Need help with audio racks

majesticgiraffe -- Wed, 06/11/2008 - 22:12

long time audiophile needs some advice on a new audio rack. I use Goldmund electronics which employ mechanical grounding within their products. They are said to work best on a mass loaded and rigid rack/platformrather than the vibration and resonance control racks that are prevalent these days. Can anyone explain this and recommend a reasonable audio rack and amp stands that will provide the best result. Thanks.

Robert Harley -- Thu, 06/12/2008 - 08:25

I've used rigid, mass-loaded racks for more than ten years---the Billy Bags line. You can fill them with sand. You can always add an isolation system to specific shelves later if you want.

The Billy Bags racks are well made, affordable, and their open design makes them highly functional.

Jim Hannon -- Wed, 06/18/2008 - 10:19

I used a sand-loaded Rix Rack to great effect. Mine is made of a beautiful curly maple but the steel supports are "fillable" with sand, shot, etc.

Roy Gregory -- Tue, 08/05/2008 - 04:33

I have recently had a Goldmund system under review (Eidos 18, Mimesis 27.3, Telos 200) and used it on a variety of racks; They do have a major influence over the sound. Of the complete racks, the best results were with a Stillpoints 4-shelf design, using their heavy bars and shelves (these were reviewed by Chris Thomas in Issue 59 of Hi-Fi Plus) but the best solution overall was achieved using the Vertex AQ Kinibalu energy sink platforms, a (relatively) low profile solution which can be used with an existing rack or a new one chosen for aesthetic rather than sonic reasons - just as long as it's solid enough as both the platforms and kit are heavy!

The sand-filled options are certainly cost effective, but ultimately less sophisticated than the Stillpoints or Vertex approach, which in my experience offer superior performance - at a price. You are definitely on the right track in looking for a rack that will ground or dissipate the energy from your electronics - it's just a question of how far you want to go. Incidentally, we'll be using both Stillpoints and Vertex pieces in our demonstrations at the RMAF, if you are planning to attend.

discman -- Tue, 08/05/2008 - 08:44

With the Stillpoints/Vertex 'add-on' approach, does the underlying stand matter? That is, are there any characteristics to look for or can you really just use a basic, stable (e.g. Salamander or Target) rack?

Roy Gregory -- Tue, 08/05/2008 - 10:00

Generally speaking, all add-on supports will reduce the impact of the rack on which they sit, however, the less work they have to do the easier their job. Personally I prefer to avoid steel and particularly glass in racks (others obviously disagree). As a result, if I'm looking for a cost effective solution I tend to reach for Quadraspire or the larger footprint offered by the Cambre Core racks from Canada, but there are doubtless others out there. These two also offer a modular approach which makes both initial spacing of shelves and later changes easy to accommodate.

Cemil Gandur -- Fri, 10/10/2008 - 07:41

The Finite Element Ref rack seems to be many reviewers' favorite, or at least part of the equipment they use. How does that compare to the Stillpoints?

I'm looking to buy a good rack and after going through many bad to average ones, I hope to get it right this time, once and for all !

Roy Gregory -- Fri, 10/10/2008 - 09:04

Once was that the finite/Stillpoints question was fairly easy to answer:

1. Take a look at the appearance of the two racks - they're VERY different.

2. Do you favour harmonic development and natural perspectives (f-e) or detail, transparency and dynamic range and definition (Stillpoints).

However, lately the waters have been muddied by significant developments at Stillpoints which make their top of the line racks considerably more expensive but also dramatically better in those areas in which they used to be weak. There is also the option of the impressive Grand Prix Audio rack, although the review of that is incomplete, as are direct comparisons.

Be honest about your needs and budget and look to the nature of your gear, and then see about hearing what these racks do. After all, you wouldn't drop five figures on a new pre-amp without listening...

Cemil Gandur -- Fri, 10/10/2008 - 11:05

Point well taken. Unfortunately, I can't get a home demo of a rack - which is what I do with practically every piece of gear, cartridge excluded. I'm not even sure I can get hold of a Stillpoints here.

Equipment going in will be ARC Ref 7, EMM trasport/DAC6e, ASR Basis and VPI SSM on top. I'd like all the adjectives you describe - the system has the lot :)

Can I presume from your initial comment that the Finite used to be the way to go?

