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rdl2004
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A minor rant about blue LEDs

What do you guys think about the fascination audio (and other electronic) equipment manufacturers appear to have with blue LEDs lately?

Just about every piece of electronic equipment I see these days seems to have a blue LED light on it somewhere, usually it's a pilot light, but sometimes it's totally non-functional, just there so it has a blue light on it. Granted blue LEDs were pretty rare a few years back, when they were new and expensive, but now they are almost as cheap as dirt and certainly no more expensive than any other color of LED. I would have thought the newness would have worn off by now.

At any rate, since virtually any color can be had in LEDs these days, why so much blue? Why not choose the color that looks best? I always thought my Creek 4330 amp would have looked much better if its power LED had been the same sort of blue-green color as the printing on its front panel rather than the plain green that it came with (blue-green LEDs may have been hard to come by back then, so I can forgive this).

I think that designers these days should at least make some attempt at being aesthetically pleasing rather than just using blue because some people still think it's "cool".

In my opinion, warmer colors like red and orange, go much better with audio equipment. I really don't see why anyone would want to use an icy cold, harsh, glaring and distracting blue LED on a vacuum tube amp. To quote some other post I saw somewhere, "blue LEDs and vacuum tubes go together like pickles and chocolate milk", in other words, not very well. I do have to admit that as long as they're not too bright, I prefer blue to green, yellow, or that REALLY ugly greenish-yellow they use for backlighting LCD displays on photo-copiers, laser printers and such.

I have about a dozen red-orange LEDs from HP, 615nm I think they are, that remind me of those old neon lamp pilot lights, and are darn near dead-ringers for the glow of vacuum tubes. If I buy the tube amp I have my eye on, the first thing I'll do is see if I can replace its green LED with one of my red-orange ones.

I'm sure it will sound much better, especially at night in a dark room.

- Rick

(and yes, I know tubes can glow blue, too)

Anthony Tam
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Re: A minor rant about blue LEDs

It has a musical analogy- a blue note.

No such thing as an orange note, or red note.

Costin
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Re: A minor rant about blue LEDs

I have all kind of LEDs on my equipment (red, green, yellow, orange and - of course - blue).
When listening in complete darkness I find green to be the least annoying, followed by blue. Red LEDs are real pleasure-killers.
However, I find that intensity is a more important factor than color.
As for displays, I think red complement well black front panels while blue goes better with silver.
The best LED I have in-house is the one from my Philips cordless phone: it's yellow-green but so faint that it gives almost no light at all: even in complete darkness it looks more like a green spot than like a light-emitting device.

cwoll
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Re: A minor rant about blue LEDs

I just bought a cambridge azur spinner and it has a blue led and display but I think it's a play on azure so I will forgive them of their blueness.

Man, am I bored at work or what.

Monty
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Re: A minor rant about blue LEDs

You mean everybody doesn't listen to music naked, with their eyes closed?

I just wanna know which color sounds the best?

Buddha
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Re: A minor rant about blue LEDs

I had been saving this review for a thread in early April, but here goes:

Blue LED's produce more detailed sound. More emphasis on the treble. Yes, you could say a cooler sound is associated with blue LED's.

They mate well with tubes, helping make a combined system more neutral.

Red LED's are tend toward midrange emphasis.

Orange LED's make for a slight combination of midrange and treble warmth.

Yellow LED's really focus energy in that region.

Red LED's sound best when paired with solid state equipment.

With speakers like Quads, the sound can become too too.

Red LED's work well with horn speakers.

Orange and yellow LED's sound their best with speakers that roll off in the top end, like Lowthers.

Orange and yellow LED's don't mate well with horns at all.

However, Audio Alchemy used to get great sound from a combination of yellow and red LED's, so keep this in mind when doing your own system matching.

Green LED's are just not hi fi. The wavelengths are not complimentary and makes for a confused cool/hot sound that ends up just sounding veiled and artificial. Ironic, green LED's sounding the least natural.

One caveat, green LED's make MP3's sound better.

I'll wait until April to discuss which colors of Blu Tac and other tweaks affect sound.

Monty
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Re: A minor rant about blue LEDs

Perhaps one of the manufacturers will investigate the possibility of creating hybrid color components. Maybe use orange LEDs in the preamp section and blue LEDs in the amp section.

I suppose they could put mulitiple LED colors that the user could control, but I think that would just add too much circuitry to the signal path and mess up the sound.

I hear Mark Levinson and Jeff Rowland are in a joint effort to design and build an amplifier that comes equipped with a user "mood ring" that can sense the mood of the user and will automatically alter the LED indicator on the amp. Nelson Pass has been consulted to over-come the obstacle of taking the interface out of the signal path. Matthew Bond is being consulted to provide interconnects and cable that will transfer the signal across a sandwich of opposing magnets that will allow the signal to reach speeds in excess of the ability to hear. Tentatively dubbed the "Super Duper Signal Accelerator."

These are exciting times in the audio industry.

k512
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Re: A minor rant about blue LEDs

My Moon Evolution gear has blue pilot-lights, which I find to look very elegant and soothing. These lights are a very beautiful and radiant cobalt blue, which to my way of thinking is actually a very "spiritual" and "emotional" color.

I happen to be interested in the healing and spiritual aspects of certain crystals, gemstones, colors, etc., and I've learned that cobalt blue (as well as deeper shades of blue) are often thought by psychics to reflect the deeper emotions within ourselves.

Most of us are drawn to high-end audio because we feel and share such a deeply pleasurable and soothing emotional response or resonance when we listen to gorgeous music. In light of this, I for one find these beautifully radiant-blue LEDs to be in harmony with the emotional and spiritual experience of music.

And, for those who may be interested in Feng Shui, it seems fitting that blue would be associated with music, because blue is a "water" color; and beautiful music tends to "flow" rather like water.

Buddha
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Re: A minor rant about blue LEDs

Miles Davis settled this debate decades ago.

You'll notice, he didn't call it "Kind of Red."

spampup
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Re: A minor rant about blue LEDs

I think the absolute worst overuse of blue LEDs is on my Musical Fidelity Tri-Vist 21 DAC.

There are four blue LEDs lit at a time on the front panel, and they are the clear-lense "high-brightness" type. You can easily read by the light of these LEDs in a darkened room (they are almost as bright as an LED flashlight!).

Very annoying! I was getting headaches while listening, so I replaced the LEDs with diffused-lense ones, with resistors in series to reduce the brightness to a tolerable level. Now the brightness matches the softer blue glow of the feet, and I no longer need to drape something over the front of the DAC to hide the light when I listen!

KB

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