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The Null tester and audio wires bullshit
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  • "No two wires will ever measure exactly the same." Quote from video.

  • @DrDave

    Yes, but you better watch video in full :-)

    As statement is obvious, I can tell you even more - no exact same wire measure exactly the same :-) You always have measurement noise, temperature drift etc. But it is known for guys who do such stuff and such difference is very small number with proper gear and method.

  • Also nice video

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev Of course I watched the whole video. I just think it is funny that he says no two wires test the same.
    As far as the science goes, it isn't really complete science. If perception is modulated by quantum entanglement, for example, they aren't testing for that. If double blind perception occurs on a subconscious level, they aren't testing for that. And so on. They are self testing. They create the experiment, then test withing the experiment using their own methodology. It's a reasonable approach, but it is circular reasoning to say that the test proves everything inside the test as well as outside the test.
    However, there's a basic hands-on, practical flaw in the methodology, which is cumulative experience. So, for example, a lot of audio engineers prefer Gotham or Canare cable over some other brands I won't mention. But here's the thing--audio engineers with decades of experience will use Gotham cable, but they won't spring for something (in most cases) that costs $100 a foot. The decades of experience are collectively informing them that prefer a better quality wire up to a point and also that among brands they have a preference.
    For these reasons, I recommend using a quality wire (Gotham) but not a boutique wire. And since this then creates three tiers instead of two, and since the price is really not a factor, since one eliminates the huge profit margins of boutique wire, there's no reason whatsoever not to follow this simple plan.
    Now, you might argue that all these audio engineers have it wrong, and that I and many others are deluded when we prefer Canare or Gotham.
    In which case I could point you to, for example, numerous works of art that were scientifically proven to be authentic, then found out to be fakes using different science or not even science at all.
    Or you can choose not to discard the decades of experience by audio engineers. And don't put cheap tires on your cars even if they test exactly the same in the short run (I'm guessing no two tires test alike).

  • If perception is modulated by quantum entanglement, for example, they aren't testing for that. If double blind perception occurs on a subconscious level, they aren't testing for that. And so on. They are self testing.

    LOL

    So, for example, a lot of audio engineers prefer Gotham or Canare cable over some other brands I won't mention. But here's the thing--audio engineers with decades of experience will use Gotham cable, but they won't spring for something (in most cases) that costs $100 a foot.

    Let me explain, thing you talk here is not scientific. As most of this engineers can choose cable only by tradition or by quality of connectors or shield, It has nothing to do with sound quality.

    In which case I could point you to, for example, numerous works of art that were scientifically proven to be authentic, then found out to be fakes using different science or not even science at all.

    Where is problem here? It is just wrong usage of terms by people who try to sell this shit. Just one method showed that with X probability some Y paint of other thins is close (with certain specified degree) to same thing in original works. And other method showed that another thing is completely different and even did not existed in a time. It is no logic flaw.

    Or you can choose not to discard the decades of experience by audio engineers.

    If you mean some abstract experience - it'll be mostly discarded as they will die. But all bullshit they also believe is nice thing to have for ruling class, as the further from science people are - the better.

    And don't put cheap tires on your cars even if they test exactly the same in the short run (I'm guessing no two tires test alike).

    Tires that test best can work shortest amount of time as they use more soft compounds :-) Can look for race cars where it is more exaggerated compared to consumer cars.

  • Well, you can disagree of course, but there's nothing wrong with my science.
    I'll give you a short example. The smallest packet of light that the eye can register is one photon. That means, perception on the biological scale extends to the limit of the smallest quantity of light that exists. However, the smallest amount of light that the conscious mind can register is way, way larger than one photon. So does the photon "affect" your eyes? Of course, but can it be seen? That's an interesting question. The science is proven, but what it means in terms of perception is less clear. And why is the eye designed to register a photon, if that photon goes nowhere? Because it does go somewhere.
    So, for example, let's say that as time goes by, you lose one photon a day. Is it cumulative? Of course. Is sound cumulative? Of course, as it persists in memory. Or it can even build up in a resonant acoustic.
    These tests test a a narrow band of science outside the ear and mind, they don't test perception. If you want to say, hey, that's it, there's nothing more, fine. But if you chose to think, hey, maybe there's a bit more, also fine.
    Quantum physics did not exist 100 years ago because we could not see it or test it.
    Could you devise an experiment to see if a few millipascals moved the cilia in the ear? Of course. It's not in the video.

