compromised by their inability to eliminate mood bias from the test subjects. If that is taken into account, then the tests can still be useful. However, on this forum no one seems to be doing so - unless I am badly mistaken.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-11 01:39:12
[quote author=Light-Fire link=msg=692888 date=1268270519]
...If you have a fully double blind listening test which has the result that AAC is a better codec than say, WMA - is that proof? The subjective judgements of a handful of ordinary human beings like myself? That proves nothing, except perhaps tha the people in the test are no judge of good sound. How can you tell who is a good judge of sound - do they have a sign on their forehead or something?...


That proves that the handful of ordinary human beings (and probably includes you too) are unable to differentiate (not judge) between a and b so they can settle for the lowest file size without loosing any quality (they weren't able to hear it anyways).
[/quote]

Or they were'nt able to hear it during the listening test. Does that mean though that their brain might not have noticed the difference subconciously, and brought it to their attention (if you like) by not providing as much pleasure while they were listening? Something that they also would not notice.

This is my point. Why assume that bacause someone did not notice something in a listening test, an inherently unnatural way to listen to music, that they would not subsequently be affected by it? Remember we are talking about ordinary people who might conduct these tests, not seasond sound professionals.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-11 01:43:32
Really it all comes down to this. I assert there are aspects of sound (in the head not in the air) that cannot be measured by the scientific method. My detractors (everyone?) seem to be saying either that there are no aspects that cannot be measured, or perhaps that they are only interested in those that can.

This issue really exposes the limitations of science and the scientific method. Science can only deal with things that can be measured. If you cannot measure it, then Science is not interested in it (quite rightly so i guess).

Unfortunately, there are those who seem to draw the conclusion that if you cannot measure it and prove scientifically that it exists, it must therefor not exist. QED.


Come on. "we" assert, not that there do not exist unmeasurable things (or that they're uninteresting), but that sound quality isn't one of them.



I am going to try and put myself into the mindset of some of the other people on thsi forum for the duration of this response. Here goes.

[newmindset]
Please provide scientific proof that sound quality is not one of them - otherwise I will reject that assertion.
[/newmindset]
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: aclo on 2010-03-11 01:50:18
Really it all comes down to this. I assert there are aspects of sound (in the head not in the air) that cannot be measured by the scientific method. My detractors (everyone?) seem to be saying either that there are no aspects that cannot be measured, or perhaps that they are only interested in those that can.

This issue really exposes the limitations of science and the scientific method. Science can only deal with things that can be measured. If you cannot measure it, then Science is not interested in it (quite rightly so i guess).

Unfortunately, there are those who seem to draw the conclusion that if you cannot measure it and prove scientifically that it exists, it must therefor not exist. QED.


Come on. "we" assert, not that there do not exist unmeasurable things (or that they're uninteresting), but that sound quality isn't one of them.



I am going to try and put myself into the mindset of some of the other people on thsi forum for the duration of this response. Here goes.

[newmindset]
Please provide scientific proof that sound quality is not one of them - otherwise I will reject that assertion.
[/newmindset]


Well I can't. I can't prove that mathematics has any relationship whatsoever to reality either, apart from the fact that it works under a certain set of conditions, although to a lesser extend. It's the same (cue infinite discussion along the lines of "aha, prove that it works" etc).

But of course you can reject it, that's fine. What's not is asserting that everybody else has missed some obvious point (do you think this argument has never occurred to anybody else here?).

Teapot orbiting Uranus, as usual... I always found philosophical discussions pointless. But go ahead and enjoy them!
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Light-Fire on 2010-03-11 01:52:21
...majority of the area of sound as experienced by human beings is subjective - i dont think this has to be proved...


All the area of sound as perceived by human beings is objective. However the human imagination is extremely subjective.
So you should ABX our codecs, chose the more useful and then let your imagination run free later on when listening to your music.

It looks like you have some kind of psychological blockage that don't allow you to accept truth in certain situations.

If you insist in being "subjective" (nowadays another world for delusional). I sugest you go here (http://www.audiocircle.com/). A place for "people" like yourself.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: greynol on 2010-03-11 01:52:32
However, at the same time you conveniently sweep under the carpet the obvious psychological  impact that knowing they are in a test will have on the mood of the listeners, and which must also affect their judgement and affect the results of the test. It is surely impossible that a listener will be unaffected by the difference between a normal listening situation, where they are listening for pleasure, and one where they are focussing their attention of the music in order to render an objective judgement on it.

