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Hydrogenaudio Forum => General Audio => Topic started by: Richard Greene on 2009-10-23 15:19:19

Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Richard Greene on 2009-10-23 15:19:19
I believe the audiophile hobby has
significantly changed
in the past few decades.
.
Today an audiophile who claims
wires sound best 8” off the floor,
and sells four 8” wire lifts for $40,
may not have his unusual claim
questioned by any audiophiles!
.
There seems to be an unwritten rule
of the “Fantasy Audiophile” group:
- ‘I won’t question your claims
if you won’t question mine,
because we share the same basic belief':
--- Every thing makes a difference,
because that’s what I hear,
and I couldn’t be wrong.
.
Fantasy Audiophiles are annoyed by Objective Audiophiles
who do listening experiments and report that audible differences
among audio components are more difficult to hear than they
had expected, unless the two components play music
at different volumes.
.
Tests annoy Fantasy Audiophiles (FA’s) for three reasons:
.
(1) The results contradict FA beliefs about audio
.
(2) FA’s often invest a lot of money in
expensive audio components, and feel their
purchase decisions are being second-guessed.
.
(2) For FA purchases, the new component was
rarely auditioned at home playing music
at the same volume as the “old” component,
under blind conditions,  as done for the audio tests . 

Objective Audiophiles and Fantasy Audiophiles
have different methods for evaluating electronic
components and wires:
.
- Fantasy Audiophiles don’t care if the brand names are
visible, and the components play music at different volumes
.
- Objective Audiophiles hide brand names and compare
components playing music at the same volume.
.
I believe these different audition methodologies
will have different results, regardless of the participants
involved:  With brand names visible, and no volume-matching,
I believe Objective Audiophiles would usually “hear differences” too.
... That has been my experience as an Objective Audiophile since
the mid-1980's (and a Fantasy Audiophile for almost two decades
before that)
.
Fantasy Audiophiles report almost all
electronic components and wires sound different,
while Objective Audiophiles report they usually
can’t hear differences among electronic components
and wires playing music at the same volume. 
.
Both groups agree that all speakers sound different.
.
What’s changed in the past decade is the ease
of “debating” invisible, and sometimes anonymous
audiophiles,  online:
.
On websites where Fantasy Audiophiles flock,
character attacks on Objective Audiophiles are “tolerated”.
.
On websites where Objective Audiophiles flock,
character attacks on Fantasy Audiophiles are “tolerated”.

There is one big difference between Fantasy Audiophiles
and Objective Audiophiles:
.
- Objective Audiophiles make very modest claims
about their own listening skills, and are willing to demonstrate
their skills in front of witnesses … while Fantasy Audiophiles
make extraordinary claims about their listening skills,
but refuse to demonstrate their claims in any “test”
in front of witnesses.
.
Based on the typical claims of extraordinary listening skills,
that are never demonstrated to witnesses, I came up with
a descriptive name for this group of audiophiles:
“Fantasy Audiophiles”
(one can never know if the claimed listening skills
are a fact, or just imagined).
.
I’m not trying to insult any audiophiles by dividing the
hobby into two groups, and naming those groups,
but I feel Fantasy Audiophiles and Objective Audiophiles
are accurate names.
.
In the “good old days” of audio, prior to CDs,
being an “audiophile” mainly meant you collected
and enjoyed listening to records
.
There were no on-line anonymous “debates”
over audio components. 
.
Do you think the “good old days” (pre-1980)
of audio were better?
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Axon on 2009-10-23 18:57:20
Dude... word wrap is your friend.

I’m not trying to insult any audiophiles by dividing the hobby into two groups, and naming those groups, but I feel Fantasy Audiophiles and Objective Audiophiles are accurate names.

Riiiiiight.

The acronym FA is heavily used as it is. I prefer the term "Beltist".

You're taking a real black-and-white stand on this issue, which I don't think matches reality. JA (and many other audiophiles) disagree pretty strongly with Beltists. Most people leaning towards the subjective persuasion on this issue who are vocal about it are fairly convinced that they are the objective thinkers, not us. Everybody prefers to believe that science is on their side and not on the side of their opponent's.

The behavior which you believe represents a change over the last couple of decades could also be thought of as a natural progression for what has always been the dominant worldview: People looking for better and better sound will go to extraordinary lengths as the technological advances start to diminish in magnitude. Relying on psychoacoustic principles and statistical evidence to influence one's decisions is, in the grand scheme of things, nonintuitive. If you stick any random person off the street or any audiophile from the 1950s in a modern hi-fi store, once that person gets over the culture shock, they're going to behave just like any other audiophile.

Strictly speaking, the use of blind listening tests is just as "objective" as relying entirely on measurements.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: DVDdoug on 2009-10-23 20:08:49
Quote
I believe the audiophile hobby has  significantly changed in the past few decades.
Yeah, in the vinyl/analog days there were bigger differences between different pieces equipment and there was really something to talk about or read/write about.  Now, the only real difference is speakers (or headphones), and there's not much else for "objective audiophiles" to talk about. 

And, the hobby was more interesting because good sound was rare and harder to obtain!  I remember when I was a kid (late 60's or early 70's) and I heard a good "hi-fi" system for the first time .  I said, "Wow!  Bass and trebble at the same time!  We mostly listened to AM radio and TV sound was lousy from a mono 4" speaker.  Now, everybody's heard good sound, and they can have good sound if they want it...  An iPod with average earbuds has better sound than we had in our house.  TVs come with better sound, cars come with better sound, etc. 

I could never afford the real high-end stuff, but I was always upgrading or wanting to upgrade.  Now, I've got a CD player (and a DVD player and a home theater receiver) and I don't feel need to constantly upgrade.  (I did recently re-build my speakers and add a subwoofer.)

And, I used to read Stereo Review.  As I recall, they were fairly objective.  I don't remember if they did blind tests, but they did make measurements.  If they told you that one cartridge was "brighter" than another, they could back it up with a frequency response graph.  Now, I'm just not that interested in reading about the "latest & greatest" new thing, when I know I wouldn't hear any difference. 

Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: carpman on 2009-10-23 22:56:56
Assuming for a moment that Richard Greene's two groups are valid, here's my take on what's going on with these kind of threads:

The real problem is that people think they need a reason / rational justification to feel good.
You can look in the mirror one day and think "god, I'm ugly". You can look in the same mirror the next day and think "I look pretty good". Your face hasn't changed and nor has the mirror, but how you feel (and thus how you feel about yourself) has.

So don't underestimate the benefit of feeling good (or underestimate a person's desire to defend such a feeling).

Your "fantasy audiophiles" are not actually audiophiles at all, that's simply the vehicle for them making purchases that make them feel good (they buy audio gear to feel good, not because it makes an audible difference).

The reason they have to believe that the cable makes a difference is that they are worried that someone will challenge their right to feel good (i.e. "why did you buy that?"). So they require a justification and then get into all sorts of trouble. After a while you can end up habitually requiring such a justification, especially if you are often required to justify your purchases. This then develops into a shortcut; i.e. it becomes more convenient to just believe your justification (afterall it's easier to defend something you believe is valid). If, however such people were honest and just said "it makes me feel good to spend money on x, y and z, and sure it's not rational, but it makes me feel good and that makes sense to me", then there's no argument. In fact that's a pretty rational reason for spending money (and in fact it's the real reason why most of us spend money on non-essential purchases, and it's also the reason why adverts are aimed at and talk to our non-rational "feelings" and not our rational intellect).

Furthermore, the more people are pressured to justify such purchases the more they are likely to defend them (and such battles are generally fought on rational ground - because people like to sound sensible and seem reasonable), but really what is being said is "stop pissing all over my feel-good".

