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Can You Trust Your Ears? By Tom Nousaine

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Ron Party

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The difference between a musician and a non-musician listening to music is that the musician has a strong tendency to get absorbed in the technical musical aspects of the performance, such as whether the right notes are being hit at the right time with the right inflection. When they listen they are prone to "play along" with the music in their mind with their own imaginary instrument. They might even move their fingers a bit or not.

Most non-musicians lack the musical technical knowledge that it takes to listen to music like a musician. They listen more holistically and are generally far more concerned with how the music is acted on by the sound system or the room. The details are more interesting to the musician.
This strikes a deep chord with me (ok, no pun intended). When I listen to most music I am definitely, in my head, playing lead guitar, then the next moment I'm playing the bass, then I'm playing the drums, then I'm playing the guitar again, etc. LOL, I'm never picturing myself as the singer :) I see and feel the frets on the guitar neck, I feel my thumb, index and middle fingers plucking the strings on the bass. I see the progressions. I absolutely go nuts when I hear unusual syncopations. Give me Floyd's Money in 7/4 or Genesis's Robbery, Assault And Battery in 13/8. Don't give me no boring 4/4 music.
 

Blumlein 88

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I suspect that your skepticism is based on personally not ever having to reliably hear a subtle difference. You are probably a true believer in sighted evaluations, and with that crutch in place, you are likely to not ever had to actually hear a difference, as opposed to detecting a placebo (imaginary) effect.

The process of discovering critical passages that elicit equipment and software fidelity failures as I described is general knowledge among people who depend on listening to tell if some of the audio gear they are listening to is working properly or not. Audiophiles fail to be this way because they are so overwhelmed with spending all that money burning holes in their pockets. For them, hearing a difference is an excuse to spend more money and get some new trinket and the bragging rights that go with it.

The development of perceptual coders has been a fertile field for developing reliable ways to detect failing audio products such as perceptual coders. ABX is widely used in that context to this day because of its diagnostic abilities. Of course, for typical know-nothing MP3-hating audiophiles, this makes no sense.



Great example of reaching a false conclusion from a true circumstance.

As a recording engineer. I've spent a lot of time working with musicians and music directors. Some musicians care very much about the sound quality of their audio systems, but it is true that others do not.

The difference between a musician and a non-musician listening to music is that the musician has a strong tendency to get absorbed in the technical musical aspects of the performance, such as whether the right notes are being hit at the right time with the right inflection. When they listen they are prone to "play along" with the music in their mind with their own imaginary instrument. They might even move their fingers a bit or not.

Most non-musicians lack the musical technical knowledge that it takes to listen to music like a musician. They listen more holistically and are generally far more concerned with how the music is acted on by the sound system or the room. The details are more interesting to the musician.

That leads to an observation that I and others have made which is that most musicians are less concerned with the acoustics of the rooms they play in, than your typical concert goer. For one thing, the musicians are right up close and personal with the instruments and voices, and hear primarily the direct sound from the instrument, not sound that has gone out into the room and bounced around. But they have no control over the acoustics so their attention is on what they can control which is that they play the right notes with the right inflection at the right time. If a listener gets that wrong, who even knows?
Arnie, in the case of Cosmik, from simply what he posts here, I would conclude your reply to him was:

Wrong, wrong and mostly wrong.

Your assumptions were incorrect. Your conclusions therefore were way off target. So back up, open a dialogue giving him a chance to have expounded a view rather than putting thoughts in his mind for him so you can reply easily. A friendly suggestion.

Not saying all of your assertions are wrong. You assumptions about the person you were replying to were. So everything else really didn't fit. You lacked context.
 
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There you go again: "probably", like your earlier "Doesn't seem to..." "can be", etc. I am only postulating in the same, imprecise, non-scientific ways that you were. I am happy to discuss ideas in those terms if you don't then pretend that your suppositions and anecdotes are scientific.