If rendering a decision about X being A or B is so utterly difficult under the immense pressure (sarcasm) of what is really a trivial test, you might consider the obvious: you really cannot tell the difference.  Again, this sounds like a cop-out predicated on the fear that you may not pass.

The interesting thing here is that you still don't seem to understand how to interpret the results of an ABX test.  ABX is only designed to show that a particular individual can discern a difference between a particular pair of samples at the given time of the test.  If you tried the test with a cold or immediately after attending a very loud concert, you might not do so well if you took the test under more favorable circumstances.

Anyway, what's wrong with setting up an ABX test that lasts all day long?  You can surely manage to decompress at some point in time, can't you; or are you going to give pathetic excuses about how hard it is throughout each and every day?

To be frank with you, there are a few people here who can regularly ABX 320kbit mp3 from lossless with what might seem to be ordinary, non-killer samples to most people.  None of them have ever whined about how difficult it was knowing that they were testing themselves.  I could be wrong, but your excuses give me the impression that you are not one of these people.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: andy o on 2010-03-11 02:20:10
Your beliefs are based on faith - faith in scientists and the scientific method. It is a valuable technique, to be sure, but it is not all powerful. It does have limitations - something you seem to be unaware of i would think.
While that might be true, [...]

I don't think that's true at all, I'm always irked when pseudoscientific bullshitters go to this line of argument. As a great philosopher once put it: "It works, bitches" (http://xkcd.com/54/). It takes as much faith to "believe" in science as it takes to "believe" that if you throw yourself out a window you'll go down instead of up. Now, a wishy washy relativist might say "But what is really up and down, but human constructs?" To which I would reply why don't you go find out. These arguments about ascribing any kind of faith-based "way of knowing" the same weight as science, by trying to bring down science to its level is really disingenuous, annoying, and even if they don't realize it, everyone that's not Amish knows it deep down.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2010-03-11 02:21:57
At least one person in this thread has voiced the opinion that I do not follow or know much about the scientific method. This kind of ironic since i believe it is exactly the reverse.

In your listening tests you deliberately avoid giving the listener information about what they are listening to, in order to avoid pre-conditioning them into an expectation which could influence their judgement during the test. This is indeed following the scientific method. There are a number of other precautions you take to eliminate false results, also in line with the correct scientific method.

However, at the same time you conveniently sweep under the carpet the obvious psychological  impact that knowing they are in a test will have on the mood of the listeners, and which must also affect their judgement and affect the results of the test. It is surely impossible that a listener will be unaffected by the difference between a normal listening situation, where they are listening for pleasure, and one where they are focussing their attention of the music in order to render an objective judgement on it.


Let's say that knowing that they are particpating in a test completely eliminates any listener's ability to hear any difference betweeen audio gear. That means that any listening test, whether blind or sighted, ABX or ABC/hr, long term or short term, will always have a null result.

What about the zillions of times people have known that they were taking a listening test and actually heard a difference? Must all be an illusion, right?

If you can live with that, so can I!

BTW the logical fallicy that you are pursuing is called "poisoning the well".  Don't feel particularly proud of it, as it has been tried dozens of times before in exactly this context. At least one Usenet newsgroup, once a vibrant forum for discussion of audio, was completely trashed and burned by golden ears when they realized that they had no logical legs to stand on.

What you ignore is the fact that knowing that they are taking a test has not kept people from hearing differences that were known to be audible by any other logical means. The only cliamed audible differences that haven't been confirmed in proper listening tests are the ones that aren't supposed to be actually audible anyway.


Title: what value listening tests
Post by: stephanV on 2010-03-11 08:06:20
However, at the same time you conveniently sweep under the carpet the obvious psychological  impact that knowing they are in a test will have on the mood of the listeners, and which must also affect their judgement and affect the results of the test. It is surely impossible that a listener will be unaffected by the difference between a normal listening situation, where they are listening for pleasure, and one where they are focussing their attention of the music in order to render an objective judgement on it.

Like I said before, you still have not provided any proof that this is happening and that this has a significant influence.

Quote
This affect which cannot be compensated for by the scientific method is skewing the tests to some extent, and to an extent which is hard to determine, and this invalidates the tests.

False. Generally medication doesn't suddenly stop working because it is taken out of testing and put in the real world.

