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Audiophilia: hobby or disease?
Hobby 17%  17%  [ 10 ]
Disease 31%  31%  [ 18 ]
could go either way 39%  39%  [ 23 ]
Your mom goes to college 3%  3%  [ 2 ]
We shewt people who use dem big purty words 'round here 10%  10%  [ 6 ]
Total votes : 59
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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 12:25 am 
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My Linn speakers and pre-power amp were 'aweful' till they'd been used for a while. (Comparitive lack of life in the mid-low end and little bass extension)

Also the amp is left on permanantly because 'from cold' (very much so in the winter) it sounds thin and tinny, not something Linn mid range equipment needs more of. :?


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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 12:49 am 
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Gorsnak wrote:
Bobdog wrote:
Gorsnak wrote:
That said, good studio monitors are designed for accuracy, and the best of them deliver exactly that. If you think they sound bad, then what you think sounds good is not, in fact, a high fidelity replication of the audio signal.

Lol, and you think that there is snake-oil being sold in the hi-end!



Not much of a rebuttal. Do you think they're just making their frequency response charts up? What's snake-oily about the specs on studio monitors?
I had thought the ONE thing upon which we could agree as that speakers' performance was idiosyncratic enough that one could not rely on "flat" measurements to determine their behavior (although, again, it is a good place to start). Even not being a speaker designer I could give you quite a list of reasons why many (though not all) pro-monitors sound like crap but even I don't want to write a post that long.... But seriously, have you ever really listened to a pair of Genelecs or JBLs or ATCs? Despite what you may have read or measured (even in a number of audiophile publications, I might add), "good", "true", or "life-like" will not be the first thing that springs to mind.
peteamer wrote:
My Linn speakers and pre-power amp were 'aweful' till they'd been used for a while. (Comparitive lack of life in the mid-low end and little bass extension)

Also the amp is left on permanantly because 'from cold' (very much so in the winter) it sounds thin and tinny, not something Linn mid range equipment needs more of.
Please no more of this heresy.

BTW, there is a difference between mechanical "break-in", as in speakers, "run-in", as in cables (and electronics), and "optimal operating temp.", as in electronics. Of course maintaining thermal linearity doesn't matter because the boxes you can buy at Wal-Mart seem to have overlooked this inconsequential design parameter, I just mention it here to upset the...
yeha wrote:
i see little need for gear that you couldn't get off the shelf from say walmart

... crowd :D .


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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 1:05 am 
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BobDog wrote:
Please no more of this heresy.

What heresy?

Why do you think you need to explain to me about mechanical and electronic being different?


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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 1:24 am 
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peteamer wrote:
BobDog wrote:
Please no more of this heresy.


What heresy?

Why do you think you need to explain to me about mechanical and electronic being different?
I was joking... this is sarcasm :roll: ! I mentioned the differences not for your benefit (you seem to have already heard what is planely there), but for those who, like
msmrodan wrote:
find the fact that these people advocate "breaking in" equipment such as speakers, amps, audio and AC cables (!) for 100-800 hours to get better performance completeley laughable.
... probably because they have never actually bothered to listen to their stereos (to busy measuring them instead).

By the way, I owned quite a lot of Linn in the past and I miss it in many ways. No, it was not as transparent or revealing as the gear to which I "traded-up," and a little dry besides, but nothing I have owned since... "drove" the music, the pace and rhythm and timing, in so satisfying a way. I never felt more like dancing to my system as when it was all-Linn. What do you have?


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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 2:36 am 
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OK Im willing to admit that speakers can change sound over a period of time, but mostly it is for the worse, not better. People who are "breaking in" speakers for 400 hours to get better bass response are probably just burning up their tweeters so the bass is overemphasized.

Amps, especially tube, need a warm up time (not break in time) to get to their specified performance specs, but CABLES???? Give me a f***n break.

On the subject of AC cables, I would please want an explanation why the 3 foot length of silver 1800$ cord would make a difference considering the electricity is coming over 50 miles of 30 year old wire from your electric station(exposed to weather, magnetic fields etc.), through your local 20 year old transformer, through 100 feet of in-wall 1$ per 5 feet copper lead and into the wall socket.

I saw a glowing review of a 650$ line level RCA interconnect. For that kind of money you could uprade to Balanced I/O on all your components. and btw RCA is one of the worst standards in existence, the connection point is insecure and prone to breakage after short periods of use, its completeley exposed to AC hum, radio interception, etc.

Personally I believe in listening first, then reading specs.
BUT in a REVIEW, where all I have is a verbal description, measuring the output via a pair of calibrated measurement mics into a spectrum analyser (preferrably in an anechoic chamber) can bring LOTS of information to the table. Descriptions like "the soundstage was luxurious and the richness of the sound bla bla bla" don't help at all.

In the end, its all about what brings you enjoyment, there is no ultimate "good" sound, its all a matter of taste. But there is still the distinction between things of quality and things which are simply crap.

A good quality speaker set for example should be able to present full range (40hz-20k) undistorted sound even at high SPL, with a relatively balanced response curve. You want even more bass, treble? slap an EQ on it and tweak to your hearts desire, I can recommend some wonderful George Massenburg devices for 4000$ which are actually worth their asking price.

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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 2:46 am 
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@Bob Linn Majik feeding Kabers through Linn K600 cable in tri-wired formation.

Couldn't agree more about the 'Linn sound'. :D

Much/some of the other stuff I auditioned sounded perhaps better but I really like the speed of the Linn kit. Though it is dry and a tad cold it is clean and has nice bass extension that isn't muddled, well not now I've taken out some of the excessive dampening material behind the cones. Infact removing 50% of the padding livened them up tremendously though at the expense of some boxiness.. Oh well...

@msmrodan "full range (40hz-20k)" ... ?

Pete


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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 10:24 am 
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My father was a musician and audiophile... his sons (including me) understand the concepts behind it.