Your so-called "objective audiophiles" are truly interested in sound (this doesn't make them better or special, they just have a different interest). Their primary goal is to understand what makes a difference to sound quality. Understanding this probably makes them feel good.

The two groups have almost nothing in common, only the requirement to justify a purchase gives the illusion that one group has something in common with the other (and it riles the other group because they are truly interested in audible differences and thus they focus on the "fantasy audiophile's" justification, but realise that it makes no sense and so want to make that clear, because explaining why that makes no sense makes the "objective audiophile" feel good).

In short, the two groups buy audio gear, but for profoundly different reasons, that's all.

So when you think about "fantasy audiophiles" imagine that instead of hi-fi equipment they're buying roses; then we'd have no need for these "them (whoever they are) versus us (whoever "we" are) debates.

Andy yes, word wrap is indeed your friend.
It's very confusing;
I keep thinking
People are writing
Really
Bad
Poems.

C.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: FasterThanEver on 2009-10-24 00:58:41
Richard Greene, thanks for an entertaining post. 

The short lines made it seem like poetry.  Once is enough.

Some people may be offended by the "fantasy audiophiles" label but I think it fits a lot of people posting on audio forums.  I didn't agree with everything  you said but some of your characterizations were very telling.

Some comments:

FAs are looking for ways to spend money; OAs are trying to spend a minimal amount of money as effectively as possible.  OAs are delivering an implicit message to FAs: you wasted your money and that's not smart.

FAs are entertained by discovering differences.  No differences, no fun.  OAs threaten to take the fun out of things for FAs.

When an FA stops hearing differences, he has to leave the herd.

Was the golden age any better?  There was far less gold involved.



Bill


Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Soap on 2009-10-24 03:07:45
/me loves carpman
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: MLXXX on 2009-10-24 04:30:29
Both groups agree that all speakers sound different.

This perhaps is an area where hydrogenaudio can help to a degree, in assessing the merits of emerging loudspeaker technologies, and even identifying value for money.  It's what audiophile magazines ought to be able to be relied on to do.

If I want to buy a new set of speakers, it seems I will need to go to the showroom of a retailer that provides a listening room and [level matched?] switching between speakers, and listen to a test CD of my choosing.  I will be relying on the retailer to have a representative stock of good quality speakers.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: cliveb on 2009-10-24 12:54:42
There is no doubt that many Fantasy Audiophiles (FAs) do genuinely hear differences between two nominally identical soundfields. And like all audiophiles, they seek a scientific explanation for this. The key factor here is that FAs severely limit themselves regarding which branches of science they consider when seeking an explanation. They steadfastly ignore the huge bulk of psychological research that proves beyond reasonable doubt that pre-existing biases will change ones perceptions - ie. expectation is self-fulfilling. These findings provide a perfectly sensible explanation for the differences that FAs hear.

But it seems that FAs in general consider that being susceptible to these factors is some kind of character flaw, and therefore refuse to accept it applies to them. So all they can then do is start inventing crazy quack "science" to try and explain what they hear. And having persuaded themselves that these quack theories are reasonable, they open themselves up into believing all manner of other daft ideas.

Objective Audiophiles (OAs) also hear differences in nominally identical soundfields (when they are doing sighted comparisons). The well-known psychological factors apply equally to them. The difference is that OAs are happy to accept these factors, and don't go looking for other reasons.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: rpp3po on 2009-10-24 15:46:50
The short lines made it seem like poetry.


Yes, until you read that it is not. Then
it just hurts all senses. How
about fantasy typography vs. objective
typography
?
.
Objective typography says
that 60-72 characters per line deliver
optimum legibility for continuous text.
.
Too long lines may get tiring - you
can shorten and match them to your
personal preference by
adjusting window sizes - but these
short wraps are just total
screwball.
.
I'm refusing to
read Richard Greene's
posts for a while now because
of that.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: ajinfla on 2009-10-25 16:32:58
If I want to buy a new set of speakers, it seems I will need to go to the showroom of a retailer that provides a listening room and [level matched?] switching between speakers, and listen to a test CD of my choosing.  I will be relying on the retailer to have a representative stock of good quality speakers.

That would certainly help, but keep in mind that unlike an amplifier or cd player, the loudspeaker interacts with the room (and objects in it) to produce the soundfield. Unless the showroom has a Harman style shuffler (extremely doubtful), your comparisons will be between those speakers in those positions interacting in those rooms.
Imperfect...but the most practical.

cheers,

AJ

p.s. the primary difference between an audiophile and a person in good mental health is:
A person in good mental health listens to music via their stereo, i.e. the stereo equipment is a means for listening to the music.
Whereas an audiophile listens to their stereo via the music i.e. the music is a necessity for listening to the stereo equipment.

Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: analog scott on 2009-10-25 17:26:44
If I want to buy a new set of speakers, it seems I will need to go to the showroom of a retailer that provides a listening room and [level matched?] switching between speakers, and listen to a test CD of my choosing.  I will be relying on the retailer to have a representative stock of good quality speakers.

That would certainly help, but keep in mind that unlike an amplifier or cd player, the loudspeaker interacts with the room (and objects in it) to produce the soundfield. Unless the showroom has a Harman style shuffler (extremely doubtful), your comparisons will be between those speakers in those positions interacting in those rooms.
Imperfect...but the most practical.

cheers,

AJ

p.s. the primary difference between an audiophile and a person in good mental health is:
A person in good mental health listens to music via their stereo, i.e. the stereo equipment is a means for listening to the music.
Whereas an audiophile listens to their stereo via the music i.e. the music is a necessity for listening to the stereo equipment.


you say "unless the showroom has a Harmon shuffler." How would a Harmon shuffler change the fact that "your comparisons will be between those speakers in those positions interacting in those rooms.?"

Seems to me the Harmon shuffler would only make for quicker switching and will not change the fact that the comparisons will be between "those speakers in those positions interacting in those rooms." That is true of the situation at the HK facility.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: MLXXX on 2009-10-26 07:01:24
That would certainly help, but keep in mind that unlike an amplifier or cd player, the loudspeaker interacts with the room (and objects in it) to produce the soundfield. Unless the showroom has a Harman style shuffler (extremely doubtful), your comparisons will be between those speakers in those positions interacting in those rooms.
Imperfect...but the most practical.
I would not remain seated while listening.  I'd move around the listening room to some extent.  Yes, the comparisons would be "imperfect", but hopefully adequate to help get a "practical" impression of broad differences in the sound emanating from the various speakers. 

P.S.
I am not sure a "fantasy" audiophile should be contrasted with a person "in good mental health".  A person can be eccentric, or unwilling to submit some of their beliefs to practical measurement or verification, but that does necessarily imply the person is not in a state of good mental health.  The person may perhaps be poorly informed, opinionated, and/or lack show little respect for (or understanding of) scientific method.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Gag Halfrunt on 2009-10-26 08:35:14
Of course the hobby has changed, it has turned decadent. Audio is no longer selling to real people, it's either audiophiles selling to other audiophiles, or occasionally selling expensive bling to what's left of the rich list who want 'the best'. Most of the latter are either not buying because their investment portfolio is 1/100th the size it was 18 months ago, or consider B&O to be 'the best' and are not buying high-end audio any more.

So, in the main, the audio industry is now a bunch of audiophiles selling audiophile products to a bunch of audiophiles. Unless there is a new generation of audiophiles to replace them, that means an ever-decreasing number of consumers, even if they were in their 20s, because people leave a hobby for myriad reasons. And there is no new generation of audiophiles; they are typically late-model boomers and older, which ultimately means audiophiles are dying off as well as leaving the pool of consumers.

