I was sitting in the pub a few years ago and overheard a conversation between two audio engineers. They had been drinking for a few hours and had reached the point of grand challenges & wagers.
"I can assemble a music reproduction system that can fool any listener in a double blind test .... with full symphony orchestra" said the man to his friend.
"It can't be done!" said his friend, "you simply can't get a flat enough speaker response!" he continued
"It can be done!" the man replied with vigour, "I'll wager my jaguar v12 on it"
"I accept", said the friend, "and I will wager my precious fairchild 660 limiter - both equal classics I think you will agree. Now let us consider the terms"
"Well, it shall be double blind - in the best traditions of scientific research" said the man
"Agreed. I would like to take your jaguar in the fairest possible manner" said the friend, imagining himself driving the car, the scent of engine oil almost tangible.
"Indeed", the man replied, "and to make the test fair, you will chose the listening panel"
"Well!", exclaimed the friend with excitement, "you had better give me the keys to the jaguar right now! I happen to be a very good friend of Romy the Cat. There need be no other on the panel! I will arrange for him to attend! You will need the very best microphones and speakers in the world!"
"Very well", said the man, "I will arrange the rest. Please await my summons to the test by the late post tomorrow afternoon".
So the man and his friend parted ways and made preparations for the test, the friend very happy in the knowledge that he would soon own a pristine jaguar v12 in racing green.
When the next day arrived, the friend was eagerly awaiting the postman with intructions of the test. A letter arrived with instructions:
"The test is constructed. I have arranged for the Moscow State Symphony to serve as live sound source. Please bring your listening subject to this address."
Where followed an obscure address and a meeting time.
So the friend went, together with his listening panel to the address.
As they arrived at the given address they were amazed to find that the place was a vast dried salt lake. At one end of the salt lake was an old leather chair with a velvet blindfold hanging from one arm.
Just at the same moment the man turned up in his jaguar with a trailer in tow. He climbed out of the car and drew back a tarpaulin. In the trailer was an array of tattered equipment including a pair of battered old Altec-Lansing Voice of the Theatre Horn speakers, a 60 watt Western Electric amplifier, a single RCA ribbon microphone and a cheap DAT machine (complete with noisy & distorted pre-amp).
"I bought the whole lot at auction for £150 - direct from an old dubbing stage in Bombay" he exclaimed casually as he replaced the tarpaulin securely and got back into his car.
As he drove into the distance the friend was left in a state of confusion. This was hardly perfectly callibrated state-of-the-art equipment.
Five miles north of the chair the now slightly salty Moscow State Symphony was tuning up as the man began checking levels on the LED meters of the DAT machine.....
Poor Romy took his seat and placed the blindfold over his eyes.....there was a slight breeze.....