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Differences in Performance and Preference of Trained versus Untrained Listeners In Loudspeaker Tests: A Case Study

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A series of 28 listening tests were conducted over the course of 11 months involving 199 different listeners and 4 different loudspeakers to determine the repeatability, accuracy and preferences of untrained versus trained listeners. The results indicate remarkable repeatability and similarity in preference among both trained and untrained listeners. This suggests that training does not bias listeners' preference, and their results can be extrapolated to a larger population of untrained listeners. The trained listeners tended to use the lower half of the preference scale compared to untrained listeners, and produce more reliable and discriminating preferences amongst the different loudspeakers. Other factors that produce variance in preference ratings include training, program, the context and number of speakers compared, audiometric performance and biases within the preference scale itself. A comparison of the acoustical measurements of the loudspeakers and their mean preference rating show clear correlations.

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