Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo

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Crash N Burn
Crash N Burn Regular Member • Posts: 119
Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo

That great thread ended with Don Campbell's interesting post:

'>

Don, I don't know if you read that entire thread, but some people there spent hundreds of dollars on audio cables.

Do you have any words of advice for people tempted to go down that road and who subscribe to "audio woo"--the various vague and unsupported claims for getting better sound quality most often peddled by hobbyist psuedoscientists?

nzmacro
nzmacro Forum Pro • Posts: 16,331
I like that there Green Teeth wireless stuff
2

Crash N Burn wrote:

That great thread ended with Don Campbell's interesting post:

'>

Don, I don't know if you read that entire thread, but some people there spent hundreds of dollars on audio cables.

Do you have any words of advice for people tempted to go down that road and who subscribe to "audio woo"--the various vague and unsupported claims for getting better sound quality most often peddled by hobbyist psuedoscientists?

No sir. I like that there green teeth stuff with none of them wires to trip over. Magic I tell ya, magic. All goes over them air waves and vibration thingies going on. Frequent frequencies and with invisible walls, spaces, etc.

I like ta listen to the silence and peace of nuttin. What da heck is that .... "auido woo" stuff you speak of. Must be one them things in ya head young feller. Stay unwired.

I have a room specialised for it, I call it the sound bog. Most would call it a toilet I guess. It's an out house, but the sound is just amazing I tell ya.

See ya all and keep a wind up gramophone in case that there power goes dead on ya..

Danny.

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bosjohn21
bosjohn21 Forum Pro • Posts: 22,028
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo
1

u am amused that there is any conflict here, photographers this they are producing stuff and ausiophiles do now this is  untrue.  Wile transitory in nature Music is also a powerful art form,  and aside from a few prophotograogers and disk  jockeys most of our efforts are for an audience of one in this we are alike,

The only measurable difference is price. the cost of two m 10 leicas and a few lenses could get to fifty or sixty grand in a big hurry but fifty grand will still not get you the highest end speakers. Now days a true so called audio phile   spends upwards of two hundred thousand to keep ahead of the jonesed.

Both of these venters  share similiar hype, the gold plated dimond platinmum two grand a foot patch cords  can only be appreciated by those chosen few with golden ears,  but its very very very few that can reliably tell the divverence between five hundre a foot wiere and sixteen gage zip cord.

in photography we get such strange ness as the lieica look something that in a porbablyiliyt does not exist be we can see it for sure.and now days bokha.  I have not found many lenses with truely bad so called bokeh but damned if I am going to say six or seven grand for the latest from Leica just so I can have interchangable bokah lenses.  Audio phils and High end camera buyers feel they need to justify thier expensive taste by citing the improved sharpness very expensive lens which was tested in lab conditions something that once out the door no real camera user will come close to getting that perfect test result, again only a few people I know can look and a print on the wall say elelven by forteen will see any difference the a two hundred dollar lens. That nth degree of improvement is real but comes at a staggering price, in the Audio world its much harder to really know if there has been all that much improvement over the last twenty or thirty years. My admittedly heavy updated sterey seventy and pas 5 played though my pair of elon1s or kef 101s  will sound in a good envirnment better than most any thing in tubs under a coupld two three grand but after a while I just wanna here the music not the system and I wanna make images not let my camera sit on a shelf wrapped in a connen hankie.

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John aka bosjohn21

Crash N Burn
OP Crash N Burn Regular Member • Posts: 119
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo
3

bosjohn21 wrote:

u am amused that there is any conflict here, photographers this they are producing stuff and ausiophiles do now this is untrue. Wile transitory in nature Music is also a powerful art form, and aside from a few prophotograogers and disk jockeys most of our efforts are for an audience of one in this we are alike,

The only measurable difference is price. the cost of two m 10 leicas and a few lenses could get to fifty or sixty grand in a big hurry but fifty grand will still not get you the highest end speakers. Now days a true so called audio phile spends upwards of two hundred thousand to keep ahead of the jonesed.

