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chambers1517
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

Disturbing a formed dielectric. Are you kidding. You guys hear a difference in cables but then say it takes many hours for the dielectric to settle. Does this mean if you unhook a cable it no longer sounds the same when you hook it back up? Is your memory so in depth that you can remember how the last cable sounded many hours ago? Do all cables sound the same before the dielectric settles and change differently as they settle? If they don't sound the same before they settle, why has no one ever proven they can hear a difference, ever? This is another excuse as to why a blind test does't work, SILLY.

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

I just mentioned the disturbance as a possibility of why a quick A/B might not be ideal... I don't necessarily agree with this theory -- I have certainly done quick swaps, and I do notice differences. However, I also know from listening, not to judge a cable too soon before the dielectric has had sufficient time to charge up. I also don't believe quick swaps to be the ideal way to judge the piece under evaluation; some things require time to appreciate, as Buddha mentioned -- if a product results in listener fatigue being one of them. While quick swaps might be entertaining, they're not representative of how I listen or use my system daily.

I've heard big differences between AES/EBU cables using Teflon and PVC. Because the PVC based cable consistently sounded smeared, I can't help but wonder if there is a correlation between out of phase smearing and the dielectric constant, or if the dielectric influences jitter levels. Some digital cables sound grainier than others. You questioned my "in-depth memory"... I'm not sure how to answer this other than one can be left with an overall impression of a quality that stands out. When I hear a cable that sounds grainy, I can make notes as to the level or fineness of the grain. Did the grain come across as sand, or a dusting of powder? I can tell the difference between coffee ground for espresso and that for drip. I trust my memory in this visual context. Why shouldn't I trust the auditory equivalent? If this is valid, yes, my memory is fine.

I don't appreciate being called "SILLY", but, that's your prerogative, and may reveal more about you than me.

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

Scooter,

I think it is time we normal folks left,


Quote:
I've heard big differences between AES/EBU cables using Teflon and PVC. Because the PVC based cable consistently sounded smeared, I can't help but wonder if there is a correlation between out of phase smearing and the dielectric constant, or if the dielectric influences jitter levels. Some digital cables sound grainier than others. You questioned my "in-depth memory"... I'm not sure how to answer this other than one can be left with an overall impression of a quality that stands out. When I hear a cable that sounds grainy, I can make notes as to the level or fineness of the grain. Did the grain come across as sand, or a dusting of powder? I can tell the difference between coffee ground for espresso and that for drip. I trust my memory in this visual context. Why shouldn't I trust the auditory equivalent? If this is valid, yes, my memory is fine.

I mean this forum is giving me the creeps. I honestly thought that Roderick and Madeline Usher left no descendants... I can see I was wrong. Many of their offspring are here on these forums. The example above is just one of any number of comments that I could have picked, all of which exhibit symptoms of the severe afflications suffered by the Ushers.

I am out of here...this is too scary! G'luck but try to leave before its too late...I'm heading back to pro audio forums... cya later

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

"A reply to 301's recent attacks. I have freely admitted to the areas where I am lacking in knowledge and have never pretended to being all knowing. However, in the areas where I am competent you have replied with personal attacks instead of using science to prove my statements incorrect."

>>But that is just it. You made the dogmatic, general statements right after you admit to not being an expert in anything, or even knowing that much. Where is YOUR proof? Afterall, you are the one who made the statements first. That is why I have posted the replies. Now you are claiming you are competent in some area? Can you state where you made that claim??

"Pertaining to your most recent attack.

"1) Who decides who is a good engineer and who is not? Well, of course, Scooter."

I'll let the market decide who is a good engineer. A good product survives over the long term and a poor product usually dies a quiet death."

>>Great. But earlier you stated certain tweeks don't make any sonic difference, and clearly infered that all wire sounds the same. Where was your proof??
So do you want certain companies to fold cause they use those tweeks or techniques you disagree with?

"2) More important is keeping up with the constant incoming stream of new data and research. If one does not, does that make him/her a bad engineer? Not necessarily, but then his expertise could become outdated very easily."

What new data and research? Really. Name me one single new advance in audio in the past 20 years that is based on a new scientific discovery.

>>I have suggested many times to read and study but you continually refuse. Some has been known for 30 or more years. New Topologies, speaker cone technology (specifically materials) is another simple one. Study Medicine, specifically pertaining to the ear/mind and see why some forms of testing is severely flawed. Study Physics and you will see some advances that you currently consider worthless.

>>In short, get your head out of your b*** instead of making lame excuses to cover your comments.

"Audio is NOT like Medicine. In terms of scientific complexity Audio is just a pebble on the flank of Everest while Medicine is Everest."

>>I am sure it is not, but audio is much more complex than you portray it to be. Of course how could you know since you never study.

It is also interesting that the engineers who actually spend their years specializing in research/development are the very ones you guys attack. But aren't they the experts, since they have done alot more research than the armchair know it alls?

>>Of course, maybe knock others/companies down cause the midfi guys don't understand what is going on or can't keep up.

>>Of course, I am still wondering, and have not gotten a reply; if Audioholics sanctions the behaviour of some here?

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

Different dielectrics are affected by the field in different ways.

"Does this mean if you unhook a cable it no longer sounds the same when you hook it back up?"

>>Not necessarily.

