Personal bias

May 24, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

People, like amplifiers, are biased.

In an amplifier, the bias means we’ve turned on the circuit in a specific direction in anticipation of the signal. This, as opposed to no bias—where the circuit is off until there is a signal present—is a much more welcoming approach. The circuit is on and as soon as the signal appears there is a ready and welcoming space for it to grow and build into a musical output.

In people, bias works somewhat the same way. Perhaps we’re biased towards wanting to listen to music as reproduced by a high-performance audio system. We’re anticipating great sound to come through those speakers. We’re ready and welcoming for that wonderful musicality. And if that’s what we get then life’s good.

Unless we don’t.

Whatever the result of our listening experience, it’s our bias that sets the stage for our expectations.

Let’s imagine we’re biased in the opposite direction. That we believe that all musical reproduction sounds the same. In this case, we’re likely to discard any evidence to the contrary because it doesn’t fit in with our bias.

In people as well as amplifiers it’s beneficial to be aware of one’s bias.

It helps us understand the results of what we get.

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7 comments on “Personal bias”

    1. I think most audiophiles shop around, read reviews, watch YouTubes, attend shows and even try equipment out in their own systems to get a sense of what’s out there. Additionally, the field of possibilities continually evolves as new products hit the market. As people gain knowledge and experience their biases get watered down and become mere preferences. I’m most grateful for the
      large variety of ice cream flavors as we enter the summer ice cream season. 😎
      As for those still stuck in the “chocolate or vanilla” stage of their youth…sad.

      1. I tend to agree, after all variety is the spice of life. However, while vanilla is generally taken to mean plain, when done right vanilla is anything but plain. Blue Bell makes a decent vanilla ice cream, not great though. For a really great vanilla you have to make it yourself with real vanilla flavoring instead of the imitation stuff most companies use.


  1. External forces we are subjected too molds our bias, like a wave in the ocean. Personally my bias has changed often, whenever subjected to new talent, cables, topology, venues. I enjoy change, and can’t think of one granite hard bias. Now for old school amplifiers I did prefer a higher than normal bias voltage. Today that is not an issue.

  2. I know when an amplifier sounds musical, delicate, sweet, powerful when required without harshness and when it has a seamless transition between channels. There are a lot of good amplifiers out there that accomplish this and some that don’t. If there are people that think they all sound the same they cannot appreciate a good sounding amplifier. Just as some cannot appreciate an expensive wine. Too bad for them. Sometimes its the speakers that are not good enough to really show what great electronics are capable of. Sometimes it’s the ear. Some people are tone deaf or just are not listening.

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