Both of these venters share similiar hype, the gold plated dimond platinmum two grand a foot patch cords can only be appreciated by those chosen few with golden ears, but its very very very few that can reliably tell the divverence between five hundre a foot wiere and sixteen gage zip cord.

in photography we get such strange ness as the lieica look something that in a porbablyiliyt does not exist be we can see it for sure.and now days bokha. I have not found many lenses with truely bad so called bokeh but damned if I am going to say six or seven grand for the latest from Leica just so I can have interchangable bokah lenses. Audio phils and High end camera buyers feel they need to justify thier expensive taste by citing the improved sharpness very expensive lens which was tested in lab conditions something that once out the door no real camera user will come close to getting that perfect test result, again only a few people I know can look and a print on the wall say elelven by forteen will see any difference the a two hundred dollar lens. That nth degree of improvement is real but comes at a staggering price, in the Audio world its much harder to really know if there has been all that much improvement over the last twenty or thirty years. My admittedly heavy updated sterey seventy and pas 5 played though my pair of elon1s or kef 101s will sound in a good envirnment better than most any thing in tubs under a coupld two three grand but after a while I just wanna here the music not the system and I wanna make images not let my camera sit on a shelf wrapped in a connen hankie.

I don't disagree with some of what you said. But what's most curious is that some of these people claiming to hear differences are purportedly doing so with +50 yo ears, which have tremendous high frequency attenuation already, among very many other things.

So, what exactly are they hearing? Their wishful thinking?

Crash N Burn
OP Crash N Burn Regular Member • Posts: 119
Re: I like that there Green Teeth wireless stuff
2

nzmacro wrote:

Crash N Burn wrote:

That great thread ended with Don Campbell's interesting post:

'>

Don, I don't know if you read that entire thread, but some people there spent hundreds of dollars on audio cables.

Do you have any words of advice for people tempted to go down that road and who subscribe to "audio woo"--the various vague and unsupported claims for getting better sound quality most often peddled by hobbyist psuedoscientists?

No sir. I like that there green teeth stuff with none of them wires to trip over. Magic I tell ya, magic. All goes over them air waves and vibration thingies going on. Frequent frequencies and with invisible walls, spaces, etc.

I like ta listen to the silence and peace of nuttin. What da heck is that .... "auido woo" stuff you speak of. Must be one them things in ya head young feller. Stay unwired.

I have a room specialised for it, I call it the sound bog. Most would call it a toilet I guess. It's an out house, but the sound is just amazing I tell ya.

See ya all and keep a wind up gramophone in case that there power goes dead on ya..

Danny.

Wow, they must have legalized something in your state that isn't yet available in mine.

J A C S
J A C S Forum Pro • Posts: 14,783
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo
5

Crash N Burn wrote:

That great thread ended with Don Campbell's interesting post:

'>

Don, I don't know if you read that entire thread, but some people there spent hundreds of dollars on audio cables.

Do you have any words of advice for people tempted to go down that road and who subscribe to "audio woo"--the various vague and unsupported claims for getting better sound quality most often peddled by hobbyist psuedoscientists?

As a scientist, my advice is to be skeptical to everybody who claims that what you hear and feel is pseudo-science and he can explain to you why is that so. As a former audiophile I can tell you that I have heard difference between cables, confirmed by my wife whose sole purpose in life at that time was to make me spend less. There are other claims in that link which contradict my experience.

Don_Campbell Senior Member • Posts: 2,883
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo
6

Crash N Burn wrote:

That great thread ended with Don Campbell's interesting post:

'>

Don, I don't know if you read that entire thread, but some people there spent hundreds of dollars on audio cables.

Do you have any words of advice for people tempted to go down that road and who subscribe to "audio woo"--the various vague and unsupported claims for getting better sound quality most often peddled by hobbyist psuedoscientists?

Looks to me like this current thread was hijacked instantly with gibberish. I feel badly that I found the Audio Woo essay too late for it to be discussed seriously.

Generalizing about cables or most other simple technologies including power supplies, speaker drivers, crossovers, amplifiers, vacuum tubes vs transistors vs digital signal processors, digital recordings and their conversion to analog audio for listening, or any other of the audio subjects favored by audio arguments--can be subject to specific listening situations. unfortunately the arguments tend to be co-oped with magical claims made for a single manufacturer's extra special hoo-hah component or design.

In signalling terms, the signals in audio systems are "low frequency" at their highest frequencies. Low frequency signals are pretty undemanding for transmission through reasonable lengths of electrical cables. The exceptions come with cables with conductors that are too small to be low enough in resistance to drive inefficient speakers from a long distance of cable. For normal speaker systems in a normal livingroom or den, even modest two-conductor "speaker cable" is sufficient.

