James Randi’s attack on high performance audio - Page 4 - AVS Forum
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post #91 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 04:25 PM
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OK, i want to get a few points in before this is shut down...

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The cable debate is very much like the debate that surrounds religion as their faith in a lot of cases is as strong and as blinded. So there is little hope that you can debate it and reach any sort of agreement except to agree to disagree.

Unfortunately, like religious debates, people easily take offense even when it’s not intended.

I think you are wrong. I have seen and been party to such debates and as long as the people on both sides are knowledgable and have respect for the other side. THey can be very interesting debates. However the key is respect to both sides.

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Silver cable sounds different than copper...can we agree on that?

This would be a second on the NO.

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Dizzman, Mike G and other I believe would say that it still doesn't matter and go on to claim odds by which Mike could have guessed the right choices, but when you use odds to prove something in one direction the same odds can be used in the opposite direction.

I would be very intrigued as to what is actually going on in the case of a result that was statistically significant. I would not sit here and try to nullify the test as i can make a pretty good guess that the test would have sufficient controls as to take bias and other perceptions out of the mix.

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I do know from organizing Live music events that some microphone cabling will have interference and must be replaced.

And??? in any discussion there is plenty of room for cables that are not made well, or have issues in one environment or another. in that case, your shielding was either not sufficient, or the connectors were not made correctly or the cable was damaged. I did live events for years, every gig had a few cables that had to be sacrificed to the big soldering iron in the sky.

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1. Break in period
2. Differences with Cryo-treated, sugar coated , or sent to the moon and back (mmmm... sugar coated)
3. Need time to settle into a particular system
4. different connector matertial (titanium gold etc..)will result in a better connection
5. better power plugs (ex: hubbel) will result in better overall performance

Well, not really part of this discussion but i would say the same, can anybody either give some explanation in our physical universe as to why they might work, (not even asking if they are audible, but just what they might be doing) and point to some kind of... any kind of test where some controls are in place to show that they do what they say.

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What I want to see is someone take a 100' or 1000' length of cable vs a 1' length of cable and see if someone can tell the the difference. Then do 50'. Then 25', etc. At some point in length, all cables will make a difference. Where is it?

This would be a neat test. find a decent system, leave one speaker normal, then ABX in different cabe lengths to the other side. no need to go to 1000', maybe to 50' of course this would have to use somewhat normal cables as the costs would be just a little outrageous.


One thing that "we" are always told is to just listen and stop measuring. i would say we do. When i see the cagle gauge arguments i kind of laugh, assumptions that a cable must be "whatever" in diameter to work porperly are always funny. assumptions are made without just listening. Most of us say, if you have 12 gauge, then you are fine for just about anything (provided quality materials and quality construction) and others will in many cases claim you have to have this that or the other to get the kind of response that is needed.

THe thing that some of us here are asking for is just some sort of something that gives a REAL reason why these things are better.

And if i ever find myself in cascadia, i will be making an attempt to get in to listen to mr. Lavignes system, because no matter what i believe in the world of cables and tweaks, i love music.

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post #92 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 04:42 PM
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As far as sensitivity and test gear goes, test gear has he ability to measuure orders of magnitude more sensitivity than even the best ear can hope for.

HOWEVER, a machine cannot tell us what it is hearing.

So the point is that IF cable were to CHANGE the sound, we could measure a Change. not if it is better or worse or anything like that. Just if it changed.

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post #93 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 04:43 PM
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Wouldn't it be interesting to find out if there are really shades of gray or if they're illusory?

"I've found that when you want to know the truth about someone that someone is probably the last person you should ask." - Gregory House
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post #94 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Grant View Post

OK, joeycalda was hoping his Silver/Copper idea could be a point of agreement for us. Well, no dice. But in the spirit of unity let us rally around one cable-related issue I think we can all agree on: HDMI sucks!

That was a really badly written piece with a clear lack of understanding about the standards and what was important.

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post #95 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 04:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dizzman View Post

As far as sensitivity and test gear goes, test gear has he ability to measuure orders of magnitude more sensitivity than even the best ear can hope for.

HOWEVER, a machine cannot tell us what it is hearing.

So the point is that IF cable were to CHANGE the sound, we could measure a Change. not if it is better or worse or anything like that. Just if it changed.

