Jana's RMAF Weekend Continues

In the Krell room, Pink Floyd reverberated through a Krell Vanguard Universal DAC ($4500), a Krell Duo 300 stereo amplifier ($9500), and Focal Sopra No.3 floorstanding speakers ($19,999/pair), with an AudioQuest Niagara 7000 AC conditioner and AudioQuest cabling throughout. “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)”—an audio show classic—often sounds harsh and distorted, but here I heard it with a boldly convincing low end and an almost mechanical smoothness up top.

Did you ever buy into the inedible-objects-that-resemble-cute-candy craze? I did. And that’s precisely what drew me to the Revel F228 Be floorstanding speakers ($10,000/pair). They reminded me of a white chocolate fondue fountain (not that I have ever seen one), or one of those two-tone modern art pieces you always find in Upper East Side lobbies. Was this my subconscious telling me I should’ve ordered that chocolate pie on the lunch menu, or that I had already been away from New York for too long? Whatever it was no longer concerned me, because the classic sound of Frank Sinatra singing “What’s New” began playing through the Mark Levinson No.519 audio player ($20,000) and No.585.5 integrated amplifier ($16,000). It was scrumptious and filling, with a grand, warm tone that left me feeling weak at the knees and thinking to myself, “Yes, chivalry is still alive.” Then came Anne Bisson’s rendition of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help from my Friends." It was filled with three-dimensional cymbal hits and haunting whoosh-y whispers in a wide soundstage that made me (sitting in the sweet spot) feel like I was actually wearing headphones. And headphones are the way to my heart.

Learning about prototypes of any nature, and at any stage of the process, always makes me feel like I’m in on a secret. Even just breathing the word “prototype” gets me blushing. Even if they’re at a show, open to the public, with slideshows and translucent tops, I always force myself into a deep delusion involving myself and (at least) four other hooded ninja-types—yes, I am one of them—in the eerie fog of a dimly lit alley, at twilight (it is always at twilight). At some point there is a rapid street chase, the subtle exchange of foreign currency, a rolled up piece of paper with confidential documents—which we always refer to as “it,” especially when saying, “have you got it?”—and the never-ending fight to keep it from “them.”

As soon as I walked into Cambridge Audio’s room, I felt it, I knew—prototypes were near. Eyes narrowed, lips pursed, I walked up to the nearest uniform I saw and asked, “what have you got?”—giving him the look. He got it. He tells me about two new prototypes coming out in the first quarter of 2018: a network streamer/analog preamplifier, and a 100Wpc power amplifier—names and prices yet to be determined. Or were they just trying to keep these secrets from them?

After British Ninja Spy 1 spoke about the background of Cambridge Audio, British Ninja Spy 2 then described the prototypes. The network streamer/analog preamplifier supports up to 32/384 and DSD256, utilizing Cambridge’s proprietary hi-res streaming module “Black Marlin,” named after the fastest fish in the sea. The power amplifier has unusual topology and is referred to as “class-XA,” because of bias voltage added to the traditional class-AB design. It also stacks two transformers on top of each other, back-to-back, to reduce stray magnetic fields and hum. British Ninja Spy 2 then proceeded to demonstrate by playing “Avalon” by Roxy Music through the prototypes, a Shunyata power conditioner, and Bowers & Wilkins 805 D3 speakers ($6000/pair). The sound was neutral and straightforward, while retaining a certain aura of mystery. Depending on their price (Cambridge tends to be priced within reach) my spy senses tell me these have the potential to be quite a steal.

What do you do if you politely ask for information on a system from a man, who refers you to a less knowledgeable woman, only to then eagerly help a man who arrived after you? I'm asking for a friend…

On a completely unrelated note—in the ListenUp room featuring Pro-Ject, there were two systems. The first: a semi-static display centered around a white VT-E BT vertical turntable ($499), with a MaiA integrated amplifier ($499), and Speaker Box 5 bookshelf speakers ($299/pair), joined by Connect It cables.

The second featured: a Stream Box DS2 T hi-rez audio streamer ($999), an Xtension 10 turntable ($3499), a CD Box RS CD transport ($1299), a DAC Box DS2 Ultra w/ DSD & USB 2.0 ($699), Power Box RS Phono Li-Pol based power supply ($749), a Pre Box RS stereo tube preamplifier ($999), an Amp Box RS stereo power amplifier ($999), a Power Box RS Amp linear power supply ($699), a Power Box RS Uni 4 Way linear power supply ($799), and Sonus Faber Olympica 3 floorstanding speakers ($13,500/pair).

In a dreamy, sun-soaked room on the eleventh floor, I experienced the single most enjoyable home theater demonstration of my young, deprived life. You’d think adding more speakers and high definition cinema to the audio show equation would unquestionably add to a room’s cool factor—but this is never the case! It always ends up being absurdly loud, unproductively short clips of overused action films, where the sleazy demonstrator spews lines like, “pay attention to the bullet passing by your head” as he winks off to an imaginary camera to the side. He should really be saying, “pay attention to the hearing damage you’re about to incur, because I turned it up way too loud and am actually in cahoots with hearing-aid makers worldwide!”

