You are here

Log in or register to post comments
j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
A very interesting article in Audio Xpress

Well, a copy of Audio Xpress showed up in the bottom of my Parts Express box that arrived yesterday, so I read it while I was muttering about how to cut a nice circular hole exactly 4 25/32 in diameter. (freeping drivers with no flange to speak of)

Surprise, an article about cable testing by Ed Simon. Now, there is history there, I KNOW Ed, have known him since I was a freshman at CMU, he and I were in a few lab groups along with a couple of other people who have done quite well since. (Yes, it was a fun lab group, boys and women.)

But I hadn't seen him since 1976, except for one passing in the night at an AES show. I did visit when I was at CMU giving two talks a few weeks ago.

Ed, to get back on track, has tested a bunch of cables, and solder joints.

Now, he, being a circuit hack from way back, built what I can only politely describe as an extremely sensitive test device. I saw it, and the solder joints it was testing, and the cable that was, well, "kinda" bidirectional. Now, the artifacts in question are extremely small (when you read the article, try to digest the noise level he's working at, please), but he's making measurements very near the thermal noise level, and dealt with that quite carefully as well.

The irony is that he's demonstrated, quite independently, something I've said before as well, and confirmed it with published measurements (as opposed to a simple observation in a lab), and that would be:

Connectors, basically, ****.

In fact, if you want to improve your stereo, remove and reinsert all those RCA cables 5 times, to clean off the contacts. I've proposed more than once that this is why "new cables sound better". So do the old ones, after you remove and reconnect them, I suspect.

I won't quote the data, but the advice is exactly what people at Bell Labs knew in the 1950's.

Heavy Gold Plate on Gold Plate: Best
Shiny on Gold: Not as good, and gets worse fast as metal/metal solution creates all sorts of uncool effects.
Shiny on Shiny: Not very good at all.

Finally, yes, connector and wire do matter, but again, what his data shows is simple: Competent cables with GOOD connectors are the way to go.

Not "unobtainium", just "comptent", and mind the connector, mind the connector some more, oh, and mind the connector yet a bit more than that.

And use CLEAN connectors. And clean them regularly.

I would love to use his apparatus to test some of the solder joints I've seen in various equipment, but he shows that a LOT of well-executed solder joints are much, much less a problem than one RCA connector.

No, I'm not what you'd call surprised, but it was amusing to have this all, in terms of hard measurement, just sitting there on a bench, to say the least.

Now, the level of most of these distortions is "minute" compared to the resulting threshold of hearing. Dirty connectors, however, most certainly can result in audible problems (and I don't mean so dirty as to appear nonfunctional, folks, I mean just "left in place for too long"), and clean ones may, possibly, cause a problem on low-level circuits.

Solder joints, however, as well as wire by itself, does seem to be rather innocent of all this, of course with the usual caveat that it has to be competent for its intended use.

Scott Wheeler
Scott Wheeler's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 3 2005 - 7:47pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress

Thanks for the post JJ. so any advice on specific connectors that you would name as outstanding?

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
Thanks for the post JJ. so any advice on specific connectors that you would name as outstanding?

Well, it being Ed's article, you might want to ask him, eh?

Unless it's irridium (not very common to say the least), it's safe to say "shiny bad".

Buddha
Buddha's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:

Quote:
Thanks for the post JJ. so any advice on specific connectors that you would name as outstanding?

Well, it being Ed's article, you might want to ask him, eh?

Unless it's irridium (not very common to say the least), it's safe to say "shiny bad".

Rhodium.

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
Thanks for the post JJ. so any advice on specific connectors that you would name as outstanding?

Well, it being Ed's article, you might want to ask him, eh?

Unless it's irridium (not very common to say the least), it's safe to say "shiny bad".

Rhodium.

Hm, don't know. Might be bad against gold, but I don't know the results offhand. I'd stick with gold, myself. But "move your connectors every few weeks" is as easy.

ethanwiner
ethanwiner's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 2:26pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
it's safe to say "shiny bad".


I saw that article and was also impressed at the amount of trouble Ed went to for those tests. As for "shiny," do you mean the standard nickel plating I see most everywhere? I don't think I have a single gold plated anything to my name, but I've never noticed a problem.

Ethan Winer
RealTraps

Scott Wheeler
Scott Wheeler's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 3 2005 - 7:47pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:

Quote:
it's safe to say "shiny bad".


I saw that article and was also impressed at the amount of trouble Ed went to for those tests. As for "shiny," do you mean the standard nickel plating I see most everywhere? I don't think I have a single gold plated anything to my name, but I've never noticed a problem.

Ethan Winer
RealTraps

I am a bit confused here. isn't heavy gold plating shiny?

KBK
KBK's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 30 2007 - 12:30pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress

But there's that 'kicker' again, jj. The kicker is that the ear only hears the sum total of the given wave not the minute bits. As far as the ear is concerned, the tiny bits of distortion that the signal ends up having imposed upon it are heard as the full peak value 'micro fluctuations'.

Using standardized methodology and mathematics to do electrical measurement is fine but the ear does not hear and separate micro bits - it hears the sum total. so it can, in effect, hear the micro distortions, specifically if they are disconnected from the body of the harmonic or fundamental, in time, as the micro distortions generally are.

The visual analogy is exactly like that of a LCD monitor with 1920x1080 resolution. One pixel is stuck or fluttery, ie out of step with the rest but weighted in it's behavior with regard to what the others are doing.

As a straightforward measurement analysis, it comes out to being 0.00048% (max) distortion of the image. Due to the very way the eye and brain work in the visual domain, the stuck pixel sticks out like a sore thumb. One might argue that the analogy is slightly mis-applied, but the basic comparative of visual reality vs measurement exists and is laid bare as foolishness if it is not properly weighted to how the eye works.

The same reality applies to aural distortions and electrical measurement and it's associated mathematical and engineering weighting, with regard to level of effect and importance to the human ear/brain system.

