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Ten Biggest Audio Lies: Agree or Disagree (If you disagree, you must explain why!) Votes are public!


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9. The CD treatment lie.

Wrong again Peter. These things clearly work. Give them a try. Here is a very good one: http://www.affirmaudio.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=145&Itemid=124

Can you see just as well through a dirty window as a clean one? That laser is having to read through the plastic disc to get to the bits stored below. And there are things we call read errors.... CD treatments can work very well.

Then again, with a $79 CD/DVD player will you notice the difference. Maybe not. But that doesn't mean CD treatments don't work.
 

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10. The Golden Ear lie.

There is some truth to this in that there are not those that "hear" better than the rest of us. Much like the writer suggests, it is not so much about ability to hear as memory retention and recognition of differences. And there is a lot to be said for one that has "trained ears". If you have experience in listening then you recognize problems quickly and what might be causing them. But anyone can be trained to listen for and understand causes for differences. Setting up a listening room properly is pretty easy if you know what to listen for and understand what to do to change things. So I am with him on this one. I will also add that I rarely hear of such a claim made that certain audiophiles have golden ears. I certainly can't see it being one of the biggest lies in audio. I don't even recall seeing any debates over it.
 

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1. The cable lie.

This one shows complete ignorance. There is much more to cables than simple resistance, inductance, and capacitance.
Really? Do you have any qualifications to make that statement? As an electrical engineer, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the three properties you've listed maps a cable completely.

All cables have attributes of being an antenna and a filter to some degree. And some lean much more one way than the other. They can pick up EMI and RFI or reject or block it.
Please elaborate on this. You have peeked my curiosity.

There is also a big difference it type and purity of the wire itself. Think of the signal being placed on the wire like the swinging kinetic balls. See some of them here: Kinetic balls - YouTube Whatever you hit on one side transfers to the other. However, put a bunch of impurities in the wire (low purity Copper) and it will block or disrupt the signal. It would be like sliding a piece of paper between a couple of those swinging balls. So what you get off of the other end is not quite the same as what you hit it with.
I'm afraid to tell you that your kinetic ball model is far from an accurate to describe conduction.

Different types of speaker wire react differently when the speaker loads change as well.
Speakers are the load and its the amplifier that reacts to the load, not the speaker and not the wire.

The dielectric material or jacketing also has a big effect on the signal transfer. Differences from PVC, polyethylene, or Teflon all have some effect, and a character to their sound. This is very easily heard.

Braiding or shielding effects the sounds as well. Braiding will have a filtering effect by canceling out noise. Shielding works very differently, but can have a similar effect sometimes. You can even effect the sound of a cable by adding a Copper sleeve around it like a Z-Sleeve. You can just wrap a little bit of Stillpoints ERS cloth around the end of a cable and clearly alter the sound without changing anything about the way the wire measures. For that matter just twist or braid your speaker cables and notice the difference.
Please elaborate on the principles behind this one.

All cables have some effect or a difference in sound compared to cables of a different type or typology. I find it hard to find two that sound alike than to find any that sound different. They all sound a little different. And this is true for speaker cables, interconnect, and power cables.
It behoofs me that cables can rectify the many miles of house wiring that the electronics are plugged into and can miracously clean up all that noise.

For those of you that really do believe that a coat hanger with the ends scraped off or some 16 gauge lamp cord is just as good as anything else (as per the article), then I have some beach front property I'd like to sell you in Nebraska. Okay that was a little jab and I wasn't going to do that. But really, if you consider the system that the writer likely uses then is there any surprise to his conclusions?
I believe you just purchased the entire coastline of the state :T
 

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8. The power conditioner lie.

This one is another complete lie on the part of the writer. And this is one of the easiest of all to hear and notice differences. AC noise and everything else that has attached itself to the miles of power lines terribly contaminates the audio signal and creates an undesirable noise floor. It doesn't matter how good your source gear is. It is not immune to AC noise.

When I'd exhibit at a show (somewhere in a hotel room) the AC noise on the lines are really bad, different from place to place, and at different times of the day. We always have to focus some attention to this problem. Otherwise we have a high noise floor.
Tell me something, do the electrical components that comprise an am or a CD player run off of AC or DC?

Good power conditioning can really drop the noise floor. It can improve the efficiency of power supplies in amps and pre-amps, and improve low level clarity and imaging. Even a good power cable can filter out a lot of garbage and make notable improvements.
That is technically incorrect. Power supply efficiency can't be changed by simply cleaning up the noise.