Quote
The reality is that the majority of the area of sound as experienced by human beings is subjective - i dont think this has to be proved - is obvious. Some aspects of sound can be objectivised and measured, but some cannot. To  suggest that people cannot even talk about the subjective bits, or perhaps even make any form of reference to this aspect of sound, without providing "proof" is rediculous. Just as rediculous is to suggest that the only bits that matter are the objective bits that we think we can measure in a listening test. Or that anyone who brings up this other area in a conversation is either a troll, or someone who is inherently unscientific. (The latter is particularly funny since science is my second love, next to music.)

It's not really interesting to talk about the subjective bits, because it all ends in: "This is your opinion and this is my opinion".
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: probedb on 2010-03-11 08:39:32
This is my point. Why assume that bacause someone did not notice something in a listening test, an inherently unnatural way to listen to music, that they would not subsequently be affected by it? Remember we are talking about ordinary people who might conduct these tests, not seasond sound professionals.


That's the point of listening tests, they can be done by anyone. You seem to think they're being done by scientists in white coats.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: db1989 on 2010-03-11 08:49:46
Quote
Your beliefs are based on faith - faith in scientists and the scientific method.

Yeah, we're just as fundamentalist as those we criticise, right? Except for those little things called evidence and self-assessment/correction. Next you'll tell us that global warming is a religion.

I only skimmed your posts, but they look like overwraught, protracted armchair philosophy about intangible and unmeasurable qualities of sound that we can't hope to quantify or control, but should account for anyway. Who's relying on faith? Sound is pressure waves in air. That our brains can't perfectly represent the physical world is irrelevant; modelling is what they do, approximation and interpolation included. We can only work with what we have, and unless you've a way to conduct listening tests (etc.) without participants knowing, the current ways will have to do. I suspect they're good enough anyway. If you don't get that nice warm and fuzzy feeling under scientific conditions, avoid them.

Anyway, if the participants' perceptions are somehow influenced by knowledge that they're involved in a test, shouldn't said perceptions be influenced in the same way or 'direction' for each treatment? That approximates a control, given the difficulty of conducting a test without them knowing.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Woodinville on 2010-03-11 09:44:10
Quote
Your beliefs are based on faith - faith in scientists and the scientific method.

Yeah, we're just as fundamentalist as those we criticise, right? Except for those little things called evidence and self-assessment/correction. Next you'll tell us that global warming is a religion.


When the dialog sinks to this level, ignoring the simple fact that science is testable and religion isn't, there's no real hope for a dialog.

Conclusions from evidence are not "faith", they are conclusions.
Faith is belief in the ABSENSE of evidence.

Until the little cheap shot is retracted, I see no point in dialog with Mr. Rabbit.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-11 10:46:25
[quote author=Light-Fire link=msg=692895 date=1268272341]
...majority of the area of sound as experienced by human beings is subjective - i dont think this has to be proved...


All the area of sound as perceived by human beings is objective. However the human imagination is extremely subjective.
So you should ABX our codecs, chose the more useful and then let your imagination run free later on when listening to your music.

It looks like you have some kind of psychological blockage that don't allow you to accept truth in certain situations.

If you insist in being "subjective" (nowadays another world for delusional). I sugest you go here (http://www.audiocircle.com/). A place for "people" like yourself.
[/quote]

You actually really believe that sound as percieved by humans is entirely objective? Seriously? Or are you winding me up? I honestly can't tell.

What is the meaning of the quotes around the word "people" in reference to myself? Are you being abusive, I honestly can't tell?

It's not April the 1st, is it?

Title: what value listening tests
Post by: magneticrabbit on 2010-03-11 10:53:43
Quote
Your beliefs are based on faith - faith in scientists and the scientific method.

Yeah, we're just as fundamentalist as those we criticise, right? Except for those little things called evidence and self-assessment/correction. Next you'll tell us that global warming is a religion.


When the dialog sinks to this level, ignoring the simple fact that science is testable and religion isn't, there's no real hope for a dialog.

Conclusions from evidence are not "faith", they are conclusions.
Faith is belief in the ABSENSE of evidence.

Until the little cheap shot is retracted, I see no point in dialog with Mr. Rabbit.


By all means cease talking to me if you are going to start talking about religion. I am trying to have a conversation about sound.

By the way, FYI the word faith is the same as the word trust. There is no need to invoke religion.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: andy o on 2010-03-11 12:25:49
By the way, FYI the word faith is the same as the word trust. There is no need to invoke religion.

