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May Belt
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Jeff,
When I queried from Buddha just what he was prepared to regard as an 'acceptable Tweak' (for example the Shakti Stone) - was it the price, was it the description, was it because someone significant to Buddha had tried it and reported that it worked, I was not inferring that it does not give an improvement in the sound nor was I challenging that YOU had heard a significant improvement in the sound when using one.

The description I have read regarding the Shakti Stone is that "it draws energy from the very field it is attempting to smooth out. It utilizes proprietary ferrous and non ferrous material and quartz crystal oscillators in combination with a low-level magnetic field and these components are orientated within geometric shapes both internal and external, and then housed in a poured-stone concrete material. Shakti is a passive audio component that has three internal circuit stages to absorb and dissipate some of the unwanted or parasitic oscillation effects in the electromagnetic field generated by active audio components." This is quoted from Stereophile February 1996.

I am going to suggest an experiment for you to try.
Place your Shakti Stone on a PASSIVE item of equipment - an item of equipment which is just sitting passively in the room or on a shelf - not connected into the audio system and not connected to the AC supply !!! Listen to some music. Get used to that standard of sound and then remove the Shakti Stone, listen to the same music again and see if you can listen with the same pleasure as you did previously when the Shakti Stone was in situ!

If you actually find that the Shakti Stone gives an identical improvement in the sound whether it is placed on an active piece of equipment or on a passive piece of equipment, then numerous 'professionals in audio' are going to have some explaining to do.

Let me explain myself further. I would ask people who are known to respond with a 'knee jerk reaction', to sit and think slowly and logically. Even if, Jeff, you do not find that you get an improvement in the sound by placing the Shakti Stone on a passive piece of equipment, the following still applies.

If you, Jeff, Wes Phillips (October 2006) and Brian Willis (February 1996) hear an improvement in your sound by placing a Shakti Stone on a piece of equipment, the improvement in the sound means that the Shakti Stone is 'dealing with' an adverse effect !! Which is exactly what Shakti claim. Then this means that, prior to you using the Shakti Stone, there had been an adverse effect around the particular piece of equipment which you had not previously been aware of !! Even if you had been listening to that same equipment for the past 5, 10 or 5 years !! Using the Shakti Stone had brought it to your attention (made you aware of) the fact that there HAD BEEN an adverse effect around the piece of equipment which you had not been aware of previously !! Which now puts you in the group of 10 aware people which I refer to in my reply to Ethan. But, also, prior to using the Shakti Stone, you had been part of the group of 90 who had not been aware that there could be any adverse effect surrounding equipment. Once you move into the group of 10 aware people, you can no longer use 'mocking' sentences or tactics. You know what you know - you are aware of new things !!

Now, let me take it a stage further.
If you like the sound with the Shakti Stone on a piece of equipment, when you remove the Shakti device you will no longer like the sound, you will no longer get the same pleasure in listening to your equipment - and I mean ALL the equipment, because the presence of the Shakti Stone on one piece of equipment governs the SOUND of the entire audio system !!! You like the sound of your system with it on, you don't like the sound with it off !! It is not a case of the sound being 'not as good' without the Shakti, once your working memory 'knows' the standard with the Shakti Stone on, then you will cringe at the sound without the Shakti on. The working memory is part of the survival mechanism - it upgrades itself automatically to new information or new standards if that new information is important and does not like being taken below the standard it has just become accustomed to. The 'cringe' is the working memory 'shouting, kicking and screaming' because it has been taken down below the standard it has just become accustomed to.
Let me now take it even further in a logical thought process.
The more Shakti Stones you use on different equipment (as Shakti recommend) and you hear further improvements in the sound, then this makes you aware that so much more of the equipment MUST ALSO have adverse energy patterns around it !! This is not what the audio industry want you to think. This is not what the audio industry want pointing out to them !! That is why Clark can describe that reaction of anger
>>> The respondents were *angry* at him, just like some folks here. Afterwards no one at Fi ever did that trick again, nor is it much seen in the other (surviving) magazines. One must take what comes in the box, plug it in and listen. <<<

and how I can describe the reaction to what WE did as ERUPTIONS !!

If a reviewer uses a Shakti Stone on an item of his equipment (say an amplifier) and if he then receives Joe Blogg's $10,000 CD player for review and he listens to Joe Bloggs CD Player with the Shakti Stone on his amplifier, he would report Joe Blogg's CD player as 'sounding good'. BUT, if he then listens to Joe Blogg's CD player with the Shakti Stone removed from the amplifier, the sound of Joe Blogg's $10,000 CD player will not 'sound' good. Which means the sound (and how it can be described) of Joe Blogg's $10,000 CD player is entirely dependent upon the placement (or not) of the Shakti Stone !!!!!!

Equally, because we are applying logic here - you can look at a 'tweak' which John Atkinson uses and (presumably) uses because it gives him better sound - the Myrtle Wood Blocks. Surely, logically, if John has better sound when using the Myrtle Wood Blocks, then this must mean that the Myrtle Wood Blocks, when in position under an item of equipment, are 'dealing' with an adverse effect ?? What adverse effect ?? And what are the Myrtle Wood Blocks doing and how are they doing it ?? Also, presumably, if John removes the Myrtle Wood Blocks from underneath the item of equipment, he will not have as good a sound ?
Similarly as I have described above, if John has the Myrtle Wood Blocks under his (say) amplifier and he then has to review Tom Brown's $10,000 pre-amplifier and listens to Tom Brown's pre-amplifier with the Myrtle Wood Blocks still in position under his amplifier, he will be able to report that the Tom Brown pre-amplifier 'sounds' good. BUT, if John removes the Myrtle Wood Blocks and then listens to Tom Brown's pre-amplifier, John will no longer like the sound of Tom Brown's $10,000 pre-amplifier !!!! In other words, again, the sound (and how it can be described) of Tom Brown's $10,000 pre-amplifier is totally dependent upon whether the Myrtle Wood Blocks are in position under the amplifier or not !!!

Extend this to retailers demonstration rooms and to the mass of equipment (active and passive) in their showrooms. If these 'tweaks' I have described have shown that there are adverse effects surrounding audio (and other) equipment, then things do not suddenly change because it is a retailer selling Joe Blogg's equipment, or selling Jack Smith's equipment etc. !!! Extend this to manufacturer's demonstration rooms at Hi Fi Shows. If it has been shown that there are adverse effects surrounding audio equipment, then things do not suddenly change because it happens to be a Hi Fi Show !!! The poor sound at some retailers showrooms and at Hi Fi Shows begin to make sense - and cannot always be blamed on 'room acoustics'.

Just to end with various quotes :-
Quote from Jeff Wong.
"There are too many variables, and they may be on a level of such subtlety, one could consider them negligible. By comparison, the effect of something like a Shakti is gross in size (to my ears),"

From Stereophile February 1996
Near the end of the particular article (on the Shakti Stone) in Stereophile I have quoted from, Barry Willis says " I'll be damned if there wasn't a whole new level of depth and clarity to the presentation (of music). Pretty amazing. I don't want to go back to listening without them. What exactly they're doing, or how exactly they're doing it, I'm not sure.""