The end result is those audio manufacturers, magazines and retailers trying to survive will try anything to keep consumers as consumers. It's going to be a tough call convincing that pool of audiophiles last year's amplifier is completely undermined by this year's model (because in reality such fundamental changes stopped happening about 30-40 years ago), so the accent is placed on the supporting cast, in the hope that the audiophile who isn't likely to buy a new pair of loudspeakers for another five years or an amp this side of 2020 can be enticed back into the stores to buy a cable, table or power conditioner that will 'transform the sound' of their existing equipment. To help that happen, manufacturers will make increasingly wild claims about their products (and make increasingly wild products) in these categories, magazines and retailers pass off these wild claims as fact... and the audiophile buyers will soak this up at face value in the hope that the equipment really does sound better.

There must come a time when those on the selling side of things discover that - as they can't sell to new people anymore and those they sell to today are taking EVERYTHING at face value - it's better to jump on board the loony train than watch it rattle on past and take what's left of your customers with it. You could legitimately point the finger at any one of the members of this declining business as being the root cause of the shift away from sanity, but all are equally complicit.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Richard Greene on 2009-10-26 16:56:42
I liked your post and think audio companies are also selling highly styled audio gear, which may have nothing to do with the sound but is a reason for some people to buy high-end components.

I'm sorry I offended any audiophiles here who did not like reading the short sentences in the original post that started this thread.  I find it easier to type and read narrow columns (as in newspapers) and type a newsletter in that style.  Without the ability to set up two columns and use justified type, the result here was only roughly like a newspaper column, but I thought it was easy to read.  It was for me, because I have poor vision.   

A Moderator wrote me an e-mail with a harsh tone, saying: "Please stop inserting hard line breaks in your posts and stop using periods between paragraphs.  If you cannot conform to a standard posting style please go elsewhere.  If you continue to post in this fashion you may find that your posting privileges will be curtailed."

That e-mail seems rude in response to what was only an attempt to make my long-winded posts easier to read (why would I expend extra effort typing that way if I thought it reduced readability?).

I've got to scratch my head and wonder why audiophiles can be so rude to each other on-line for no reason ... which I guess WAS the subject of my post.  At Audio Asylum, my Objective Audio post would typically be attacked with two to six Fantasy Audiophile character attack responses -- the attackers were never banned, but this Objective Audiophile finally was (after over six years of posting).  After six years I finally asked the one question that even I had been afraid to ask: On their Critic's Corner Forum (sort of a Stereophile Forum) I asked a series of questions about the qualifications for audio component reviewers in the high-end magazines.  These writers influence many purchase decisions of expensive gear.  The Forum Moderator soon asked me not to post in that forum again!  But there was good news too -- he didn't attack my typing style.

I apologize in advance if my post includes too many paragraphs, or has some other 'format error' that offends someone. 






Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: JustJoe on 2009-10-26 17:08:04
If I want to buy a new set of speakers, it seems I will need to go to the showroom of a retailer that provides a listening room and [level matched?] switching between speakers, and listen to a test CD of my choosing.  I will be relying on the retailer to have a representative stock of good quality speakers.

That would certainly help, but keep in mind that unlike an amplifier or cd player, the loudspeaker interacts with the room (and objects in it) to produce the soundfield. Unless the showroom has a Harman style shuffler (extremely doubtful), your comparisons will be between those speakers in those positions interacting in those rooms.
Imperfect...but the most practical.

cheers,

AJ

p.s. the primary difference between an audiophile and a person in good mental health is:
A person in good mental health listens to music via their stereo, i.e. the stereo equipment is a means for listening to the music.
Whereas an audiophile listens to their stereo via the music i.e. the music is a necessity for listening to the stereo equipment.


Love the PS line! So true. The fantasy audiophiles are in love with hardware for its own sake.
Just Joe
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: krabapple on 2009-10-26 17:47:44
I've got to scratch my head and wonder why audiophiles can be so rude to each other on-line for no reason ... which I guess WAS the subject of my post.  At Audio Asylum, my Objective Audio post would typically be attacked with two to six Fantasy Audiophile character attack responses -- the attackers were never banned, but this Objective Audiophile finally was (after over six years of posting).  After six years I finally asked the one question that even I had been afraid to ask: On their Critic's Corner Forum (sort of a Stereophile Forum) I asked a series of questions about the qualifications for audio component reviewers in the high-end magazines.  These writers influence many purchase decisions of expensive gear.  The Forum Moderator soon asked me not to post in that forum again!  But there was good news too -- he didn't attack my typing style.



FYI your banning from Critic's Corner on AA has made the audiofool news -- that smug windbag Art Dudley writes about it in his column in the current Stereophile

Fair and balanced it ain't.




Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Axon on 2009-10-26 18:39:34
OT: Most browsers nowadays have really good zoom features; have you gave them a shot? Just hit ctrl + a few times. (and ctrl 0 to reset).
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Woodinville on 2009-10-26 20:33:08
Observer bias.
Everyone has that problem.
Even those who don't.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2009-10-26 21:47:18
p.s. the primary difference between an audiophile and a person in good mental health is:
A person in good mental health listens to music via their stereo, i.e. the stereo equipment is a means for listening to the music.
Whereas an audiophile listens to their stereo via the music i.e. the music is a necessity for listening to the stereo equipment.
That's not necessarily true. I'm certainly not a fantasy audiophile, but I get a kick out of good recordings, and/or stylised recordings (e.g. something that sounds so 1960s or 1980s, not just because of the music, but because of the way it was recorded and the technology that was available at the time), played back on something good enough to hear the quality of the recording.

This is above and beyond and separate from the enjoyment of the music.

Let's be honest - if you enjoy "modern" music, you've got to get over the sound quality and listen to it on your car stereo or kitchen radio or whatever. Most if it is going to be very disappointing on a decent stereo (or even/especially, IMO, on a decent mp3 player with decent headphones!).

Whereas I can listen to an "audiophile" (in the good sense) recording of something that's not musically interesting to me, and appreciate how you can hear the singer, instruments, and recording location really well. And I can listen to something from the 1960s which may or may not be to my taste, and may be the "best" that could be achieved back then (e.g. something from Abbey Road Studio 2 on a good day), or the worst (early Rolling Stones!) and actually enjoy the sound of the thing for what it reveals about the era the recording was made in.*

I'm not a snob about how I hear it - if it's been transferred properly, then vinyl, CD or Spotify is just fine - the "sound" of the recording will be there.

(But I'm a rare non-fantasy audiophile obsessive kind of person when it comes to audio - not unique though I think!)

Cheers,
David.

* - and don't get me started about what you can hear about where and how 1930s recordings were made just by listening to them. You know when you hear the vocal come to the front of the orchestra and the whole sound balance change that there was some guy dressed in a white coat (the kind of look people have in medical labs today!) turning one of three huge dials on what looks like power-station control equipment just to mix the feeds from 2-3 microphones onto the disc in real time live recording.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: rpp3po on 2009-10-26 22:58:58
In my opinion these are great times for audiophiles! Compare 2009 to 1969 and realize what gorgeous fidelity you can buy on a budget nowadays! The iPod in your pocket carries a week worth of music and its quality beats 99% of the equipment you could buy for any amount of money 40 years ago (I just heard the wolves howling in pain in audiophile wonderland). We got such beautiful things as Westone and Shure IEMs for the roads and affordable HD 595s for our homes. High quality DACs are commodities, amps also - money can be focused onto speakers and actually buying beautiful records. Optimization work can be focused onto placement and room correction. High fidelity was never as affordable as it is today!

And fuck the loudness war! Hundreds of excellent records still get released each year. Hundreds of lossless out-of-print "audiophile" masterings are just mouse clicks away waiting to be downloaded "for free" (don't wag your fingers - 1. you probably do not know what you are missing out on and 2. how much I spend for records on the other side). I really almost could not imagine better times!