It is very arguable that the ear/brain combination is more evolved and sophisticated than the eye/brain system, so if it appears that audiophiles can do some interesting things (that cannot be seen), it should not be surprising, - these audiophiles should be lauded for their honed skills.

ncdrawl
ncdrawl's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 3 months ago
Joined: Oct 18 2008 - 9:18am
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress

is this the most recent audio eXpress???

KBK
KBK's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 30 2007 - 12:30pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
it's safe to say "shiny bad".


I saw that article and was also impressed at the amount of trouble Ed went to for those tests. As for "shiny," do you mean the standard nickel plating I see most everywhere? I don't think I have a single gold plated anything to my name, but I've never noticed a problem.

Ethan Winer
RealTraps

I am a bit confused here. isn't heavy gold plating shiny?

Heavy real gold plating is coppery gold in colour. Not reddish but duller seeming. Notably darker. When gold is mixed with other metals - it becomes shiny. It's pretty ductile, and the ease with which it takes damage is one reason that 24k gold is less common than 22k gold (in the world of jewelery, for example). The mix of the other metals increases hardness and stability in complex environments.

Gold, with only one isotope, is utterly unique in the table of elements. It is also very stable. It also mixes quite readily, on the molecular level, with most other metals. This is related to the isotope consideration, to some degree. This also plays into it's capacity to be non-reactive in many situations. As an example, it is the world's finest radiation shield. Odd one there! A tad expensive as radiation shields go, but under the most difficult situations, it is the metal of choice for radiation shielding. (betchya never knew that!) 98%( IIRC- I think that is the figure) of all the gold ever mined is still in circulation. The single isotope thing is part of the point of it being involved in alchemy, as the unique singular isotope (unlike all other known elements) is part of the 'pointing' of the dimensional aspects of the mono-atomic form of the metal (molecular dispersion - single atoms) blending to a perfect 'cooper paired' multi-dimensional form and shape. It is believed that consumption of the mono-atomic form electrifies the human nervous system and allows for increased vigor, better electrochemical exchange in the body, to the creation of favorable conditions for stem cell creation. This all leads to the stories of the philosopher's stone (which is entirely about dispersive and electrochemical molecular separation in direction and works)being a immortality materiel, and capable of making the given person consuming it to be able to cross in and out of other dimensions. The images we see and ridicule of alchemists are highly inaccurate. They were the pioneers of science and like military black ops projects with unlimited funding, they went where angels fear to tread, and this, over 6000 years ago. All with simple electrochemical and thermal applications into molecular dispersion methods. They didn't need the math, all they needed was efforts and results to guide them.

As a consequence, the 'cover' they were given was the ridicule of their existence via the ignorance in man and the masses. Popular history show them ridicule, the kind that the masses show to the things they don't understand. The science is there and it is deep beyond belief, if you go looking for it. For example, it is literally at the heart of the symbol of what NCdrawl is using as an avatar. The Freemasons are founded entirely on metallurgy and alchemy and multidimensional truths. Except that Freemasonry has been highly perverted and torn down over time by evil men who have taken over the top most positions over time. Just like politics and religion. Same-same. Their 'cover', like religion and politics, is the middle part of the group who don't know any better and that is the face that the public sees and knows. There are many good meaning well intended people mixed in to the differing groups (thus providing cover), which makes the identification of the evil bits (which are very nasty) all the more difficult.

Scott Wheeler
Scott Wheeler's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 3 2005 - 7:47pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
it's safe to say "shiny bad".


I saw that article and was also impressed at the amount of trouble Ed went to for those tests. As for "shiny," do you mean the standard nickel plating I see most everywhere? I don't think I have a single gold plated anything to my name, but I've never noticed a problem.

Ethan Winer
RealTraps

I am a bit confused here. isn't heavy gold plating shiny?

Heavy real gold plating is coppery gold in colour. Not reddish but duller seeming. Notably darker. When gold is mixed with other metals - it becomes shiny. It's pretty ductile, and the ease with which it takes damage is one reason that 24k gold is less common than 22k gold (in the world of jewelery, for example). The mix of the other metals increases hardness and stability in complex environments.

Gold, with only one isotope, is utterly unique in the table of elements. It is also very stable. It also mixes quite readily, on the molecular level, with most other metals. This is related to the isotope consideration, to some degree. This also plays into it's capacity to be non-reactive in many situations. As an example, it is the world's finest radiation shield. Odd one there! A tad expensive as radiation shields go, but under the most difficult situations, it is the metal of choice for radiation shielding. (betchya never knew that!) 98%( IIRC- I think that is the figure) of all the gold ever mined is still in circulation. The single isotope thing is part of the point of it being involved in alchemy, as the unique singular isotope (unlike all other known elements) is part of the 'pointing' of the dimensional aspects of the mono-atomic form of the metal (molecular dispersion - single atoms) blending to a perfect 'cooper paired' multi-dimensional form and shape. It is believed that consumption of the mono-atomic form electrifies the human nervous system and allows for increased vigor, better electrochemical exchange in the body, to the creation of favorable conditions for stem cell creation. This all leads to the stories of the philosopher's stone (which is entirely about dispersive and electrochemical molecular separation in direction and works)being a immortality materiel, and capable of making the given person consuming it to be able to cross in and out of other dimensions. the iamges we seee and ridicule of alchemists are highly inaccurte. They were the pioneers of science and like militarty black ops projects with unlimited funding, they went where angles fear to tread, and this, over 6000 years ago. All with simple electrochemical and thermal applications into molecular dispersion methods.