Basil, a Los Gatos, California based dealer/installer, (and a severely malnourished plant sitting in my apartment in New York) is evidently rebelling against the hearing-aid warlords, and decided to do something completely different: for a good twenty minutes, I watched, riveted, the beginning of the 2017 sci-fi horror film Alien: Covenant, directed by Ridley Scott, playing off of a Sony UBP-X1000ES 4K Ultra HD blu-ray player. (Maybe the film as a whole sucks, but the first twenty minutes are damn good.)

The all-Linn system comprised a Klimax DSM network music player ($27,500), Klimax 350 integrated floorstanding speakers with Exakt technology (front left/right; $71,200) in a high-gloss rosenut finish, Series 5 530 integrated Exakt speakers (surround left/right; $15,760) in a Timorous Beasties Collection Fabrik cover, and Akudorik integrated standmounted speakers with Exakt technology (rear left/right; $24,510) in high-gloss white finish. (Not including installation, system integration, and configuration.) The score, by Jed Kurzel and inspired by the original Alien film, is an extraterrestrial electronic soundscape—and its execution was suspenseful and horrifyingly isolating.

Heard in the Fidelis room: Diapason Adamantes III Anniversary Edition speakers ($5495/pair), a Norma Audio Revo IPA-140 integrated amplifier ($7795), and Tellurium Q Black Diamond speaker cables 3M ($5295/pair).

Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert played on the digital front: an Aurender N10 caching music server ($7995) and Norma Audio Revo DS-1 integrated digital source—CD player/DAC/USB input ($4995). It sounded clean and conveyed emotion well, but I felt like the system really shined on The Essential Elvis Volume 2, a 1957 Living Stereo LP (APP 057-45) played on the analog front end: Acoustic Signature’s Triple X turntable in makassa black ($5795) and TA 2000 9” tonearm ($2395), Tango Ultimate phono preamplifier ($2399), and a Soundsmith Hyperion cartridge ($2000). Elvis’s dreamy, creamy voice gave me crazy goose bumps! The Adamantes IIIs—whose angular, dark wooden features reminded me of Hawaiian koa furniture from back home—were gentle and airy, in a way that made me eerily sentimental for the ‘50s (which I will never know).

Have you heard of xiao long bao (aka “soup dumplings”)? Not to be confused with any other type of dumpling, this semi-recent foodie sensation in the West hails from China’s Jiangnan region, and typically consists of a pork-based filling (sometimes combined with truffle or crab meat) in a hot gelatinized meat broth, encased in a thin flour skin. I will travel great lengths in freezing temperatures at odd hours to eat baskets full of xiao long bao, alone.

Much like xiao long bao, the sounds coming out of this room shared by Lumen White and Ayon Audio contained a solid musical core bathed in warmth, with a delicate nuanced finish. In a system featuring Lumen White Kyara loudspeakers ($49,900/pair), and Ayon Audio Orthos XS Gen 4 mono blocks ($28,800/pair), Spheris III preamplifier ($34,500), CD-35 SACD player/DAC/streamer/DSD ($10,500), and S-10 network streamer/vacuum tube preamplifier ($8300), the unmistakable sound of Wynton Marsalis came on, playing his post-bop style composition “You & Me." What I appreciated most about the Kyara/Ayon combo was their lack of pretentious uber-liquid shimmer (that you hear far too often at audiophile shows). Wynton’s hip NoLa-influenced sound and deliberate articulation came through quite nicely.

Xiao long bao holds a very special place in my heart, and if Ayon and Lumen White continue to sound this good at future shows, I’m sure they will, too.

McIntosh was showing their latest MCT80 SACD/CD transport (they declined to provide prices) paired with their MHA150 headphone amplifier and MHP1000 headphones. They also had a static display of a prototype of an integrated amplifier, the MA252. Unfortunately, I have no other details to provide.

In the front of the room: a system containing MC601 mono block amplifiers, an MPC1500 power conditioner, an MCT450 2-channel SACD/CD transport, an MT5 turntable, MP1100 phono preamplifier, D1100 digital preamplifier, and MEN220 room correction system.