Roy Gregory -- Fri, 10/10/2008 - 18:57

I've used - and use - both racks extensively. The finite is a great, well balanced performer, especially if you use the Cerabase feet with it. But the latest Stillpoints are my current favourites, not least because they're layered approach allows you to go on adding extra isolation as time goes by or where it's most effective. Will I be retiring the finite racks? No way. Would I be happy to use just them? Absolutely. But for optimum results the Stillpoints deliver with the ARC CD7 and the EMM, and also with around 70% of other units I try. Both are great racks (as are the GPAs) but the top of the line Stillpoints with the latest isolation technology is currently ahead by a nose as far as this listener is concerned.

However, for once you have three options all of which are good and you will be very happy with any of these solutions.

majesticgiraffe -- Sat, 10/11/2008 - 15:22

After conculting many sources it was determined that Goldmund equipment because of their mechanical grounding preferred mass damping versus acoustical isolation. With that in mind I purchased a Sound Anchors custom made 5 level rack. I explained my needs to Bob at Sound Anchors and he custom designed a rack. I was told 4 - 6 weeks but it was more like 8 weeks. The rack came via motor freight and it was incredibly well packed and anchored on a small pallet. The freight from FL to CA was reasonable at $225 and the rack was around $1600.

I loaded all the Goldmund equipment and was happy with the fit and finsh. It allowed ample room fro ventilation. I noticed the sound of the system to have more low level resolution and more palpability in the lower end. The timing and pace was well relaxed yet 'rock solid". The rack came prefilled with a material similar to sand/shot.

I have been very happy with the rack and am glad I did not spend $5000+ for a Grand Prix or Finite Element. These racks were actually opposite to the effect Goldmund requests because their components are already mechanically grounded. With other equipment that deisre and needs mechanical isolation I imagine the Grand prix and Finite would be great.

I also added a pair of Shakti hallographs to the system and that was the ultrmate upgrade. The system took on incredible new realism and the low level palpability was incredible. The music was so relaxed and the textures and tones were so lifelike. I no longer desire any more upgrades (except for perhaps a center pair of hallographs). I took the Hallographs out and did not like it without. There was more congestion and less space between images. I tried the Hallographs in 3 positions and settled with them at the rear corners.

It was like I had upgraded two levels on speaker cables.

Thanks for all the ideas on this forum. It is great to have a resource from audiophiles because yes it is impossible to audition racks and cartridges at home.

Sam -- Fri, 07/10/2009 - 21:19

Does a hard disk based system need as much care in isolation and antivibration as other audio components like tubed stuff, cd players, turntables?  I use a DAC and plan to use hard disk music via music server. suggestions welcome.

Steven Stone -- Mon, 07/13/2009 - 09:58

 A hard disk system will need as much, if not more isolation, both mechanical and electrical, from the rest of your components. Hard disks generate a lot of physical vibration and computers are often the source of EMI, RF, and AC noise.
You can solve the HD vibration problem by substituting a silicon-based storage system for the rotating HD, but the electrical isolation will require careful consideration.
You may get better sonic performance by wireless streaming than actual physical connection or you may find that Toslink will be the only digital connection that supplies enough galvanic isolation to avoid grounding issues between the computer and the rest of your system. Coaxial digital connection, despite some limited evidence that it sounds better than USB or Toslink may not be your best sonic choice. Every system is different, with different software and hardware that handles digital music files in various ways and you can't assume one connection methodology is universally better.
And, yes, mass loading of the conventional HD drive will probably be needed.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Sam -- Tue, 07/14/2009 - 01:37

I was thinking of a component shaped music server chases to place in the rack and to connect to the DAC in the rack.  My digital cable is only 2meter.  So cant keep it too far away from the DAC.  Some have suggested keeping it in a different room.  Are the new servers solid state or hard disk moving parts?  I hear these two talked about interchangebly.  I wonder what type of storage device qsonix or sooloos has in its chasis. What do you mean by a silicon based storage system? any website on that for more reading? brands?  I was just thinking of putting an isolation system under the chasis like symposium, or bright star air base of some kind. and keep the touchscreen or remote near listening chair.  A PC as a music server would surely be noisy in the room. Ive also heard contrary to what you say in terms of digital connection, that AES/EBU is best, spdif second best and USB or Toslink as the worse type of connections for high end audio.  May be its system based.  I am not sure.  The other thing I don't understand is how come these state of art $7-10K music servers only offer one spdif out and NO AES/EBU, NO toslink, NO usb. If music servers are as much pain as isolating a turntable.........then its not going to be too much fun. 