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


Quote:
Scooter,

I think it is time we normal folks left,


Quote:
I've heard big differences between AES/EBU cables using Teflon and PVC. Because the PVC based cable consistently sounded smeared, I can't help but wonder if there is a correlation between out of phase smearing and the dielectric constant, or if the dielectric influences jitter levels. Some digital cables sound grainier than others. You questioned my "in-depth memory"... I'm not sure how to answer this other than one can be left with an overall impression of a quality that stands out. When I hear a cable that sounds grainy, I can make notes as to the level or fineness of the grain. Did the grain come across as sand, or a dusting of powder? I can tell the difference between coffee ground for espresso and that for drip. I trust my memory in this visual context. Why shouldn't I trust the auditory equivalent? If this is valid, yes, my memory is fine.

I mean this forum is giving me the creeps. I honestly thought that Roderick and Madeline Usher left no descendants... I can see I was wrong. Many of their offspring are here on these forums. The example above is just one of any number of comments that I could have picked, all of which exhibit symptoms of the severe afflications suffered by the Ushers.

I am out of here...this is too scary! G'luck but try to leave before its too late...I'm heading back to pro audio forums... cya later

I knew it was a dull, dark, and soundless day for some reason.

andy19191
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

> I'll let the market decide who is a good engineer.

Indeed. Good engineers tend to be employed to do engineering although this may be coloured by a preference for cheap/inexperienced engineers if the job is well developed and straightforward and does not require or reward experienced engineers. I would suggest the low tech engineering relevant to expensive home audio has been in this category for about 30 years.

> A good product survives over the long term and a poor product usually dies a quiet
> death.

Considering the link to good engineer, it depends what you mean by a good product. People purchase luxury products like expensive home audio because they are desirable. The technical performance of a product in the sense recognised by a "good" engineer of accurately reproducing the source signal is only one aspect and one that would appear to be largely irrelevant to commercial success in this sector. Marketing and perceived performance appear to dominate the audiophile sector to a remarkable degree.

> What new data and research? Really. Name me one single new advance in audio in the
> past 20 years that is based on a new scientific discovery. What we have seen is a
> constant steady refinement of existing princibles and designs.

I would largely agree. R&D at the coal face in the more important areas to raising the quality of sound in the home has largely ceased and for several decades. The reason would appear to be that such investments gain no advantage in the home audio marketplace and so resources are more wisely invested elsewhere. There has, of course, been improvements in costs and materials.

> It's because computers have gotten cheaper, faster, easier to use, and common. Which
> means that most audio designers are probably more concerned about keeping up with
> new design software and keeping their database of components up to date than they
> are with some "breakthrough" in audio.

Here I would be in partial disagreement. Modern computational methods are not widely used by home audio designers most of whom seem happy enough with experimental approaches and Thiele-Small parameters and the like. This would appear to be a reflection of the fact that these traditional approaches are known and good enough to get the job done to the level required. There has to be a need to raise the working approach from the cheap "low tech" level of a man in a shed to a more expensive "medium tech" level of, say, the automotive industry (or, at least, parts of the automotive industry). I do not think that need exists.

> Audio is NOT like Medicine. In terms of scientific complexity Audio is just a pebble
> on the flank of Everest while Medicine is Everest.

Agreed.

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


Quote:
I knew it was a dull, dark, and soundless day for some reason.

There is nothing so dismal than the sight of "woodies" putting down the honest observations of others. Time for everyone to read again Art Dudley's August 2006 August 2006 Listening column on the subject.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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


Quote:
there's a difference between being able to quickly say that there is a "difference" vs. which sounds better.


I submit that two properly functioning digital cables will not sound different, let alone one better than the other. So rather than add an unnecessary layer of complexity, let's start by using a DBT to determine if they're even different. Of course, a DBT test isn't really needed because measurements or a null test can tell us that both cables pass the same signal the same. But forget that. Let's start with whether the cables are even different or not.

Moreover, who is to say which difference is better? There's a parallel in loudspeaker preference. Many popular speakers have a null in the harshness range around 3 to 4 KHz. This null is intentional, and it makes the speaker sound smoother, less fatiguing, more open, and so forth. Most people will choose the speaker with the null as sounding "better" because, well, it does sound better! But it's less accurate. A responsible mixing engineer will choose a speaker that is brutally honest, as they say in the biz, rather than a speaker that sounds pleasant. Consumers may well prefer the speaker with the null, and that's okay too. So while it may sound nicer, few would argue that it is the better speaker.

> Ten swithches in two minutes cannot show "better," only "different." <

Okay, so we agree that a relatively short DBT can establish different, yes?

> better is an almost subliminal thing <

Hey, either you can tell one digital cable from another or you can't!

> So, before I tell you which digital cable I prefer, are you OK with my means of testing? Same transport going to the same DAC, with instantaneous switching easily and blindly between digital cables. <

Sure, if you can pick out the cable that is different enough times to be statistically significant, I'll give you $100. It's not as much as James Randy offers, but I'm not rich like him.

I'll also add this as food for thought: Did you ever walk into a room and feel a little chilly, only to see the thermometer showing 72 degrees? Or feel a little warm and see it's really only 68 degrees? Human perception varies all over the place, and hearing perception is no exception.

--Ethan

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


Quote:
There is nothing so dismal than the sight of "woodies" putting down the honest observations of others.


I don't think that's a fair assessment. It seems to me the real issue here is whether people can actually hear the differences they claim. DBT testing to prevent bias from the placebo effect is accepted and respected in all fields of science, and audio should be no exception. Either someone can hear a difference reliably or they cannot. If they also have to see which cable they're hearing to know which is which, then they're not really hearing the difference!