Even robust speaker cable by the 100 foot spool is inexpensive compared to the ridiculously (my bias) expensive speaker cables pitched at "audiophiles." Speaker wire comes in sizes like 16, 14 and 12 gauge. The distances between the conductors do not present a significant capacitance to give "cable property" issues at audio frequencies over distances that are normal.

Big speaker systems with several drivers per box may push someone who is putting down 20 feet of wire to the speaker into buying 12 gauge but I bet they wouldn't experience a real difference with 14 gauge. My main speakers have 3 foot and 8 foot runs of 14 gauge wire that is more than adequate to the task. 16 gauge would be fine but 14 was what I had on hand. Appropriate connectors matching the connector  style of the output from the amp and the input to the speakers is highly useful. The cable should be color coded on one of the two wires so that you have no issue in color coding the connectors and therefore connecting them in phase at the speakers.

Coaxial cables for interconnecting components with amps could be an issue except that even modestly priced RCA connector cables come more robust in size as they get longer in length. You'd have to work at it to have source components so far away that you'd need a special level of connector for them to the amp but even so, several hundred dollars is silly.

Optical cables one thread member wanted to argue were actually transmitting the digital data in analog signals. Sort of but highly misleading. The digital codes for 0 and 1 are variable in light levels over the distance of the cable but if they arrive at a value that isn't defined exactly as one or the other then the cable is too long or broken. Similarly, digital codes for 0 and 1 in digital electrical systems and digital coax cables have their 0 and 1 levels defined in a variable set of voltage levels. If the levels don't fit comfortably in the 0 range or 1 range something is wrong and it generally won't be cost that defines that but distance or damage. Again, as distances of these cables increase so does the robustness of the cables. Plastic "conductor" optical cables are limited in distance. The length of the cable should tell you it is getting time to move up to a glass fiber optical cable or some other system for getting the signal that unusual distance. As long as the 0 and 1 levels get to the target the signal is perfectly transmitted -- it doesn't degrade and cause the audio  to degrade in the process.

I remember in the late 60's and 70's a large number of high end audio companies were switching to transistorized components. There were steady improvements made in high output power transistors and steady improvements in using modern transistor designs to amplify signals from input to the output stage.  Since that time, upselling of audio equipment required ever more bells and whistles on one side and magical claims on the other. If only one company makes the magically-enhanced amplifier or preamp or CD technology

Basically, I once learned by observation that no one (almost no one) throws up their hands and says, "You're right. I was wrong and you have set me straight, thank  you." It happens more subtly. I remember being in a "discussion" where I started speaking softer and softer and finally moved on from a person at a party. About a half-hour later I over-heard that person, standing a few feet away, using all my facts and logic, essentially arguing my side of the issue with someone else. I think I'll be recommending Audio Woo to folks who I think could use some facts and logic. Most will argue as long as they draw breath but some might read and realize that there are salient facts and logic that they could incorporate usefully into their audio lives.

Don_Campbell Senior Member • Posts: 2,883
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo
5

J A C S wrote:

Crash N Burn wrote:

That great thread ended with Don Campbell's interesting post:

'>

Don, I don't know if you read that entire thread, but some people there spent hundreds of dollars on audio cables.

Do you have any words of advice for people tempted to go down that road and who subscribe to "audio woo"--the various vague and unsupported claims for getting better sound quality most often peddled by hobbyist psuedoscientists?

As a scientist, my advice is to be skeptical to everybody who claims that what you hear and feel is pseudo-science and he can explain to you why is that so. As a former audiophile I can tell you that I have heard difference between cables, confirmed by my wife whose sole purpose in life at that time was to make me spend less. There are other claims in that link which contradict my experience.

As a scientist, my laboratory research was deeply dependent my  personal construction and daily use of high gain, ultra-low noise analog electronics and D-to-A and A-to-D instrumentation. You have not said what field of science you are in, but I would suggest that regardless it would probably be useful to know what the underlying physics was in the differences you and your wife found in these cables.

