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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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I have a BSEE (Electrical Engineering) and one thing that cannot be overridden is Ohms Law! It's a simple concept. The larger the conductor diameter, the less resistance, therefore it can carry more current with less losses. This is true up to a point, then you reach a point of diminishing returns. The only way to get zero losses is to have a superconductor cooled to absolute zero temperature (not possible) so the closer you get to absolute zero, the less losses.

I (current) = V (voltage) / R (resistance)

So the less resistance, the more current passes through the conductor.
All this nonsense that made Monster Cable rich is bunk! If you use a 14AW (American Wire) gauge size wire instead of 18 gauge (zip cord), you will have less current losses. Most wire from the amp to the speakers are about 10ft. run. If you use a 16 or 14 gauge wire, it will have a minimal effect on this short of distance.

As far as the skin effect, it applies mostly to high frequency RF. I was a amateur radio operator and the skin effect starts taking into consideration in megahertz ranges. At audio frequencies, it absolutely has no effect! At higher frequencies (in megahertz and gigahertz range) electrons migrate towards the surface of the conductor, so the diameter of the conductor has a larger effect. This is why you see hollow tubes (called waveguides) used as conductors in the gigahertz range, such as radar. They are actually hollow, since there's no reason to have a center conductor in these frequency ranges.

As far as interconnect, "The Prof" is correct. All interconnects present a combination of inductance and capacitance called reactance, to the two units coupled with them. If anyone hears a difference, it's only because each cable has different reactance (capacitance and inductance) value which makes the amp or preamp sound different. It all depends what sound you favor as to what you hear, better or worse, it's just an opinion.

If you all remember the fairytale about the Emperors New Clothes: nobody wanted to admit he was naked for fear of other's thinking they are not knowledgeable.

My 50 years of knowledge of physics and electronics and common sense (not so common anymore) had saved me countless thousands of dollars over the years.

The final judge is what the music sound like compared to live source. Comparing it to another audio system is not valid because they all have colorization to the sound. It's just which one you prefer over the other, not which one is better or worse.
Nicely put. :T
 

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Oh wow...what a controversial subject and being an electrical engineer, its my professional opinion that most are lies. Also have read a few exerpts from Dr. Floyd Tool confirms my suspicions on many a subjective claims...

*runs and hides* :D
 

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There are things that affect signal integrity in cabling, but they are well understood things like capacitance in signal cables (esp if a high-impedance source) microphonics due to static effects and voltage generation, or even plain old insulation breakdown, noise pickup due to unbalanced runs, etc, etc.

I use high quality cables and make up most of my own so that I know they are high quality, but I work in audio, and know that the little differences soon stack up when you have long cable runs. I use star-quad microphone cabling for microphone runs when recording low-level stuff (eg voiceovers) and I will spend money on good preamps for this purpose.

But, there are a lot of practices that make either none or very little difference, and it galls me that the marketing for these items concentrates on getting the fool to part with his money rather than find the genuine weak point in the setup (usu acoustics) and help improve it.

It is inescapable that if people are willing to believe in these things, then people and companies will exploit this.


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The above I do agree with.

To accord with my checkmarks, I offer the following to balance the arguments a bit:

I like vacuum tubes because I believe in euphonics. I remember wandering in to The Natural Sound and finding a pair of B&W 801s set up in the middle of the floor, wired and ready to go. No one was around, so I cued up a copy of "Let It Bleed". Yuch! Really, I didn't want to know the Stones were recorded that poorly. :D If tubes can make bad stuff sound good, so I can concentrate on the performance and ignore the recording, that's worth a little accuracy in my book, and goes at least double for home theater.

Antidigital lie?!? What about the digital lie, "Perfect sound forever!" It's been shown CDs are not archival, and may not even last ten years. And once "digital" became a buzzword, they foisted MP3s on us, and an entire generation swallowed them without flinching. :eek:lddude:

True, if you have $8000 monoblocks, you don't need power conditioning for your amplifiers. But I think most people's gear, in most parts of the world, might benefit from a little voltage regulation and filtering.

As far as Golden Ears go... sure, there are folks in the business that set themselves up as cult leaders. But everyone does not hear the same, nor respond the same to what they do hear. I noticed long ago, flat frequency response is totally lost on some people, while others are not impressed by time alignment. Apparently our ears are not only sensitive to different things, they also auto-correct different things. As I implied earlier, while perfect reproduction is the goal, we're not there yet, and what's "best" for each of us will depend on what allows us to maintain our personal "suspension of disbelief". Me, I like big and I need loud. My wife on the other hand, is perfectly willing to believe there's an orchestra in that little box, and it's playing the fortissimo parts softly. :innocent:

The system didn't sound so good because it had valves, it sounded so good because it was very well designed, engineered, built and set up. This can be acheived with valves or "solid state".