Also, that article suffers from the logical fallacy known as Straw Man. In this case Art Dudley indicts Sch

ethanwiner
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Re: 301, you missed my point


Quote:
1db is not inconsequencial by any means.


Reverb said 1 percent, not 1 dB. That's a huge difference! 1 percent is less than 0.09 dB.

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

"I see this as a battle between those who truly want to get to the bottom of what matters (scientists) versus those who prefer not to know."

Imagine how wonderful it must be to "get to the bottom" of why: the rose smells so good to me, she is so attractive to me, that wine is so good, that music is so compelling. How unfortunate we non-scientists are.

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

Hi,
I have brought a pair of Wharfedale 9.6 speakers.I need help in choosing an Integrated Amplifier for the same.
KINDLY HELP
QUAINT

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

Regarding the "Cons" that people buy into, there are a lot of claims of performance improvements and audible differences that some people hear and some do not. Of course, there are those that want to find out why and those who do not. There is room for everybody in this field.

Because I have background in science, engineering and music, I see it from several directions. I first started, when I was a child, in music enjoying listening and performing. I, and I'm sure many of us in this forum, could easily tell the difference between a cheap record player and a more expensive one, or my monophonic Sears unit many years ago and a component system with KLH speakers at a friend's house. How, I asked myself, can I get better sound?

The path my musical side takes is to enjoy the music, and seek better systems to enable that to happen. That means discovering which components sound better (musical) or closer to live than another. In this case it does not matter why it sounds better. When I get that gear, it's more enjoyable. Then the problem arises when I hear something better than what I just got!

The other path is the scientist/engineer. I want to know why so that I can reproduce the improvement and perhaps even improve upon that improvement, thereby get closer to live than before.

Both paths work for me, and I try to use those to the best advantage. However, the arguments advanced in this thread all have some merit.

Comb filtering is audible. So is deflecting your pinna (outer ear) a little so that it's slightly cupped. The shape of the pinna also affects your hearing, so it's probably no wonder that we all hear differently. Perhaps some "Cons" have some basis in our different perceptions due to this and many other effects, known and unknown. I have done no research in this area, so that this is speculation on my part.

The stones or disks some people place on speakers to improve the sound affects the listening room, i.e. more things to reflect/diffract the sound. We know that treating a room with absorbing panels affects the sound. The added stones and other stuff should also affect the sound (maybe a lot less?), moving furniture around, adding or removing such, also affects the sound. I can't dismiss the "stones" or "disks" approach, but my first reaction would be skepticism.

Sometimes the why is important because if there is no good explanation of "why" that's grounded in known scientific principles, the 'audible' effect may not be real but due to power of suggestion. These explanations or lack of does not say that the effect is not true, only that known principles do not explain its claims.

I suggest we contribute what we know to advance the state of the art. We can go on endlessly debating for example the audibility of difference in two digital cables, because one side can cite no measurable differences therefore no audible difference, but the other side can claim audibility (e.g. are you sure you measured all effects that affect audibility?).

In the limited experiments on equipment mods that I have done, I hear audible improvements (my musical side), but I have no additional good scientific explanations other than what has already been published in the audio literature (the basis of which caused me to do the mods in the first place).

The lesson I learned is that every change makes a difference, some very audible, some subtle, and some no difference, with some 'good' and some 'bad' (judgement call). But the sum total of the 'good' changes does add up to large changes that may approach the description of "night-and-day" difference/improvement. Do I depend upon my ears? Yes. Can I measure it? I don't have the equipment to do so . We all have experienced the loud commercials on TV compared to the late night movie sound levels (Audible!). If a difference is audible, there's got to be a measurable difference in the signal that's not below the limits of hearing.

Do we have any acoustical experts on this forum that can enlighten me/us on any of the above?

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

It should not be a battle. I see the two as complementary. See my previous post.

We may be able to find out for example, why the rose smells so good. It becomes useful when I can make roses smell better, or just leave it alone. It's up to you what you want, but the discovery of why or how provides new options, for good or for bad.

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

Why would 10 switches take more than 30 minutes? Because, as I noted, there are no 1-minute Sonatas, Symphonies, or even Etudes that I know of. Now, I have heard that some abnormally gifted pianists can play the Minute Waltz in 30 seconds, but I'm not sure I would like to hear those versions.

Of course differences are not "readily apparent" -- they are specific to the music, which (to refresh your memory) progresses over time. Since I use my system to play music, changes that affect the music are the only ones that interest me.

Being referred to as a male is an "insult"? See your therapist -- sex change procedures are arduous, to be sure, but necessary for some. Good luck. You see, these longer, i.e. 30 days or more, sojourns at my place are reserved for those of the, er, female persuasion. I have nothing against those with different preferences, or against you or your pussy as music lovers, but the length of stay is crucial with me (especially if I have to fix breakfast), and your mannish photo disqualifies you.

Yes, my ears are indeed "precious." Yours aren't? As a Viet-Nam veteran, I have seen a few pairs detached from their original owners, and it isn't a pretty sight, let me tell you!

"Fears" and "needs" aside (real or imaginary), I just want my system to sound as close to the sound of a live musical event as possible. Your obsessions with comb filters, double-blind tests, plugging and unplugging, and placebos lead far afield from where I wish to go. I haven't seen a word from you about the sound of music, which can only lead me to believe that isn't your primary interest. Adios.

andy19191
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

> If they also have to see which cable they're hearing to know which is
> which, then they're not really hearing the difference!

