Please review the site Rules, Terms of Service, and Privacy Policy at your convenience. Rules, TOS, Privacy
Get familiar with the reaction system: Introducing the Reaction System

When good electrons go bad...or audiophile bullshit

Okay guys, here's my rant. I was reading The Absolute Sound, which I enjoy, but put little stock in, when I read that the reviewer changed the power cord on a Naim headphone amp and the sound was absolutely transformed. The clouds parted, heavens opened, and angels began to sing. So 6' of wire swamped out the hundreds of feet of romex or THHN in your house, not to mention the miles of cable from the power plant, which may be GASP......aluminum. To take it one step further a linear power supply has capacitors that store a charge and smooth the ac ripple, so that 6' of cable must be charging the caps much more efficiently. Give me a break. In the same issue another reviewer changed the preamp to amp jumpers in a Vincent integrated amp from nickel plated steel to 10ga solid copper from, wait for it...romex. Once again a huge change in sound, how could Vincent be so foolish and mess up the sound in order to save a few pennies. Maybe it's just me, but it seems that recently this bullshit is getting more prolific.
On the other end of the spectrum you have ASR, which by the way I appreciate their measurements, but they preach the other end of the spectrum, if it measures well it has to sound good. First of all if you throw a ton of negative feedback at an amp it will measure very low distortion, but sound awful, I'm looking at you 1980's mass market receivers, and anyone who builds speakers knows that perfect measured response doesn't always provide good sound. It's called "voicing" for a reason. In short I see measurements as absolutely helpful and necessary, but not the end all be all. I believe Nelson Pass stated "this is entertainment, not dialysis. Okay I'll step off the soap box now.

6thplanetrjj45

Comments

  • In addition to the capacitors creating the power the amp ultimately consumes, transformers are physically decoupled - the type of wire feeding transformers are absolutely irrelevant.

    Audiophoolery is and has always been about selling bullshit to people who refuse to admit their speakers/room are actually what is wrong their listening experience. Everything from wires to capacitors to power cords etc. My favorite is when they obsess over skin effect. I laugh every time I read an audio aficionado talking about skin effect.

    ASE has quite a few reviews where he states he is puzzled at why something does sound good despite measuring well. He has not quite gotten to the correlation part of his reviews. I believe he puts too much emphasis on that newfangled close-mic based Klippel system and its ridiculous "predicted in-room" response.

    Anywhoo, last night the left speaker in my basement lost the woofer. It didn't kick out the amp, so I know the voice coil didn't short. It is my birthday today, so not sure I will be opening it up to look.

    Probably should have used gold plated, cryo treated, virgin mouse fart piss treatment on it. Live and learn.

    jhollander
    I have a signature.
  • I'm waiting for a reviewer to report that buffing on a new coat of wax vastly improves the sound. I'm with you on ASR: I appreciate all the in-depth measurements, but a lot of the members jump on a single parameter like SINAD for deciding what's good. But I enjoy the encyclopedia (remember those?) of measurements.

    jr@macrjj45
  • @Ron_E said:
    Don't forget to upgrade your power outlet.

    https://enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/0114/audiophile_ac_outlets.htm

    Ron

    Right, because hospital grade wouldn't be good enough for sound quality purposes. =)

    jr@macjhollander
  • edited June 5

    I didn't even want to get into power supply ripple rejection in electronics, JR.

    jr@mac
  • The only fancy upgrade you might consider for an AC cord is shielding, and it's not to prevent noise from getting into the AC, its to prevent the AC from getting out. Often you will have a jumble of wires connecting gear together, line level wires and AC cord in close proximity, so the line level wires can pick up that AC. Beyond that, it's just wire and the power supply in your gear will do all the necessary filtering so the performance is relatively unaffected by the quality of the incoming AC. Of course, with this in mind, you can often improve noise/hum in your gear by simply improving cable management, keep AC and data cables separated from line level audio cables, and if they do need to cross, try to run at 90 degrees, not in parallel.