Synergistic Research, maker of cables, power accessories, and slightly unconventional room treatments, is naturally one of those infamously polarizing, irrationally condemned manufacturers of hi-fi. My personal thoughts on these chronic discussions: building a quality system is like building a quality cocktail—believe it or not, everything matters. (Margins, on the other hand, belong in a different discussion.) Those who don’t believe that cables matter are likely to not believe that ice matters. Cocktails are largely dependent on ice, requiring a specific balance between the dilution ratio and the temperature change. Naturally, different shapes of ice melt at different speeds—you would not dare drink an Old Fashioned with pellet ice, nor would you drink a Piña Colada with a 2” ice cube. But of course both drinks will still taste roughly like themselves, and will certainly both succeed in delivering alcohol content. I won’t even bring spherical versus cubical ice into this debate. Let’s take it one step further: would you prefer to drink a Martini stirred with old cloudy ice that has been sitting uncovered in the freezer next to your frozen meats or ice frozen in a dedicated, temperature controlled freezer? Everything matters. Everything is not always necessary, but everything does make a difference.

Anyway. For whatever reason, I never really thought about Synergistic Research until I visited Michael Fremer's house, where he raved about the positive effects on his system of Synergistic's products. In a room that was a joint effort between Synergistic Research and Southern Californian retailer Scott Walker Audio, Ted Denney—who would win the "Best Dressed Audiophile" award if there ever was one—demonstrated for me the effects of his products in an A/B demo on a system that consisted of: a Berkeley Alpha DAC Reference Series 2 MQA w/Alpha USB module ($21,395), an Aurender N10 music server ($8000), a Solution 520 preamplifier ($25,000), a Solution 511 stereo power amplifier ($35,000), and Magico S5 MkII loudspeakers ($38,000/pair).

The system featured two Synergistic Research products new to the show: the SR25 Limited Edition AC ($20,000), and Blue Fuses ($149.95/each), in addition to Synergistic Research room treatments: Black Box ($1995), Atmosphere XL4 w/ ATM ($3495), UEF acoustic panels ($595), HFT ($299), HFT 2.0 ($299), HFT X ($299), Vibratron ($1500), MiG 2.0 ($249). Additionally, the Synergistic Research grounding components: Active Ground Block SE ($2995), High Definition Ground Cable ($395); and Synergistic Research cables: Galileo UEF power cable ($5600), UEF interconnect ($7500), speaker cable ($15,000), UEF digital interconnect ($2995), UEF USB ($2995), Ethernet Active SE ($550), and Transporter Ultra SE ($2895). Do I know exactly what all of these are? Nope. But did I hear a difference? Certainly. Ted played “Heroes (Kruder’s Long Loose Bossa)”— a Kruder & Dorfmeister remix by Roni Size. He first played it without any Synergistic Research treatments on, then gradually added back one at a time. With each addition, I couldn’t believe—maybe even didn’t want to believe—that his products would make such an immediately audible difference, but the image became gradually more centered, and sounds grew fuller and more compelling.

COMMENTS
Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Now you know why I have those Synergistic Research Tranquility Bases under my amp stands. Now I just need to find the time between reviews to experiment with the Blue Fuses. It seems they're directional, and you have to listen to each one to make sure you've got the direction correct.

mrkaic's picture

Jason, I have a few questions for you.

1. Why do you say that Synergistic Research is condemned irrationally? Do they practice sound science and are condemned by irrational bigots?

2. [Question deleted, because I am a nice guy.]

HJC001's picture

If Mr. JVS credentials came from Hamster and Gerbil University in upstate YourPants, I'd still enjoy his writing. Perhaps you may feel better if you read more of Mr. JVS's writing(s) and compared what he has written to your own responses with your own music in your own house. Old age has taught me that I should do that before questioning someone's credentials. In an open forum posts appears for all to see while the targets of such posts are limited by PROFESSIONAL ETHICS in posgting an appropriate rebuttal. Imagine I went to your job site and started telling everyone that your credentials are bogus? That's similar to what you did to this writer. I've been warned several times that audiophilia is a dirty business. Indeed. Best Wishes :)

mrkaic's picture

Don't get me wrong, JVS writes like a maestro. And I loved his posts about the way he built his listening room.

But I would prefer him not to make bold claims about science or engineering without checking with practicing scientists or engineers first.

Also, inquiring about someones credentials is fine with me. People should reveal their credentials anyway. If you want to question mine credentials, I am OK with that. I have a masters in physics and a PhD in economics from Carnegie Mellon University. I work as an economist, but still read physics for fun.

HJC001's picture

"But I would prefer him not to make bold claims about science or engineering without checking with practicing scientists or engineers first." YES. YES. YES. When I sniff a "bold claim" I turn the page, or shake my head, or click away. I took journalism classes in college. Whenever i see one of those claims, i always hope to find a following sentence that shows the writer isn't just repeating what he or she was given in a press kit. in the case of jvs, i overlook such claims because (1) i just can't afford anything that he writes about, and (2) the non-tech part of the writing is compelling. That's why i read with a part of my mind on science and the other on art. I'm an English and Lit teacher who should have gone into science 30 years ago. be well :)

mrkaic's picture

You can still read about science, it is never too late. There is a lot of exciting stuff happening in science right now (e.g. LIGO and gravitational waves). We have great resources at our disposal (e.g. YouTube science videos and even lectures and MIT OCW) that were not available when you and I were in college.