Unless you want to limit the meaning of "hearing" I would suggest this is not a wise statement. People normally listen to their hifis in the presence of visual cues and other factors that the brain may use to "help" with the perception of sound. Of course, the degree to which this is present compared with other factors like being less than truthful, small head movements, small level changes, poor long term memory for sound, etc... in a casual test is pretty well impossible to determine.

> Also, that article suffers from the logical fallacy known as Straw Man.

It suffers from a bit more than that if you were looking for a neutral, balanced and honest article in the manner of a journal article. But why should the article be fair to your, mine or an objective point of view? Personally I found the article enjoyable precisely because of this blatant deviation although I suspect this would soon fade with too much exposure.

> In this case Art Dudley indicts Sch

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

"Sure, if you can pick out the cable that is different enough times to be statistically significant, I'll give you $100. It's not as much as James Randy offers, but I'm not rich like him."

>>Sounds impressive, wagering $100.00, or more, except for a couple of points.

1) I already used mathematical deduction techniques, along with Ethan's own admissions to prove that subjective audio DBT testing is skewed in its results, towards no sonic difference. One could also use material from medicine/hearing mechanism as well to show the testing is heavily skewed.

2) If he had done some studying in medicine/hearing/brain, one would understand that the more "switches" are made in the proposed test, the greater the chance of "no sonic" difference. This is because of the way the brain, physical mechanism works.

So although Ethan's offer sounds very impressive, the proposition is little more than a magic trick; of course in his favor.

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

The most interesting thing, for me, about Ethan's reply is that there is more involved here than just the digital cables.

The Toslink (optical) output uses a digital (electronic) to optical converter, which is then processed back to digital from optical at the receiving end.

There are many measurable differences that occur, and what we are really listening to is a "system" of information transfer, not just a cable.

The use of optical cables is associated with much higher noise levels than with other formats, and, at least on my system, is 100% identifiable in comparison to the other cables I use.

It is my least favorite. If Ethan is here for CES, he is welcome to come hear the difference. I bet even HE could do it.

Although, I'd have to use a head vice to get his head placed repeatedly just so...but I'm willing to make the sacrifice.

AES/EBU cables are associated with higher jitter levels than coaxial cables - I think many transports and DAC's no longer even provide this connection.

Again, large and measurable differences vs. other connection formats.

I actually like my AES/EBU connection best, though!

Side question: Can jitter provide dither, and maybe explain a final sound that is a little euphonic or something?

Again, AES/EBU cable listening also includes the quality of the connection made to the transport and DAC, so we are once again listening to a group of things rather than "just" a cable.

The coaxial connection sounds just a little reticent...but is it the cable or the system of connections?

I fear that once Ethan realizes why I asked him that question, he will backtrack about whether or not I can reliably identify which "cable" I'm listening to. There is more to cable comparison than how he states it should be.

Seriously, though, Ethan, you are cordially invited. We'll ply you with wine and food and goof around with some blind tests. I do believe in comb filtering, however, and hope to someday take your advice and properly treat my room. I think you have identified a problem in Hi Fi reproduction. I just think it's not the ONLY problem.

Best wishes.

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


Quote:
Imagine how wonderful it must be to "get to the bottom" of why: the rose smells so good to me, she is so attractive to me, that wine is so good, that music is so compelling.


The flaw in that argument (I assume that was an argument) is misunderstanding the "purpose" of audio gear versus things of beauty. A better analogy would be a fine violin instead of a preamp. Every violin is different because each has its own unique set of resonances. Each resonance has a different center frequency and Q (bandwidth), and the spacing between all the resonances determines the perceived quality of the violin. Another very important factor, of course, is the skill of the player, who uses his technique to coax various sounds from the instrument. You might love the sound of one violin and I might hate it, and neither of us would be wrong. There are commonly accepted guidelines for what constitutes "good" sound in a violin, but in the end it comes down to personal preference.

However, this has nothing to do with preamps and digital cables! The only thing a piece of audio gear is supposed to do is amplify (or just pass) the electrical signal while adding as little of its own character as possible. Now, you could argue that some audio gear intentionally adds its own character and I can't say it shouldn't. An awful lot of mediocre gear is sold for very high prices on that basis.

I personally would never buy a device like that because I want to hear my recordings as the producers and engineers intended. Adding a device that imparts its own color would tend to add a sameness to all recordings. But if someone prefers that type of colored and inaccurate sound, and they understand that it's colored and inaccurate, I have no objection.

--Ethan

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

I will tell you what is the funniest for me to read.

We keep hearing how scientific "they" are, siting DBT testing, that the testing has to be "properly" done to be valid, etc. etc., this type of testing is used in all areas. It is 'fact'. (Of course they would not dare present a medical study pertaining to headache remedies.)

Interesting that subjective audio dbt testing is evidently widely known by them, yet none of the objectivists can site even one study for us to examine.

I keep hearing about placebo and suggestion. One would think it occurs almost 100% of the time when listening to these guys. Well, to find out, maybe we should simply look at medical studies and see how often it occurs there. Guess what, not that often. Maybe 20% if that? Please prove me wrong by showing one, no several, medical studies that state otherwise?

By the way, Ethan and the others are also adding suggestions that could affect others.

Another insinuates audio engineers are lowest on the totem pole unless.... Of course the meaning is that only those from large midfi corporations are any good. But I wonder how he came to such a conclusion? He never states whether he has any training, experience, or anything else pertaining to the field. Has he even performed any design work himself?

