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DAC blind test: NO audible difference whatsoever
DAC blind test: NO audible difference whatsoever
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Old 18th July 2018, 01:09 PM   #1881
Jakob2 is offline Jakob2  Germany
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Mainly OT

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Originally Posted by 00940 View Post
<snip>

I don't expect to save anyone from buying the wrong speaker. It's like wine, too subjective.
Of course subjectivity plays a role but i meant it to help others to get what they subjectively prefer and not due to fooling themselves due to bias.

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When I advice a friend, my position is: don't waste your money on cables (above what's needed for something solid and reliable), be aware of the crazy diminishing returns, if any, for amps and DACs once you're above 1000$ (more for high power amps) and you're on your own for the speakers. So listen, listen, listen (to the speakers, not the salesman). Once you've found something you like, we will find the rest.
Nothing wrong with that. Imo to listen to the salesman isn´t wrong too, but you should not believe him per se.

It is imo important to remember that intersubject variation can be surprisingly large (means between listeners), normal stereophonic reproduction is a very lossy version of reality (leaving binaural aside for the moment) and therefore depends strongly on learned abilities. Our brain tries to create a reasonable illusion (reasonable means compatible to our experience) from the cues it gets during the reproduction.

And we should keep in mind that it is a system that we are listening to. Composed of the listener the technical stuf and the room.
I often think that it is amazing what carefully selected/combined stuff is able to do (it´s the holistic approach).

To get a bit back to our "test topic" i´d be interested to know what kind of experimental evidence would be sufficient to change your belief about questionable stuff/effects.
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Old 18th July 2018, 02:28 PM   #1882
Doppler9000 is offline Doppler9000  Canada
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Originally Posted by scott wurcer View Post
You mis-understand my point, within the amateur astronomy community all these trade offs are discussed as technical issues there are no magic tweeks that are not understood by conventional theory. There are very expensive eyepieces (for instance) that give you better eye relief, etc. but they are simply something that takes a lot more effort to produce i.e. cost more money.
I understand what you are saying.

The problem is that you are assuming there is an objective (pardon the pun) and obvious demarcation between magic and science with which everyone agrees.

You have your view of what the line is, but others are likely to disagree.

With regard to telescopes, I recall a long debate regarding whether or not larger apertures can be at a resolution disadvantage to smaller telescopes under some conditions of poorer atmospheric "seeing".

The debate split between two camps: one calling the premise a "myth", others believing that there were conditions under which a smaller telescope could outperform a larger one of otherwise equivalent quality. The latter camp had more theoretical support, the former was more empirically-driven. Sound familiar?

If there is a subjective element to an endeavor, you will have debate, and people at all points along the continuum will be just as convinced that they are right and others are wrong, as matters of fact.

I understand that in the field of optics there is no obvious equivalent of "room dots" or whatever, but if you look at debates regarding the efficacy of apodizing masks to improve perceived resolution, for example, you will see that the sorts of arguments are not that different.

Last edited by Doppler9000; 18th July 2018 at 02:45 PM.
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Old 18th July 2018, 02:55 PM   #1883
scott wurcer is offline scott wurcer  United States
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I understand what you are saying but these issues are relatively far and few between and hardly in the league of Tice Clocks and Shatki Stones.

My current understanding here is that somehow when manufacturers hold demos and/or "blind" tests they are innocent and their "science" is to be held true until someone can prove it wrong. At least their agenda can't be hidden.
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Old 20th July 2018, 08:39 AM   #1884
NATDBERG is online now NATDBERG  United Kingdom
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Originally Posted by scott wurcer View Post
BTW it is not hard to find a highly trained MW (Master of Wine) that can identify wines blind individually with great accuracy, no ABX needed. This is no parlor trick, where is that audio equivalent?
Where's the extensive training? Where is the incentive to train? Audio isn't taken seriously enough.. Even the professionals in hifi are kind of just amateurs who are extra confident in their abilities and opinions (and some are full of self-convinced BS). In professional audio, I'm sure there are engineers who might be considered highly experienced in listening in order to fix problems but the culture is not there to be interested in audio differeces in the same way it is in the wine world.

My point being, a lack of the equivalent of a highly trained MW can be for many reasons. No conclusions can be taken that mean there are no differences that can be identified with great accuracy.

Last edited by NATDBERG; 20th July 2018 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 20th July 2018, 12:41 PM   #1885
rickmcinnis is offline rickmcinnis  United States
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Thank you for the most important post of this thread.

