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Over the next few days I am going to spend a minute riffing on that which cannot be proven—a subject of constant division between those of us who like to listen to high end audio.

Let's start with our metrics and ask what our standards of proof are. I think we can all begrudgingly agree that despite the fact none of us believe it, we're all going to eventually die. We've got a lot of evidence to support that.

Fact is, there's no proof it will happen to me (until it does).

We also have a lot of evidence audiophiles routinely hear layers of transparency in their systems. How might we prove that? For some, all that is required is sufficient agreement from a large enough group of unbiased listeners—the old double blind test.

Imagine for a moment we take 100 random strangers off the street and have them seated in an auditorium. We then have the classic experiment on stage—a sonically transparent curtain disguising a small ensemble of musicians and next to them a pair of speakers. The crowd's challenge will be to see if they can reliably identify a modified version of the old Memorex tagline, "Is it real or recorded?" Part of the test will be that sometimes there's no speakers ever playing or vice versa. The classic double blind random test.

If the scoring is 50/50, we guess the answer is random. If it leans in one direction or another we have clearer "proof" of something (though I am not certain of what).

But now let's add a twist. Perform the same experiment with 100 certified Audiophiles who have passed some sort of test for listening experience.

In the same way we might arrange a double blind experiment where the challenge is to identify anomalies in MRI images, I suspect we'd get very different outcomes if the viewers were random off-the-street observers versus certified radiologists.

This identifies one of the first fallacies in the classic ruse of "prove it to me or it doesn't exist".

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Paul McGowan

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