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

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JLM

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At the insistance of an old audio friend (we've both been into audio since the 70's back when it was still called stereo) I tried various tweaks a few years ago: fuses, DAC tube rolling, special feet, cable lifts, room treatments, power conditioners, and of course cabling (low voltage, speaker, power).  Nothing super exotic or expensive, heck back in my day we still used zip cord for speaker cable.  Over the years my systems have been considered fairly average around these parts ($4,000 - 10,000 MSRP for single digital source, can't stand vinyl surface noise), if not eccentric (single driver speakers).  And except for cabling, none of tweaks ever made a lick of difference to my ears (note I've enjoyed relatively young electrical grids but varying quality/condition of in-house wiring).  Even the differences I've heard with cabling has been fairly minor (the average person would not have have been able to make a distinction) except for a comparison that was made between two $1,000 speaker cables at a local audio meeting.  It was the battle of the really thin wire versus the garden hose.  The difference was quite noticeable, but which was "right"?  No doubt neither.  Which one was "better"?  Doesn't matter to me because I'm not spending that much on any cable, especially after hearing each out do the other in different attributes.

The only tweak that has probably ever helped is the earmuffs I use for hearing protection while I mow.

What works for me is good speakers in a decent room that is available at any time.  The rest can quickly become either secondary (i.e. clean power, tube vs solid state, Redbook vs hi-res) or pointless.

Guy 13


Hi all.
I come from the stereo era, when tubes were (Almost) the only thing available.
My first interest in stereo audio equipment was at the age of 18 (1966) which is 48 years ago. Writing that, does not make me feel younger, believe me.
I had all makes/models of gears and to me, most of them (At that time) sounded good.
I must admit that at that time, I was more interested in the melody/tune (Beattles/Ventures/James Last…) than the quality of sound.
I did buy/change several systems looking for better, but was never really satisfied; I think at that time, it was more owning nice looking gears with lots of buttons and switches, than getting better sounding gear.
Many times lately or more likely when I joined the Audio Circle band, I told myself: I won’t act as a narrow minded audiophile and I will try some tweaks, as long as they are affordable.
Cable lifters, speaker’s cables of different material and gauge, different makes of tubes, inexpensive and more expensive CD player, etc…
The most noticeable difference (Better or worst.) was with the tubes, some with much better sound and some with very little improvement, the wires and interconnects did not bring much improvements or it was difficult for me to tell if it was a real improvement or just an impression of improvement.
Audiophile fuses, shielded power cable, cable lifter and the same did not make a trace of improvement to my ears.
I am very reluctant in spending money for tweaks, because I simply don’t believe in them and most of them are over priced or have a profit margin of 500 to 1000% and that bothers me.
Yes, I know, they are in business to make money and not to relief the suffering humanity
As the years adds up in my life, I notice that I am becoming less and less demanding with sound quality, is it because I cannot afford more expensive and better sounding equipment or simply the fact that I am just tired of trying new stuff that don’t bring much in term of more satisfaction ???
I am now putting the final touch to my last system and I think that later on in my life, when someone will put me in a retirement house and/or in a toilet size room for senile persons, I might have only access to FM music via a small table radio, of course, if such a thing still exist in 2035 or I will listen to my tape cassette Nakamichi, if it’s still working or repairable and of course watch TV.
I read posts of those AC members that only think (Almost an obsession) about having the best of the best and trying to convince (Help) others to do the same thing as they do.
Well, to those I say:
Not everyone as the same requirements/taste and that (To me) they don’t seem to realize.
Well, I am happy with what I have and I am not looking for something better or more accurate or more linear…
I did listen to better audio systems than mine and guess what? They did not bring to me more joy, enjoyment, satisfaction.
My system cost me about 6,000 USD and that more than enough to play music.
I still want to do a few changes/improvements, because they will cost me very little $$$.
Our AC member JLM said and I quote:

 " The only tweak that has probably ever helped is the earmuffs I use for hearing protection while I mow. "

Unquote:
I started wearing a pair of those construction type ear plugs when I get out of the house, because planet Vietnam is extremely noisy everywhere you go and I want to protect my hearing
to enjoy my music listening.