That is the point.

One doesn't just happen upon these skills. They must be learned.

As Pete Townshend said, "the simple things you see are all complicated". It seems simple to decide something sounds better than another with just switching back and forth but there is lots more to it and to think "average audio guy" has developed his hearing acuity to the level that can discern minute differences without any effort is absurd.

If anything A/B testing should be used as a tool for training not for assessment.

As with the wine taster, they know the wine. They do not have to compare it to another to know what it IS.

Excellent point. The gist of the matter.
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Old 20th July 2018, 05:23 PM   #1886
mmerrill99 is online now mmerrill99
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Originally Posted by rickmcinnis View Post
Thank you for the most important post of this thread.

That is the point.

One doesn't just happen upon these skills. They must be learned.

As Pete Townshend said, "the simple things you see are all complicated". It seems simple to decide something sounds better than another with just switching back and forth but there is lots more to it and to think "average audio guy" has developed his hearing acuity to the level that can discern minute differences without any effort is absurd.

If anything A/B testing should be used as a tool for training not for assessment.

As with the wine taster, they know the wine. They do not have to compare it to another to know what it IS.

Excellent point. The gist of the matter.
It's obvious what the difference between a wine master & participants in a forum ABX test - so obvious, in fact, that it's strange someone could conflate these issues.

The other interesting thing is what training is needed? I know people train in recognizing & sensitizing themselves to various distortions but what if the difference between two devices is not to be found in a specific distortion that is easily A/Bed?

It's often mentioned that blind testing using (trained) participants can "show fabulous sensitivity to tiny changes in level, frequency response, interchannel timing and localization"

These are typical indicators used in tests where audio snippets are used to identify these minute, subtle differences yet some 'obvious' differences heard in sighted listening may not be of this type - they can be more often related to holistic, differences with 'realism' of the sound, connectedness to the performers, etc - the sort of differences that are the result of the analysis function of auditory perception & how this analysis results in an auditory scene with auditory objects & dynamic auditory streams within it.

If you want to see what's actually involved in a real blind test for such differences then search for Ultmusicsnob's posts on head-fi & Gearslutz, where he walks through ABX testing 16/44 Vs 24/192 (he also did blind tests for jitter differentiation - worth searching out his posts).

Many things to note in his posts:
- he already has identified his preference for 24/192 audio files from his sighted exposure to them as a sound engineer & is using Foobar ABX to verify if this is based on sighted bias or not
- he has to take a very different approaches for ABXing RB Vs high res as opposed to jitter differentiation. This requires a great deal of flexibility & commitment to finding the 'tell' or aspect that will allow differentiation
- in the case of 16/44 Vs 24/193, there is no specific 'tell' i.e. distortion artifact or freq/amplitude difference that can be isolated down to an audio snippet
.


What is evident from his approach is that most people wouldn't have the motivation, be likely or able to go to the trouble that this recording engineer has done!!

For instance - here's an example of a real-world ABX test which gave a non-null result.

Note in this excerpt of his post, that he could only get positive ABX results by focusing on the differences in 3D soundstage depth - all his other attempts at differentiating between these audio files failed. In order to find that this was the necessary 'tell' which he could differentiate between audio files took him a lot of attempts with other 'tells' - a long & exhausting exercise.

Also not that he states these differences are small & difficult to detect in Foobar ABX yet he had no difficulty & didn't need to strain in developing a prefernce for 24/192 files during his long-term sighted exposure to these files.

Note also that he says the choice of source material is crucial in uncovering these differences

And, finally, note that he says "training my ears to find a difference very difficult"

So here is a sound engineer getting positive ABX results & describing the difficulties in achieving this result - I would call them EXTREME difficulties. Now does anyone really believe that ABX testing is as simple as certain people try to make out.

Quote:
"Keeping my attention focused for a proper aural listening posture is brutal. It is VERY easy to drift into listening for frequency domains–which is usually the most productive approach when recording and mixing. Instead I try to focus on depth of the soundstage, the sound picture I think I can hear. The more 3D it seems, the better."

Program material is crucial. Anything that did not pass through the air on the way to the recording material, like ITB synth tracks, I'm completely unable to detect; only live acoustic sources give me anything to work with. So for lots of published material, sample rates really don't matter–and they surely don't matter to me for that material. However, this result is also strong support for a claim that I'm detecting a phenomenon of pure sample rate/word length difference, and not just incidental coloration induced by processing. The latter should be detectable on all program material with sufficient freq content.