By leaving all settings the same on the gear and making back to back A/B comparisons, using some power conditioners, will show a change in loudness. Yes the system with conditioning actually plays louder without touching a volume control. This is because the transformers operate more efficiently. The noise floor is lower too.
Have you measured the results? I don't believe in subjective perceptions as humans are fraught with inaccuracies in hearing memory and accuracy.

And anyone that has ever listened to one of our displays at a show can easily note the low noise floor compared to other rooms. We have blacker blacks, more clear space between notes, better resolution, and great levels of detail. Other rooms not putting forth as much effort to address this problem clearly do have get the same results.

Again the writer shows a complete lack of experience or just ignorance on this topic. And it is indeed a shame that so many people here taking this poll have bought into the lie perpetuated by the writer.

There are companies that will send out free power conditioners and power cables for a free trail. Get some and try them out. I have even sent some out on a demo tour free of charge just for education and enlightenment. In other words, don't take my word of it. Let me show you.
This is post is typical of sales talk that I warn all my friends about. Its all marketing hype with afew buzzwords thrown in an attempt to make it sound technical. There are so many technical holes in your arguements that the coastline is beginning to erode.
 

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Hey, thanks for responding. I will try to answer some of your questions below each question.

Really? Do you have any qualifications to make that statement? As an electrical engineer, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the three properties you've listed maps a cable completely.
Oh, I am just a guy that has been designing loudspeakers for a while. You might look me up. You can see some of the services I offer here: http://gr-research.com/services.aspx And you'll see posted there a few of the awards that I have been given for my loudspeaker design. I think maybe more industry awards than any other company or designer in the last five or six years.

You can try Googling me if you like. I just did and got 11,600,000 hits. They can't all be me, but the whole first page was full of audio related hits about me.

There is much more to a cables properties than LCR. That's just the extent of what you can measure with basic tools.

Please elaborate on this. You have peeked my curiosity.
About cables being having properties of being an antenna and a filter?

Simple. Just split them into a T and you have an antenna. Braid them and you have some RFI filtering. That is why braided cables like these are so popular.



I'm afraid to tell you that your kinetic ball model is far from an accurate to describe conduction.
I think it gives people a good general idea of how AC current works. Oddly many thing it runs through wire like water through a garden hose.

Speakers are the load and its the amplifier that reacts to the load, not the speaker and not the wire.
You better check this data out: http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1274851

Please elaborate on the principles behind this one.
Dielectric materials, shielding, or braiding?

It behoofs me that cables can rectify the many miles of house wiring that the electronics are plugged into and can miracously clean up all that noise.
Actually there is no mystery there at all. The cable becomes a filter.
 

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Yes, a lot of gear flips between AC and DC. I even have tube amps, tube pre-amps, a DAC, and a Mac Mini running on a DC source for low noise benefits. Some of that gear converts back to AC...

That is technically incorrect. Power supply efficiency can't be changed by simply cleaning up the noise.
Actually it can and it is easily demonstrated. You don't even need to use a meter. It is enough to easily hear it.

Have you measured the results? I don't believe in subjective perceptions as humans are fraught with inaccuracies in hearing memory and accuracy.
I haven't and felt no need to. When I noticed it with the PI Audio Majik Buss that I was trying out I did contact the manufacturer regarding it and they did confirm that to be the case.

This is post is typical of sales talk that I warn all my friends about. Its all marketing hype with afew buzzwords thrown in an attempt to make it sound technical. There are so many technical holes in your arguements that the coastline is beginning to erode.
But I don't sell power conditioning products. I am a loudspeaker designer. And there are no holes in anything I state. I can understand your position to some degree though. These things aren't taught to you in school when you get that EE degree. In fact very little about this industry is taught in school. Acoustics or loudspeaker design is a dying art. Almost none of it is taught in school. Hang in there though, and don't knock the guys that have practical experience in their fields of expertise.
 

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But I don't sell power conditioning products. I am a loudspeaker designer. And there are no holes in anything I state. I can understand your position to some degree though. These things aren't taught to you in school when you get that EE degree. In fact very little about this industry is taught in school. Acoustics or loudspeaker design is a dying art. Almost none of it is taught in school. Hang in there though, and don't knock the guys that have practical experience in their fields of expertise.
Loudspeaker design is an art in balancing and marrying of some mechanical, acoustical, and electrical principles which I don 't have to tell you. Lots and lots of science which I assume you use on a daily basis. I would like to believe what you have posted but I can't. My training as an EE and the physco acoustical work of Dr Floyd Tool prevents me from buying in. So if your game, lets talk about the cables and the power conditioners and discuss the points that we disagree on. I apologize for the earlier snide remarks but I mirror back what I read. If you are game, I need to see proof of tests done in order to validate it in my mind. I can't accept anything less. I can understand if you find that last remark insulting but its not my intention to be insulting. If what you hold to be true is your subjective gut feel, I can understand it but there will be no point in arguing the subjective. Its like trying to change my mind towards the driving quality of American cars.
 