You've already been called out on poisoning the well (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poisoning_the_well). Should we add equivocation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivocation) to the list?
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2010-03-11 13:45:44
You actually really believe that sound as percieved by humans is entirely objective? Seriously? Or are you winding me up? I honestly can't tell.


In the end, the result of human perception is the changing of the chemistry of the brain in certain places.

The brain is an object.

Chemistry is an objective state.

Certain places in an object like the brain are of course also objects.

So where's the problem with perception being objective?

Perception is an objective change in the state of an object, right?



Title: what value listening tests
Post by: pdq on 2010-03-11 13:51:07
@magneticrabbit:

Nobody here will be convinced of what you say (about "sensing" differences in encoders that you can't prove in short-term testing) until you can provide statistically significant double-blind results to support your claim. If you can do that, no matter how long it takes you, then we would be glad to accept that.

Until then you will be viewed in the same category as UFOs and big foot - lots of people have claimed to see them but none of them have been able to prove it.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Slipstreem on 2010-03-11 15:13:15
And now for a little light relief... CLICK! (http://www.jakearchibald.co.uk/homeopathy/). It seems relevant somehow.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: greynol on 2010-03-11 18:17:48
@magneticrabbit:

This notion that we are able to better distinguish lossless from lossy when not paying as close attention is not consistent with what ordinary people who actually pass double blind tests generally say.  Those that are interested in creating slightly smaller files at the expense of transparency will often tell you that they can only tell the difference when performing double blind tests but not under normal listening conditions.

To whom should I pay more attention, those who have actual experience with ABX testing or someone who appears to have never performed an ABX test and seems completely unwilling to try?
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Light-Fire on 2010-03-12 00:33:52
You actually really believe that sound as percieved by humans is entirely objective? Seriously? Or are you winding me up? I honestly can't tell.

I don't have to believe it. It is a fact. Seriously.

What is the meaning of the quotes around the word "people" in reference to myself? Are you being abusive, I honestly can't tell?

I meant certain parcel of the population that refuses to accept the truth about certain facts for some strange reason. That web site is full of them and you may find like minded people there.

It's not April the 1st, is it?

Not just yet. Today is March 11. 

Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Woodinville on 2010-03-12 02:00:17
By the way, FYI the word faith is the same as the word trust. There is no need to invoke religion.


If you're not going to use the word the same way others do, then communication is impossible.  Or you're equivocating. Or something.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: solive on 2010-03-13 20:14:04
<<There is, I believe,  such a huge and very fundamental difference between listening to music under normal circumstances and listening to music during a listening test. Normally when we listen to music its not a purely concious process, rather its more or less an automatic process - we simply let the music kind of wash over us, and leave it up to our subconcious mind to do the work, to  invoke an emotional response, and to provide us with a pleasurable sensation (hopefully).

This is very different to the very concious process during a listening test, where people sit in moods of deep concentration and furrowed brows, focussing their attention on bits of the music, comparing, making notes, remembering, judging, etc.

I dont believe the two processes are comparable enough to draw any conclusions that might apply equally to both scenarios, apart from very crude and broad ones. Normal listening and listening tests are as different as chalk and cheese. If I can invoke a slightly rude example, it is like the difference between a couple having passionate, romantic sex in the privacy of their own bedroom versus doing it in a laboratory in front of technicians and cameras.

Its only when you are really listening to music, as opposed to examining it under a microscope, that you can fully appreciate all the nuances of it - the nuances that will go right over you head and out the window in a listening test. You might think you can hear them, but your ability to pick them up will be skewed by the mood and state of mind you have to be in to do the test.


I think your basic premise here is flawed. Listening to music isn't necessarily a purely passive or subconscious process. There are different modes of listening to music both passive/emotional and active/analytical.  If you had sat through as many courses as I have in music history, musicology, theory, composition/orchestration you learn to listen to music in a very analytical way focussing on different aspects: harmony/counterpoint, theme development, structure,historical significance,etc; Your emotional response has little to do with the process, in fact, it can sometimes get in the way.

Critical listening to reproduced sound is much the same process, assuming the listeners are trained and the listening test is designed properly: you are listening in a very analytical way to the various perceptual attributes of the reproduced sound such as timbre, spatial, dynamics and nonlinear distortion, and other artifacts.