Good luck,

MM

John Atkinson's picture
mrkaic wrote:
Why do you say that Synergistic Research is condemned irrationally? Do they practice sound science and are condemned by irrational bigots?

Sound science? See my comments on a Ted Denney dem at www.stereophile.com/content/rmaf-2014-john-atkinson-wraps-his-wreport. I heard a difference made by the Synergistic device but I doubt it was due to any physical change.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

mrkaic's picture

John,

you know very well how powerful placebo effects can be. You also know how long antennae need to be to generate waves whose wavelength is measured in the millions of kilometers. So what did that box really do? It would be interesting to peek into it. :))

Best,

MM

ChrisS's picture

There are no scholarly nor significant scientific studies that show a "placebo effect" on auditory function by visual stimulation.

What effect? No such "placebo effect" exists.

mrkaic's picture

Really? Well, here is a good start for you, courtesy of Dr. Sean Olive. Maybe you can build on his work.

http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2009/04/dishonesty-of-sighted-audio-produc...

ChrisS's picture

True enough, I did not read this article very well at all! Apologies!

As John Atkinson has indicated about his experience with audio testing, that "test conditions" may not be "true to life" at all and that test results give very, very limited information.

How many people listen to their music under "test conditions"?

mrkaic's picture

...you would "discover" that it shows more than you claim in your glib summary.

"However, not even Harman brand loyalty could overpower listeners' prejudices associated with the relatively small size, low price, and plastic materials of loudspeaker S; in the sighted test, it was less preferred to Loudspeaker T, in contrast to the blind test where it was slightly preferred over loudspeaker T."

ChrisS's picture

So take Sean Olive's study and apply it to "real life"... How? If you change any one factor/variable from his study, such as any of the audio components, the listening situation (a testing room?), the listener, the listening time, the music, etc. then you've made the results of that study inapplicable.

There are no indications in Olive's study on how the listeners were tested...individually or group? Were the other speakers present during the test listening? Was every speaker optimized for "best listening"? What test equipment was used? What were the acoustic characteristics of the testing room?

Test results only apply to test conditions.

mrkaic's picture

How good is your grasp of the multivariate statistical analysis of qualitative response models? If it is good, then, by all means, let's continue this discussion and see if and how such experiments can be improved, analyzed and extended to what you call "real life" situations.

Something is telling me that you are an excellent statistician. Looking forward to many good ideas from you.

ChrisS's picture

...when there's lots of unknowns and "what if's", but there's no need when you have real people with real ears playing music (accessible to everyone) through real sound systems. In real rooms that in no way resemble a testing facility.

I left "numbers" behind in another lifetime.

I'm in the health field now and deal "hands-on" with lots of people who do not fit the "numbers".

ChrisS's picture

...at all , but an indication that the Harman employees knew from sight that some of the speakers may not have been optimized under those listening conditions.

dalethorn's picture

For those willing to take the time, repeating tests at different times can produce different results, for the simple reason that you hear differently at different times of day. Add to that minor variations in the tests, and over a period of time you can converge on a more-or-less optimum result through such iterations. You don't have to be unimaginative just because someone with a rigid outlook insists otherwise.

HJC001's picture

I was skeptical about break in of components until i experienced it. now, gentlemen, look at this one: ""RF pollution affects how we perceive sound...The Atmosphere, he said, creates a binaural RF field that swamps external RF pollution, allowing our perception to operate correctly."
Correctly?
Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/content/rmaf-2014-john-atkinson-wraps-his-wr..."

ok's picture

So what’s the physical account for the placebo effect? For if there is no exact scientific explanation (and I mean a strictly materialistic one, not the "our brain likes to..” tautological way of saying “I don’t really know”), then – following your own logic Mrkaic – there should be no legitimate placebo phenomenon in the first place the same way there is no real wire etc effect whatsoever according to your know-it-all scientific obsession. Let's not even mention the exact science of statistically manipulating hard facts like people's opinions..

mrkaic's picture

And there goes another one (if it is not the old one under a different name). To begin with, the so called "wire effect" and other self reported audio miracles have never even been documented and reported in a systematic way. Where are the data? The placebo effect has been documented in numerous medical trials.

And just to wrap up the waste of time that has been the exchange on this forum, here is a quote from the founder of this magazine himself, Mr. Holt. I couldn’t put it better.

“"As far as the real world is concerned, high-end audio lost its credibility during the 1980s, when it flatly refused to submit to the kind of basic honesty controls (double-blind testing, for example) that had legitimized every other serious scientific endeavor since Pascal. [This refusal] is a source of endless derisive amusement among rational people and of perpetual embarrassment for me, because I am associated by so many people with the mess my disciples made of spreading my gospel. ***"”

But I have a question for you -- is it possible for me to block you on this forum? I would be delighted, if I could. :))

John Atkinson's picture
mrkaic wrote:
you know very well how powerful placebo effects can be.

