In reply to:
Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I'm asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so
Chess, this would be an excellent point if we were debating the existence of God. That is a claim that will never be testable because it is inherently unscientific. And I do appreciate your acknowledgement that there may be subtle differences between amplifiers. For the record, I will state that anything that is observable will also be measurable, and of course there are plenty of measurable differences not detectable by naked human perception.
However, I think you are led astray from scientific principles when you say:
In reply to:
You heard wrong
the day that some hardcore 'faith believers' actually concede that science can measure many things beyond what our meagre bodies' senses can perceive and that these audio issues could very well be caused soley on the bias in our minds having no real electrically measured differences, then i would probably leave the forums entirely
Are you saying that the entire purpose for your presence on this forum is to contradict or nullify people's observations? I am sure this is not really how you feel, but I'll run with it anyway. The scientific stance would be to prove the foundation of the phenomenon: either psychological or actual. Science is here to explain observation, sometimes when it runs counter to existing theories. When Galileo pointed his telescope to the sky and estimated that the solar system wasn't in fact revolving around Earth, he helped give birth to a new era of theory.
So here's the observational phenomenon that most troubles you: break-in. Most audiophiles observe break-in first hand, though some are not aware of it. At the very least, you have conceded that there is a common perception of break-in. Every scientist has his hypothesis about an observation, and yours seems to be that break-in of any audio component is actually a perceptual illusion, and that there is no measurable change in the equipment. One reason you gave is that when people hear one audio system for a long period of time (say 200 hours or more), and subsequently swap out one component for a new one, the sonic changes are initially very obvious; however, after extended listening they perceive a shift toward the sound of the old component. They allow themselves to believe there's a true shift in performance because they have heard of the myth of "break-in." That's a tenable hypothesis, but in order to prove it, you must run an experiment.
Hearing evil placebo
Split 100 self-proclaimed "audiophiles" into two groups. First they all listen to one sound system for 200 hours (this is a long experiment). You tell 50 of them they are going to listen to a brand new piece of audio gear, and you tell the other 50 that the new component has 500 hours of use. You swap in a component that is easily distinguishable from the previous one. You tell them to listen to the modified system and describe any audible changes that take place over 50 hours. In fact, all testing audio equipment has 500+ hours of use. Your null hypothesis: audiophiles' judgment is not swayed when they are told that an audio component is brand new. Alternate hypothesis: those told it's a new component will report more changes than those told it's used. Additionally, these changes will be toward the sonic characteristics of the original component.
If that experiment succeeds, then I will kowtow to you. However, it would only prove that some
people can be swayed by the idea of break-in, and does not disprove component break-in, because you haven't tested for it. Here's my theory: in a blind test, audiophiles can tell the difference between a new pair of Axiom M22's and a pair with 100 hours of use. Specifically, they will hear the treble get more "relaxed" and less "harsh", while the bass will become deeper and louder. Okay, we'll split them into two groups again. Control for previously-listened-to speakers. They are both told that a new pair of speakers is being subbed in, and to note any differences. Then 50 audiophiles get to hear a genuinely new pair of M22s, while the other 50 are actually given a pair with 500+ hours of use.
Null hypothesis: audiophiles can't hear the difference between a new pair of M22s and a pair with 500 hours of use. Alternate hypothesis: M22s break in much like many other speakers are observed to break in: relaxing treble, extended bass.
Notice how much narrower my theory is, and thus easier to prove. But you can never disprove that M22's have audible break-in. Even if your experiment succeeds, it is still possible that M22's break in.