The main and primary objective of this web site is to gather the maximum valid information about Hifi components and submit as many components as possible to a series of experimental comparisions based on a scientific method, based on a repeatable system for the public anytime, anywere, under the most rigourous conditions.
We intend to obtain a data base of equipments so we can obtain the real performance and quality of the item submitted to the test.
Obviously, the producers and importers or distributors will not lend us the equipments to be submitted to any kind of such objective testing so the idea is to obtain as many as possible private owners to allow us to conduct such tests- the more tested, the better we’ll be able to enlarge the list of tested material, not only under bench test but also (most importantly) audible tests.
Needless to say that we are only a group of HiFi enthusiasts and as such we seek the excelency as much as anyone, but the real and truthful excelency is only found through blind test with exhaustive control of the external enviroment.
Some people accuses us to prentend having everything sounding equal, but nothing further from the truth: the results of our investigations may be to some extent of great impact but we try sucessfully to not have any influence on the results and position ourselves as neutrally as possible.
We insist in that we are eagerly interested to find differencies in between components, but the evidence so far is impossible to ignore and the economical cost of a wrong purchase is, in HiFi, very high, so if we can avoid a single dollar to be misspent, we’ll have achieved something.
In Western, English-speaking societies today, the term "esotericism" has come to informally mean any knowledge that is difficult to understand or remember, such as theoretical physics, or that pertains to the minutiae of a particular discipline, such as "esoteric" baseball statistics.
Very clear, isn’t it? We only need to cast a look around to understand how the hifi media works: musical reproduction, what we call High Fidelity, es dominated by ocultism, mysticism, esotericism.
The lack of objective and provable information makes it difficult for the average person without technical knowledge to interpret or understand what’s really behind the scenes, leading him or her to believe without hesitation what they are told by the “knowledgeable”, whom again hopes to get their followers as any preacher-to-be would.
It’s been like it for a long time. The new enthusiast, eager to learn, to get information, finds it where it’s obvious it’ll be available: the hifi publications. Sad thing is that all there is available are explicit AND subliminal advertisements (being the subliminal ones the most destructive and least constructive). Logically, it is like this in all commercial publications, they relay on the advertisements to survive even more than the price on the street of the magazine itself.
But not only the magazines are the problem: amongst the enthusiasts, it is common to find a tendency to be attracted to and by the “esoteric” type: It goes hand to hand with certain brands, and of course, the assumption that higher prices means higher quality, when more often than not, tremendous price differencies in between components doesn’t even makes the slightest difference in terms of quality, let alone in sound.
The very same enthusiasts, “self-made” via the magazines, are the ones whom spread the word as certain, without having taken the time or the effort to try and prove it by themselves.
WHAT IS MATRIXHIFI?
It’s born as the pendulum-effect of all of the above. Some of us, enthusiast to the musical reproduction as well, have been able to try, compare, and confirm that the conventional information trend is not consistent with the reality. It was enough to apply the good old Blind Testing to understand the amount of twisted information that is handed over to us.
We believe that the ocultism and esotericism has no room in our hobby. Everything has an explanation from a rationale point of view.
What we try to do is develop proveable and repeatable methodology to obtain valid information and to get the needed knowledge of the elements needed to achieve what commercialy is called “high end”, the “non plus ultra”, only to the right price.
Therefore, in www.matrixhifi.com, we intend to explain through theorical arguments the basis of all of the practical tests we conduct, so it becomes understandable to everybody, without any shadow of esotericism.
Each and every current section of this web site and the ones to come in the future will carry what we fancy to call the “matrix touch”, that is, using a non conventional, non commercial approach but instead shown through our own perspectives, as neutral as can be possibly done.
We hope that this web site may succeed to convey a new approach to our hobby, and help others to learn and experience by themselves what we intend to prove.
Since it was born, the world of hifi has been dominated by the general idea that the quality in music reproduction is directly proportional to its price. Difficulties to test and try different systems along with the enourmous facility with wich our own sonic memory tricks all of us has allowed, along with other surrounding circumstances, the consolidation of a hifi cult based on interested propositions by the marketing departments and the brand distributors, importers and sales points. From that point of view, the hifi has been depraved, sistematically and on purpouse, of the one and only objective and trustworthy way to evaluate the quality and performance of a system.
