In another thread on another topic Audiophile Realist wrote:
"Are the differences perceived magnified or diminished based upon or preconceived notions of value? I'll propose it again - price and brand has a profound affect on our perception of performance. "
"It seems likely to me that price and brand impact perception. The way in which that perception works and the way in which it changes over time is worth noting. First, price and brand affect expectations. For example, I have had many good experiences over time with Audio Research gear. So, when a new ARC product arrives for review, I'm human and I tend to think "this could be good" and I happily insert the product into my test rig. In ARC's case, if the new product is less than amazing, I tend to be a little disappointed. With another brand, say one I don't know about (and where I frequently don't know the price -- something I usually get only after the review is drafted), my expectations are lower. This happened with the Spectron class D amp. It did some exceptional things, and with low expectations, I initially thought I had discovered the holy grail.
But over time, these thoughts tend to diminish, and the multi-factor reality of the product comes to dominate. I, and some other reviewers, use specific procedures to help with this. One I really like is to use review equipment for regular daily music listening. I tend to have multiple products of a type on hand (this is hardest with big speakers), and I simply see which I want to listen to outside of the review context. Then I ask why? Usually the reasons are quite clear and firmly rooted in sonic performance. Of course I could be deluding myself and everything could come from my price/brand preconceptions. But this idea doesn't square very well with having the urge to go listen to disc after disc on a piece of gear. Nor does it square very well with other listeners describing the sound of my test gear in similar terms to my notes, given that they don't know what gear is being used."