He used a McIntosh tube amp (those giant black cage things from the 1950's) and built his own speakers (HUGE things!) He also wired in a 30A box to power the things in the basement. When those McIntosh amps fired up, the entire house would fill with sound. He used 12 gauge cables to wire the thing up and was not concerned with power cords except if it was the correct gauge. His years as an engineer, musician and audiophile lead to some strange setups but he said he "kept the snake oil out".

Years passed and I was building systems, checking things out, doing "blind ABX" testing and reading information. There was a publication called Audio that delved into testing speaker wire in the late 80's... I think the report was around 27 pages long. The gathered "golden ears" musicians, recording artists, engineers and regular folks off the street to listen to their $250,000 audio system built into a custom sound room.

I remember the tests because they used oscilloscopes to compare signals between cables, being it Kimber, Monster Cable, 12 gauge 220V extension cord, $1,000 a meter cables etc. They found at frequencies between 5 and 20,000 hertz... there was NO DIFFERENCE between any of the cables! If they pushed it to 200,000 hertz... there was a slight tilt to the waveforms when comparing the wazoo to the extension cord. Yep, bats could tell the difference. The ultra-high frequencies can start inductively couple through the insulation at those frequencies so if you are a bat...

Basically, they then ran all the people through ABX blind testing using wazoo CD players, turntables etc through and the results were... no difference! The conclusion was that speaker cables constitute fraud on the part of companies selling them. How many audiophile publications would say that?!

I tested it out on a set of Infinity Betas ($10,000 in 1990 four-piece set) Used Nachamichi mono-blocks to power them (not my system BTW) Since I was in Italy at the time, I used some 12ga 220V heavy duty extension cord VS $400 speaker cable. We went through the routine one weekend with 6 guys and could not tell the difference... we did notice the difference when using 18 gauge zip cord though. The owner was happy because he was moving and needed longer cables for his new house.

I then got into PA and used some good ol' psycho-acoustic techniques to set the system up. Carver 993 bi-amped speakers (two 15", two 6.5" midrange cones, two 1" horn loaded compression drivers) I ran the crossover at 400Hz/5KHz at lower power outputs and 1000/5KHz at high power outputs. Rapco 12 gauge cables with Phoenix Gold banana plugs connected it up. Set a 24dB brickwall at 40Hz and boosted the 40/50/62 Hz bands at +6dB. The boost fell off to -4dB at 125Hz and gave the illusion of deep rolling bass :P The speakers sat on a hollow stage for the "bass board effect" (as my dad called it) and the amps were a 1,500 Peavey digital amp (12 pounds) for the bass and a Carver M1.5t fan-cooled amp for the mid/highs. I used a single octave RTA and 1/3rd octave CD and other tests to make sure everything was positioned correctly. It sounded very good for PA and blew away many other more expensive systems. I generally kept it at 2 speakers but, at times had to hook more amps and speakers for output. A Tripp-Lite 20A power conditioner was used to protect the system and it worked well.

While doing PA, I got suckered into building a few automotive systems. Yeah, one of them blew the glass out of the car kind of thing. I liked the Polk and Infinity speakers for mid/highs and Kicker Competition dual 12" subs in sealed boxes. A very educational experience trying to get those things to sound right. My signiture was a very clean sound with ultra-deep bass with the "boom" adjusted out (cut 125Hz trick) Another trick was using two 8" woofers in the front crossing to the 12" subs in the back at 70Hz so there was a soundstage. If I could not use 8" woofers in the front, I would pull out the psycho-acoustics tricks and underlap the cross overs (18dB/Octave sub and 12dB Octave mids/highs) Set the sub for 85Hz and mids/highs for 125Hz and get a natural hole in the response. Adjust out with the settings and roll. The great thing about car audio is it is so tough to make it sound right that all the rules are thrown out the window... sometimes the strangest combinations sounded the best.

So now the speaker wire BS is in AC power cables?! :roll: Uhhhhh, well... that is a new one on me! Gee... my stock power cables feeding 1KW+ Peavey digital/Peavey analog and Carver amps worked fine. I hope we are not talking about DETACHABLE power cables! If you are worried about the power, get a Tripp-Lite hospital grade UPS that takes incoming power, filters it then sends it to the batteries. DC is taken off the batteries and fed through to recreate a 120VAC sine wave. We use those to protect $200K laboratory analyzers and they work well. Forget the cables, get a hospital-grade UPS power conditioner! Use a 12 gauge power cord with hospital grade plugs if that is your fancy... it works well on equipment that is a hell of a lot more sensitive than audio amplifiers.

Nowadays, my system is much more basic... Onkyo receiver, JVC DVD player, fiber cables, 12 gauge Rapco/Phoenix Gold banana plugs, Infinity Overture 1 speakers and a 12" AR subwoofer. 1" domes/4" mids/8" sealed powered (150W built-in amps) going to the AR at 80Hz. Very, very good sound and has a high WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) The system is very small, very heavy and performs at 98% of my giant audiophile systems of back in the day.

One day when I settle down, I'll build a home theater with discreet amps, ELF subwoofers and wazoo speakers. Wire them up with Rapco Professional PA cables/Phoenix Gold banana plugs and hospital grade Tripp-Lite power conditioning. I'll spend my money on the room and speakers, not snake oil cables and completely forget $1,000 AC power cords!

I admitt, it was fun messing around with a rack filled with 4,200 watts of power/EQs/cross overs and power conditioners... always something sexy about rack mounted components. For now, I just move the speakers around and find their huge phonebook like size allows for better adjustments for imaging. The small 12" sub is much easier to position correctly VS the giant 4 ft. towers of the old days. But... I still miss the giant KEFs... rosewood is a keeper.

