What happens in a vacuum?

Paul McGowan writes:

Vacuums suck (sorry, just couldn’t resist the joke)…but it’s not too far from wrong.

It’s really the problem behind the classic AB test method: replace one piece of gear with another to form a value judgment. We all do it, but is it as definitive as we might hope?

The answer has a whole lot of conditional assumptions that must first be answered: system familiarity, willingness to change other parameters, skills as a trained listener, acoustic memory.

Imagine how difficult it must be for a reviewer testing a new pair of speakers. To be effective that reviewer has to have an exceptionally clear memory of how music is reproduced with the first set of speakers. Perhaps even more important, an absolute mental reference of the sound real instruments make and how close one speaker gets relative to the other. A sort of scorecard scenario, if you will.

In our case, AB comparisons can be pretty accurate and relatively quick because of several facts: the revealing nature of Music Room One, its level of sonic neutrality, our years of experience with reference tracks, our frequent refreshers with live performances.

For most of you that do not spend 60 hours a week focusing on this hobby, accurate and quick AB comparisons are likely to be somewhat more problematic.

My recommendation? Remember that systems are synergistic—a culmination of all parts within that system. Changing one element is only a single step in the evaluation process. So, allow enough time to tweak all the parameters in the setup you can.

There’s more to learn by watching this video