• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Blind test - objectivists with tin hearing?

Joined
Nov 29, 2017
Messages
54
Likes
54
#21
Upon reflection, I have an anecdote that's somewhat similar to Thorsten's story, albeit a bit less extreme. Quite some time ago, a friend of mine of a more subjective persuasion loaned me an amplifier-DAC combo unit which he was quite fond of to listen to, to see if my ears were really made of tin. Vaguely intrigued, I used it for about a month, doing a few (sighted) level-matched listening tests, per his suggestion. I never discerned anything meaningful in the sighted tests to justify dragooning someone else in to swap cables for an A/B/X test, and I didn't bother to measure the unit before shipping it away as I had thought its specifications were fairly well-documented.

Some time later, another friend of mine took some measurements of a similar unit to the one I couldn't differentiate from a clean DAC and amp, ostensibly an updated version, and found that in addition to perilously high distortion harmonics, it was prone to some truly eccentric digital conversion malfunctions - I think that on Amir's preferred SINAD metric it would have scored about 50dB, possibly a bit worse. Apparently either the unit my friend had was better than its successor, or 50dB of SINAD is plenty for someone not expecting to hear a difference ;)
 

sergeauckland

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Patreon Donor
Joined
Mar 16, 2016
Messages
536
Likes
826
Location
Suffolk UK
#22
Expectation bias works both ways. If you expect to hear a difference you will, and a blind test will show whether you're right, or just guessing. If you don't expect to hear a difference you won't, and a blind test can't prove a negative.

Blind tests are indeed the Gold Standard for hearing differences and for choosing preferences without knowing what the choices are, but can't cope with wilful (even if innocent) expectation bias.

S
 

SIY

Major Contributor
Technical Expert
Joined
Apr 6, 2018
Messages
1,102
Likes
1,455
Location
Heading to Phoenix
#23
Thorsten is by a large margin the most intellectually dishonest individual I have ever encountered in the world of audio. And of course has money at stake.

I would take his story with an entire salt mine without independent verification.
 

solderdude

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jul 21, 2018
Messages
672
Likes
1,025
Location
The Neverlands
#24
Last edited:

Sal1950

Major Contributor
The Chicago Crusher
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
4,642
Likes
1,823
Location
Central Fl
#25
What do you think of this?
Baloney
Why is it that whenever these type of "stories" come around there was no one there of note to support it?
If I were one of these subjectivists going to the trouble of setting up a test like this I would have a few people from both sides of the isle of known reputation taking the test, plus one or two behind the curtain making sure the test was on the up and up. I wouldn't leave room for anyone to call it a fish story or anything like it.
But NO, every one of these pro-subjective blind test results I have ever read were so vague and without the slightest known control they invite questioning. No names, no places, nothing but "I knew a guy once ----------------)
 

cjfrbw

Active Member
Joined
Mar 5, 2018
Messages
197
Likes
144
#26
I tend to think the story if fishy, too. Connecting speakers out of phase is rather profoundly audible, and saying objectivists can't tell the difference is more or less equivalent to the ad hominem that claims that "only golden ears" can hear differences and that objectivists in fact have tin ears.
I don't believe that even a 'tin eared' objectivist, subjectivist, whatever could not tell that something was wrong with out of phase speakers.
 
Joined
May 20, 2018
Messages
102
Likes
91
Location
Melbourne, Australia
#27
assuming it's true, let's look at the real lesson from this story.
If you set people up to be biased against hearing a difference they will not hear a difference. This is further evidence to support what many of us are aware of on this forum: People's biases are strong and hard to overcome.

The result should be no surprise to objectivists.
It should concern subjectivists
 

JJB70

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Aug 17, 2018
Messages
684
Likes
1,042
Location
Milton Keynes, England
#28
Putting the veracity of the story to one side, I'm not sure why such a story would be news. Expectation bias is not a unidirectional principle that only applies to subjectivists looking for extra pace, rhythm slam and being moved forward two rows etc, it is equally applicable to entering a test if you believe there will be no difference. Hence why tests should be double blind, if you set up a test and tell people it is a cable test then people will be "listening" (or perhaps more accurately, telling themselves to discern) for what they expect to hear. That may be a difference, or it may not be a difference. This guy has tried to discredit objectivism by telling a story that actually confirms expectation bias (i.e. it undermines the idea of purely subjective listening tests), the fallibility of listening and the importance of double blind testing.
 

rebbiputzmaker

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jan 28, 2018
Messages
683
Likes
107
#29
Thorsten is by a large margin the most intellectually dishonest individual I have ever encountered in the world of audio. And of course has money at stake.

I would take his story with an entire salt mine without independent verification.
High praise indeed for his honesty, integrity and his ability as a designer!
 

rebbiputzmaker

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jan 28, 2018
Messages
683
Likes
107
#30
Generalizations without a shred of evidence (other than anecdotal with an agenda) ....
Besides .. why would one take anything that is said on TAS serious ? Why read it at all ?

Perhaps Ethans video should be mandatory viewing for those making (bold) claims.
Why so much venom? Seems rather strange.
 

Frank Dernie

Major Contributor
Patreon Donor
Joined
Mar 24, 2016
Messages
1,011
Likes
896
Location
Oxfordshire
#31
"I had a long conversation during the show with Thorsten Loesch of Abbington Musical Research and IFI. He told me a fascinating story about confirmation bias. That’s when you are so sure of something that even strong evidence to the contrary will not persuade you to change your mind.

Thorsten put together a blind ABX testing where he told participants it was a comparison of two power cables. But when he went behind the curtains, ostensibly to change the power cable, what he actually did was switch the speaker cables on one channel, so the system was playing out of phase. Thorsten had three different types of audiophiles take his test: subjectivists, objectivists, and those who were neither. The subjectivists and neutral listeners heard the effects of the system being thrown out of phase. The objectivists heard no differences. It was a robust test with clearly correlated results.