Edit: Your modus operandi is pretty obvious!
Right, I fake the opponent a description of where I think he is at and see how he responds.

If he attacks the question, then I know I have a direct hit.

Since I have actual scientific listening tests and connections with others in the same boat, there is a strong element of science in what I say.

And, there is another little trick I use. There are a series of things that become self-evident when a person does a certain amount of listening tests that are not corrupted by the common flaws. People tend to say them. For example, I'm pretty sure that Amir has done some good listening tests.
 

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Cosmik

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Right, I fake the opponent a description of where I think he is at and see how he responds.

If he attacks the question, then I know I have a direct hit.
A non-sequitur. Is your 'opponent' attacking a "description" or a "question"?

And you'll notice that I didn't attack your description... question... I allowed you to carry on believing what you want to believe about me. I merely made an observation that your anecdotes don't make your conclusions facts.
 

BE718

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This strikes a deep chord with me (ok, no pun intended). When I listen to most music I am definitely, in my head, playing lead guitar, then the next moment I'm playing the bass, then I'm playing the drums, then I'm playing the guitar again, etc. LOL, I'm never picturing myself as the singer :) I see and feel the frets on the guitar neck, I feel my thumb, index and middle fingers plucking the strings on the bass. I see the progressions. I absolutely go nuts when I hear unusual syncopations. Give me Floyd's Money in 7/4 or Genesis's Robbery, Assault And Battery in 13/8. Don't give me no boring 4/4 music.
Apoclypse in 9/8 :)

At this point, the drums enter, with the rhythm section striking out a pattern using the unusual metre of 9 beats to the bar (expressed as 3+2+4).[7] The lyrics employ stereotypical apocalyptic imagery, alternating with an organ solo from Banks (played in 4/4 and 7/8 time signatures against the 9/8 rhythm section)
 

amirm

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They could do the same and then things would be fair.
You don't walk into a party and assume everyone is a republican. Stay a bit, talk to people before accusing them of such.
 

amirm

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Continued skepticism of ABX is really a form of belief over evidence, of course, if ABX is done right.
There is little skepticism here from our core members here on ABX. Indeed, I have run and posted far more results of ABX tests here and elsewhere than Arny ever has.

We just need to be fair here rather than orthodox objectivists that put everything in a few talking points. To wit, if ABX is not used for codec development, we say it isn't. Arny hangs around HA forum. They do a lot of codec testing but I hardly ever see any ABX tests done there on lossy codecs. Indeed I was the only one posting ABX results.

So to be clear: the default assumption should be that this is a science/engineering based forum and vocal members are subscribers of the same. We have some outlier members especially from the past that oppose to such. Unless they get rude, we don't boot them out and use them as fodder to have discussions and push us as to whether we really know what we say.
 

Blumlein 88

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Continued skepticism of ABX is really a form of belief over evidence, of course, if ABX is done right.
Don't make the mistaken assumption Arny seems intent on continuing. Most of us are here because we wanted something beyond the subjective sighted unsupported dogma that prevails on most forums. Plenty that we can learn, but skepticism of proper measurements, blind testing or other science is not a problem here. We'd like to learn from those that know more (like you for example). Assuming most posters are hostile to those useful ideas is not going to be helpful as it ins't the case.
 

Blumlein 88

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They could do the same and then things would be fair.
Arny there isn't anyone attacking you here. Your audio evaluation certificate was in no way applicable to cosmik or his intent in replying to you. You seem to have jumped to the conclusion that since he didn't wholly agree with you he was one of those to whom such practices were the norm. That isn't the case. From that point on you haven't been listening to or paying attention to others. You are leaping ahead imagining what the other people are thinking and your premises are fully off the mark which has caused your responses to be off the mark as well.

Again, a friendly suggestion to hold up. Quit making assumptions so quickly and see what posters are thinking. The general group of posters here is nothing like the other audio forums that are around. Responding almost on auto-pilot as if they were won't lead to useful discussions. You are a valuable person to have taking part here, but give it a chance.
 

