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$10k golden ears AMP challenge!


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#41 of 1046 OFFLINE   glen donald

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Posted November 03 2002 - 03:42 PM

Does it matter if the challenge has been posted somewhere before? There are millions of people who claim to hear HUGE differences b/w amp-X and amp-Y. Give them the chance to make some money or in other words “put up or shut up”.

When you setup a challenge like this, you truly hope to find a real “golden ear” – by design, not accident. BUT he says, if one is confident enough, lets turn it from a “challenge” into a “bet” – your money against his, 6 out of 6 is all that’s required. People tend to go into their shells when they have to put their money where their mouth is.

One very important people should understand; the amp challenge was to ask “big amp” manufacturers to “back up their big claims” (He calls it “Marketing BS”Posted Image) as well as audiophiles who believes in such “marketing voodoos”. He has dented (and shut up) a many egos over the years, and this is one of the reasons some discredit and scrutinise his challenge rather than prove themselves, as someone said, “too much ego at stake”.

Having said that differences in amps aren’t necessarily audible, it doesn’t mean you should buy the “cheapo”. Factors such as build-quality, warranty, quality of parts, a company’s reputation, resale value and personal preferences (gotta have what looks cool...ect) are reasons for choosing amps, NO NOT choose amps based on someone telling you “marketing BS” such as “this amp blows away that amp easily..”

One more thing to add;

I think Richard Clarke has another challenge called the “Hearing Cables challenge”. I think that’s self explanatoryPosted Image That’s another challenge that audiophiles and “expensive cabling company pty.ltd” really hates. You know what to do if you think you can hear expensive audio cablesPosted Image

#42 of 1046 OFFLINE   Lin Park

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Posted November 04 2002 - 12:09 AM

Andre and Robert,

Do me a favor - take a coin and try to get it to come up 6 times in a row as heads today and let me know how many times it takes you to do that. I'll bet you it will be much more than 64. You guys can't apply your statistics and mathematics to REAL world events - it just doesn't work that way. These things are great for theoretical discussions but applying them to this type of situation is a joke. Guessing would yield a 50% hit rate but he requires that you get it right 100% of the time in HIS environment. I'm not that familiar with statistics but isn't 100% a bit high - what do most companies use when testing new drugs against a placebo?

I am well aware of the fact that the odds are much better for him with 12 tests but what I was trying to say is that he is virtually claiming that it is IMPOSSIBLE to tell the difference between two amps and then setting up conditions to this test which make it astronomically IMPOSSIBLE to pass.

Just as no one has volunteered here to take his test, I have not received any offers to bring a solid state amp over to my house and take my test. And I'm not setting a limit of 12 times, I'm saying I can tell them apart EVERY time (and so could my wife for that matter).

Just out of curiosity, what type of home setup does this fella have who's making the challenge?

Cheers,
Lin

#43 of 1046 OFFLINE   Larry B

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Posted November 04 2002 - 02:10 AM

Lin:

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You guys can't apply your statistics and mathematics to REAL world events - it just doesn't work that way.

With all due respect, it does work that way. Satistics tell us the probability of an event (or series of events) occurring. For example, we all know that if you flip a coin, there is a 50% chance that it will come up heads (assuming what statisticians call a fair coin). Thus, if the coin is flipped twice, there should be one heads, and one tails. However, no one would be astounded if heads came up both times. Why? Because the probability of this occurring is relatively high. As such, achieving this result does not mean that there has been divine intervention. On the other hand, the odds of flipping 100 heads in a row are stagggeringly low. Does this mean that it will never happen? No, it means that it will occur with a very low frequency (as determined from the probability). So, if every person in the world spent the next 20 years flipping coins, someone might get 100 heads in a row.

Quote:
I'm not that familiar with statistics but isn't 100% a bit high - what do most companies use when testing new drugs against a placebo?

For reasons that have more to do with convenience than anything else, most people regard as "statistically signficant" the occurrence of an event for which the probability is less than 5%. (This is usually written as p<0.05).