"Perfect Sound Forever" was a lie in terms of the CD, but that was marketing and the weakness is in the medium, not the method.

CD and digital are not one and the same thing. Once the accuracy of digital had been improved (yes, many early ADCs and DACs were not nice), there was a huge learning curve about what we actually like about music -and one thing found repeatedly was the distortions inherent in analogue gear (valve amplification, valve preamps, impedance and isolation transformers, tape heads and mechanisms and magnetic media itself, etc, etc) were part of the sounds we liked and helped make the mixes sound warm and pleasing.

With oversampling and 24-bit resolution, digital has now come of age, and with well designed, engineered, built and set-up equipment is about as perfect as you can acheive -whether you want that perfection without the familiar organic sounds of the various distortions you are used to is another matter... ;) I can record more accurately than the very best in professional equipment could 20 years ago, but that will not make the results sound more pleasing.

mp3s, well I agree with you for the most part. They are clever, but they are not accurate, or even good or close to it in many cases. They serve a purpose, they filled a gap when digital storage was too expensive and internet transfer was incapable of delivering the bandwidth. The technologies are very good at delivering audio and video with a fraction of the storage and bandwidth required if it was uncompressed, and digital TV, DVDs and Blue-Ray would not exist if not for the methods.

The sourest part of the mp3 debate is that most users, consumers, do not care; in many cases they probably cannot actually tell. I use them at elevated bitrates for demo and example stuff and as I said, they serve a purpose. Nobody should be under the impression that they are high fidelity carriers though.

What you should be aware of though, is the horrific things done to artistic audio creations over the last twenty years due to the perceived need to make the recording "louder", despite the obvious ceiling of digital full-scale. The mangling done by mixers and masterers at the behest of artistes, A&R, Producers (or even themselves) in the loudness anxiety illness is unbelieveable and is worthy of some study; I can assure you that you will stare in disbelief if you understand what has been done as a result of this quest.

Luckily it seems that with high bitdepth uncompressed delivery at last seeming a reality, and the wonderful concept of normalising to loudness and not digital peak level when mastering content now set out and being accepted (EBU R128), dynamic music as it used to be mixed will soon be the norm for you high-end boys (and girls) to exercise your audio systems with.

As I'm sure you will agree though, the most significant factors to affect audio quality is the acoustics and the setup of home systems, it doesn't (to a degree) matter how much you spend on the gear if this is not attended to :)



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There are things that affect signal integrity in cabling, but they are well understood things like capacitance in signal cables (esp if a high-impedance source) microphonics due to static effects and voltage generation, or even plain old insulation breakdown, noise pickup due to unbalanced runs, etc, etc.

I use high quality cables and make up most of my own so that I know they are high quality, but I work in audio, and know that the little differences soon stack up when you have long cable runs. I use star-quad microphone cabling for microphone runs when recording low-level stuff (eg voiceovers) and I will spend money on good preamps for this purpose.

But, there are a lot of practices that make either none or very little difference, and it galls me that the marketing for these items concentrates on getting the fool to part with his money rather than find the genuine weak point in the setup (usu acoustics) and help improve it.

It is inescapable that if people are willing to believe in these things, then people and companies will exploit this.


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They are so good at their marketing that they have their customers believe it hook line and sinker. The other thing I find really funny is interconnects. Most of them are single ended, not differential so what is actually being bought is simply a visual thing, not an audio thing. The visual que is what makes people believe in the audio que but are not aware of the influence of sight bias. IHO, any audio leaders who perpetuate that interconnects and cables are sonically different espicially in these short runs are in fact perpetrating fraud of sorts.
 

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I don't know how this sits with the rules, esp if they might be an advertiser here, but I wouldn't buy that particular companies products if you gave me the money. They have a very dubious moral standing in many people's eyes and engage in quite predatory and unethical behaviour regarding the trademarking of anything with a similar name to theirs, and patent cases which they have had their legal knuckles rapped for.

I have refused entry to that brand of cable in my studio and refuse to connect it to my equipment on live stages. It might seem to be an extreme reaction, but people remember, and I'm aware of several people who have changed their minds after researching the company's practices. If people behaved like some companies, they would be ostracised as utter pariahs. Too much is accepted under the escape clause of "it's business".

Anyway, another conversation for another time, but yes, too much is put into looking pretty and inferring amazing qualties in the interconnect world. I roll my own where I can -it gives you much better quality and confidence for the same money or cheaper...