I'm still an audiophile, but a very critical one... anyone have a green marker so I can cover the edge of my CDs so the laser won't defract? :roll:

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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 11:14 am 
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msmrodan wrote:
On the subject of AC cables, I would please want an explanation why the 3 foot length of silver 1800$ cord would make a difference considering the electricity is coming over 50 miles of 30 year old wire from your electric station(exposed to weather, magnetic fields etc.), through your local 20 year old transformer, through 100 feet of in-wall 1$ per 5 feet copper lead and into the wall socket.
To avoid having to repeat myself, I simply cut-n-pasted fromhere.
Bobdog wrote:
Look, AC cables do NOT “protect” your gear from the pwr. co. by adding another meter of copper. They work by cleaning all the crap that has been dumped into the power supply (often most of all, by your own components which are often only a few feet away [as well as by 'your local 20 year old transformer, through 100 feet of in-wall 1$ per 5 feet copper lead,'] BTW). Some say they also reduce current flow, making music sound smoother while robbing it of its impact. This is a potential problem, I’ll be the first to admit. The best way to judge if this is a problem in your system… listen!

I know most about Shunyata gear because that is what I have owned and used, other companies use other technologies, I am sure. Shunyata uses a non-ferrous compound to leach stray EMI and RFI from incoming AC. Their Hydra conditioners (in addition to this) use star-grounded outlets (to unify components’ ground potential, reducing hum) separated by big copper bus bars to prevent interaction from components along the AC line. NONE of this has much to do with the hundreds of miles of copper running form the power plant outside town to your CD player. Isolation transformers WILL do an even better job of protecting you from the pwr. co., but the problem is that isolation transformers bounce the grit produced by your own components right back into the system, that is why Shunyata prefers to “clean” rather than “protect” or "isolate."

I am not saying that this is the BEST approach, I do not have experience with all the others, but I am saying that it has worked well in my system.
msmrodan wrote:
BUT in a REVIEW, where all I have is a verbal description, measuring the output via a pair of calibrated measurement mikes into a spectrum analyzer (preferably in an anechoic chamber) can bring LOTS of information to the table. Descriptions like "the soundstage was luxurious and the richness of the sound bla bla bla" don't help at all.
Even assuming that the spectrum analyzer was as sensitive as our ears (which it likely is not), and even assuming that it heard the same way that our ears did (which it cannot because microphones do not "hear" the same way), how would reading a spectrum analyzer’s output be any more descriptive of what something sounded like than "Descriptions like 'the soundstage was luxurious and the richness of the sound bla bla bla'"?
peteamer wrote:
@msmrodan "full range (40hz-20k)" ... ?
I know... don't even bother (though a curious gaff from one so measurement obsessed, no?).
Kwiet wrote:
There was a publication called Audio that delved into testing speaker wire in the late 80's.... there was NO DIFFERENCE between any of the cables!
(1) Audio was, at best, only nominally an audiophile magazine. Reviewing expensive gear does not an audiophile (magazine) make. (2) But more to the point, this is quite odd since even many cynics (such as msmrodan) will tell you that speaker cable does sound different--but that the expensive cable is just mucking up the sound for the sake of "better" sound at the expense of fidelity. I do not think this is always the case, but I do think it happens sometimes. Arguing, however, that no one could hear any difference on their $250,000 system leads me to find their tests more suspect than the cable they were testing.... In any case, Kwiet, you should venture out of the 80s, I think you'll find that great strides have been made--particularly in front-ends (didgital especailly, but analog too)--but there has been progress in other areas as well.
peteamer wrote:
@Bob Linn Majik feeding Kabers through Linn K600 cable in tri-wired formation.
A wise choice. I wonder about your removing the padding, I'd think that they would sound more live because of the extra energy no longer being soaked up, but the boxiness would be a result of all that power energizing the... well, box... and thus resulting in the boxy sound of which you spoke. I suppose that if it sounds better, though (e.g. the trade off was on balance a positive one), then it is better.

BTW, I owned the Tukans, then the Keilidhs, then skipped the Kabers and went to the AV5140s. Wonderful speakers all. I ran all of them Aktiv, save the Tukans, with a series of Linn amps, including the Majik—one of the hi-ends real bargains IMHO. I really would like to hear the new Linn "ultra" stuff (their CD12, Klimax pre- and pwr-amps, etc.) to see if they were able to add greater fidelity to that wonderful Linn sound (and they had better at those price points :shock: !), but I have not gotten the chance.


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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 11:23 am 
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Bobdog wrote:
But seriously, have you ever really listened to a pair of Genelecs or JBLs or ATCs?


Yeesh, you're ragging on ATC's? I'd like to ask you if you've really listened to them for a while; they sound great and are one of the few makers whose speakers project an orchestra well imo. Even for it's musicality I'd put them along the lines with Dyn's (unless you don't like those either). I will agree with you that in general Genelec's do not sound appealing, but this is usually because their high end is a tad bright and harsh, in order to help with certain detail. And those Yamaha speakers...quite bad, most pro studios don't use them though (good thing).

Also, I wouldn't say there is as much snake oil in the pro equipment area, since most are tuned enough so that you can hear anything you'd want to remove. The cables don't go for around the thousands either, it's usually the pro-sumer that will (number of reasons). But then they are balanced so only shielding will matter at that point.

For blind ab/abx, it might help if the playback source has multiple inputs so you can simply switch between the two objects in question to see if you can really hear a difference. Even a small switchbox would work I guess.

Perhaps someone has already mentioned this but what some $$$ cable brands also do is that they add element which will deliberately colour the sound in order to make them stand out from others, and sometimes change can be seen as "better" at the moment so be careful in that regard.

/rant


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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 1:39 pm 
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Bob,
I have ventured out of the 80's when I did PA and automotive sound in the 90's. Now I play around with home theater and just built a home theater PC that I am presently typing on. I even have a hospital grade plug on my power conditioner so I should gain cool points right there. The great thing about all this is the electrical laws still apply just like they did 100 years ago.

If your CD deck uses curcuit boards, the AC cord does not matter. Curcuit boards have traces right next to each other and use tin and lead to connect the components together. Why they don't seal the board with a block of non-conductive thermal epoxy and wrap it in copper mesh is beyond me. Keep the boards but use thick guage wire to make the connections... come on now... cross talk is your enemy! I have seen many passive crossovers in speakers and the inductors, resistors etc were mounted on (the horror!) curcuit boards! Imagine the signal going through 7AWG cable and ending up on thin traces on a curcuit board... or worse, a curcuit breaker :shock: Think about how small the wires are in the voice coil... the inductors, the wire-wrapped resistors... maybe they should make half-ohm speakers to decrease the resistance in the voice coil.

