Has this ever happened to you? Your spouse is in the kitchen or another room open to your stereo system and you make a change, perhaps a new cable, tweak, or new piece of gear. And they suddenly holler from the next room. "What did you just do?" The change that might have been obvious to you in the nearfield, was obvious to them from another room.
And they didn't even know you had made a change.
This event has happened to me and others, time and again. And it's not just farfield experiences that amaze. When we were auditioning the final firmware versions for the new DAC, DSJ, our production engineer Steve asked if he could sit in on the listening session. Steve's never sat with me in Music Room One and frankly had no idea I was even comparing firmware versions. He simply wanted to hear the big system. We played for a time, then I ambled back to the rack and updated firmware, chatting about "stuff" with Steve the whole time. When I fired the system back up we listened to the same track at the same level.
"Did something change?" he asked.
"Yes, what did you hear?"
"It's… I don't know, flatter… less full sounding. I don't like it as well. Probably just me."
I grinned and without saying another word went back to the original firmware and instantly Steve turned to me and smiled.
Sometimes the best listeners are the ones who are less involved and have less at stake.