  • The smallest packet of light that the eye can register is one photon. That means, perception on the biological scale extends to the limit of the smallest quantity of light that exists. However, the smallest amount of light that the conscious mind can register is way, way larger than one photon. So does the photon "affect" your eyes? Of course, but can it be seen? That's an interesting question. The science is proven, but what it means in terms of perception is less clear. And why is the eye designed to register a photon, if that photon goes nowhere? Because it does go somewhere.

    Well, it is all physics and statistics. The contradiction you think exist here appears from not well understanding of statistics fundamentals.

    Considering one photon - can look for not so long ago blog post on how you can measure individual photons (but not all of them!) using simple equipment. And no, photon not "go somewhere" as our eye is quite similar to sensor. It can only be registered in proper sensor zone, reflect somewhere or be gone (same as in proper sensor zone) in the sensor zone that is outside area we can measure.

    Better example can be that science has trouble understanding that photon is. :-) Can read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave%E2%80%93particle_duality . As after physics ditched ether (where things had been quite logical) it all went into mad mode.

    These tests test a a narrow band of science outside the ear and mind, they don't test perception. If you want to say, hey, that's it, there's nothing more, fine. But if you chose to think, hey, maybe there's a bit more, also fine.

    You have issue. If signal supplied is identical it is only your subjective perception that can make things different. And people who do proper double blind tests have good scientific methods to avoid almost all uncontrollable distractions and such.

    Also, other parts of science also research how brain works considering sound, image and color. For example, brain can compensate partially perception of many headphones and speakers if you listen to them for really long time (aka "warming"). But it absolutely does not matter in the thing we talk about here.

  • I respectfully disagree about the photon. That doesn't mean I'm right, it just means I studied. I may have missed a few classes but we definitely covered quantum mechanics. The fact that a photon has unusual properties does not alter the fact that a single photon can be registered by the eye.
    Re: the signal is identical: the guy in the video said the signal is not identical, and proved it, so hopefully he's right about that.
    AFAIK, the limits of hearing have only been tested in a challenge and response environment, not at the molecular level, nor at the quantum level as in the case with the photon. So that would be like saying that Canada does not exist because Americans cannot find it on a map.
    Lastly, our view of science is basically unchanged since Kuhn's view of science cycles. There will be another cycle, and this version of the science will be replaced in a few years. Just as it always has. And the reason that we "see" entanglement, which was previously completely unknown, is that we are looking in different places. There's no reason to believe that the perception of sound does not operate in as yet unknown ways, and the use of a null box doesn't prove it because it uses circular reasoning. It only tests what it was designed to test. You could just as easily say that quantum effects do not exist because this box does not "see" them.
    What the "box testers" are saying is that audio effects only exist with the box. They then look in this box and say "See, nothing outside the box." They then go on to say, well, there are things outside the box but you can't see them so they don't exist. I have a problem with the methodology.

  • From a purely scientific point of view, it is interesting to consider the case of whether the null box is "true", specifically, whether it can be falsified in the Popper sense. I will keep using my Canare and Gotham cables in the interim, and avoid cheap tires, as well.

  • The fact that a photon has unusual properties does not alter the fact that a single photon can be registered by the eye.

    I really do not understand your point. I see few recent single photon claims, but better read something more logical

    http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/Quantum/see_a_photon.html

    AFAIK, the limits of hearing have only been tested in a challenge and response environment, not at the molecular level, nor at the quantum level as in the case with the photon. So that would be like saying that Canada does not exist because Americans cannot find it on a map.

    I am slightly lost with fuzzy changing arguments. :-) May be it is nice idea to start ignoring all audio measurement using some string theory declared limits? :-)

    Lastly, our view of science is basically unchanged since Kuhn's view of science cycles. There will be another cycle, and this version of the science will be replaced in a few years. Just as it always has. And the reason that we "see" entanglement, which was previously completely unknown, is that we are looking in different places. There's no reason to believe that the perception of sound does not operate in as yet unknown ways, and the use of a null box doesn't prove it because it uses circular reasoning. It only tests what it was designed to test. You could just as easily say that quantum effects do not exist because this box does not "see" them.

    You sometimes tell such strange things. It won't be another cycle, but it will be revolution that will change science from foundation, as science is always serving ruling class in fundamentals and resisting anything that can hurt ruling class (despite always telling otherwise and telling about objective things).