The rest is just your usual elitist personality disorder bullshit. Neither character nor taste scale proportionally with the inflow of money, to great regret of those affected. But that's not limited to audio and never has been, but there are shitloads of very expensive but laughable art, furniture, home entertainment systems with abysmal user interfaces, architecture, fashion, jewelry, and even cheese waiting to raise your eyebrows.


That e-mail seems rude in response to what was only an attempt to make my long-winded posts easier to read (why would I expend extra effort typing that way if I thought it reduced readability?).

I never wanted to allege mean intentions. It just looks as if you hadn't put much thought wether your concept of readability is really universal. Why not just use floating wraps and let everybody decide themselves by adjusting window width and/or font size? That's all.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: ajinfla on 2009-10-26 23:24:30
you say "unless the showroom has a Harmon shuffler." How would a Harmon shuffler change the fact that "your comparisons will be between those speakers in those positions interacting in those rooms.?"

Seems to me the Harmon shuffler would only make for quicker switching and will not change the fact that the comparisons will be between "those speakers in those positions interacting in those rooms." That is true of the situation at the HK facility.

Do yourself a favor. Look up what a Harman shuffler is, what it does and for what reasons. Then compare it to "the showroom of a retailer that provides a listening room and [level matched?] switching between speakers"(objects).
Try to figure this out on your own.
When you can't, come back and ask questions. I'll be here to help you Scotty.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: ajinfla on 2009-10-26 23:32:03
I would not remain seated while listening.  I'd move around the listening room to some extent.
When evaluating stereophonic loudspeakers with your favorite cd's?
We must have very different criteria and demands from loudspeakers you and I.

I am not sure a "fantasy" audiophile should be contrasted with a person "in good mental health"
I am.

cheers,

AJ
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: ajinfla on 2009-10-26 23:42:38
Observer bias.
Everyone has that problem.
Even those who don't.

I read your post and found it to be quite biased. But I'm not sure if that is conscious or subconscious.

cheers,

AJ
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Woodinville on 2009-10-27 00:08:31
I would not remain seated while listening.  I'd move around the listening room to some extent.
When evaluating stereophonic loudspeakers with your favorite cd's?
We must have very different criteria and demands from loudspeakers you and I.

I am not sure a "fantasy" audiophile should be contrasted with a person "in good mental health"
I am.

cheers,

AJ


Well, one must certainly worry a bit about the folk who put little strips of shiny foil on their wires and use various goos on the outside of equipment in order to field their morphs, or morph their fields, or something like that.

I think the term "beltists" is a bit too personal, but still descriptive.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Woodinville on 2009-10-27 00:12:20
Observer bias.
Everyone has that problem.
Even those who don't.

I read your post and found it to be quite biased. But I'm not sure if that is conscious or subconscious.

cheers,

AJ


Ambiguity
It deflects one's reasoning
So what did you mean?
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: ajinfla on 2009-10-27 00:39:18
Well, one must certainly worry a bit about the folk who put little strips of shiny foil on their wires and use various goos on the outside of equipment in order to field their morphs, or morph their fields, or something like that.

I think the term "beltists" is a bit too personal, but still descriptive.

Hmmm, I'm not so sure that is a good example. IIRC, the Belts claim (quite correctly) that the "effects" are actually upon the person, rather than the actual sound field. But I could be mistaken.
The level of audiophile disorder varies per afflicted individual, I don't claim that it is consistent. We have some here who are convinced that there are reasons outside of LCR (and of course omni-present RF) why cables/wires/cords "sound" different (psychological reasons are automatically dismissed as audiophiles are immune).
Any idea what type of audiophile condition must exist for one to purchase a VPI "brick" or Bybee "Pro filter"?
Ambiguity
It deflects one's reasoning
So what did you mean?

I'll add smilies for unambiguity next time.

cheers,

AJ
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Axon on 2009-10-27 00:42:37
I think the very existence of the concept of morphic fields in Beltist discussions necessarily requires that they believe the effects are well outside the person.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: ajinfla on 2009-10-27 01:03:04
I think the very existence of the concept of morphic fields in Beltist discussions necessarily requires that they believe the effects are well outside the person.

You might be correct. The only thing I know with absolute certainty myself about the Belts is that they hold up the Trousers.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: analog scott on 2009-10-27 02:07:39
you say "unless the showroom has a Harmon shuffler." How would a Harmon shuffler change the fact that "your comparisons will be between those speakers in those positions interacting in those rooms.?"

Seems to me the Harmon shuffler would only make for quicker switching and will not change the fact that the comparisons will be between "those speakers in those positions interacting in those rooms." That is true of the situation at the HK facility.

Do yourself a favor. Look up what a Harman shuffler is, what it does and for what reasons. Then compare it to "the showroom of a retailer that provides a listening room and [level matched?] switching between speakers"(objects).
Try to figure this out on your own.
When you can't, come back and ask questions. I'll be here to help you Scotty.


I know what it is and what it does and for what reasons. Do explain how it would change the fact that the "comparisons will be between those speakers in those positions interatcing in those rooms." I can't figure out on my own how the Harmon shuffler will change this. Please explain. Does the Harmon shuffler rebuild the speakers? Not that I can see. So it will still be "those speakers." Does the Harmon shuffler adjust the speakers for position? Not that I can see. so it will still be "in those positions." Does the shuffler simulate my listening room? Not that I can see. So those speakers will still be "interacting in those rooms." So go ahead and help me here AJ. How would a Harmon shuffler in the show room help a dealer change the reality that the comparisons will be "between those speakers in those positions interacting in those rooms.?"
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Woodinville on 2009-10-27 21:06:25
Any idea what type of audiophile condition must exist for one to purchase a VPI "brick" or Bybee "Pro filter"?


Toomuchus Moneyius?
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: rpp3po on 2009-10-28 01:27:39
It's neither the Hormone shuffler (I guess), but the Harman shuffler.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2009-10-28 12:48:19
Observer bias.
Everyone has that problem.
Even those who don't.

I read your post and found it to be quite biased. But I'm not sure if that is conscious or subconscious.

cheers,

AJ


Ambiguity
It deflects one's reasoning
So what did you mean?


I took it to be a joke of sorts.

I think there's actually a philosophical point somewhere in there.

If you say that everybody is biased (and of course you are right), might that statement be an example of your biases in action? ;-)
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: odigg on 2010-04-09 16:36:15
I'll just make one comment about online discussions.  I've found that online discussions on certain audio forums typically end up severely skewed towards a small subset of people with extreme beliefs.  I'm a somewhat active member on an "everything makes an audible difference" forum and my view on that forum is that the majority of members believe every piece of eqiupment makes a difference and you need to spend big bucks to get the "best."

Yet my experiences at various face-to-face meets with these very people is that many members are much more balanced in their views.  They do support cables, but they also admit placebo, the audio industry being full of snake oil and rip-off artists, and that a certain amount of stuff said on those forums to be total BS. 

I've never seen this balanced view on this particular forum I visit.  So using online forums as a baseline for answering your original question may give you a answer that is not representative of the larger population.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Axon on 2010-04-09 17:03:43
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I kinda wish JA were still around here. His existence is a pretty effective counterexample to this Manichean worldview about subjectivism/objectivism. He disagrees strongly with Beltists, and he believes in measurements enough to, well, still do them.

(Which reminds me, on a completely unrelated note, I need to send him a thing about a thing he posted about a thing that I posted.)

RBG.... I'm a little confused here. What... is the.... point of your post?
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2010-04-09 18:15:38
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I kinda wish JA were still around here.


