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Thread: Blind listening tests

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    Quote Originally Posted by TalismanRich View Post
    I especially liked the comment for the (then) $5,000 Masalec with the Sennheisers. "Slightly hard mid-range, Mackie/ART?, slightly dull." Translation... "I didn't like it so it must be the cheap stuff".
    I use to have a pair of the ART pres...and yes, they did always sound dull/dark compared to my other pres.
    That was pretty obvious.

    I'm sure if you only had the ART pres, you could do OK with them...but that's not the point.

    Also...people need to stop reading too much into a 100% subjective test, where a bunch of guys get to pick what they think sounds....what?...better?
    Until you have the units in your own hands, and you plug in and use them...nothing else will give you the info you really need.

    I know that's not a simple thing...getting things just to compare them...but people make too much of these test results, and often, it's about applauding some cheaper unit that had a decent showing in some test, and then they feel better about going out to buy it.
    There's more to it than that...which is why it has to come down to actual hands-on, in use comparisons.

    I had no reason to keep my ART pres, when I clearly had others that sounded better to me.
    Now I still do have my ART comps...which actually sound quite good...for certain applications.
    Maybe the ART pre would work great with a certain mic...but in general, I didn't find them to be all that complimentary....and yes, I did a bunch of A/B/C/D comparisons. Loaded them into my DAW...listened, closed my eyes and listened, did everything to give them all a fair shake...and no matter how I did it, the ART pres sounded the least pleasing to me. Like I would always have to EQ them to get them where I wanted them.

    YMMV...

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by miroslav View Post
    I'm just not clear what the thrust of the thread is aimed at. Is it about saying that "clones" are as good as the stuff they copied...or is it about the comparing of same production items to pick the best one...or...what?
    I'm saying that I don't think a blind listening test --- or even a less scientific one --- in which we try to make every other variable (besides the thing being tested) in the chain equal and play the same riff or sample, etc. is a good way to judge whether a clone is doing its job.

    This makes it too easy to hear any tiny little difference, which may or may not be the fault of the clone. The flaw with this test is that you're actively looking/listening for a difference. And when you are looking for a difference, you're more likely to find something, even when it's not there.

    Consider this: You set up a test where you tell someone you're comparing a Dumble amp with some modeling amp that costs $150. You use a re-amped guitar track so the performances are identical each time. You play a series of 5 phrases, each from the Dumble and then the modeling amp. Of course, you just label them Amp 1 and Amp 2, and you let them know that the order of the licks will not be the same every time. (In other words, Amp 1 won't always be the first of each pair of licks.)

    Then you ask them to tell you what the think for each lick: A) Amp 1 is better, B) Amp 2 is better, or C) They sound too close to tell them apart.

    However, when you perform the actual test, you actually don't use a Dumble at all. You actually play the modeling amp every single time for Amp 1 and Amp 2.

    Now ... honestly, given these parameters---i.e., the fact that they're supposedly comparing a Dumble to a $150 modeling amp---how many people do you think would answer C even a majority of the time, much less 100%?

    I say this to illustrate that when people are listening for something, they probably will hear something. This is a proven scientific fact. It's the way our brains operate.

    So when you compare something that's so close --- i.e., the sound of a clone to an original when every other variable is the same --- and you're looking for a difference, you probably will hear one. And if you're a purist or a gear snob, then you'll probably immediately jump to the conclusion that the difference automatically means the clone is "absolute crap" and "worthless."

    But again, this has practically no parallel in the real musical world. You never hear music this way at all.

    IMO, a true test for those with golden ears is to have them try to discern the clone from the original when all the variables are different --- i.e., the rest of the signal chain could be different, and they're playing totally different things. If someone can reliably and consistently tell the difference between a clone and an original in that scenario --- which is, of course, the way we actually do hear these instruments --- then I would actually listen to what they have to say, because clearly the clone is not able to do its job at that point. In other words, it's not able to convince someone that they could be hearing the original.

    For example, I think every person on the planet would likely be able to tell the difference between a Martin acoustic guitar and a Fender Strat on any track.

