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I was plundering around the Zaph Audio site, mainly snooping for Zaph's measurements... and ran across his "About Me" page. Pretty interesting stuff:

Audiophile Snake Oil. Wild and unverified claims in advertising literature and magazine reviews. The wannabee audiophiles who try to believe it. I have feelings about it.

I used to have several all-out rant pages. I was harsh, brutal, and unforgiving. I made enemies and I made friends, I helped form sides for the believers and non-believers, all in the quest to dispell snake oil. Some people would defend snake oil as if they were defending their religion or political views.

Well, I took my old rant pages down because you just don't go and tell someone their god isn't real.

Welcome to the new and improved less offensive rants page. I'll just summarize my views with one-liners:

  • I think that CD's sound better than vinyl. I realize both formats have problems.
  • I am strictly a two channel Audiophile, even with video sources. I hate 5.1 setups.
  • All single driver crossoverless systems sound terrible. They exist because people fear crossovers.
  • I think that for a given price point, solid state amps are generally better than tube amps.
  • I believe there is no substantial difference in high end speaker cables or interconnects.
  • I do not read audio magazines because the reviewers are as inventive as they are clueless.
  • I've never let an audio salesperson talk me into buying something. Commission = pushy.
  • "Service" is never an excuse for higher prices at local dealers. Never pay list price.
  • I hate ridiculous pricing. People are starving. Don't buy a $12k 8 watt tube amp.
  • Half the high end companies are pushing products that are not worth a fraction the price.
  • I think vintage audio is a waste of money and can't even match the sound of today's mid-fi.
  • People who use the term Pace, Rhythm and Timing (PRAT) completely fail to impress me.
  • I despise the current state of car audio. High SPL doesn't trip my trigger.
  • Big dollar crossover components are a waste of money and offer NO improvement in sound.
 

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I don't know what this means:

"I do not read audio magazines because the reviewers are as inventive as they are clueless."

Are they Inventive and Clueless, or neither? Do they invent because they are clueless?
 

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'"Service" is never an excuse for higher prices at local dealers."

I'm willing to pay more for service in general.
I firmly believe in shopping for the best price, but in some cases I don't mind paying for service, depending on what service it is. As far as home theater products go, which I assume he is referring to audio, video, etc., there is not much service from a dealer that I see any need to pay extra for. I suppose if we had local dealers here where I live and they could do warranty repair work, it might be a benefit to shop there. I'm just really not sure what else they could offer that would make it worth paying more for, but I'm probably missing something.


"I despise the current state of car audio. High SPL doesn't trip my trigger."

There are plenty of subcultures in car-fi, including several focused on everything but thumping SPLs at stoplights.
Agree... when I was younger, it was all about SPL, but after only a few years of that I started working more towards sound quality. Sure there are quite a few SPL'ers out there, but I'd say there are just as many or more looking for SQ.


I don't know what this means:

"I do not read audio magazines because the reviewers are as inventive as they are clueless."

Are they Inventive and Clueless, or neither? Do they invent because they are clueless?
I think he means that they invent things to write about when they are actually clueless about whether it's the truth or not.

I'm not sure I would agree that all reviewers are this way. I suppose I'm not educated enough to know when some things are accurate or invented, but there is no doubt some reviews are full of snake oil and lies.
 

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It's sad that this isn't still featured on Zaph's site, nor the older version which was even better, but as he is now selling drivers and designs, it's probably better he doesn't upset a goodly percentage of his potential sales base.

He has a newer Evaluation page up that's worth the read.

Generally I agree, except for these:
Half the high end companies are pushing products that are not worth a fraction the price.
- 'Significantly more than' should be added to the start.
I am strictly a two channel Audiophile, even with video sources. I hate 5.1 setups. - I love good surround for movies and music DVDs, and I think most of us here do too, and finally
People who use the term Pace, Rhythm and Timing (PRAT) completely fail to impress me. - I feel those that use the term PRAT as though it has a real meaning are prats. English and Anglo's will probably get the slang term.

Sorry to have dug this up from the archives, but I found it linked from another thread (10 Biggest Lies) and I'm still thinking about my reply to that one.
 

