Thursday, July 10, 2008

Interesting TAS discussion on evaluation methods

Robert Harley wrote a provocative editorial in this months issue of TAS in which is essentially dismissed blind tests as having value in audio reviewing. Obviously not everyone agrees. To his credit, he has invited an ongoing discussion of this topic at the TAS forum, which you can find here. As you soon realize when you discuss blind or sightless comparison, the topic spawns more heat than light and tends to divide people into camps. Sadly, there are few people who will admit that blind testing is a useful method, one among many, and while it is possible to set up silly tests that offer little real insight into true listening behavior, it is also possible to design reliable tests, albeit at some cost in terms of time and effort.  Human reactions to stimuli (musical or otherwise) are not trivially determined by one variable so we should recognize that by seeing what we are listening to, we are letting more than sound drive our impressions. My main wish is that people could have an intelligent and open-minded discussion of this, but it seems most audio lists where the topic arises soon degenerate into extremist (and often uninformed) rhetoric. Let's see how the TAS site evolves, and cudos to Robert Harley for taking a lead.

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