The caveat being that we need to know what to measure. The only plausable explaination for some of these claims is that we are not measuring the right things, not that we can't measure them. Yet, I remain skeptical.
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post #96 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 04:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dizzman View Post

HOWEVER, a machine cannot tell us what it is hearing.

Yet!!!

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post #97 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 05:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dizzman View Post

As far as sensitivity and test gear goes, test gear has he ability to measuure orders of magnitude more sensitivity than even the best ear can hope for.

HOWEVER, a machine cannot tell us what it is hearing.

So the point is that IF cable were to CHANGE the sound, we could measure a Change. not if it is better or worse or anything like that. Just if it changed.

i have some questions regarding measurment of sound...not a subject i am knowledgable about.

in what way do instruments measure the density, detail and quality of the reproduction?

do they sample? is it about SPL's?

i guess my direction here is about the qualitative verses the quantitative. can data reliably reveal what makes one sound more real? have you personally seen this occur where the data is always predictive of the better sounding version?

i have no idea whether sound measuring works this way. but clearly if it did why would anyone need to listen to design any gear of any kind. it would either measure correctly or it would not.

i'm sure i'm over-simplifying this but i am curious.

to me the above questions get to the heart of the conflict on this thread. are there sonic issues beyond those which have understandable measurements which effect the ability of a cable/component to reproduce sound?
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post #98 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 05:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles View Post

I'm not sure that is true actually. To be honest, I do not know how sensitive most microphones are, but keep in mind that in a person with good hearing, you can in a silent anechoic chamber hear the impacts of air molecules themselves on the tympanic membrane, which is significantly smaller than even very tiny changes in pressure.

Now again, I am not intimately familiar with the capabilities of measurement, and I would like to see more information about what those capabilities are, because in fact I think that there are situations where the human ear has capabilities as a whole that may well exceed the ability to measure. In many specifics I think this is untrue, but we are talking about the entire capability, not just parts of it.

Michael's claims above about our understanding of human hearing is perhaps a little bit overstated. We do not fully understand all aspects of sound perception, however we do understand a lot. But I am not sure about our ability to measure actual sound changes that effectively. Keep in mind, if you are talking about audible changes, you are talking about after the speaker, not necessarily electronic measurements before it. And also keep in mind that there, we have failed a great deal in our ability to fully capture the live event in the same way that we hear it. So I'm not convinced either way, but the claim that we can measure beyond and fully understand the human ear's capabilities and limitations is not really substantiated here.

We have technical systems that far exceed the limits of human hearing. With proper processing and several sensors it's possible to hear a human voice thats lower than the thermal background noise.

As a measurement instrument the ear is lousy, but as a detector of sound patterns in high background noise or low level sound it's fairly good.

Sensors and Sensing in Biology and Engineering
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post #99 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 05:05 PM
 
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Quote:


in what way do instruments measure the density, detail and quality of the reproduction?

Density of sound?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_energy_density
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post #100 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evelyn Sinclair View Post

This is totally bizarre. I'm finding that The Bland gets it and we basically are in agreement??? I feel faint.

Holy @#! How deep does the Theta conspiracy go? Will Opus Dei come knocking on all anti-Theta luvers' doors one day?

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Originally Posted by joeycalda View Post

I do know from organizing Live music events that some microphone cabling will have interference and must be replaced.

This is an example of considering something outside of its context, and drawing erroneous conclusions because of it. Mic cables are long, mics transmit very low level signals and are high impedance, and therefore they are subject to much different cable design criteria than audiophile speaker cables.

A home audio speaker cable is generally installed in one place and never moves. Live-event mic cable moves a lot, is stepped on, and otherwise abused, so after a while, they have to be replaced because they die (shields fall apart, for example). They are also run for much longer distances and with lower level signals, and therefore are subject to RF interference.

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post #101 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Dizzman View Post

I have seen and been party to such debates and as long as the people on both sides are knowledgable and have respect for the other side. They can be very interesting debates.

I have to disagree with you. They are not interesting debates. It's like debating whether the earth is flat when ALL scientific evidence suggests otherwise.
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post #102 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 05:16 PM
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Quote:


Michael's claims above about our understanding of human hearing is perhaps a little bit overstated. We do not fully understand all aspects of sound perception, however we do understand a lot.