Starting from what you and your wife say was an inferior cable for the job and going up in quality to one you like can include a huge range of possible costs (and sometimes no added cost, but a different make or design). Without knowing the physical, electronic or optical details that make up the difference in what you hear then you don't really know what you need to buy at what price to get the ideal audio you are looking for. If it was only a few dollars difference it might be irrelevant but if were talking big bucks, a bit of understanding of the underlying physics might be financially rewarding.

MediaArchivist
MediaArchivist Veteran Member • Posts: 5,166
IMHO
1

My experience with audio gear over the years (which is not as extensive), my experience with computer systems (which is extensive), as well as discussions with many, many audio engineers, leads me to conclude that everything in the previous post is 100% correct.

On the other hand, some of those $500 USB cables sure do look pretty!

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Don_Campbell Senior Member • Posts: 2,883
Re: IMHO
1

MediaArchivist wrote:

My experience with audio gear over the years (which is not as extensive), my experience with computer systems (which is extensive), as well as discussions with many, many audio engineers, leads me to conclude that everything in the previous post is 100% correct.

On the other hand, some of those $500 USB cables sure do look pretty!

Some of the audiophile boxes are also gorgeous. My audio stuff is unobtrusive and sounds terrific. I wouldn't pay the extra for a snazzier look. Heck, the snazzy look may go out of fashion tomorrow and who wants to shopping again? I'm pretty certain that the extra cost wouldn't get me much better sound than I can get from my system.

My collector friend who has what seems like a whole houseful of vacuum tube equipment, loves his stuff. I can't say I think his equipment looks gorgeous, but it does look "hot" in a fashion. I'll get my heat as passive solar instead.

I learned electronics on vacuum tubes, I know vacuum tubes, I've fixed my own vacuum tube radios (car radios) and stereos (my first stereo FM set was vacuum tubes). I understand the distortion caused by vacuum tubes that my friend admires. I once paid $2 for a 4.5 foot tall vacuum tube radio that included short wave and I made a high current-low voltage power supply with ultra low ripple to power the filament-based cathodes so it didn't buzz. That saved me from trying to find the old fashioned batteries it was intended to be powered by in the days before rural electrification. I also understand vacuum tube shot noise that is unavoidable at low volume and I know exactly where it comes from and why it's unavoidable or worse, if avoidance is tried, why distortion is increased. I understand why the tubes go out at different rates and how that affects the channels. In spite of all that, I also understand that what I learned about vacuum tube circuits that I built and maintained from the early 60's through the 70's is not useful information to my vacuum tube loving friend. I actually don't think he'll gain much from reading the Audio Woo column either. Attachment has a real meaning.

Crash N Burn
OP Crash N Burn Regular Member • Posts: 119
Re: IMHO

Don_Campbell wrote:

MediaArchivist wrote:

My experience with audio gear over the years (which is not as extensive), my experience with computer systems (which is extensive), as well as discussions with many, many audio engineers, leads me to conclude that everything in the previous post is 100% correct.

On the other hand, some of those $500 USB cables sure do look pretty!

Some of the audiophile boxes are also gorgeous. My audio stuff is unobtrusive and sounds terrific. I wouldn't pay the extra for a snazzier look. Heck, the snazzy look may go out of fashion tomorrow and who wants to shopping again? I'm pretty certain that the extra cost wouldn't get me much better sound than I can get from my system.

My collector friend who has what seems like a whole houseful of vacuum tube equipment, loves his stuff. I can't say I think his equipment looks gorgeous, but it does look "hot" in a fashion. I'll get my heat as passive solar instead.

I learned electronics on vacuum tubes, I know vacuum tubes, I've fixed my own vacuum tube radios (car radios) and stereos (my first stereo FM set was vacuum tubes). I understand the distortion caused by vacuum tubes that my friend admires. I once paid $2 for a 4.5 foot tall vacuum tube radio that included short wave and I made a high current-low voltage power supply with ultra low ripple to power the filament-based cathodes so it didn't buzz. That saved me from trying to find the old fashioned batteries it was intended to be powered by in the days before rural electrification. I also understand vacuum tube shot noise that is unavoidable at low volume and I know exactly where it comes from and why it's unavoidable or worse, if avoidance is tried, why distortion is increased. I understand why the tubes go out at different rates and how that affects the channels. In spite of all that, I also understand that what I learned about vacuum tube circuits that I built and maintained from the early 60's through the 70's is not useful information to my vacuum tube loving friend. I actually don't think he'll gain much from reading the Audio Woo column either. Attachment has a real meaning.