    ASR is nice to have real data instead of fluffy subjective BS, but interpretation needs some work, opinions are heavily biased and closed minded, the forum is a train wreck, etc. The performance "charts" are just awful IMO, for speakers you may have a detailed review with a lot of data, but the rating is based on amplitude response only, the rest of the performance data is simply thrown away. Similar story with amplifiers, the chart is based on 5W 1kHz performance, which is "idle" performance for any competent amplifier and really only comparing the noise floor. Again, the rest of the performance data is thrown away for the chart placement. It's like reviewing a Lamborghini based on a test drive through a busy grocery store parking lot.

    On the topic of cables, one might see this "review" of a cheap RCA cable and conclude that cheap cables are perfect.
    https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/recoton-rca-cable-review-ultra-cheap-cable.33473/

    However, the only important aspects of cable performance have conveniently been omitted. That is, noise immunity and cross talk (same thing really). Lay that RCA cable next to your AC line and see how much hum it picks up..Amirm knows this well, the "review" here had an obvious agenda.

    Ok that's my rant, who's next?

    I'm not deaf, I'm just not listening.
  • I'm on the fence here. I know that our hobby is all about small differences, but I am also the guy that spends hundreds of hours designing and building a new speaker then connecting it with 18 gauge lamp cord.

    My power cords are all just basic stock units also.

    Could it be that the power cord has enough inductance to filter out some high frequency noise? I do believe that small amounts of noise can mask low level details. But the transformers have way more inductance than a short cable, so is it possible that the cord can make a difference? Seems unlikely. More likely it is just the omnipresent marketing machines doing what they do.

  • @jr@mac said:
    Probably should have used gold plated, cryo treated, virgin mouse fart piss treatment on it. Live and learn.

    Everyone knows Wombat urine is the best, or at least they should....

    That said, power filtering has merit. I was at Rory's place in Lafayette with his PCver(PC receiver/HT-PC) at the time, about 2009.
    He was living very close to the supply facility, and called his power very noisy or dirty. I took my new MAX project down on a Saturday and we hooked them up on his Hafler 200W amp. Being that this design was a chore, and not easy for poor amps was the reason for this choice. I had just acquired one of the Pi Audio Group Majik Buss power filters from Dave Elledge from Brian Powers for evaluation since Brian did nothing with it for a year. Dave told me to run my fridge with it for 2 weeks, and then demo it. Since i had done this already in prep, i took it along.

    We listened a bit with familar recordings. They sounded really strident as they were in that time frame- then we hooked up the Buss- he looked me and i looked at him, and we were both just utterly shocked that the stridency was gone and they were much more listenable.

    No Wombat urine was used during the timeframe this occurred.

    Dave told me it's proprietary, and some of his life's work in reducing the noise floor. His friend/customer Tom came to an event awhile back, and said it is basically a lowpass filter for the mains supply, and described it as a huge core or coil. Whatever it is and for whatever reason, it does work. I still use it from the dedicated outlet to the system, as he let me keep it.

    Dave also sent me a few other things over the years, like a fancy The USB cable, and i use it because it looks good and works. No difference being digital for sure. I have a couple power cords he sent me too, apparently one was Cryo for into the Buss, but the others aren't. He said the polarity of AC connection can sometimes sound different, and while I still use them because they look nice, in trials i don't think they were any different than the stock cord in either polarity to be worthwhile enough to warrant the cost or change. I also read after that, and i think i have this right, that fuses won't blow on the neutral side. They have to be used on the hot line. This means that the safety is disabled by trying this. Then why do some electronics have an ambidextrous connection? I don't know it all...

    I have no problem making power cords look nice, or using them because they do. But saying performance is improved other than current potential is really a stretch in my opinion.

