Well...I got a call from Mark today...he launched into a 15 minute description of how and why the power cable can have an impact in the listening quality of an amplifier...nothing he said could I dispute...it made perfect sense.
And I and numerous other people can explain why he can't and also why he would think he could. And it would make perfect sense as well. A sensible explanation does not mean he, or anyone else can tell the difference about something or conversely that they can't
tell the difference. What does make that determination is a controlled double blind study.
I understood that he (and other like audiophiles) COULD tell the difference...
Think they can. They can't actually, and they never have. No one has ever
distinguished a power cable in a double blind study. And as stated already, if Mark can there is $1M waiting for him at the Randi foundation.
If you are not familiar with the Randi foundation it would be a valuable learning experience to take some time: http://www.randi.org/
While the foundation has added a number of audiophile claims to their foundation prize that's mostly an amusing side show. The central points of the foundation are much more fundamental to our society and simply being an engaged, understanding and aware human. The educational material and demonstrations there tend to be rather eye opening to most people, most of us don't realize just how fallible our senses and even logical perception really are.
The fact that Mark's analogies don't resinate with you says as much about you as it does about Mark.
I know you aren't addressing me here, but I wanted to point out they do resonate deeply. They show he doesn't understand proper objective evaluation or testing methods. The analogies he's made are in fact deeply meaningful to his erroneous conclusions in other parts of the articles. Things start on sound footing (early CD's were poor, though actually that was more the recorders and players than the CD media and encoding itself, THD is not a valid psycho- acoustic metric) and then move to unfounded ridiculousness (I can tell the difference between a power cord and a month old power cord). Similarly, we start with the eye is very sensitive and lens tests and sensor tests do not tell the whole story of what the eye can see and then move on to MF vs APS-C is visible in an 800x600 image.
But don't lose sight of the obvious...to the refined palette, small differences matter a lot.
That is the obvious point. But it isn't Mark's. Mark's is everything
matters including things that testing with human subjects has shown it doesn't!
I've yet to actually visit Mark's "listening room" yet, but he has promised to raid his wine cellar when I do show up. I'll let you know what I think of his wine...(actually, rather looking forward to it :~).
Despite what a lot of us are saying, do visit his "listening room". I'm sure he has some amazing equipment there and if you haven't heard some high end audio systems it is worth it. From the sounds of it he has some silly stuff in there, but it won't hurt anything but his wallet (which sounds pretty stout). And if you like your iPod do consider some nicer ear-buds. One thing Mark is definitely right about is most anyone can tell the difference between middle grade and high grade. He just has, like many others, lost track of reality in the high grade end of things. That said, I'm sure someone like him can give some excellent recommendations on modestly priced stuff as well. Headphones are actually probably the best bargain in audio - it doesn't take much money to get a lot of improvement.
So..if you don't know high-end audio or fine wines...try to read though what confuses you to get to the essence of what Mark is talking about–if you want the best image quality, leave no stone unturned...
The issue, as others have pointed out more eloquently, is if you waste time turning over stones that are known to have nothing underneath them then you risk being distracted from the things that do matter - and especially things that matter more. That's the problem with much of Mark's article. He points out some sound well know issues (lens tests present data that is easy to measure and not necessarily what is most aesthetically important) and then gives equal parity to unfounded claims (MF and compact are easy to tell apart at 800x600) with demonstrations that are deeply flawed. Then jumps up and down about having "busted a myth" when in fact he's just invented a new one that in many ways is more detrimental than the one he claims was busted.
I don't think anyone is trying to change Mark's mind - it is hard to change even misguided beliefs (see again the Randi foundation and read up on "confirmation bias"). People are objecting to publishing such things on the site, no need to spread misinformation and sloppy analysis. The internet has enough of that without putting it on quality sites as well.