In both cases (critical evaluation of music versus sound quality) there is a fair amount of active listening and critical analysis going on which makes the two processes quite similar. Once listeners turn off their brains and listen passively or emotionally to music or audio components, my experience is you tend to get essentially the same useless, random information. This is quite the opposite reality of what you are arguing.

Cheers
Sean
Audio Musings (http://www.seanolive.blogspot.com)
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: greynol on 2010-03-18 00:13:29
Those that are interested in creating slightly smaller files at the expense of transparency will often tell you that they can only tell the difference when performing double blind tests but not under normal listening conditions.

I just read this in another thread and thought I'd add it here:

Tried aoTuv and it's truly amazing.  Now I can't even consistently ABX -q 2.  I can (barely) get it on some songs with lots and lots of high frequency content, but it's hard enough that I'm confident it will be transparent in more casual listening.
Title: what value listening tests
Post by: Richard Greene on 2010-03-19 20:46:53
"I think your basic premise here is flawed. Listening to music isn't necessarily a purely passive or subconscious process. There are different modes of listening to music both passive/emotional and active/analytical. "

I started reading this thread in the middle, well actually I read the intial post and then skipped all the way to the Sean Olive post, because I recognized a sensible audiophile when I read the post.  Of course listening for sound quality differences is different than listening to music ,for most audiophiles.  As a music collector myself, I know that sound quality can affect music listening if it is unusually good or bad.  But in general, music collectors try to focus on the music -- the stereo is good enough for today. 

A music collector won't tell others that he has to KNOW the musicians playing to decide whether he likes the music.  And if he's comparing a few jazz drummers, such as Joe Morello and Buddy Rich, he's not going to play Buddy Rich loud and Joe Morello at background levels, and then claim Buddy Rich is exciting while Joe Morello is boring. 

My point, and I do have one, is that knowing the band name (or brand name) can influence "subjective evaluations" ... while listening to louder music versus less loud music can influence subjective evaluations too. 

So when the typical audiophile compares audio components knowing the brand names in use, and having the components play music at different volumes, the comparison is biased even if the listener is not. 

Add in the peer pressure among "real" audiophiles to always "hear differences" and it's no wonder half to three-quarters of audiophiles will think they can "hear differences" when comparing a component with itself.

Those audiophiles who hear differences among speakers & rooms are half way to being a smarty pants audiophiles.

Those audiophiles who believe all electronics and wires sound different, but can never demonstrate their claimed listening skills to witnesses, 'because that puts too much pressure on them', know very little about human behavior, and audio.

Audiophiles often do not hear sound quality differences as well as they believe they do.  So what, everyone believes they are above average !  Why should listening skill claims be any different?

Title: what value listening tests
Post by: alexp36 on 2010-03-27 08:19:20
Your beliefs are based on faith - faith in scientists and the scientific method. It is a valuable technique, to be sure, but it is not all powerful. It does have limitations - something you seem to be unaware of i would think.
While that might be true, [...]

I don't think that's true at all, I'm always irked when pseudoscientific bullshitters go to this line of argument. As a great philosopher once put it: "It works, bitches" (http://xkcd.com/54/). It takes as much faith to "believe" in science as it takes to "believe" that if you throw yourself out a window you'll go down instead of up. Now, a wishy washy relativist might say "But what is really up and down, but human constructs?" To which I would reply why don't you go find out. These arguments about ascribing any kind of faith-based "way of knowing" the same weight as science, by trying to bring down science to its level is really disingenuous, annoying, and even if they don't realize it, everyone that's not Amish knows it deep down.


Andy, thank you. That was one of the most perfect things I've ever read.
And oops, I was intending to make my first post on HA something a little more deep, possibly on the subject (well worn here already, I'm pleased to note) of how much crap (some) subjectivist audiophiles speak. But having gotten sucked in, somehow, to reading through this thread regarding MagneticRabbit's somewhat strange obsession with his own fragile psychological state, I saw your post, and had to reply. Oh well, never mind. I promise to try and make my next post about something constructive :-).

Oh, and MagneticRabbit - I didn't see if you replied to an earlier poster who suggested a fix for your problem with listening tests. They suggested that you get a family member to test you at random, without you knowing on what days or times you were being tested. Surely this shows that you can indeed be tested without realising it? Apologies if you already replied to that one. If not, what say you about that idea? Cheers, Alex.
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