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

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avahifi

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Well, with our new ABX Test Box we certainly can run objective listening tests on golden ear fuses, power cords, or whatever, and we routinely do this.

All we need is two identical units with one using the golden ear part of choice.  We match levels and then just listen as we please during our work day here.  Once in a while when we decide, yes, this is the one like better, we turn the indicator LEDs back on and see if we have guessed "right".  Over days of listening and testing, our experience regarding audiophile tweaks has about a 50 percent batting average - a near perfect random guess ability.  Wow!

We all spend most of our time, when evaluating anything new in our system, listening with our eyes or with preconceived notions.  Our ABX box takes all the fun and authority out of this.

However this keeps us from dragging down design paths that just don't make useful audible improvements and annoys us when I, for example, redesign a preamp board layout to accept all polypropylene capacitors and find that it made no sonic difference at all.  It is a nice advertising bullet point however.

Some seem absolutely terrified at the thought of using a proper ABX test box.  They don't like risking having their authoritative opinions unmasked as the bullshit it is. I am among those that just had to get over this.  However, short term or long term listening, nice weather, cloudy rainy weather, high or low line voltage, downer or upper days, the ABX box does not care, it just gives you the chance to hear the truth, whether you like it or not.

If you want more info regarding our ABX box, e-mail me at avahifi@comcast.net

Frank Van Alstine

Speedskater

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When the first Tuning Fuse report came out (the one I mentioned in my survey last year) I wrote the Editor of PF to inform him that his reviewer got current and voltage mixed up. I offered my services as a technical editor. He asked "do you know what an editor does, I doubt you could do it" I replied "well given that review you certainly aren't doing it" :nono: Perhaps you need a Technical Editor to check for accuracy of content so you don't embarrass yourself. He really doesn't care.

The P.F. magazine already has two writers on it's masthead, S.D. and L.O. and both are technically competent.  I don't think that the magazine wants to deal with facts.

Roger A. Modjeski

Well, with our new ABX Test Box we certainly can run objective listening tests on golden ear fuses, power cords, or whatever, and we routinely do this.

All we need is two identical units with one using the golden ear part of choice.  We match levels and then just listen as we please during our work day here.  Once in a while when we decide, yes, this is the one like better, we turn the indicator LEDs back on and see if we have guessed "right".  Over days of listening and testing, our experience regarding audiophile tweaks has about a 50 percent batting average - a near perfect random guess ability.  Wow!

We all spend most of our time, when evaluating anything new in our system, listening with our eyes or with preconceived notions.  Our ABX box takes all the fun and authority out of this.

However this keeps us from dragging down design paths that just don't make useful audible improvements and annoys us when I, for example, redesign a preamp board layout to accept all polypropylene capacitors and find that it made no sonic difference at all.  It is a nice advertising bullet point however.

Some seem absolutely terrified at the thought of using a proper ABX test box.  They don't like risking having their authoritative opinions unmasked as the bullshit it is. I am among those that just had to get over this.  However, short term or long term listening, nice weather, cloudy rainy weather, high or low line voltage, downer or upper days, the ABX box does not care, it just gives you the chance to hear the truth, whether you like it or not.

If you want more info regarding our ABX box, e-mail me at avahifi@comcast.net

Frank Van Alstine

Frank,

This is an excellent way too approach the situation. I do AB testing all the time on a moment to moment basis. I had not considered your longer term, let it ride and check in idea. Thanks for that.


avahifi

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Hi Roger,

If you would like the user manual for our ABX Test box send an e-mail to me, avahifi@comcast.net and I will send you the .pdf file.

Its a $995 unit that allows connection to a source, two preamps, two power amps, and three sets of speakers either with or without subwoofers.  It allows exact level matching and either long term informal testing or short term double blind testing.  It works really well.