    I can say that entanglement is mostly bullshit made to get grant money by very smart people using few clever tricks. Scientist like such things. Thousands of them promised easy humanity energy solution using thermonuclear energy in tokamaks, tens of billions had been spent without any real result.

    What the "box testers" are saying is that audio effects only exist with the box. They then look in this box and say "See, nothing outside the box." They then go on to say, well, there are things outside the box but you can't see them so they don't exist. I have a problem with the methodology.

    I have problem with your problem :-) I know you need to believe in certain things but you don't need to become preacher of this :-)

  • Well, I know that most people who buy cable aren't really interested in the science, and the guys who make the YouTube videos aren't scientists.
    For sure, the scammers are the problem. But they aren't going to be defeated by a video that says "all wires test different." They will use that to sell their overpriced gear.
    BTW the Photon is established science. The article you link to is 22 years old. Just sayin.

  • BTW the Photon is established science. The article you link to is 22 years old. Just sayin.

    I tell you as guy with much better education in this - science has huge issues with photons, and it is obvious as soon as you step outside simple school books with statements.

    Considering 22 years, I do not care. I care that it has logic and explanation, and few latest publications I saw had been complete bullshit made to get grant money and bad press not understanding that they write.

    But they aren't going to be defeated by a video that says "all wires test different."

    You try to pull words you like from whole thing and try to use them as you like. And it is not good thing to do.

    It is not "scammers", most of this cable sellers are nice established capitalists, they just put capitalism main values into extreme :-). Much more profits without adding any real value. Cameras companies are closely following this guys lately, did't you notice?

  • Thanks for linking to Ethan Winer's YouTube videos. I am a retired professional audio engineer and I agree with everything Ethan Winer says in these videos except for one debatable point: IMO, Paul McGowan of PS Audio does not "mean well", he is an experienced salesman marketing expensive high quality audio gear laced with homespun snake oil audiophile myths.

  • Some of the responses seem to be missing the whole ponit of the null test: to determine if there is, in fact, a residual signal to move up the next stage of the audio path. If there isn't, there is no factual or logical basis on which to make a claim to the contrary.

  • @LPowell I also am an audio engineer as well as a video editor and have 40 years experience and agree with Ethan Winer's YouTube videos. Human perception is flawed, which is why measuring is essential to get the most accurate information about audio performance.

    The whole 'quantum entanglement' issue raised earlier has no relevance to this argument.

  • http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/Quantum/see_a_photon.html

    Great share, I was wondering about this recently, It seems like a legitimate research review.

  • @libertas the article in the link was not accurate at the time (1996) and has been superseded by more accurate studies that show the opposite. It does, however, pop up at the top of a Google search.
    @Caveport I disagree.
    I'm going to again reiterate that I don't care what gear people buy. These videos don't include combination tones, which is a major flaw, and I'll leave it at that. If ppl don't know why this is an issue, that doesn't bother me either.
    The bad study about the photon (bad even when published) is the perfect example of this. It was wrong, it was bad science, and people said, hey, this is the objective truth. They were all wrong, and they didn't know it. This is, in fact, how science works--one theory is superseded by another. It's a continual process. In a good science class, you learn this.
    But the practical fact remains that I wouldn't use cheap cable even if the so-called "science" proved I couldn't hear the difference, and I won't be switching brands because the "science" proves that the Gotham wire sounds the same as Mogami. In addition, two ADDA circuits routinely test exactly the same (within the margins of the wire test) yet sound different. And, if you think all ADDA circuits sound the same, I'm just going to say I don't agree. Same for mic preamps.

    So why will I use Gotham wire and my preferred converters and preamps and ignore the YouTube videos? Why is that?
    Because, quite simply, they invalidate experience.

  • These videos don't include combination tones, which is a major flaw, and I'll leave it at that. If ppl don't know why this is an issue, that doesn't bother me either.

    The bad study about the photon (bad even when published) is the perfect example of this. It was wrong, it was bad science, and people said, hey, this is the objective truth. They were all wrong, and they didn't know it. This is, in fact, how science works--one theory is superseded by another. It's a continual process. In a good science class, you learn this.

    And here we go again. Start thinking using your own head, stop following sensationalism of popular press.

