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Scams in "audio"?

Hello...

What can you say about the scams you know in audio? (software, hardware, sources, etc.)
What to be aware of?

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #1
Where.To.Start ... There's a hell of a lot. (And even more if you count willful self-deceit.)

Anything in particular you want to be warned against spending money on?
High Voltage socket-nose-avatar

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #2
Hi @porcus... Not particular, but I want to learn as much as I can about subject.

For example, in loudspeakers; "Focal Grande Utopia EM", it has the "186.000,00 Euro" selling price in my country:

https://www.canhifi.com/hoparlorler/tower-hoparlorler/focal-grande-utopia-em-1.126.56.746.aspx?skuId=1763

Isn't this a "scam" ? How a loudspeaker can be as expensive as 186.000,00 Euro?
Can you get the quality "what you pay" for this unit? I don't think so.


Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #3
And I was thinking that the B&W Nautilus where absurdly expensive, but at least them can also be counted as an sculpture.

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #4
Focal calls this a "Sculpture" as well. I am frankly not sure if they were intended to be sold, or as a marketing stunt.
High Voltage socket-nose-avatar

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #5
Like Porcus says, where to start?

Very expensive cables - mostly speaker wire, mains leads & interconnects but not only those. Magic rocks, wooden volume knobs and cable elevators and a whole host of related items that "transform" the sound quality, allegedly. Mechanical isolating mounts for anything other than speakers and turntables.

Are we talking only about outright scams or are we including common myths held in "high end" circles? There's probably more of those than can be fitted into one post!

If you want to avoid wasting money, the general question to ask is: is the product supported by scientific evidence that there is an audible improvement? That rules out almost all magazine reviews and anything backed up only by "testimonials" or "satisfied customer reviews". If there's a genuine improvement (audibly) then there can be science to support it. The absence of such science is highly suspicious.

One of the biggest problems in audio is that everything in the audio chain actually does make a difference. Unfortunately a great deal of the effects are either not audible or not actually an improvement - but that doesn't stop claims being made.

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #6
@antz, what are the common myths in term "high end" ? Thank you...

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #7
MQA
Is troll-adiposity coming from feederism?
With 24bit music you can listen to silence much louder!

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #8
@antz, what are the common myths in term "high end" ? Thank you...
Again, where to start? I'll try a few but I'll probably miss many more!

(1) The most obvious: more expensive is always better. Sometimes it's true, sometimes it's just a way to convince you you need to pay more.

(2) Capacitors have a "sound" and you need audiophile-grade comonents - very rarely is that true.

(3) Valves (tubes) are more linear. That one is false, without exception.

(4) Even-harmonic distortion is more musical. That one ignores the fact that even harmonic distortion is never unaccompanied by other distortions that are not musical.

(5) Sinewaves aren't a reliable test because they're too simple. If that were true, why is it so extraordinarily difficult to produce a pure sinewave?

(6) Science doesn't know all aspects of audio, there are things science can't measure that affect sound. Science, maybe, doesn't know all there is to know but it knows more than enough.

(7) Analogue is better than digital because it has infinite resolution. Not true because nothing has infinite resolution. In addition, digital can (and usually does in reality) have resolution that exceeds analogue (i.e. vinyl, tape decks etc).

(8) Digital is harsh because of the stair-step output. Wrong. There's a related one of higher sampling rates and greater bit depth are better. Only true once a threshhold has been met, which it rarely isn't.

(9) You need to spend a certain percentage (say 15%) of your budget on speaker cables. Anything over a few $ per foot/meter is almost certainly a scam, percentage is irrelevant.

That'll do for now! I'm sure other people can fill in some of the (many) gaps!

EDIT: no 8 above is translated to an emoticon and I can't seem to stop it!
MOD EDIT: Changed 8 to tt

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #9
When it comes to cables and connectors, there's an entire plethora of audiophoolery going on.

Frequencies used in audio are comparatively low comparing with thing used in data transmission, signals used in RF or even radio or television. Yet, some manufacturers push a superior "signal clarity".

  • Outlandish materials for connectors and insulators, promising superior signal propagation or superior immunity against outside interference
  • Outlandish production techniques promising similar things.

Probably the simplest cables used in audio, is speaker wire. All Speaker wire is, is just just a wire with a relatively large cross section so it has a low specific resistance. When it comes to outlandish production techniques, it often includes dipping the product into "secret solutions" to improve cable or connector features, etc. or letting it "cure" in some sort of "secret atmosphere" or "secret environment" for some time.