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Loudspeaker design is an art in balancing and marrying of some mechanical, acoustical, and electrical principles which I don 't have to tell you. Lots and lots of science which I assume you use on a daily basis. I would like to believe what you have posted but I can't. My training as an EE and the physco acoustical work of Dr Floyd Tool prevents me from buying in. So if your game, lets talk about the cables and the power conditioners and discuss the points that we disagree on. I apologize for the earlier snide remarks but I mirror back what I read. If you are game, I need to see proof of tests done in order to validate it in my mind. I can't accept anything less. I can understand if you find that last remark insulting but its not my intention to be insulting. If what you hold to be true is your subjective gut feel, I can understand it but there will be no point in arguing the subjective. Its like trying to change my mind towards the driving quality of American cars.
I am not really out to make a "believer" out of you or anyone else. I admit to have developed quite a following of happy customers, but I am not a cult leader.

But if you love music and in some way I can make that experience even better for you then that's a bonus for you and makes me happy too.

I did not take your remarks insulting and I hope no one took mine that way either. I am a very honest guy and sometimes that honesty can sound less than tactful from typed words on a page. If you know me then you know how to take me and if you don't then I could be painted in a way that is not really me. So I do make some effort to be a little less as a matter of fact when I can. Still I am from Texas. :bigsmile:

I am game for a talk about cables and power conditioners.

Like you I will not argue the subjective. What someone hears or does not hear can't be argued. But I won't discount the subjective either. Things often start there. And then the "why" is asked pursued and learned. I have an objective side and all the tools necessary for my job. And I measure everything that I can.

Some of this craziness involving power cables and conditioners started in 2001 when my friend Dave Elledge showed up at GR Research and dropped one of his power cables into my system. And then another one... I was stunned. :yikes: How was that possible? I didn't need a double blind test with a panel of college students to recognize what just happened. It was very obvious. Then another level of learning began. I should ask him if he'd like to join in on this chat. He is way more of an expert in this area than I and fun to have around.

Then I tried one of Gary Dodd's balanced power supplies. Oh boy. He became a good friend too.

I then made a bunch of various cables just for fun and learning... Now all these years later doing this day in and day out and I my experiences have lead me to where I am now.

So you don't like the ride of American cars. Do I have to change that too? Come on down and we'll go for a ride or two.
 

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I have been watching this thread for a while. A whirling dervish of visiting family and some life experiences has kept me from responding until ... uhm... almost now. We have a couple of things to do this morning, but I'll be back to add my $1.98 later today.

A preview: This ALWAYS happens when someone opens the Grand High Audio god's "10 biggest Lies in Audio" topic...

Stay tuned.

**************************************************************************************************************************************

OK, oldest daughter and family are headed back to Portland, had a good morning at the range, so here we go.

This will not be too lengthy as I will weigh in in each of the individual threads as I see fit. I do need to add that i generally disagree with all of the "lies" except for #7 - Biwiring. While it can be beneficial on rare occasions to individually voice each driver, (talk about 'wire', here). mostly it is more of a pain than a boon.

Audio is much like everything else in life where making categorical pronouncements will get the mouth in charge into more trouble than not. Best to stay away from absolutes in efforts by human beings and leave those to the realm of divinity, methinks.

People are wrong, everyone.... at least some of the time. Making the blanket statement, especially as made by Peter Aczel, is simply ignorant. Ask anyone in the semiconductor industry if wire is wire. Not only that, but they will tell you that the orientation of the conductor (direction) is absolutely critical to signal flow. There is a reason why most implant (PHI) is done at the "critical immersion angle"...Way too esoteric for this discussion, but it has a bearing (inadvertent pun) on this discussion. More about wire, later.

Engineers come in several flavors: Practical, design and research to name three. Each one operates in his or her own universe of experience. Doesn't make on smarter depending upon their application, but is relevant because of their sphere of experience or empiricism.