From Shakti " Any active component that could self-generate or act as an antenna for RF, microwave, electric and magnetic spurious fields, could benefit from placement of Shakti in proximity to, or on, its chassis. These components would include (but not be restricted to) pre-amplifiers, CD players, transports, associated DAC and auxiliary interface devices, turntables and audio tape recorders."

Regards,
May Belt.

CECE
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Putting a "chemical" on something, injested maybe. It's done now. Gin, Vodka, or something more potent, some kind of LSD or blotter acid. think how that changes the acoustics,or perception of the acoustics it worked in the 60's...It worked for lotsa' musicans who needed to change the sound. Scuse' me while I kiss this guy.........

CECE
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Please send me a case of Shatki stones and a case of Myrtle's wood? I'll try them all over, I'll even put them in my refrigerator. If I hear a difference I'll let you know. The problem with these items is MONEY. They should give them away like the guy does with video professor, as seen on tv". He is so sure you will buy more, he gives you free stuff. so send me my free wood and stones....and I'lll try em. Nothing better than ssome good WOOD, and the STONES to back em up with.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Buddha & Big Mike - As of 12:12 AM EST this morning, if all went well in the world of quantum tweaking, you should've noticed an improvement in your systems:

Is it live, or is it Memorex? I'll leave it in the freezer until further notice. If we belted one out of the park, I may expect a monthly maintenance fee.

mjalazard
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Clifton, do these giant eunuch trout taste better that their compadres with intact genitalia? Will the trout stay fresher in your freezer if you write x 23 x in red pen on the ziplock bag? What if you use the special double freezer guard bags...should I double the number? My favorite fish tweak is a good pan-fry with butter, lemon,fresh parsley, and a nice dry Riesling. Bon appetit and Bonne ecout!

ethanwiner
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

May,

We were in complete agreement until you got to this point:


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But I also know that, at some time in the future, you will do something else in the room, something which cannot be explained within your acoustic concept as much as you push, pull and stretch it.

Just to be clear, I do not think that acoustics and comb filtering are the only cause of someone believing they heard a change when there's nothing physical that could cause a change. I'm convinced that many people believe they heard a change even when there really was no change. And I made that point in my article. One can call it delusion, or perception, lack of auditory memory, placebo effect, and so forth. But I do not agree with this as a plausible explanation:


Quote:
Something such as applying a tiny amount of a chemical to a tiny area of an object in the room

That's the delusional part in my opinion. Either that or comb filtering if you're not using headphones.


Quote:
Or, such as changing the colour of an object and changing the sound (either for better or worse).

That too is either delusional or comb filtering. I mean, what else could it possibly be? What aspect of the sound could be changed by painting a red "X" on the side of your lamp shade?


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I am not challenging conventional acoustic theories, I am not challenging conventional electronic theories, all I am doing is saying that there is more 'going on', connected with sound and hearing, over and above all these conventional things. !!

It sounds to me like you are indeed challenging what is known about acoustics and electronics. If you believe there's more going on, then the burden of proof is on you to say what it is.


Quote:
many of the 'tweaks', many of the 'unexplainable listening experiences' you are referring to can still be heard when listening through HEADPHONES i.e. isolated from the acoustics of the actual room !!

Right. Again, that's the placebo / delusional part. Or just poor auditory memory. Or maybe the headphones aren't fitting the same as they were previously. If you've ever used headphones you know the sound can change a large amount depending on how well seated they are.


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You don't need to go into the area of 'magic', you don't need a new science

Well, remember my first post addressed to you was to question your comment: "this Shakti Stone was creating a less threatening energy pattern." I think any reasonable person can see that "threatening energy pattern" is a total crock.

--Ethan

gkc
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Mike, I have learned much from my pilgrimage. First, like your average Commie, the only good trout is a dead trout. Second, the larger the trout (over, say, the minimal 10" or so), the worse the taste and texture, regardless of its toolage. Still, I did catch a 14-pounder that I had smoked (for a paltry 3 bucks), and it was delicious.

Your tweak is excellent. I spray mine with Optrix CD Treatment first, for taming the "bite" naturally in the fish. Sometimes, too, I roll 'em in a half-and-half mixture of cornmeal and flour, to give the overall presentation additional crisp 'n crunch. Not, however, if I am playing dinner music (Schubert's "Trout" Quintet is high on my list of favorites) -- the additional coating on the skin, intruding into the miasma of the room, dampens the presence region of the upper midrange.

After having read May Belt's dissertation, I approached Maestro Salonen and suggested he redo the water pipes at Disney Hall, for better distribution of the magnetic particles embedded in the overtones. Enraged at the mere suggestion, he tried to stab me with his baton, but I was too quick for him, poking him in the nose with a CD Liner and boxing his ears with a Ringmat. Cheers, Clifton.

gkc
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Time nor Cryogenics helpeth not this unseemly raiment.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Yes, but, would you prefer he be dressed in the Emperor's New Clothes instead? Methinks not.

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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Hurray! Someone with common sense! I find it really refreshing to read a posting where someone tries to make meaningful sense of the illogical.
I

gkc
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

An epic thread, indeed. An entire universe has been marked out. The positivists (Scooter and Martin) at the one extreme (Hmph! Scoff, scoff! If my two courses in Electrical Engineering don't cover it, it doesn't exist), the metaphysicians at the other (Ethan Winer, May Belt -- You can't sit in the same place twice, do I dare disturb the universe by moving an electron?), and a bemused and skeptical majority wandering between the poles. Not even Spinoza could put all this into one book, but I have a few random notes.

Scooter, Martin -- neither of you says a word about listening to music, live or recorded -- just measuring electricity. And, no, Stereophile didn't rate the Advents "quite highly" in absolute terms, just compared to other, inflation-adjusted,$130 speakers. Since most of us are music-lovers, each seeking his own subjective ideal for playing music, your words fall on deaf ears.

May, Ethan. Again, no references to the musical experience, live or recorded -- comb filtering is the root of all evil. Indeed. I thought it was my upstairs neighbor.

Clay -- "put on a record and enjoy the music." You'll have to explain that in scientific and metaphysical terms, old friend -- I can hear them scratching their heads clear over here. Buddha -- "All universal claims are wrong." Bravo. It is the relativity of tunes that counts. Water pipes, my ass. MY pipes are empty, and, as Buddha suggests, adjusting THEIR flow pressure with a spot o' gin can be demonstrably proven as efficacious to tuneful movement of the air currents.

Cheers, all.

ethanwiner
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Clifton,

> the metaphysicians at the other (Ethan Winer, May Belt <

If you think I'm a "metaphysician" (whatever the heck that is) you obviously missed all of my points. I'm the biggest gear head scientific objectivist - and consumerist - you'll ever find.