    I think the vast majority of people would be able to tell the difference between a Strat and a Les Paul with clean tones no matter the circumstances. (Those less-informed might not know which is which, but they would likely be able to tell the difference.) The more distortion you add, the more you may be able to fool the lay person. (Indeed, if you went full triple rectifier, you may be able to fool some guitar players.)

    However, how many guitarists do you think will be able to reliably tell a Fender Strat from an ESP Strat copy --- or even a $300 Squire --- when they're playing different things but with similar tones? I would think not nearly as many.

    By the way, when I say "tell a Strat from a Squire," I don't just mean be able to tell a difference. I mean reliably be able to say "that's the Fender, and that's the Squire."

    And these are really crude examples. These are different instruments, with different woods, pickups, etc. And yet I still think you can see the point I'm making.

    And if most people can't reliably name the right one even 50% of the time, much less 100% of the time, in an actual musical situation, then doesn't that mean the clone is clearly doing its job?

    Of course, there are several disclaimers in all this.
    1) I know that the intent of a "clone" is not always to convince someone they could be hearing the original. (The later examples with guitars obviously aren't dealing with clones at all.) But it often is.
    2) I know not everyone is a purist or gear snob, and so many people wouldn't behave in the way I describe in the Dumble test. But I think there are many who would.
    famous beagle

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    Quote Originally Posted by miroslav View Post
    I have a pair...tried them, never bothered to use them after that. The amp sound sucked with them.
    They were a temporary "fad"...but I think most people who tried them, ended up not using them.
    Hmm. You switched it to CLASS A TRIODE AND AB PENTODE DUAL in the plate? You think that sound sucks? Bluesy and brown ? That won't happen from a pedal, its all post. It reminds me of a SRV thick power blues sound. Perhaps that is how SRV did it wired his amps to be A tri/ AB Pent. But I cant Say. It is responsive. Touchy. Hot.

    Those are a vintage sound, they have Mosfet ones too for death metal.
    Last edited by LazerBeakShiek; 02-21-2020 at 15:54.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by famous beagle View Post
    )

    However, how many guitarists do you think will be able to reliably tell a Fender Strat from an ESP Strat copy --- or even a $300 Squire --- when they're playing different things but with similar tones? I would think not nearly as many.
    .

    In Attack NOT tone. Same things.

    My Strats are a great example. One USA, and one Mexican.

    They are basically the same. However the American one goes out of tune quicker...ha kidding. You can tell by the attack of the note played.

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    I firmly believe there are differences. I'm just not sure the differences are caused by where they were made or how much they cost. I'm a sucker for a good deal. When I had a few quid in my pocket I decided to buy a new 5 string bass. I could afford any of the popular premium makes apart fro the crazy silly ones. So I went to a music store and played every 5 string they had. Some I picked up, played maybe 20 notes and unplugged. eventually I picked the one that sounded nice and played easily. THEN I looked at the price and it was not remotely the most expensive. I didn't even know that Peavey made guitars and basses I've had it probably 15 years now and it's still the best guitar I have. In the band, I played a Fender Jazz and this is a pretty unpleasant guitar. It has a higher action, I had to line the cavities with copper foil because it picked up buzzes but for the band I play very hard so the higher action is vital. It's a bit of an odd one - the neck from one Jazz, with the body of another - two basses with dings that the music shop made into one perfect one, and the one I have. I don't care about the big headstock ding, or the one on the horn. It is, however, capable of staying in tune even when not used and stored in cold conditions.

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    Hey man, I know how you feel. When you hold the right one. Sometimes its right. I cling to my Stratocaster like the 'leg' of a loved one from long ago.

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    Quote Originally Posted by famous beagle View Post
    I'm saying that I don't think a blind listening test --- or even a less scientific one --- in which we try to make every other variable (besides the thing being tested) in the chain equal and play the same riff or sample, etc. is a good way to judge whether a clone is doing its job.
    OK...so you're talking about the A/B of a clone to the original.
    I do agree that an A/B test could be preloaded with some bias...for sure....but I think it is also possible to have true blind test, where people don't know what they are listening to, but are focused on the what for....and there can be differences that are legit.