And how noticeable is having one speaker’s channel out of phase with the other? Ten years ago, at CES I entered a room with an “All Digital System” that had all the DACs and electronics in the loudspeakers. I listened for about ten seconds, then I turned to the gentleman who was giving the presentation and told him, “One of your channels is out of phase with the other.” He told me that was impossible since all the connections were hard-wired. I thanked him and left. A day later he caught me in the hall and explained that indeed one channel had been mis-wired out of phase.

The fact that the objectivists in Thorsten’s test were the ones who were so set in their opinions that it blinded them to the aural facts in front of their ears is a delicious irony. Why? Because those audiophiles who embrace ABX testing with the most fervor are those who believe most strongly in effects of expectation bias, which is why sighted testing is, in their eyes, flawed. Thorsten’s test indicates a strong tendency for objectivists to listen with closed ears whether the test is blind or sighted, which isn’t very objective, is it? "

www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/rmaf-2018-digital/

What do you think of this?
I think it shows that people claim to experience what they expect.
 
Joined
Oct 23, 2018
Messages
52
Likes
81
Location
Bjerringbro, Denmark.
#32
"Thorsten’s test indicates a strong tendency for objectivists to listen with closed ears whether the test is blind or sighted, which isn’t very objective, is it? "

What do you think of this?
I think that a blind test can only be truly objective if the listener has no expectations. No big surprise in that. Expectation is a subjective thing.
 

SIY

Major Contributor
Technical Expert
Joined
Apr 6, 2018
Messages
1,102
Likes
1,455
Location
Heading to Phoenix
#33
I think that a blind test can only be truly objective if the listener has no expectations. No big surprise in that. Expectation is a subjective thing.
That's exactly why double blind is crucial. The listener or experimenter can have any expectations they like.
 

D700

Member
Patreon Donor
Joined
Dec 21, 2018
Messages
36
Likes
17
#34
Careful gents, next thing you know you’ll be hiding Bose satellites behind a curtain and trolling your friends at parties. It’s a slippery slope:)
 

FrantzM

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Mar 12, 2016
Messages
742
Likes
307
#35
This anecdote clear purpose is to reinforce the myths that objectivists are tin-eared people who love measurements and don't like music. Meanwhile, Objectivists can hear differences between Ethernet and USB Cables as well as things so minute they escape measurements ... Objectivists, of course , are the true Music Lovers...

This is a HUUUUGE PILE of Bovine Manure bordering on trolling ... the less electrons we spend on it the better
 

Cosmik

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 24, 2016
Messages
2,467
Likes
1,162
Location
UK
#36
This guy has tried to discredit objectivism
It's not objectivism. People interested in listening tests are not objectivists.

This is objectivism:
Peter Walker said:
We designed our valve (tube) amplifier, manufactured it, and put it on the market, and never actually listened to it.
In fact, the same applies to the 303 and the 405. People say, "Well that's disgusting, you ought to have listened to it." However, we do a certain amount of listening tests, but they are for specific things. We listen to the differential distortion - does a certain thing matter? You've got to have a listening test to sort out whether it matters.
You've got to do tests to sort out whether rumble is likely to overload pickup inputs, or whether very high frequency stuff coming out of the pickup due to record scratch is going to disturb the control unit. But we aren't sitting down listening to Beethoven's Fifth and saying, "That amplifier sounds better, let's change a resistor or two. Oh yes, that's now better still." We never sit down and listen to a music record through an amplifier in the design stage.
We listen to funny noises, funny distortions, and see whether these things are going to matter, to get a subjective assessment. But we don't actually listen to program material at all.
https://www.puriteaudio.co.uk/forum/everything-else/peter-walker-quad-on-design
 

Frank Dernie

Major Contributor
Patreon Donor
Joined
Mar 24, 2016
Messages
1,011
Likes
896
Location
Oxfordshire
#37
I think it is a shame there are so many people who don’t have a scientific mind but are gullible/suggestible by apparently plausible BS.
I know there is no mechanism by which a properly specified cable could possibly influence the sound produced by a well engineered piece of Hi-Fi kit.
The idea that the difference between cables can be “heard”, except by the usual demo tricks, is risible.
Sadly lots of people have no education in such things and can be influenced by skilled sales people. Maybe there are some badly engineered bits of kit which do need unusual cable designs to reject noise or remain stable. My choice would be to steer clear of these sorts of thing.
I actually have little sympathy. If they are not bright enough or don’t have the aptitude to understand simple science but are sufficiently gullible to believe charlatans rather than engineers it is their problem and their money.
Wasn’t it W C Fields who made an (awful) film called “Never give a sucker an even break”?
 

GGroch

Active Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2018
Messages
137
Likes
191
#38
1st, thanks for this Dimitrov, you have promoted an interesting conversation.

........Thorsten put together a blind ABX testing where he told participants it was a comparison of two power cables........
Then this is not at all a blind test is it.

As soon as you introduce a highly prejudicial premise as the basis of the test, the test becomes sighted and therefore invalid.

As a wine aficionado, if someone asked me to comment on the differences between two different vintages of the same wine, I would concentrate and come up with a distinction.

As an atheist, if someone asked me to comment on the differences between 2 glasses of the same wine, one consecrated, one not, I am sure I would find them identical.

It proves that objectivists are just as susceptible to confirmation bias as anyone else. Objectivists would agree with that.

For me, the surprising thing about this test is that since out of phase speakers are so easy to detect; if the test is true, it proves how incredibly strong a factor confirmation bias really is.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom