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Simple listening test for audiophiles

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widemediaphotography

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I know a loudspeaker designer, well known in my country, who among other things collaborated on a serious audio magazine, at a time when there was no internet yet.

he tells an anecdote: one day, at the editorial office, they did some comparative tests between cartridges, from the correct basic model to the high-end one, in order to write an article.

Every cartrige was instrumentally interfaced (R & C) as best as possible and the output levels were balanced. All listeners were professional audio designers. The article did not come out, since no difference was felt... and a "scandal" was feared, especially with respect to the manufacturers who were also advertising announcers: why buy espensive cartridge if no difference?

You therefore understand the reason why, if you do not provide correct recordings and with a technical basis made according to the rules of art, I will not be interested in comparing pears with apples.

Reiterating that the focus of the test is exclusively to identify the intervals in which the sonic differences are actually perceived, rather than attempting to make the two cartridges sound identical or as similar as possible. Let's reverse the question:

How could I conduct a blind test with 2 different cartridges, using an AT-LP5X turntable equipped with USB output, a PC audio, a DAC, a headphone amplifier and headphones?

In other words, once I have updated the head (which costs 5 times the price of the initial one), to convince myself that if I don't perceive significant differences the problem is in my hearing and not in the heads, how should I carry out the test? At least DELTAWAVE showed me the differences.
Now, applying the ABX method by changing cartridges and recalibrating each time due to the weight difference (non-geometric) cannot be considered an effective approach.

I took measurements under the same conditions: same vinyl, same number of head hours, and same type of setup (including the use of a microbalance).

I can provide the full audio tracks, but anyone can analyze them with Delta WAVE and replicate the graphs I posted. But what would this prove?"


Any suggestion will be accepted :)
but I must admit that this continuous mode, without interruptions, was much appreciated because it is rather "comfortable" for the tester.
 

Blumlein 88

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I suggest a triangle test. Two files are the same and one is different. Load your recordings that way not telling which is which. Ask people to pick the odd one out. Now what most people will do is drop both files in an ABX software and try them a pair at a time. I guess you can load both files and let people see if they get positive results in an ABX file since so many here have ABX on the brain as the one and only holy grail of testing. Blind testing is the holy grail, but ABX isn't the only method.
 

melomane13

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@Blumlein 88, why not but at least the files must be set at the same loudness, to avoid cognitive biais.
 

Blumlein 88

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@Blumlein 88, why not but at least the files must be set at the same loudness, to avoid cognitive biais.
I thought they were the same loudness. Are they not? I've not listened to them. Have an ear infection currently. Not quite cleared up yet.
 

jhwalker

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Interesting exercise - I can hear the differences, primarily because the voice moves from center-left to almost center (and back) when the changes happen. The sound also goes a tiny bit more "muffled" at the same time (i.e., less "transparent" sounding).

Not going to list the exact moments when it changes because I didn't care to write it down (and didn't wish to listen multiple times), but you definitely can hear the difference - now, which one is "better" is (I think) subjective - I actually preferred the more muffled, more centered version over the sparklier but voice-to-the-left version, but I have no way of knowing which is higher fidelity (i.e., closer to the source material).
 

olieb

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The question is what exactly is to be tested here. As I understand it, it is not the most sensitive test possible to check the audibility of differences or to establish a preference. Instead, it is an exercise for golden ears that are trained to hear "lifted veils" and to distinguish between "day and night".
It should be easy to clearly perceive the difference between two pickups.
I'm really bad at that sort of thing. I spontaneously develop ADD during such AB tests. I hate paying attention to audible artifacts instead of enjoying the music.
I noticed a change in SQ at 1:30 and maybe a change back one minute later, but after that I did not care. I do not think the piece is especially suitable for this test with a male voice and sparse instrumentation. You never know if the sound or the guitar playing changes from bar to bar as @dasdoing mentioned before.
 
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