Audio Porn Experiment Part #1 and #2

The other day, after comparing two power conditioners that produced very different sonic results in my system, and writing a Stereophile review, I decided to conduct an experiment.

Since the sound was so different, could it be recorded? And might people visiting analogPlanet’s YouTube channel hear the differences?

I twice recorded at 96/24 resolution a “happy tune”—Bert Kaempfert’s “Happy Feeling”—from a four song 12” 45rpm EP issued by the German Image Hifi magazine back in 2003 and cut from the original master tapes, supervised by Dirk Sommer. Once with all of my front end components plugged into one power conditioner, and once with all plugged into the other.

Then I made a video of the record being played and duplicated it, adding one of the high resolution files to each. I posted it on YouTube under the headline “Audio Porn Experiment!” and waited for the responses. I did not identify the variable (power conditioners), nor I did I name the brands. I also wrote that perhaps it was the same audio twice and that if a listener heard no difference, to please post that. You can read the responses and check out the video here and listen for yourself at that URL or by clicking on the embedded video below. When you post an HD video, YouTube’s audio compression is mild. Mild enough for many listeners to hear the differences are report pretty much what I’d written in my review, though which one preferred, as is often the case, was a matter of taste and system compatibility.

A few people reported that the second one seemed ‘louder’ and I responded that I’d heard one as being louder during the listening process not related to the recordings so I was not surprised.

However, the other day Stereophile editor John Atkinson checked out the experiment and analyzed the files. He found that, indeed, one recording was measurably louder by 2dB! I have no idea how this might have happened as I carefully repeated the recording process twice noting all possible parameters. In fact, I had originally recorded the track a few weeks ago and almost used the older one as one of the two, but I realized I hadn’t kept any notes about how levels had been set, etc. so instead, I started over and recorded the track twice.

What’s most fascinating about the responses is that dogma usually states that the louder and brighter sample has an unfair advantage and usually “wins” in a “head to head”, but look at the comments!

Meanwhile I have re-recorded the two tracks, doing it the same way and time the levels pretty well matched and I’m re-running the experiment on YouTube and now here on AnalogPlanet (where from the beginning, I probably should have run it as well).

I look forward to your comments!

Audio Porn Experiment Part 1
Audio Porn Experiment Part 2

COMMENTS
Stringreen's picture

I have never been able to get better sound with any conditioner I tried....different-yes, but always accompanied by warts of some kind. Noticeable after awhile.

Michael Fremer's picture
Definitely were preferable to the wall!
pessoist's picture

I'm no coiffeur, so I skip this. If the source is bad, replace it with something better if you have, before working on conditioning anything with complex or costly measures.
I use a Motorcycle LiFePo4 Battery that's connected to the wall and charged before/after, not while listening (disconnected, then).
I bet there's nothing more clean than that, Impulse Power, constant power, all there. Just play safe and use integrated Battery-Controllers and same manufacturer chargers to be on the safe side, avoiding overheatings and worse.
I use X-Racer from the Ducati MotoGP Sponsor Samauto/Unibat http://www.samautoitalia.com/en/prodotti.html
I bet Tesla and the sorts in USA have options for that, too.

ch601hds's picture

After extensive listening - both with speakers and headphones - we were able to discern no difference in the two tracks. This actually agrees with our conclusions in experiment 1, as we used an SPL meter to match sound levels, and heard no difference at that time. Our very first impression was that track 2 was slightly better defined within the complex passages. Experience has taught us not to trust first impressions, so we listened in various sequences, including blind testing. If there is a difference, we are not detecting it. Our testing included Chord DAVE -> LCD-X headphones, and DAVE -> McIntosh C1100 -> MC275 -> B&W 804D3 speakers. Fun test! :-)

Dorian Workman's picture

There's more than one of you? Or are you using the 'royal we'?

ch601hds's picture

Yep - my son and myself were the listeners.

ixtayul's picture

I preferred the first one in Part 1 and the 2nd one in Part 2 but the differences were much more subtle. In Part 2 the second file's instruments sounded more recognizable especially the little muffled horns in the right channel at around 5:15.

Ortofan's picture

... being seated in front of the black-and-white vacuum-tubed TV set, tuned to channel 5, and watching the Sandy Becker show:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIqoqUwg1fY

The audio track loses something without seeing Bert conducting:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9Wx8BRjzoI

Christian Goergen's picture

Listening with Ipad and a JBL E50BT headphone: example 2 delivers a little tighter bass, a little faster guitar chords and more precise handclaps in my opinion. Without the opportunity of a side by side comparison I couldn' t tell the difference. In both cases a nice piece of music from the past. But honestly, I would not pay money for the difference.

thomoz's picture

First pass was leaner and brighter, the second one had much better body in the mids and sounded "deeper". so the second pass wins.

thomoz's picture

I preferred the the first run through in the second video.

I sure wish you had used "Steppin' Pretty".
Yes, I listen to Bert on German vinyl all the time.
I have a boxed set.

HighNoon's picture

After coming back from a 40km cycle, I thought a little bit of Fremer on the tube, was just the ticket for a bit of relaxation. Both in the sense of You tube and the fact I still one use of those old analog tube pc screens. Although in my enuberated state, I wasn't sure if I would be able tell any difference. I was wrong. The first sounded great just as I remembered this tune only some what better than I'd ever heard it before. The second one seemed similar and to have had more obvious depth in the base, and air in the mids. I was also taking note of sounds, such as the hand claps, that I don't remember from the first one, and a very slight sounding cornet or muted trumpet in the right towards the end. Which was better? I would be happy with either one.