    Now...to your view that those tests are unimportant because of the way we listen to music...again, what I said in my first post...are you looking at this from the perspective of a listener or an audio engineer/musician who is creating the music?
    I think that's a big point and IMO, for the later it DOES matter, and those A/B tests are being done constantly in the studio without it ever being even considered a formal A/B test.
    But even in every day life....we do A/B all day long...sometimes A/B/C...and then even A/B/C/D. That is how we make decisions for a lot of things.

    I do get what your saying...that the guy listening to the finished piece couldn't care less what you used or if you did an A/B between a couple of amps or pedals before you picked one to use...but I say, it's actually NOT important that the listener doesn't care or that he can't do any A/B.
    Although, maybe they are doing the A/B, just in a different way. They A/B music as a whole...and maybe your choice of pedal A adds some strident flavor that you like, but they don't...so they make the choice that they don't like your mix/song.
    Now...would you really care if your choices led them to like or not like your end result? I mean, how could go about in advance knowing how to pick something that they would approve of?
    See...it gets a little pointless when you start looking at it from some "listeners" point of view...while you're dealing with making recordings.
    My point is...in the studio, you A/B...all the time...and it's a normal part of the process.

    Oh...and I'm not saying anything about which sounds better...a clone or original. That's a personal choice, and that's why you A/B...
    ...I'm only saying that as the creator of music, you do the A/B...and it doesn't matter if the listener can or can't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LazerBeakShiek View Post
    Hmm. You switched it to CLASS A TRIODE AND AB PENTODE DUAL in the plate? You think that sound sucks? Bluesy and brown ? That won't happen from a pedal, its all post.
    I'm not sure why you say "that won't happen from a pedal"...what's the Yellow Jacket got to do with pedals?
    I'm saying that when I tried using them in amps...the original sound of the amp without YJs was superior. When they were installed, IMO, the sound always came off as "choked" and somewhat mushy....no matter the amp you put them in.

    Now, maybe for some types of situations a choked/mushy sound is exactly what you want...but I'm just saying that I never found them to offer anything worthwhile over what the amp sounded like with its stock power tubes.

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    This is precisely why when drug companies run trials, they run the test drugs against a placebo. If people feel better with a sugar pill, then there's a problem. If 48 of 100 get better from the drug and 45 of 100 die with the placebo, then that's a pretty good indication that the drug works better than sugar pills.

    The audio world loves to feed off the "subjective" argument that there's a special magic in that 1)59 LP's wood, 2) 70 yr old NOS Mullard tubes, 3) NOS PIO Cap, 4) 6AWG multistranded, multigauge speaker cable 5) ceramic cable lifters, 6) Mpingo discs 7) 50's formula NC lacquer, 8) fuses with Quantum Inductive Surface treatment .....

    Its akin to snake oil.

    I'll admit that there are differences in certain audio circuits, especially when they are pushed beyond normal bounds. I also understand that certain equipment is designed to give euphonic colorations which some people may find pleasing. But for the most part, the differences in well designed equipment operating in normal parameters is subtle at best. I also know that with my 65+ year old ears, I have a harder time hearing those differences.

    From my experience, the greatest variability comes from electromechanical transducers. That would be mics and speakers/headphones. Even these old ears can hear those differences.

    As to whether a clone pedal is different from an original, unless ALL the parameters (as in the part's values) are the same, there's going to be a difference, however slight. That still doesn't mean the clone is worse than the original. It might actually be better. Thats a subjective call.

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  13. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by TalismanRich View Post

    I'll admit that there are differences in certain audio circuits, especially when they are pushed beyond normal bounds. I also understand that certain equipment is designed to give euphonic colorations which some people may find pleasing. But for the most part, the differences in well designed equipment operating in normal parameters is subtle at best. I also know that with my 65+ year old ears, I have a harder time hearing those differences.
    A month or so ago I switched to the UA Apollo. That has a bunch of these UNison models of preamps. A Neve 1073 or Api 512 or SSL do color the sound, and also sound different from each other. Providing a unique cadence for the signal. That is cloned I suppose too of the hardware. It could also be thought of as better. Longer product longevity in theory.

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