Audiophhols like us come in a wide variety of flavors, too. I'll limit my discussion to just a few because I have a job and I'm not an audio journalist. Besides, I rarely trust "journalists" anymore, but that is a topic definitely not for HTS. Let's just deal with the oblivious (sometimes a newbie, often not), the content, the argumentative, the inquisitive and the wacko. Most of us a some degree of all of these types depending upon their schtick in audio. I operate freely in all of these regimens depending upon the phase of the moon, my bias current and my I/O derivative. People are boring when they are all in one camp. Too placid or zen for me.

I am one of the few people in this thread that ever met Mr. Aczel. I will refrain from comments about him other than to use his own words. He was an audio curmudgeon... on a good day.

I said this would be short... uhm, I was wrong. See how easy that is: I was wrong.

In my posts to come I will try to be as concise as possible And try very hard not to be an argumentative jerk. If I do, I apologize in advance and feel free to rein me in. Arguing is a worthless occupation unless one wants to go into some professions that elude all reason to me. I will tell you all this: I do not suffer agendas born out of a lack of experience easily; I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you; I aim before I shoot; and we all tend to mock what we do not understand.

I'll be back later. It is time to make the donuts.

Dave
 

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I hear just as many assumptions about what is not possible in terms of effects of cables etc as I do with respect to differences. With all due respect, Danny, I hear lots of personal experience from you that you suggest supports effects that are not well explained within our understanding of physics and electrical theory. Similarly, our friends on the engineering side of things seem to oversimplify and make just as bold assumptions that they understand all of the variables and interactions involved.

It can be demonstrated easily that there are differences in cables, as the article Danny linked shows, but whether these effects are as significant as portrayed by many believers in the audio business is doubtful. There is clearly benefit to the high end industry to exaggerating the differences and leading people to believe that they are substantial to their experience of music reproduced through expensive systems. That much of the difference is due to expectation bias is almost certain. What remains to be done is to quantify effects and map those effects onto perception and qualify what can be actually distinguished with the many variables that affect this ability. It has not happened to the satisfaction of many of us.
 

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a major problem with alot of net based info.there is alot of fud with no fact checking.
What kind of fact checking do you propose? Purely scientific methodology or repeatable empiricism?

Legitimate question. Are the senses trustworthy when everything comes to push and shove?.

Dave
 

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This debate often goes bad because the sides are often not asking the same question. For many, that they perceive a difference is enough to justify what they believe about how something sounds. It does not need to be checked with scientific methodology. for others, even if they perceive a change, they want to know why and whether it was due to actual changes in the sound or psychological factors. The former are after an experience and are willing to not ask questions at that level. The latter are after experience as well but have to understand it. Then there are busy bodies that are out to force others to justify every belief. Debating, discussing, and disagreement are OK, just remember to be respectful. Nothing else will be tolerated here. That is not directed at any one person, just a reminder that this is a contentious subject and that we will maintain civil discourse at HTS.
 

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Isn't the whole purpose of any music reproduction is to come as close to a live performance as possible?

Why aren't we comparing everything to live performance? Oh, I forgot! Most likely 90% of us has never heard live performance of acoustic music or the piece we are listening to performed live. Comparing one set of equipment to another without referencing either to live music is futile.

How can anyone state that his magic elixir, be it cables, tube rings, etc., makes it sound more real, without ever listening to the original live performance of the piece being played?

Obviously any live performance, other than pure acoustic performance of acoustic instruments without the aid of electronics (mike, reverb, amps, speakers, etc.), is also invalid, since the electronics that was used to record the performance affect the resulting sound. In this case, how do you know when you reached Nirvana (not the group) and you have reproduced the original performance sound?

Back in my formative years (early '60s) when I heard my first mono tube amp, I thought it sounded fantastic. Then I started to attend live concerts and wanted to ask the conductor if he can turn up the volume and increase the bass, because it didn't sound as good as my system.

My point being, what are we comparing it with? Live music or one set of equipment with another?
 

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I disagreed with the listening test lie. While many listening test are conducted poorly, when done correctly it allows for one to compare two or more models. And after all, I've always felt that we should buy what we like & not what others like. Just need to be aware that comparisons need to be set up correctly.
 