Frank

Tyson

The ABX box sounds awesome!  I have half a mind to pick one up and start doing some reviewing with it and publishing my results here.  Of course, I am rather jaded at this point about a lot of stuff, as covering RMAF for 10 years has really revealed how much complete and utter BS there is within the industry.  I mean seriously - people bring their fancy boxes and big speakers and neglect to address something as basic as room treatments.  THAT is what consumers are putting their trust in.  Plus, the difference between the very best rooms and the very average rooms is big but not huge.  There is an upper limit to what is even possible to reproduce via a stereo, and that limit is MUCH LOWER than people suspect.  And no amount of tweaks or BS will affect that upper limit.  And trust me, if you treat your room or have a nice listening space, you are MUCH closer to that upper limit than the vast majority of other audiophiles, even reviewers. 

That's only my opinion, but it is based on 10 years of solid exposure to the very best that the industry has to offer.  People really should make time to go to these shows, it is a huge eye (ear) opener.

Early B.

The ABX box sounds awesome!  I have half a mind to pick one up and start doing some reviewing with it and publishing my results here.  Of course, I am rather jaded at this point about a lot of stuff, as covering RMAF for 10 years has really revealed how much complete and utter BS there is within the industry.  I mean seriously - people bring their fancy boxes and big speakers and neglect to address something as basic as room treatments.  THAT is what consumers are putting their trust in.  Plus, the difference between the very best rooms and the very average rooms is big but not huge.  There is an upper limit to what is even possible to reproduce via a stereo, and that limit is MUCH LOWER than people suspect.  And no amount of tweaks or BS will affect that upper limit.  And trust me, if you treat your room or have a nice listening space, you are MUCH closer to that upper limit than the vast majority of other audiophiles, even reviewers. 

That's only my opinion, but it is based on 10 years of solid exposure to the very best that the industry has to offer.  People really should make time to go to these shows, it is a huge eye (ear) opener.

I went to a show a couple of years ago and the "cheap gear" Emotiva treated room sounded just as good as any other room at the show. That taught me a valuable lesson.

With regard to tweaks such as fuses, we have to keep in mind that much of high end audio is psychological. If I buy a tweak, I'm already expecting it to sound "better." Whether the improvement is mainly due my expectation or actual fact is irrelevant. I bought it, I heard an improvement, and no one can convince me otherwise. For most consumers, audio gear and tweaks are an emotional purchase, not a technical one.   

avahifi

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Here is a link to the ABX Test Box on our web site:

http://avahifi.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=271&Itemid=238

If any would like a .pdf copy of the owners use and setup manual just e-mail me at avahifi@comcastnet

Frank

Freo-1

Well, with our new ABX Test Box we certainly can run objective listening tests on golden ear fuses, power cords, or whatever, and we routinely do this.

All we need is two identical units with one using the golden ear part of choice.  We match levels and then just listen as we please during our work day here.  Once in a while when we decide, yes, this is the one like better, we turn the indicator LEDs back on and see if we have guessed "right".  Over days of listening and testing, our experience regarding audiophile tweaks has about a 50 percent batting average - a near perfect random guess ability.  Wow!

We all spend most of our time, when evaluating anything new in our system, listening with our eyes or with preconceived notions.  Our ABX box takes all the fun and authority out of this.

However this keeps us from dragging down design paths that just don't make useful audible improvements and annoys us when I, for example, redesign a preamp board layout to accept all polypropylene capacitors and find that it made no sonic difference at all.  It is a nice advertising bullet point however.

Some seem absolutely terrified at the thought of using a proper ABX test box.  They don't like risking having their authoritative opinions unmasked as the bullshit it is. I am among those that just had to get over this.  However, short term or long term listening, nice weather, cloudy rainy weather, high or low line voltage, downer or upper days, the ABX box does not care, it just gives you the chance to hear the truth, whether you like it or not.

If you want more info regarding our ABX box, e-mail me at avahifi@comcast.net

Frank Van Alstine


Frank, I've always believed in the concept of an ABX box, but then I stared doing restorations of old Dyna gear, and lo and behold, I started working out things like the type of resistors and caps can make a difference in the sonic performance.  Then, there is the school of though that says ANY component you add will impact the sound. 