How come we have reached such a stadium where the vast mayority of hifi enthusiasts accepts as truthful any information that may not be such, without hesitation?
a) The information source:
Generally, the average enthusiast gets involved in the hifi cult by means of specialized magazines or by sales people at specialized high end stores. All what she/he learns is conditioned by what he is told and what is written by those two sources. The user or buyer-to-be grants honesty and fidability to these words and will not question himself the existance of other methods to obtain the knowledge he seeks. It is, to a certain extent, only logical that all the cultural universe imposed from the very beggining by those means will be accepted as is, we are talking of a closed environment of value and judgment.
We could conclude that the inertia provocated by the information sources nullifies his or her search of other non contemplated possibilities, wich is absolutely natural and filled with logic. It is hard to doubt about something that has been subliminally injected from the beggining, but even harder still is to doubt about something we were never told could be observed. If the possibility of having something else to contemplate has been denied, it is impossible for the enthusiast to imagine there are other, more rational explanations, to the hifi world.
b) Social pressure (or status):
Everybody knows the legend of the Emperor whom was sold an invisible suit that only could be seen by the intelligent ones…Well, that’s the main basis of the current HiFi culture nowadays. The first experiments carried within modern socio-psicology based on social pressure about the opinion making in ambigous stimulating circumstances (Sheriff, 1935) showed an unequivocal ambiental influence that surrounds an individual when making desicions. In the ‘60s other works carried by social psycologists were published, confirming those theories about the opinion convergency of an individual about the group (Sohdi & Cranach, 1963), but it was Ash whom carried a serial of test that would finally confirm the odd but evident tendency of an isolated individual to cast an opinion modelled by the group even though that opinion would be against his own perception. Ash was able to demostrate that against an ambigous stimulation (it may well be an audition between hifi systems with little to none differences) the individual has the tendency to reply what the mayority of the group says, even if he’s perceiving it differently. The analogy to this is when the sales person tells us “can’t you see how much better this sounds now? How much more transparency was gained? Don’t you perceive the enhanced openess of the sound now?” And even more so when the hifi culture is acting as a powerful social means of pressure: the enthusiast tends to asimilate the criteria of the majority as his own, since the judgment is already stablished by a scale of values untouchable within the hifi world.
It’s rare and seldom to recognize this influence as a real fact, there is a tendency to grant to the subject an independence degree higher than what really has, as Milgram (1965) would show on his famous experiments about jailors and immates in wich only a 0.1% of the individuals consulted would agree on applying a 450v charge to another individual but, in reality, it was a full 62% whom indeed applied the discharge.
The social pressure cannot be ruled out of the mind of the enthusiasts since not only are contributing to this the people who’s preconditioning the individual, it’s needed to factor in the individual’s own hifi culture that has generated a patron of conduct consolidated through years and years of exposure to this phenomenum. It is not enough to be alone at home to carry different tests, it’s also neeeded to be able to escape from the prejudices and the inner pressure acquired throughout the years. However, at this level it is possible to still avoid the cultural imposition and being able to open up to alternative opinions.
c) Cognitive Dissonance:
Cognitive Dissonance (L. Festinger)
According to cognitive dissonance theory, there is a tendency for individuals to seek consistency among their cognitions (i.e., beliefs, opinions). When there is an inconsistency between attitudes or behaviors (dissonance), something must change to eliminate the dissonance. In the case of a discrepancy between attitudes and behavior, it is most likely that the attitude will change to accommodate the behavior.
Two factors affect the strength of the dissonance: the number of dissonant beliefs, and the importance attached to each belief. There are three ways to eliminate dissonance: (1) reduce the importance of the dissonant beliefs, (2) add more consonant beliefs that outweigh the dissonant beliefs, or (3) change the dissonant beliefs so that they are no longer inconsistent.