Regarding the amp challenge, I am reasonably certain (though I haven't done the calculations) that 11 out of 12 would be statistically significant. (And 10 out of 12, or even 9 out of 12 might be as well.) By requiring 12 out of 12, he is making the test harder to win. And remember, the test does not require getting 12 out of 12 correct; it requires getting 12 out of 12 correct, twice in a row. IOW, it actually requires one to score correctly 24 out of 24 times. He has done this to protect himself. Let me explain:

Let's assume that there really is a difference between amps. Because the nature of our auditory system is such that distingushing small differences is difficult (due in part to the "shortness" of auditory memory), I suspect that on at least one or two of the trials the listener will make a mistake.

IMO, this test is not designed to determine whether an individual can distinguish between 2 amps. (For that, one would simply have to achieve statistical significance.) Rather, this test is designed to determine whether an individual can distinguish between 2 amps unerringly, in 24 trials.

In closing, I wish to emphsize that I am not trying to convince anyone that there is a diference between amps, nor that there is not. Rather, I have simply tried to address the statistical underpinnings and interpretation of the test.

Larry

#44 of 1046 OFFLINE   Yogi

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Posted November 04 2002 - 02:31 AM

Woww!!! Well said Larry. It almost seems to me that the test is designed for the taker to fail. Whoever this guy is, is out to prove that there is no difference between amps because he believes so, and he has designed a test to prove his point.

I think its much easier to design a test when you already have an outcome in mind.

For me its not just the subtle differences between the two amps in the first two minutes but the long term differences over months and years. Even when the amps are only slightly apart in sound some amps are easier to listen to over extended periods of time while others aren't. To me that counts.

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#45 of 1046 OFFLINE   Lee Scoggins

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Posted November 04 2002 - 02:47 AM

I have participated in the past in these A/B tests under studio conditions with other recording engineers and we were able to clearly demonstrate sonic differences between amps. In fact, that is often how we chose some of the playback and monitoring equipment at Chesky Records in the 1990s as we were formulating our methodology.

The problem with the above challenge as outlined, apart from numerous conditions and restrictions, is that the listener does not have time to live with and listen to the amps in question for extended periods of time. That makes it awfully hard to hear the subtle differences that many amps have.

So I have to agree with Yogi that the best way is to listen to amps over a longer period of time.

With respect to Larry, statistics can certainly underpin the test in a clear fashion, however I find a problem with some of the math here. There seems to me to be the very BIG assumption that scientific differences can account for all sonic differences.

My 20 years in pro and home audio (14 album credits) tell me that this is simply not true. Science cannot explain everything. Texture, tonality, and midrange purity as well as soundstage are not explained by any amplifier stats I know of. I wish it were that simple, it would simplify my purchasing greatly. I have no bias against science either as I operate a small AI software company as my day job. The best combination in AI is a blend of "art and science".

The best thing one can do is borrow equipment from a good independent dealer and judge by your own tastes.

By the way, why are Krell amps excluded? Should the test not be open to everything? Why should any amp be excluded?
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#46 of 1046 OFFLINE   JaleelK

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Posted November 04 2002 - 02:48 AM

Quote:
Truth is just a perspective



No, the truth is that which can be proven. Also, you can try to challenge Double Blind Level matched listening test methods all you want, but the TRUTH is, DBT is a better and more reliable way of determining if sonic differences between amps exist than sighted(bias)non-level matched listening test. No matter what you try to say or do, you can never undue the truth because truth is as solid as a rock, to deny the truth will only caused you to be grinded into to dust by it, the truth. If you think conducting a listening test without controls is better method, you are simply in denial of the truth.

#47 of 1046 OFFLINE   Larry B

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Posted November 04 2002 - 02:49 AM

Yogi:

Quote:
Woww!!! Well said Larry.

Thank you. I do try. Posted Image

Quote:
It almost seems to me that the test is designed for the taker to fail.

If you had $10,00 on the table, you'd do the same!

Quote:
Whoever this guy is, is out to prove that there is no difference between amps because he believes so, and he has designed a test to prove his point.

So it seems.

Here's some food for thought (pun intended): Most people seem to have a preference between Oreo's and Hydrox, and (among the peanut butter lovers) between Skippy and Jif. To my knowledge, there is no raging debate as to whether discernable differences between these products actually exist, and no one seems to have proposed that any such difference is just a massive marketing ploy. Yet, I wonder how many people could distingish correctly 24 out of 24 times. My guess is that one would get confused on at least some of the trials, and make a mistake. (Let's assume one could efectively wash one's mouth out betwen trials.)