So, could you briefly share how you managed to make sure your ABX box does not add or subtract from the sound?  I am assuming that the ABX does NOT change impedance seen between the components?   Your input on this is appreciated.   :thumb:

avahifi

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Our ABX  box has no capacitors in the signal path and we ran extensive AB tests with a special version of the box when we designed it, one that allowed AB testing of the box against itself.  One signal path was through the relay connections in the box, the other path straight through.  We were satisfied that we could hear no difference between the path using the internal very high quality mechanical computer driven relay contacts and the straight through path.  Only then did we proceed with a production box.  We use the box all the time here with all equipment we build and test and have had no doubts at all that it is getting in the way of the music.

Of course if you are magic fuse believer then all bets are off, except of course that there are no fuses in the signal path of the box either.  :)

Frank

PS In restoring old Dyna equipment you were most likely replacing out of spec aged parts and parts inappropriately used in the original designs, such as polarized capacitors in the signal path not biased on higher then the possible reverse voltage swing.  Dyna made that mistake often.

Freo-1

Our ABX  box has no capacitors in the signal path and we ran extensive AB tests with a special version of the box when we designed it, one that allowed AB testing of the box against itself.  One signal path was through the relay connections in the box, the other path straight through.  We were satisfied that we could hear no difference between the path using the internal very high quality mechanical computer driven relay contacts and the straight through path.  Only then did we proceed with a production box.  We use the box all the time here with all equipment we build and test and have had no doubts at all that it is getting in the way of the music.

Of course if you are magic fuse believer then all bets are off, except of course that there are no fuses in the signal path of the box either.  :)

Frank

PS In restoring old Dyna equipment you were most likely replacing out of spec aged parts and parts inappropriately used in the original designs, such as polarized capacitors in the signal path not biased on higher then the possible reverse voltage swing.  Dyna made that mistake often.


Thanks, Frank.  My view is pretty much the same as Rogers first post about wires, romex, etc.   Hadn't really thought about your points on the old Dyna, but I'm sure you are right.  I'll take solid engineering over kool-aid anytime!  :lol:

AJinFLA

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The ABX box sounds awesome!  I have half a mind to pick one up and start doing some reviewing with it and publishing my results here.
That would be cool Tyson. Starting with room treatment products, a large profitable cottage industry devoid of any controlled perceptual testing whatsoever. See if it matches what Toole and Olive et al found.

Regarding magic fuses, as expected, lots of hand waving, burden of proof fallacies, zero basic physics/EE/perceptual science evidence. Enjoy your placebos. The mind makes it real. :wink:

cheers,

AJ

fastfred

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Here is a link to the ABX Test Box on our web site:

http://avahifi.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=271&Itemid=238

If any would like a .pdf copy of the owners use and setup manual just e-mail me at avahifi@comcastnet

Frank

Here’s an excerpt from Roger Russell’s website ( http://www.roger-russell.com ). A must read from a design engineer from the Golden Age Of hi/fi. There are so many topics covered in this website (bible), it should be required reading for anyone interested in hi/end audio, especially neophyte audiophiles. Anyone participating in this thread who has never seen it before, should read it throughout top to bottom. The topics about wire conductivity, skin effect, etc. show exactly how bogus the hype about these conditions are when discussing cable lengths of less than 20 ft. this site is a goldmine of pertinent information.

I’m sure Mr. Van Alstine is familiar with this link ( http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm#gordongow ) it’s titled Gordon Gow’s wire listening test. Where Gordon uses a special APP(arratus) for testing wire. Probably a good companion for the ABX tester.

The next link is a short scroll down the page from the last link, ( http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm#thetruth ) This link tells the interesting story of how McIntosh Labs was forced by public opinion to start using audiophile cable at the shows where they exhibited. Scroll down to the next topic.

These are just 2 excerpts from this fantastic website which show how advertising agencies have corrupted the mainstream audiophile industry.

I’m going to repeat myself, I’ve been duped by these people myself, & have spent mucho dinero on tweaks which turned out to be useless. If this thread helps one person channel his money into a good sounding system then I’ve done my job. The current value of my home system is approximately $5000 Canadian dollars.
Over the years I’ve spent $2000 on speaker wire, interconnect, and mains cables. The value of the wire I use in my system now is under $500. If my system was worth $20,000 I wouldn’t spend any more on wire. 

bdp24

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Remember when John Atkinson just couldn't take George Tice's Magic Clock nonsense anymore, and had to reveal it for what it was? Where's John on the Magic Fuses I wonder?