Indeed. I suspect that what I heard in the RMAF Synergistic dem was due to the placebo effect, along with the fact that the second audition of an unfamiliar stimulus will tend to sound better. But it should be remembered that placebos do produce real changes both in perception and in the functioning of the immune system.

The critical test is whether the Synergistic devices produce the same change in perceived sound quality when Ted Denney is not in the room.

mrkaic wrote:
You also know how long antennae need to be to generate waves whose wavelength is measured in the millions of kilometers.

That's what I wrote.

mrkaic wrote:
So what did that box really do?

I have no idea.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

mrkaic's picture
Quote:

The critical test is whether the Synergistic devices produce the same change in perceived sound quality when Ted Denney is not in the room.

... and when the test is blind.

Anton's picture

As I recall, you also heard the difference a pizza box tripod can make!

I mean that as a fun recollection, not a comment about science, your ears, etc.

Edith could 'help' people hear things. She was pretty fun.

lo fi's picture

Dear moderator,

I note that my post has been held over for moderation again. By way of explanation, I returned to the comments section today to find that it had finally been published unedited days after being held over for moderation. This rendered my subsequent post redundant.

I then decided to consolidate both posts into one and delete the second post. Having done that, I set about breaking up the body of the text of the consolidated post into smaller paragraphs. While trying to save the changes, I received another message advising that the post had again been held over for moderation.

I have not added anything to the consolidated post that had not already been published here. I trust this will be apparent to you and my post is published promptly.

Thank you.

John Atkinson's picture
lo fi wrote:
I note that my post has been held over for moderation again.

Because of increased attack by spambots, we have implemented more aggressive spam protection. This places suspicious postings in a holding pen for me to examine. When I have done so, I delete them and cancel the user account if they are spam but post them if they are not.

lo fi wrote:
I have not added anything to the consolidated post that had not already been published here. I trust this will be apparent to you and my post is published promptly.

I posted it first thing this morning.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

lo fi's picture

Thank you.

lo fi's picture

My post which appeared on this page yesterday, has gone missing again. Would you please restore it or at least give me the opportunity to amend it.

Thanks.

John Atkinson's picture
lo fi wrote:
My post which appeared on this page yesterday, has gone missing again. Would you please restore it or at least give me the opportunity to amend it.

My apologies but I have no idea why it was deleted. If it were unpublished rather than deleted, it would still be available for me to restore, but it isn't.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

lo fi's picture

Well that's mystifying. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

jporter's picture

I'll stick with the standard ice cube. Actually, I'll take it neat...

johnwong271's picture

JA: I can’t thank you enough for bringing Jana on board to Stereophile and to the industry.

Jana: Awesome show coverage! I’m also a younger audiophile, but a little older than you (34). I’ve been reading your blog posts and watching your headphone review videos since you started a few years ago. I don’t have a super high end setup, but I enjoy getting together with a few close friends for listening sessions on the weekend. We’ve been watching your content since your first headphone review. By the way, thank you for your recommendation!

I recently decided to make an account at Stereophile because I’ve been impressed with your latest work, and to tell you how much you’ve grown. We love reading your stuff, especially your show coverage, so keep up the good work!!

We love your videos! Especially the ones with Mr. Herb Reichert. What a character. Will you be doing video reports at shows in the future with Herb? It would be great to watch you cover shows with videos.

HJC001's picture

ditto!

mrkaic's picture

This is from their website: "Today physicists understand electrons don’t flow at all but rather propagate in a wave of energy that moves along a conductor with a multitude of factors that alters this wave at the quantum level. To understand how electricity travels without electrons ever leaving their respective atoms it is helpful to consider the spectator ‘wave’ at a football match." (link: http://www.synergisticresearch.com/fuses/blue/ ) [emphasis mine]

At the same time physicists at the University of Texas say this: "The conduction electrons in a metal are non-localized (i.e., they are not tied to any particular atoms)". [emphasis again mine]

The quoted is THE FIRST sentence from the lecture notes on electric conductivity in metals lecture notes at: http://farside.ph.utexas.edu/teaching/sm1/lectures/node86.html)

So, what is going on here? Who is right? I studied physics, so I know the answer--the theory of conductivity is fairly standard stuff. Here is a link to an excellent summary of the theory: http://www.newagepublishers.com/samplechapter/002014.pdf

:))

HJC001's picture

total novice here. i've read a little about "theory of conductivity" and, thus, have always read the "audiophile" stuff with such notions in mind. I'd love to see more exploration of music and playback device theories, not a wholesale redesign of the mag, but definiely MORE data along with the art, an eye toward the future. I'd even pay a little bit more for subscription if I knew the mag put that money into testing equipment. but, always, with the Music first.

mrkaic's picture

I agree with you. A good beginning could be for the Stereophile to invite a serious scientist/engineer to write a monthly op ed on debunking pseudo-scientific and anti-scientific theories that have taken hold among audiophiles. I would start with directional cables, or cryogenic treatment of wires -- really low hanging fruit stuff from the debunking perspective.