To me, this says as much about our sensory systems as about the products.

Larry

#48 of 1046 OFFLINE   Terry St

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Posted November 04 2002 - 02:50 AM

Quote:
Do me a favor - take a coin and try to get it to come up 6 times in a row as heads today and let me know how many times it takes you to do that. I'll bet you it will be much more than 64. You guys can't apply your statistics and mathematics to REAL world events - it just doesn't work that way.

If you think that the above "voodoo math" is wrong if it ever takes more than 64 tries to produce 6 heads or 6 tails then you clearly don't understand it. It will take 64 tries on average assuming that the coin and coin flipper are perfectly random. You can flip coins for years and the longer you do so the closer the average will come to 1 in 64 unless, of course, the coin/flipper are not perfectly random. In that case the average will be less than 64 for either 6 heads or 6 tails! The only way around this is for your coin to start landing on edge!

Quote:
Just as no one has volunteered here to take his test, I have not received any offers to bring a solid state amp over to my house and take my test. And I'm not setting a limit of 12 times, I'm saying I can tell them apart EVERY time (and so could my wife for that matter).

Just out of curiosity, what type of home setup does this fella have who's making the challenge?

It sounds like you mistrust this persons music setup more than you mistrust his requirement for a perfect score. I am sure that no matter how much awesome gear he has you will find a way to say that it is designed to make you fail his test. Fair enough. However, if your amp does meet his requirments of being un-modded/distortion free and you do feel you can tell the difference every time, as you claim, then why not pony up some money to back it up? Bet this guy even odds for 10K if he will bring an amp to your house. A mere 12 out of 12 should be a cinch if you can tell the difference every time. If he doesn't feel 10K is worth a weekend of his time then fair enough.

I'm not saying there are or aren't audible differences. I don't know myself. I'm not saying this fellows test isn't statistically skewed towards himself, because it is. It is his 10K though, so I don't blame him. I'd just like to see this guy given a chance to put his money where his mouth is.

#49 of 1046 OFFLINE   Lee Scoggins

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Posted November 04 2002 - 02:55 AM

I also have a question about the funds provided by the contest.

What form is the $10,000 dollars in?

Do we have the data on what bank can verify that the funds exist?

Can we see written proof posted on the website?

Quote:
I think Richard Clarke has another challenge called the “Hearing Cables challenge”. I think that’s self explanatory That’s another challenge that audiophiles and “expensive cabling company pty.ltd” really hates. You know what to do if you think you can hear expensive audio cables


Glen,

You destroy your own credibility when you make statements like this. As poster of the original thread I think you would encourage much more serious and intelligent discussion when you remove personal biases against the audiophile community.

I am a proud audiophile but I don't practice witchcraft. I can, however, hear differences in cable, and that is why I like and buy from George Cardas.

Not all audiophile cable is expensive either. Most company's entry level product is competitive with good Monster Cable and the sonics can be fantastic. The new Audioquest budget interconnects and Kimber Tonik are great values, for instance.
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#50 of 1046 OFFLINE   Larry B

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Posted November 04 2002 - 02:55 AM

lee:

Quote:
"...however I find a problem with some of the math here. There seems to me to be the very BIG assumption that scientific differences can account for all sonic differences.

Who has made that assumption? The test is question is quite distinct from the question of whether measurements are predictive of the way a product sounds.

Larry

#51 of 1046 OFFLINE   Lee Scoggins

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Posted November 04 2002 - 02:58 AM

Larry,

Sorry - I was not being clear. I made this comment apart from the statistics involved and I do think 100% is far above significant based on my understanding of math.

I inferred correctly I believe that this assumption was being made based on the scientific conditions of the amplifier test posted at the beginning of the thread.
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#52 of 1046 OFFLINE   Larry B

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Posted November 04 2002 - 03:01 AM

Lee:

Quote:
I also have a question about the funds provided by the contest.

What form is the $10,000 dollars in?

Do we have the data on what bank can verify that the funds exist?

Can we see written proof posted on the website.