I'm not entirely sure why you think my claims are overstated, but I certainly never meant to claim we understand everything about human hearing. What I'm saying is that if we can hear it we can measure it. Frankly it's a tautological statement, because listening tests are a form of measurement. And like any measurement, their informational quality depends on how the measurements are taken and how well external factors are eliminated.

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post #103 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 05:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluray_1080p View Post

Density of sound?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_energy_density

thank you.

from the link....

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The terms instantaneous energy density, maximum energy density, and peak energy density have meanings analogous to the related terms used for sound pressure. In speaking of average energy density, it is necessary to distinguish between the space average (at a given instant) and the time average (at a given point).

honestly; even though i did get as far as Differential Equations and Physics 101 in college most of what i read is over my head. but i guess my question about density has to do with density of a musical image in musical terms....can that be measured? has anyone observed a predictable relationship between some measurement and the ability of any piece of audio gear to reproduce image density (not 'energy density).....in other words "level of information".

please be kind.....it takes me awhile sometimes.
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post #104 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by mike lavigne View Post

Chu, thanks for the kind words.

there is a fine line between making a point and making a spectacle of one's self. i enjoy this hobby too much to get on a soapbox and pursue the conflict. i don't want the issue to be about me......i want it to be about the idea. also; while i cannot say that i stay in the shadows i try to be even keeled and retain a dose of self-depreciation. i am still a learning audiophile.

as i said in the other thread; if someone wants to do the leg-work i am game based on my terms. one big reason i want to avoid the direct approach is that i do not want to get emotionally entangled with the politics of the process. i want to save my mental focus for the test.

added note; i suppose that were i to agressively pursue the challenge i would have difficulty getting Randi to consider my terms. OTOH if Randi really wants to do this and pursue me he might accomodate my terms. i will not get into a pissing contest over terms.

Following Mike's lead, I would like to announce that I have invented a perpetual motion machine. Even though I know that releasing this machine to the world would make Bill Gates look like a poor guy in comparison, I'm humble and it's not about the money. If the scientists of the world wish to come and evaluate my invention, they are free to do so, as long as they do so under MY terms. I will not get into a pissing contest over terms. I want to save my mental focus for the cure to cancer I am working on.

I also submit that I could kick Tiger Woods ass in a golf game.

So you find this interesting Dizzman? Are you sure .
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post #105 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 05:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike lavigne View Post

i have some questions regarding measurment of sound...not a subject i am knowledgable about.

in what way do instruments measure the density, detail and quality of the reproduction?

do they sample? is it about SPL's?

i guess my direction here is about the qualitative verses the quantitative. can data reliably reveal what makes one sound more real? have you personally seen this occur where the data is always predictive of the better sounding version?

i have no idea whether sound measuring works this way. but clearly if it did why would anyone need to listen to design any gear of any kind. it would either measure correctly or it would not.

i'm sure i'm over-simplifying this but i am curious.

to me the above questions get to the heart of the conflict on this thread. are there sonic issues beyond those which have understandable measurements which effect the ability of a cable/component to reproduce sound?

The room acoustics and speakers have such a profound effect on everything compared to the rest of the equipment. That doesn't mean that a lot of equipment doesn't add flavor intentionally or alter the composition in some way, and that people won't like the changes better... For example, I got back into vinyl recently and I'm as happy as a pig in sh!7. Another example, different DACs and CD player filters, such as the HDCD filter vs. non HDCD. Another example, tube gear 2nd harmonic distortion (or more currently non-tube gear with 2nd harmonic distortion intentionally designed into the system) vs. solid state odd harmonic distortion.

The detail, density, and quality is going to come from the speaker acting on the electrical signal (and whether or not you like the flavoring added by the other equipment, such as distortion artifacts, filter artifacts, etc). Before reaching the speaker it is all just free electrons being channeled from a source. Depending on the elements of the speaker design, you will get all kinds of stereophonic idiosyncrasies, some will be perceived differently by different people (http://psy.ucsd.edu/%7Eddeutsch/psychology/deutsch_research1.html) and others won't be. The physical characteristics of the music that are perceived are going to be most strongly affected (flavored) by the speaker output and room interaction with the speaker output, as at this point, even the flavoring is flavored by the final output method and the acoustics of the room.

