Forum member Klippel listening test results

Having been consistently unable to hear differences between source components, I’ve suspected for a while that I’m less ‘acoustically gifted’ than many of the members of this forum, and I was therefore intrigued to see @Torq ’s and @GoldenSound 's Klippel listening test results. Both – and I’m sure this will come as no surprise to many of you – can, without error, identify the distorted sample down to (and presumably beyond) the lowest level of the test.

I’ve had a few goes and have scored as low as -42dB on a couple of attempts, but this evening, for whatever reason, I can’t get beyond -33dB, placing me in the modal group on the distribution curve. By this metric, we can say without qualification that @Torq and @GoldenSound can hear things that I can’t, and this is consistent with my anecdotal impressions of their reported experiences of headfi gear relative to my own.

For reference, my chain is 2017 iMac > RME ADI-2 DAC FS > Sennheiser HD 800S and Dan Clark Ether 2 (I have had a few tries with each).

I suspect this may be only of niche interest, but for those who are curious, I thought it would be worthwhile to create a thread where we can share our results. I’m personally curious to see if members’ scores align with my expectations of them, as well as whether, over time, any correlations between these scores and our preferences, appreciation of higher-end chains, etc. become apparent.


What I have found, as as I age, 69 now, my hearing is getting weaker at the upper ( 12khz) and the deep lower end. So now, I just enjoy the music the best I can.

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I’ll add mine here, so it’s in the most sensible place:

No fancy chain was used for that result; just the built-in headphone output on the latest MacBook Pro and a set of Etymotic ER-4XR.

Since it’s a distortion-audibility test, not a frequency test/audiogram, it’s broadly useful even for those with a greater or larger degree of age-related hearing loss.

One of the interesting things, for me, about this test is how much of a mockery it makes of the fetishization of ultra-low distortion DACs and amps (i.e. stuff with numbers down in the -115-120 dB range). But that’s another discussion.

I will say that, being able to hear distortion gets easier with practice. And once you know what you’re listening for, it’s not that hard to repeat.


First, thanks to @Reflect for starting this discussion.

Since I also have a pair of Ety ER-4XR, I am thinking of doing the same. Did you use the Etymotics because of their ability to shut out background noise?

Which MacBook Pro? Just curious. I have the 14.

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Nope, though that certainly wouldn’t hurt.

When I made the post, and did that pass on the test, I was down in Key West doing some sailing and diving etc., and all I had with me audio wise was the MacBook Pro, iPhone, the ER-4XR and both AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro.

I took a new 16" along on that trip, but I’ve got several of both the new 16" and 14" units, all maxed out.

I saw that new MacBook 13 with the M2. I think in a year or so, I might see what’s going on in mid-M2 generation.

Going to try the test with Etys and the 14 MacBook Pro. I was in a hurry when I got it, and was only able to get to a mid-level config. Would have had to wait 2 months for more hard drive. For my purposes, however, it’s just fine.

My initial results were not very good. -21 db, Then I took out the earphones and realized that my neighbor is doing woodworking and using a bench saw and other power equipment, which might have influenced the results. I ought to try again in a less noisy environment.

@Torq has an exceptionally well-trained ear.

WHEW - Moved to a much quieter location. A bit better. Playing with volume made a difference also.