Another states there are no innovations in the last 20 years. Well I guess it depends on what his definition is. Has he seen all the designs out there?? That would involved having access to all the models. Of course not.

Of course, when some are exposed as scam artists, the lying and deception some perpetrate, then the objectivists camps, including forums, mifi company's propoganda, become worthless.

A good point I liked in the article that Art brought up is why DBT tests are even performed in the first place and then push it on us. Although none state openly, I think we all know who is sanctioning this sort of propaganda.

Here is the latest comment.

" The only thing a piece of audio gear is supposed to do is amplify (or just pass) the electrical signal while adding as little of its own character as possible. Now, you could argue that some audio gear intentionally adds its own character and I can't say it shouldn't. An awful lot of mediocre gear is sold for very high prices on that basis."

>>Does Ethan know a perfect component?? ALL companies out there, both midfi and hi end flavor the music. So we could be discussing both classes, right? Are Fords better than Chevys? What about Benzes, Porsches? So some companies charge more because it costs more to produce. I like some designs better than others, regardless of costs. But does that make the high priced companies scam artists?
Sound more like you are on an advertising crusade than anything else.

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

Andy,

That was a very well thought out and worded reply. I'll add only this for now:


Quote:
is it to the advantage of an individual audiophile or the audiophile industry to adopt such a point of view?


Yes, at least for individual audiophiles, for one important reason: To avoid being taken advantage of and paying more than necessary. I see this mainly as consumerism, which is why I distinguish between what's good for the industry and what's good for the individual. If a vendor can convince a consumer to pay 10 (or 100) times more for their speaker cable versus zip cord from the hardware store, that's very good indeed for them as part of the industry. But it's not so good for the consumer if the zip cord sounds just as good.

To some people expensive audio gear and accessories are "jewelry" as they say, and that's fine too. My concern is for ordinary folks who have a more usual budget. They really do want to get the most value for their money, and I hate seeing someone pay more than necessary due to ignorance and fraudulent sales claims.

--Ethan

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

Buddha (Bud?),


Quote:
there is more involved here than just the digital cables.


Sure, but if someone claims to hear a difference after changing only the cable, then why complicate things? Again, either you can hear the difference between two cables or you can't.

> There are many measurable differences that occur <

Good point. However, if the differences measured are 120 dB below the music, and thus masked by the music, as with jitter, then I'll argue that it doesn't matter. If you prefer to argue the opposite, we can easily settle it with a good ol' DBT.

> The use of optical cables is associated with much higher noise levels than with other formats <

Digital versus digital? I don't think so! Once the signal arrives at the receiving end and is "squared up" it's exactly the same as what was sent.

> If Ethan is here for CES <

Sorry, I won't be there. I will be at the HES and AES shows in 2007 though.

> Can jitter provide dither, and maybe explain a final sound that is a little euphonic or something? <

No. Jitter and dither are very different things anyway, and neither is audible unless something is broken.

> I fear that once Ethan realizes why I asked him that question, he will backtrack about whether or not I can reliably identify which "cable" I'm listening to. <

What question? Yet again, either you can reliably tell one digital cable from another or you cannot. No waffling, please!

--Ethan

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

I'm tired of reading all this debating about digital cables; I've heard differences between the Illuminati Orchid & the crappy green Audioquest AES/EBU cable I've got buried somewhere I don't have to look at it. The differences seemed significant enough that I felt ripped off paying $200 for the Audioquest and felt the $750 for the Orchid was worth it. Before you jump all over that, I also felt the $40 Apogee WydeEye bested the Audioquest. I used the Apogee for a long time, until its slight grain bothered me enough that I switched to the Illuminati. It was a diminishing return, and costly, but, my ears and pleasure center in my brain thanked me in the long run.

Under comfortable conditions, I should be able to tell the first 2 apart without excessive scrutiny. I'm game for your challenge, but, how many instances do you require to be convinced? Are you going to fatigue me into submission?

Some issues:

My place is a disaster and not well suited to company at this time and could be awhile before it is (Wes has still not been over to hear my system and lives mere blocks away. Sorry, Wes... someday soon, I hope!)

My digital front end is hooked up with I2S and I am not familiar with its sound via AES/EBU or S/PDIF. It could take awhile for me to acclimate myself to my own system with these cables.

If it's done at your place, I have no idea what I'm dealing with and have lots of new variables to contend with than just cables. I also don't drive.

Is it okay to do A-B-A testing, or does that not fit into your criteria? I have always found sandwiching a product under test with the other one useful for keeping the self-delusion in check.

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

Get ready to pay out the dough Jeff, as I guarantee you will lose the bet.

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


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Get ready to pay out the dough Jeff, as I guarantee you will lose the bet.

I'm sure Jeff heard a difference, the main question being why which a controlled listening test should shed some insight into the matter.

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


Quote:

Quote:
Get ready to pay out the dough Jeff, as I guarantee you will lose the bet.

I'm sure Jeff heard a difference, the main question being why which a controlled listening test should shed some insight into the matter.

Hi Chu. I think you misundestand me. I made the comment not because Jeff did not hear a difference, but because the testing ethan advocates is terribly skewed in ethan's favor. It is like Jeff playing cards with someone who is using a "marked deck" to win.

Ethan is also trying to get credibility for a test that should not be credible.

