The future of hi/end audio & a rant on honesty in reviewing (tuning fuses)

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fastfred

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 A plea for someone to take on the task of honest review; or how do we go about reclaiming our hobby?

I have to bring to the attention of those who care about our hobby 2 articles in the latest Positive Feedback Online, which in my opinion expose the audiophile press for what it really is, part of the advertising & promotion end of the audiophile industry. They don’t have the consumer’s best interest at heart. I find the article on tuning fuses especially irresponsible

One recurring theme I see in the current audiophile press is dismay over the direction to which “HI END” AUDIO is turning. If you go to my website you will see references to many articles which try to help the neophyte audiophile, spend his audio dollars wisely. Is it any wonder that when a normal well adjusted human being is introduced to our hobby, that they throw up their hands in dismay and run for the Bose boutique in terror, when confronted by a sales person who’s already convinced them they need a $10,000 plus system, who then tries to up sell them three to four thousand dollars of speaker, interconnect, and mains cables. In most cases all this person is looking for is a quality sound system to listen to music on.   

On to the relevant articles:

One article titled: Skoff goes blind by Roger Skoff…(retired XLO executive) actually describes a sales technique (Roger Claims was his idea) suggested for use in selling speaker cable & interconnect. I don’t know about you but do I detect a degree of arrogance in this article? Especially the ending. I hope this is a tongue in cheek article. but I doubt it. It’s too bad the article wasn’t titled Skoff goes mute then I could have avoided reading it altogether, I just get angry when I read crap like this.
http://positive-feedback.com/Issue74/skoff_blind.htm

The other article titled:

(HiFi Supreme and Audio Horizons' "Platinum Reference More Than A Fuse”) Fuses by Robert Youman.
The definition of a fuse:
……a safety device consisting of a strip of wire that melts and breaks an electric circuit if the current exceeds a safe level. My complaint here is if you are reviewing a fuse shouldn’t you be testing this fuse for what it’s designed for? Actually stressing the fuse enough to cause it to blow. Then comparing the fuse to it’s specifications to see if it failed as it should have when it should have.

If these products actually do their job as fuses, to protect the circuit they’re part of, then I would say that the verbiage used to describe how wonderful they are & the attributes they bring to the listening experience are warranted.

 But nowhere in this article does it even say what these fuses were designed for and what their specs are. Positive Feedback Online should be brought to task for the gross irresponsibility of publishing this review. Refer to Rogers post about tuning fuse from 2013.

http://positive-feedback.com/Issue74/fuses.htm

Speedskater

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Remember that positive feedback causes oscillation. That magazine is totally out of touch with the real world.

Now about fuses, notice that the tester seldom mentions just how the fuse is being used.
There are three common use's for a fuse in a component:
a] AC power supply
b] DC power supply
c] Audio output / loudspeaker input
The only use that could affect the sound or distortion of an amplifier is the Audio output / loudspeaker input fuse.
Bob Cordell in his book "Designing Audio Power Amplifiers" tested fuses used in this manner.
His findings were at 20 Hz the added THD was 0.0033%

srb

The only use that could affect the sound or distortion of an amplifier is the Audio output / loudspeaker input fuse.

I agree with you, but alas there are others who don't.  I'm not surprised, as I've been witness on too many occasions to audio aficionados going gaga over placebos.

Not to exclude myself, I'm fairly certain my car's engine runs smoother and quieter after a good wash and touch-up application of Speed Shine.

Steve

dB Cooper


Davey

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Fred,

I don't think it's possible this hobby can be reclaimed, and even if it could, Audiocircle is not the forum where it will happen.  :)

The concept of a "review" has been completely bastardized through the years and has no relation to its traditional meaning.  Positive Feedback is certainly not alone in this transgression.

Better to just steer clear of Positive Feedback in the future and you won't get angry.  :)

Dave.

dB Cooper

I believe there are audible differences between electronics but that they are by in large dwarfed by the differences between transducers, where the grossest distortions are. I don't believe that a phono preamp which consumes 12 watts needs a power cable the thickness of a garden hose, or that that power cable makes a "night and day" difference in that head amp's sound. But once you've plunked down that $600 for it, you really want to hear it.