When it comes to materials, it's often used to appeal both to the eye and to the idea of better sound: bamboo or other woods in headphones, speakers, or even connectors to make the sound "more natural", etc. Similar things apply to cable insulation made of cotton, hemp, or some other "secret" material mix.

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #10
Actually, Levent, just try searching online for "myths in audio". In particular, read the pages from Rod Elliot (Elliot Sound Products) and Ethan Winner, both of whom seem to have their heads based firmly in reality. Just to add I have no connection to either of those people.

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #11
Quote
Actually, Levent, just try searching online for "myths in audio"...

Thank you @antz, this is helpful for me. I just began to read first link (15 Popular Audio Myths | - Sound On Sound) in Google.

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #12
I found a very interesting scam: 485$ "audiophile-knob".



Rod Elliott says, "Needless to say, changing a knob from plastic or metal to wood will make absolutely no difference to the sound, but that obviously didn't disturb the criminals selling and promoting it.", and I agree with Rod.

http://sound.whsites.net/articles/myths.html


 

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #14
I forgot a major myth - burn-in. All components improve after a time of use (usually believed to be days/weeks). In some electromechanical items (microphones, speakers, cartridges) that can be partly true although audibility is questionable. In electronic components, whether active or passive, it's completely untrue.

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #15
(8) Digital is harsh because of the stair-step output. Wrong.
There is no such thing as "stair-step" output. For me, this is the first sign that I am dealing with someone who does not understand how digital audio works.

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #16
What about over-emphasizing the effects of the DAC, especially the "HD" ones. Seeing it a lot on consumer products like phones, and even now that USB-C audio is going mainstream, USB-C adapter audiophoolery is making the rounds.


Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #18
(8) Digital is harsh because of the stair-step output. Wrong.
There is no such thing as "stair-step" output. For me, this is the first sign that I am dealing with someone who does not understand how digital audio works.

Those "steps" are ultrasound content which - in a very basic DAC without oversampling - is filtered away in the analog domain, so the misunderstanding is actually somewhere else.

Even if the original signal were the staircase, CD (ADC/DSP/mastering/pressing/playback process) would lose it. Ask the audiophools what a sufficiently high-resolution analog tape would do.
High Voltage socket-nose-avatar

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #19
One misguided idea caused by misunderstanding:

the idea that a sharp FIR filter causes some kind of ringing.  The Gibbs effect is not 'ringing', but instead is a left over residual of missing higher frequency components.  On the other hand, the Gibbs effect can cause clipping, but using square waves (and other complex, composite signals) so close to clipping is working close (probably too close) to the edge.  No ringing is added to a signal just because of a sharp rolloff -- sometimes a sharp rolloff is just a sharp rolloff.

Also, the idea of pre-ringing associated with linear vs. minimum phase digital filtering...  There can be a difference in sound between a linear phase vs. minimum phase filter -- but would be because of timing of the various frequency components.  There is no real pre-ringing -- but the residual signal (Gibbs) can be moved around relative to the rest of the composite signal.  Other signal components vs. frequency can also be moved around in time.  With a very long, non-linear-phase FIR filter, the amount of time between frequency components can be signficant -- but it is a time of arrival issue, not ringing.  As long as a filter is FIR there isn't likely to be actual 'ringing.'  I guess an FIR filter might be able to be crafted to create something that might look like ringing temporarily, but a normally designed FIR filter?  Naw...

Ringing in normal analog (and even IIR) filters DOES exist however.  That ringing is not just Gibbs effect.  It usually takes a recursive digital filters or analog filter at/above a 2 pole filter to regenerate or ring -- high Qs even for (order >= 2)  low pass filters will cause an actual peak in the frequency response, and with infinite Q -- will ring forever. (for 2nd order, the laplace domain denominator 's^2 + w/q + w^2), since that is a denominator, and 's' would be jw in the case of sine waves, the denominator can become zero at frequency 'w/(2*pi)'.  If the denominator is zero, then the oscllation will go on forever (instead of a long time) until something else in the circuit starts limiting the regeneration.  THAT is where there is ringing -- with high Q values -- which means more and more regeneration until Q=0 which means keep ringing--if not grow.  Similar things can happen in digital IIR filters.




Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #20
Those "steps" are ultrasound content which - in a very basic DAC without oversampling - is filtered away in the analog domain, so the misunderstanding is actually somewhere else.
I'm not saying you're wrong, but most times when I hear someone criticizing digital due to "stair steps" they point to the jagged edges and claim that can't possibly be accurate to the original smooth analog wave.  I even see this among digiphiles when they put forth their argument for why "hi-res" sounds better than redbook: finer stair steps better approximate the original analog signal.  Manufacturers like Sony use this illustration to promote their hi-res hardware.

This interpretation is a complete misunderstanding of digital audio.  At no point does a DAC output "stair steps".  Those sample points are used by the DAC to recreate the original analog wave.  At any given frequency we can hear, it doesn't matter whether we have samples arriving every 1/44100 of a second or every 1/352800 of a second; they will both define the exact same musical waveform.

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #21
most times when I hear someone criticizing digital due to "stair steps" they point to the jagged edges and claim that can't possibly be accurate to the original smooth analog wave.
They are "not even wrong" - the argument is so bad that even if it were correct, it would be a fallacy. Their so-called "analog" output curve is what you get after applying a low-pass filter.

So if we were to take it serious: Get that filter, which is in the DAC of a basic CD player, but not in a vinyl pickup. That is, play CDs, if they want the output signal that they are touting. 
Which does not matter, their ears will do the low-pass.

I even see this among digiphiles when they put forth their argument for why "hi-res" sounds better than redbook: finer stair steps better approximate the original analog signal.
?
It is certainly true that higher resolution makes for better approximation - except when the original signal has absolutely no frequencies in between CD and hi-rez. Only, we are already at where the improvement is undetectable by human ears.

Those sample points are used by the DAC to recreate the original analog wave.
Only the part of it that is up to fs/2, of course - which is not the "original analog wave". But what is it? It is that smooth output curve that they claim they will get from analog.
High Voltage socket-nose-avatar

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #22
You guys reminded me of another fallacy about the stair steps -- that there is a 'resolution' of the audio.  That is, little signals below the stair step are somehow obliterated or destroyed...  Common sense says that is true, but this stuff isnt' always common sense.  The output lpf or other filtering takes care of that problem on a dithered signal.  (Gotta be careful about nonlinearities in the system, but the general story is true.)  If the resolution issue was all that much of a 'killer', then cell systems couldn't get by with a 12 or 14bit A/D to deal with between below 1microvolt to a big part of a volt...  How can that be true? :-).  Answer: resolution lossage is mitigated by dithering, filtering (if resolving to analog), and/or other kinds of selection of the data.  The dithering & other processing mitigates the effect of the resolution -- dithering mostly just adds the 'background hiss' which 'kind of' makes the resolution a game of statistics (signal recovered by appropriate filtering.)

I'd suspect that most audio people realize that dithering doesn't work AFTER the A/D process -- the dither has to be done before the A/D -- because if the dither is done afterwards, then the higher resolution IS lost (well, if the signal has the correct random noise in it, then dithering isn't theoretically necessary.)  The higher resolution is not completely lost if done before A/D.  (Note that I did use a bit of a conditional statement -- it is more complicated than an unconditional claim.)

John

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #23
You guys reminded me of another fallacy about the stair steps -- that there is a 'resolution' of the audio.
[...]
I'd suspect that most audio people realize that dithering doesn't work AFTER the A/D process -- the dither has to be done before the A/D -- because if the dither is done afterwards, then the higher resolution IS lost (well, if the signal has the correct random noise in it, then dithering isn't theoretically necessary.)

Good point - so when will the evanalogelists get up to the level of "if digital is so great, how come that you improve it by adding ANALOG NOISE?!"

Although I guess that the dithering that is closest to us, is not in the analog domain, but in the "D/D" conversion to end-user format.
High Voltage socket-nose-avatar

Re: Scams in "audio"?

Reply #24
I don't know what's the "magic" in analog, but I really feel some warmness/improvement when I use this type of vst plugins in foobar. (CD Sound Master Vintage Tape Machine, Fabfilter Saturn, and also Wave Arts Tube Saturator [but this vst always crashes foobar, and it's a very CPU hungry plugin; so unhappily I can't use it]).

Therefore I wanted to buy a real tube buffer hardware instead of software plugins - it was iFi Audio micro iTube 2, and I also sent a topic about this unit to hydrogenaudio forums today.

But as I don't have the facilty to test the unit, I'm not able to know if this unit sounds warmer/better than the software plugins or not. Buy or don't buy: I don't know what to do...


 
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