The last time I checked (I work on medical equipment for a gig) heavy-duty DC power supplies is the most critical part to keep curcuits stable. Take apart an EEG machine, those things process brain waves which are a little lower in amplitude than a music signal. Next time one of those things has some wave distortion, I'll throw a $1,000 power cord on the thing and create a revolution :D Maybe I should have Kimber make the cables and electrodes to improve the signal quality or make sure the cables don't touch the patients skull because the signal might leak out and get re-introduced as distortion!

I am sorry if I sound critical of cables and power cords... maybe my ears are not as "golden" as they used to be. My hearing is tested each year and I do have a -5dB loss at 500Hz in the left ear... my 40-year-old eardrums are not as sensitive as they once were. Fact of life... as each day passes your hearing gets worse. :cry: I find it amusing when 55 year-old "golden ears" babble about speaker cables improving the "air" of the highs...

The main thing in sound is the speakers, those electro-mechanical air pumps are the deciding factor in sound systems. Spend the bucks on those, take a look inside and duplicate the gauge of wire they use. No point using braided platinum coated snake wire when 14 guage is used inside. Don't worry about power cords, the distortion is coming from the curuit boards, ribbon cables and ripple in the DC power supplies... heck, even the 12 guage regular wire in the outlet. If you want an expenensive power cord... get a hospital grade plug... they cost $10 a pop and Hubbel makes great ones.

I get asked about music equipment all the time, my advise is to spend at least 50% of your budget on speakers, use 12 AWG two conductor cable with banana plugs to make the connection and get a good amplifier that is stable into 2 ohms to verify current capacity. Buy automotive audio cables because they can handle abuse, are proven and don't have a lot of BS marketing mixed in. I need to email my doc buddy to see if he bought Paradigms or Genelecs for his home theater. I don't think he went for the ELF subwoofer but you never know.

Next snake oil topic... electromigration and it's effects on intergrated curcuits. Your chips are sliding out of tolerance as we speak! After three years you had better dump your CD players and electronics... you should never listen to equipment that is out of calibration. :shock:

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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 3:58 pm 
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Kwiet,

I find your post well considered and well thought out (so prepare to get flamed :evil: in the near future), save for one thing ... in two parts.
Kwiet wrote:
If your CD deck uses curcuit boards, the AC cord does not matter.
This is not true and here is why: First, even the most bits-are-bits among us here (most of them, anyway) agree that jitter is the major problem in digital playback (presumably because they can measure it). Thus clock integrity is similarly an important consideration. The clock is generated by a crystal oscillator (on all CD/DVD players of which I am aware... but there may be some super, extra-special exotic ones out there that does something else), and this oscillator, in turn, relies on very clean power. If ripple noise comes in of the power-supply, this can affect the oscillator, which will affect the clock, which will affect the jitter which, ultimately, will affect the sound quality.

Second, as I noted above:
Bobdog wrote:
[Designer power cords] work by cleaning all the crap that has been dumped into the power supply (often most of all, by your own components which are often only a few feet away...
That is to say that one of the most important things a power cord going into your CD player can do is not help the CD player, but protect your vulnerable amp and pre-amp from all the crap that you CD player's dumping back into the AC line.

BTW, I generally agree with you on the speakers being the most important item in the playback chain (no matter how much Ivor Tiefenbrun might say otherwise), but I also think that with great speakers, the old "garbage in, garbage out" adage becomes even more true. (BTW, that is also why I have not yet been able to part with my mbl speakers even though I have sold off the rest of my ultra-hi-end rig to get into home theater/HTPC--which is all the more sad b/c I cannot afford to get three more of them to actually use them in a home theater... what shall I do :( ?)

limee wrote:
Yeesh, you're ragging on ATC's? I'd like to ask you if you've really listened to them for a while; they sound great and are one of the few makers whose speakers project an orchestra well imo.
Yes, I know many will disagree. But I have heard ATCs on a few occasions (with EMM Labs gear, and with my own CDs and SACDs, so I was familiar with the rest of the system) and have always been disappointed. Not, "oh these sound like s**t, like the Genelecs," but more like, "for all the hype these are disappointingly ordinary", followed by "and they want me to pay how much for these!?!" I have only heard their massive $$$ speakers, maybe their less ambitious designs offer more value for the money? Also, I have heard from those "in-the-know" that the speakers are great but their on-board amps suck. In any case, it is important to keep in mind that maybe it's as I have been saying all along, if they sound good to you, and if the money you are spending is yours, why you would take my opinion over that of your own ears is a mystery to me. If you like 'em, BUY 'em!


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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 5:17 pm 
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Bob,
You are correct, other components can add noise to the AC line your equipment is using. That was evident when using my Carver M1.5t amp as there was interference. Carver did recall my amp to add a giant capacitor to filter the AC line to eliminate the problem. Tripp-Lite Isobars have isolated filter banks to do the same thing. I have been using Isobars for over 15 years and they do what they are designed to do and can take strong (lightning) spikes without damaging equipment.

I used a Tripp-Lite LCR-2400 power conditioner with 14 filtered outlets (still in use for my computer and audio system) Since power conditioners and isolated filtered banks exist... what's with the power cords? The higher end products should have filters on the AC line and large capacitors in the power supply as a redundency.

Speakers are purely subjective, I'll point out a few brands to people and let them make a decision. A friend of mine loves Klipsch but to my ears, the compression drivers are a little harsh. We shopped around for awhile and he still preferred the $1,000 Klipsh over Paradigms, KEF, B&W and all the others we looked at. I told him to go for the Klipsch as that is what he liked. He went home with the Klipsch, hooked them up to his Denon amp and ??? CD player (straight wired, no pre-amp uses his gain controls to set volume) There are many days I wished my ears matched his!