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I firmly believe in shopping for the best price, but in some cases I don't mind paying for service, depending on what service it is. As far as home theater products go, which I assume he is referring to audio, video, etc., there is not much service from a dealer that I see any need to pay extra for. I suppose if we had local dealers here where I live and they could do warranty repair work, it might be a benefit to shop there. I'm just really not sure what else they could offer that would make it worth paying more for, but I'm probably missing something.
You may not be missing anything, but not everyone has the desire nor experience to sort out many of the complexities of consumer electronics like you do. What dealers can offer (not that many are very good at it) is the assurance that things will work as expected, the management of those expectations, and some degree of knowledge that most consumers just will never achieve. For you and me, there probably is not any reason to pay retail at a local or any other dealer, because we could probably teach them about what we are buying and doing. Most consumers are quite clueless, however, which is why many dealers get away with things that give people a very bad taste for retail.

I think that zaph and his generalizations do little to really advance anyone's knowledge. Some of his opinions are near correct, most start with a grain of truth, but ultimately you have to look a little deeper than yelling "snake oil" to be really informed.
 

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Too bad someone doesn't have a saved HTML version of his old rant page. I'd like to read it. So far I'm in the same boat with him on nearly everything he's said.

I wonder where all this anxt is really coming from...
Where all the what is coming from?
 

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Too bad someone doesn't have a saved HTML version of his old rant page. I'd like to read it. So far I'm in the same boat with him on nearly everything he's said.
Have you tried searching "the way back machine" for it?

Go to www.thewaybackmachine.com and do a search on his name or website.
 

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Where all the [i said:
what[/i] is coming from?
Ha ha! Sorry, I meant "angst". I knew that looked wrong.

From the few years I have been involved in the home theater universe, it seems to me that a large majority of the audio veterans seem embittered by the rampant ignorance that pervades the industry. I know it can be frustrating when people make bogus claims based on flawed knowledge. I also understand how aggravating it is when manufacturers take advantage of these inaccuracies to pad their bottom line. But what I don't get is why these seasoned experts share an general attitude of contempt towards those of lesser knowledge about this hobby that brings us all such joy. I personally love offering help to the new-comers of home theater realm. I would think people would want to share the excitement they receive from jaw-dropping sound & a pristinely accurate picture. It's not like we are a part of some elitist club.

There is obviously something to be said about accuracy & truth regarding home theater but if Billy Joe goes home with his Cerwin Vega's & is overjoyed with the depth & clarity he hears, who are we to tell him he is wrong or that his ears are not as attuned to quality audio? The bottom line is, the home theater hobby is about entertainment & fun. When we get people's face & tell them how stupid they are, or how little they know, we are doing nothing but making the world of home theater unapproachable.

So to all you audiophiles of old (just the bitter ones), start sharing the cinema love!:D
 

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I got started in the audio business before there was such a thing as home theater, and what I have noted for years is that the vast majority of those promoting and buying what many consider "snake oil" actually firmly believe that what they hear and what they attribute it to are in fact physical effects. While much of it can be explained with placebo and expectation bias effects, there are differences that the science and technology have not sufficiently explained. My position has always been that we should not assume that we know all that we don't know, nor that what we experience is not affected by biases on perception. We also need to be careful about accusations of intent, because while many out there are happy to take advantage of these effects, many, if not most really believe in what they are selling. That belief may be mistaken, it may be naive, or it may be manipulated by others, but most are people trying to make a decent living. The opposing opinion is often just as much based on belief with insufficient evidence to support the position that is often promoted, and zaph is a perfect example of this.

The pursuit of knowledge and understanding informs opinion. Opinion stated with disdain for others and their beliefs is pointless blather, IMO, that does more harm than good.
 

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I got started in the audio business before there was such a thing as home theater, and what I have noted for years is that the vast majority of those promoting and buying what many consider "snake oil" actually firmly believe that what they hear and what they attribute it to are in fact physical effects. While much of it can be explained with placebo and expectation bias effects, there are differences that the science and technology have not sufficiently explained. My position has always been that we should not assume that we know all that we don't know, nor that what we experience is not affected by biases on perception. We also need to be careful about accusations of intent, because while many out there are happy to take advantage of these effects, many, if not most really believe in what they are selling. That belief may be mistaken, it may be naive, or it may be manipulated by others, but most are people trying to make a decent living. The opposing opinion is often just as much based on belief with insufficient evidence to support the position that is often promoted, and zaph is a perfect example of this.

The pursuit of knowledge and understanding informs opinion. Opinion stated with disdain for others and their beliefs is pointless blather, IMO, that does more harm than good.
Wow—well said. I completely agree.
 

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Anxt would have been a great name for a 90's Seattle rock band.
 

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It has been my experience that those screaming the loudest about "snake oil" have never tried any of the products or tweaks they protest so very much about. When asked why they never tried "xyz" their response usually involves an "I know what I'm talking about about" stance with no proof whatsoever. Sometimes I think they are partially motivated by cheapness and partially by ignorance. Either one separately is a bummer. Together they're just boring.
 