> Again, no references to the musical experience <

What does the musical experience have to do with any of this? I am absolutely serious! It's a given that the whole point of audio gear and room treatment is to enjoy the reproduction of music to the fullest. But that has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand! The opening post in this thread began with:


Quote:
I recently read a review where the reviewer went on and on about the benefits of a 2000 dollar plus power cord. Magic transformation of the bass drive, etc, etc, ad nauseum. Frankly, I don't think that reviewer heard anything except his expectation that the 2000 dollar power cord "had" to sound better simply because it cost so much. Why? Simple, 110V 60 Hz power is power, period. No power cord is going to change that.

And this is exactly what I addressed in my posts. If the question is why do some people believe that a $2,000 power cord "sounds better" than a stock cord that costs $2, then clearly the answer is comb filtering and/or self-delusion! You can try to skew the discussion away from this basic question of science to instead be an indictment of those who are curious and want to know the answer, refusing to accept "metaphysical" explanations. But it didn't work.

--Ethan

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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

I have to at least partially agree with May on this one. If comb filtering was the answer, then we would be hearing reports that X sounds better one time and Y sounds better another time, depending on varying head placement.

But we do not get those reports. Instead the reports are consistently that X sounds better than Y, or consistently different with the same strengths and weaknesses vs Y, regardless of head movement. Obviously, comb filtering has no bearing in this case.

"If the question is why do some people believe that a $2,000 power cord "sounds better" than a stock cord that costs $2, then clearly the answer is comb filtering and/or self-delusion!"

"Clearly the answer"? what is your basis for such a strong reply? Your posts and article sounds more opinion to me.

"comb filtering and/or self-delusion!"

Can you bring forth proof to substantiate that "comb filtering" and "self delusion" is/are the culprit(s)?

Martin: The subject of subjective audio "blind" testing has been covered, here and other forums in the past. Before making judgments, may I suggest as a fellow engineer, that you upgrade your knowledge of Physics, Chemistry, and Medical information on the hearing mechanism, both physical and mental processes. I believe your opinion will change with regard to "blind" testing.

ethanwiner
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

> I have to at least partially agree with May on this one. <

But May didn't make any points at all! She said the audible differences are caused by "a less threatening energy pattern" and such forth. Tell the truth now - do you really agree with that conclusion?

> If comb filtering was the answer, then we would be hearing reports that X sounds better one time and Y sounds better another time, depending on varying head placement. <

That's like the old joke: I knew an audiophile who changed his speaker cables and the sound improved. Then he changed the cables back and the sound improved again.

> Instead the reports are consistently that X sounds better than Y, or consistently different with the same strengths and weaknesses vs the other. <

Not so - when tested repeatedly in a proper fashion, where the listener does not know which [whatever] he's hearing, the results are always random. Unless there really is a difference, such as lame speaker cables that have such high capacitance they actually do affect the sound negatively. But again, I'm not talking about that. I focus entirely on those things that people claim sound different even though they measure the same. So I put the burden of proof back on your shoulders where it belongs.

If not comb filtering and/or delusion, then what is your better explanation?

--Ethan

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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

What is the sound of an angry Buddha?


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Mr. J, we see your kind in the world all the time. The giggling guru who laughs his little laugh when people ask challenging questions, and his accolytes laugh along, because only they "know" that their faith is the key to open mindedness and insight...all the while, the guru is humping the teenage girls and building a Swiss bank account.

What is the sound of a delusional Buddha?


Quote:
100% positive reviews for tweaks? Every one you've reviewed works...and then you assail someone for claiming that there exists a tweak or two that don't work.

What is the sound of a blathering Buddha?


Quote:
At what level does your brain start saying, "Hey, wait a minute. What about all the other color pens in the house? What about the kids' drawings on the freezer door? How about what color font I use on my word documents?"

What is... well the Buddha has multitudinous aspects, some of them not very pretty. Worst of all the Great One doesn

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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

> I have to at least partially agree with May on this one. <

But May didn't make any points at all! She said the audible differences are caused by "a less threatening energy pattern" and such forth. Tell the truth now - do you really agree with that conclusion?

>>My mistake. I was reading Clifton's comments and saw this.
"May, Ethan. Again, no references to the musical experience, live or recorded -- comb filtering is the root of all evil. Indeed. I thought it was my upstairs neighbor."
I guess May stuck in my mind. For the record, I do not believe her beliefs.
---------

> If comb filtering was the answer, then we would be hearing reports that X sounds better one time and Y sounds better another time, depending on varying head placement. <

That's like the old joke: I knew an audiophile who changed his speaker cables and the sound improved. Then he changed the cables back and the sound improved again.

>>Well, you're the one who stated head movements cause a change in perceived sound because of comb filtering. I simply explained that comb filtering could not possibly be the answer based on your reasoning because of consistent reporting defies what you claim is true.

> Instead the reports are consistently that X sounds better than Y, or consistently different with the same strengths and weaknesses vs the other. <

Not so - when tested repeatedly in a proper fashion, where the listener does not know which [whatever] he's hearing, the results are always random."

>>And who decides the proper fashion?

As you have stated when one moves his head, comb filtering causes the sound to be perceived differently. So even listening to the same cord over and over will be perceived differently by your own account because of head movements. (let alone any other reasons)

>>In fact, he will hear something different than EITHER X or Y UNLESS his head is exactly in the same place when he first listened to X and Y, at the beginning of the test. (In fact, his head has moved between the initial auditionings of X and Y.

>>So his replies will always be a guess, random as you stated, 50/50. He could guess either way since what he hears is not either X or Y, unless his head is exactly in the right place by chance. But wait, a "proper test" needs a 90% correct answer, not 50%.
So the conclusion will always be "no sonic difference". Just as you predicted. (Know of any studies where the subject's heads are in a vise?)

"I focus entirely on those things that people claim sound different even though they measure the same. So I put the burden of proof back on your shoulders where it belongs."

>>Your measurements may be scientific but is it the complete picture, or just the basics? Have you kept up with science to know? (Objectionists can never answer this one satisfactorily. That requires peering into the unknown, or by continued learning.)

Did you read the book I suggested in the "cable forum", as a beginning? Have you continued reading physics, chemistry, medical information on hearing, physical and mental processes?

No the ball is still in your court.
This is one interesting discussion.

gkc
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

The cord, con or no, is for enjoying the music. If it helps, buy it. If it doesn't, don't. "What does the musical experience have to do with any of this"? Everything. Your head needs new gears, or a shift out of reverse.

The subject of the post, in the form of a question, is "Why do so many buy into the 'cons' in high end Audio?". We try tweaks (again, con or no) to get us closer to the musical experience, not to prove and/or publicize our gullibility. If you don't understand the musical context, comb-filtering does, indeed, become a metaphysical problem.