In a few years I will settle down in a house and stay (heading overseas for a few years next month) The system I have now will go to the garage and I'll go shopping again. My wife will go along so pondering electrostats is not an option. :cry: I think I get away with an ELF 18" sub... have to think of the Wife Exceptance Factor...

Well Bob, good to see we can agree to disagree... I wonder what ever happened to that company that put tubes on their sound cards?

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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 3:02 am 
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BobDog wrote:
This is not true and here is why: First, even the most bits-are-bits among us here (most of them, anyway) agree that jitter is the major problem in digital playback (presumably because they can measure it). Thus clock integrity is similarly an important consideration. The clock is generated by a crystal oscillator (on all CD/DVD players of which I am aware... but there may be some super, extra-special exotic ones out there that does something else), and this oscillator, in turn, relies on very clean power. If ripple noise comes in of the power-supply, this can affect the oscillator, which will affect the clock, which will affect the jitter which, ultimately, will affect the sound quality.


Why doesn't digital equioment just use the cd-player as the master clock if this is such a big problem? I our lab we have a dac.player, where we can choose if the player uses it's own clock, or the clock of the signal. I don't know much about digital signaling, but this whole problem doesn't make sense to me.

A few other loose comments: A good oscilloscope probably is way more sensitive than our hears (which are much more impressive than they seem at first glance, bur hardly enourmously accurate).

Yes, one can get more enjoyment of buying a expensive part that does nothing, but one can also get enjoyment of knowing that you have spent just what you need for a perfect product. In the public domain I see it as my duty to question theese claims for the sae of public knowlengde.

All the snakeoil in the audio-industry is a real problem, I find myself mistrusting every piece of info a long time, which is tiresome. I always have to assume "no diffrence" until otherwise is shown from several sources, just because of all the BS floating around.

PS: If bad currents is a problem, whats wrong with a regular condensator (or whatever it's called in english), they are used in computers to give nice current to CPUs an other sensitive equipment.

AtW


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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 9:11 am 
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Quote:

No one wants to believe me when I say that not even (... most) audiophiles think more expensive = better. This is OFTEN not the case.


You're right--a lot of audiophiles don't think of "expensive" as being "better," and that really wasn't what I was trying to get at. The posted Sonic Impact digital amp is a good example of that--it's a really phenomenal deal for thirty bucks, assuming you can make due with five watts or so.

That being said, it seems as though a lot of people interested in high end audio simply gravitate towards this concept that something cheap inherently must sound bad. Admittedly, I do tend to frown upon really expensive stuff because in my experience, it simply isn't worth the money.


Quote:
Good Lord--could we be hearing the same things!?! I find the Vandis (as a brand) very precise and dynamic--a wonderfully balanced speaker, whereas I find the B&Ws (as a brand) to be dull to the point of boring (and Polks just Gawd-awful)! Clearly, we have different musical preferences (which is F-I-N-E!), but it seems as thought we hear the same strengths and weaknesses in each speaker!


Let's be clear about one thing: a speaker is a much more active component in the reproduction of sound than a cable elevator, and a speaker's sound can change quite radically from one room to the next. Simply because you and I agree that different speakers sound similarly to us doesn't say much (if anything) about cable risers or interconnects in general.

Despite our opinions on speakers being similar, I have never heard a difference between different cables. Not once. And I've listened to a lot of cables, and I simply don't think they make a meaningful difference (if any) to me in my listening experiences. While a different amplifier or speaker sometimes makes a substantial difference (with the amps, I have a very hard time telling the difference between two solid state amps or two tube amps, but the difference between a tube amp and a solid state amp is a bit more discernable), and changes in rooms makes a huge difference, I have never heard a difference in a cable.


Quote:
When many people come to the same conclusion after hearing speakers or CD players or even... power cables or cable elevators (!) I tend to think there is something going on--you may call my conclusions "scientific" or not as you like, but I am determined to call them "rational."


On the other hand, if you give people tonic water with no vodka and tell them it's a tonic and vodka, a substantial portion of your test subjects will actually begin to act as though they're drunk:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2634499.stm

...in other words, by nature people are not "rational," nor are our senses considered reliable sources of information--often even when many of us share similar reactions to a given experience or test. We display all sorts of erratic behavior that flies completely in the face of logic, be it "thinking" we heard something that sounded different/better, or "thinking" that we're drinking vodka and tonic.

This is the irony of this entire discussion; it presumes that humans themselves have senses that are infalliable and/or impartial, which any good lawyer would be tickled pink to contest on the basis of multiple studies dictating otherwise:

http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dorf/20010516.html

...all that being said, if you enjoy the risers and cables, more power to you. I've said it before: it's your right as a consumer to buy whatever you feel is worthwhile to you, and it's my right as a consumer to not buy it because I don't think it's worthwhile. In a domain this subjective, I don't think I'll ever again pretend to have any sort of scientific basis to support either position. Science has no way of measuring "quality," and I don't think human beings are nearly as "rational" as they'd like to consider themselves to be.






[geek note]
This all reminds me of the scene in the Matrix where Cypher (the guy who betrays Neo and the crew of Morpheus) is eating dinner in the Matrix with Agent Smith and his cronies. He says this:

"I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss."

Even though he knows the "steak doesn't exist," he comments on how good it tastes. He doesn't even care that the steak isn't real and what he's eating is nothing more than a figment of his imagination; to him it tastes better than anything that is real.

Perhaps, then, it's only important if it tastes better to you. ;)
[/geek note]

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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 2:38 pm 
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BobDog wrote:
Yes, I know many will disagree. But I have heard ATCs on a few occasions (with EMM Labs gear, and with my own CDs and SACDs, so I was familiar with the rest of the system) and have always been disappointed. Not, "oh these sound like s**t, like the Genelecs," but more like, "for all the hype these are disappointingly ordinary", followed by "and they want me to pay how much for these!?!" I have only heard their massive $$$ speakers, maybe their less ambitious designs offer more value for the money? Also, I have heard from those "in-the-know" that the speakers are great but their on-board amps suck. In any case, it is important to keep in mind that maybe it's as I have been saying all along, if they sound good to you, and if the money you are spending is yours, why you would take my opinion over that of your own ears is a mystery to me. If you like 'em, BUY 'em!