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It's tough to bring yourself to try out the products when they are so grossly overpriced. If you'd like to send my any of these cables, cd pens, or magic glass bead, I'd be happy to try them out, but I'll not be the fool paying money for them.
 

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The green CD pen is available at most art supply stores under the name Uni-Posca. I costs about $3. If anyone still has some old 5¼" floppy disks the actual disk inside the sleeve when cut down makes a good CD mat.
 

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I think Mr. Krutke deserves our respect and thanks. It is not always easy to strike the proper balance between being factual and insulting to those who practice more religion than science. John Krutke at least has taken a stand - backing up his strongly held views much of the time with facts. He stands alone in this industry in terms of the dedication and attention to detail he brings to conducting exhaustive tests and posting them for the benefit of others. I have found most if not all of his observations/opinions to be well supported by actual measurements - not mere conjecture or speculation. It's really easy for us to shy away from controversy - keeping the measurements and "facts" to ourselves to avoid diplomatic meltdown and distasteful situations. Egos are a sensitive issue and trying to maintain respect for one another when we disagree technically is easier said than done. John may have come across as rough around the edges in the past. His self imposed censorship though should not necessarily be seen as a virtue. If we all go to the extreme of clamming up to maintain civility and superficial respect - no real information gets exchanged. If anyone truly expects to learn anything from discourse, they have to begin the process with the understanding that they can and sometimes will be wrong. Those that feel they have nothing new to learn inevitably prove that they have the most to learn. It's all about striking a good balance. And before we castigate John Krutke for the balance he has struck in the past - we should look carefully at ourselves to see if we've individually done a much better job.
 

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How do you measure soundstage? What parameters are important? What are good "numbers"? What are bad "numbers"?

That question was only to illustrate that there's more going on in this field than numbers alone. Sometimes you have to trust your own ears and gut instinct. As an Electrical Engineer I was taught to rely on measurements and numbers. As I have matured I have learned we may not know what to measure or how as in "Soundstage". Sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees.

Check the link below for measurable differences in speaker cables.

http://www.audiodesignline.com/howto/201807390
 

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How do you measure soundstage? What parameters are important? What are good "numbers"? What are bad "numbers"?

That question was only to illustrate that there's more going on in this field than numbers alone. Sometimes you have to trust your own ears and gut instinct. As an Electrical Engineer I was taught to rely on measurements and numbers. As I have matured I have learned we may not know what to measure or how as in "Soundstage". Sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees.

Check the link below for measurable differences in speaker cables.

http://www.audiodesignline.com/howto/201807390
I'd evaluate "soundstage" with a couple key measurements - frequency response at various points around the room and impulse response (time domain rather than frequency domain) in the same locations. These two will reveal what the amplitude uniformity and phase coherence is of the speaker in question. Good performance in these realms is required for a speaker to "image" or "soundstage" well. If it underperforms in the frequency and time domains, it is highly unlikely that it will project a reasonably accurate "image" or "soundstage". Certainly our listening impressions should not be discarded - but neither should the above measurements. I'm sure we all agree on that point.

As for the article you posted on speaker cables, I don't think we really disagree on much. Fifty meter cables (about 150 foot length) is an extreme case that will very definitely result in measureable increases in capacitance and resistance which will most certainly affect the sonic outcome. In fact, I'm surprised that the results obtained weren't more severe than that which was posted.

More importantly, I wasn't trying to suggest that John Krutke struck the most perfect balance in discussing these topics where his level of tact is concerned. Everyone, myself included, should be judged or evaluated on the balance of what we contribute overall. No one is perfect, certainly not me or John Krutke. On balance though, I think John's (Zaph's) contributions overall have been very positive for people in this community and we should be careful about criticizing him - lest we have the effect of stifling further contributions from this generous,knowledgeable, and talented individual.
 

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Cheap, Ignorant and Boring

When asked why they never tried "xyz" their response usually involves an "I know what I'm talking about about" stance with no proof whatsoever. Sometimes I think they are partially motivated by cheapness and partially by ignorance. Either one separately is a bummer. Together they're just boring.
I fit the skeptic description. It's nice to know I can be dismissed as cheap, ignorant and boring all at once.

There's just some things in life that can be deduced without having direct experience.

My limited knowledge of science and physics leads me to believe that sticking my hand under a running lawn mower is not a good idea. That same type of knowledge leads me to believe that a $130 jar of pebbles will have no effect on the sonic qualities of my listening room.
 
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