    But the practical fact remains that I wouldn't use cheap cable even if the so-called "science" proved I couldn't hear the difference, and I won't be switching brands because the "science" proves that the Gotham wire sounds the same as Mogami. In addition, two ADDA circuits routinely test exactly the same (within the margins of the wire test) yet sound different. And, if you think all ADDA circuits sound the same, I'm just going to say I don't agree. Same for mic preamps.

    In reality you are agnostic. :-) I told you above - if you like good connectors and nice shield or such - it is fine, just do not proclaim that it is due to sound quality and it had been whole point of this topic.

    Considering ADDA stuff. If we'll do proper double blind test for two almost same measured things you will never tell us any difference. I saw it so many times, it is not fun. One guy destroyed his nice new note (just smacked it) after the test - so disappointed he had been and he could not tell any difference despite hot statements of opposite.

    Because, quite simply, they invalidate experience.

    No, they invalidate unfounded opinions.

    Idea of PV is to rise opinions to knowledge, not in reverse.

  • Science can be objective even when reality is perceived in a subjective way. Some seem to hear a difference between flac and 320 mp3s. I don't think I hear a difference, most of the time. Of course the act of measuring (per se) has an effect on the quantum level, but does this affect our perception of reality? And if so, in what way?

    Regarding photons this is certainly legit

    Direct detection of a single photon by humans | Nature Communications

    https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms12172

  • @Libertas That article you link to is a more recent, better-designed experiment. It also clearly illustrates that the science can do a 180 in a short space of time (which we knew anyway in the 60s because of Kuhn's book. OMG it is 50 years since I read that book). Note that they have to rely on psychophysics to reduce to one photon, for obvious reasons, just as you would need to rely on psychoacoustics in the null experiment (it doesn't).
    The larger question here is whether the null box is falsifiable using Popper's definition of falsifiable.
    The second larger question is whether getting your science from a YouTube video is mathematically the same as buying a lottery ticket. It's more like a raffle ticket, but it's the same. That says nothing about the individual video, just to be clear.
    Link to the Wikipedia article on Kuhn's book, many of you have probably read it, but if not, it is a must read book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Structure_of_Scientific_Revolutions
    I'm not going to go into the difference here between what I will call wire science, acoustics, the biology of acoustics, and psychoacoustics, but let me just say these are four separate things. Related, but separate. Combination and difference tones, for example, are audible, but they are not transmitted in the air or measure by the wire experiment. Not it is even now understood why they can be produced with headphones (through a wire!) in certain tests. We simply don't know why, but they are audible, even loud https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combination_tone
    Your typical audio engineer might (might not) agree with the wire test, probably would not agree that it applied to ADDA and definitely not agree that it applied to preamps. Yet all of these could pass the test. But let's take it a step further, you could use a mic simulator to pass the test, so we could use the same mic for everything, as well. And, you could also take two video cameras and reduce the visual threshold differences to the same percentage, so we don't need to use expensive video cameras. Same with the lenses. After all, they could all pass the test, and, even if they couldn't pass the test they could be made to pass the test with a filter or two.
    Now, the fact of the matter is that with the right DSP, you could in fact come very close to matching two different cameras or two different mics, and the additional fact is that at some point soon we won't need the mics, the preamps or the cameras, because the differences will be smaller and smaller and they can be processed to be virtually equivalent. We are definitely heading in that direction, and our gear will even be more worthless than the normal two year cycle for cameras (I'm still using the mics I bought in the 70s...)
    I actually don't see the difference between the GH5 and the G85, BTW. I do see a difference from the G7. Would I pass a blind test? No. Absolutely not. But I still see a difference. I totally see a difference whether it passes a test or not, and I'm OK with saying that. I'm OK substituting my judgment in place of the test I know I would fail. The only reason the wire video has legs is because it is about wire, not cameras and preamps.
    So we don't need the cameras, the mics, the cables, the speakers, the headphones. OK. I will buy your gear since we have now conclusively proved it's worthless. Sell it on eBay.

    But for me, it doesn't change the outcome. I will still rely on my experience, and I will still question the science. There's more to life than a wire and a box, and recording is an art.

