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Blind test listening results by professional audio engineers in the Los Angeles area

MattHooper

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Audio shows have always been productions designed to convince people to buy. Nothing more, nothing less. It is what it is and no amount of 'critical' listening or A vs B in a cement-walled 250-300sqft hotel room of dubious dimensions is going to remotely show what a loudspeaker or system will sound like in a buyer's home.

People say that a lot, dismissing the idea that you can get a useful impression of a loudspeaker from a show. I don't find it to be true. I've ended up with a number of loudspeakers because of what I heard at a show. I first heard Thiel CS6 speakers driven by VAC tube amps at a CES and it blew my mind, best of show for me - I liked it so much I wanted to see if I could recreate what I heard...and did. Within that year I had the Thiels with CJ amps and they had just the type of characteristics that I loved in the show demo.

Likewise...I first heard MBLs at a show and the particular qualities that impressed me showed up in my own home with MBL speakers.

Same with hearing Hales Transcendence speakers at a show, which led me to audition them when I got home, bought them, and they did just what I heard at the show, in my room.

I first heard Joseph Audio speakers at a show and they stopped me in my tracks with their particularly accurate sounding tone for voices and instruments. That eventually led to auditioning them and owning them...and they have those same characteristics in my home.

(Harbeth was another one off the top of my head).

I've never really had a "this sounds nothing like what I heard at the show (or audio store)" experience.

(FWIW, my listening room is about 200 sqft btw, large room opening to one side)
 

Ken Tajalli

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I happily avail myself of such influences. Behind my stereo speakers is my large projection screen. Programmable colored lights shine on that screen, and I find it can enhance and influence my perception of the sound.
Yeah, baby! . . . . Groovy.

1700082357605.jpeg
 

Timcognito

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"first define the question to be answered by an experiment when designing it."
This absolutely correct. As person whose engineering output in medical devices was subjected to double blind testing seven times there has to be definable measurable difference before the experiment starts. The problem in audio is that there is usually no defined measurement that the experiment starts with and all the other variables that have been discussed here having to do with variable hearing acuity, prestatements, blinding, etc. It is a time consuming expensive endeavor to do it right.
 

Ken Tajalli

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People say that a lot, dismissing the idea that you can get a useful impression of a loudspeaker from a show. I don't find it to be true. I've ended up with a number of loudspeakers because of what I heard at a show. I first heard Thiel CS6 speakers driven by VAC tube amps at a CES and it blew my mind, best of show for me - I liked it so much I wanted to see if I could recreate what I heard...and did. Within that year I had the Thiels with CJ amps and they had just the type of characteristics that I loved in the show demo.
I agree with you too. This is not to say, that there is not a lot of truth in what John is saying, either.
Sure, shows are designed to demonstrate new and current products and sell them.
Equally, when it comes to speakers, these days, a lot of importance is allocated to in room frequency response. Although important, a lot of the more severe mismatches can easily be remedied, with positioning and EQ. I can happily put up with a bit of frequency irregularities, provided distortion remains low, extension is reasonable, and directivity is taken care of. If I choose a pair of shoe boxes or skyscrapers for my average room, then it is my own stupidity.
I can also happily enjoy a tube amp with a bit of hum/buzz provided it is of low distortion, and has enough power for my use.
Shows can be a great place to discover stuff you wouldn't normally get to see.
And believe me, despite their best efforts, some well known, well regarded equipments, can fall flat on their faces.
 

kemmler3D

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Well I guess it is a question of attitude.
Some people stop and activate routines of doubt and investigation.
Others move on and jump to conclusions.
Probably this cannot be changed easily.
Some will dismiss it as a fluke and move on none the wiser.

Some (hopefully a lot) will grasp the implications and consider it every time they "definitely" heard something a bit subtle.
 

kemmler3D

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People say that a lot, dismissing the idea that you can get a useful impression of a loudspeaker from a show. I don't find it to be true.
I think the sound at most shows is crap because the rooms are mostly crap. However, crap A and crap B can (don't always) sound very different, and if you're able to recognize what you like about those differences, it's certainly better than nothing, or reading subjective reviews exclusively, which is a close second to nothing.

If I had to pick between one or the other - seeing a good spinorama of a speaker, or hearing it in a Vegas hotel room, I'd probably take the spin. But it would be pretty tempting to just listen, even in a compromised space.
 

Axo1989

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A small experiment I just created. Does the noise change when the image changes? watch in Full Screen


Nice one. It's brighter !! But no I don't think so. Could be wrong.
 

MattHooper

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A small experiment I just created. Does the noise change when the image changes? watch in Full Screen


I tried it. If it worked to change the sound perception, it was so subtle I had to strain to think about whether it changed. Couldn't really tell. So whatever the effect for this one, for me it was nothing like the obviousness of, say, optical illusions or something of that sort.
 

dasdoing

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I tried it. If it worked to change the sound perception, it was so subtle I had to strain to think about whether it changed. Couldn't really tell. So whatever the effect for this one, for me it was nothing like the obviousness of, say, optical illusions or something of that sort.

I could almost convince myself it did something to the sound right at the transition, but ... only almost.

I think it depends on how much you concentrate on the sound. I can focus on the image and then something seems to happen to the sound....very subtle though.
 

Pareto Pragmatic

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A small experiment I just created. Does the noise change when the image changes? watch in Full Screen
Interesting. What I hear is something like a "hiccup" when the screen changes. It's almost like a slight drop in volume and a quick return to volume level.

I think what is happening is that my brain suddenly shifts to process the visual change, and that creates a quick change in perception. Momentary, just around that point in time when the color shifts. Which makes sense, sudden flashes or movements draw a lot of attention, because it might be bears. Or lions, could be lions, better check!

Visual processing takes more bandwidth, which is why reaction time to sound is faster than reaction time to things we see.
 

Axo1989

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I think it depends on how much you concentrate on the sound. I can focus on the image and then something seems to happen to the sound....very subtle though.

On the first listen I thought the sound had a treble shift. Had to listen again a couple of times. Pretty much what @Pareto Pragmatic describes.
 

olieb

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Which makes sense, sudden flashes or movements draw a lot of attention, because it might be bears.
To me the moment when the darkness shifts to brightness creates a moment where the sound is pushed to the background and seems to be blurred, which is funny as it is just noise.
It is a moment of annoyance too, as the brightness is not comfortable.
If the signal were music it would probably sound worse in this moment. Like it is difficult to enjoy music while sitting on shards of glass.
 
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