He can be fun to play with for a while before he gets repetitive and tiring.

Quote
His existence is a pretty effective counterexample to this Manichean worldview about subjectivism/objectivism.


In reality, up front and personal, JA seems to be as Manichean (dualistic) as they come. Compare and contrast our opening comments at the HE 2005 debate.

Quote
He disagrees strongly with Beltists, and he believes in measurements enough to, well, still do them.


Many seem to loose track of the fact that the whole idea of audio measurements, from the start, has been as an analog for audible differences.

There is a profound dichotomy between JA and mainstream audio in that JA never ever relaxes his grip on the outcomes of biased listening tests. That means that his use of measurements is off in some other land where measurements have no relationship to actual audibility. To connect measurements with actual audibility you have to separate audibility from bias.


Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: John_Siau on 2010-04-09 18:25:45
Richard,

Thanks for the excellent post.  I definitely consider myself an objective audiophile.  Differences can be measured when they exist (provided we make the correct measurements with the required accuracy).  Likewise, differences can be detected in double-blind tests if they are large enough to create an audible difference.

Let me present my perspective as a designer of pro-audio and audiophile equipment:

I believe in ABX tests and use them on occasion when developing and testing products.  I rely much more heavily on measurements when designing products.  If I measure a defect and can cure the defect at little or no cost, I go ahead and fix the defect.  It is usually much easier (and therefore cheaper) to fix a measured defect than it is to determine whether or not it is audible.  I design with a wide safety margin to keep defects well below audibility whenever possible.  Often the difference in parts cost is only pennies.  If we were building millions of units, each penny would count.  We build thousands of units, and our development costs are a significant portion of our total costs.  The few pennies spent on better components, or extra ground plane layers on a circuit board are trivial.

As an objective audiophile, I have occasionally been surprised by the unexpected:

I decided to test speaker cables to show that the differences are insignificant.  I expected to demonstrate that 18-GA zip cord was indistinguishable from high-quality audiophile speaker cable or even the heavy-gauge cables used by the sound reinforcement industry.  I was shocked to discover that there were differences, and more shocked to discover that the zip cord performed better than most of the other cables!  Let me add that we do not sell speaker cables, nor do we have any plans to do so in the near future – I have nothing to gain or lose from this discussion. 

All of the speaker cables tested performed well when loaded with an 8-ohm resistor.  I substituted an 8-ohm JBL 4410A studio monitor, and the cables performed very differently.  The speakers do not present an 8-ohm load over the entire audio band.  The actual impedance varies from 1-Ohm to about 16-Ohms.  The impedance variations produced frequency response variations.  I then set up a demonstration that allowed us to listen to the error signal across the cable, played back through another JBL 4410A at the correct amplitude.  We could switch between long cable, and short cable, and cable error signal, and demonstrate audible differences with 100 foot lengths of cable, but no audible differences at 12 feet

One surprisingly poor cable was 10-GA SO cord.  The SO cord is the thick black neoprene jacketed cord (with many fine strands of copper) that is used for heavy duty AC power cords.  This cord is commonly used in long lengths (100 feet or more) for large commercial sound reinforcement systems.  This cord has lots of copper and had the lowest DC resistance, but surprisingly, it had the worst measured performance, and the most audible effect on the music played.  The reason for the poor performance is that the cable has far too much inductance, and far more inductance that the cheap 18-GA zip cord that we tested.  It turns out that the inductance of the speaker wire is much more of a factor than the DC resistance! 

The conductors must be closely spaced to achieve low inductance.  Telephone or Ethernet twisted-pair wire has very low inductance, but high DC resistance.  Multiple twisted-pairs wired in parallel can achieve near-perfect perfect performance at very long lengths.  25 pairs (in parallel) at 100 feet driving 8-ohms are astonishingly good.  10-GA SO cord at 100 feet is surprisingly bad.

Final thoughts:

I thought the claims about speaker wires were ridiculous, but it turns out that the differences were much larger than I expected.  I thought that the heavy-gauge wire would perform the best - it was actually the worst.  Like many things, expensive is not always better.

Moral of the speaker-cable story:

Test before claiming that differences don't exist.  Test before claiming that differences do exist.  Don't make claims without testing.  Don't waste money on claims that are not backed by good test data.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Chef on 2010-04-09 18:35:28
I think the saddest thing is what you touch on at the very end. Our (at least my) hobby is listening to music, not audio equipment. It's nice to know what the ideal bitrates are for various encoders, and what tests have been done to show that purchasing X will or will not have a difference in your listening experience, but if I cared that much about fidelity I would never use headphones. I'd go to concerts every time I wanted to listen to music. The fact is just that music usually gets it's message across without being perfectly reproduced.

I will not call myself an audiophile because of this Fantasy vs Objectivist types... I look for objective tests when I'm considering a purchase or a change in my encoding habits, but really I just really like music and listen to a lot of it every day.

EDIT: Wow, John_Siau, thanks for the very insightful post. Next time you do something like this, I hope you record your specific procedure and post it on the internet for curious people to enjoy  While I believe you, it would be hard to make a legitimate argument to someone by just showing them a random forum post ^^
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: John_Siau on 2010-04-09 18:43:28
I think the saddest thing is what you touch on at the very end. Our (at least my) hobby is listening to music, not audio equipment.


Great point!

My job is building tools for professional recording.  This puts my focus on testing and listening to the equipment and not the music.

I have to work very hard to ignore the equipment when I just want to enjoy the music.  I guess this is an occupational hazard.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Notat on 2010-04-09 18:46:23
I'll just make one comment about online discussions.  I've found that online discussions on certain audio forums typically end up severely skewed towards a small subset of people with extreme beliefs.

Electronic communications seem to bring out the worst in some people. I'm sure most of us have had the experience of getting things fubar'd through e-mail and then using the phone or in-person meeting to quickly untangle things.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Chef on 2010-04-09 18:48:37
I shed a tear for the brave men and women who test audio equipment so that I can enjoy transparent sound in ignorance.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: pdq on 2010-04-09 19:00:14
One surprisingly poor cable was 10-GA SO cord.  The SO cord is the thick black neoprene jacketed cord (with many fine strands of copper) that is used for heavy duty AC power cords.  This cord is commonly used in long lengths (100 feet or more) for large commercial sound reinforcement systems.  This cord has lots of copper and had the lowest DC resistance, but surprisingly, it had the worst measured performance, and the most audible effect on the music played.  The reason for the poor performance is that the cable has far too much inductance, and far more inductance that the cheap 18-GA zip cord that we tested.  It turns out that the inductance of the speaker wire is much more of a factor than the DC resistance!

Hmmm, that's interesting!

The inductance of the cable varies roughly as the log of the ratio of the distance between the conductors to their diameter. If the distance between the conductors in the heavy-duty wire is larger, you would expect that to be somewhat canceled by the larger diameter.

Did you actually measure the inductance and what values did you see?
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Notat on 2010-04-09 19:00:29
I then set up a demonstration that allowed us to listen to the error signal across the cable, played back through another JBL 4410A at the correct amplitude.  We could switch between long cable, and short cable, and cable error signal, and demonstrate audible differences with 100 foot lengths of cable, but no audible differences at 12 feet.

Listening to the difference signal is sort of cheating. It basically proves that there is a measurable difference between cables. I don't think this a surprise to anyone. (You already knew you were dealing with different impedances with the different cables.) It is a surprise that there was no difference "measured" with reasonable length (12 ft.) cables. Those lamp cords are even better than either of us thought

Listening to the difference doesn't say much if anything about whether these differences are audible or significant (e.g. just turn it up a little louder to compensate for higher DC resistance) in the context of program material. Did you do any testing listening to full program comparing one cable to another or comparing long cables to short cables?
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: pdq on 2010-04-09 19:14:31
Listening to the difference signal is sort of cheating. It basically proves that there is a measurable difference between cables. I don't think this a surprise to anyone. (You already knew you were dealing with different impedances with the different cables.) It is a surprise that there was no difference "measured" with reasonable length (12 ft.) cables. Those lamp cords are even better than either of us thought

I don't think that he actually said that there were no measured differences between 12 foot cables, only no audible differences.