Guy 13 from noisy planet Vietnam.


mcgsxr

I know it is a huge bone of contention for many, but I got over it long ago.

I have always been a subjective listener (fool to many I suppose) and I buy what I like the sound of.  I guess that means I would be happy being "snowed" by someone selling snake oil if I thought it sounded good.

So be it.

I buy what I want, and I keep what I love to listen to.

Good luck selling me anything else.

At present, my 2 channel speakers are around 12 years old, and my main amp may be closer to 20.  The DAC is the newest at around 3 years.

I have been up and down the $ ladder in this game, but have always kept what sounded good to me.

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fastfred

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Being the op I want to steer the conversation over to the 2nd paragraph in the original post.

As I said 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.

Plese keep in mind I don’t believe that all tweaks are scams, Cable products can make a difference, good or bad, I leave that up to you. The Roger Skoff article shows to what extent a company will go to in training their sales staff. I remember speaking to a friend who sold Linn equipment here in Winnipeg. He shared with me a story about going to Linn school. They were advised to put a lively recording on the LP 12 & then do a discrete little dance while the demo was going on. His choice of recording ( The Wall Street Shuffle ) by 10cc……….

………………The hobby as we know it today first evolved from people building kits, speakers, amplifiers, etc… The ‘equipment’ reviewing business evolved from the reviewing of recorded music, because people wanted to know, what the reviewer was playing his music on. Magazines like Audio, Stereo Review were measurement oriented, ( I really miss the music reviews as Audio magazine did them ), and later The Absolute Sound & Stereophile who prided themselves on accepting no advertising, therefore the reviewer could call a dud for what it was. Unfortunately for us this is no longer the case. You can’t trust the mainstream audiophile press anymore. The reviews are free and therefore suspect. Maybe this is the topic for a new thread.
My favourite magazines from the past were Listener & the print version of PFO. I loved Gizmo's writing & I'm a big fan of Arthur Salvatore & Ethan Winer.

mcgsxr

I guess I don't see the difference between an attempt at an upsell in an audio salon vs my local car dealership or a contractor in my home.

If you don't understand the motivations of salespeople (only been doing it for closing on 20 years now, currently selling professional services), I guess it bugs you.

fastfred

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I
I guess I don't see the difference between an attempt at an upsell in an audio salon vs my local car dealership or a contractor in my home.

If you don't understand the motivations of salespeople (only been doing it for closing on 20 years now, currently selling professional services), I guess it bugs you.

                          ........should a sales person be writing reviews for PFO unless PFO is merely a sales brochure which I think is the sad reality for most of the audiophile press.

I see your point but aren't you sidestepping the part about the neophyte audiophile. I've had the experience of being bent over the barrel and have a collection of wire & other tweak products if I can help someone separate the wheat from the chaff shouldn't I be doing that. Just because it's a business practice doesn't make it morally correct. Remember I said $10,000 worth of equipment & the upscale 4 to 5 thousand dollars of cable (speaker, interconnect & mains) cables. Roger Modjeski said in another thread, and I quote "an expenditure of 4 to 5 thousand dollars is far better spent on a phono stage, a dac, or pre/amp than on any cable product"
(my humble apology Roger if I didn't quote you exactly).

DaveC113

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« Last Edit: 9 Jul 2014, 03:44 pm by DaveC113 »

Devil Doc

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I always consult with engineers who are not in the audio business and who have no interest in high performance audio. Their reaction to some of the stuff that's being sold to unsuspecting consumers is eye opening.

Doc

Roger A. Modjeski

I guess I don't see the difference between an attempt at an upsell in an audio salon vs my local car dealership or a contractor in my home.

If you don't understand the motivations of salespeople (only been doing it for closing on 20 years now, currently selling professional services), I guess it bugs you.

To me upsell means to get something better, not something extra that may or may not make a small difference where we hope the thing he just bought will make a big difference.

If I was selling preamps I might upsell someone to a preamp that has a balance control. I adjusted mine today because I like Emmylou in the center when she sings.

I am not opposed to well made interconnects that sell for a reasonable price. The ones supplied with a CD player generally have high capacitance, can be microphonic and may not make a good connection.

