February 28th, 2005



So I spend a surprising amount on audio equipment.

I've got one pair of the 4th best headphones around - I used to have two, but one of them got stolen. I replaced it with the 3rd best. (The 2nd costs over $1500 - the 1st, add another zero to the end. Even I'm not that crazy.) I've also got this little headphone amp which was surprisingly pricey considering how much electronics is in it. But they claimed it would fix the blobs in your head effect that I'd noticed and been highly annoyed by, and there were tons of good reviews, so I bought one and tried it out and deeply loved it. (I need to get one for home too.)

The blobs-in-your-head fixer is disableable so you can turn it off and on and compare. Every once in a while I decide to try it out again so I can verify that I paid good money. Of course these always have the double-blind problem - I know when I'm turning it on and off, so I'm never entirely certain whether it's really better or whether I'm just imagining things.

So today I turned it off, then sat there listening to music with lots of stereo separation flipping it on and off and I couldn't tell the difference.

Obviously this is disturbing.

(1) Has my amp broken? (2) Was I deluding myself this entire time? (3) Am I deluding myself now somehow?

And so eventually I gave up with a sigh, and . . .

. . . one brief interjection - along with the "process" switch there's also a "filter" switch that just turns on a treble boost, since a somewhat unintentional effect of the sound processing is to add a little bass boost . . .

. . . flipped the other switch to bring it back up to full operational mode and suddenly it sounded a whole hell of a lot better and wasn't giving me a headache anymore.

So I looked at it carefully and realized I'd been sitting there toggling the "filter" switch, not the "process" switch like I'd thought.


Who needs a double-blind test? We have complete incompetence!

I need to get one of those for home.