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What you should be aware of though, is the horrific things done to artistic audio creations over the last twenty years due to the perceived need to make the recording "louder", despite the obvious ceiling of digital full-scale. The mangling done by mixers and masterers at the behest of artistes, A&R, Producers (or even themselves) in the loudness anxiety illness is unbelieveable and is worthy of some study; I can assure you that you will stare in disbelief if you understand what has been done as a result of this quest.
What many reporters of the "Loudness Wars" seem to overlook is a lot of (most?) music these days is listened to through earbuds in a noisy urban environment. It's not dissimilar to the "AM radio mix", from back when most teens listened to rock and roll on their car radios.

Luckily it seems that with high bitdepth uncompressed delivery at last seeming a reality, and the wonderful concept of normalising to loudness and not digital peak level when mastering content now set out and being accepted (EBU R128), dynamic music as it used to be mixed will soon be the norm for you high-end boys (and girls) to exercise your audio systems with.
Perhaps what we'll see is the distribution of a "home mix" and a "mobile mix", though it would seem to me a better choice to let the DSP of the mobile device do the compression.

As I'm sure you will agree though, the most significant factors to affect audio quality is the acoustics and the setup of home systems, it doesn't (to a degree) matter how much you spend on the gear if this is not attended to :)
Absolutely. It doesn't take much "problem fixing" in terms of upgrading gear before the biggest problem that remains is the room, itself.
 

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What many reporters of the "Loudness Wars" seem to overlook is a lot of (most?) music these days is listened to through earbuds in a noisy urban environment. It's not dissimilar to the "AM radio mix", from back when most teens listened to rock and roll on their car radios.

Perhaps what we'll see is the distribution of a "home mix" and a "mobile mix", though it would seem to me a better choice to let the DSP of the mobile device do the compression...

Yes Jef, but there is a whole world of difference between merely reducing dynamic range and performing the iterative lumphammer mangling that is found in almost every mainstream CD release. There surely can be no excuse for repeatedly and deeply clipping the signal, just because you're scared that one of the "competition's" CDs will appear louder at the same playback gain.

It is so extreme that many releases have to be mastered as a second, separate "radio mix" without the hpercompression and brickwall limiting (yes those are real audio terms, not hyperbole) as the public release will sound horrifically distorted if passed through most radio stations' broadcast processors...

It's gone a bit far, hasn't it..? :rubeyes:



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... the iterative lumphammer mangling ...
:rofl:

Brilliant!


I suppose I'm lucky because I have a friend with a massive vinyl collection who's side business is making CDs for people.

But you might think, with falling CD sales, it would occur to them that the (ahem!) quality of the product had some small part in it all.
 

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OK,
So i disagreed with the tube amp one.
But I've got a bit of a different spin.
I dont think I'd ever use a tube amp for a HT or Music playback application.
But for playing guitar, there is no comparison.
I like a lot of over drive and distortion and solid state amps just dont do it the same.
 

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I voted and it said You must explain if you disagree. Well I only disagreed with the anti-digital
one and that was because there are some very real differences in the execution of analog
and digital conversion and the way a lot of the early digital recordings were made. I can hear
the difference between certain old CD players and the many of the early digital recordings lacked
depth and realism. I think the first really good CD I bought was a Denon Luis Conte called Black Forest
that really showed me what CD could be. So I guess this is a qualified disagree. I was in the audio
business for many years and grew up loving music in the fifties and sixties. So only the earliest
Altec and Electro-Voice systems escaped my initial experience. Good clean power is so cheap compared
to what was available to me when I was young. And I usually made my own cables from copper
wrapped RG-6. But, I sometimes used decent quality manufactured calbes. I think optical is very cool.
I do like a heavy duty speaker cable for the mains just to carry decent current. In the old days you
had to watch how you matched amps and speakers, cables were secondary. I had some old Magneplanars
that you better have a decent current capable amp to run with or they sounded awful. I believe that
is still true with them. I do have some hearing impairment, but my ear is trained and I always told the
customer "if you can't hear the difference why would you want to spend the money?" But, there are
and probably alway will be people that want to spend the MONEY!
 

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I have to say that I agree with them all. However, I think that some of them are opinions (the article just shares my opinions). For something to sound good is dependent on the listener. For some, "good" may bring back memories of their childhood listening to their dad's records, so that's what they are associating and comparing it to. For others, they want the most accurate reproduction of the original recording.