  • As to Amir/ASR, I've seen him site reasons for things like tough speaker loads on an amp by circling the crossing of the impedance and phase lines above resonance. If you know what phase is (derivative) and how it is graphed on a 2D plot (when it should be 3D on a tube or cylinder), then those points would never actually coincide as shown on the plot nor in a point in space.

    I think he cites experience more than reality, or what was shown to him as poor results was not explained correctly in the first place.

  • edited June 5

    @dcibel said:

    However, the only important aspects of cable performance have conveniently been omitted. That is, noise immunity and cross talk (same thing really).

    My equipment is set out in an a/v cabinet, so I’m dealing with vertical and horizontal cables; power cords and interconnects… I’ve tried to keep power cords from running along signal cables and cross ~ 90 degrees. I also have all the power cords running into a Furman sequencer / power protector but I was still getting hum (ground loop and/or interference, thankfully non-gain level related).

    When I dumped my basic cheap interconnects and went for double shielded Belden cables (via Blue Jeans Cables) I heard a noticeable improvement. I ordered them about as short as I could get for my needs (1 ft and 2.5 ft lengths), and at $38 and $43 IMO highly recommended. I would prefer to have gone to balanced cables, but my tube pre/buffer is unbalanced and its like an old friend...

  • In my AV stack I separate by running AC and data up the left side, and audio signal up the right side, they're just tucked to the side with velcro cable straps, cheap and easy.

    With an amp with balanced input and unbalanced sources, you can still reap the benefits of the balanced input and cable. One of the conductor pairs just gets connected to ground at the unbalanced end, but with the twisted pair connected to differential input at the amp end, all the common mode noise rejection functionality is still there so. You do lose 3dB of signal amplitude vs the same signal from a balanced source, so just make sure you have enough signal amplitude available.

    With balanced cables I've found the cheap ones often aren't a twisted pair, but parallel conductors which is unfortunate, for short runs in most household installations they're likely just fine however. The cheap good ones are just PA "microphone cables" but not often available in short length. Easy enough to buy some bulk microphone cable and some XLR ends and make them yourself though.

    I'm not deaf, I'm just not listening.
  • @dcibel said:
    In my AV stack I separate by running AC and data up the left side, and audio signal up the right side, they're just tucked to the side with velcro cable straps, cheap and easy.

    Yes, unfortunately my cabinet is not a vertical stack, and I'm working with routing cables for an a/v separates 2+2 set-up.

    With an amp with balanced input and unbalanced sources, you can still reap the benefits of the balanced input and cable. One of the conductor pairs just gets connected to ground at the unbalanced end, but with the twisted pair connected to differential input at the amp end, all the common mode noise rejection functionality is still there so. You do lose 3dB of signal amplitude vs the same signal from a balanced source, so just make sure you have enough signal amplitude available.

    I was considering going that route (balanced to unbalanced, etc) but all I read was that doing so didn't provide the common mode rejection in that configuration (now you have me thinking I should have given that a try). I was also considering doing a DIY twisted phono cable with ground wire grounded at the source- what would be your thoughts on that approach?

  • edited June 5

    @tajanes said:
    I was considering going that route (balanced to unbalanced, etc) but all I read was that doing so didn't provide the common mode rejection in that configuration

    Balanced to unbalaned - no.
    Unbalanced to balanced - yes, provided it's wired correctly.

    This Youtube video provides a good explanation:

    I'm not deaf, I'm just not listening.
  • edited June 6

    @Ron_E said:
    Don't forget to upgrade your power outlet.

    https://enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/0114/audiophile_ac_outlets.htm

    Ron

    I agree with that dude! Palladium over beryllium copper sounds liquid smooth - or maybe it's the new Bozhen tweeters . Nah, couldn't be the driver, everyone knows that a $1500 power "conditioner" is the best investment.
    Jeez, what DID I do with those wine-infused cable lifters I bought .
    =)

    OK, posted too fast! If Wolf and Rory heard a huge difference with a power conditioner, thats a big endorsement for me.
    Time will tell.