I am also curious to know how the 100 foot cables were laid out. Were they laid out in a straight line (100 feet between the amp and speakers) or were they in some way coiled, which would vastly increase their inductance.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: John_Siau on 2010-04-09 19:31:53
It is a surprise that there was no difference "measured" with reasonable length (12 ft.) cables. Those lamp cords are even better than either of us thought

No audible differences at 12 feet.  The differences are definetly measureable at 12 feet.

Listening to the difference doesn't say much if anything about whether these differences are audible or significant (e.g. just turn it up a little louder to compensate for higher DC resistance) in the context of program material. Did you do any testing listening to full program comparing one cable to another or comparing long cables to short cables?


Yes the differences were noticeable on full program with 100 foot cables.  The diferences are frequency response dips and peaks.  The frequency response curve is the inverse of the impedance curve of the speakers.  In addition, roll-off increases with frequency due the the filter formed by the cable inductance and the impedance of the speaker.  The wide variations in speaker impedance near the crossover frequencies cause significant problems.

With a resistive load there is a high-frequency roll off due to the filter formed by the series inductance of the cable, and the resistive load.

The bulk of the differences were due to the inductance of the cable and not the DC resitance of the cable.  The 10-GA cable had the lowest DC resistance, but the most audible defects!
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: greynol on 2010-04-09 19:52:50
Because this discussion has resulted from a double-post, I am merging it with the one that took place six months ago.  To those interested in contributing, I urge you to read it from the beginning.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: John_Siau on 2010-04-09 20:26:11
The inductance of the cable varies roughly as the log of the ratio of the distance between the conductors to their diameter. If the distance between the conductors in the heavy-duty wire is larger, you would expect that to be somewhat canceled by the larger diameter.

Did you actually measure the inductance and what values did you see?



The separation distance of the conductors is measured center-to-center.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: pdq on 2010-04-09 20:57:11
The inductance of the cable varies roughly as the log of the ratio of the distance between the conductors to their diameter. If the distance between the conductors in the heavy-duty wire is larger, you would expect that to be somewhat canceled by the larger diameter.

Did you actually measure the inductance and what values did you see?



The separation distance of the conductors is measured center-to-center.

OK, so the ratio of the wire thicknesses is ~2.7. Are you saying that the ratio of the center-to-center distances is much greater than that? I don't know, since I have never seen the wire in question.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: John_Siau on 2010-04-09 21:47:10
Frequency reponse plots for speaker cables.

http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/speaker-cable-test.php (http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/speaker-cable-test.php)

Cable length = 100 ft.
Page 1 = no load
Page 2 = 8-ohm resistive load
Page 3 = 8-ohm resistive load, also shows phase response
page 4 = 8-ohm JBL 4410 3-way studio monitor as load

Comments:

12-GA SJTOOV cable had the highest attenuation at 20 kHz (2dB) (yellow curve).
Unfortunately I do not have the plots for 10-GA, but the 10-GA has more attenuation at 20 kHz than the 12-GA.

The zip cord (green trace) has much less attenuation due to inductance, but does show significant DC losses.

The DC resistance of the cable and impedance variations in the speakers cause the dips in the frequency response seen on page 4.

The inductance of the cable causes the high-frequency roll-off seen on all pages.

The high-frequency performance of the zip cord is superior to the heavy-gauge cable (due to lower inductance), but the resistive losses of the zip cord create some issues at speaker crosover frequencies.


The high-frequency attenuation problem gets worse in a 4-ohm or 2-ohm sound reinforcement system - especially when the cable lengths exceed 100 feet and the wire gauge is increased.

A cable made from 24-pairs of 24-GA twisted pair outperforms all of the other solutions tested (magenta curve).

Please note that in at least one of my prior posts I stated that inductance was more of an issue than DC resistance.  Let me correct that by saying that cable inductance is primarily an issue for high frequencies.  DC resistance can cause dips in the frequency response (as shown in the graphs).  These tests are from 2005, so it has been a while since I have looked at them.

These frequency respone dips have significant implications for the need for a low output impedance (high damping factor) on a power amplifier.  These cables have a much lower impedance than the output of most power amplifiers.



Cables are not a problem in a home audio system where cables are short.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Light-Fire on 2010-04-10 00:11:03
I think there are 3 types of Fantasy Audiophiles:

1) Misinformed FA: The one that doesn't know much about electronics, electricity, or things like double blind tests. But as soon as he/she acquires knowledge, he/she may have a change of opinion.

2) Delusional FA: Delusional FAs know, in the back of their minds, that they are buying snake oil hardware/software/media. But they still do it because of psychological problems. They "want to believe" in snake oil audio.

3) Dishonest FA: Those are the magazine publishers and equipment manufacturers that know they are selling snake oil but still do it for the money.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: andy_c on 2010-04-10 00:12:14
These frequency respone dips have significant implications for the need for a low output impedance (high damping factor) on a power amplifier.  These cables have a much lower impedance than the output of most power amplifiers.


I think you meant to say "These cables have a much higher impedance than the output of most power amplifiers".  For 24 gauge wire, the resistance is 0.0302 Ohms/ft.  You have 100 ft length for the cable, so it's 200 ft total of single-conductor wire.  That gives 6 Ohms total series resistance.  This is much higher than the output impedance of tube amps, let alone solid state.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2010-04-10 00:35:13
One surprisingly poor cable was 10-GA SO cord.  The SO cord is the thick black neoprene jacketed cord (with many fine strands of copper) that is used for heavy duty AC power cords.  This cord is commonly used in long lengths (100 feet or more) for large commercial sound reinforcement systems.  This cord has lots of copper and had the lowest DC resistance, but surprisingly, it had the worst measured performance, and the most audible effect on the music played.  The reason for the poor performance is that the cable has far too much inductance, and far more inductance that the cheap 18-GA zip cord that we tested.  It turns out that the inductance of the speaker wire is much more of a factor than the DC resistance!

Hmmm, that's interesting!

The inductance of the cable varies roughly as the log of the ratio of the distance between the conductors to their diameter. If the distance between the conductors in the heavy-duty wire is larger, you would expect that to be somewhat canceled by the larger diameter.

Did you actually measure the inductance and what values did you see?


The series parameters for 10 gauge 2-conductor wire in this configuraiton (loose twisting) are around  0.17 uH, 1.7 milliohms, and 17 pF per foot.

The effective series impedance due to the inductance @ 20 KHz is about 0.02 ohms per foot. At the 100 foot length, the 2 ohm series impedance due to the cable could be audible.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Stereoeditor on 2010-04-10 01:49:23
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I kinda wish JA were still around here. His existence is a pretty effective counterexample to this Manichean worldview about subjectivism/objectivism. He disagrees strongly with Beltists, and he believes in measurements enough to, well, still do them.


I'm still around.
 
John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Notat on 2010-04-10 01:53:33
Frequency reponse plots for speaker cables.

http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/speaker-cable-test.php (http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/speaker-cable-test.php)

Solid work. Thanks for sharing. What is going on with the two sets of plots on each of the last two slides? The sets are labeled left and right but they're quite different.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: pdq on 2010-04-11 15:22:39
The series parameters for 10 gauge 2-conductor wire in this configuraiton (loose twisting) are around  0.17 uH, 1.7 milliohms, and 17 pF per foot.

