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Hearing is Believing vs. Believing is Hearing: Blind vs. Sighted Listening Tests, and Other Interesting Things

Although it is taken for granted that many factors influence listeners as they form opinions of sound quality, it is interesting to actually put them to the test and to assess the strength of the factors. These experiments had several objectives. On the subjective side, they were to determine the extent to which listeners' opinions about loudspeaker sound quality are affected by not seeing (blind tests) and seeing (sighted tests) the loudspeakers being evaluated; to examine the performance of listeners with and without experience in critical listening; and to examine the influence of the sex of the listener. On the product side, the objectives were to evaluate the differences among three high-quality and expensive loudspeakers and a high-performance, small, inexpensive system which would serve as an honesty check for listeners in the sighted tests. The results contain some reassurances and some surprises.

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