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    Hey Audiophiles - that time I blind tested the Magnolia Employee
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    AV Receiver researching and spent an hour at Magnolia A/B testing Denon VS Marantz receivers. Marantz are the premium line, allegedly better sounding with a bit more warmth and greater detail and musicality. And more expensive. Both owned by the same company. Got tired of reading the endless debates on Denon vs Marantz sound/pricing, so went out to listen for myself.

    I am not an audiophile and I have no doubt there are people that could tell the difference clearly. This is just me and one employee. But he was a very confident employee, and very specific in his articulation of what made the Marantz better in my blind A/B tests where I struggled to hear any meaningful difference and he clearly could.

    Sometimes, I could tell SOME difference. The Marantz sounded a little bit fuller at times, with a bit deeper/bassier (warmer?). The Denon one 1-2 occasions sounded slightly hollower, with more pronounced upper range notes... but I suspect this wasn't actually any increase in detail, rather, a lack of some low end warmth that gave it a slightly "brighter" impression directly compared to Marantz.

    This would, in fact, follow suit with general consensus, and perhaps would become more pronounced to me with more experience. However, I feel I am overstating and stretching the description... because Most of the time I could NOT tell a difference. Sometimes I preferred the Denon. Sometimes the Marantz. Some content it did seem like there was a noticeable difference (though I wouldn't necessarily call it MEANINGFUL - just NOTICEABLE. And subtle.). The majority of the time it sounded very, very close to me. If not completely indistinguishable and virtually identical.

    But the EMPLOYEE throughout would comment during the A/B test about the Marantz having more clarity and detail in the mids, and a somewhat "stronger" and superior sound. I asked him to explain more and he would share how the vocals in specific spots were easier to discern here or there, or that the sound was just "stronger" on the Marantz and with more clarity. He would say it with this authoritative confidence, as if it were very clear and not preposterously subtle and nuanced.

    After another 20 minutes of testing, I was getting tired of it. I couldn't really tell any meaningful difference and yet he could. So I said "ok, stand over there. I am going to blind test you."

    When you tap the button to switch receivers, there is a 1 second "blip" as it changes channels, so it cues you into the change. Except, you can also tap the same receiver again - making no switch - but still trigger the momentary "blip". So that's what I did to throw him off.

    He listened to the Marantz, nodded. Then I switched to the Marantz. "This one. Marantz. Sounds better, fuller." Ok, listen again. I switched - to the Marantz again. "This one is Denon. It sounds weaker." Switched to Marantz. "Yup, defintiely fuller." Asked him if he was sure. No doubt.

    I continued this experiment for a while on different content. I tried it on Denon, switching to Denon-Denon-Denon. Similar results, where he called the Denon a Marantz, clearly. I also did legitimate tests. Denon-Marantz-Denon-Marantz.

    50% of the time he selected Denon as being the superior, guessing it was Marantz, 50% of the time he selected the Marantz correctly. Sometimes he criticized the Marantz and praised the Denon. And vice versa.

    When I clued him into my tricks he seemed surprised, perhaps slightly embarrassed, and concluded "Wow? Really? Huh... well... yeah... I mean I guess they are really close, it's really subtle..."

    In conclusion, I've decided that the human mind is highly suggestible and the percentage of people who can ACTUALLY hear what they claim is likely quite small. If you are one of the true audiophiles, congratulations. As for me, I can tell something was a little different - but noticeable doesn't mean meaningful - and please don't blind test me, I will most certainly fail.

    TL;DR - blind test store employees (or, anyone) who tells you they can hear/see a meaningful difference in gear to find the truth


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    Sums up my opinion to a tee!

    Audiphools are objectively subjective or subjectively objective. Nobody has designed a test meter at any price that can measure audio quality, because nobody can define what it is in any meaningful way apart from by comparison, and that always fails the tests. I did have a few years of selling hifi, a long time back and comparators made quite a bit of money, because people always bought the one that sounded a bit louder and HF prominent. Switching between configurations with more bass were just, er, more bass. Switching to an amp/speaker with more treble usually convinced people to buy it. As the kit was also remote, they often didn't even notice the notch of boost on the treble knob.


