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It would appear there are many threads on many forums debating computer audio evidence vs hearing differences when listening. People have dug trenches, grenades have been lobbed, feelings (and maybe some egos) bruised, threats made or implied, ridicule slung,….and this has been interspersed with respectful discussion over differing viewpoints. So all in all its like most other so-called subjectivist vs objectivist debates I have stumbled upon, ending with people picking up their marbles and retiring to their corners. I say "so-called" subjective vs objectivist as, ironically, I see both sides of the debate as necessarily subjective. As some may already know I am sceptical about "data" and "measurements" presented as evidence. As a scientist in my own field I have seen how they can mislead or be misinterpreted or just be plain wrong. They become subjective in their interpretation as to what they mean. They become potentially dangerous in that they start to dictate behaviour, based on assumptions/conclusions on the available evidence of what we know about things here and now. We still of course need measurements and still need to strive to improve both their accuracy as well as their relevance to the outcomes we are studying. I believe evidence should guide our opinions and behaviour, just not dictate it rigidly or have the need to slavishly stick to it. Evidence is only as good as the next batch of evidence, the new tool to measure it, or the new revelation we are not measuring what we thought we were. Evidence changes, and as such is a somewhat capricious commodity. What is more disturbing, for some, than the 'attack' on physical evidence being relatively unreliable is the whole unsavoury notion of psychological influences. A rejection that they have any valid role to play in interpreting or changing the 'real' world. Surely things psychological are an affront to the physical evidence, 'not real', 'imaginary' and even pejorative ? If physical evidence can't explain something the assertion is that you are nuts, unworthy, stupid in believing otherwise. I think most of us are aware that psychological things can alter the way we perceive things and seemingly at times with out any accompanying change in the real world or sensory processing apparatus. The question is does it matter? If it comes down to enhancing the enjoyment of an entirely subjective experience like music on our HiFi, itself a basically 'illusory phenomenon', then I would say no. I say illusory because we are relying on known pycho-acoustical neurological processing to recreate something that isn't there, not just a recreation of a past event, but an actual acoustic image of instruments and people an a soundstage. I think there is a deeper concern however that the 'truth' is not being served, that advancements in audio will only come with 'real changes' in the research and development of technologies and equipment. Things that can be verified. There are parallels in medical research where people go to great pains to eliminate the effect of placebo influencing outcomes. On the other side of the equation the placebo effect, likely to apply to each and every one of us, is harnessed for its therapeutic power. A boost of around 30% efficacy is not to be sneezed at... and that goes double when treating hay fever ! It can however be potentially dangerous when it is the sole foundation for results if it distracts or diverts from other treatments that may be needed to address serious illness. Is Audio truth, then, a matter of greater 'accuracy'. If we get more clever in our measurements and our gear improves to faithfully reproduce what we measure then it stands to reason that more accurate sounds better ? Does the more accurate CD sound better than Vinyl ? Does halving Total Harmonic Distortion have the inverse affect on sound quality ? Does eliminating all jitter sound better ? Is there a 'sweet spot' in increasing digital resolutions ? Or is there something in the flawed nature of analogue sound that appeals to us ? Stay tuned for the answers…..but not from me. Is audio truth, then, a function of double blind listening tests ? Well as scientific testing goes I would suggest it is not exactly a model of the ideal test rig but it seems it is entrenched in our thinking. It certainly has face validity. It may be of genuine value depending on the methodology and limitations of the interpretations and conclusions. When examining the place of testing methods is it that truth comes in the form of pitting reliability, specificity, and prevalence together in a 2 x 2 table of false positives/negatives and true positives/negatives to determine Positive and Negative Predictive Values ? The whole DBT debate is a topic all on its own, just mentioning here with a view to deferring to another time. Whether in medicine or music my view is that sometimes the evidence is right and sometimes it is wrong. Sometimes the effect is largely psychological, sometimes it isn't. Sometimes you’re the bug and sometimes you’re the windshield..er, got carried away. It does however trouble me when people start talking in absolutes on either side of the fence. A little red flag goes up in my brain saying, they don’t know what they're talking about. Then again , I could be wrong ! ;-) The neurobiology is interesting on this subject. Psychological influences can not only 'colour' the way we see things but it seems also to be able to change the very hard-wiring in the central nervous system that processes sensory information. A kind of self reinforcing and self propagating loop that physically changes our perception of the world. At the centre of this is the neuroplasticity of the nervous system that adapts to changes not just in relational to the physical milieu but also to our psychological state, or if you like, our reaction to the world. This can have positive benefits in many domains including shaping our abilities to learn new things, discern or refine our perceptual skills. It can also be destructive, sensitising our responses to pain in a negative way. It is a very powerful construct, analogous to fire, it can warm you when your cold of burn you if applied incorrectly. So just perhaps, when it comes to listening to music, it appears there is something more to "trust your ears" than 'meets the eye'. Enjoy the music.