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Old 18th June 2003, 09:25 AM   #1
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Default AB comparison

Hi,

Yesterday I made a valid comparison between my gainclone (now upgraded with MSR860) and a Denon1801. This was done with a relay system that conmutated the output from both amps to my Advance Acoustic MA11e.
Well, veredict apart (a lot to be said here), it takes it's time to arrange a setup like this, but I think that differences can be showed this way. To say, this is not maybe the best system to test an amp, but I'm sure it's more or less a valid one.
My question is:
When you say "with those diodes the sound got more refined", "the soundstage is deeper" blablabla... have you tested this in a "technical" way (like A/B) or you maybe you trusted your ear memory?
This is not to start a discussion about how to best test an amp, but how you can say "this tweak improved things" if you only trust not your ears but your memory.
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Old 18th June 2003, 09:33 AM   #2
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Default Re: AB comparison

Quote:
Originally posted by Raka
Hi,

Yesterday I made a valid comparison between my gainclone (now upgraded with MSR860) and a Denon1801. This was done with a relay system that conmutated the output from both amps to my Advance Acoustic MA11e.
Well, veredict apart (a lot to be said here), it takes it's time to arrange a setup like this, but I think that differences can be showed this way. To say, this is not maybe the best system to test an amp, but I'm sure it's more or less a valid one.
My question is:
When you say "with those diodes the sound got more refined", "the soundstage is deeper" blablabla... have you tested this in a "technical" way (like A/B) or you maybe you trusted your ear memory?
This is not to start a discussion about how to best test an amp, but how you can say "this tweak improved things" if you only trust not your ears but your memory.

Very few people have made real A/B tests (I gather(?), I included) but when I have done it I'm amazed how small the differencies really are, except for tube amps.

Also the human ear forgets fast and adopts fast also. You get used to a certain sound rather fast.

But (hands up) have many really enjoy A/B tests? I
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Old 18th June 2003, 09:52 AM   #3
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How then can we say which one is better?
The most difficult thing is to adjust the volume equally if you don't use a signal generator to measure the gain. Even the smallest difference makes a difference substantial.

Did you AB'd any gainclone?
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Old 18th June 2003, 09:56 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Raka
How then can we say which one is better?
How can we say that beer is better than wine? We can prefer more than one taste.
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Old 18th June 2003, 10:08 AM   #5
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Yes, you have some true.

But, the wine example is not fully correct, to my point of view.
How can you say that the wine you had last week is better than the beer you are drinking now?
To me a better example is, If I wanted to compare two wines I think I'd like to have both at the same time (well, one after the other, with some "cleaning" food between them). Yes, one day I could prefer the wine to the beer, but how can I say this one is better to me than this.
If not compared directly, what I'm comparing is the satisfaction I get with the tweak, not the effect. I could even agree that somebody will have enough with this, but I'm trying to get the better sound at home without spending too much, and that means that I can't build 20 amps to discover that all sound equal.

Has anyone out there AB'd any gainclone? Really?
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Old 18th June 2003, 10:40 AM   #6
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Since you are using the wine analogy, and this has to do with
sensory memory, I recently read about an interesting
experiment. There were two groups of test persons, one with
professional wine tasters and the other with randomly selected
people. What was tested was not their wine tasting ability per se,
but their sense of smell. First they were subjected to a number
of different smells, varying things like vanilla, tobacco etc. and
were told what the substance was. In the next round they
were subjected to smells without knowing what the substance
was. The result was that the wine tasters were no better than
the other group at identifying the various smells, but they
more often recognized a smell as something they had
experienced before, although they couldn't say what it was.

I might be slightly wrong in some details, and know nothing
about the statistical validity etc., maybe SY knows (?), but it
points to an interesting distinction between on the one hand
recognizing and on the other hand recognizing and identifying.
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Old 18th June 2003, 10:42 AM   #7
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You're right, Raka.
Nothing better than an A/B test.
On an A/B test anyone can pick a difference.
But if you have to stop everything to disconnect one amp and connect the other, you really have to pay attention and you have to be very experienced in that, and with a very trained ear.
Some people, though, don't believe in A/B tests, because it's subjective if you can't measure the difference.
Go figure...
Audio is subjecive, it's a matter of taste.
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Old 18th June 2003, 10:52 AM   #8
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Raka

I am not sure if i understand your question properly. Whenever i make a change in an amp (only one at a time) i always listen going back and forth a few times within short time. For me this is enough, although i understand some people preference for more long term auditions. To develop a sensitive ear to relatively small changes takes time and effort - not so much in observing a difference but in determining if the difference is a step forward towards your concept of better sound or merely a difference. I also believe that long term sonic memory is also possible to improve but of little real use as sound quality at a particular location may change daily due to power supply, humidity and temperature fluctuations.
The ear/brain combo seems to work in amazing non-linear way and once focused on particular sound trait can not only perceive incredibly small differences but also attribute them excessive importance.
Does this answer your question? Probably not, but then we don't share the same ears, speakers, music preferences and experience All this will determine whether amps sound similar or not.
The more you listen the more reliable your short/long term audio memory becomes and the less uncertain you'll be about changes. To use a relay assumes no trust in aural memory at all plus it unavoidably changes the sound due to contacts, magnetics, extra wiring.

cheers
peter
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Old 18th June 2003, 11:05 AM   #9
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I'm going to tell you a story:

As maybe you know, I play violin and in one of the training courses I've been, my teacher was testing some violins to change the one he was using in his concerts. The prices won't scarify you, he tested a 24000 euro italian, a 450000 euro french, and another one between them. Obviously, they sounded very different (much more different than the amps, btw). The conclusion of him was that the important thing was not the timbre, because once you play with it you get used to it and without reference near in time (after all, you only play one violin each session) you wouldn't be aware about it once a beautiful level is reached. The important thing was the timbre and loudness distribution in the complete octaves of the instrument, the "easyness" of the output level, control of the four strings sound and vibration, and the maximum output loudness.

Conclusion: He appreciated the same as we do in a hifi but in another language: Dynamics, flat response, detail, freedom of compression etc.

After him, I want in a system a dynamic sound with soundstage and timbrical accuracy.

Carlos, I really think that anyone that don't use AB at any level is trying to fool himself, in order to float the benchmark and taste. This is no problem, but I think that this way he couldn't go ahead in the way to get more quality, and I mean subjective quality, not objective.

Well, we are distracting the subject, that was to check if anyone has AB'd any gainclone.
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Old 18th June 2003, 11:12 AM   #10
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Peter,

You're truly right saying more or less that the trained ear is better qualified to highlight differences in a AB test of amps.
The true is that I don't see difference in an AB, but I can detect how the pressure is applied to the bow, and how inclined is it to the strings. My ears are very well trained, also because I can find a very big difference between vynil and CD, and maybe between speaker cables.

What is aural memory?
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