If this "skews" the question, your obsession with comb filters begs it. For further edification, read The Limits of Science. Or define what you mean by the term.

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The comb-filtering problem can be overcome

I repeat: The comb-filtering problem can be overcome! And simply, by listening to just one channel. After all, most "tweaks" (I like to call them "fine tuning aids") have little to do with stereo per se. Why, the biggest tweak of all, Absolute Polarity, is known in academic circles as a "monaural phase effect". Other procedures that clean up the source, rebalance the frequency response, tune the room etc. will be sufficiently audible monaurally for reliable conclusions to be drawn.

This comb-filtering argument is just another way for "objectivist" leaders to convince the troops of the futility of tweaks.

clark

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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

>>> May, Ethan. Again, no references to the musical experience, live or recorded -- comb filtering is the root of all evil.<<<

I think some things look as though they need clarifying.

My agreeing with something Ethan said was not an agreement about the concept of 'combing'. What I said was that I feel sure that Ethan and I would agree on the fact that there is a wealth of information, already in the room, which we (human beings) are not resolving correctly. And, having said that, that there would then be a hurdle that Ethan and I would reach where we would disagree and sure enough there was such a hurdle.
Ethan's explanation for his concept of 'combing' is solely an acoustic one. I know about acoustics so I would never argue that there are NO reflections, NO peaks, NO nulls. I accept there will be - air pressure waves are air pressure waves !!

Ethan (and others) say that there cannot be anything else happening whereas I would suggest that there can be. As soon as you begin to look at the human being (who is doing the listening, who is doing the interpreting of the information) then other considerations emerge. This then brings the immediate, knee jerk reaction (which it did) that the explanation MUST BE (any of the following - you chose) 'self-delusion', 'suggestion', 'the placebo effect', 'imagination', 'mood changes', 'effective marketing'.

What I also tried to point out is that once people become aware, once they move forward with a better understanding, they no longer use 'mocking tactics'. Mocking tactics, ridicule, snide remarks are used by people who have not become aware, who have not moved forward with a better understanding. Healthy disagreement and healthy discussion (even healthy scepticism) - then that is an entirely different ball game.
Regards,
May Belt

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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

May,

> My agreeing with something Ethan said was not an agreement about the concept of 'combing'. <

I know you're not disagreeing with that because I showed hard proof.

> Ethan (and others) say that there cannot be anything else happening whereas I would suggest that there can be. <

Well let's hear it then. But please provide a level of proof as robust as mine. It's not enough to "suggest" that some energy aura or whatever "might" be a factor. If you believe there are new factors that account for a real change in the sound, please be as specific as possible.

--Ethan

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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

> I simply explained that comb filtering could not possibly be the answer based on your reasoning because of consistent reporting defies what you claim is true. <

I would love to hear of legitimate reports that prove comb filtering does not cause the response to change with position as drastically as I showed. Do you have a link?

> Instead the reports are consistently that X sounds better than Y, or consistently different with the same strengths and weaknesses vs the other. <

Yet again, my comments apply only to situations where conventional measurements show no difference. Again, links will help you make your case. And believe me, I'd love to see such reports! My only agenda is to learn the truth, not to push unfounded opinions.

> And who decides the proper fashion? <

Why, I do - of course!

Seriously, science has a very long tradition of what is acceptable as proof. So as long as any proof you offer follows what has long been established and accepted, I'm totally down with it.

> So his replies will always be a guess, random as you stated, 50/50. He could guess either way since what he hears is not either X or Y, unless his head is exactly in the right place by chance. But wait, a "proper test" needs a 90% correct answer, not 50%. <

Exactly. And that's my point BTW.

> Your measurements may be scientific but is it the complete picture <

Yes, until someone shows otherwise. Yet again, again, if you have any compelling evidence that there's more to it, this would be the time to present it.

> Did you read the book I suggested in the "cable forum", as a beginning? Have you continued reading physics, chemistry, medical information on hearing, physical and mental processes? <

What does that have to do with the subject at hand? I think it makes more sense for us to stick to the current discussion and argue the facts on their merits. Rather than drag books about chemistry and brain function into it.

> This is one interesting discussion. <

I agree.

--Ethan

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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

I get a bit worked up when I see a rave review over a 2000 power cord. Since the reviewer started with a high end system that most of us would drool over, any improvement had to be of a very tiny increment. It was also a power cord that quite possibly cost less than 50 dollars to manufacture. The 1800 dollar LP demagnetizer. You can buy an industrial demagnetizer for 79.95 USD. That's the a big part of the CON I was referring to, the crazy prices that some Audiophiles are willing to pay for these extreme tweaks.

Then there are the tweaks themselves. Lets be honest here. The single greatest variable in the sound that we hear is due to the SOURCE MATERIAL. You can tweak to the moon and back and you still stuck with that same source material.

As an example, I am a real fan of Patsy Cline. It's a shame that she was lost to us so early in her career because her voice hits all the right nerves in me. However, if you listen closely to her recordings it's quite possible to hear every defect in the recording systems used in her studio. Tape hiss, dropouts, mic preamp overload, and all the other defects in that early recording equipment. So, what tweak will fix those defects? The answer is nothing that won't take something away from the music. So we are left with recordings that, on the whole, are far from perfect. So does it really make sense to spend many thousands of dollars on tweaks that can only "improve" the sound of a very small selection of the records that we can buy? I mean, come on. About the only thing that would "improve" the sound of Fantasy's re-issue of Creedence Clearwater Revival is a parametric equalizer and a very heavy hand on the controls, with the end result most likely being a really muddy sound.

BTW, a request for John Atkinson. Please publish a list of records in desperate need of proper re-mastering and re-issue. I am quite sure that CCR would be very high on that list because Fantasy did everything possible to completely butcher the sound and succeeded. Heck, start a petition drive on this subject. Maybe if enough interest is shown someone like Mobile Fidelity could expand to fill a market that they don't currently perceive exists. Rumor has it the Beatles Anthology is due for re-mastering and re-issue so there is some hope on the horizon. I would just like to see it expanded to a much wider selection of music. Maybe a Hall of Shame could help push that along.

I listen to music for one reason, that is to enjoy the music. Since most of my records have at least one or two "warts" I don't listen too closely. Basically, to a large extent I listen past the defects instead of examining the recording with a microscope. Which probably explains why I have never been able to hear any difference between a 14 gage zip cord and the high end speaker wires. I don't listen that closely because it would detract from my enjoyment of the music. Of course it could also be that there really isn't any audible difference in my somewhat pedestrian system.

What I do know is this. My pedestrian system is almost too discriminating. For that I have to thank Stereophile. They were quite correct in their review of the NAD C-372 and my dealers recomendation of the PSB Image T-45 was spot on. It's a great sounding system. So I'll keep on reading the mag and the reviews. However, I live on a budget and there won't be any 2000 dollar power cords in my house.