Hum...well, I've only heard up to their 20-2 pro line, none of the massive $$$ ones so perhaps that was the discrepancy. Perhaps the larger designs have bad amps as well, I wouldn't know, but I remember the 10 litre designs coming also in a passive version, which, when paired with a good amp did not show any improvements over the actives. Though, yes they aren't the best imo for the money either. The only reason I commented was not due to any influence of my opinion with yours, but that the intention could be put out of context (being that pro monitors do not sound good), esp. when put in place with the Genelec's who are notorious for their sometimes unforgiving (but detailed) sound.

BTW, I wonder if those $$$ ac power cords might help pc's overclock higher or let psu's score higher efficiency values (yeah yeah, not the same as audio...). Maybe we should try to convince some companies to give Mike a sample... :D


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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 4:02 pm 
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although this debate is winding down, the human ear is not equal to nor more sensitive than electrical instruments. this has been conclusively proven by lossy audio compression testing, where an overwhelming majority of the population can't pick the difference between two signals that differ by 10+ db in certain frequency ranges. it's not worth getting into unless there's some familiarity with audio compression basics, but all lossy compression methods alter the signal by a couple orders of magnitude more than cables realistically can. if a user can't abx between lossy compression codecs, they can't abx between cables, interconnects, power systems, etc. several members of hydrogenaudio have unbelievably good hearing and extremely accurate reproduction systems, and they hit their limits around 250-300 kbps with better codecs and problem samples, most music is transparent far below that even for them.

for anyone who doubts this, i'll send them an audio cd free-of-charge, with music genres of their choice, to be listened to on any system they like. all i ask is a public posting with their listening results as to which audio snippets are straight-from-the-cd and which have been lossily-compressed.

now if anyone knows of tests which show the ear out-performing precision electrical instruments, i'm open to seeing them.


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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 5:24 pm 
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yeha, the majority of the population has already had their hearing damaged too much by the time they turn 21. There's a lot of noise that people are exposed to that just wasn't there many years ago....the 20Hz-20kHz "range of hearing" maybe used to be that, but for most is now down to more like 40Hz-15kHz. There's just too much construction, traffic, shouting, rock concerts, airplanes, etc for a lot of people to be able to save their hearing. Irrecovable hearing damage can be found in most high-schoolers. I think that if this wasn't the case, if people realized that their hearing was not something to be taken lightly for them or their children, what you said would not be the case. However, I am sorry to say, I think you are currently right.

I do wonder what kind of people they used for the study that showed they couldn't tell a 10dB difference though....that's huge, something like 5x the volume level. Most people that I have ever seen are at least sensitive to a doubling of the volume level (3dB) and many can hear ~ 1dB. Ah, just re-reading it I saw you wrote "certain frequency levels", but unless they were using a 20kHz signal that's just not a fair study.


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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 6:39 pm 
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nope, it's because of masking that all psychoacoustic codecs exploit to either highly-quantize or remove frequencies altogether, if neighbouring bands contain enough power. depending on your lower bands, you can often get away with altering > 16khz data by even larger amounts. this isn't new, it's been well-known in audio compression circles for a long time - the ear is a flawed receiver, there are many properties of a sound wave that microphones record but the ear can't perceive, so you can remove that excess information to save space while being audibly identical. this has been exhaustively proven with blind testing - the number of blind tests held in the name of audio compression probably outnumbers those done for actual audio equipment by 20:1. it's a huge industry (and unfortunately fraunhofer is largely in control) and only getting bigger.

i strongly suggest that you try abx'ing some audio files created by the top-range compressors - mpc is still the best, but recent aac implementations at 200+ kbps are getting close. if all you've heard are 128 kbps mp3s created by xing or blade or any of the iso-derivative encoders, you have good reason for doubting lossy audio compression. the improvements made possible by new formats and encoders are extremely impressive.

again if you like, i can send you a cd with music clips both in their original form and ran through a series of audio compression methods, i guarantee you that many will be completely transparent despite the waveforms being extraordinarily different. i've been working with audio compression, both using it, testing it and programming it for a long time now. i've done so many blind tests it's a bit disturbing, but i've trained my ears to be able to pick out artifacts better than any friends i know who've attempted the same. i know all about how limited the human ear is because i've seen the kind of horrible things you can do to a waveform and still have it come out sounding identical, which is one reason i was so amazed the first time i read about cables (which affect the signal by what, 0.01 db max?) audibly affecting sound quality. i've listened to all kinds of systems, from the $50 one in my living room to the $800 system an uncle in west virginia built to the $10,000 arsenal my uncle from new york pieced together over 5 years, and all i noticed is that it never sounded as clear as the sennheiser headphones i had the pleasure to test with for a short while - it's much much easier for me to detect compression artifacts with headphones than speakers, and i can only assume that's because the headphones were altering the signal less.


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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 7:01 pm 
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yeha wrote:
the human ear is not equal to nor more sensitive than electrical instruments. this has been conclusively proven by lossy audio compression testing, where an overwhelming majority of the population can't pick the difference between two signals that differ by 10+ db in certain frequency ranges
Do you think this is not well known? (1) I suppose that I should not have said "more sensitive", and instead said that no electronic device has been able to hear what we hear--that is, the human ear is the most advanced device around in hearing what humans hear... little surprise. (2) Humans' insensitivity to frequency swings is well known (although, like Green Shoes, I find the 10db claim rather extreme). That is because human ears are far more attuned to spatial and phase info. than freq. magnitude. Think of it this way, if you were a cave-dweller (big stretch, I know) and heard a saber-tooth tiger's roar, would it be more important for you to locate the cat or gauge the strength of his lungs? The former, I think.

