For a lot of sceptics double blind testing is the only valid method of comparing equipment, but is it?
Sceptics’ Point of View
For hardened critics, double blind testing is the only valid method for comparing equipment. Double blind refers to the situation in which both the person conducting the test as well as the person listening to the products should be unaware of which product is being tested. They could be hidden behind a curtain for example, or the test persons could be wearing eye patches. Sceptics say that you may otherwise be biased, prejudiced, hearing your wallet or just want to believe so badly that you start hearing things.
My Point of View
While there is absolutely some truth to the above, I found that differences really always exist and I don’t need to be blindfolded to be sure of my findings. Even I was a sceptic in the beginning and I did my share of blind tests and I always listen as objectively as possible. There is just no point in finding more expensive cables better simply because they are more expensive. It’s not that I NEED or WANT to spend those kinds of amounts on cables!
But still I test myself every now and then, by having friends swap cables while I can’t see what they are connecting and then identify them by hearing. I’m luckily never wrong. Even when they said they wapped but secretly left the same cable connected, I could hear this. So at least I’m not fooling myself. In my opinion, double blind is one road too many, and not neccesary in my case.
I also would never claim that expensive is always better. It happens often that a regular cable fits a certain setup better than a high end one. This is to do with synergy. The combination you make is always more important than the price of the induvidual components.
I do agree that sometimes differences can be quite small and to some people insignificant. It is also true that you need to spend more and more money in order to get increasingly smaller increments in quality. But there are always differences. I’ve never heard two components that sound exactly alike. Not even 2 inputs on a preamplifier that sound the same. Call me crazy. But if your system has a high resolution, you too will hear even the most minute differences. Whether they are important to you, or worth the outlay is a different matter.
What about the reviews on this site?
Initially I listen to components or cables by myself, casually at first. Even in this stage I usually quickly hear a few things that grab my attention. Often I cannot resist the urge and swap back and see if my suspicion was correct but then always give the component more time, sometimes days, sometimes weeks, sometimes even longer. When I find that my suspicions are correct I try the disprove them to myself by swapping more and playing more (different) music or using other sources or cables. When I have formed my opinion I then either take the component or cable to a friend, or invite friends over. It is crucial that I then do not tell them too much about the product under review. I just let them listen until they too have formed an opinion and then see if their experience matches mine. Most of the time their opinions match mine but whenever we disagree, we do more testing, change sources or cables or even move the component to another setup at another friend’s house. When I am finally 100% confident about a product I write the review as soon as possible, to avoid diluting of relevant information.
So rest assured, I will always try to be as objectively as possible and will write whatever opinion I have about a given product, no matter the pedigree.
I hope you’ll enjoy the reviews on this site!