  • In the vast majority of cases, objective measurements like the null test can conclusively resolve subjective disputes on the fine points of audio perception. There are, however, a few areas that remain obscured by their complexity and our inability to conduct exhaustive tests:

    1. Microphone cables: While most claims about premium cables are easily debunked, cheap microphone cables are often plagued by electrostatic noise (self-induced by friction between internal conductors and insulation). You can demonstrate this effect yourself, simply by snapping a length of the cable like a whip. With a high-gain preamp, you can hear a defective cable crackle when it's stressed. The problem is, ALL insulated cables exhibit the effect to some extent, but only when flexed, not under stationary testing conditions. I don't think anyone really knows how subliminally perceptible it is in practice.

    2. Transient distortion: Amplifier distortion tests are almost always conducted under steady state conditions, after initial transients have settled down and long-term behavior can be measured. The problem is that the initial transient of a sound can make a perceptible impact on its subjective tonal quality. The common simplifying assumption - that transients are comprised of indiscriminate noise pulses - can readily be shown to be incorrect (at least for naturally generated sounds). For example, the initial cycle of a guitar note (captured by a sampling scope) does not contain a discontinuous noise spike - it is indistinguishable from the cycles that follow it. The perception of an initial attack is a psycho-acoustic effect produced by the discontinuity between that first audible cycle and the silence that preceded it. If you then process the note through a high-gain amplifier, that initial transient will be distorted by the unconstrained open-loop behavior of the amp in the brief interval before its negative feedback circuitry closes the loop and enforces steady state behavior. These transient effects are subliminally perceived and extremely challenging to measure and quantify.

    3. Binaural sound fields: It is notoriously difficult to measure the binaural psycho-acoustic effects of real-world, three-dimensional sound fields. You can easily use two sampling microphones and compute head-related transfer functions to characterize how the brain distinguishes spatial cues from subtle phase discrepancies in the two signals. What you can't so easily do is manipulate the microphones the way humans subliminally move their heads in response to music, and integrate the modulating binaural sound fields the way the brain does to form a subjective impression of the entire acoustic environment. While there has been much research on generating 3D sound fields, its main emphasis has been on how to accurately reproduce and manipulate them to produce special effects. Qualitative evaluation of real-life sound fields is still a broadly subjective art.

  • @DrDave

    You jump and mew like a cat that fell in the box trap. :-) You try to find the exit but where is none, so you just painted it inside and bang your head over it.

    Combination and difference tones,

    image

    In reality most probably it is just non linear stuff. You can dug into human hearing biology to find that it is far from ideal.

    Now, the fact of the matter is that with the right DSP, you could in fact come very close to matching two different cameras or two different mics, and the additional fact is that at some point soon we won't need the mics, the preamps or the cameras, because the differences will be smaller and smaller and they can be processed to be virtually equivalent.

    If not capitalism we had around 10-25x less same-different microphones and cameras (and definitely just one mount for each camera category with exact same interface and contacts for all). And all this free power and resorces could be used to do real innovations and try really new ideas.

    Simple sample of matching.

    sa6369.jpg
    596 x 366 - 32K
  • @Vitaliy, you can't measure tones in the neural network. You can measure in the wire and in the air. Of the four groups that I mentioned, that leaves the ear and the neural net, setting aside for the moment perception threshold (which is, like if you hear it, not unimportant). The null box measures the wire only, unless I misunderstand. If you feel the Wikipedia article on combination tones is wrong, you can revise it. It was revised just recently to include the as yet unsolved headphone experiment, and it was revised several years ago to include a whole section on organ pipes as well as correcting several important historical facts. The turnover in this field is pretty fast.

    The cat and the box thing, you mention, not sure what that means in terms of the science; if I found a cat and some cheap cable and some Gotham cable in my gear I would feed the cat and leave it and the cheap cable at home.

    For those interested in the difference beween ECT (outside the ear) tones vs inside-the ear tones this is an interesting paper as well as a good overview: https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/j/aoa.2011.36.issue-4/v10168-011-0049-1/v10168-011-0049-1.pdf

    BTW, no one is stopping ppl from using cheap gear. And instead of arguing with me I suggest ppl go to the Arri table at the next show and tell them their stuff isn't any better because you plugged a wire into it and and a cell phone cam and the colors came out the same.
    People make some serious money on YouTube who say that a Stradivarius violin is the same as a cheap violin. These are very popular. And, in fact, in double blind tests ppl could not tell them apart. They have been tested many times, and the results are consistent. I would rather have the Strad even if in the test people prefer the clone. Is it bad science or is experience worth something?