Dissonance occurs most often in situations where an individual must choose between two incompatible beliefs or actions. The greatest dissonance is created when the two alternatives are equally attractive. Furthermore, attitude change is more likely in the direction of less incentive since this results in lower dissonance. In this respect, dissonance theory is contradictory to most behavioral theories which would predict greater attitude change with increased incentive (i.e., reinforcement).
Consider someone who buys an expensive car but discovers that it is not comfortable on long drives. Dissonance exists between their beliefs that they have bought a good car and that a good car should be comfortable. Dissonance could be eliminated by deciding that it does not matter since the car is mainly used for short trips (reducing the importance of the dissonant belief) or focusing on the cars strengths such as safety, appearance, handling (thereby adding more consonant beliefs). The dissonance could also be eliminated by getting rid of the car, but this behavior is a lot harder to achieve than changing beliefs.
Traditional HiFi enthusiasts percieves his beliefs as a counterposition to the more theorically and subjective scientific proofs that can be shown to him. Within his already firm attitude there is no room to other information that is not accepted beforehand. They choose to ignore all this and cast themselves in the search of the most surrealists arguments to not concede the least possibility to the objective reality that is offered to him that menaces to destroy his own perception of preestablished opinions. This generates anxiety and a tendency to become agressive, he feels attacked personally and being the object of some kind of persecution. He shuts down himself to the evident that creates a whole new set of dialectic subjetivism in order to not grant entry to the new information that is frontally opposed to his. He develops a ferreous auto defense mecanism applied to refuse sistematically any and all arguments that are not coincident with his own subjective view of the hifi world.
The combination and interaccion of all three mecanisms may lead as a result a kind of unique perception from the scientific and the psicological point of view. Is curious how a phenomenum so common and innocent per definition, can cause such deep impact on people’s behaviour, making them to perceive as truth a full set of fictitious facts. We talk of the powerful effect called Suggestion. Also called Placebo effect, very much dealt with and by medicine.
It is such the entity of this phenomenum that it is able to generate monsters, horrible demons, aliens, ghosts, reincarnated persons, etc. etc. All of this is, of course, within the mind of those whom suffer of this curious psyco effect. If men can see, swear and die with beyond doubt that they actually see all these appereances, how could we ignore this effect to be present also when dealing with less trascendental matters such as listening to music?
But the most amazing part of the suggestion is not the phenomenum itself, but that once carried the demostration of the false facts, the subject, possesed by this powerful syndrome of the human psicology, still denies the evidence and keeps swearing that within his own he felt and saw what he says he did. His mind is so ferrously convinced to his convictions that he’ll keep on going “yet it moves”.
And here we are not denying what the subject believes, that he keeps on his memory what he thinks he believes and says to perceive. Here we are not dealing with a blatant lie, but something much more complex and hard to explain. Something that forces our man to keep viewing and listening to with total accuracy and reality what his own rationality denies time and time again by means of physical evidence, by demostrating that there is no such appereance or demons or sound difference.
Suggestion marks us deep. To a greater or lesser extent, we all go through some episodes of this phenomenum.
Whether because of the need to believe in something, or not, or by the defense mecanisms that comes into factor when trying to stand by our own beliefs. Whatever, but we all do fall victims of the suggestion.
What we try to convey is that those of us whom are not really lost completely and still do not see demons or ghosts, step back and take distance when we feel the warm and welcoming arms of the allmighty suggestion. It’s easy to let one go, as a syren chant, smiling to our own thinking we are hearing those infinitesimal differences in the notes and tunes of a song, but if you’d rather stop spending and wasting a tremendous amount of $ take the hard and rough path to the objectivity and the empyrical test. To those who are not yet totally lost in the suggestion limbo, we write these words, some others may say “what for? I couldn’t care less objectivity!” “Who the heck said I cared about the truth?” “Is now not allowed to dream or have our own audio-illusions?” “C’mon, I’m happy fooling myself, if I’m happy to live in Suggestion Land, who has the right to deny me that happyness?” And certainly, we cannot do anything nor we have any answers to offer to them, other than think of them as voluntary victims of the suggestion.