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post #106 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 05:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QQQ View Post

Following Mike's lead, I would like to announce that I have invented a perpetual motion machine. Even though I know that releasing this machine to the world would make Bill Gates look like a poor guy in comparison, I'm humble and it's not about the money. If the scientists of the world wish to come and evaluate my invention, they are free to do so, as long as they do so under MY terms. I will not get into a pissing contest over terms. I want to save my mental focus for the cure to cancer I am working on.

I also submit that I could kick Tiger Woods ass in a golf game.

So you find this interesting Dizzman? Are you sure .

thanks Q.... i suppose i asked for that......and those sorts of reactions are just why i do not want any higher profile than i have here. it would only get worse.

one thing i want to make clear; i feel strongly that i possess no particular listening talents...further that there are many many rooms/systems where this test could occur. if i have inferred something other than that it was not my intention.

OTOH i am motivated to prove my point.

maybe someone that lives nearby Randi can take up the challenge.
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post #107 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 06:10 PM - Thread Starter
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To be a disbeliever about the audibility of performance beyond measured parameters asks for ones faith to go from ones own ears to those parameters that are being measured, about any given component or system of components. The actual measurements that are standard are limited. (There are no standard measurements of synergistic effects when components are used together.)

The standard parameters we measure about a power amp, for instance, tend to be RMS watts ouput at 8 and 4 ohms, frequency response, signal to noise ratio, and maybe weight. Those are some but not necessarily all the specsa manufacturer will give. (TIM was popular for a while, but that faded.)

Maybe there are measurements that are being alluded to on this thread that have yet to be made clear, but some skeptics appear to feel that the limits of performance are the same as the parameters we are actually measuring.

Here is a link to a page on James Randi's site:
http://www.randi.org/jr/080504string.html#8

On this page he quotes from a letter from a reader which you might want to read in full for context:

Paul Ierymenko. He is now the head of R&D at QSC Audio. They're one of the makers of the ABX Comparator. I remember talking with him, back then, about the differences between the sound quality of various audio devices, especially amplifiers. He maintained that any reasonable quality amplifier, operating within its specified limits, is acoustically indistinguishable from any other. Ditto for many other devices as well.

James Randi then says this:
This ABX Comparator is the ideal setup to test audio devices and systems.

(Guess what the ABX Comparator does to the signal.)
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post #108 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 06:12 PM
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Those who aren't already familiar with it, might find this story interesting:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_memory
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post #109 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 06:16 PM
 
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(There are no standard measurements of synergistic effects when components are used together.)

And when you say things like this it makes you look like you beleive the earth is flat.
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post #110 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 06:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evelyn Sinclair View Post

(Guess what the ABX Comparator does to the signal.)

An ABX comparator is not needed for a cable evaluation so even ASSUMING that the ABX comparator has perceivable negative effects, it's a non-issue with regard to this challenge.
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post #111 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 06:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Mike,

To understand why speakers are so important is fairly easy. I think I can make it a little clearer than the way it was put earlier.

Speakers tend to be weak links because the moving elements have significant mass, and so require time in which to respond to the signals they get, unlike the purely electronic parts of the chain, where things happen without the drag of the physical inertia of something like a speaker cone. They also tend to have resonances galore from enclosures, if they have enclosures, and then they couple with and interact with the room. Speakers, in other words, are a mess. That's why they have a tendency to be the weak link in systems. These days there are a lot of moderately good electronics, but there are much more noticeable differences between speakers.

To put it in terms of testing, most electronic components can pass a semi-recognizable square wave, but speakers are so compromised in the time domain that it's hard to identify the output of a speaker trying to do that (i.e. instantly start moving, hold without jiggling (ringing) and then instantly stop. Speakers can no more do that than you could do the same on a road driving a tractor.

Some speakers have relatively light moving elements (electrostats and Magneplanars). They are like sportscars. They are still not perfect at following all the curves of the audio signal, but their lower inertia results in resolution of details that other speakers can blur.

Measurements of frequency response, by the way, say nothing about what goes on in the time domain.
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post #112 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 06:55 PM
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This thread has provided much humor for a entire audio crew here at one of the largest shows on the strip in Las Vegas.