AS for the Tweakers out there, Tweak to your hearts content. Just remember that in some cases I think that your being overcharged. I also think that when any improvement is heard the degree of the improvement should by as accurate as possible. That rave review of that 2000 collar power cord was so over the top that one would think he was comparing an early Edison spool to a Direct to Disc LP.

CECE
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Oh come on, you just don't have an open mind. go back and read teh full page glossy ads for some magic wires. Certainly one has teh special weave,twist,turn,insulation (dielectric for and extra $1,000/ft) to convince you that AC line cords really make it better. Wether it's a snake, a big cat,labeled one. Or one with interplanetary zen. The wires matter. The good and bad electrons change it all. How come byBee doesn't have an AC power cord line of electron transfer devices? Merely catching the bad electrons, then letting teh good ones go on by, with just WIRE, surely defeats the purpose of catching teh bad ones in teh first place.

martin_n
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio


Quote:
Martin: The subject of subjective audio "blind" testing has been covered, here and other forums in the past. Before making judgments, may I suggest as a fellow engineer, that you upgrade your knowledge of Physics, Chemistry, and Medical information on the hearing mechanism, both physical and mental processes. I believe your opinion will change with regard to "blind" testing.

301, I'll have to hold my hands up on this point.

With two similar power cords, where no great electrical difference exists, please could someone point me in the right direction - to say, an article that objectively explains the physics / medical evidence of where a blind test has been or can be proven?

I don

CECE
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Now before listening we need to know physics, medicine, and brain chemistry. Which wire is better to hang myself with, a $3 piece of lamp cord, or $100/ft PS Audio with magic cord caps? I bet either one will hang the same. all it takes is the proper guage to support the weight, geeee, just like when using it for what it's for. How can I hear an improved AC line cord, if i still use the same speaker wires? How can I hear an improved speaker wire, if I still use the same line cord? How is it possible, that all the OEM's have their feets and line cords all wrong? And only the sellers of magic wire know the solution? Use MY wire, with the RIGHT type of twist and insulation. How come speaker makers don't just throw some Shatki stones inside the cabinets, don't tell anyone, and it'll make the stuff work better? Same for the CD player makers. Just build them as OEM, they could get em a lot cheaper buying em' wholesale for production. No matter how good your amp or pre amp is.....no matter how much it costs, some marketeer, has the wire to make it better!!!!! Stellar Labs, from MCM Electronics, and Parts Express.com Change the bag it came in, depending on the gullibilty level, it could be sold at what ever price the nudnicks will pay. Siltech, still freezing and heating this month. How come Tara doesn't do that, Zen don't AQ adds batteries, Shunyattatatatatatatata, calls em' after reptiles, so much magic, so much mystisim, so much money. FuruTech takes out teh magnets, Which one will manfacture in zero gravity to make sure the materials don't add any weight to teh sound. Hey, my idea, if any cable fleecer uses that mode, I'll sue. Patents Pending while I apply. Zero Gravity Cables. "We make your wallet lighter with each wire you buy".

bjh
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

DUP,


Quote:
Which wire is better to hang myself with ...

Would you please stop yapping and goodness sake start experimenting!

May Belt
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

>> But please provide a level of proof as robust as mine. It's not enough to "suggest" <<

What are you actually saying Ethan ? Are you actually saying that one cannot discuss a "suggestion" ? That if one does not have irrefutable proof, then one has to keep quiet ?

Is that how you think discoveries and subsequent progress have been made over the centuries ?
Regards,
May

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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

>>> The single greatest variable in the sound that we hear is due to the SOURCE MATERIAL. You can tweak to the moon and back and you still stuck with that same source material. <<<

As a sentence, Scooter123, that is a truism and I would never argue against a truism. Yes, if all you are hearing coming out of the loudspeakers is Information ABC + DEF, and you believe firmly that therefore that is all the information there is available on the disc (source) then you will use the sentence I have just quoted. And, yes, you will therefore believe that you can tweak to the moon and back and will never get any more information from the disc than ABC + DEF !!

What you are not taking into consideration is other people's observations over the past decades. I am talking here about well respected people in the world of audio and the way they describe what they have observed over the years.

If Ethan and I and others can describe how we have done something, in the room, and heard such an improvement in the sound (meaning that we have heard additional information which has enabled our working memory to create a better 'sound picture') then the additional information (GHI + JKL + MNO) we are now hearing must have already been 'in the room'. And, if the additional information HAS BEEN in the room, then this means - logically - that the Information GHI + JKL + MNO must have originally been on the disc (on the source). But, we all had never been aware of that fact until we did.......... (whatever it was we did in the room) !!

What I try to do constantly is to get people to look at the subject logically. That is why I steer clear of technical matters i.e. Capacitance, resistance, inductance, the dielectric effect, vibrations, static, microphony, RF interference etc affecting the audio signal. No discussion around these is really relevant if the information is ALREADY in the room !!!

To quote from a recent short review.
This is a description by Wes Phillips after fitting some Room Diffusers (it is irrelevant which Brand).
"This is a hard one to explain - it sounds as if I'm finding more and more detail (it almost
seemed as if that was the case)"
Then Wes Phillips realises that what he has described (more and more detail !!) sounds so unbelievable so he reverts back to the conventional
"but what I think was actually going on was that the naturally existing detail had less competition from the room's reinforcements of particular frequencies."

Wes's first reaction was as he HEARD it - i.e. additional detail - and many people, over the past two decades, have also made similar observations.

What I am asking people to do is to look at it logically. If Wes Phillips et al can describe it as 'hearing more and more detail', then this 'more and more detail' must already be in the room !!!!! Which means, again logically, that this 'more and more detail' must have been 'on the disc' all the time !!!

What I personally am saying is that there IS a wealth of information ON THE DISC, far more than people realise, that this wealth of information IS HANDLED beautifully by most audio equipment (irrespective of who made it or how much it cost) - far more than people realise and that this wealth of information IS presented into the room by the loudspeakers. But, because of various factors, we (human beings) are not resolving it correctly.

Then the discussion becomes around what we (human beings) are (or are not) resolving correctly and is no longer centred solely and rigidly on "if we cannot hear it, then it is not on the disc".

There appears to be two strong camps. One camp believing that if the information is on the disc, then they should be able to hear it and, if they cannot hear it, then it cannot be on the disc or it IS on the disc but the equipment cannot 'handle it' correctly.
And a second camp which believes that, after doing something in the room, they hear more and more detail. Logically, if they hear more and more detail, then this more and more detail must have been in the room all the time. Any discussion should then centre around "If the 'more and more detail' is in the room, then why were we not able to 'hear' it prior to doing something in the room" ? What has been preventing us resolving it better ? And, if we have been listening to the same disc, through the same equipment for 5, 10, 15 years, then that means that the 'more and more details' MUST HAVE BEEN in the room all this time !! Which is mind blowing for many people to get their heads around.