The effective series impedance due to the inductance @ 20 KHz is about 0.02 ohms per foot. At the 100 foot length, the 2 ohm series impedance due to the cable could be audible.

OK, so that would make the characteristic impedance of this cable 100 ohms (square root of L/C). Not surprising since cables consisting of two parallel wires are usually close to this impedance.

It also explains why 24 cables in parallel would work so well. Their combined characteristic impedance is on the order of four ohms, so it is not even inductive into an 8 ohm load, it is capacitive.

What I am asking is why would zip cord have a characteristic impedance significantly less than 100 ohms? I'm not saying that it is not possible, just surprising.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: andy_c on 2010-04-11 15:32:04
What I am asking is why would zip cord have a characteristic impedance significantly less than 100 ohms? I'm not saying that it is not possible, just surprising.


Audioholics have taken some R, L and C measurements of various cables, including zip cord.  I haven't calculated the characteristic impedance of these though.  The data can be found here (http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/cables/speaker-cable-face-off-1/) and here (http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/cables/speaker-cable-reviews-faceoff-2).
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Axon on 2010-04-11 21:01:53
So, yeah, I completely forgot about RBG's first post (and my response to it), but... why is he not responding? If I didn't know any better, I'd wonder if he was trolling.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: greynol on 2010-04-11 21:22:19
I don't know if he'll be coming back anytime soon.

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=60079 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=60079)

As members aren't allowed to discuss their warning status in public, I think it is also fair that they're entitled to privacy about their status on this forum.  I do not intend to breach anyone's privacy and hope my post isn't seen this way.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Axon on 2010-04-11 21:32:55
eheh eheh eheh heh heh heh heh
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2010-04-12 12:08:48
The series parameters for 10 gauge 2-conductor wire in this configuraiton (loose twisting) are around  0.17 uH, 1.7 milliohms, and 17 pF per foot.

The effective series impedance due to the inductance @ 20 KHz is about 0.02 ohms per foot. At the 100 foot length, the 2 ohm series impedance due to the cable could be audible.

OK, so that would make the characteristic impedance of this cable 100 ohms (square root of L/C). Not surprising since cables consisting of two parallel wires are usually close to this impedance.

It also explains why 24 cables in parallel would work so well. Their combined characteristic impedance is on the order of four ohms, so it is not even inductive into an 8 ohm load, it is capacitive.


If you are thinking about speaker cables 100' or more long, you need to explain why you don't just put the power amp(s) far closer to the load.

Quote
What I am asking is why would zip cord have a characteristic impedance significantly less than 100 ohms? I'm not saying that it is not possible, just surprising.


Got a specific example in mind?

Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Notat on 2010-04-12 15:36:42
Characteristic impedance is a transmission line concept. Transmission line theory is applicable when the length of the transmission line is on the order of a wavelength or more. The wavelength of 20 kHz audio in copper cables is over 5 miles.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: odigg on 2010-04-12 16:09:22
Electronic communications seem to bring out the worst in some people. I'm sure most of us have had the experience of getting things fubar'd through e-mail and then using the phone or in-person meeting to quickly untangle things.


I wish it just boiled down to that.  There are a group of people who actively make it a point to have a point of view and a) argue in support of their point of view to death and b) use every dirty trick to do so.  There are a number of people like this on many "audiophile" forums and they just make sure to inject themselves into any discussion that even insinuates the idea of "snake oil," and "not worth it" and "objective testing and measurements."

You stand to lose all your credibility on a forum and a great deal of time if you choose to argue with these people.  So the more moderate people stand on the sidelines and don't do much more than make a comment (e.g. I tried a few cables and honestly I couldn't hear a difference with my equipment) that is not  provocative or result in a personal attack.  Note the excessive use of the subjective (I, my) in the example I gave above.

Unfortunately this means the moderate majority is drowned out by a smaller set of extremists.  So when newcomers visit these sites they (wrongfully) assume that all the BS stated in audiophile land is true and supported by the majority.  Of course many of these people become moderates when they actually buy all this eqiupment and their experiences do not match the extreme views.

My point to the OP is this.  Don't assume the fantasy audiophiles are the majority just because of how online forums seems to be skewed to support them.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Gag Halfrunt on 2010-04-12 16:39:15
Unfortunately this means the moderate majority is drowned out by a smaller set of extremists.  So when newcomers visit these sites they (wrongfully) assume that all the BS stated in audiophile land is true and supported by the majority.  Of course many of these people become moderates when they actually buy all this eqiupment and their experiences do not match the extreme views.

My point to the OP is this.  Don't assume the fantasy audiophiles are the majority just because of how online forums seems to be skewed to support them.


I think this neatly sums up the situation.

Except that I think the significant downturn in the specialty audio world has made audio companies more willing to accept the unthinkable in order to keep in business. The fantasy audiophiles - for all their madness and over-the-top opinions about minutiae - do buy stuff. They buy completely crazy stuff, but they buy stuff nonetheless. It's like the drug store owner who hates the idea of stocking homeopathic remedies and other such nonsense, but also knows that without them, he might struggle to survive.

I imagine the same thing happens in the magazines. If the fantasy brigade form the bulk regular buyers of the magazines, and one of the magazines broke cover and said something contentious/honest, it wouldn't just lose advertising; the readers would go away too. Under those circumstances, we are about as likely to see an honest assessment of these products as we are likely to see a 'did you know these things cause mouth cancer?' feature in Cigar Aficionado.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: pdq on 2010-04-12 16:56:18
Characteristic impedance is a transmission line concept. Transmission line theory is applicable when the length of the transmission line is on the order of a wavelength or more. The wavelength of 20 kHz audio in copper cables is over 5 miles.

Characteristic impedance in this context merely refers to whether the cable present an inductive or capacitive load. Over 8 ohms (or whatever the speaker's impedance) and it presents an inductive load, less and the load is capacitive. Inductive means high-frequency rolloff due to the cable, while capacitive means possible instability in the amplifier's output.

Conventional cable construction, with two round, insulated conductors spaced fairly closely, will always be greater than 8 ohms so always inductive. If you replace the round conductors with flat, ribbon conductors then you can make the impedance much lower, but only if you make the spacing between the conductors much smaller than their width.

At least one manufacturer has made the mistake of lowering the cable's impedance too much, requiring additional components to provide stability, while another has gone the complete oposite direction, spacing the conductors so far apart that their inductance is actually much worse than with round conductors.

BTW, the effect of a transmission line becomes very significant at only one quarter wavelength.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: odigg on 2010-04-12 18:28:35
Except that I think the significant downturn in the specialty audio world has made audio companies more willing to accept the unthinkable in order to keep in business. The fantasy audiophiles - for all their madness and over-the-top opinions about minutiae - do buy stuff. They buy completely crazy stuff, but they buy stuff nonetheless. It's like the drug store owner who hates the idea of stocking homeopathic remedies and other such nonsense, but also knows that without them, he might struggle to survive.


There are definitely some people who believe that all audio products are made for some reason other than profit.  I don't know what to think of such an attitude as it's incredibly naive considering almost every market sector (even undergarments) has items that are basically snake oil.

But yes, enough people are buying this stuff.  If there was no market for them nobody would make them.  And I 100% agree with you that since the entry cost for "Hi-Fi" audio has become so low, the high-end has little choice but to make increasingly extravagant claims.  I guess it's easier now that there is probably a factory or company in China or India where a small business could run to to manufacturer their snake oil products at minimal cost.