They didn't need the math, all they needed was efforts and results to guide them. As a consequence the 'cover' they were given was the ridicule of their existence via the ignorance in man and the masses. The science is there and it is deep beyond belief, if you go looking for it. For example, it is literally at the heart of the symbol of what NCdrawl is using as an avatar. The Freemasons are founded entirely on metallurgy and alchemy and multidimensional truths. Except that Freemasonry has been highly perverted and torn down over time by evil men who have taken over the top most positions over time. Just like politics and religion. Same-same. Their 'cover', like religion and politics, is the middle part of the group who don't know any better and that is the face that the public sees and knows.

OK. But what actual connectors have heavy gold plating with low "shine?" What connectors, real world brands and models actually meet the criteria of best by the standards set forth in the Audioxpress article?

I always thought shiny was a function of finish rather then content. I'm pretty sure one can pollish up 24k gold to a very shiny finish. Hence my confusion. I don't see the disconnect between heavy gold plating and shine. The shine is a function of surface smoothness not plating thickness. Is there something more to "shiny" that I am missing? There must be.

KBK
KBK's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 30 2007 - 12:30pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress

You answered your question already, sort of. Pure gold will oxidize and require shining. Always. Mixed gold does not. In the same way that pure copper will oxidize. Copper is a valid metal in the alchemical processes. as is the entire platinum metals group. But gold sits at the top of the pyramid, literally and figuratively.

Buddha
Buddha's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
You answered your question already, sort of. Pure gold will oxidize and require shining. Always. Mixed gold does not. In the same way that pure copper will oxidize. Copper is a valid metal in the alchemical processes. as is the entire platinum metals group. But gold sits at the top of the pyramid, literally and figuratively.

Pure gold will oxidize?

KBK
KBK's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 30 2007 - 12:30pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress

It is a surface thing, more like an obscuration. Molecular in level, quite bit like the same way that copper, over time, under heavy electrical loading, will crystallize and loose up to 2% of it's weight. Purely from the orbital knock out effect of the electrical loading. Rhodium, for example, will actually oxidize quite easily if the layer is too thin. These are related to electrochemical deposition, electrochemical separation methods. As an example, our liquid cables are using differing metals. Those metals are Gallium, Indium and tin. The company we get some of the metals from is within driving distance. They use a unique and proprietary electrochemical separation and cooking regime to separate the metals. 100% alchemy, it is, if analyzed via ancient methods and thinking. I related the subject of alchemy with the owner of the company when he gave me a tour of the facility. His face turned red, he loudly swore and nearly kicked me out of the building. I note that they were recently acquired by the Chinese in order to procure these methods. I was interested in getting a hold of their 'dross' materials,as if analyzed via other methods, their throwaway bits would actually be the most valuable stuff in the building..it would be accidentally made and processed 'white powder of gold' or the actual 'philosopher's stone'. This is well known in the gold mining and refining industry as 'ghost gold', a totally inert, insoluble, and indestructible (by ANY method-whatsoever!) white powder that is heavier than any metal and sits at the bottom of the melt flasks. It is generally thrown out. Yet it is impossible to identify via any known and familiar spectroscopic analysis. It will very slightly read as gold, but yet it is not, thus the ghost gold connotation it receives.

The oxidation of a connector creates an semi-conductor type layer which is electrically speaking, very much like surface refraction in glass/air interfaces. A big difference creates a notable spin vector change, blue shift red shift, etc. It is that that semi-conductive stair-step (molecular electron orbital integrations) type response that can be electrically squeezed/pressured to create a semiconductor..but there is also molecular noise that is created, the 1/f noise that we cannot separate from the electrical signal and hear at all times, when we amplify or move electrical audio signals about.

The fluid metal does not suffer from these issues, relatively speaking, when used as an electrical conductor. The vast majority of electrical transmission issues (for audiophiles) eliminated in one fell swoop, simply by going to a different conduction methodology.

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:

Quote:
it's safe to say "shiny bad".


I saw that article and was also impressed at the amount of trouble Ed went to for those tests. As for "shiny," do you mean the standard nickel plating I see most everywhere? I don't think I have a single gold plated anything to my name, but I've never noticed a problem.

Ethan Winer
RealTraps

At very low levels, nickel and its oxides seem to make for some distortion. It's about 10dB higher than the best gold connectors, if I recall correctly.

Still VERY low level, but it could get into mike or phono range of distortions.

Edited for pour speling.

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
As a straightforward measurement analysis, it comes out to being 0.00048% (max) distortion of the image. Due to the very way the eye and brain work in the visual domain, the stuck pixel sticks out like a sore thumb.

Yes, this analogy is not very appropriate at all. The eye is a spatial detector, and you're causing a major distortion in the domain it analyzes things with.

The ear is a time/frequency analyzer (I just gave a talk on this, the "audio vs. video" deck is up at www.aes.org/sections/pnw/ppt.htm, I think) and has a different set of sensitivities.

In particular, the issue here is if any "micro distortions" will not be masked, or below the threshold of hearing (which implies, except at very low frequencies, below the actual noise level of the atmosphere).

The level of distortion Ed found is not going to matter (well, the level of distortion with CLEAN contacts, let's be clear here... dirty contacts are another bird altogether) at high levels. It might intrude into phono or mike levels.

But dirty connectors (I mean properly inserted ones that have aged, not ones with mud poured on them) can be pretty nasty if they sit long enough. RCA connectors especially.

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
is this the most recent audio eXpress???

errr...

The one that was in the bottom of the parts express box I just got. I don't know.

Scott Wheeler
Scott Wheeler's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 3 2005 - 7:47pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
You answered your question already, sort of. Pure gold will oxidize and require shining. Always. Mixed gold does not. In the same way that pure copper will oxidize. Copper is a valid metal in the alchemical processes. as is the entire platinum metals group. But gold sits at the top of the pyramid, literally and figuratively.

I don't think pure gold oxidizes. It certainly doesn't require pollishing unless one wants it to be shiny. But that is true of any gold, pure or not. the question I certainly did not answer was what brands and models of connectors meet the criteria of best as described by the article. It seems that would be some useful information.