And, before people react again with a knee jerk reaction, of course we can consider the cost, the effectiveness etc of any so called 'tweak' but we must not throw logic out of the window whilst doing so. Sound and the resolving of the information available is a very complicated issue - far too complicated to have the blanket attitude "if we cannot hear it, then it is not on the disc".
Regards,
May Belt.

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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio


Quote:
And a second camp which believes that, after doing something in the room, they hear more and more detail. Logically, if they hear more and more detail, then this more and more detail must have been in the room all the time. Any discussion should then centre around "If the 'more and more detail' is in the room, then why were we not able to 'hear' it prior to doing something in the room" ? What has been preventing us resolving it better ? And, if we have been listening to the same disc, through the same equipment for 5, 10, 15 years, then that means that the 'more and more details' MUST HAVE BEEN in the room all this time !! Which is mind blowing for many people to get their heads around.

What's mind blowing about this? You keep repeating this statement, and I find nothing profound or earth shattering about it. When I find a tweak that works, whether it be a Shakti, carbon fibre cone, power cord, what have you, it usually seems I'm removing some distortion or layer of grunge that was obscuring information. I haven't gotten the sense that people have been arguing that this information wasn't already encoded in the discs we play (whether LPs or CDs, etc.) -- what am I missing when you keep harping on that all this info "MUST HAVE BEEN in the room all this time "? This seems a given.

May Belt
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Jeff. Of course it 'seems a given'. No wonder you sound frustrated. Of course you find nothing profound or earth shattering about it. It is blindingly obvious !! That is why I cannot understand someone like Scooter123 saying :-

>>>> Then there are the tweaks themselves. Lets be honest here. The single greatest variable in the sound that we hear is due to the SOURCE MATERIAL. You can tweak to the moon and back and you still be stuck with that same source material. <<<<

What they are inferring is 'don't bother' tweaking until you get the source right. What I say is that in the majority of cases the source is actually remarkably good, far better than people realise. Which you yourself will have discovered after doing some of the things you have tried. After you have tried them, the 'source material' will have been shown to have been far better than you had previously imagined or been aware of.
I repeat again at the risk of seeming repetitive. The greatest variable in the sound IS NOT due to the source material. I say that the information encoded on a disc contains far more detail than we are currently able to resolve - as you Jeff have surely discovered after carrying out some of the treatments you have. This concept, I would suggest, WOULD be mind blowing to someone who believes that you cannot expect any better sound unless you get the source better.
You, Jeff, might not have gone as far as 'tweaking to the moon and back' but after 'tweaking' with the Shakti Stone and 'what have you', YOU have realised that you were 'removing some layer' that was obscuring information. And, which, obviously, as you realise, as I realise, must have been information already on the source material !! The encoding on the 'source material' was the SAME, the VARIABLE was the 'tweak' !!!! So, all I am asking is, why can't others realise this ?
Because, as soon as you realise this, then the next question has to be "Why couldn't I hear it before ? Scooter123, et al, are not asking that question.
Regards,
May Belt.

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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Okay, May... now I follow. We're essentially on the same page: tweaks sometimes reveal more of what is already present in the recording. You're right. It's so obvious, I didn't understand why you were repeating it so often -- I was getting the feeling there was some facet to your argument that I was missing/just not getting -- there wasn't.

There are tweaks that are additive that sound nice that I opt to not employ (Sam Tellig's $1.20 coin trick for instance.) The coins seem to sing along with the music and add some harmonics that make the midrange sweeter and more dimensional. Years ago, I showed a recording engineer friend this tweak, and he couldn't listen to his monitors without the coins after trying it. He uses them to this day. My approach is usually to try to strip away distortion and get "closer" to the source.

I took Scooter123's statement about source material just to mean that recordings happen to vary wildly in terms of quality, which is true. My goal with my high resolution system is to not only enjoy great recordings... I also want to hear lousy recordings in the most transparent way possible, warts and all. There's so much great music out there that's not well recorded, but, I want to hear those imperfections perfectly. Sometimes the magic lies in the flaws. I don't necessarily want to sweeten a bad recording. I've got plenty of CDs and LPs that are sonic dogmeat, but, I'll take them any day over a pristinely recorded, soulless, audiophile effort. Those "perfect" recordings have their place, and can be useful tools for finetuning a system, but, they're not what I turn to for musical nourishment.

I suspect the greatest variable is ourselves. Sleep (or lack thereof), diet, or level of intoxication (hello Clifton), and mood can be factors... but, this has all been covered before.

ethanwiner
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

May,

> Are you actually saying that one cannot discuss a "suggestion" ? That if one does not have irrefutable proof, then one has to keep quiet ? <

I'm not saying you should keep quiet because I don't agree with censorship. But to toss out wild suggestions without offering any evidence as to why they might be true is irresponsible. For example, my article proposes that comb filtering is a valid explanation for why people sometimes report hearing a difference even when no difference can be measured. I explained the premise as clearly as I could, and offered quite a bit of supporting evidence in the form of hard data. If you believe that a "less threatening energy pattern" is an equally plausible factor, and expect to be taken seriously, then you need to provide the same level of verbal explanation and the same level of hard evidence as I did. So far you have not come even close.

--Ethan

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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Steve, thanks for your thoughts. I don't get much time to post as many of you do, so sorry for the late response.

I used the AWG wire table for resistance of bare wire at 68 degrees F to calulate the resistance of the speaker cables I compared. For the 10-gauge, 10-foot run, a total cable length is 20 feet. the total resistance is 20 milliohms, at one milliohm per foot.

For the 12-gauge, the total length is 48 feet so the resistance is 76 milliohms, a difference of 56 compared to the 10-gauge.

The amplifier claims a damping factor of 1000 at 1000 Hz into a nominal 8 ohm load. At low frequencies, it can drop to perhaps 100 or lower (?); I don't have the data to know.

My speakers (former) did not have any crossovers and was rated a nominal 4 ohm load. That should lower the damping factor to 500 without cables. Inserting the resistance of the 10-gauge cable, the speaker sees a amplifier+wire of 28 milliohms instead of 8 milliohms of the amplifier alone. For the 12-gauge, the speaker sees 84 milliohm amplifier+wire.

If this amplifier+wire is now the combined source impedance, the damping factors calculate to 143 and 48 for the 10- and 12- gauge cables, respectively. (Perhaps those who are trained in EE can tell me if what I calculated is the correct way, and if not right, correct me.)

The speaker manufacturer claims that a damping factor of 10 is all that is needed. Then the two cables I compared and claim to have heard a difference consistently, damping factor shouldn't matter. However, because the evaluation of the cables were not blind tested, my bias of knowing which cable I was listening to was a factor not controlled for, and could have influenced my conclusion. If this test is repeated in a blind fashion, I may not be able to tell the difference, but I never got around to trying it. Due to equipment layout in my room, I use the 24-foot cables, as the 10-foot ones won't reach the speakers.

