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"Shedding light by means of the combustion of snake oil"

Training Room


This page offers audio-technical listener training.
If musical-artistic listener training is what you are looking for,
please left click here to go to www.good-ear.com.

If you wish to download these sample files from the following hyperlinks with your web browser,
you will probably have to right-click the hyperlink text
and select the "Save Target As" (Internet Explorer)
or select the "Save Link As" (Netscape Navigator) option.

Please read this license that covers all the music files on this site.

Windows users can download a free program that makes comparison tests easy and scientific
by clicking here .

 

How To Train Yourself To Be
A Sensitive, Reliable Listener

The purpose of this page is to provide listening comparisons of various kinds and increasing difficulty for the purpose of listener training. A key component of the training program is the PCABX Comparator which you can download by left-clicking here.

If you left-click here, you will find an "AES 20" form that may help you quantify sound quality.

Please start at the upper left hand corner of the table at the bottom of this page and work down the column. Once you have finished a column, move to the top of the next column to the right. 

Each "Training Session" relates to a kind of audible difference. Each "Training Session" is a column in the table. 

Each "Training Session" is a column of of  tests ranging in difficulty to hear reliably from "Very easy" to "Might be Impossible". Each test is composed of a pair of "Reference" and "Test" samples. You need to download, compare and reliably identify each pair using the PCABX Comparator (which you can download by clicking here).

For best results start at the top of each column of tests, and download the first pair of "Reference" and "Test" samples. Then listen and learn to reliably detect the difference between the samples using the PCABX Comparator. Your goal should be to obtain 1% or less "Probability You Were Guessing" , as calculated by the PCABX Comparator. More specifically, you should try for 14 correct answers out of 16 trials.  Once you have achieved 1% or less "Probability You Were Guessing", move down the column to the next pair of files.

If you run into extreme difficulty with samples rated "Difficult" or harder, please feel free to move to he next "Training Session" which starts at the top of the next  column to the right.

If you have difficulty completing any samples rated "Difficult" or easier, please consider upgrading your playback system including loudspeakers, sound card, amplifier and listening environment. Please see  the sidebar titled  "What Makes A Good Sound System For PCABX?".

Remember that as you approach your personal limit of audibility, you probably won't hear a distinct difference. As you approach this point shut your eyes, control the PCABX Comparator with the "A", "B", and "B" keys on the keyboard, and imagine that you are hearing a difference. You will probably be successful for at least one more level of difficulty.

You will do better in a quiet, undisturbed environment. Please see  the sidebar titled  "The Importance of Silence...".

The more difficult tests require levels of hearing acuity that not every person has. Some people may have physical hearing problems that they are not aware of. 

Many listeners  are simply inexperienced with reliably hearing differences in a blind listening test, and will find the additional effort required to complete the training to be very worthwhile. 

If you are having problems with any samples rated "Difficult" or easier but are satisfied that your listening equipment is good enough, you may proceed to the other training sessions, but you may have additional difficulties with most if not all of them. You may also have difficulties with tests in the "Product" and "Technical" listening rooms. 

All of the training sessions are based on tests from other Listening Rooms at www.pcabx.com. Not every listening test on this site can be completed with a high confidence level. The bottom row of this table is a collection of listening tests that few if any listeners can complete with a high confidence level.

When you complete the tests on this page to the best of your ability, please proceed to one of the other listening rooms using the hyperlinks below the table.

Good Luck!

 

What Makes A Good Sound System For PCABX? 

  • (Minimum) Sound Blaster Live! or "Audigy" (better) sound card and Monsoon 1000 speakers, or equal or better competitive products from other manufacturers. 
  • Headphones are a fine alternative to loudspeakers. PCABX's technical staff recommends the use of quality headphones such as the Sennheiser HD-580,  Sony MDR 7506 headphones, or Etymotic ER-4B earphones.
  • Adequate or Better Analog) Midiman "Audiophile 24/96", Echo "Mia", or Turtle Beach "Santa Cruz" sound card; good Pioneer, Kenwood,  equivalent or finer stereo receiver or separate components and speakers equal or better to the KEF Q15's, NHT S1's, or competitive speakers from Polk, Paradigm or PSB and other manufacturers of better loudspeakers. Operate in pure stereo mode (no surround). 
  • (Adequate Or Better Digital) Midiman DIO 2448,  "Audiophile 24/96", Echo "Mia", or Turtle Beach "Santa Cruz" sound card; good Pioneer, Kenwood,  equivalent or finer stereo receiver or separate components with digital input (i.e., a Dolby Digital receiver) and speakers equal or better to the  KEF Q15's, NHT S1's, or competitive speakers from Polk, Paradigm or PSB and other manufacturers of better loudspeakers. Operate in pure stereo mode (no surround). 
  • (Professional) Midiman Delta Series, later-production Echo Layla24 or Gina24; DAL CardD Deluxe, LynxONE or LynxTWO  sound card, self-powered professional  studio monitors like those from Mackie, Event, Vergence/NHT Pro, JBL, etc.
  • Some sound cards can drive headphones directly with low distortion, eliminating the need for an extra amplifier. High-impedance, high quality headphones like the Sennheiser HD-580 facilitate this. For example, I've had good results while  listening with HD-580s directly attached to the output a Card Deluxe and a LynxTWO.

 

The Importance Of Silence
To Critical Listening Using A PC

Quietness and solitude might be the most essential ingredients of any environment for sensitive and reliable listening. PC's are generally relatively noisy devices and therefore reduction and/or isolation of PC noise is critical if you desire the most sensitive and reliable possible results. 

In the opinion of the PCABX technical staff, the best methodology for PC noise reduction is removal of the PC from the listening environment using high quality extension cables for the monitor, keyboard, mouse, and sound system. CRT cables are the most critical part of this strategy. Ordinary commodity lightweight CRT cables will visibly degrade your CRT's display. Better-quality heavier shielded cables can provide acceptable results.

Since most PC sound cards have relatively low output impedances, extending audio cables 25 or 50 feet should not be a source of audible degradation.

   

 

Degree of Difficulty in Hearing Differences

Type of Audible Difference

Tone Quality

Loudness

Noise, Distortion

Distortion Articulation
Very Easy Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample
Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample
Easy Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample
Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample
Harder Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample
Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample
Difficult Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample
Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample
Might Be Impossible Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample Right Click Here to Download Reference Sample
Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample Right Click Here to Download Test Sample

Dips, Pips, and Tips (Additional files to train your ears with)

Click here to audition  technical demonstrations by returning to the PCABX Technical Listening Room

Click here to audition audio products in the PCABX Product Listening Room.


Windows users can download a free program that makes comparison tests easy and scientific
by clicking here

This page was  created on 06/25/2000.

This page was  last updated on 01/26/2005 .

(c) Copyright 2000,2002,2005 Arnold B. Krueger, All rights reserved

Questions? Please contact the webmaster, chief cook, and bottle-washer: Arny Krueger.