KBK
KBK's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 30 2007 - 12:30pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress

Once again, JJ, that's measurements and electrical engineering weighting, which does not take the human hearing mechanism into account, which means as a method of measurement is good on it's own..but does not apply to audio measurement in the proper sense until it includes the proper human hearing weighting in it's calculations and most specifically - understanding and directions. For those who are paying attention, I think I've given plenty of information to ruminate on for one day.

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
It is a surface thing, more like an obscuration. Molecular in level, quite bit like the same way that copper, over time, under heavy electrical loading, will crystallize and loose up to 2% of it's weight. Purely from the orbital knock out effect of the electrical loading. Rhodium, for example, will actually oxidize quite easily if the layer is too thin. These are related to electrochemical deposition, electrochemical separation methods. As an example, our liquid cables are using differing metals. Those metals are Gallium, Indium and tin. The company we get some of the metals from is within driving distance. They use a unique and proprietary electrochemical separation and cooking regime to separate the metals. 100% alchemy, it is, if analyzed via ancient methods and thinking. I related the subject of alchemy with the owner of the company when he gave me a tour of the facility. His face turned red, he loudly swore and nearly kicked me out of the building. I note that they were recently acquired by the Chinese in order to procure these methods. I was interested in getting a hold of their 'dross' materials,as if analyzed via other methods, their throwaway bits would actually be the most valuable stuff in the building..it would be accidentally made and processed 'white powder of gold' or the actual 'philosopher's stone'. This is well known in the gold mining and refining industry as 'ghost gold', a totally inert, insoluble, and indestructible (by ANY method-whatsoever!) white powder that is heavier than any metal and sits at the bottom of the melt flasks. It is generally thrown out. Yet it is impossible to identify via any known and familiar spectroscopic analysis. It will very slightly read as gold, but yet it is not, thus the ghost gold connotation it receives.

The oxidation of a connector creates an semi-conductor type layer which is electrically speaking, very much like surface refraction in glass/air interfaces. A big difference creates a notable spin vector change, blue shift red shift, etc. It is that that semi-conductive stair-step (molecular electron orbital integrations) type response that can be electrically squeezed/pressured to create a semiconductor..but there is also molecular noise that is created, the 1/f noise that we cannot separate from the electrical signal and hear at all times, when we amplify or move electrical audio signals about.

The fluid metal does not suffer from these issues, relatively speaking, when used as an electrical conductor. The vast majority of electrical transmission issues (for audiophiles) eliminated in one fell swoop, simply by going to a different conduction methodology.

Uh, this seems a bit, err, odd to me. The parts on oxidized connectors, ok, but the rest, hmm... Looks like it needs some careful testing.

Oh, and the point about acting like a semiconductor is spot on as far as what kinds of odd distortions one can get. You can get diode effects, center clipping, etc.

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:

Quote:
You answered your question already, sort of. Pure gold will oxidize and require shining. Always. Mixed gold does not. In the same way that pure copper will oxidize. Copper is a valid metal in the alchemical processes. as is the entire platinum metals group. But gold sits at the top of the pyramid, literally and figuratively.

Pure gold will oxidize?

It will grow a surface layer, just like most other metals.

Some oxide, maybe some nitride, some Ag NOx ... Not much, but if it managed to obscure the metal-metal contact you can measure it.

Shiny connectors (nickel, chrome, or tin) do this only worse. (The reason chrome plating is stable is because of a protective oxide layer, for instance. Ditto aluminum metal, which would otherwise be startlingly reactive. Ever see aluminium burn? Oof.) Irridium is less reactive than gold, which is saying something, and has been used in some long-duration connectors.

Tin or Chrome on gold (mixed connectors) has been shown quite a while ago to grow a solid solution that creates little spiky crystals of alloy that have a nasty tendency to rectify after some time. That's the worst of all long-term solutions. (This comes from some computer experience from several companies wherein tinned copper connectors were inserted into gold backplane connectors. The results were not good in the long term, and required being jostled every few months...)

This is to the chemical comments. The "Alchemical" up there I'm just not going into...

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
Once again, JJ, that's measurements and electrical engineering weighting, which does not take the human hearing mechanism into account,

No, I'm sorry, I am exactly taking into account the HUMAN HEARING MECHANISM, dude. Sorry, but them's the facts. You have, literally, a biologically constructed mechanical travelling wave filter in your cochlea, and it does a particular time/frequency analysis.

Google for "Critical bands" or "Equivalent Rectangular Bandwidth" or "ERB" and see for yourself.

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
I don't think pure gold oxidizes.

Actually, a thin oxide layer is what keeps it from further oxidation, like many metals.

It does oxidize. Slooooowly.... Many orders of magnitude more slowly than, say, iron, which does not develop a protective oxide coating (rust does not prevent oxygen from penetrating), or even more orders of magnitude slower than aluminium, which only remains stable in the atmosphere because of a heavy oxide layer that forms as soon as the surface hits the atmosphere.

Aluminium is a very reactive metal, really, and, well, let's say that it would be useless without that oxide layer, and actually dangerous to be around long-term.

I said it once, but have you ever seen aluminium burn (it, gotten hot enough, will cheerfully burn in air.)?

SAS Audio
SAS Audio's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 months 1 week ago
Joined: Jun 6 2007 - 6:56am
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress

Hi KBK,

I have been discussing this subject with Jneutron PhD. (If I am not mistaken has worked at Fermilab and now Brookhaven National Laboratory), as well as Jennifer Crock who did top secred defense work for a short time, and her husband who led a team designing and bldg antennas for NASAs out of solar system projects, among other projects.

I only did a quick read but too add to your post, whether a cable/IC makes a difference depends upon the particular audio components/system, setup, and loops developed, whether ground loops involving AC and/or channel to channel loops with internal and external sources being involved. ICs and cords do make a difference depending upon construction.