I will briefly mention that a friend of mine (and I) could consistently hear the difference between a speaker fuse and a bare wire, while testing him in SBT mode while I made the changes. I posted this around page 21 of the thread about why blind testing is such a hot button.

Anyway, I agree with you and all others that the music enjoyment is the final goal. I just like to figure things out and explain why what I hear the differences that I hear, and if what I heard is really a difference, and if so, what caused it and can I do something to improve it.

clarkjohnsen
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio


Quote:
Since the reviewer started with a high end system that most of us would drool over, any improvement had to be of a very tiny increment.


I wonder if the writer can offer any proof for that assertion. After all, science has a long tradition of what's acceptable as proof, right?

In fact one might just as logically -- or, more logically -- state that the better the system the more revealing it is of *everything*. And despite what it might have cost, one might continue to argue that it's at the mercy of the AC supply and all attendant contamination.


Quote:
The single greatest variable in the sound that we hear is due to the SOURCE MATERIAL.


Again, proof please for that assertion; many would argue (and indeed have, at this very location) that the greatest variable is the room.


Quote:
That rave review of that 2000 collar power cord was so over the top that one would think he was comparing an early Edison spool to a Direct to Disc LP.


One hopes the writer has conducted such experiments himself before issuing that blanket statement. After all, those Edisons can sound pretty darn good!


Quote:
Please publish a list of records in desperate need of proper re-mastering and re-issue.


YES!

clark

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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

May Belt writes:


Quote:
What I try to do constantly is to get people to look at the subject logically.


How are things going with that?

clark

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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Ethan, I just read your article, and I just posted my response on another, two-week-old post.

If comb filtering effects affect so much of what we hear, and we already know that room effects are influential, then what I heard as a difference in speaker cables may be explained wholly or in part by your research article. Very interesting! Food for thought: what if someone can hear the same difference consistently, in a SBT or DBT, and can describe it? How do we incorporate the comb effects to explain this?

clarkjohnsen
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Ethan Winer writes:


Quote:
my article proposes that comb filtering is a valid explanation for why people sometimes report hearing a difference even when no difference can be measured. I explained the premise as clearly as I could, and offered quite a bit of supporting evidence in the form of hard data.


And I explained how comb filtering can in many instances be subtracted from the tweak "equation"; no response was noted, merely a re-assertion of comb filtering.

If you "expect to be taken seriously, then you need to provide the same level of" argumentation, having redone your experiments without said filtering. Right?

clark

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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio


Quote:
what if someone can hear the same difference consistently, in a SBT or DBT, and can describe it? How do we incorporate the comb effects to explain this?

That's a great question with a very simple answer: They can't identify a difference consistently. Instead they try to discredit blind testing as a method for evaluating differences.

Again, my statements apply only to things that measure the same or nearly the same, such as speaker and other wires, modern solid state power amplifiers, and so forth. If a speaker wire really does have excessive capacitance, for example, and you can measure the loss of highs at the speaker's terminals, then my analysis does not apply because in that case there's no unknown. And if the loss of highs or whatever can be measured, that alone explains a difference in sound.

--Ethan

ethanwiner
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Clark,


Quote:
I explained how comb filtering can in many instances be subtracted from the tweak "equation"; no response was noted, merely a re-assertion of comb filtering.

Sorry, I missed that the first time around! I assume you're referring to this:


Quote:
The comb-filtering problem can be overcome! And simply, by listening to just one channel.

How does listening to one channel avoid the comb filtering that results from a wall or ceiling reflection? It's true that comb filtering can also occur from the different arrival times of two or more speakers. But the focus of my article is comb filtering caused by the delayed reflections off nearby room surfaces. If I'm missing something please let me know. And just to be clear, the overlay graph below shows the response from a single speaker with and without nearby absorption at its side.

--Ethan

gkc
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

You said, "...I want to hear lousy recordings in the most transparent way possible..." I guess that is where we differ, although the difference may be more theoretical than practical, since there is no possibility of checking the Ur-text of the bad recording to see how well you are capturing its "badness." My goal is to come as close as possible to recreating the concert hall experience. In my experience, the greatest sin lousy recordings commit against realizing this goal is in the area of exaggerating narrow bands within the frequency spectrum. Some lousy recordings are irredeemably boomy -- there is nothing you can do except restructure your environment for those program sources exhibiting this flaw, and then the rest of your collection will sound thin. Others, of course, exaggerate the upper-midrange (3000-6000 Hz). Again, restructuring your environment can help, but the rest of your collection will tend to sound dead. Of course, many recordings have relatively poor soundstaging and instrument placements, but I can listen through these particular flaws if the frequency structure is fairly neutral. The only solution I have found that I can live with (as I have mentioned in other contexts on this forum) is to seek out components that are what I call "true to middle C," for want of a better term -- components that have a strong "middle-midrange" performance. This seems to do no harm to the best software and to minimize the damage of the worst. There are no sacrifices in the areas of transparency and soundstaging, and recordings that overcook the extremes still are strong enough in the midrange to be enjoyable. A good example of what I am writing about is the Dynaudio Evidence Master I owned for awhile -- hailed for its neutrality from 20-20,000 Hz, the speaker made the warts bigger than life. I couldn't stand it, eventually, and had to get rid of the speaker.

I tried Sam's coin-tweak. It didn't get me any closer to my memory of the concert hall, and diverted my attention away from experiencing the music and toward listening to my system. To me, this was a lot of bother for nothing.

Now, I certainly am not looking for converts, and I am certainly not belittling your approach to the hobby -- chacun a son gout applies here. But, one's goals certainly define one's approach to system refinement, by tweaking or by changing components. Cheers, Clifton.

tandy
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Ethan, your previous post concerning comb filtering provides the evidence that blind testing and dbts are inaccurate.

If one, blindfolded, cannot hear the same A or B because of head movements, than how can they judge whether A or B is connected? They can't. Thus they are guessing with a 50/50 chance of being correct. But 90% is necessary.

So the conclusion of a blind testing experiment is NOT because the wires sound the same, or even different. It does not matter. It is because the blind test is inherently flawed from just this one point and the result will be heavily skewed to conclude "no sonic difference".

As far as why books, medicine and physics etc (DUP). It is because these disciiplines examine the subject, or portions of the subject, from a different angle and expertise. Studying those disiciplines really stuff a monkey wrench into your guesses and theories.

Scooter123
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May, you missed my point

My system is basically tweakless. Shoot, I even have my system plugged into a surge protecter which is probably a sin in some Audio handbook. The thing is, that if I listen real closely, I am hearing things in my source material that I rather would not hear.

Like the studio artifacts in my Patsy Cline recordings. Like, why on earth did the mastering of Fly Like an Eagle have to have the 2 guitars placed far right and far left. It gives a ping pong effect that makes me wish I had a control to variably mix the 2 channels. Having a system with good imaging is just great until you find that there was an idiot in the control room mixing the master tapes. Name me one tweak, besides single malt skotch, that will fix a poorly mastered recording and I just might buy it.