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This debate often goes bad because the sides are often not asking the same question. For many, that they perceive a difference is enough to justify what they believe about how something sounds. It does not need to be checked with scientific methodology. for others, even if they perceive a change, they want to know why and whether it was due to actual changes in the sound or psychological factors. The former are after an experience and are willing to not ask questions at that level. The latter are after experience as well but have to understand it. Then there are busy bodies that are out to force others to justify every belief. Debating, discussing, and disagreement are OK, just remember to be respectful. Nothing else will be tolerated here. That is not directed at any one person, just a reminder that this is a contentious subject and that we will maintain civil discourse at HTS.
A perfect response to the topic. I've been doing the audio thing for longer than I want to admit and I know that I don't know a lot about this topic. The man singularly responsible for my transformation from a staunch objectivist to a fascinated subjectivist was a theoretical physicist at Los Alamos National Labs. I got my first " better" capacitors from him. I objected and he looked me squarely in the eyes and said "Dave, we understand the whys and how's of many things in physics. Seldom do we understand the why and the how of individual aspects of physics." Of course this was many years ago and our knowledge base is expanding at a base 2 rate. Still, there are things that elude us. Human perception is one - the arrogance of man as a species is another.

A few things that need to be remembered about the listening experience:

It is wholly a perceptual experience based upon individual preference, i.e. bias.

Perception is wholly an individual experience with the emphasis upon experience.

Every person hears differently due to individual ear structure and HRTF.

Different is only different. Better is better. As always, YMMV

Dave
 

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Isn't the whole purpose of any music reproduction is to come as close to a live performance as possible?
I don't agree with that premise. I think the purpose is to give people pleasure mostly. But for different people there are different purposes and priorities. That is why there are so many perspectives on these "lies".
 

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Isn't the whole purpose of any music reproduction is to come as close to a live performance as possible?

Why aren't we comparing everything to live performance? Oh, I forgot! Most likely 90% of us has never heard live performance of acoustic music or the piece we are listening to performed live. Comparing one set of equipment to another without referencing either to live music is futile.

How can anyone state that his magic elixir, be it cables, tube rings, etc., makes it sound more real, without ever listening to the original live performance of the piece being played?

Back in my formative years (early '60s) when I heard my first mono tube amp, I thought it sounded fantastic. Then I started to attend live concerts and wanted to ask the conductor if he can turn up the volume and increase the bass, because it didn't sound as good as my system.

My point being, what are we comparing it with? Live music or one set of equipment with another?
i think you make a couple of questionable assumptions. One of which is that 90% of us have never hears a live performance. I think this has to do with your assumption of orchestral music being "live performance" as YOUR reference. Every perceived sound is live performance. The birdsong in the morning is live performance. A passel of rowdy kids singing Happy Bithday is live performance. Only the scale of performance and the venues are different.

The Telarc recording of the 1812 Overture reproducing the body of the music on a loudspeaker with 87dB sensitivity at an average listening level of 2 watts requires 10,000 watts instantaneously to "accurately" reproduce the power envelope of the cannon. That is why I prefer high sensitivity loudspeakers.

I was on the recording team that had the contract to record the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra years ago. Popejoy Hall was so bad that we used microphones throughout the orchestra to help even out the performance so that the performance all through the house was acceptable. Thes mids, known as "specials" in an orchestral context are used in most halls. They are used not only for recording purposes, but through the sound reinforcement system to attain venue balance. They are found in most symphonic venues to assist in sense of scale for full versus partially filled space. So your orchestral live performance may or may have not been artificially augmented.

Conversely, during Jeff Beck's tour with SRV in 1990 Gayle and I were seated in row 4 right in front of Terry Bozzio. The left stack was to our left about 15' away. Bozzio's concert opening kick drum stroke was a visceral experience I would prefer not to experience again. It is amazing how such air 8 McCauley 18"s in horn loaded enclosures can move with 30KW of power per side can move. We always take ear plugs to concerts JIK.

Dave
 

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i think you make a couple of questionable assumptions. One of which is that 90% of us have never hears a live performance.
Dave
I don't think NotBananas was meaning that 90% of us have not heard a live performance. I wonder if he is meaning that most of us have not heard the same performance live and recorded. Such as that Jeff Beck concert you attended. You got to experience that performance live, then if you could play that same recorded performance through different playback systems and listen for which system comes closest to the live event. Of course it goes without saying that the quality of the recording plays a major role in this.
 

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I don't think NotBananas was meaning that 90% of us have not heard a live performance. I wonder if he is meaning that most of us have not heard the same performance live and recorded. Such as that Jeff Beck concert you attended. You got to experience that performance live, then if you could play that same recorded performance through different playback systems and listen for which system comes closest to the live event. Of course it goes without saying that the quality of the recording plays a major role in this.
I think he was talking about both examples. That is why I referenced the opening live kick drum in the Jeff Beck song "Guitar Shop". However, his primary reference was to live symphonic music. That was the main thrust of my reply. I hope he responds.

Dave
 
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