HJC001's picture

LOL!!! "low hanging fruit" love that! I've written to the editors about that. it's not their business to PROVE that something IS or IS NOT. but they CAN expand JA's measurements section a bit more. i realize that takes funding and staff, however, which a print publication may not be able to afford. to get funding, Stereophile must partner with other similar pubs, OR with universities that do the fundamental research upon which hi-fi depends. I've been in the military and worked in universities and colleges over 25 years: i have no doubt that it could work. imagine that.

dalethorn's picture

I prefer to read scientists saying "probably this" and "likely that", rather than smugly debunking things they have consensus on, but no direct proof of. I've seen photos of atoms, but not electrons. I think science is in an extremely primitive state today, and just getting to the point where they can predict weather a week ahead, they'll need a million trillion flop computer to do it. Brute force is still the order of the day in 2017. We haven't even left Earth orbit in 45 years.

mrkaic's picture

Thank you for your brilliant analysis of the state of current science. A towering achievement.

[sarcasm off]

Here are some photos of electrons for you: https://www.scribd.com/document/44754205/Lesson6-Bubble-Chamber

dalethorn's picture

Your sarcasm points up your ignorance clearly. I can show you footprints of a Yeti and tell you "There's a photo of a Yeti" and laugh at you in the process, but I'm not that dumb.

mrkaic's picture

My sarcasm points to the fact that you feel capable of criticizing the current state of science while your post suggests that you lack science education beyond high school. When I studied the philosophy of science, it struck me that philosophers who wrote about scientific methodology, knew science rather well. Do you?

Your comparison of photos of electron traces in a bubble chamber and photos of Yeti footsteps is, well, interesting. You don't know what is going on there, do you? (I suspect this was the first time you saw bubble chamber traces. You may wish to thank me for teaching you a fascinating bit of science)

I could explain bubble chambers to you. But instead, I will be charitable and compare you to Winston Churchill, who said that he likes to learn, but does not like to be taught.

dalethorn's picture

As a software engineer who developed code for JPL to track Voyager, I'll only say that when sitting in meetings with your types who know the buzzwords but not the heart of the subject, it just made my work more difficult.

mrkaic's picture

...but your post shows that you know almost nothing about the methodology of science.

mrkaic's picture

...thinking about science is something else. I wrote assembler code on Z80 for a real time oscilloscope when I was still in high school. Did that teach me to think about falsifiability or the way Lakatos responded to it? Not really. You are certainly a better programmer, but I know enough coding to know that it does not qualify one to discuss methodological issues in science.

Anyhow, enough of this. We are supposed to be reading an audio magazine.

dalethorn's picture

I know a lot more about science than your uninformed speculation tells you. For example, when the programmable pocket computers started appearing in 1974, I was a major participant in the first "personal computer"** user group built around those things. My tasks included building programs in many disciplines, from internal medicine to fluid flows to market analysis. It doesn't take a genius, but I had the qualifications to be a part of many things I wasn't licensed for. I remember a time before the Big Bang theory, when scientists couldn't conceive of the incalculably massive universe growing out of a space smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. You'll do well to share your ideas on science with others, but you'll do better to lose your smugness, because it's embarrassing.

**Personal Computer as coined by the original guy, Bill Hewlett, before Rolling Stone borrowed the phrase.

mrkaic's picture

...that you were involved with the first calculators. I am a huge fan of HP calculators (of the past, not of the ones they make today). My first one was HP-41C, great machine that served me very well.

You see, the thing is that when we discuss audio engineering, we are dealing with really basic, almost routine stuff, like cables, relatively simple circuits, signal processing etc. This is basic stuff, taught at undergraduate levels in EE programs. It might sound incredibly difficult to many uneducated audiophiles, but it really is quite simple.

While it is healthy to be skeptic, do you really think that the science that underpins audio is on shaky ground and in need of revisions? For example -- have copper wires suddenly become directional? After all, we have built the whole of our industrial society and information technology on the assumption that they are not. And since in science we require a lot of proof before we accept results, we should require the same from those audiophiles who make extraordinary claims. For starters, audiophiles should accept blind testing. Orchestras use blind auditions to reduce biases in hiring. Audiophiles should do the same. That would be a decent start.

dalethorn's picture

Jason answered your questions better than I would. Science isn't absolute, which I for one am keenly aware of. And BTW, when your fellow scientists are able to harness the Strong Force, or build a real quantum computer, then you'll have arrived at the next rung on the ladder. Until then, you'll be stuck in ordinary 3D space with the rest of us. If I had a couple of extra lifetimes, I'd work on those issues myself.

mrkaic's picture

...but when it comes to audio, it is pretty certain.