Steven Stone -- Tue, 07/14/2009 - 09:06

 Servers can use either solid state or hard disk for storage - the newest Solid state or silicon-based drives are plug-compatible with HDs.
QSonix and Soolos should be able to take either type of storage (but silicon-based cost more and have smaller capacity)
As far as the digital connection is concerned it is really and truly system dependent. Some experts will tell you that one connection type is inherently better, but they may be right for the limited number of systems they have tested, but there simply is no universally better connection method. every system requires testing to see which is better. Some servers make this easier by only supplying limited options.
As for the process not being fun - you're introducing a computer into your audio system - of course its going to be fun :)!

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Sam -- Wed, 07/15/2009 - 00:43

Those who have bought some moderate level of audiophile racks, what brands or models have you used?  In my research most of the high end racks seem like on average they cost $5000+.  They look very pretty and technological, but the prices are rediculously high.  I am looking for a 5 to 6 shelf rack to also place analog gear as well therefore isolation and stability is important, but even some of the gear on the rack wont cost as much as the asking price of the racks that I have come across.  suggestions and pictures welcome.

majesticgiraffe -- Wed, 07/15/2009 - 15:27

 I like the custom designed racks by Sound Anchor in Florida. They are mass loaded. A six shelf rack with freight to California was about $1800 a year ago. It takes about 6 weeks for the rack to be be built and delivered.The fit and finish is very nice and it comes very well packed via motor freight. I am glad I purchased it and it helped my system with better low level resolution. Increased quietness and a tightening of the bass. 

jack d ii -- Fri, 11/13/2009 - 16:26

Solid Steel 4 shelf racks have served me very well.  But, then, I came from Salamander racks which were scary wobbly.  The SS are the vibration/isolation type and are very good at it using a shelf with 3 conical points in small recepticles set in a steel frame.  Very reasonably priced.

 Jack D II

r_scfld (not verified) -- Sun, 04/25/2010 - 15:27

 Bought sound anchor stands about three months ago, and they are great.  I bought some marble tops and they look fabulous.  A rare great value in hi-fi!

Steve A -- Fri, 04/30/2010 - 18:14

Are there any advantages/disadvantages of having your equipment racks off to one side as compared to having the racks between and behind the speakers?

Steven Stone -- Mon, 05/03/2010 - 13:42

 When it comes to sound waves the inverse square law applies - double the distance between transducer and an object that may vibrate in sympathy with the transducer and you will half the volume that will effect that object.
So, it's far more important how far the gear is from your speakers than whether its on a side,back or even front wall.
Of secondary importance is location in the room. BUT, (big but), there are locations that will have higher SPL levels than other parts of the room (especially in the bass) because of room resonance nodes, so placement does matter. I've used an excel spreadsheet developed by acoustic architect, Russ Herschelmann, to find room nodes.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

nasvictor -- Wed, 06/02/2010 - 15:44

Any suggestions for a rack that can hold a New Audio Frontiers Integrated Supreme 300B Special Edition amp?
This is a serious beast with dimensions of 35 x 24 x 56 cm (W x H x D) and a net weight of 45 kg.
Most racks have a depth of 50cm.

majesticgiraffe -- Tue, 07/20/2010 - 13:02

I found that working with Sound Anchors in Palm Bay FL via phone and email helped me with a component rack. Bob is more than happy to make custom pieces and usually has good suggestions. It takes a while for the pieces to be made (about 6 weeks) but they come out well and are packed excellently and shipped via freight.

I have read that some other companies do custom work but they seem prohibitively expensive for me.

jamesmarian72 -- Wed, 06/29/2011 - 04:31

Same here. I really need some ideas and advices on audio racks. I need to finish it soon because I will use it on our upcoming event. Thanks in advance for the help.


Keladrin -- Tue, 08/14/2012 - 09:35

Never had an issue with vibration affecting hi-fi components. The idea that you need a 5K rack to damp vibration is complete hogwash, even if you are running your system from a mobile car. Think about it for a while - do car CD players have expensive damping components? The speed of playback is not that critical as the signal is buffered anyway - same goes for hard discs. As for amplifiers and all solid state no daming at all is required unless there is something wrong with the equipment (loose transformer or inductor coils for instance).

I have taken many amplifiers apart and found no components that would be affected by vibration at all. Valves are a slightly different matter, but these are vintage devices and to be avoided anyway.