You are partly right anyway: on some things (as you note), instruments are much better than human ears, but on others electronics do not approach the human ear's sensitivity to nuance. Now, if you were worried about reproducing music in a way most suited to humans' fidelity/enjoyment rather than for a machine's enjoyment, to which set of audible characteristics would you pay the greatest attention :roll: ?

In any case, I might be able to recognize frequency non-linearities in lossy formats (I hope I could), but I would not bet the farm on it. On the other hand, if you ask me if I can tell the audible difference between lossy compression and the original on the human priority scale, (unless the compression rate was "wastefully" high, I've heard some 192kb MP3 that sounded close), I can and have.

Beyonder wrote:
I don't think human beings are nearly as "rational" as they'd like to consider themselves to be.
Without getting back into the philosophy of science debate again, I think I would give my qualified agreement to this statement. If this sort of relativism were the rule as opposed to the exception, however, I wonder how you would explain the Sonic Impact amp, SETs, or, indeed, the vinyl revival (everyone was sure that CDs were perfect-sound-forever c. 1981, right?).

If you have never heard a difference between different cables, then your hearing may be off more than even Green Shoes' direst fears.


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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 7:05 pm 
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yeha wrote:
it's much much easier for me to detect compression artifacts with headphones than speakers, and i can only assume that's because the headphones were altering the signal less.

Maybe not. In any room other than an anechoic chamber, you don't just hear direct sound from the speaker, but reflected sound as well. I would suspect that you would get very little reflected sound with headphones, which would mean that the waveform hitting your ears would be pretty much what the headphones were putting out, rather than the sum of direct output plus reflections. I'd think it would be enough to explain the difference you not.


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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 7:28 pm 
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BobDog wrote:
You are partly right anyway: on some things (as you note), instruments are much better than human ears, but on others electronics do not approach the human ear's sensitivity to nuance. Now, if you were worried about reproducing music in a way most suited to humans' fidelity/enjoyment rather than for a machine's enjoyment, to which set of audible characteristics would you pay the greatest attention :roll: ?


the machine's, since it's provably more accurate than the ear :roll:

what sounds closest to the original for the machine will be better for people of all levels of hearing ability, rather than just whoever was tuning it at the time with their just-as-flawed-as-mine-but-in-subtly-different-ways set of ears. i'm not exactly sure what sound characteristic you're refering to with nuance, but it's not frequency nor amplitude nor phase since those trophies belong to machines. about all the ear can do better at the moment is spatial location, which isn't very important in a sound system due to recording and playback methods implying fixed locations.

BobDog wrote:
In any case, I might be able to recognize frequency non-linearities in lossy formats (I hope I could), but I would not bet the farm on it. On the other hand, if you ask me if I can tell the audible difference between lossy compression and the original on the human priority scale, (unless the compression rate was "wastefully" high, I've heard some 192kb MP3 that sounded close), I can and have.


you're always welcome to try the challenge :) i've abx'ed mp3 samples up to 320 kbps, they only reached transparency with freeformat bitrates above 500, however they were pathological cases that exploited the mp3 transformation design. as a comparison, i've tried and failed to abx mpc above 140 kbps for many of the same problem samples and a whole lot of music. if mp3 is your only venture into lossy compression, you'll be amazed.

BobDog wrote:
If you have never heard a difference between different cables, then your hearing may be off more than even Green Shoes' direst fears.


i sure have - i think the difference between lengths of straightened coat hanger and telephone wire would be pretty clear to anyone :) the difference between shielded speaker cables of equal gauge is quite a bit harder, since they're electrically identical and all :)


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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 7:36 pm 
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Gorsnak, that'd nicely explain why post-echo is so much easier for me to detect with headphones.

for me it's headphones all the way when i want to listen to something intently, whether for testing purposes, transposing a song or just because i love the music (10 years of piano + saxophone + clarinet adds up). i've never heard a setup, whether a friend's, relative's or audio shop's that i'd prefer over headphones for those tasks.

actually about the only time i listen to something with speakers is tv/movies, and that's just because i move around too much for headphones to be feasible.


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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 5:13 am 
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BobDog wrote:
(2) Humans' insensitivity to frequency swings is well known (although, like Green Shoes, I find the 10db claim rather extreme). That is because human ears are far more attuned to spatial and phase info. than freq. magnitude. Think of it this way, if you were a cave-dweller (big stretch, I know) and heard a saber-tooth tiger's roar, would it be more important for you to locate the cat or gauge the strength of his lungs? The former, I think.


Spatial location is only analysis of time-delays from one ear to the other, or frequency changes in the case of no time diffrence (which is easily fooled). I Am hard pressed to belive that measuring equipment can't do a much better job in this case also. Although humans are pretty good at this.

AtW


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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 7:10 am 
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the only information i have regarding spatial location is a comparison made by a military radar specialist who found that his attempts at localizing weren't working nearly as well as his own ears during blind tests. i wasn't particularly impressed with his methods, but it's the only test i could find seeing as there isn't a huge amount of documentation in this area. there's more to spatial location than just time delays and amplitude changes - consider a sound source 1 metre in front of you directly between your eyes, so that times and levels are identical. now when that sound source moves upwards in the air, your ears can detect that despite identical input to both ears. i recall a bbc special where subjects had their outer ears smoothed over with putty so that the entire side of their head was smooth apart from the tiny hole leading to the inner ear, and this wreaked havoc with spatially locating such level and time-identical signals, along with many others. something very complex is occurring to analyze the signal changes created by the outer ear structure, i doubt we have the dsp know-how to replicate it yet, at least the delicacy of the filters you'd have to come up with frightens me.

however we can always cheat since a coordinated mic array would be even better :) but i haven't seen proof of it and so didn't make the claim.


