Well the problem is we are biological beings, if we where digital beings I think it would be easier for us..cause then our subjective experience would be more consistent, it is just too many factors that vary now...
That's just it -- we are biological, and emotional. Our expectations and desires exert more powerful influence over our perceptions than we realize.
When I was in college, several of my friends got together to do a large and very extensive blind tasting of beer. We tried something like 20 beers, all unidentified at the time of tasting, and rated them. All my friends and I considered ourselves beer-drinking enthusiasts, and though we were relatively impoverished like all college students, we had tried many kinds of beer before, and had strong biases and preferences
There were a few examples of beer with very distinctive taste or smell or appearance, which people were able to guess. Generally though, we were all completely shocked at the number of premium or import beers which were rated very low, and the number of cheaper or no-name beers which rated very high. It was really eye-opening. In many cases, some of us rated beers that we THOUGHT we liked, very near the bottom.
This was when the microbrew and craft brewing phenomenon was just getting started, so the most premium beer you could buy in a bottle at that time was Sam Adams (and of course our test didn't involve draft beers, since it was conducted at my friend's house). For example St. Pauli Girl and Rolling Rock were both considered very premium beers at this time, and were rated among the lowest of all beers.
Blitz, which was the low-budget version of Henry Weinhard's, and Bohemian which was a borderline generic beer (not the expensive import of the same name) both rated very highly by everyone.
This was a really eye-opening experience for me, and all my friends too. There was no denying the fact that our preferences were based much less on taste, and more on brand perception, label, and other factors.
I believe the same is true of blind listening tests. Certainly different pieces of gear can have different sound. But very much of what we BELIEVE sounds different from one to the next is either no difference at all, or a difference so small that it can hardly be said to be worth paying for.
This isn't because people are assholes or dishonest or snobs (well, maybe a little bit of snobbery), but because of what I said above -- our expectations and desires exert more powerful influence over our perceptions than we realize.
regarding hedd, are you just talking about the converter ?
I think people do not buy it for that in first hand but for the processing...the processing elements are not so subtle..they are quite big. atleast from the samples I have heard.but to be honest I have not heard it in person...I might have the same experience as you, but as many of these tools the difference are in the metaphysical level, depends on how much focus you pay on the "small dots" where all dots represent a detail.
Again, I'm not saying the HEDD didn't sound different. Well, as a pure AD/DA without the harmonic effects stuff, I can't claim that I ever heard any improvement. The harmonic effects were noticeable, certainly. I never meant to argue that the HEDD 192 wasn't capable of coloring or shifting the sound. It was very subtle, though, and in the end, I was able to create more of a difference by running the signal through a piece of tube gear or applying a tiny bit of EQ.
There was a difference, but was it a $3,600 difference? Not for me. You can be all kinds of plugins that do similar things, and for my purposes, some of them are just as useful when it came down to actual sound -- not just expectations based on expense and exoticism.