It would be nice to see some sales statistics from a major "audiophile" eqiupment seller or from the manufacturer themselves.  Are people really buying that $2K+ CD demagnetizer?  I have a catalog from a major online store and some of the stuff they sell is just ridiculous.  What is the sales volume?  Does the catalog contain these items because people buy them or just so the store can demonstrate how "High End" they are and woo people into the $200 CD demagnetizer?

All I need is a good set of yearly sales data...
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2010-04-13 11:42:56
A cable made from 24-pairs of 24-GA twisted pair outperforms all of the other solutions tested (magenta curve).
I'm really confused. I recalled a thread where Cat5 cable was shown to be quite bad. After a lot of searching, I found it here...

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=148461 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=14082&view=findpost&p=148461)

So what's the truth? What exactly does make decent speaker cable for long runs? Is Cat5 good or bad? How many twisted pairs in parallel? Braided or not?

What (if anything) matters for short runs? e.g. less than 0.1dB deviation 0-20kHz for "difficult" speakers?

Cheers,
David.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2010-04-13 12:32:51
A cable made from 24-pairs of 24-GA twisted pair outperforms all of the other solutions tested (magenta curve).
I'm really confused. I recalled a thread where Cat5 cable was shown to be quite bad. After a lot of searching, I found it here...

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=148461 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?s=&showtopic=14082&view=findpost&p=148461)




As I read that thread, the listener obtained null results, which is what one expects in general in a comparison of two OK speaker cables.

Quote
So what's the truth? What exactly does make decent speaker cable for long runs? Is Cat5 good or bad? How many twisted pairs in parallel? Braided or not?


Speaker cable is all about primarily low resistance, and secondarily about low inductance. If you parallel enough CAT 5 strands, you can get low resistance. Basically CAT 5 is 24 gauge, so if you parallel 2 pair, you get a pair that is the equivalent of 21 gauge, and if you parallel 4 pair, you get the equivalent of 18 gauge pair.  Parallel 8 pair, and now you are down 15 gauge, and parallel 16 pair and you are at 12 gauge.  Their are 4 pair per cable. 

The desired equivalent wire gauge depends on length.

As others have pointed out, getting the centers of the conductors close together reduces series inductance (by increasing mutual inductance).  So 12 gauge equivalent made up of paralleled CAT 5 will generally have much lower series inductance compared to equal copper per foot in the form of lamp cord.

4 pieces of CAT 5 cable, outer wrap removed, and all 16 pairs twisted together gives you DC R equivalent to 12 gauge, but much lower series inductance.  I've made up 8 foot speaker cables like this, and measured their resistance and inductance. They perform as expected.

The importance of series inductance varies with the individual speaker. Since most speakers have impeddance curves that rise at high frequencies, inductance may not be much of a problem.

Quote
What (if anything) matters for short runs? e.g. less than 0.1dB deviation 0-20kHz for "difficult" speakers?


Certainly +/- 0.1 dB is very good and generally undetectable, but +/- 0.2 dB will be very hard to detect, indeed.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2010-04-13 13:45:48
Certainly +/- 0.1 dB is very good and generally undetectable, but +/- 0.2 dB will be very hard to detect, indeed.
Certainly. I meant, for the run in my living room (4m at most) or to the next room (10m at most), what, if anything, does the cable need to be to hit this performance.

(Which will, of course, be far better performance than any speakers are going to manage!)

Cheers,
David.

Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: pdq on 2010-04-13 14:46:05
One surprisingly poor cable was 10-GA SO cord.  The SO cord is the thick black neoprene jacketed cord (with many fine strands of copper) that is used for heavy duty AC power cords.  This cord is commonly used in long lengths (100 feet or more) for large commercial sound reinforcement systems.  This cord has lots of copper and had the lowest DC resistance, but surprisingly, it had the worst measured performance, and the most audible effect on the music played.  The reason for the poor performance is that the cable has far too much inductance, and far more inductance that the cheap 18-GA zip cord that we tested.  It turns out that the inductance of the speaker wire is much more of a factor than the DC resistance!

Hmmm, that's interesting!

The inductance of the cable varies roughly as the log of the ratio of the distance between the conductors to their diameter. If the distance between the conductors in the heavy-duty wire is larger, you would expect that to be somewhat canceled by the larger diameter.

Did you actually measure the inductance and what values did you see?

Ok, I think I have it figured out.

The problem is that I was treating the DC resistance and inductive impedance as separate things, when in fact you have to look at the complex impedance, which is the square root of the sum of the squares of them.

The bottom line is that the 18 gauge wire may have similar inductance as the 10 gauge wire, but because of its higher DC resistance the R value dominates at 20 kHz and the effect of inductance is much less.

Someone please correct me if this analysis is totally off base, but the conclusion is that wire with very low DC resistance may in fact be undesirable! 
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: pdq on 2010-04-13 15:19:32
Certainly +/- 0.1 dB is very good and generally undetectable, but +/- 0.2 dB will be very hard to detect, indeed.
Certainly. I meant, for the run in my living room (4m at most) or to the next room (10m at most), what, if anything, does the cable need to be to hit this performance.

(Which will, of course, be far better performance than any speakers are going to manage!)

Cheers,
David.

Well let's see.

Looking first at the effect of DC resistance, 0.1 dB is a difference of 2.4%. If the speaker is 8 ohms and its impedance varies by 50% with frequency (this is a guess) then the maximum allowed DC resistance of the cable would be 8 * 2.4 / 50 = 0.38 ohms.

For a 4m cable this would require 14 gauge (0.33 ohms). For a 10 meter cable you would need 10 gauge (also 0.33 ohms). If your speaker's impedance varies less that 50% then you could get away with a higher gauge.

The above ignores the effect of inductance, which I will look at when I have time, but I predict that its effect will be negligible for the 4m cable.

Edit: Drat! I forgot that the resistance of the cable is twice the resistance of a single conductor. The above gauges would give more like 0.2 dB.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2010-04-14 15:03:23
Certainly +/- 0.1 dB is very good and generally undetectable, but +/- 0.2 dB will be very hard to detect, indeed.
Certainly. I meant, for the run in my living room (4m at most) or to the next room (10m at most), what, if anything, does the cable need to be to hit this performance.


The RLC requirements for a sonically transparent speaker cable depend on the loudspeaker's impedance curve.  Usually, 12 gauge zip cord is more than sufficient.


Quote
(Which will, of course, be far better performance than any speakers are going to manage!)


Agreed. Just because your speaker cable is sonically transparent does not of course mean that the speakers themselves are transparent. 

The real point is showing that commodity speaker cables can overkill any reasaonble requirements that someone might come up with, particularly in a home audio environment.

In a live sound context, it is not too hard to come up with a requirement for 10-30 meter speaker cables.  In a home audio context, 2-8 meters should be about it.
Title: Fantasy Audiophiles vs. Objective Audiophiles: Has the hobby changed?
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2010-04-14 15:10:31
Looking first at the effect of DC resistance, 0.1 dB is a difference of 2.4%.


You're thinking power. In this case we need to be thinking voltage.  For voltage, 2.4% is 0.211 dB


Quote
If the speaker is 8 ohms and its impedance varies by 50% with frequency (this is a guess) then the maximum allowed DC resistance of the cable would be 8 * 2.4 / 50 = 0.38 ohms.


Speakers often have 10x plus  variations in impedance within the audio band.  However, its not the peaks that you worry about, its the valleys.  We're thinking about a voltage divider composed of the speaker cable in series, and the minimum impedance of the speaker as the shunt.

Audibility wise, the dip in response just above resonance (ca. 100-200 Hz) , and the dip just above the midrange crossover frequency (ca. 2 KHz-6 KHz), are the usual bad boys.  They are at frequencies where the ear is reasonbly sensitive, and they are usually the lowest dips or among the lowest dips.
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