    Don, Donno, or "Hey you" all work for me, But never "Mr Johnson"
  • I think people who don’t work in science Might have difficulty grasping what Science is really all about. It’s about the best available evidence, at the time.
    In my field we work based on evidence. But sometimes there are evidence free zones, which we still have to work with. Evidence free zones, for now. There’s will be emerging evidence in the future.

    But we have to be cognisant that we don’t know everything. Science is a work in progress. Something published today in a book or journal I already out of date.

    ASR has faulty methodology (like taking an anechoic measurement with a Klippel NFS, and then dropping that speaker onto your desk, listening to it, and then using EQ (based on the anechoic measurement) to improve it to your liking.

    I think Erin Hardison of erinsaudiocorner.com as the right idea. He does all his listening firsts, then does the measurements, and then tries to correlate what he hears is with the measurements. And he’s thrown away the preference score (well it’s there, but in tiny font)

    And Pierre has updated his spinorama website, the “Preference score” has been replaced by a tonality score. Good move IMHO.

    Audioholics has also moved away from spinorama and gone to horizontal measurements and vertical measurements. Bravo.

    It’s probably beyond the scope of these websites to assess the non-linear distortion, phase alignment, max SPL, but even so, who (apart from loudspeaker designers) could decipher all these graphs?

    The problem is that all the ASR devotees are now buying based on SINAD and Preference Scores. One only has to see the For Sale/classified section there to see that this is a bad idea.

    I think the era of the Internet and in-home trials is a very good idea. Your room; your music, your ancillary equipment.

    rjj45dcibel
  • edited June 7

    @tktran said:
    And Pierre has updated his spinorama website, the “Preference score” has been replaced by a tonality score. Good move IMHO.

    Renaming preference score to something else would be much more informative to the end-user. Even "tonality preference" would be a better description, something to provide some indication of the information it is based on, and to also provide a hint that it is based on limited information (amplitude response only).

    Audioholics has also moved away from spinorama and gone to horizontal measurements and vertical measurements. Bravo.

    Provide both would be my preference, ASR does this fortunately, but the "Score" throws away everything but the tonality preference.

    It’s probably beyond the scope of these websites to assess the non-linear distortion, phase alignment, max SPL, but even so, who (apart from loudspeaker designers) could decipher all these graphs?

    Interpretation of data is the hardest part, and often what gets confused especially with consumers without intimate knowledge of acoustics and electronics. I believe this fact alone is the main driving factor for singular values such as "preference score" and other over-simplifications. The phrase "8 ohm speaker" would be included here. "just tell me what to buy"...

    The problem is that all the ASR devotees are now buying based on SINAD and Preference Scores. One only has to see the For Sale/classified section there to see that this is a bad idea.

    Agreed, there are many "blind followers" over there, many yes-men and "what that smart guy said" where free thinking and new ideas are often shut down. For example Kimmo (VituixCAD developer) has been banned for ASR forum for harshly criticizing the review methods and scoring system.

    I think the era of the Internet and in-home trials is a very good idea. Your room; your music, your ancillary equipment.

    DIY is the way, no one to please but myself and an endless rabbit hole of research and fiddling : )