Also, these differences ARE small, and hard to detect. I did note that I was able to speed up my decision process as time went on, but only gradually. It's a difference that's analogous to the difference between a picture just barely out of focus, and one that's sharp focused throughout–a holistic impression. For casual purposes, a picture that focused “enough” will do–in Marketing, that's ‘satisficing’. But of course I always want more.
It took me a **lot** of training. I listened for a dozen wrong things before I settled on the aspects below.

The difference I hear is NOT tonal quality (I certainly don't claim to hear above 22 kHz). I would describe it as spatial depth, spatial precision, spatial detail. The higher resolution file seems to me to have a dimensional soundstage that is in *slightly* better focus. I have to actively concentrate on NOT looking for freq balance and tonal differences, as those will lead you astray every time. I actively try to visualize the entire soundstage and place every musical element in it. When I do that, I can get the difference. It's *very* easy to drift into mix engineer mode and start listening for timbres–this ruins the series every time. Half the battle is just concentrating on spatial perception ONLY

I initially found training my ears to find a difference very difficult. It's *very* easy to go toward listening for tonal changes, which does not help. I get reliable results only when trying to visualize spatial detail and soundstage size, and I tend to get results in streaks. I get distracted by imaginary tonal differences, and have to get back on track by concentrating only on the perceived space and accuracy of the soundstage image.

Last edited by mmerrill99; 20th July 2018 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 20th July 2018, 06:49 PM   #1887
00940 is offline 00940  Belgium
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And yet all this work doesn't help none as he simply upsampled redbook material. If anything, it just proves that he likes the extra distortion high res material brings (almost all DAC are doing worse at 192khz).
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Old 20th July 2018, 06:52 PM   #1888
mmerrill99 is online now mmerrill99
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Originally Posted by 00940 View Post
And yet all this work doesn't help none as he simply upsampled redbook material. If anything, it just proves that he likes the extra distortion high res material brings (almost all DAC are doing worse at 192khz).
And you miss the whole point !!
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Old 20th July 2018, 07:12 PM   #1889
00940 is offline 00940  Belgium
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You grasping at straws? He never says that the differences in sighted listening were obvious. And his pre-established preference for 24/192 might be pure pre cognition bias.

The only thing he established is that he was able to train to distinguish his hardware working under very different conditions. Everything else is speculation and ad hoc rationalization.

What he demonstrates is complete ignorance of the hardware chain though. I must admit he writes well otoh.
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Old 20th July 2018, 07:32 PM   #1890
mmerrill99 is online now mmerrill99
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Originally Posted by 00940 View Post
You grasping at straws?
I'm grasping at straws?? Irony meter on red!!
Quote:
He never says that the differences in sighted listening were obvious.
Who's grasping at straws, again?? Establishing a preference in sighted listening you now consider is difficult?
Quote:
And his pre-established preference for 24/192 might be pure pre cognition bias.
Please explain or am I correct in thinking that you want your cake & eat it too? First, you contend that sighted preference might be difficult; then you contend that sighted preference is because of bias. Do you know that an ABX positive result 'proves' that it is not bias?? I really can't fathom the pretzel like logic that is continually displayed here?

Quote:
The only thing he established is that he was able to train to distinguish his hardware working under very different conditions. Everything else is speculation and ad hoc rationalization.

What he demonstrates is complete ignorance of the hardware chain though. I must admit he writes well otoh.
What his posts show is the difficulty involved in doing some ABX tests & he answers all questions & gives plenty of detail about how he performed the test & what he eventually settled on as the audio cue that allowed him to differentiate between the two audio files

Quote:
ractice improves performance. To reach 99.8% statistical reliability, and to do so more quickly (this new one was done in about 1/3 the time required for the trials listed above in the thread), I mainly have to train my concentration.

It is *very* easy to get off on a tangent, listening for a certain brightness or darkness, for the timbre balance in one part, several parts, or all--this immediately introduces errors, even though this type of listening is much more likely to be what I am and need to be doing when recording and mixing a new track.

Once I am able to repeatedly focus just on spatial focus/accuracy--4 times in a row, for X & Y, and A & B--then I can hit the target. Get lazy even one time, miss the target.
This is a REAL ABX test, showing what's involved - not opposing opinions of 'ABX is stressful' Vs 'no it isn't' 'it's just removal of a bias' Vs 'no it isn't' etc, etc.

Last edited by mmerrill99; 20th July 2018 at 07:38 PM.
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