Originally Posted by graniterocks
I'm curious to know why you care?
Here's a quote from the makes of VAC Valve Amplification Company right from their web site.
"It is not sufficient to have the best ingredients; one must also have the best recipe, and a deep understanding of the required result. We do not seek to build an amplifier merely to attain certain specifications; these are the wrong goals, because the human ear and brain do not work in the manner of our test instruments, and the ear values different aspects of performance than can be measured readily. As the wise maxim states, "If it measures good and sounds bad, it is bad; if it measures bad and sounds good, you've measured the wrong thing!" Or as we say, in a battle between theory and the real world, the real world always wins."
"VAC started with a passion about breathing realism and life into reproduced music, to making it sound as much like the real thing as possible. Perhaps you are surprised that this is an issue, with so many products available with superlative specifications. Unfortunately, good measurements do not guarantee good sound; in fact, heroic measures to improve a measurement can often degrade the sound you will hear. It is an involved discussion, so for now suffice it to say that test equipment work differently that your ear & brain, which pay attention to different things. We do not yet know how to quantify what you hear. This is why VAC has two criteria for their designs:
They must measure at least reasonably well
They must sound superb"
There are a few other manufactures that feel the same way.
The end decision to buy or not lies with the purchaser. If you can hear a difference and you like that difference, then that is all that matters. Even in medicine placebo reaches up to 40% in some studies. Placebo can have a powerful effect, so even if placebo is the reason that some people feel their is a difference, why knock them. Most of us do this for relaxation and a good distraction from work and life's other stressors.
If you feel that you need a blinded A/B comparison, then do one. If you don't, don't. If you can't hear a difference, don't buy it. If you do and you can afford it, then buy it.
This argument sounds like a defense against bad results from test instruments. Most tests are designed to quantify actual, real world sonic output that people can hear, such as distortion. For example, odd harmonic distortion sounds worse to the ear than even harmonic distortion, according to many many listener testing. So, equipment that tests high for odd harmonic distortion would likely sound worse than one with low harmonic distortion. So, that would be worth checking. Distortion can be tested, and by definition indicates a faulty reproduction of music caused by the inability to achieve perfection, so the less the fault, the better, all other things considered.
Each person's ears do hear slightly differently. But its amazing who many so-called audiophiles want to turn electronic equipment that is supposedly designed to accurately reproduce music into musical instruments themselves! Instead of accuracy, many want a "warm" sound, thus acting more like a tone control than an accurate reproducer of the way the music really sounded like when recorded. I think its nearly impossible to do a double blind comparison with most equipment - what stores even display very many very good amplifiers, for example, and of those that may, do they have a set up which would allow a listener to compare without knowing which was the most expensive, which brand, etc. ? So, I would agree, that if you like it, buy it. But don't buy on condition that it colors the music the way you like it and then say that is the way it should be.
I do advocate double blind testing of cables, as that is relatively easy to do, and the purveyors of expensive cables do such a hard sell, appealing to every manner of subjective thinking. Every double blind test has revealed that listeners cannot tell one cable from another, and this has been very distressing to those who buy based on such criteria as marketing claims, Grecian nomenclature, price rather than reality. In one such test, listeners could not differentiate speaker cables made from coat hangers welded together from expensive speaker cables. What an audiophile saves on avoiding the snake oil claims can be spent on better speakers, or preamps, where the improvement is not subtle.