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

Well, I'm not so sure what makes the test marked and it wouldn't necessarily have to be a DBT. He could do a triangle test and simply pick the one that's different. Difference testing is done all the time with respect to human senses like in when you get an eyeglass prescription, right? A consistent failure or null would simply indicate that the reason for hearing differences lies somewhere else such as the way we're listening.

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

The thing is, the test seems impractical to conduct in a way that keeps the variable to 1. If I am to listen on Ethan's system, I'm in a completely different environment, don't know any of the gear, or the room (or Ethan for that matter.) It could take a loooong time just to get a feel for his room and gear. Even in my own main system, with the current transport, I have rarely, if ever, used the AES/EBU interface. I don't know how well that interface is implemented in my current front end. I'm unfamiliar with this part of my system. I stuck with an evolution of products using the I2S interface and never looked back. It could take awhile to get used to listening to music with higher jitter levels (which, when I think about it, is going to mean a less resolving system and less pleasure, which seems stupid and reason not to pursue things further. Life is short enough.)

When I'm comparing tweaks or cable changes, it's always A-B-A, over at least a few days (if not longer) and only with a single change. And because I do practice the burn in of dielectric, and tend not to disturb a cable, I do wonder if moving it will affect things -- I don't know -- I tend not to move things I'm checking out.

If I can identify the cable enough times to satisfy Ethan that I hear a difference, will that change his thinking? Or will I be a statistical anomaly? Does it need to be 10 out of 10? Does he want to do 100 swaps? What kind of music is being used? Do I get to listen to things I know intimately, where I might have specific things to listen for, or is it going to be unfamiliar music?

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

Jeff,

> Under comfortable conditions, I should be able to tell the first 2 apart without excessive scrutiny. I'm game for your challenge <

Excellent. But where do you live? Anywhere near me?

> how many instances do you require to be convinced? <

I dunno - how about 20 times? In order to "win" you have to guess correctly 19 of those times. Hopefully you won't consider that "fatiguing you into submission."

BTW, my offer of $100 is one way only. I don't expect you to pay me anything if you can't guess correctly at least 19 times. I would expect you to agree to report the results here either way though.

> My place is a disaster and not well suited to company <

In that case you can blind-fold me.

> If it's done at your place, I have no idea what I'm dealing with and have lots of new variables to contend with than just cables. I also don't drive. <

Again, this depends on how far away you are. I'll gladly drive an hour or maybe more each way. In fact, I'd rather drive twice as far just to be able to do the test here. Not to have a home court advantage! Just because my system and room are state of the art which makes small differences all the more revealing. But your place is fine too. A room that's less than ideal puts you at a disadvantage because so much of what you hear is the room rather than the gear. You know, that pesky comb filtering.

> Is it okay to do A-B-A testing, or does that not fit into your criteria? I have always found sandwiching a product under test with the other one useful for keeping the self-delusion in check. <

Not sure what you mean. What I envision is me fiddling around behind my receiver and asking you 20 times in a row which cable you're hearing. Some times it will be one cable and other times it will be the other cable. You'd never be able to see which is which at any given time. Actually, if you have more than two cables that's better still, and makes the results statistically even more valid because each guess will have only a 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 chance of being correct.

Also, the only digital cables I have here are cheap - either purchased or home-made. So ideally you'll bring your own digital cables. However, I reserve the right to listen a few times myself first, or even measure, to be sure both cables are working properly. Not that I imagine you'd solder capacitors or whatever inside to purposely make one perform poorly!

You should also bring one or more standard audio CDs. I have plenty of music here, of course, but I assume you'd rather listen to material you're already familiar with.

One final issue is that of trust. For all you know I could be lying as to which cable I'm using at any given time. I'm not sure what can be done about that, and hopefully you trust me to be honest. If you bring a witness there's a chance of them giving you visual clues. If I bring a witness the risk is they're in cahoots with me and we're both lying. I can only hope that you don't feel that honesty will be a problem for either of us.

--Ethan

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

Chu,

It looks like Jeff and I were posting at the same time. Here's a thought - do you happen to live anywhere near me? If so, I nominate you for a witness.

--Ethan

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

Sweeten the pot Ethan. Instead of forking over a Franklin, how about a pair of one of your fine products?

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

Also, one more point:

My CD player and receiver use only standard RCA cables for the digital connection. So hopefully you have some of those, because I can't use XLR connectors unless we put adapters at each end.

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


Quote:
Sweeten the pot Ethan. Instead of forking over a Franklin, how about a pair of one of your fine products?

ROFL. Hey, I was going to suggest we not make this about money at all because that's so, er, crass. But I don't want to appear to be backing down so I didn't mention that.

If I'm expected to put up $400-$1000 (which products did you have in mind?) I think it's only fair that the risk not be all one-sided. But then we're back to crass, rather than being about the science.

So what say you put up the pot and give it to either me or Jeff? Now that would be eminently fair IMO!

--Ethan

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

Well gee, I don't think so Ethan! If Jeff fails, seeing as he's a very talented caricaturist, he should offer to do a very nice caricature of you and then the two of you ought to head on down to Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn and have some of their spectacular 'squares'.

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

Ethan - Whenever I compare products, I always listen to A, then B, then A again to keep the self-delusion in check. I'm not sure having you randomly do A-A-B-B-B-B-A-B-A-A, etc., will do anything other than have me second guessing myself if I'm sitting there questioning if I heard a difference between A and A, when I'm trying to distinguish the qualities of A against B... which is what I am normally trying to determine when evaluating a product or change in my system.

