Is 'bits is bits' bunk?

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"It can't sound any different, bits is bits!" And yet the empirical evidence suggests otherwise in example after example: comparison between DACs, hard drives vs. optical medium, digital cables, power supplies, Macs vs. Windows, and the list goes on. I used to think the staunch refusal to acknowledge empirical results may just be that some are uncomfortable with concepts they do not understand. Let me give you an example. There's plenty evidence of the importance of jitter in telecommunications devices. Not one engineer involved in these technical fields ignore it. It's why very expensive and sophisticated jitter analyzers are part of any good lab's equipment. These engineers don't measure jitter because it might matter, they measure jitter because it does matter (and remember, all the bits they analyze are identical). But... suggest to someone uncomfortable with the idea there's more to digital audio than the simple veracity of the bits, that jitter matters, and they will tell you 'yes, but not in audio' and then proceed to point to tests proving the same, by means of sonic evaluators, ignoring all empirical evidence to the contrary. But why? Why do they persist and not see what I see? Then the answer occurred to me. People with strong opinions, me included, spend more time defending their beliefs rather than investigating the truth. Think that's wrong? Have you ever tried to sway a staunch Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Tea Party member to switch platforms? It's a fool's errand to even try. Why? Because they do not wish to change, regardless of the facts. What's important to most people, certainly those with strong opinions, is not assimilating a different viewpoint but defending their own. I too have strong opinions and work hard at defending them. My only saving grace, if I have any left at all, is that over the years I have become more open to learning more about other opinions, viewpoints and lessons - and increasingly less about defending my own. It's been a tough switch and I have only begun to scratch the surface, but I recommend it for those not faint of heart.
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Paul McGowan

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