But I also believe that measurements don't tell the whole story. So whats an audiophile to do? Decide what good sound is worth (to you), prioritize (as most of us have to) wisely, listen, and above all listen to live regularly so you don't get sucked into the myth that if you just spend another $___, you will have "perfect" sound. By the way, fastfred, $10K is "chump change" in today's world of "deep end" audio. I have heard systems running well into six figures at shows and I'll tell you, some of the most expensive and elaborate systems impressed me the least. Once you quit throwing money at a goal you will never achieve (perfect sound), you can sit down, relax and actually enjoy some music. I'll bet a lot of people with "cheap and cheerful" systems here actually enjoy their systems more than some with megabucks stuff because they aren't as worried as to whether they got their money's worth. (You can buy a lot of concert tickets for $50,000.) I actually enjoy listening to the BBC3 and KWAX 320K classical streams. Maybe I should turn in my audiophile card, but I just wanna hear some music.

smargo

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Not to exclude myself, I'm fairly certain my car's engine runs smoother and quieter after a good wash and touch-up application of Speed Shine.

Steve

and i swear that my amp sounds better when i replace the batteries in the remote for that amp

jarcher

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I have no problem with the skoff article : in fact I agree with him and even the sales technique. The "wooden ears" comment is a bit tongue in cheek, but understandable from a designer of audiophile cables. BTW : XLO cables are awesome, and particularly good value for the money vs many other brands. Too bad they are closing down.

I think you may have missed the point of the fuses article, and the author didn't help. It wasn't to review their effectiveness as "safety" devices : presumably the stock fuses do those just as well. You have to at least be open minded to the idea that as the fuse is in the current path, that it may affect sound quality in a component. I don't have any personal experience trying "audiophile" fuses, but if and when I do, I will try to be open minded. Not all tweaks work for all systems, or how they change the sound necessarily a subjective improvement in sound - or if they do - necessarily a good value. I'll concede that the reviewer seems to be somewhat too "rhapsodic" about the improvement, which strains his credibility. This seems to be a common affliction of reviewers who may feel they need to exaggerate to say something meaningful or worthy of publication. After all - how often have you read a review that concludes "meh, YMMV, etc, etc".

Diamond Dog

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. I'll bet a lot of people with "cheap and cheerful" systems here actually enjoy their systems more than some with megabucks stuff because they aren't as worried as to whether they got their money's worth. (You can buy a lot of concert tickets for $50,000.) I actually enjoy listening to the BBC3 and KWAX 320K classical streams. Maybe I should turn in my audiophile card, but I just wanna hear some music.

I'll bet that's not necessarily the case. The people I know who have "megabucks stuff" enjoy it just fine and they don't need any validation as to whether or not they got their money's worth. On the contrary, I think it's the folks trying to achieve as much as they can without unlimited resources who are more likely to be stressin' over every piece of gear they buy because they don't have the luxury of writing off a mis-step so easily and trying another path. I know I certainly don't buy a piece without a whole lot of deliberation. And while it's true that you can buy a lot of concert tickets for 50 Large, you can buy a helluva stereo, too...

BTW : XLO cables are awesome, and particularly good value for the money vs many other brands. Too bad they are closing down.

Concur on all three points, Jarcher.

D.D.

smargo

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i think the ultimate point is that we all have tried millions of tweaks - that seem to work for a time or two or three - but soon realize that that thing isn't all that its cracked up to be - and were fine with out it

and there are too many products that are so over-rated - and the things that usually make a real difference are amplifiers - speakers - source components - period.

OzarkTom

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I can hear the differences in using the fuses, but I refuse to spend over $50 for one. Audiophile fuses do blow on occasion. The $20 AMR gold fuses is all I ever use. Many audiophiles  that believes in fuses scoff on the AMR because of the low price compared to all of the others.

And I prefer to listen to my audio system than spending $200-400 for the overpriced scalped concert tickets.  It would have cost me 800 bucks for my wife and I to see the Eagles locally. Now that is a much bigger ripoff. And besides, if my music gets to loud for my ears, I can always turn the volume down.

Rocket_Ronny

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Quote
Is it any wonder that when a normal well adjusted human being is introduced to our hobby, that they throw up their hands in dismay and run for the Bose boutique in terror, when confronted by a sales person who’s already convinced them they need a $10,000 plus system

I was at a local car audio store to buy some gear. The bill quickly added up to 7 grand in a modest, good, system. I listened to a couple of 30 grand systems the employees had in their cars.