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
Hi KBK,

I have been discussing this subject with Jneutron PhD. (If I am not mistaken has worked at Fermilab and now Brookhaven National Laboratory), as well as Jennifer Crock who did top secred defense work for a short time, and her husband who led a team designing and bldg antenna probes for NASAs out of solar system projects, among other projects.

I only did a quick read but too add to your post, whether a cable/IC makes a difference depends upon the particular audio components/system, setup, and loops developed, whether ground loops involving AC and/or channel to channel loops with internal and external sources being involved. ICs and cords do make a difference depending upon construction. So a measurement is not going to tell the whole story when it comes to one's individual system.

This article concerns purely cable problems, not the additional problems of ground loops, etc.

Don't get me wrong, they are certainly problems in addition to the sort of thing above. Let's say I'm convinced...

(bear in mind I've done rather a lot of live sound in my life)

Editor
Editor's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 8 months ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 8:56am
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
Aluminium is a very reactive metal, really, and, well, let's say that it would be useless without that oxide layer, and actually dangerous to be around long-term.

One of my favorite dems as a science teacher was to heat one end of an aluminum bar with a Bunsen burner. The metal would melt but would be contained in a bag formed by the oxide layer, which is very strong.


Quote:
I said it once, but have you ever seen aluminium burn (it, gotten hot enough, will cheerfully burn in air.)?

No, just magnesium.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
No, just magnesium.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

That's a good thing, just look at the heat of formation of Al2O3 and you'll see why

KBK
KBK's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 30 2007 - 12:30pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:

Quote:
Once again, JJ, that's measurements and electrical engineering weighting, which does not take the human hearing mechanism into account,

No, I'm sorry, I am exactly taking into account the HUMAN HEARING MECHANISM, dude. Sorry, but them's the facts. You have, literally, a biologically constructed mechanical travelling wave filter in your cochlea, and it does a particular time/frequency analysis.

Google for "Critical bands" or "Equivalent Rectangular Bandwidth" or "ERB" and see for yourself.

JJ..all that may be true. But one big thing is wrong with it.

Audiophiles hear differences of such a minor nature all the time. Day in-day out. You know this. so the 'facts' as the engineering oriented seem to always be after..does flat out pick up cow dung and rub it pretty hard into the face of such reasoning.

Therein, as they say, lies the rub.

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
Audiophiles hear differences of such a minor nature all the time. Day in-day out. You know this. so the 'facts' as the engineering oriented seem to always be after..does flat out pick up cow dung and rub it pretty hard into the face of such reasoning.

Therein, as they say, lies the rub.

I have to dispute the idea that audiophiles "hear" such things. I will agree that they perceive differences, etc.

SAS Audio
SAS Audio's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 months 1 week ago
Joined: Jun 6 2007 - 6:56am
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
Once again, JJ, that's measurements and electrical engineering weighting, which does not take the human hearing mechanism into account,

No, I'm sorry, I am exactly taking into account the HUMAN HEARING MECHANISM, dude. Sorry, but them's the facts. You have, literally, a biologically constructed mechanical travelling wave filter in your cochlea, and it does a particular time/frequency analysis.

Google for "Critical bands" or "Equivalent Rectangular Bandwidth" or "ERB" and see for yourself.

JJ..all that may be true. But one big thing is wrong with it.

Audiophiles hear differences of such a minor nature all the time. Day in-day out. You know this. so the 'facts' as the engineering oriented seem to always be after..does flat out pick up cow dung and rub it pretty hard into the face of such reasoning.

Therein, as they say, lies the rub.

Hi KBK,

I concur with your post. Several years ago a friend came over and we did some experiments. We compared my friend's silver ICs to some local copper ICs (gold plugs and gold jacks, and playing The Bad Plus "Keep the Bugs off your glass, and the bears off your ass".

During the string bass solo one could hear breathing once using the copper ICs while one could hear breathing three times when the silver ICs were connected.

Another example is at the store and comparing 2 pairs of my copper ICs (gold plugs and gold jacks) using different termination techniques (different solders). I had to modify the outboarded crossover network of the speaker to compensate for those different termination techniques. By the way, no resistors, capacitors, or chokes were part of the ICs.

I thought both experiments were quite interesting and revealing.

geoffkait
geoffkait's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 hours 30 min ago
Joined: Apr 29 2008 - 5:10am
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress

Back in Ed Simon's day little was known about the sound of various metals used for various conductors and connectors. And that was before the widespread use of cryogenics for everything from fuse holders, fuses, wall outlets, cables, connectors as well as a host of "silver paste" contact enhancers from Walker, Mapleshade, and Xtreme A/V, most notably the silver and gold Quicksilver Gold concoction from Xtreme A/V. I won't even get into cryo'd silver plated wall outlets or cryo'd silver plated fuse holders from Acme.

Back in Simon's day little was known about sound of directionality of wires, cables and fuses or the sound of metals used for the fuse end caps. When was it someone suggested sanding off the nickel plating of fuse caps. Heck, gotta be ten or fifteen years ago.

Can you hear these things? It's so easy even a caveman can do it.

ethanwiner
ethanwiner's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 2:26pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
JJ..all that may be true. But one big thing is wrong with it. Audiophiles hear differences of such a minor nature all the time.


You guys are discussing artifacts at very low levels, like 80 dB down or softer, right? Before concluding people can hear what they claim, I'd need a suitable test as proof. I'm not convinced, though I realize they believe they can hear it!

Ethan Winer
RealTraps

geoffkait
geoffkait's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 hours 30 min ago
Joined: Apr 29 2008 - 5:10am
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress

"You guys are discussing artifacts at very low levels, like 80 dB down or softer, right?

Ah, one of the more "convincing" arguments of the naysayers. Other similar arguments include "it's too small," "it cannot be proven by known science," "it's at the atomic level, for crying out loud!" and "it cannot be measured."