That is a very interesting post, especially the part about the vacuum tube hiss, distortion and the like.

With all that, your friend's equipment might sound worse than an iPod with low bitrate mp3's.

Then again, there are a few who shoot film, which, with all its grain etc etc, is probably outdone by a bargain-bin Powershot.

Erick L Senior Member • Posts: 1,260
Re: I like that there Green Teeth wireless stuff

nzmacro wrote:

I have a room specialised for it, I call it the sound bog. Most would call it a toilet I guess. It's an out house, but the sound is just amazing I tell ya.

Damn right!

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ZodiacPhoto
ZodiacPhoto Senior Member • Posts: 2,639
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo
5

I design test equipment for automated and manual testing / measurement of high-end audio gear.

I am not allowed to name the companies I am working with, or voice my opinion about their products and performance. Therefore, I do not participate in any high-end / hi-fi audio forums.

You often hear from audiophiles that there are characteristics that "cannot be measured instrumentally". As an engineer designing the equipment that does just that, I can tell that these people don't know what exactly they need to measure or how to measure it correctly. Try to imagine what is involved in reproducing "solidity, transparency of soundstage, spatial and textural tangibility, the sense of air around the acoustic image outline, wide spatial perspective, lack of sonic grain and glare," etc., etc. Just read The Absolute Sound and similar publications.

And we are arguing about microcontrast and 3-d pop!

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sybersitizen Forum Pro • Posts: 13,511
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo
1

I'm pretty sure we also have Photo Woo here, though the term might not yet be officially recognized.

Jerry R Forum Pro • Posts: 10,739
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo
1

I have a superior audio and image analysis system, my wife. Her acustic and color perception is excellent. Many years ago, after we got married I purchased a fairly good auto system. My wife never liked it, distortion was what she sensed. Twenty years ago I got a "high end system", Thiel, speakers, California Audolabs CD, and a class A amplifier after listing to many systems. Before purchase my wife came and listened to the system and gave it a thumbs up.

The same happened when I got my first Zeiss lens, the Sony R1. Here response was "what great color"

So there is something to the magic of designing a speaker or lens, based on the analysis of my auto and imaging analysis system.

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tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 43,226
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo

A fool and his money are soon parted.

Thomas Tusser

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Tom

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tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 43,226
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo
6

About 25 years ago I noticed my stereo just didn't sound right. Being well versed in electronics I assumed the speaker wire connections needed cleaning and reattachment. After doing so the improvement in sound was obvious. Moral of story, If you hear an improvement in sound with new wire you probably would have achieved the same result with the old wires simply by cleaning or even just tightening.

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Tom

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tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 43,226
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo

Don_Campbell wrote:

Basically, I once learned by observation that no one (almost no one) throws up their hands and says, "You're right. I was wrong and you have set me straight, thank you."

Especially on DPR where people argue their points ad infinitum even when proven wrong. Admitting a mistake is very hard for many people possibly due to low self esteem.

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Tom

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tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 43,226
Re: IMHO
1

Long ago about 1969 I bought a McIntosh MC240 stereo tube amp. The output tubes gave off a purple glow that pulsated when played loudly. Man that was cool. It's the one thing I missed when I went solid state.

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Tom

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tko Forum Pro • Posts: 12,914
Re: Photographers vs. Audiophiles (Part 2): Audio Woo
2

As a scientist, my advice is to be skeptical to everybody who claims that what you hear and feel is pseudo-science and he can explain to you why is that so. As a former audiophile I can tell you that I have heard difference between cables, confirmed by my wife whose sole purpose in life at that time was to make me spend less. There are other claims in that link which contradict my experience.

You should know better. Would any scientist in the world accept the subjective word of another scientist when, say, doing drug testing? Nope, that's why they invented blind and double blind testing and peer reviews and statistics.

I'm sure you know what the Dunning-Kruger effect is. Linus Pauling was a smart guy, but convinced vitamin-C would cure everything because it made him feel good. Doesn't matter how smart, how trained you are. You can't trust you own senses, because they are filtered through what they want to believe. Like homeopathy and other treatments that cure you because you want to believe.

Yes, what one person subjectively sees and hears is pseudo-science. That's a fundamental principle.

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