Some prefer the sound of tubes vs. transistors. I don't. I wouldn't say that the other guy was wrong, though. I am sure my ears aren't the de facto ears when it comes to audio reception. Even with a microphone and a high tech comparison to the original media - I think it would still come down to personal preference, not which one was technically accurate compared to the original recording.

Others are a bit more black and white.
 

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I have just been perusing the results. The Valve lie appears to be one holding sway, and it is a weird one. People talk about 'warmth' and even harmonic distortion etc. I think that this is fairly classic rubbish! Valve guitar amps, oh yes, the feel of them is very different, and the sound of overdriven valves has a detail and texture that it is hard for digital processing to emulate. But in terms of hi-fi I think it is really not a question of levels and types of distortion but basically well designed equipment. A well designed hi end op-amp/transistor based pre-amp will sound good, so too will a well designed valve amplifier. I would be very interested to hear an ABX test on a valve and an op-amp/transistor pre amp (or even amplifier) if we were looking at two hi end units, especially if we were listening to instruments and comparing the apparent reality of the resulting sound.

D
 

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I don't know if my disagreement with the power conditioner lie is actually disagreement or ignorance. My concern lies with a situation that I know is deadly to computers and that is low power situations or brownouts. While I have never lost any A/V equipment to power situations I have had computers fry before so all of my computers are connected to battery backup systems that provide a consistent voltage to the computer regardless of what the incoming power is doing and continue to provide the consistent current even after the power has gone out for a long enough period of time to safely shut everything down.

So my concern is wouldn't A/V equipment benefit from similar protection? Not the battery back up since I no longer have a projection TV with a lamp that needs to cool down but from brown outs and spikes.
 

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..... all of my computers are connected to battery backup systems that provide a consistent voltage to the computer regardless of what the incoming power is doing and continue to provide the consistent current even after the power has gone out for a long enough period of time to safely shut everything down.

So my concern is wouldn't A/V equipment benefit from similar protection? Not the battery back up since I no longer have a projection TV with a lamp that needs to cool down but from brown outs and spikes.
I have a battery backup on all my electronic equipment, A/V and computer. The standard battery backup does not supply constant power to the equipment. It is a backup that switches instantly (less than a 1/4 cycle of the loss of AC with my APC brand). The type you are describing is not a backup, it's a constant voltage power source which continuously runs off the battery so there's no switching time is the power fails. The batteries are always charging from the line voltage while it supplies power to the equipment. There's no real benefit to this arrangement, because you are now relying on the electronics of the constant power source to continue to operate. Like any other electronic equipment, it's not "if it fails" it's "when it fails".

You are also now relying on the power inverter to convert DC voltage to AC that powers the equipment. Rarely battery backups provide true 60/50 Hz sine waves to the equipment. Most provide a sawtooth wave which emulates a sine wave closely, others a square wave or a modified form of wave that crosses the zero base line 50/60 times a second.

If your equipment has a power transformer in the power supply, it provides 99.9% of the isolation between the power source and the equipment. If it has a switching power supply, all the line noise and the switching circuitry itself generates a huge amount of noise.

I've been in electronics since the early '60s and through experience, degree in EE, and a lifelong verification of "audio myths" and half truths (like global warming) I came to the realization that whatever sounds good to the listener is the ultimate sound for them, but maybe not for you (emperor's new clothes).
 

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I don't know if my disagreement with the power conditioner lie is actually disagreement or ignorance. My concern lies with a situation that I know is deadly to computers and that is low power situations or brownouts. While I have never lost any A/V equipment to power situations I have had computers fry before so all of my computers are connected to battery backup systems that provide a consistent voltage to the computer regardless of what the incoming power is doing and continue to provide the consistent current even after the power has gone out for a long enough period of time to safely shut everything down.

So my concern is wouldn't A/V equipment benefit from similar protection? Not the battery back up since I no longer have a projection TV with a lamp that needs to cool down but from brown outs and spikes.
I am not sure what kind of problems you have had due to low voltage, but most power supplies in computer and AV equipment should not be damaged by brownouts. Most use switching power supplies that do run less efficiently at lower voltages and can get hot, but should shut down at voltages below their operating range. Running on low voltage for extended periods might be a problem for some power supplies, but if this is the case, you have more serious problems that should not rely upon a UPS to resolve.

Conventional power supplies like found in most amps and AVRs will not regulate to their normal voltages at low source voltages. Again, for brownouts, this does not typically cause damage. Sustained low voltage situations need to be fixed by the utility company or your electrician.

What usually causes damage in power situations are when transients occur due to switching in the supply system or when one leg goes down. A UPS or surge suppressor can be helpful, but more sophisticated power conditioning is usually not going to provide a meaningful benefit.
 
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