I will end this exchange with the following. Hiding behind uncertainties in our knowledge is no excuse to peddle occultism in audio, where the scientific foundations are pretty clear and where audiophiles are the ones making extraordinary claims without any proof.

dalethorn's picture

I feel I'm arguing with a science neophyte. Here 'tis: There are matters of principle and matters of fact. It's easy to get buried in so many "facts" - proven, almost proven, theorized, whatever - and fail to see the bigger pictures. The fact is, science's real knowledge of the physics of electronics is extremely limited. We don't even know what holds the atomic nucleii together, and yet we're so sure we know electrons inside and out. I'm not a skeptic, I'm a realist who values imagination in the quest for greater knowledge.

A wise philosopher once said "He who knows he knows, knows nothing. But he who knows he knows of nothing, really knows."

mrkaic's picture

Do you think that repeating the same claims ad infinitum is somehow convincing? It is not. If it makes you happy, by all means continue repeating the same stuff. I don't expect any new information coming from you and will save a lot of time by not reading your new posts.

Best of luck,

MM

dalethorn's picture

I have no doubt you're trolling now, to disinform and deflect from your specious arguments.

ChrisS's picture

Then there is good sound and enjoyable listening.

Of course, you need good science to get you there in the first place.

dalethorn's picture

Quote: "I agree with you"

A good scientist would say "I agree with what you said", not "I agree with you".

mrkaic's picture

Your points are excellent. Let's hope that your ideas materialize.

JimAustin's picture

Let's have a chat about cocktails someday. Flavor is mysterious. Chilling and dilution--thats pure science.

lo fi's picture

I would definitely notice if ice was missing from my Negroni but I'm not so sure whether I'd notice if (unbeknown to me) someone had swapped my moderately priced cables and interconnects for Synergistic Research products.

Jana Dagdagan's picture

I totally understand what you're saying... but by definition, a classic negroni requires ice - either stirred in then strained out, or added in later. So the equivalent of an ice-less negroni is actually a cable-less system, which wasn't the point I was trying to make at all.

lo fi's picture

My original reply has mysteriously disappeared yet again, so I'll try and reproduce it from memory.

Your point is noted, thanks. You are likening cocktail ice to audio cables...

Again, I'd like to think that I would notice if the ice in my Negroni was tainted, but I'm not so sure whether I'd notice if (unbeknown to me) someone had swapped my moderately priced cables and interconnects for Synergistic Research products.

I agree that audio cables do matter - my hi-fi wouldn't make a sound without them. However, the problem I have with your analogy is that I believe it is possible to have an appreciation of cocktail ice while being sceptical of the claims made by audio cable manufacturers and the reviewers who extol them. These abilities can coexist within us - "believe it or not".

That said, I try to avoid mixing cocktails with auditioning audio components, including cables, as it may impair my critical faculties.

Cheers.

Jana Dagdagan's picture

Perhaps my analogy was not a 100% match, but I couldn't think of anything better - then or now. If I could've added more without diluting the show report further, here's what I would've explained:

- I chose cocktails because cocktail enthusiasts are to general alcohol lovers as audiophiles are to general music lovers. They're both sub worlds.
- Ice is heavily debated within the cocktail community and receives a fair amount of skepticism from the general population.
- I believe that (if presented properly) everyone can taste the quality of good ice in a quality cocktail - and can hear the difference of quality cables in a quality system. Ice will never be as important as the base spirit and should not be prioritized over improvement of the base spirit, but does have the ability to contribute to or detract from the overall flavor.
- Reading potentially skeptical claims by manufacturers and reviewers of ice should never replace one's own personal experiences with said ice. But that goes for literally everything in this world, right?
- Purchasing (or purchasing the means to create) quality ice can be a large investment. Though there are incremental degrees of improvements - and in costs - it's up to the consumer to decide a) how much of a difference the ice makes to their cocktails, and b) if that difference is worth its cost and hassle.
- Following this idea, room treatments and power conditioners could be likened to the size of the orange twist, variation in peel style, amount of pith, and the amount rubbed on the rim (or not). (If we're still talking about negronis.)

I was not trying to make a correlation (or lack thereof) between skepticism and appreciation. I encourage skepticism! I only mentioned that many are skeptical of SR and makers of similar products, and that I heard a positive improvement on that system, in that room, on that day - as two separate ideas. My cables are entry-level AudioQuest and my "room treatment" is a double-layered rug...and I don't see that changing anytime soon. I enjoy hearing and learning about cost-no-object cables/etc. from manufacturers and fellow audio journalists, but sometimes I hear a difference, and sometimes I don't. I'm press, but I too often find myself feeling incredibly skeptical.

lo fi's picture

No, your analogy is not a 100% match, analogies rarely are but some are more relatable than others. I'm not familiar with the cocktail community but do the spirited debates over cocktail ice have any scientific or engineering basis? Are there cocktail ice objectivists and subjectivists? Does the cocktail community conduct cocktail ice blind tests?