If vibration affects anything it would be the speakers themselves, but since these are doing the vibrating in the first place any secondary vibrations have a negligible effect compared with the ac signal going into them. Hi fi racks are nothing more than functional components that you buy for the look and ease of organising the components - they don't do anything to the hi-fi sound any more than anything else in the listening room unless grossly misdesigned. Frankly you are more likely to get a probelm with the heating system resonating!

majesticgiraffe -- Wed, 08/08/2012 - 13:07

I believe the word used should be affect an effect
calling something hogwash and indicating disbelief without experiencing it isn't credible. As has been said many times in this forum and others...if you haven't heard it or tried it you shouldn't post about it.

Keladrin -- Thu, 08/09/2012 - 05:49

Pardon me but please check your own posts for errors (grammatical, spelling and informational) before pulling faults with mine. If you wish to exclude other opinions apart from your own then this is not actually a forum at all and you are in fact recycling the same tunneled-vision message ad infinitum. Perhaps you can explain to me how exactly the design of the equipment rack could possibly affect the sound unless it is made from audible resonating components like hanging tubular bells. Think about it just for a while - you are saying the sound in the room (or perhaps people walking on the floor) is being picked up by the equipment rack, which produces a resonant sound or passes this sound into the electronics where the physical vibrations are amplified by the on-board electronics. Vaguely true for record decks and valves if there is some serious design issue with the components themselves but nothing else.

Place your ear next to the rack, does it give any sound at all at close proximity? Oh but it is passing this vibration on to the electronics which then amplifies it through the speakers. So the equipment is acting like a microphone with a feedback loop. Ever tried a feedback loop? (I have) You get a build-up of sound until the system resonates with a screech. Even if you don't reach resonance it’s instantly recognisable. That's why I call it hogwash - it doesn't stand up to scientific analysis or controlled observation. Electronic components (apart from microphones) just don't do this, sorry. It's not just scientifically completely ridiculous, it's actually insulting to any kind of engineer. You are talking to a high-end audio design engineer with 40 yers experience and advanced knowledge of audio, physics and electronics, not an audio salesman or journalist.

My opinion is just as valid as yours as I have built many hi-fi components from the ground up including amplifiers and speakers. I am a loudspeaker design expert with a solid understanding of acoustic fundamentals, especially acoustic spaces. With a higher degree in science combined with a very keen musical ear (I play musical instruments), I have a wealth of experience to offer audiophiles. Perhaps you should take a good look at the quality of advice on this forum as well as the quantity. You will hear just about every opinion out there but it is ultimately up to you what you accept or agree with. If you don't like an opinion to be aired that is different from your own and continue to recycle audio information that is unacceptable to many informed people then prepare to be challenged, that is the whole point of any forum. The other side of the coin needs to be shown and from my vast experience this is the true one.

If someone has been lead to believe that the equipment rack makes any discernable difference to the sound quality then telling them that it doesn't is as valid a reply as yours at it will save them wasting thousands of pounds (sorry dollars). Whether they take my advice or listen to your opposing viewpoint is ultimately up to them.

majesticgiraffe -- Thu, 08/09/2012 - 06:44
these are but two engineering companies that can provide engineering and scientific analysis on vibrational issues.
Personally I use and trust my ears and hearing. If it sounds better to me I don't necessarily need to disect it and analyze to understand it.

Keladrin -- Thu, 08/09/2012 - 08:00

Thanks for the info.
But these companies are actually selling equipment racks though so they will obviously say what they can to sell them.
If you are giving unbiased scientific advice then independent scientific papers or at least independant double-blind reviews would be useful. Note Emphasis is on ' independent'.

So how do you actually know you can trust your ears (or brain) without putting them them to any double-blind test using controls to validate them. I put it to you that the audiophile ear is not very trustworthy at all. It’s like saying ‘I trust my sense of perspective’ in carpentry. If you never use a ruler then you will always be out by a long way – it’s human nature and fallibility. Audio differences that appear real to an expert observer are often disproved when they partake in unbiased trials – now that’s a fact that has show up in many a study (oh sorry but you don’t like analysing anything), and quite acceptable scientifically, looking at the fallibility of the human brain in this instance. Trust your ears if you want to but trust hard evidence if there is any debate I say – food for thought! -- Sun, 08/12/2012 - 11:18

