I see the issue with ABX blind testing

I’ve followed many of the cable discussions over the years with interest. I’ve never tested cables & compared the sound other than when I bought an LFD amp & the vendor said that it was best paired with the LFD power cord. That was $450 US and he offered to ship it to me to try & if I didn’t notice a difference I could send it back. I got it, tried it & sent it back. To me there was no difference at all.

Fast forward to today & I have a new system & the issue of cables arises again. I have Mogami cables made by Take Five Audio in Canada. The speaker wire are Mogami 3104, XLRs are Mogami 2549 & the power cords are Powerline 10 with Furutech connectors. All cables are quite well made and I’ve been using them for about 5 years. The vendor that sold me the new equipment insisted that I needed "better" cables and sent along some Transparent Super speaker & XLR cables to try. If I like them I can pay for them.

In every discussion about cables the question is always asked, why don’t you do an ABX blind test? So I was figuring out how I’d do that. I know the reason few do it. It’s not easy to accomplish. I have no problem having a friend come over & swap cables without telling me what he’s done, whether he swapped any at all etc. But from what I can see the benefit, if there is one, will be most noticeable system wide. In other words, just switching one power cable the way I did before won’t be sufficient for you to tell a difference... again, assuming there is one. So I need my friend to swap power cables for my amp/preamp & streamer, XLR cables from my streamer to my preamp, preamp to amp & speakers cables. That takes a good 5-10 minutes. There is no way my brain is retaining what I previously heard and then comparing it to what I currently hear.

The alternative is to connect all of the new cables, listen for a week or so & then switch back & see if you feel you’re missing anything. But then your brain takes over & your biases will have as much impact as any potential change in sound quality.

So I’m stumped as to how to proceed.

A photo of my new setup. McIntosh MC462, C2700, Pure Fidelity Harmony TT, Lumin T3 & Sonus Faber Amati G5 & Gravis V speakers.


@soix I have eaten blindfolded before. My wife took me once to a restaurant that specialized in blindfolded dining. It was to say an eye-opening experience. I didn't appreciate it at the time, but on reflection should have appreciated the lesson taught there.

I have a friend in France, who knows a blind audiophile and HIS take on musicality and equipment is interesting to hear. People should be open to the idea of blind testing. It doesn't take away anything, but it might save people money and the charlatans in the audio field, wouldn't survive (and there are plenty of them out there).

The point being, sighted listening, IS BIASED listening. Say what you will, there is a reason it is the gold standard for testing w/o biases.

We can agree to disagree, but my point is valid and based on science.

botrytis: Don’t fear it, embrace it. We learn through failures and mistakes. If you get taken- lesson learned. But to miss opportunities because you fear it could be a ruse is a real shame. Audio is to be enjoyed- it’s all about the music. Either you like the sound of something or you don’t. It’s just like a song- you either like it or you don’t. And even then a song I didn’t like before I like now and sometimes a song I liked before I no longer like now. The same thing might happen with your stereo. You like how it sounds today but one day in the future you might want a different sound. That doesn’t mean you failed to do proper ABX testing. It means tastes change.

I can’t imagine how you can enjoy anything if you have to analyze and ABX test everything. I’d hate to go grocery shopping with you.

As for eating in a restaurant blindfolded- kudos for your bravery.  I wouldn‘t do it.  Strangers feeding me food I can‘t see?  No way.  I‘ve been in some countries where I would definitely not want to do that.

When properly carried out I can't imagine why anyone would be against blind testing. 

I remember a while back when Kevin Deal performed a blind tests on, too lazy to look it up, either integrateds or power amps.  As memory serves, all attending thought the exercise was excellent.

I know that the only real way to get to know a component is to live with it, but if someone else is willing to go thought the effort of performing the test why not consider it one more pertinent data point?

It seems that most people on both sides of the cable debate accept the fact that the placebo effect is real... if someone is in pain & a doctor gives you a placebo & tells you that it will cure your pain, you may find pain relief. If a sighted test of cables produces a wonderous ability to hear differences in those cables, the way it did earlier on this thread with the YT video showing 4 different power cables, would you want to pay for the more expensive cable  if you knew that it was merely a placebo, and that your inability to see the cables made that difference recognition disappear? IMO I don't  want to pay for the  placebo, whether we're talking about medicine or audio gear. With medicine the underlying  problem causing the  pain still exists & hasn't been treated. With my audio system I  don't  want to stitch my audio equipment together with very, very expensive bits of magic that my brain has been fooled into believing make a difference. 

So these discussions happen & will continue to happen because there is real medicine that actually solves problems and those that believe in the underlying science of medicine are trying to convince people not to spend thousands of $$$ on the placebo. 

@jetter Because people DON'T want to know the truth about what they spend. It seems much of this hobby is about ego, more than just music reproduction. That is all these systems do. The Deal blind test was a flawed one because he never left the room and could see people switching equipment. Hence, why I put up the video I did. I applaud Kevin for trying, though. That is more than I can say for the naysayers.

I care little about how much people spend or what equipment they have, to be honest. It is their money, and they can do with it as they see fit.