"Before concluding people can hear what they claim, I'd need a suitable test as proof. I'm not convinced, though I realize they believe they can hear it!"

Are you volunteering or waiting for NASA or Acoustical Society of America to step up to the plate? How would *you* construct tests for these claims that would be convincing to naysayers?

SAS Audio
SAS Audio's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 months 1 week ago
Joined: Jun 6 2007 - 6:56am
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
"You guys are discussing artifacts at very low levels, like 80 dB down or softer, right?

Ah, one of the more "convincing" arguments of the naysayers. Other similar arguments include "it's too small," "it cannot be proven by known science," "it's at the atomic level, for crying out loud!" and "it cannot be measured."

"Before concluding people can hear what they claim, I'd need a suitable test as proof. I'm not convinced, though I realize they believe they can hear it!"

Are you volunteering or waiting for NASA or Acoustical Society of America to step up to the plate? How would *you* construct tests for these claims that would be convincing to naysayers?

Yes KBK. And in my example, either one hears the breathing or one doesn't. Even after hearing the three breaths and being cued by the silver wire ICs, my friend and I still could not hear two of the breaths using the copper ICs. We tried many times to no avail. So the author either has a problem with resolution such as an absorption/smoothing effect that is not being measured.

Buddha
Buddha's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:

Quote:
"You guys are discussing artifacts at very low levels, like 80 dB down or softer, right?

Ah, one of the more "convincing" arguments of the naysayers. Other similar arguments include "it's too small," "it cannot be proven by known science," "it's at the atomic level, for crying out loud!" and "it cannot be measured."

"Before concluding people can hear what they claim, I'd need a suitable test as proof. I'm not convinced, though I realize they believe they can hear it!"

Are you volunteering or waiting for NASA or Acoustical Society of America to step up to the plate? How would *you* construct tests for these claims that would be convincing to naysayers?

Yes KBK. And in my example, either one hears the breathing or one doesn't. Even after hearing the three breaths and being cued by the silver wire ICs, my friend and I still could not hear two of the breaths using the copper ICs. We tried many times to no avail. So the author either has a problem with resolution such as an absorption/smoothing effect that is not being measured.

That's a great description, SAS.

Now, can you hear the difference without knowing which interconnect is in place?

That would be a fun trial and, if successful, would be a fun thing to add to the hobby! Although, if you can do that, Ethan will never allow it to be a difference between otherwise perfectly fine interconnects - he will invoke the "one must be broken" defense.

We did this last CES with Straightwire Maestro and Purist Audio Anniversay interconnects and were readily able to identify differences with single blind trials. (Ethan claimed one pair must have been broken, of course.)

Don't fear blind listening, man. Have some fun with this!

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
Back in Ed Simon's day little was known about the sound of various metals used for various conductors and connectors.

I love it when somebody who didn't read the article shoots off their mouth.

Dude, you stepped in it.

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:

Quote:
JJ..all that may be true. But one big thing is wrong with it. Audiophiles hear differences of such a minor nature all the time.


You guys are discussing artifacts at very low levels, like 80 dB down or softer, right? Before concluding people can hear what they claim, I'd need a suitable test as proof. I'm not convinced, though I realize they believe they can hear it!

Ethan Winer
RealTraps

Way, way down for low-level interconnects. Way, way, way, WAY down for line-level.

As I said, I don't doubt that they PERCEIVED a difference, but I won't accept a-priori they HEARD it.

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
We did this last CES with Straightwire Maestro and Purist Audio Anniversay interconnects and were readily able to identify differences with single blind trials. (Ethan claimed one pair must have been broken, of course.)

Don't fear blind listening, man. Have some fun with this!

Did you happen to measure the capacitance of those two cables? (cough)

KBK
KBK's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 30 2007 - 12:30pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress

Due to how capacitance develops at the molecular integration and interaction level, the capacitance 'development' as it where, in a fluid conductor can and does vary directly with the load development and physical polarity/polarization. In a solid construction (crystallized lattice), there is a 'place' or physical dimensional space that capacitance can develop 'in', but this physical parameter is notably a 'variable according to load', when a fluid is the object under test.

For example, the physical polarization of fluid via current drive creates a polarity and polarization for the development of capacitance differentials, but it ceases the moment the current does. So those rules to not apply. Sorry...I punched the ticket on Newtonian analysis. heh heh. The capacitance is a quantum function loading variable in a conductive fluid and defies standardized measurement methodology.

geoffkait
geoffkait's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 hours 30 min ago
Joined: Apr 29 2008 - 5:10am
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress

"Way, way down for low-level interconnects. Way, way, way, WAY down for line-level.

As I said, I don't doubt that they PERCEIVED a difference, but I won't accept a-priori they HEARD it."

Why would anyone accept a priori anyone's claim? Noone is suggesting you do. What is odd is that the "measurement at the expense of everything else crowd" never gets around to the listening tests. In the end, isn't that what really matters? What are you guys afraid of? I mean, aside from being wrong.

You probably didn't get the memo that "Perceive" is equivalent to "Hear." You know, perceive as in sense or observe. If you wish to besmirch audiophiles, can I recommend that you use the word "imagine" or "hornswaggled by the placebo effect" instead?

"Way, way, way WAY down" - thanks for another way to say the same thing Nathan said - it's too damn small, it's 80 dB down, it's inconsequential, it's in their imagination.

Buddha
Buddha's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:

Quote:
We did this last CES with Straightwire Maestro and Purist Audio Anniversay interconnects and were readily able to identify differences with single blind trials. (Ethan claimed one pair must have been broken, of course.)

Don't fear blind listening, man. Have some fun with this!

Did you happen to measure the capacitance of those two cables? (cough)

Well, everyone knows that interconnects all sound the same, eh? If they don't, then welcome aboard and let's talk measurements as part of this conversation!