I'm trying to picture a double-blind test of two equipment racks. Here's how it might go:
1. Put all your equipment on Rack 1, let it warm up, and play a song.
2 . Escort all the listeners out of the room and remove the equipment from Rack 1.
3. Remove Rack 1 from the listening room.
4. Bring Rack 2 into the listening room and position it where Rack 1 was located.
5. Level Rack 2.
6. Install the equipment on Rack 2.
7. Let the equipment warm up.
8. Bring the listeners back into the room and seat them in the same chairs they were originally in.  No moving to another chair, or moving the chairs from the original position. The overall rack swap will take about an hour, including warm-up, if the people conducting the test are expert in system set-up. If they aren't, it will take longer.
9. Play the same song. Of course by then, the listeners have forgotten the details of how the song sounded. 
10. Repeat the above process for several other songs.
11. At the conclusion of the test, pay all the participants-the listeners, the folks conducting the test, etc-for their time. If you have three listeners and two test conductors, you'll be paying out five times as much as you would pay a single reviewer.
The above is not a perfect double-blind test scenario. I don't know how you'd impose the requirements for a double-blind test. How could you keep the person operating the equipment from knowing which rack was in use? It's easy to keep them from knowing which equipment is in use, but it's pretty hard to mask an entire rack. If you drape a cloth over the racks, you may change the acoutic properties of the rack and the room, as well as make it hard to operate the equipment.
Vade Forrester

Keladrin -- Mon, 08/13/2012 - 07:50

Hi Vade. No this is definitely not the way to do such tests. This is typically how a reviewer might do it! Audio memory and indeed appreciation is very transitory.

If you wanted to do something as daft as trying to establish whether users can hear the difference between 2 racks then you need a cloned system where everything is the same except for the racks. The CD is also cloned and they are playing the same music, synchronised. The user is presented with a switch that can switch between the two systems. Note volume has to be balanced within ½ db.

There are a number of ways of doing the test but one way is by having a 3 way switch. Position 1 is system A, position 2 is system B and position 3 is an unknown (either A or B), set by a third party.

As a check that all else is identical it would be necessary to do a controls with 2 identical racks just to confirm there is no discernable difference.

This is something I personally have done to compare a 3K cd player with a £80 one and the difference was not detectable by anyone. Did the same with 2 such amplifiers and there was a difference, although negated once the tone controls on one had been adjusted by 3db.

Such tests are a matter of course for professional equipment assessment for obvious reasons. This is certainly the way manufacturers sort out differences between codecs and real audio advances. Beware anyone who dismisses the blind trial - you will usually find they have a hidden agenda. -- Mon, 08/13/2012 - 08:16

I can assure you that no reviewer would conduct such a test. And it was you who brought up double-blind testing of racks.

Vade Forrester

Keladrin -- Tue, 08/14/2012 - 03:29

Perhaps a reviewer could comment here on how exactly they do assess the sound of equipment racks and how they think an assessment of the sonic properties of racks is less daft than testing the sonic properties of central heating radiators in the room or any other furniture for that matter. -- Thu, 08/16/2012 - 19:06

Evidently, my last posting created some confusion, for which I apologize. When I said no reviewer would conduct such a test, I meant no reviewer would conduct a double-blind test, not a test of a rack. Several rack reviews have been done, and even I have reviewed an amplifier stand.

Vade Forrester

majesticgiraffe -- Mon, 08/13/2012 - 04:37

At the Newport Audio show there was a panel discussion by many "experts" in the field and the blind test was poo pooed because of its inherent deficiencies.Among them was that there needed to be a predetermination of those particpating in the blind tasting to see if in fact they could differentiate between what was being tested? ie: how was their hearing? Could they hear what was being asked of them?
Perhaps one of those men can chime in as they are well versed and can attempt to educate you. 

Keladrin -- Mon, 08/13/2012 - 08:25

MajesticG, sure it needs a bit of understanding to appreciate the real power of proper testing and many don’t appreciate what it’s all about. You certainly have to look at what is really going on when someone is forming an opinion about sound quality. Primarily the blind test attempts to clear up the contention as to whether claimed differences by some reviewer (or body) stands up to scrutiny if the personal circumstances, psychological and unreliable aspects of a test are taken out of the equation. It also take out all invention (you just can't fake the results if it is really is blind) so the obvious people to use are ones who claim to have the usual ‘golden ears’ – i.e. claims to hear differences in casual listening that others dispute. Note it is these ‘Golden Ear’ ‘experts that will poo-poo the test the most.

That’s why the so called ‘experts’ don’t like such a test as their previous God-like powers often evaporate. Audio comparisons are inherently difficult and open to much interpretation. Choosing the best way to assess audio is really an exercise in minimising the degree of subjective error that creeps into a casual review and there is no perfect test out there, it’s just that some are a hell of a lot better than others. Many I don’t treat with any credibility at all.

