Last week was CES/T.H.E. Show, and since that offered us a steady stream of audiophiles upon which to perform our evil experiments, we tried a few things.
One thing we tried...
We had a second-room system made up of a Modwright CD/SACD player (made by Dan Wright) and a Ferguson Hill smaller speaker system. The Ferguson Hills are an 'active' system, with the Modwright feeding right into their own 'intergrated' amp for the speakers.
We had a pair of "Brand X" mass produced interconnects that were already 'burned in' and known to work just fine and Purist Audio Design kindly loaned us a pair of their interconnects.
We used Kind of Blue as our reference material and had people listen to an entire cut with one set of interconnects, and then the same cut with the other pair. We alternated which interconnect went first.
Only the person changing the interconnects knew which was which at any given moment, and we changed people doing the changing so there would be less chance of a 'tell' if one person did it every time.
We had 100% repeatability, 'accuracy,' and preference for the Purist Audio design interconnect.
Obvious improvement in spatial representation (imaging) and feeling of air around instruments. This was commented upon without prompting and with different listening groups. For many trials, I was not even in the room and did not discuss what was happening.
Then we tried the same thing with a smaller sample size comparing my Straightwire Maetros with the Purist Audio Design, and this time we had the same group of a half dozen listeners stay and keep track of preferences with multpile changes.
The opinion was split as to which was now preferred, but the preferences stayed locked in place. Each person's preference was consistent between the two cables.
I've had the Straightwires for years, I know they 'work right,' and although there were differences of opinion as to which interconnect people preferred, the ability to consistently 'prefer' a cable stayed in place with changes.
So, then, we tried the "Brand X" interconnects between the Esoteric DV50S in the main room's system - no complaints, and we didn't tell anybody anything. We were just listening for ourselves.
The next day, we put in the Purist Audio design and we had listeners from the previous day come back and spontaneously offer, "The system sounds better today. You got it locked in now!"