Our project was to take two reasonably common Hi Fi interconnects and compare by listening, which demonstrated readily apparent differences; thereby addressing one small part of the myth.

I'll leave it to you Alfred Einsteins to measure for me!

J_J, do you hear differences between randomly selected Hi Fi interconnects? If so, that's quite an admission around here!

Wheter it be via differences in capacitance, inductance, or what not, people like Ethan claim the differences are so small between cables that they are not audible.

So, you are now stuck in the same room with Michigan, J_J!

According to your question, you hear differences between interconnects!

Now, which ones have you tried and what have you noticed!

Things could get much more fun with someone with your polymath skills talking about the differences you hear between interconnects!

SAS Audio
SAS Audio's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 months 1 week ago
Joined: Jun 6 2007 - 6:56am
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:

Quote:
We did this last CES with Straightwire Maestro and Purist Audio Anniversay interconnects and were readily able to identify differences with single blind trials. (Ethan claimed one pair must have been broken, of course.)

Don't fear blind listening, man. Have some fun with this!

Did you happen to measure the capacitance of those two cables? (cough)

It would be good to know the equipment used to obtain the output impedance (Z). Below are some examples of different output Zs using cirmaker.

1k preamp output Z, 250pf for purist cable (1 meter from specs), at 100khz the output is reduced by approx. - .1db

At 2khz, the output is reduced by - .4db

If the output Z is 1k ohms and 1 meter, 475pf for Straightwire cable (I have an old pair and used that measurement),

at 100khz the output is reduced by approx. - .37db

At 2khz, the output is reduced by approx. - 1.3db

Lower output Z, which is usually the case, would mean less difference in db.

Buddha
Buddha's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
We did this last CES with Straightwire Maestro and Purist Audio Anniversay interconnects and were readily able to identify differences with single blind trials. (Ethan claimed one pair must have been broken, of course.)

Don't fear blind listening, man. Have some fun with this!

Did you happen to measure the capacitance of those two cables? (cough)

It would be good to know the equipment used to obtain the output impedance (Z). Below are some examples of different output Zs using cirmaker.

1k preamp output Z, 250pf for purist cable (1 meter from specs), at 100khz the output is reduced by approx. - .1db

At 2khz, the output is reduced by - .4db

If the output Z is 1k ohms and 1 meter, 475pf for Straightwire cable (I have an old pair and used that measurement),

at 100khz the output is reduced by approx. - .37db

At 2khz, the output is reduced by approx. - 1.3db

Now to know if such would make a difference and what the actual output Z is of the component. Lower output Z, which is usually the case, would mean less difference. Actually I did some testing years ago, changing the FR in a component from -1db at 200khz to -1db at 150khz, back and forth testing. The change in sound was evident in my system so the IC capacitance could have changed the sound imo.

So, more concurrence that different interconnects can "sound different!"

Our whole point was to address the larger claim that "all interconnects sound the same."

I leave it to y'all to discuss the why and wherefore, which Ethan has always said produced values too small to be audbile!

I think it's great we have SAS and J_J in agreement on this still very controversial issue! Now we're talking Hi Fi!

I love your measurments, SAS, it makes for fun chat looking at the objective side of a subjective observation!

SAS Audio
SAS Audio's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 months 1 week ago
Joined: Jun 6 2007 - 6:56am
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
We did this last CES with Straightwire Maestro and Purist Audio Anniversay interconnects and were readily able to identify differences with single blind trials. (Ethan claimed one pair must have been broken, of course.)

Don't fear blind listening, man. Have some fun with this!

Did you happen to measure the capacitance of those two cables? (cough)

It would be good to know the equipment used to obtain the output impedance (Z). Below are some examples of different output Zs using cirmaker.

1k preamp output Z, 250pf for purist cable (1 meter from specs), at 100khz the output is reduced by approx. - .1db

At 2khz, the output is reduced by - .4db

If the output Z is 1k ohms and 1 meter, 475pf for Straightwire cable (I have an old pair and used that measurement),

at 100khz the output is reduced by approx. - .37db

At 2khz, the output is reduced by approx. - 1.3db

Now to know if such would make a difference and what the actual output Z is of the component. Lower output Z, which is usually the case, would mean less difference. Actually I did some testing years ago, changing the FR in a component from -1db at 200khz to -1db at 150khz, back and forth testing. The change in sound was evident in my system so the IC capacitance could have changed the sound imo.

So, more concurrence that different interconnects can "sound different!"

Our whole point was to address the larger claim that "all interconnects sound the same."

I leave it to y'all to discuss the why and wherefore, which Ethan has always said produced values too small to be audbile!

I think it's great we have SAS and J_J in agreement on this still very controversial issue! Now we're talking Hi Fi!

I love your measurments, SAS, it makes for fun chat looking at the objective side of a subjective observation!

Hi Buddha,

I was wondering between which components the ICs were changed, and if you could give me the make/model number. I can give an approximation of the db change with the information.

Thanks.

Buddha
Buddha's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress

It was Big Mike's disc player, I think it is a Denon 3910 or 3940 or a number like that (sorry for the vagueness, he didn't answer the phone just now) that had been modded by Dan Wright.

Then through the interconnects to an intergrated amp made by Ferguson Hill and supplied with their FH007 speakers.

Orb
Orb's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: May 28 2009 - 12:51am
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress

I think that camera needs to be replaced, sheesh not only a strange matrix green but look at the quality, unless its a ghost convention (after all arent they meant to be moving specs-blobs of light)

Just kidding, although are you sure that in-room effect does not mess with your mind!!!

Cheers
Orb

geoffkait
geoffkait's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 hours 30 min ago
Joined: Apr 29 2008 - 5:10am
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress

As for "shiny," do you mean the standard nickel plating I see most everywhere? I don't think I have a single gold plated anything to my name, but I've never noticed a problem."