Jakob1863

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Continued skepticism of ABX is really a form of belief over evidence, of course, if ABX is done right.
Scepticism of ABX is justified if the protocol is used as often reported, which means without training of participants and without using positive controls (and negative ones as well which of course is of no importance in case of negative results).
As already mentioned/cited earlier people already noticed back around the 1960s that ABX tests delivered inferior results compared to A/B tests; the differences were attributed to the different mental processes involved which made it more difficult for the participants when doing ABX tests.
 

krabapple

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There is little skepticism here from our core members here on ABX. Indeed, I have run and posted far more results of ABX tests here and elsewhere than Arny ever has.

We just need to be fair here rather than orthodox objectivists that put everything in a few talking points. To wit, if ABX is not used for codec development, we say it isn't. Arny hangs around HA forum. They do a lot of codec testing but I hardly ever see any ABX tests done there on lossy codecs. Indeed I was the only one posting ABX results.
That's because HA site-wide codec tests are tests of quality, not difference. I assume your failure to mention that is just a slip on your part? Or were you not aware that HA even conducted such tests?
 
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krabapple

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Scepticism of ABX is justified if the protocol is used as often reported, which means without training of participants and without using positive controls (and negative ones as well which of course is of no importance in case of negative results).
Whereas skepticism of sighted reports is *always* justified, unless there is some compelling data backing them up (i.e., measurements).

You bang on and on about protocol rigor, when the fact is that audible difference -- between cables, Redbook vs hirez, lossy vs nonlossy, and other A's and B's that should NOT be expected to exhibit major audible differences - are typically claimed to be *so* great , by audiophiles and by marketers, that even a less than grade-A ABX protocol should easily reveal them. These claims are the very *currency* of audiophilia.

And while you , I'm guessing, do 'believe in' the utility of ABX , others who don't, and who really don't care a fig about protocol rigor (heck, they may even be on record as saying DBTs don't work for audio, period), suddenly become zealous about it as it suits them. That's a political tactic, not a scientific debate.
 

amirm

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That's because HA site-wide codec tests are tests of quality, not difference. I assume your failure to mention that is just a slip on your part? Or were you not aware that HA even conducted such tests?
You assume wrong because you are not following the discussion. Arny said development of codecs uses ABX. I said it did not. And evidence of it is in front of him on how codecs are evaluated on HA forum which is not using ABX. Of course we are talking about quality rating of lossy codecs. What else would be involved in evaluating objectively lossy processes? You should ask Arny if he has seen any of those tests as it is clear he has not and is not familiar with how fidelity of lossy codecs is evaluated in industry and research.
 

amirm

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And to make sure everyone is following the argument, here is a sample from HA Forum link above:

upload_2017-10-26_11-59-50.png



These are "MOS" (mean opinion score) tests where users rate fidelity on scale of 1 to 5. There is no ABX test that says whether a difference exists at all.

This is the style of testing that is used in development of lossy codecs. Not ABX as I have mentioned repeatedly.
 

Cosmik

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As I often bore people here with, I declare myself to be sceptical of ABX and all other listening tests. I don't say they're worthless, but I don't think they pass the science threshold. Being sceptical of ABX means just what it says; it doesn't follow that the sceptic believes sighted listening tests are meaningful or they believe in magic wire.
 

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That's because HA site-wide codec tests are tests of quality, not difference. I assume your failure to mention that is just a slip on your part? Or were you not aware that HA even conducted such tests?
This is an important point, really. If you want to push DIFFERENCES to the most sensitive, ABX is your baby, of course done right! Codecs, anything else, it's the best for determining if there is any audible difference.

Codecs were scored on the ABC/HR because people wanted to know "how different" rather than accept a bit rate that wasn't different. I was there. You can guess what side of "how different" I was on.
 
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