You mentioned listening through a receiver. Is it of high enough quality to pass on delicate information like decay trails, rear wall reflections and harmonic overtones on strings? Forgive me, but, I don't normally associate "receiver" with something that offers the ability to pass that kind of info along.

I'm in NY.

19/20 leaves so little margin for error, especially given all the variables that are in place before beginning. From what you've explained, I could turn my head once and create a comb filtering effect and "lose".

Swapping cables in my room will not be quick and easy. There is very little room between the rack and wall, all components are on cones that would have to be reset after moving cables around. The gear needs to be turned off to disconnect and reconnect and turned back on. I don't see how this can be done without several minutes between swaps.

I have S/PDIF cables, but, only in BNC termination for true 75 ohm impedance. The sonic differences between the S/PDIF cables I have is smaller than some of the AES/EBU ones. I have only one RCA terminated S/PDIF (an MIT cable) that is used on my TV set.

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

Chu,

> Well gee, I don't think so Ethan! <

Hey, you can't blame me for trying!

> seeing as he's a very talented caricaturist <

Indeed, I followed the link to his site and was suitably impressed.

--Ethan

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

Jeff,

> Whenever I compare products, I always listen to A, then B, then A again to keep the self-delusion in check. <

How could that approach be used for this test? You'd then know which cable is which every time!

> I'm not sure having you randomly do A-A-B-B-B-B-A-B-A-A, etc., will do anything other than have me second guessing myself <

That's the whole point! Earlier you wrote:


Quote:
The differences seemed significant enough that I felt ripped off paying $200 for the Audioquest and felt the $750 for the Orchid was worth it.


So no back-pedaling now please!

> You mentioned listening through a receiver. Is it of high enough quality to pass on delicate information like decay trails, rear wall reflections and harmonic overtones on strings? <

Of course it is! As a professional recording engineer and musician, do you think I'd own stuff like crappy toob amps with high distortion?

> Forgive me, but, I don't normally associate "receiver" with something that offers the ability to pass that kind of info along. <

That will be our next test.

> I'm in NY. <

NYC? Great! Which borough?

> 19/20 leaves so little margin for error <

Again, that's the whole point. And again, you already said, "The differences seemed significant..."

> Swapping cables in my room will not be quick and easy. <

Okay, we'll do it here.

> I have S/PDIF cables, but, only in BNC termination for true 75 ohm impedance. <

Okay, I'll buy some adapters. Or maybe someone from Stereophile would like to join us and can bring some fancy expensive cables laying around from a review. Or anyone else here is most welcome to participate and bring their favorite cables.

--Ethan

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

You know, HE2007 is not that far away.

It'd be a good excuse to try and arrange something in New York then!

Maybe we could get a suitable Hi FI manufacturer to allow the test to take place on some ultra Hi Fi gear.

You could even experiment with white noise or pink noise and by proximity to the speakers.

I'd also suggest some warm-up listening time.

Let someone take a disc they want to use for the test and listen to each cable for about 45 minutes to get a feel for the rig, take notes, and "prepare."

Then, party party party!

chambers1517
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Re: Why do so many buy into the "cons" in high end Audio

If you guys follow through with this it will be incredible.

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

Ethan, I know I'll take a beating from the Fuzzies for saying this, but I think that asking Jeff to be correct 19 out of 20 times is asking a bit much. To be honest, I think that if there are any audible differences they are going to be pretty darn small. I would propose that he has "won the bet" if he is correct a statistically significant percentage of times. Think about it, in theory if there is no audible difference, Jeff's result should fall somewhere around the 50% correct point. So, with a large enough sampling, any result of more than 50% correct would indicate that there is something that is truly audible effecting his choices. The problem is that 20 trials is a very small sample size and that can effect the allowable margin of error. Makes me wish that I had paid more attention in Statistics 30 years ago. However, statistical testing is widely used in Process Quality studies and I'll talk to out QC manager and see if there is a study method in our statistical Quality System that would apply to this kind of test. If there is, I may be able to email you an Excel spreadsheet that is set up to do all the math for you after you enter the results. If there isn't, we may have to ask for a statistician familiar with this thread to help us out. Point is you can use common statistical methods to make this test as fair as possible.

I would also like to point out that if Jeff were to use his favorite headphones for this test the effects of comb filtering, and room variables, should be minimized.

As for the "bet" itself, I would suggest that the 2 of you go out to dinner at a restaurant of the winners choice. Split the bill and just enjoy an evening out, and perhaps an exposure to a new cuisine.

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

I'm not backpedaling -- just pointing out whenever I've checked out these things, even with someone swapping the cables, I've listened to A-B-A (or B-A-B) to distinguish differences; with you potentially putting A up against A (only) if I'm trying to determine what the differences from A to B are, serves as a distraction and just a new variable. We're listening for subtle music cues that make the overall experience of listening magical. Listening for these little details and differences between A and B will require enough concentration as it is, especially with the pressure of getting 19/20 correct. On top of this, we have to randomly add comparing A to A where I'm trying to listen for differences when there are none? If this is how these tests are being done, it's no wonder people fail these tests. Wouldn't a blind A-B-A pattern for each of the 20 instances still give you the info you require? I would still have to tell you what cable I thought it was.


Quote:
"Of course it is! As a professional recording engineer and musician, do you think I'd own stuff like crappy toob amps with high distortion?"