I am rather opposed to expensive power cords, power conditioners, premium fuses for several reasons.

1. We can't do much about all the wire from our house to Hoover Dam.

2. In a typical power amp the power transformer primary is wound with 50-100 feet of 16-18 solid industrial copper magnet wire. In a CD player the power transformer has over 100 ft of 26 gauge (very small) wire. Now what do we gain by switching out 6 feet of power cord from 16 gauge to 12 or 14.

3. Shielded power cords do nothing about the unshielded romex in most houses.
 
4. Unlike designing and building amps, speakers, front ends, the cable, power conditioner, fuse and powercord people don't need to know anything about electronics (it has been demonstrated in several posts on this forum they do not). It is an easy business to get into, just some hand tools.

The people who sell tweaks that have no technical basis don't need to know anything except how to get the audiophile to believe he is missing something. What amuses me is the pseudo-technical stores they make up. To someone who has a working understanding of electronics they sound pretty silly.

I had an amusing sales experience when I went to a car dealership to buy a used truck. The salesman was using various pressure techniques and I pointed out that doesn't work with me. I said, can't we just talk about this like people? His reply "we are not people, we are salespeople" :icon_surprised:

DaveC113

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« Last Edit: 9 Jul 2014, 03:44 pm by DaveC113 »

DaveC113

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......................
« Last Edit: 9 Jul 2014, 03:43 pm by DaveC113 »

Devil Doc

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"That's not a great idea. Why would you ask someone who has no experience to conjecture about what the facts really are?" DaveC113
1: They're not trying to sell me something. Never trust someone who is.
2: My Neighbor, a civil engineer, knows water runs down hill and has never tried to convince me otherwise.

Doc

Roger A. Modjeski

"That's not a great idea. Why would you ask someone who has no experience to conjecture about what the facts really are"
1: They're not trying to sell me something. Never trust someone who is.
2: My Neighbor, a civil engineer, knows water runs down hill and has never tried to convince me otherwise.

Doc

Doc, I am not sure who you are quoting here. Please include the quote.

opnly bafld

2: My Neighbor, a civil engineer, knows water runs down hill and has never tried to convince me otherwise.

Doc

Does he know how it gets back up hill?.......
Or did it take someone else to figure that out?

rbbert

I'm a non-engineer scientist in a family of engineers, and it's easy for me to say that engineers get things wrong all the time.

mcgsxr

I take no offense at the public perception of salespeople, most have only ever encountered one in a retail setting.  Tons of horror stories, including some I have experienced myself.

My father is an Electrical, as is one of my brothers, so I know the value and mindset of the education they share.

I think Roger made some great points about his interpretation of upsell, and in many cases he is right.

I also know that some less scrupulous people will snow anyone for a buck.

I get that it sticks in the craw of some folks that some are being taken.  I happen to know what sound I like, and I am happy to part with my $ to get it.  If I happen to have cloth ears and am fleeced often, at least I do so in the warm mantle of ignorance!   :lol:

RDavidson

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That's not a great idea. Why would you ask someone who has no experience to conjecture about what the facts really are? Engineers are only people, and are wrong ALL THE TIME! Others tend to put the "expert" hat on engineers and in time they start to actually believe it, even when it is completely unwarranted.

I hate to say it, but in industry that employs a lot of engineers, they don't tend to be a popular group because of their know-it-all attitudes and are often very difficult to work with.

As an Engineer, I can tell you they give away degrees to people that don't even comprehend calculus and have no business being in the profession at all. Take the "engineer" thing with a grain of salt, imo... it may mean absolutely nothing. (Yes, this also applies to me :))

Kudos Dave. I have great respect for people who willingly admit that they don't know everything, even when they are seen by others as "the expert." We all know that there are phenomena in this world that science can not, and may not ever be able to fully explain. And with that, as I've stated earlier, I try to keep an open mind, and maybe more importantly, I do my best to keep my mind open to learning new things. Knowledge is king. Experiences make us who we are.

James Romeyn

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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....

Have you compared AMR fuse to standard fuse wrapped with Teflon plumber's tape?  If yes, what did you think? 

srb

The standard fuse with Teflon tape would meet all necessary functional safety testing and certification.  Easy choice.

Steve