I asked what the average system cost is for them, they said around 5-8 grand, with a 30-50 grand system once a month, or so. They were putting a 7 grand system into a boat as well.

I decided to go bare bones and spend 3 grand and use some home speakers in the mix.

Looks like car audio might be part of high end audio's future, that and headphones. But, with the quality of budget home gear these days, mid fi, can be hi fi if put together well.

Rocket_Ronny

kevin360

I agree with you, but alas there are others who don't.  I'm not surprised, as I've been witness on too many occasions to audio aficionados going gaga over placebos.

Not to exclude myself, I'm fairly certain my car's engine runs smoother and quieter after a good wash and touch-up application of Speed Shine.

Steve


Dan Ariely - When expectations override our senses:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTTBruF21Fk


I think you may have missed the point of the fuses article, and the author didn't help. It wasn't to review their effectiveness as "safety" devices : presumably the stock fuses do those just as well.

No, I think you missed fastfred's point, which is that fuses are, first and foremost, safety devices. HiFi Tuning fuses are mysterious 'safety' devices. The manufacturer publishes nothing with regard to how they perform their primary role as fuses (beyond a semi-useless amperage rating). Send them an email inquiring about their characteristics as fuses and you will receive no useful information. All this talk about their behavior as wires is a red herring. I'm quite certain the stock fuses perform their task as safety devices, but it's impossible to say how the HiFi Tuning fuses will perform until the worst happens, at which time I'd wager that it truly will be the worst.

BTW, another manufacturer of audiophile fuses did comment that all of their fuses are slow-blow for the best sonics.

jarcher

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No, I think you missed fastfred's point, which is that fuses are, first and foremost, safety devices. HiFi Tuning fuses are mysterious 'safety' devices. The manufacturer publishes nothing with regard to how they perform their primary role as fuses (beyond a semi-useless amperage rating). Send them an email inquiring about their characteristics as fuses and you will receive no useful information. All this talk about their behavior as wires is a red herring. I'm quite certain the stock fuses perform their task as safety devices, but it's impossible to say how the HiFi Tuning fuses will perform until the worst happens, at which time I'd wager that it truly will be the worst.

BTW, another manufacturer of audiophile fuses did comment that all of their fuses are slow-blow for the best sonics.

Call me naive or too trustful, but when you charge 10X or more vs a standard fuse, the presumption is that they can adequately perform their primary safety purpose.  Which then leaves how it affects, presumably positively, the sound quality.  You don't see reviewers trying to blow up power conditioners and power strips to test the stated safety features of those.  Why do you expect a higher standard for fuse reviews? Would be a pretty boring and short review if just to test the rated capacity of the fuse.  Though until someone actually does, I don't think you can reach the conclusion that "it will truly be the worst".

fastfred007

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I am the original poster on this topic.

I recently changed internet providers so my e-mail address has changed. The problem started when I logged onto the site earlier today, and posted

a topic in the forums titled ( the future of hi/end audio & a rant on honesty in reviewing ( tuning fuses ) started by fastfred (that’s me). I ticked the box

asking to be notified if there were responses to the topic. I’m positive I updated my contact info on my profile, but I guess I  didn’t  because I haven’t

received any notification about replies to my post. When I decided to check for notifications I received an error response when I tried to log on the site.

The old e-mail address on my account is ( info@audiofyle.com ) my new e-mail address is ( info.audiofyle@mymts.net ). I really don’t want to re-

register; your help will be much appreciated. Could please forward this to the appropriate department, or maybe you can tell me where to send it?

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« Last Edit: 7 Jul 2014, 01:29 pm by ServerAdmin »

kevin360

Call me naive or too trustful, but when you charge 10X or more vs a standard fuse, the presumption is that they can adequately perform their primary safety purpose.  Which then leaves how it affects, presumably positively, the sound quality.  You don't see reviewers trying to blow up power conditioners and power strips to test the stated safety features of those.  Why do you expect a higher standard for fuse reviews? Would be a pretty boring and short review if just to test the rated capacity of the fuse.  Though until someone actually does, I don't think you can reach the conclusion that "it will truly be the worst".