Within their own excessive of fanatical negation of reality, hard core traditional enthusiasts generates a string of arguments disassociated of common sense but they maintain with an appereance of reacionality as the last resource to try keeping inner coherence of their own convictions. Those arguments are what we tag them as chimeric. These are arguments that by means of his childish degree of irrationality are easily recognized and spotted by anyone, but it still keeps a remote and theorical mathematical probability of being truth in a desperate intent of demostrating what it is impossible to demostrate. There is a whole set of chimeric arguments related to the defense of the common hifi culture, some we are showing here for your delight:
1) Galileo Argument (“Yet it moves”)
The base of this argument is to say, after all kind of tests, trials, comparisions and irrefutable demostration that inspite off all and even if the subject has approved the tst conditions and validity of said testings, keeps saying that he perceives diffreences between the components subject of the trial. Recognizes the validity of the test but cannot-will not believe the results.
2) Blinkin’ Bill’s Argument (“now I see you, now I don’t”)
Arguments related to the negative results of a blind test and remind of the old joke:
“Yo Bill, I think a signal blinker is not working, would you check please?
Bill jumps out of the car, goes around its back and yells: “not it works, now it don’t”…
When a person says that after obtaining a result of 50% on a blind test is because half of the times he perceived differences and the other half he didn’t, is balooney. One variation of this example could be “to demonstrate that 2 components sounds equal to each other, we must fail 100% of the times”. No comments…
3) Heisenberg Argument: (“while blind testing I can’t perceive differencies, but without blind testing I do”)
Ingenious yet ridiculous argument that, as Heisenberg, is based on the fundament taht the observer has influence over the observed, that is, is the person that when offered to confirm what he perceives via a blind test, he back pedals saying that he cannot concentrate enough to detect said differences… He even goes to say that he can’t even do it while alone in his own enviroment because he is a victim of the anxiety the test produces to him so he can’t relax, hence, cannot perceive differencies. In this particular case, it’ll never be possible to demostrate him nor he himself by means of objectivism if he really detects or not the differences he so strongly insists he hears.
4) Jacob’s ladder Argument (“we need more proof”)
The subject practices a blind test and accepts its results as truthful for that test, but go on adding more and more obstacles as in Jacob’s ladder until the entire test becomes in a unnatainable pile of exhorbitant and crazy demands to give the test validity. The top of the ladder usually becomes one of the previous arguments, that is in case we obtained and satisfied each and every one of his/her demands for the test. Examples: there are no differences perceivable because of the room acoustics, then because of a certain piece of equipment, then because of the method, then because of the fatigue, then because of the music chosen not being of his like or what he’s used to listen, then because he needs months of listening to detect and consolidate the acustic memory, then because the cables weren’t the same, then because the testing comitee wasn’t approved beforehand, then because a fly was disturbing the room acoustics…and so no “ad eternum”:..
5) Sentimental Argument: (“ Well, I feel it and that’s it!”)
Those who sustain, swear across their hearts and in front of a jury that they detect differences but under no circumstances will allow to be part of any objective method since, according to themselvs, the music is about emotions and subjetivism, hence, it’s not possible to be measured in scientific terms, not even to find differencies in between components. They deny the validity of the blind test but they don’t know why, really, calling upon subjective matters and emotional states of mind…
6) Demagogic Argument: (“everything’s subjective, nothing’s absolute”)
With blocks of complex arguments mixed togheter in a brain salad in wich the object is to make a phylosophical study about the validity of science integrated within the society to demostrate that nothing’s absolute and that is impossible to arrive to any valid conclussions by means of any objective scientific test (…) is what we call “the total recourse”
The demagogic arguments can derivate in furious attacks against the persons but hidden with a thick layer of pseudo-philosophycal twists to give the impression of coherence and sustainability. In these complexed verbal excercise, the individual tends to not argumentate against nothing, simply launches an attack to the person directly creating a curtain of dialectically dense (but hollow) trying to discualify demagogically (from their self erected superior philosophycal position) to whomever gives the option to cast a look to the HiFi world in an alternative way.
BACK TO MATRIX-HIFI