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The Great Debate: Is Anyone Winning?

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In 1980 Dan Shanefield and High Fidelity magazine startled the American audio community with a double blind amplifier comparison test in which listeners failed to identify power amplifiers by sound alone. Battle lines were quickly drawn and the controversy over whether amplifiers sounded different from each other became known as "The Great Debate.": The Debate still rages. Each new test brings a renewed surge of posturing, name-calling and data interpretation. The controversy has spread to accessories such as CD Rings and audio cables and heated interaction has been conducted over the validity and reliability of the teststhemselves. In spite of the urgent and strong feelings the topic raises blind tests continue to be conducted with regularity.: This paper simply presents a compilation of the twenty-two blind and double blind listening tests of power amplifiers for which numerical results have been published. There is a rather large collection of data which contains some surprising information and ultimately confirms that one side of the debate seems to have a commanding lead.

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