Actually, I think my position is perfectly rational. In fact, I honestly think the situation is worse than I portrayed. For what it's worth, I did send an email with an honest, logically constructed inquiry into such fuse metrics as melting integral and in-rush characteristics. What I received by way of reply was a reiteration of the fuse's specifications as a conductor - the red herring. Well, I won't be so easily distracted. A fuse must perform as a fuse. They obviously aren't averse to quantifying the behavior of their devices, so why not test and publish the primary data regarding their fuses? Frankly, I suspect one of two possibilities (which aren't necessarily mutually exclusive). Either they have no idea, or they realize how limited the proper application of their devices actually is. The fuses which one might replace with such a fuse will be certified and will behave in a predictable and desirable manner, as the designer of the piece of gear intended.

BTW, I'm not saying that the characteristics that are meaningful for a fuse should be all that is discussed, but when that very aspect is completely ignored, it does give me pause. In reality, all 2.5A fuses aren't the same. In response to your parallel of a power conditioner to a fuse, I have never purchased a power conditioner that wasn't certified...and I never will. Ergo, I have no need for a reviewer to prove that the device is safe to use and will provide the protection implied - an independent lab has already done that.

macrojack

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My understanding is that EVERYTHING in the signal path compromises the signal. So how did we go from thinking in terms of the least damage to claims of the most good? Would no fuse be better sounding than the best fuse? If you're willing to pay stupid money for fuses that purportedly sound better, might you instead just risk having no fuse?
All of this nonsense eats away at the credibility of the industry and the buffoons who serve as its fodder. Face facts, y'all --- you are a bunch of cult members. You have religious zeal, blind faith, dogmatic certainty and a willingness to be fleeced in the name of true belief. Most of you are simply parroting things you heard and swearing it is fact, and many are busy seeding the minions with rumors and innuendo which serve the goal of exploitation. The soul has been stripped away and the carcass is in its death throes. Naturally, there will be calls for my head over this blasphemy.


RDavidson

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As some others here, I think it is best policy to keep an open mind with this stuff. There are so many variables to consider (system, individual's hearing acuity, resolution, room, etc. etc. etc.) that I can understand why one person who tries "controversial" tweak X can hear a clear, if subtle difference, whereas another person who tries the same "controversial" tweak X can not hear a difference at all. The only thing 100% true is that YMVV. The thing that drives me nuts is when one person thinks their experience is more true than another's. So you have these very polarized responses to a tweak and people on both sides of the fence calling each other stupid. So all I can say is, if you're curious about a tweak, then try it. If the cost to try the tweak is what is keeping you on the fence, then you may be better off spending your money somewhere else........like on music that you know you'll enjoy.

rockadanny

Hi FastFred. Interesting looking gear you posted above. What is it please?

Roger A. Modjeski

Hi Fast Fred,

Congratulations on a fast topic. Over 600 views in one day and so many responses is notable. Here is my experience.

I had several email exchanges with the maker of Tuning Fuses and got the same Red Herring responses. My first experience with his product was in an RM-9 MKII that came to me for service with eight tuning fuses (one for each tube) in place of my specified HIGH BREAKING ceramic fuses. The tuning fuse's inability to do their job properly had blown the wirewound cathode resistor, which I had never seen before. I study every failure and this one caught my attention because it takes a lot of energy to blow that resistor. Its wire is much stouter and of a very high melting material, any fuse should go first.

Of course I opened up the fuse and looked at its construction. It was made in such a way as to be the worst possible fuse for that application. I called the distributor here and asked is it was a high breaking fuse and suitable for a tube fuse. He didn't know what that was. I said well the fuse specified for my amp is high breaking and ceramic. He said that because his fuse was ceramic also it must be OK. This is very naive. He doesn't know and perhaps the maker doesn't know that a high breaking fuse is made a different way, though from the outside it looks the same.

These fuses are totally inappropriate for any high voltage DC application such as a tube fuse in an amplifier. What also amazed me is that these fuses cost more than most tubes. I felt sorry for the owner who had been led down this path by irresponsible magazines like Positive Feedback. Not only did this fuse not protect his tube but it did not protect his amplifier.

The maker of these fuses, like many makers of tweaks will certainly get no admiration from me.  What gets me is why so many people want to play with tweaks rather than make real improvements in their system like bi-amping, adding a good subwoofer and simplifying the signal path.