AJinFLA

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Over the years I’ve spent $2000 on speaker wire, interconnect, and mains cables. The value of the wire I use in my system now is under $500. If my system was worth $20,000 I wouldn’t spend any more on wire.
Hi Fred, while I agree with much of your sentiment, I'll point out that neither you nor I listen blind/controlled at home for pleasure (or at least I certainly don't). As such, if a $2000 cable, a $20k preamp, or, heavens forbid, a $50 magic fuse, causes one to enjoy listening to their system more, then I'm all for it. Our sensory perception goes far beyond what sound impinges upon the ears.
My only contention and reason for being in this thread, is when objective reasons are given as correlations for why.

cheers,

AJ

jarcher

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Hi Fred, while I agree with much of your sentiment, I'll point out that neither you nor I listen blind/controlled at home for pleasure (or at least I certainly don't). As such, if a $2000 cable, a $20k preamp, or, heavens forbid, a $50 magic fuse, causes one to enjoy listening to their system more, then I'm all for it. Our sensory perception goes far beyond what sound impinges upon the ears.
My only contention and reason for being in this thread, is when objective reasons are given as correlations for why.

cheers,

AJ

Perhaps you're only reason for being in this thread is to make prejudiced statements and semantic arguments without feeling the need to provide objective reasons for them.  Saying that people are free to believe whatever they like about something so long as they don't claim some basis on objective truth, is in the end not really saying anything that meaningful at all.

Assuming you're not likely to actually try to listen objectively to an alternative fuse to decide if there's a sound difference, how about you enlighten the grotesquely misinformed about some of the OBJECTIVE reasons why a change in material / construction of a fuse can't make a difference in the sound quality of a component?  That would be more useful and informative than repackaging your first comment. 

bdp24

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Hi Fred, while I agree with much of your sentiment, I'll point out that neither you nor I listen blind/controlled at home for pleasure (or at least I certainly don't). As such, if a $2000 cable, a $20k preamp, or, heavens forbid, a $50 magic fuse, causes one to enjoy listening to their system more, then I'm all for it. Our sensory perception goes far beyond what sound impinges upon the ears.
My only contention and reason for being in this thread, is when objective reasons are given as correlations for why.

cheers,

AJ

Like Golden Ratio diameter stranded wire :lol:?

fastfred

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Hi Fred, while I agree with much of your sentiment, I'll point out that neither you nor I listen blind/controlled at home for pleasure (or at least I certainly don't). As such, if a $2000 cable, a $20k preamp, or, heavens forbid, a $50 magic fuse, causes one to enjoy listening to their system more, then I'm all for it. Our sensory perception goes far beyond what sound impinges upon the ears.
My only contention and reason for being in this thread, is when objective reasons are given as correlations for why.

cheers,

AJ

Your correct we don't listen blind, but blind listening is missing the original point of this post. If you look at the opening post in this thread you
can see it's really a lament on how the hobby has degenerated to the point where if you say you're an audiophile some people look at you as if
you just left hanger 2 at area 51. I noted the fact that the audiophile press is aware of this problem yet the editors of these rags continue to publish
 these unsubstantiated reviews.

It really makes you wonder what is going through the mind of Roger Skoff for example to brag about a questionable sales tool in light of the fact that his
company XLO went out of business. He's thumbing his nose at anyone who bought cable from him in my opinion. Maybe he never learned his lesson? Or
maybe he did & got out before the business failed. Investment bankers hedge/fund managers etc. in light of recent history, show a real lack of empathy
for the market i.e. the customers (people). It looks like that mentality has spilled over into retail sales as well. I still can't get over the arrogance in that
article especially the last sentence!

Then through the lens of this forum, you get to see the minority, the Roger Modjeski's the Frank Van Alstines, The Roger Russells, who care about their image
& the image of the hobby itself. These people can't get the recognition they deserve. So how do we get the attention of the managing editors of these magazines.
I don't want to read about Stein Music Harmonizers, I don't want to read about tuning fuses & bogus sales techniques mixed in with reviews of speaker cables,
interconnect, & mains cables. What I want to hear is honesty in reviewing. Give me the good old meat & potatoes of audio, power amps, integrated amps,
pre/amps, phono pre/amps, turntables, cd, SACD, Multiformat players, Dacs, internet audio.