The simple truth is that I now have a system that is just a bit too revealing, so no thank you I DO NOT want to make it any more revealing. Frankly, if it's been recorded, I am quite certain that I could hear the person in the third row who farted during Beethoven's 5th.

Of course I would love to hear one of these 100,000 dollar tweaked to the max systems. It would be interesting to hear just how far behind my simple system is. I have a rather strong hunch that it won't be very far behind. The simple fact is that even today's low end gear is awfully good and trying to improve an that runs into huge outlay's with rapidly diminishing returns.

gkc
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Re: May, you missed my point

How "far behind" a "$100,000 tweaked to the max system" your system is will probably depend on your personal reference (your own sonic "ideal," which is a mental construct highly dependent upon your memory of live or electronic events that you particularly enjoyed) and the level of anticipation or skepticism you would bring to such a comparison. You might hate the more elaborate system. I hated the HP-based system I heard (Harry Pearson, of The Absolute Sound) a year or so ago. I also quickly tired of my own foray into ultimates -- the system based on the Dynaudio Evidence Master that I tried last year.

There is a thread on this forum that queries, "What is your sonic ideal?" or words to that effect. It is a question that has to be asked and re-asked, whenever discussions such as the current one take place. The answers were as diverse as you might expect. Some people hate live music, believe it or not, preferring unabashedly electronic-sounding reproduced music.

The reason we experiment with different tweaks, including witch-hazel ointments, magic wire, and rocks 'n blocks, is to better progress in our attempts to achieve our own sonic ideals. Fortunately, most failed tweaks are returnable, with full refunds, which makes your question about our being "conned" somewhat moot.

I think this aspect of the thread needs to be explored -- I list of tweaks that have worked and those that haven't. I'm on it. Cheers, Clifton

Jeff Wong
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio


Quote:
You said, "...I want to hear lousy recordings in the most transparent way possible..." I guess that is where we differ, although the difference may be more theoretical than practical, since there is no possibility of checking the Ur-text of the bad recording to see how well you are capturing its "badness." My goal is to come as close as possible to recreating the concert hall experience. In my experience, the greatest sin lousy recordings commit against realizing this goal is in the area of exaggerating narrow bands within the frequency spectrum. Some lousy recordings are irredeemably boomy -- there is nothing you can do except restructure your environment for those program sources exhibiting this flaw, and then the rest of your collection will sound thin... (edit)

Clifton - My approach is to do the least damage to the source (i.e., strive for accuracy, staight wire with gain), with the hopes that someday recording techniques will be perfected. Because the recording process is flawed, it is my firm belief that making a recording sound "real" must involve adding distortion. Playback is still flawed, but, it's something I can control to a greater degree. I'd rather shoot for the straight wire with gain for playback and attempt to remove a variable. Recordings are not live music and I can accept that. They can come close, but, part of the beauty of experiencing live music is that that's the only way to experience it... presently.

gkc
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

I think I mis-communicated. I, too, want to "do the least damage to the source," which is why my main "tweak" involved seeking out speakers that are "true to Middle-C," a quest, in line with my priorities, for neutrality.

Of course we differ in terms of the live experience. I want to get as close to it as possible, not to somehow "reserve" it as separate from what I hear in the home. Of course, this is impossible. Still, I feel I am considerably closer to this goal than I was, say, 3-5 years ago.

Again, each to his own enticing Angel (or Demon, as the case may be), in this pursuit.

Scooter123
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Clifton, I saw your post about tweaks that work. What interested me was your listing of the acoustic lens units. This is a device that probably has a very distinct effect on room tuning so I have no doubt that it's useful. However, next time you are at Home Depot check out the price for PVC tubing, it may be a revelation. The simple fact is that your 1200 dollar acoustic lens set is made up from about 30 dollars worth of very common materials. I hope you get my point, you paid an awful lot of money for a design application of tuning principles that date back to the origin of the pipe organ and are available at any public library.

gkc
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Yes. I suppose I could go to several different hardware specialty stores and buy MDF, raw speakers, and the other necessities, for a few hundred bucks. I could then build a shop (tools are cheap, right?), spend 10 years or so throwing away the mistakes, and finally come up with something to replace my $6000 speakers. Ditto capacitors, aluminum face plates, circuit boards, and all the other necessities for my amp and preamp. And so on.

Or, I could save myself some trouble and pay experts to do it for me. Since my PhD is in Literary Theory and not woodworking or Electrical Engineering, that is exactly what I decided to do.

The Acoustic Lens works. It is a steal for the price. I'm glad someone else was clever enough to do the research and build a product that works. There are many knock-offs around. I haven't tried them all, but an audiophile friend of mine in Riverside bought a set for about 80 bucks, custom-cut to match the size of his speakers. They don't work. He paid 80 bucks for something that doesn't work. I paid $1200 for something that does. By the way, after hearing my system, and talking to the Acoustic Lens designer about why the exact dimensions designed into the lens components are critical, he paid $1200 for his own set. So he paid $1280 (and wasted considerable time), while I picked up the phone and paid $1200, wasting no time. I like my deal better.

No, I didn't pay "an awful lot of money for a design application of principles that go back to the pipe organ." Within the context of a $15,000 system, I paid a LITTLE bit of money, and wasted a minimum of my time, for equipment that helps me get closer to the concert hall than I was before I bought it.

Scooter, I'm sure that, being a genius and handyman extraordinaire, you have built yourself a state-of-the-art system from scratch for only $9.99, based on ancient principles available to all. Enjoy. I don't have the time or inclination. That's why money was invented. Cheers, Clifton.

ethanwiner
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio


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Ethan, your previous post concerning comb filtering provides the evidence that blind testing and dbts are inaccurate.

At this point you have completely lost me. Obviously double blind tests are valid and useful, and they are used by legitimate science all the time. In this case, the differences between changes due to comb filtering and changes due to real differences in frequency response and distortion etc are sorted out through multiple tests. A proper test is not run just once, but many times. Also, many things transcend the comb filtering. For example, 30 percent distortion, or a steep roll-off above 5 KHz. Those are easily identified, and it doesn't even take a blind test to hear that. Other things are less blatant, such as slight ringing at 18 KHz in a D/A converter, so blind testing is a good way to separate truth from fiction in those cases.

--Ethan

ethanwiner
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Scooter,


Quote:
This is a device that probably has a very distinct effect on room tuning so I have no doubt that it's useful.

I'd be careful to distinguish between "audible" and useful. Adding resonating pipes into a listening room can definitely be audible, but the artifacts added are not desirable IMO. Why would one want a device that adds ringing at certain frequencies?

--Ethan

May Belt
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Regarding "looking at the subject logically".
>>> How are things going with that? <<<

It is difficult to answer and maybe too early to answer. Ethan has asked for a more 'verbal explanation' so, we will see if later I can answer your question.
Regards,
May Belt.

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