These cable debates always make us laugh. We really think it is a hoot when we see bumpkins falling for all the hype and spending tons of cash on this crap.
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post #113 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
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The kind of bumpkins who actually buy expensive cables tend to have sound systems wherein the expensive cable is a proportionate to the expense and performance of the entire system.

There's a big difference between putting high performance wheels on an ordinary car and putting them on a racecar. If you decide your race car is just fine with stock wheels, because all wheels are alike, you may be beat out by the bumpkin with the ridiculously expensive racing wheels.

Hope that helps.
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post #114 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 07:23 PM
 
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The kind of bumpkins who actually buy expensive cables tend to have sound systems wherein the expensive cable is a proportionate to the expense and performance of the entire system.

But do not affect the sound and if you think it does you can not prove it.

Quote:


There's a big difference between putting high performance wheels on an ordinary car and putting them on a racecar. If you decide your race car is just fine with stock wheels, because all wheels are alike, you may be beat out by the bumpkin with the ridiculously expensive racing wheels.

As usual you can not prove anything in the cable talk and go off on something that is irrelevant.
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post #115 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 07:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluray_1080p View Post

But do not affect the sound and if you think it does you can not prove it.



As usual you can not prove anything in the cable talk and go off on something that is irrelevant.


Even though Evelyn is my best friend, I have no idea where you are coming from with any of your comments...

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post #116 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 07:37 PM
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Note to self: Build your next racecar out of high-end audio cables.

"It is worse still to be ignorant of your ignorance."
-- Saint Jerome (374 AD - 419 AD)

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post #117 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 07:37 PM
 
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Even though Evelyn is my best friend, I have no idea where you are coming from with any of your comments...

Did you not read what he posted? My comments were directly related to what he said.
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post #118 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 07:38 PM
 
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Note to self: Build your next racecar out of high-end audio cables.

Yes, the really big fat and heavy ones so you add weight and slow the car down, maybe the cables would improve the exhaust note.
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post #119 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Evelyn Sinclair View Post

The kind of bumpkins who actually buy expensive cables tend to have sound systems wherein the expensive cable is a proportionate to the expense and performance of the entire system.

There's a big difference between putting high performance wheels on an ordinary car and putting them on a racecar. If you decide your race car is just fine with stock wheels, because all wheels are alike, you may be beat out by the bumpkin with the ridiculously expensive racing wheels.

Hope that helps.


Proportionate maybe. Useful? No. Not one bit.I work with very high priced well made gear and we have no need for cables that are priced that high. We use Canare, Belden, Whirlwind etc.. Nothing fancy and make most of them ourselves. From our 96 ch protools rigs to the cables for the band none of them are in any way from these hucksters and thiefs who sell this crap.
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post #120 of 1770 Old 10-05-2007, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Evelyn Sinclair View Post

Mike,

To understand why speakers are so important is fairly easy. I think I can make it a little clearer than the way it was put earlier.

Speakers tend to be weak links because the moving elements have significant mass, and so require time in which to respond to the signals they get, unlike the purely electronic parts of the chain, where things happen without the drag of the physical inertia of something like a speaker cone. They also tend to have resonances galore from enclosures, if they have enclosures, and then they couple with and interact with the room. Speakers, in other words, are a mess. That's why they have a tendency to be the weak link in systems. These days there are a lot of moderately good electronics, but there are much more noticeable differences between speakers.

To put it in terms of testing, most electronic components can pass a semi-recognizable square wave, but speakers are so compromised in the time domain that it's hard to identify the output of a speaker trying to do that (i.e. instantly start moving, hold without jiggling (ringing) and then instantly stop. Speakers can no more do that than you could do the same on a road driving a tractor.

Some speakers have relatively light moving elements (electrostats and Magneplanars). They are like sportscars. They are still not perfect at following all the curves of the audio signal, but their lower inertia results in resolution of details that other speakers can blur.

Measurements of frequency response, by the way, say nothing about what goes on in the time domain.

If you are referring to my post and augmenting it by elaborating, then you missed the most important point: that different people will prefer different combinations of artifacts from speakers, and because of variations in perception of stereophonic effects, some people won't necessarily hear the same things as some other people from the same speaker. Thus, subjective preference.

None of which has anything to do with cables, just speakers....

"It is worse still to be ignorant of your ignorance."
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