Rob Watts on listening tests March 28, 2016 Chord Electronics's legendary designer, Rob Watts, has finally penned his first Headfi Blog post - and tackled the tedious: listening tests. We are listening with recordings for which we do not know the original performance, the recording acoustic environment, nor do we know the equipment it was recorded with, the mastering chain, nor the source, DAC, amplifier, HP or loudspeaker performance in isolation. We are listening to a final result through lots of unknown unknowns. I can remember once hearing an original Beatles master tape played on the actual tape machine it was recorded with, using the actual headphones they used. It sounded absolutely awful. But then I was also lucky enough to hear Doug Sax mastering at the mastering labs - the equipment looked awful - corroding veroboard tracks on hand made gear - but it sounded stunning. So we are dealing with considerable uncertainty when doing listening tests. Its even more of a problem when designing products - how do you know that you are not merely optimizing to suit the sound of the rest of your system rather than making fundamental improvements to transparency? How can you be certain that a perceived softness in bass for example, is due to reduction in aberrations (more transparent) or increase in aberrations (less transparent). Source: Watt's Up...? post #11Thread: Whats Up...?