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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 9:30 am 
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yeha wrote:
the only information i have regarding spatial location is a comparison made by a military radar specialist who found that his attempts at localizing weren't working nearly as well as his own ears during blind tests. i wasn't particularly impressed with his methods, but it's the only test i could find seeing as there isn't a huge amount of documentation in this area. there's more to spatial location than just time delays and amplitude changes - consider a sound source 1 metre in front of you directly between your eyes, so that times and levels are identical. now when that sound source moves upwards in the air, your ears can detect that despite identical input to both ears


As i said, when there is no time-diffrence, the brain relies on frequency changes to determine where the source is. (experience tells us that some sounds are diffrent from behind and so on). But as i also said, this can easily be fooled. Test have been done where sounds of certain type are played through speakers from diffrent places in front, over and on the backside of our head, they show that the type of sound determines which direction we think the sound comes from, not where the sound actually comes from. So this skill is easily tricked, and probably a lot less sucsessful on unfamiliar sounds.

AtW


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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 9:43 am 
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my mistake, i misread your post.

still, the engineering that'd go into both designing and processing spatial location with a dual-mic setup to equal our ears is beyond us, imho, especially when you consider multiple noise sources.


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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 9:58 am 
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yeha wrote:
my mistake, i misread your post.

still, the engineering that'd go into both designing and processing spatial location with a dual-mic setup to equal our ears is beyond us, imho, especially when you consider multiple noise sources.


Maybe, unfortantly I don't know enough to say anything certain about that (so much knowlengde too obtain, so little time :( )

AtW


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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 10:05 am 
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BobDog wrote:
Beyonder wrote:
I don't think human beings are nearly as "rational" as they'd like to consider themselves to be.
Without getting back into the philosophy of science debate again, I think I would give my qualified agreement to this statement. If this sort of relativism were the rule as opposed to the exception, however, I wonder how you would explain the Sonic Impact amp, SETs, or, indeed, the vinyl revival (everyone was sure that CDs were perfect-sound-forever c. 1981, right?).


Well for starters, the Sonic Impact amp can be had for less than $30, so even if it sounds *decent* it's a good deal. Even though I am stating that it sounds great, there can really be no belly-aching about it because it's so darn cheap.

SET amps are also cheap to construct, so I don't know where you're going with that. People pay obscene sums for something that can be mass produced for next to nothing.

I think CDs sound fine just as they are.

As for Vinyl, I don't know anything about it as I've never listened to it.

Quote:
If you have never heard a difference between different cables, then your hearing may be off more than even Green Shoes' direst fears.


Nope, not once. I doubt my hearing is off, either. Many well thought out studies concur with me.

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Beyonder wrote:
Well for starters, the Sonic Impact amp can be had for less than $30, so even if it sounds *decent* it's a good deal. Even though I am stating that it sounds great, there can really be no belly-aching about it because it's so darn cheap.

SET amps are also cheap to construct, so I don't know where you're going with that. People pay obscene sums for something that can be mass produced for next to nothing.

I think CDs sound fine just as they are.


Ummm... that is my point :roll: . If all we listened to was hype, as opposed to sound, then things like the Sonic Impact, SET amps, and vinyl would never be considered good/good values. On the other hand, products like these (and Vandersteens, Gallos, (relatively) inexpensive electronics like Audible Illusions and Golden Tube) are consistently found and favored over their more expensive and imposing competition.

The idea that "CDs sound fine as they are" is such an odd statement. Are you talking about the 80s digital playback when equipment companies and recording engineers were making a travesty of the medium? Are you talking about now with the terrible playback gear that continues to be foisted upon unsuspecting consumers like alleycat (LINK), or on actually decent digital?

If it is the latter, then I agree: CDs can sound very, very good. In fact, one of the most embarrassing things for me :oops: was after years of telling everyone that 16/44.1 was broken b/c there was simply not enough info. on a CD, we find that better playback techniques are uncovering the fact that theire are huge amounts of info. trapped on our CDs that we never knew was there. My larger point, however, was that if all anyone heard was hype, then c. 1981, when we were all being sold on perfect-sound-forever, then no one would have preferred the old, outdated, inferior vinyl format--but because people actually listen (though not Beyonder or yeha or m0002a) and are not just hype-receivers, high and low priced frauds are often uncovered. Thus, people (while not fully rational) are far more rational listeners than you give them credit for being.

That said, if you think CDs sound really just great, then it is indeed clear that you have not (as you said) listened to LPs (or indeed, SACDs) on a good playback system. Sad.

Quote:
Question, ME: if you were worried about reproducing music in a way most suited to humans' fidelity/enjoyment rather than for a machine's enjoyment, to which set of audible characteristics [humans' or machines'] would you pay the greatest attention?
Answer, yeha: the machine's...

Well... I guess that pretty much says it all. You and your microphone go have a lovely time not listening to music together (I keep saying that I will no longer respond to yeha's mind-numbingly ridiculous posts and yet I keep doing so anyway, shame on me).


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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 12:16 pm 
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sigh. i'm a better listener than probably 99% of the population, yourself included - years of testing audio compression, many many years of piano/saxophone/clarinet training, even longer transposing songs from recordings into sheet music and experience hearing many things that bystanders miss.

if you think vinyl sounds better, good for you. it doesn't, i've heard more than a dozen systems in my numerous musical performance outings and transposing sessions and have been extremely irritated by the pathetic noise floor of the medium - it takes around 5 times longer for me to accurately transpose a song from vinyl than a decent cd - but if noise is what you're after then you've struck gold. it continually pains me that so many of my favorite jazz/swing artists and their performances were relegated to it, but it's the best medium we had for a long time. if you think your hearing is so good, please accept the cd of compressed songs for a listening test, and be amazed when you fail miserably.

you can go on living in a fantasy land where blind tests are meaningless, our ears are dozens of times better than electrical equipment and electrical theory applies to every physical phenomena except speaker cable. i'll happily take my common sense, my test results and the scientific method onto a more rational existence.

if you think sacds sound so much better than cds, all you're hearing is different mastering, not the difference in frequency and resolution afforded by the medium. the fact that you think a poorly-thought-out format like sacd's dsd is so superior to cdda shows that you haven't studied the format of either in much detail, or you have and are not big on information theory. but why listen to us, we're deaf scientists who can't pick out "nuance" differences between electrically identical cables.


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