Going a bit off topic here so if you want to hear more of my views on testing they are in that section of the forum

Chris Martens -- Thu, 08/16/2012 - 15:43

Hi Keladrin (and other posters to this forum thread),

Just to offer some impetus for further discussion, I thought I might provide a link to web page where you can download a "White Paper" from Gingko Audio that, among other things, provides some empirical documentation (not subjective or observational impressions) of the effect of that firm's vibration control devices. Here's the link: (just click on the highlighted phrase "White Paper"). If nothing else, the white paper demonstrates that the benefits of vibration control systems are in some cases measurable and not just artifacts that exist solely in the mind of the listener/beholder.

[Note: The above reference should not be construed as an endorsement for Gingko products; it's simply a case where the firm offers a free white paper that makes for interesting and potentially eye-opening reading.]

For what it's worth, I'm an example of an audio journalist/reviewer who does see some merits in blind or double-blind tests, though I do have more than a few reservations about them. On the plus side, blind tests do, as you say, eliminate many possible sources of bias, which I think is a very good thing (after all, we want products that offer superior sound--not superior hype). On the not-so-positive side, blind test methodologies seem to be shaped more with an eye toward producing consistent (and thus publishable) results and less with an eye toward researching admittedly thorny/difficult questions in a revealing way. In short, I think double-blind tests often fail to ask, "Under optimal conditions, exactly what kinds of sonic differences could listeners potentially hear?" or to ask, "Of the differences that can be heard, which ones are the most musically significant and why?"

One small example: Many of the classic NRC (Canadian National Research Council) double-blind tests for loudspeakers call for test participants to evaluate single monaural speakers--simply because this procedure yields more consistent test results. There are several possible problems with this.

First, the methodology sidesteps the fact that most real-world listeners will use stereo pairs of speakers and glosses over the possibility that monaural listening test results may not necessarily track well with stereo listening test results.

Second, the methodology imposes serious biases against designs where speakers are deliberately designed as mirror-image left/right pairs (e.g., Magnepans, some MartinLogans, some ProAc designs, and more).

My point: Whenever you have scenarios where test methodologies prize consistency of outcomes over new knowledge and fresh insights, I think you could argue that science has--in those cases--failed to serve the listeners' best interests.

Best, Chris Martens

Chris Martens
Editor, Perfect Vision 

Keladrin -- Fri, 08/17/2012 - 10:37

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the info. I did look at the white paper and it goes into some detail about how well their product damps down vibration. I have no dispute about this and the fact that their product does a fantastic job in this respect. The point of contention to me is to do with the fact that they don't measure this vibration effect on the resultant sound and whether this (if indeed measurable) is actually audible - a crucial point. It's a kind of mis-direction that works for some people but not for me I'm afraid. The article starts with the phrase

'How vibration negatively affects good sound is a well-known and accepted phenomenon by some audiophiles.' and this premise itself is not tested. This is what is commonly disputed, not the fact that is possible to damp vibration to demonstratable low levels. It doesn't take a scientist to detect the trick here. Actually the complete lack of evidence they give to support this premise just about sums up the issue. This is typical of articles clearly labelled 'white paper' that are the result of a company trying to justify their audiophile breakthroughs.

As for blind testing having limited use. I would say you have to use them with a bit of intelligence and common sense. The issue is similar to the one outline above in that you have to be clear about what premise you are testing and why. They are certainly more useful than any other method you can come up with if the aim of the test is clearly identified and the test geared to assess that particular aspect. Actually trying to establish that there is no observable difference at all is the easiest scenario possible and that is the issue I am talking about here. Note a blind test does not necessarily have to be double-blind unless the fact that the testers knowin which system is which could possibly affect the result, for instance their being some complicated setup protocol that the tester could conceivably tweak to bias the result. This is certainly true for preparation of biological samples for instance where the test protocol procedure is a delicate part of every test sample setup and critical to the result. With audio you setup just once and it's either in line with the test plan or it isnt. A simple switch is all you need to change samples. Yes you need independant checks to ensure setup is sound, or they need to be done by independent bodies.

Yes your example of a flawed test is a good one. It is not that difficult to come up with a obviously flawed test but the controlled test has the capacity to outperform any other kind, by virtue of the fact that the alternative is not really a test at all, just personal subjective hearsay that ha s to be taken on faith, and certainly would not stand up in any kind of white paper, bogus or not.

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