Fighting Paper Tigers

I found this link from John Darko’s Facebook page and think it will be enjoyed.

As my old mum used to say, if the cap fits… wear it :joy:

Except it seems to me that Lavorgna has got it backwards - the extremists are those who swear that blind tests should be avoided at all costs - subjectivity rules supreme, and objectivity is to be despised… I am not convinced by his argument.

I’m not even convinced the piece constitutes an argument, it’s just a POV repeated…

“While there’s no doubting the efficacy of the blinded experiment, there is no rational explanation as to why use them, nor a feasible means to employ them, when people are shopping for a hifi.”

From the above quotation, I’d draw the conclusion that the author is NOT against blind testing per se. He only stresses that “there is no good reason why a blind test should be enforced for shopping”…

I absolutely agree with that. (@Chrislayeruk, I never wear caps…)

1 Like

He wrote about the same topic 4 years ago… and probably wrote about it more times between then and now.

It’s probably one of those topics in this hobby that can always spark discussion (and boost site traffic…)

1 Like

Been thinking about this a little more, the conference I’m attending is pretty dull. :wink: It’s clear that extremists aren’t exclusive to the objective side of the debate, which is at least inferred by the piece. The use of “enforced” also bothers me. There’s a difference between enforcement and advocacy. The article seems to confuse the two. I’ve yet to be forced into blind testing before purchasing new gear.

It also appears that the author isn’t in favour of open debate on Internet forums as they often descend into vitriol. Courtesy and respect for other points of view on forums, or in real life for that matter, can appear in short supply. I still enjoy participating in forums regardless, especially those with effective moderation.

1 Like

Give LaVorgna a break.

After he got fired from, what was it StereoPhile(?), he had to start his own site, which needs traffic.


“My point being, taking part in any kind of blind listening test necessarily creates an unnatural condition, one that we never encounter when listening to music for pleasure. I am not saying that science doesn’t matter, I am not saying that measurements of hi-fi equipment have no value, or that blind testing is not a valid approach to remove perceptual bias. What I am saying is that listening tests of hi-fi gear at best tell you about the listening capabilities of the people taking the test under those specific testing conditions. That’s about it. At their worst, listening tests mask real sonic differences.”

I don’t know Michael Lavorgna, but the above statement, which I quoted from the link posted by “Sean2016”, makes a lot of sense IMO.

1 Like

I think this is more about people’s “Issues” rather than the scientific method.
Scientists measure things all the time in an unblinded fashion. Probably most testing is done unblinded and usually without a direct A/B comparison. It’s valid due to controlled conditions and reliable measurements.
In the real world, I don’t need unblinded A/B testing to tell the difference between a cymbal and a tuba. Nobody does.
The unblinded testing comes in when you are trying to detect what might be small differences, and bias and error could confound the precision of the method.
But it seems to me that this is where people’s ego issues get involved and they invoke ‘unblinded A/B testing’ as the foil of their attack. Specifically, the actual difference between the conditions is small, one side claims you can’t hear a difference and the other side says the ‘difference is enormous’. Then it devolves into personal attacks and the use of a preferred source of data to ‘explain’ why the other person is an idiot. Still, at the heart of the issue is a small difference.

1 Like

This is an interesting topic deserving of more discussion. Not that tweaks and such haven’t been discussed to death, but more about the pros and cons of scientific blind listening tests versus long-term listening.

I have definitely found that my first impression of a change to my audio system was not my lasting impression. I often expected an immediate improvement and didn’t sense that, even sometimes thinking something sounded worse, but then over sustained listening I realized the level of listening fatigue had been reduced, or that details were being brought out, etc.

I strongly believe that even small differences in volume tend to color one’s first impression more than any qualitative difference in sound, that can take a while to perceive.

Also, there is a difference in debating the merits of a central piece of audio gear - amps, speakers, source – versus tweaks like little bridge stands for cabling or pebbles for your preamp.

You can debate the merits of the central gear, but those pieces all still perform a core function of an audio system - you have to have an amp, and the question is just which one.

The tweaks, well maybe they don’t do anything at all. That is why it’s so easy to think of those as totally wasted money.

Cables are right in the middle. They are a necessity, but it’s an open debate about what value is gained by the expense of some of them.

If it sounds better to me, if I feel better with the change, I don’t care what an A/B/X test would say. So, IMO, there is nothing at all wrong with placebo.

Makes no sense, it’s just a cop out. The only change in condition is the listener doesn’t know what they’re listening to. Without the visual aid they suddenly lose the courage of their convictions lest they be made to look the fool.

That’s a perfectly valid conclusion. Your perception is your reality, whether or not science disagrees with that perception.