You've never noticed a problem? That's not terribly surprising as one gets quite accustomed to the myriad distortions that plague the system, including nickel plated connectors.

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
I think that camera needs to be replaced, sheesh not only a strange matrix green but look at the quality, unless its a ghost convention (after all arent they meant to be moving specs-blobs of light)

Just kidding, although are you sure that in-room effect does not mess with your mind!!!

Cheers
Orb

You liked those orbs in the photo?

jneutron
jneutron's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 16 2009 - 12:34pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress

When you purchase gold plating, you can specify it either shiny or matte.

For a shiny finish, they include levellers..organics which aid in making the deposition much smoother. Hence the shiny.

Matte is the preferred finish when you intend to solder the surface. The organic levellers in the shiny finish are part of the plating surface, and it will outgass during soldering operation and fight the flux.

Cheers, John

jneutron
jneutron's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 16 2009 - 12:34pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
As for "shiny," do you mean the standard nickel plating I see most everywhere? I don't think I have a single gold plated anything to my name, but I've never noticed a problem.Ethan Winer
RealTraps

I've had problems out of the box with nickel plate. 1/4 jacks in 1/4 plugs, bad connection. Swap the with matte finish gold, problem gone. Now I just buy connectors with gold finish on the sliding points.

Cheers, John

michiganjfrog
michiganjfrog's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jan 9 2007 - 11:36pm
Re: A very interesting article in Audio Xpress


Quote:
Now, can you hear the difference without knowing which interconnect is in place?

That would be a fun trial and, if successful, would be a fun thing to add to the hobby! Although, if you can do that, Ethan will never allow it to be a difference between otherwise perfectly fine interconnects - he will invoke the "one must be broken" defense.

We did this last CES with Straightwire Maestro and Purist Audio Anniversay interconnects and were readily able to identify differences with single blind trials. (Ethan claimed one pair must have been broken, of course.)

Don't fear blind listening, man. Have some fun with this!

Agreed, one should not fear it. But OTOH, one should not assume that blind testing is the equivalent of sighted testing, and that the only difference is not seeing the device. As Geoff implied in an earlier post, it isn't. I did a blind test last night (SBT) with the computer as source, and as I saw for the 100th time, it isn't the same thing at all! iMO, the biggest mistake audiophiles make is to assume it is, and base their "knowledge" on that ("knowledge" in quotes, because any conclusions from such tests is not -reliable- knowledge).

When I test sighted (A-B), I only have to identify differences between the two conditions. For many "audiophiles" (including some "professional" reviewers), who lack in listening skills to identify all but the grossest differences, that's a hard enough challenge as it is. When I test blind, it's a whole 'nother ballgame. The blind test becomes a "guessing game", more than it is a "listening game". Here, I have to try to guess not simply whether there are differences and what the differences are between the two conditions, but which condition matches which device. Another important aspect of this that I think blind adherents fail to take into account, is that for any number of reasons (including purely psychological), your sound naturally changes to a certain degree, from play to play. I would argue that the better your listening ability, the more sensitive you wil be to these natural changes. The less the ability to discern differences, the less sensitive you will be to this, but all other (e.g. real) differences as well. (Note that ability to discern differences is normally a learned skill; and is not the same as the ability to hear a difference. Someone may hear an immediate change just fine, but may not be so good at identifying back and forth differences between two conditions, in a sighted trial).

So with the sound changing naturally from play to play, my job as a blind listener is made very difficult, because I have to try and discard what I hear as "natural differences", and identify the characteristics in the sound that relate to one or the other conditions. e.g. "What influence does the device have on the sound when installed, and what can I reliably identify in the sound when the device is not installed?". The identifiable characteristic of the DUT has to be greater than the natural variation - because you could end up listening to "no device vs. no device" and still hear differences. It's very easy to get confused in such a test, particularly after a while of "back and forthing", when it all starts to blend together, and you're no longer confident whether you are hearing the characteristic you tried to identify at the beginning, or not. Also, if you did not practice identifying those two (or three?*) conditions sighted, before taking the blind test, then your "practice" becomes the first part of the test. This could result in you screwing up x number of trials at the beginning, as you try to familiarize yourself with the two conditions. (* If you're testing two different devices, your test conductor may try to mess with you by making no change; introducing a third condition).

At the end of it, the presumption objectivists make is that if you can't reliably spot the identifying characteristic(s) of the device(s) you are testing, then there is none to be had, or whether it's really there or not is meaningless, because it's too insignificant to be reliably heard. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The sonic characteristic(s) of the device you are trying to identify may make all the difference in the world, once installed and properly heard in your system; especially over time. Assuming otherwise, is to retain only those devices that supply gross characteristics of sound that can be discerned by sloppy ears. Especially if they're someone else's sloppy ears, because you think the results of published DBT's is all you need to go by in life!

If people are only going to choose products that they can reliably detect in a blind test, it's no wonder they will inevitably end up with the worst sounding systems. Because they chose the characteristics their ears were most sensitive to. Under conditions like this, Cerwin Vega or JBL speakers, QSC amps and whatever CD player is on sale at Best Buy, with its included cabling of course, makes perfect sense. It can not be overstated how much our sound at home, and what we consider good sound, is influenced by our belief systems.

I do think blind tests are fun, and a good way of honing your listening skills to a particular ability. If they make you do more listening tests, all the better, because this is something I think all audiophiles really need to do. If the silly controversies they create on chat forums over whether "x" is a valid product is anything to go by. I'm not saying either that they can't ever be used to demonstrate differences, for I have passed statistically significant blind tests. It depends on the product, the test, and the listener. But in no way would I rely on them as a deciding factor in whether to accept or dismiss a product, as I strongly believe that's the wrong way to go.

So thank you, and I hope I have laid all issues over blind testing to rest. Now let us speak no more of it!

Pages

  • X
    Enter your Stereophile.com username.
    Enter the password that accompanies your username.
    Loading