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    Nice going, filmguy. Now you need to do the same thing here, with cameras and lenses.


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    Let's never forget the GH2 in the Zacuto blind test.


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    When I sold audio back in 19XX, Denon and Yamaha were our high end and I thought they sounded superior to Onkyo, Sony and Pioneer. Pioneer had more features and was easier to move.

    But ... it all depends on the type of music you listen to (movie audio is not that important, IMO, after a certain quality is reached) and what speakers you have (or plan to purchase). If you listen to classical, jazz, opera, acoustic, I'd eschew the Japanese solid state amps and try to find a decent Chinese made tube. The American made are generally very high priced but you can find good deals on modded Chinese amps with the Russian tubes.

    If you listen to heavy metal/grunge/hard rock/rap, you may want to consider a powered subwoofer because you can easily blow out your amp after hours of continuous high volume listening (I blew up both my car and home amps).

    Of course, if you drive a lot, a high powered car audio system will serve best for the rock/metal music.


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    This similar sort of thing has happened pretty much every single time a blind camera test is posted online.

    The differences people claim they can see versus the differences they can *actually* see are miles apart.


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    Quote Originally Posted by DBP View Post
    This similar sort of thing has happened pretty much every single time a blind camera test is posted online...
    Actually, amps aren't that difficult to tell apart, if you're listening closely and know what to look for. Some amps sound warmer, some harsher, some poop out at high volumes, etc.

    However, true audiophiles claim to hear differences between a $300/m cable and a $4,000/m cable.

    Others run their amps off batteries, since DC is preferred to AC.

    Others yet spend big money on power conditioners.

    While their friends do likewise on gold plated CD's and half-speed masters.


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    Found that if u rotate your listening between your best and average gear, the best gear stays sounding better over time. Otherwise if listening to your best gear all the time it will start sounding average and the need to upgrade can manifest.

    Found Yamaha was great bang for buck at this price level:

    https://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-RX-A30...ws_feature_div

    My review is number 6. The current models I’d expect to be nice too.


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    Quote Originally Posted by DLD View Post
    Actually, amps aren't that difficult to tell apart, if you're listening closely and know what to look for. Some amps sound warmer, some harsher, some poop out at high volumes, etc.
    Yes, with a few nuances:

    - I found this becomes increasingly difficult the higher up the chain you go, to the point of plateau with incredibly subtle differences

    - I did actually hear some difference between the Denon and Marantz (both top end amps and high end models). I do think there are some out there with a more nuanced ear who genuinely could tell what they felt were meaningful differences. As a non audiophile, but detail oriented perfectionist - I could not consistently pick out differences, and when I inconsistently and occasionally could (select snippets of select content), I would classify those differences as "noticeable" but not necessarily "meaningful" - i.e., there was something different, but it did not seem better or worse to my ear.


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    Quote Originally Posted by filmguy123 View Post
    Yes, with a few nuances:

    - I found this becomes increasingly difficult the higher up the chain you go, to the point of plateau with incredibly subtle differences

    - I did actually hear some difference between the Denon and Marantz ...
    I haven't shopped for audio in ages and, now that my hearing is effected by aging/health issues, it's not something I anticipate revisiting.

    Having said that, I'd recommend finding the speakers of your dreams first. Depending on funds and the location, I'd look at the custom made rather than the mass market systems. Since the computers came of age, designing and then tweaking speakers to taste has become much easier and there are quite a few folks who run these small enterprises from their garages and small shops/labs. There are also quite a few operations now that run exclusively off the internet and give you a superior bang for the buck visavis the store sold brands.

    For the money, the best universal, aka any genre, system is MTM + subwoofer/s. With quality drivers, this will sound good pretty much on anything, including movie soundtracks (but you'll need shielded speakers if they're close to your TV).

    As far as home movie theater amps/receivers go, most internet based sellers - and I haven't checked those in quite a while either - are two channel offerings. In which case, you're kind of stuck in the Magnolia land, unless you decide to buy a sound processor and a bunch of one/two channel amps. But that can get a tad messy and a tad expensive too.


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