With all due respect, I don't see any relevance of these questions unless you are planning on participating, in which case the questions should be addressed directly to the person who proposed the bet.

Larry

P.S. In view of you experience as a sound engineer, why don't you take him up on his challenge? Even if you don't win, but did better than chance, it would suggest that differences between amps are audible.

#53 of 1046 OFFLINE   Larry B

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Posted November 04 2002 - 03:04 AM

Lee:

Quote:
I inferred correctly I believe that this assumption was being made based on the scientific conditions of the amplifier test posted at the beginning of the thread.

As I understood it, the premise is that all amplifiers are so good that measurable improvements are not detectable by the human auditory system. While I don't believe this to be true, I suspect it will be, one day.

Larry

#54 of 1046 OFFLINE   RobertR

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Posted November 04 2002 - 03:17 AM

Quote:
Let's assume that there really is a difference between amps. Because the nature of our auditory system is such that distingushing small differences is difficult (due in part to the "shortness" of auditory memory), I suspect that on at least one or two of the trials the listener will make a mistake.

this test is designed to determine whether an individual can distinguish between 2 amps unerringly, in 24 trials.


I think the key phrase here is "small differences". No one says that all amps are completely identical. The issue is the magnitude of the differences. If the test was designed to compare, say, a Bose Wave Radio with a Theta/Krell/VMPS system, I don't think anyone doubts that it would be a simple matter to pass 24 trials unerringly.

At the very least, the statistical emphasis on the difficulty of a total lack of error shows how ridiculous the typical High End magazine review is, as typified by this quote from Stereophile:

Quote:
Right from the first note, it was obvious that the Citadels were the amps to play back this richly textured cut.

"Right from the first note"? (by the way, note that the Stereophile reviewer is directly contradicting Lee's statement about needing extended time) "Obvious?" The "obvious" implication is that the reviewer is claiming that the differences AREN'T small.

It sounds like Lin is saying something similar:

Quote:
I'm not setting a limit of 12 times, I'm saying I can tell them apart EVERY time


Which (unless he's saying that the differences involve more than just the amps) clearly implies that getting 24 out of 24 is no problem.

#55 of 1046 OFFLINE   Larry B

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Posted November 04 2002 - 03:22 AM

Robert:

The absurdity of (most) audio magazine reviews is almost beyond description.

Larry

#56 of 1046 OFFLINE   Larry B

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Posted November 04 2002 - 03:26 AM

Robert:

Quote:
No one says that all amps are completely identical.

I thought that was the contention of the individual who proposed the challenge.

Larry

#57 of 1046 OFFLINE   RobertR

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Posted November 04 2002 - 03:34 AM

Quote:
I have participated in the past in these A/B tests under studio conditions with other recording engineers and we were able to clearly demonstrate sonic differences between amps


Since you say nothing at all about your tests being conducted under true DBT conditions, you cannot compare your tests to the type of test being discussed. Are you confident you would hear the same differences under those conditions?

#58 of 1046 OFFLINE   RobertR

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Posted November 04 2002 - 03:36 AM

Quote:
No one says that all amps are completely identical.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I thought that was the contention of the individual who proposed the challenge.

Larry:

No, his contention is that all amps are audibly identical, which is not the same thing.

#59 of 1046 OFFLINE   Larry B

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Posted November 04 2002 - 03:49 AM

Robert:

Quote:
No, his contention is that all amps are audibly identical, which is not the same thing.

Understood. Obviously, amps differ in their design, appearance, choice of parts, etc.

Larry

#60 of 1046 OFFLINE   Saurav

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Posted November 04 2002 - 04:19 AM

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Obviously, amps differ in their design, appearance, choice of parts, etc.

And the design and parts choice affects measurable parameters like distortion, transient response, frequency response, etc. What this person claims is that while these differences exist, they are small enough that the human auditory system cannot perceive them. A fair enough claim, on the face of it. I was never good at prob/stats, so I have no comments on the 24/24 test requirements.

If we set aside the "all amps sound the same" argument and focus on what I think is his real intention, debunking the exaggeration and hyperbole that is everywhere in high-end audio marketing and reviews, I'm pretty much in complete agreement with him.


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