Leaving your choice of analogy aside, I wish to clarify that my scepticism with regard to audio cable claims is based on a combination of personal experience and what I have read. And I agree that there is no substitute for personal experience when it comes to auditioning audio components, including cables, tasting cocktail ice or smoking a pipe.

You claim that you were "not trying to make a correlation (or lack thereof) between scepticism and appreciation", however you did write the following: "Those who don’t believe that cables matter are likely to not believe that ice matters". It appears to me that you are trying to establish a correlation, which is tenuous at best, between people who are sceptical of two entirely unrelated things. So at the risk of belabouring the point, I still find both your analogy and proposition flawed.

Churchill83's picture

If you’re not familiar with the cocktail community then I understand why you would ask those questions. Firstly, yes there is a scientific and engineering basis for the ice made in the best cocktails, and a debate over just how important this is. One engineering example is The Clinebell ice freezer. It produces a 300 lb block of perfectly crystal clear ice nearly free of impurities. The process is as follows- as the machine freezes the water, it agitates the water so that the impurities rise to the top, making them easy to remove. There are also pumps that prevent oxygen bubbles from forming in the ice, which leads to a longer dilution time in your drink. These machines are not cost effective, but people who are obsessive about these things (much like audiophiles and their precious gear:) will try and obtain them.

I have personally tried making the same drink and only changing the type of ice I use. I’ve also sat around with friends listening to the same lp but different pressings just for comparison sake. The reason I appreciate the analogy is that it highlights the seemingly minute and often overlooked aspects of a given endeavor, and shows how they can be of importance even if they’re are not the single most important. I don’t have outrageously expensive gear (of the ice making or audiophile variety) but I find these debates entertaining and insightful.

ok's picture

I’m not much into mixed drinks or even ice, but we purists straight-wine-beer-and-whisky drinkers never underestimate the paramount importance of a suitable glass in order to obtain a fully realized tasting experience..

lo fi's picture

Hi Churchill83,

I’m not familiar with the amateur astronomy, model train, diy electronics, beer home brewing, metalsmithing, luthier, vintage car restoration and doll making communities either (just to name a few), but I have little doubt that they are just as passionate and obsessed about their hobbies as the cocktail community.

These hobbies have also developed tools, machines and other paraphernalia that are unique to them. Is the Clinebell ice freezer that you mention specifically designed for the purpose of making cocktail ice, or does it make ice for a variety of uses, including cocktails? If it’s the latter, then it doesn’t really qualify as an example of engineering that is unique to cocktail making. Whereas a turntable or CD player for example, has a specific purpose that is unique to music reproduction.

Sorry, but I don’t see how cocktail making is any more esoteric or analogous to the hobby of hi fi than the other examples that I have given. Anyway, it’s all good right? :)

HJC001's picture

how you wrote that passive sentence then followed it with a shift in verb tense that invalidated what you argued about ... WHATEVER! LOL! You're doin' FINE, Ms. Dagdagan. Enjoy the job. Make good art for your readers. And, don't waste too much time replying when you could be enjoying music ;)

lo fi's picture

Would you mind clarifying which post and sentence you are referring to? Thanks.

PS In the absence of a reply from you, I'm going to presume that you were referring to the first sentence of my previous post. Sorry but your pedantry is misplaced because the sentence is not contradictory. It is possible to not be familiar with something while knowing of it. For example, I am not familiar with my next door neighbours but I know who they are. I am not familiar with the amateur astronomy community but I know that it exists and (presumably) attracts people who are enthusiastic about astronomy. I knew of the audiophile community before becoming familiar with it, etc.

rschryer's picture

Science schmience. You don't need to know science to be an audiophile; you just need two ears and an appreciation for music. The scientists can worry about the rest.

mrkaic's picture

My cats have two ears each and enjoy it when I play Beethoven. (They Don’t really like Chopin, for some reason it makes them nervous.) According to your definition they are audiophiles. :))

rschryer's picture

No, because not everyone with two ears and an appreciation for music wants to be an audiophile.

HJC001's picture

to own the internet for one day!

rschryer's picture

Woo-hoo!! (Thanks for your support!)

mrkaic's picture

Is there a way to block users that one perceives as unworthy of ones time or attention on this forum?

dalethorn's picture

Hilarious!

veganaudiophile's picture

The comment about excessive volume is tight on target. I used to work at a place that sold tickets and could get front row seats at concerts. But one concert was so loud, and we were right in front of the speakers. My ears, and my friends ears, were both ringing the next day. Years later, I still have problems with ringing in the ears.

HJC001's picture

i've read that it REALLY, SCIENTIFICALLY, works on tinnitus, too.

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