I have no idea of the quality of your recording or engineering skills. You obviously care about getting good sound, otherwise you wouldn't be involved in room tuning, but, being a "professional" is not an instant seal of approval for quality; there are plenty of professional artists and musicians that are just hacks and make livings. I have no idea what you deem adequate. If you cannot hear differences between cables, a conclusion could be drawn that your gear is not up to the task.

I'm in Brooklyn.

Using adapters sounds like a bad idea. They could potentially introduce another variable and could compromise the sound enough that something gets masked.

Scooter123 - While I have headphone gear that could be found in Stereophile's Class A, my main rig is more revealing.

I like the idea of the meal best.

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

Jeff,

I totally agree and I would also add that I would bet that Art Dudley doesn't give a didley about whether his very special Lamm amps don't "measure" as good as a Halcro. And it would seem that he could afford them considering the price of the Lamm's.

I think that you and Art are looking to achieve much the same thing and just find differing ways to do it. And also knowing that Art is a musician as well I would trust him to know what "accurate" or "real" is. I know it is cold in upstate NY, but he did not buy them to help heat his house in the winter.

I think you also attend enough live performances to continue to "update" your recollection data base. I am not sure that can be recreated with most recorded music anyway. There is just to much compression being us in commercial recordings. Luckily, many engineers fall into the JA camp and just leave well enought alone.

This is something I was hoping to do while in Chicago and go hear the CSO live. Time did not permit it. I have promised myself in this new year I am going to a number of Atlanta Symphony performances. I have been there during rehersals and what I heard was magical.

I would also add that if someone owns gear in Classes A or B I would not spend much time worrying about what "I might NOT be hearing" and be so greatful that they are hearing more than 99% of most living souls and listen with no regrets or nervousness.

Best of wishes for this holiday season. Merry Christmas if you observe it.

Regard.

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

Just because Dudley is a musician, why would you trust him to know what accurate or real or for that matter what best is? Would you trust a conductor for example to be able to pick out the best violinist or french horn player by having a group of them play in front of him/her?

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


Quote:
Listening for these little details and differences between A and B will require enough concentration as it is, especially with the pressure of getting 19/20 correct. On top of this, we have to randomly add comparing A to A where I'm trying to listen for differences when there are none? If this is how these tests are being done, it's no wonder people fail these tests.

Looks like you are beginning to comprehend, Jeff, that this is not a test where you are expected to score anything but chance results :-)

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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

Jeff = > Forgive me, but, I don't normally associate "receiver" with something that offers the ability to pass that kind of info along. <

Ethan = > That will be our next test. <

Ethan, I have sensed from your posts in this never ending beat the horse to death topic that you also believe one cannot distinguish differences in audio components. Is this a correct assumption on my part?

RG

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

Hi Chu,

Read my previous posts refering to comb filtering and how it affects the results. Also, if one studies medicine/hearing over the years, one will see that the test is inherently skewed in favor of Ethan.
Also, increasing the number of trials or "switches" gives ethan even more of an advantage.

There are several reasons. One is that the audio memory of an individual tends to remember the last switch, and tries to fill in the differences when one changes the sound. Also, there is a "numbing" effect that affects the hearing.

That is one reason why the more switches during the test, the more the sound seems the same. This phenomenom plays right into the objectivists hand.

Even if one were to place a small cap on the IC, with a sufficient number of switches, the same selections over and over, the sound would appear to be the same.

Loudness is another variable. The louder, the more the cilcia becomes less sensitive. That and the nervous system/brain play key roles.

Thus as JA states earlier, the more one investigates different disciplines (maybe why the objectivists refuse to check out other disciplines) the more one realizes that this kind of test involves nothing more than a guess, a 50/50 chance. The more the switches, the more it skews the test in favor of no sonic difference.

Placing a money bet is one slick way to try to get credibility and entice people.

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

"Actually, if you have more than two cables that's better still, and makes the results statistically even more valid because each guess will have only a 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 chance of being correct."

Actually this makes the test even more flawed because of confusion, as auditory memory is involved. A persons memory of audio tends to remember the last sound heard and tends to fill in the changes. The more confusion, the more the testing will be skewed in ethan's favor.

Also, imo, the money ethan bet means nothing to him. It is nothing more than a drawing card so more can be posted and which appears to give "credibility" for the testing procedure. This technique is used everyday in the market world to entice and get one's foot in the door when selling something.

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

Then, does that mean that comb filtering was responsible for the preference?

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

"Of course it is! As a professional recording engineer and musician, do you think I'd own stuff like crappy toob amps with high distortion?"

>>Jeff saw it. There is another catch in favor of ethan. Of course a receiver using cheap, sonic distorting parts will not sound as good as a well executed component using higher quality parts.

If the cheap parts included sounded perfect, then we would have a perfect receiver, with perfect gainstages, right. Does anyone know of a perfect stage, let alone a perfect component? So what prevents a component from being perfect? just .0001% harmonic distortion? Nope. It is the parts, the design etc.

And just because ethan has a recording studio doesn't mean anything. If what ethan said was true, then we would all be using op amps. Hey, but isn't that what midfi is all about?

Oh, and we could use any number of stages, as long as the frequency response was wide, harmonic distortion is low, no slew rate problems, and as long as noise does not creap in. But this poses a problem in that not all audio designs are the same. A basic understanding of electronics reveals that. There are always compromises in whatever is designed.

Since ethan could not describe the difference between his console and ones typically sold, then his must sound the same as the pros. So does that really qualify ethan to make a judgement as to the sound quality of his receiver, if he thinks his recording console is excellent?

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