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Getting psychological.....
Getting psychological.....
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Old 5th April 2007, 11:55 AM   #1
Foxx510 is offline Foxx510  Australia
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Default Getting psychological.....

Just wondering if others notice this - Some days my speakers sound really terrible, hard and uninvolving. I can't stand to listen to them and I start dreaming about replacing them with something decent. Then a few days later I'll put on a cd and they will sound rich and full and I'm happy again. I swear they sound even better again at night with just a lamp on. I think I'm just starting to realise what a massive impact our brains have on how things sound. Do others have similar experiences?
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Old 5th April 2007, 12:39 PM   #2
Conrad Hoffman is offline Conrad Hoffman  United States
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Variations on the theme come up in many posts. IMO, most claims about things that conventional engineering wisdom can't explain, fall into this category. Whether they realize it or not, audio sales-persons use a lot of very subtle techniques to get you to buy something. The tone of their voice, claims they make about the product, the chair, the lighting, the temperature, the color of the room, all come into play. By the time they actually play something, the stage has been set and you typically aren't in a position to make an unbiased evaluation. There's also the issue of recording quality- see the threads on good and bad CDs. I have music I love on CDs I hate, and great recordings I can't stand to listen to. It would be interesting to keep a diary of listening sessions, with how you felt about the system, and notes on all the external variables.
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Old 5th April 2007, 12:48 PM   #3
dnsey is offline dnsey  United Kingdom
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I quite agree.
Psychological effects have a surprising effect on audio perception.
For those who are sceptica of the phenomenon, try playing a constant frequency at varying amplitudes - the perceived pitch changes drastically, which is a revelation to those who believe that pitch is a simple function of frequency.
Anyone with 'perfect pitch' who can comment on how they perceive this?
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Old 5th April 2007, 05:03 PM   #4
DCPreamp is offline DCPreamp  United States
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Psychology has a massive effect on audio perception. That is exactly why double-blind and ABX testing is so important. People think amp A sounds rich and airy yet amp B sounds cold and flat, but when tested in an ABX scenario, they sound exactly the same.

Anticipation is a giant “improver” of sound quality. Someone listens to their system for months and gets bored with it, so they spend $$$ on “super, duper mega-perfect” capacitors, spend hours installing the caps, and surprise, it sounds a million times better. Or does it? Their efforts and anticipation of improved sound is actually their emotion and imagination making them think it sounds better. There’s about a 99% chance it sounds exactly the same (in testing and in non-biased (if there is such thing) listening) and the caps did absolutely nothing but make some salesmen a good day’s pay.

But is the improvement real? It’s real if the listener thinks it’s real. But it’s also not real if the improvement can’t be duplicated or measured. What’s the difference between a $200 Sony SACD player and a $5,000 Krell SACD player? Besides the pride of ownership, the bragging rights, and some nice build quality, probably not much. Mentally, it might be perceived as much better by the owner, but in reality, it probably doesn’t measure any different or sound any better to a vast majority of people – especially if they’ve been to a few rock concerts without hearing protection and can’t hear beyond 15KHz (like me). There’s always those few who claim to be able to hear differences and fewer still who really can hear the difference.

It explains why music you hate sounds bad or your system sounds bad when you demo it for a friend. Systems also seem to sound better in the dark or better with a glass of wine.

Of course, you’ll never see anything like what I wrote in the likes of Stereophile Magazine, yet will see many similarities in The Audio Critic (http://theaudiocritic.com/). Stereophile makes their living praying on people’s emotions and anticipation by purporting absolute BS and spewing out utter techno-babble as they praise $10,000 RCA cables and $78,000 record players. The Audio Critic has the wisdom and fortitude to carefully explain technologies, psychology, industry trends, common snake-oil-salesman tricks, while portraying what good audio equipment is all about.

Welcome to real audio.
"Believers cling to the myth despite the evidence, reinterpret the myth to suit the evidence, or lie about the evidence to support the myth." "To err is human; to blame errors on external factors is even more so."
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Old 5th April 2007, 10:31 PM   #5
Geoff H is offline Geoff H  Australia
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Very interesting. I know what you mean with the lights out. I think that relates to the brain processing less information. Eliminates, or reduces one of the senses. As to having bad days, only ever experienced that with a certain amp. It was taking off (ringing) at supersonic freqs. and triggered by transients.

The fact that your system pleases you most of the time suggests another cause. Perhaps a stressful day at work, bad traffic etc.
Next time it happens, try taking a 15 min walk, then play the same recording, and hopefully enjoy.

Salespeople are salespeople, doesn't matter what they are selling. When I was working for a large retailer, we were given a "pep talk" on selling techniques - even us techos were expected to sell. One of the tricks they tried to brainwash me with was to check out the customers footwear! Well heeled meant go straight to the top shelf. Don't waste time finding out what his needs might be.
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Old 5th April 2007, 11:18 PM   #6
I_Forgot is offline I_Forgot  United States
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My system sounds best when I am naked and in the dark.

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Old 5th April 2007, 11:47 PM   #7
Geoff H is offline Geoff H  Australia
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I'll take your word on that. No evidence needed. What are your speakers like?
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Old 6th April 2007, 12:11 AM   #8
Foxx510 is offline Foxx510  Australia
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Originally posted by Geoff H
Very interesting. I know what you mean with the lights out. I think that relates to the brain processing less information. Eliminates, or reduces one of the senses.
I've often wondered if this is the case too. All very interesting stuff, really throws a spanner in the works when trying to evalutate equipment. I guess direct A/B comparisons are the only way, preferably blind. Nakedness optional
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Old 8th April 2007, 05:29 AM   #9
Nordic is offline Nordic  South Africa
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Is there maybe some natural body rythm change going on influenceing us diffirently at times of the day...

It mostly strikes me when I work on stuff like headphone amps late at night, listen myself half to sleep, totaly enjoying it, then the next morning, the same amp sounds like crap, lots of timy distortions etc.. which I just didn't hear the night before...

It has to be me, as the amps sure don't change themselves over night...
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Old 8th April 2007, 06:16 AM   #10
cowanrg is offline cowanrg  United States
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just out of curiousity, there are a LOT of engineers in this forum, any of you guys have psych degrees? i hear almost as much talk about ABX, placebo effect, etc as technical stuff.

personally, i think its all blown out of proportion (holding a degree in psych from one of the top 10 psych schools in the nation).

ive listened to systems, knowing exactly what i was listening to. and you know what? sometimes i heard differences, sometimes i didnt. thats because i didnt care. i didnt NEED to hear a difference, or want to. when money or pride is riding on results, it matters. if you are just trying to see if differences exist, it doesnt really play a part.
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