    rjj45
    I'm not deaf, I'm just not listening.
  • Buyer beware is some of the best advice in this hobby. Often I will look to our more scientific communication scientists to look for validation of something that looks like snake oil.
    For example: if we look at digital communications between computers do we see directional cables? Yes. Do we see cable lifters? No. Does a cable plugged in the wrong direction degrade communications in the audio band? No.
    Even off we were to go to extremes and apply these sciences to 2x the audible band there would still be no effect. If the hard sciences show that there is no signal degradation that far out of the passband then our ears can not detect the difference.
    We see power supplies/filters in the medical field, not sure that there is scientific information that it is affecting things in the audio band. We do know that a lot of medical devices affect the grid and cause a "ripple" in the hospital's power grid. Often the medical filters are just a transformer with a few capacitors/tvs diodes. The same filtration devices are present in any well-designed power supply before supplying power to an audio device.
    If there is an audible difference in power cords, wall sockets, and power filters it should be visible at the device inlet as a variance in current or voltage outside of the device's draw, similar to a distortion reading. It should also be very easy to measure. I would also argue this would be a failure of the circuit to provide adequate power and the filters are merely adding more reserve/stored energy.
    I would argue that adding more filtration in the rectification and regulation would be the most beneficial change we could make. Going to superfast diodes premium caps and premium voltage regulators would clean up the supply right before going into the final power bank and the amplification device. Obviously, this would require skills the average consumer does not have so it would never go to market. Too bad, as I feel the power going to the internal transformer has little effect on the total output.
    I bet the perceived change has a greater effect than many of the "snake oil" products. At the end of the day, did it make you enjoy your system more?

  • Hospitals use balanced power in the operating rooms.

  • edited June 7

    For those of you not familiar with balanced power, in a hospital O.R. there is an isolation transformer that provides power to just that room, but it's a bit unusual in that it gives 120v from neutral to hot, but it measures 60v from both the neutral to ground and 60 v from hot to ground. and also every metal structure in the room is bonded to the ground, including the door frames.

  • So balanced is good, who da thunk it ? :p

    Silver1omo
    I'm not deaf, I'm just not listening.
  • I'm not saying that the following product is audiophile BS, it might work very well if you can afford or want it.

    This turntable costs $249,000 - without arm, cartridge or dust cover - and it looks more like a piece of sculpture. It's stated as weighing 350kg (!).

    https://hificollector.com.au/product/clearaudio-statement-turntable/

    What gets me, apart from the price and size, is that it's made of from steel, aluminium and 'bullet proof wood' (sic).

    Is there a problem with turntables being attacked by the vinyl police or something?!

    Geoff

    PWRRYDSteve_Lee
  • Some audiophiles are pretty high strung. After they are proven to have wasted small fortunes on quakery, bullet proof just might be a smart move.

    rjj45Steve_Lee
     John H, thanks to JP I did get that email
  • @GeoffMillar said:
    I'm not saying that the following product is audiophile BS, it might work very well if you can afford or want it.

    This turntable costs $249,000 - without arm, cartridge or dust cover - and it looks more like a piece of sculpture. It's stated as weighing 350kg (!).

    https://hificollector.com.au/product/clearaudio-statement-turntable/

    What gets me, apart from the price and size, is that it's made of from steel, aluminium and 'bullet proof wood' (sic).

    Is there a problem with turntables being attacked by the vinyl police or something?!

    Geoff

    My recollection of vinyl is that there may be a cheaper link in the chain that's the limiting factor. What do I know though? I haven't unpacked those disks since two moves ago.

  • Bullet proof wood is just silly marketing, unless John's theory of disgruntled audiophiles is true. Then it's truly an asset.
    That's Clearaudio's statement piece, and I guess that I'm in the minority in that the price is not offensive to me. Cleaaudio makes a solid product overall, so who knows how many man hours of development went into that turntable.
    In general, I don't have the disdain that most DIYer's seem to have for the price of equipment. If I took my hourly wage into consideration when building speakers....well I lose my ass on every build, there's just too much time involved. The same holds true for electronics, if an amplifier that retails for $3k costs me $500 in parts to build, I will end up having more hours in labor than just buying the damn thing, but that's not the point of diy. I guess it's a good thing that I don't have to make a living doing this, I'd be bankrupt in short order.

    rjj45tajanes
  • I agree with a lot of what ugly_woofer said. My frustration is the high cost for dubious products. I have no doubt the clear audio turntable sounds amazing (for a record player) and it is masterfully made. Some audio products don't add up.

Sign In or Register to comment.