Perhaps most important of all the music! Reviews of real music not audiophile records although I have some, they sound wonderful, they're wonderfully recorded,
but how many times can you listen to jazz at the pawnshop or I've got the music in me. (Hi Fi plus does pretty good music reviews in my opinion).
PFO online the most boring record reviews ever.
« Last Edit: 9 Sep 2014, 12:37 pm by fastfred »

jarcher

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It really makes you wonder what is going through the mind of Roger Skoff for example to brag about a questionable sales tool in light of the fact that his company XLO went out of business. He's thumbing his nose at anyone who bought cable from him in my opinion. Maybe he never learned his lesson? Or maybe he did & got out before the business failed. Investment bankers hedge/fund managers etc. in light of recent history, show a real lack of empathy for the market i.e. the customers (people). It looks like that mentality has spilled over into retail sales as well I still can't get over the arrogance in that article especially the last sentence.
 
I don't want to read about Stein Music Harmonizers, I don't want to read about tuning fuses & bogus sales techniques mixed in with reviews of speaker cables, interconnect, & mains cables. What I want to hear is honesty in reviewing.

I don't see anything questionable about the sales technique.  Let the customer hear the standard cable vs the audiophile cable : if they can't hear the difference or don't think it's worth the price, then they don't buy.  Of course humorously Skoff is going to say that those who can't hear a difference between XLO and what comes in the box cables has "wooden ears" : he's a renowned cable designer and believes in his designs and what he does.   

I don't see him thumbing his nose either at his customers nor at those who bought XLO products either before or AFTER HE SOLD TO ULTRALINK (2008 2002).  From what I understand there were perhaps boardroom politics involved at parent company Ultralink - and I doubt Skoff had much to do about the decision to cease operation. Why would he want to see the company he created go away?

Skoff & XLO are some of the good guys, and they deserve to be treated as such.

As for not wanting to read about ancillary stuff within the main review : then don't.  Skip it or turn the page, or find another publication.  I believe reviewers should be allowed and encouraged to reference and discuss all elements of the system that was used to evaluate a particular item under review. The more information, the better - assuming of course that there's sufficient and clear coverage of the particular item under review.

fastfred

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Your correct we don't listen blind, but blind listening is missing the original point of this post. If you look at the opening post in this thread you
can see it's really a lament on how the hobby has degenerated to the point where if you say you're an audiophile some people look at you as if
you just left hanger 2 at area 51. I noted the fact that the audiophile press is aware of this problem yet the editors of these rags continue to publish
 these unsubstantiated reviews.


Imagine that quoting myself.

It occurred to me while re/reading my last addition to this forum, to ask what audiophile related magazines do you read??
& which ones would you recommend for honesty & accurracy  in reporting. Are there any internet magazines which charge a
fee, and accept no advertising left out there. Those 2 attributes could be indicators of honest reviewing. A technical editor would be a plus.


fastfred

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I don't see anything questionable about the sales technique.  Let the customer hear the standard cable vs the audiophile cable : if they can't hear the difference or don't think it's worth the price, then they don't buy.  Of course humorously Skoff is going to say that those who can't hear a difference between XLO and what comes in the box cables has "wooden ears" : he's a renowned cable designer and believes in his designs and what he does.   

I don't see him thumbing his nose either at his customers nor at those who bought XLO products either before or AFTER HE SOLD TO ULTRALINK (2008).  From what I understand there were perhaps boardroom politics involved at parent company Ultralink - and I doubt Skoff had much to do about the decision to cease operation. Why would he want to see the company he created go away?

Skoff & XLO are some of the good guys, and they deserve to be treated as such.

As for not wanting to read about ancillary stuff within the main review : then don't.  Skip it or turn the page, or find another publication.  I believe reviewers should be allowed and encouraged to reference and discuss all elements of the system that was used to evaluate a particular item under review. The more information, the better - assuming of course that there's sufficient and clear coverage of the particular item under review.

We're going have agree to disagree.