Poll

What is your opinion of the majority of tweaks being discussed in magazines, forums and dark alleys

I think most tweaks are foolish and a waste of money
19 (27.1%)
I think tweaks are worth trying and I dont mind spending money on things that may or may not improve my system
17 (24.3%)
I think the specious arguments that most tweak makers propose should be exposed by knowledgeable people in the industry
21 (30%)
I think you have a chance of stemming the tide of foolishness, count me in.
4 (5.7%)
I love my tweaks and look forward to the next one
9 (12.9%)

Total Members Voted: 70

Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.

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Roger A. Modjeski

Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« on: 9 Jul 2014, 06:33 am »
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debunker

Hi,

I am interested in gathering together a group of Debunkers to expose the foolish and sometimes harmful "tweaks" that are becoming all more prevalent in our cherished hobby. Please read the definition above before you join this effort.

Here is Websters definiton of tweak, a verb not a noun; to change (something) slightly in order to improve it : to make small adjustments to (something)       http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tweak 

Somehow things we buy have become called tweaks. Perhaps they had better be called "upgrades" though I am not fond of that term also as some upgrades are actually downgrades. I invite others to come up with some suggestions on a name.

Scientific arguments on either side are most welcome. There are plenty of other sites to air non-scientific opinions.

Commentary on how tweaks harm or help our industry are welcome. There is a poll if you simply want to vote on that point.

I for one, and many others here are tired of the specious claims of the makers of useless tweaks. Perhaps we should start a site to "lampoon" the most egregious of them.

In a previous post, RIP, Tuning Fuses became the main topic. While pleased with over 2700 views in three days we did not come to any conclusions. I hope for better participation here.

The goal is quite simple. The magazines in print and online along with the forums are mostly in favor of tweaks. Perhaps we can stem the tide. There are better thing to spend our money on useless tweaks of questionable merit.   

In the early days of Hi Fi writers both professional and laymen made genuine cases for things to improve sound. They were backed up with logic and science. This is the bugle call of this post.

I am not asking everyone to be a scientist, but I am asking them to be open to scientific discussion. There is plenty or unscientific discussion going on so no need to do it here. Here we hope to add some sanity to this hobby and perhaps save someone the cost and embarrassment of another Tice Clock.
« Last Edit: 9 Jul 2014, 04:01 pm by Roger A. Modjeski »

neobop

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Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #1 on: 9 Jul 2014, 12:52 pm »
I vote none of the above.  By lumping all tweaks together you are at great risk of having this whole thing seen as arbitrary and illogical and with a high likelihood of backfiring.

If I refine the alignment of my phono cartridge, I'm tweaking it.   If I clean my plugs and jacks, ditto.
Definition of terms?  You can't lump all tweaks together and make any kind of meaningful statement.

That said, I doubt if you could prove something like tuning fuses can't possibly work.   I'm not an advocate of tuning fuses, but likelihood is not proof.
It will be interesting to see what's written here.
neo


rooze

Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #2 on: 9 Jul 2014, 01:49 pm »
I vote none of the above.  By lumping all tweaks together you are at great risk of having this whole thing seen as arbitrary and illogical and with a high likelihood of backfiring.

If I refine the alignment of my phono cartridge, I'm tweaking it.   If I clean my plugs and jacks, ditto.
Definition of terms?  You can't lump all tweaks together and make any kind of meaningful statement.

That said, I doubt if you could prove something like tuning fuses can't possibly work.   I'm not an advocate of tuning fuses, but likelihood is not proof.
It will be interesting to see what's written here.
neo

I tend to agree with neobop on this.
« Last Edit: 9 Jul 2014, 04:18 pm by rooze »

fastfred

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Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #3 on: 9 Jul 2014, 02:00 pm »
I vote none of the above.  By lumping all tweaks together you are at great risk of having this whole thing seen as arbitrary and illogical and with a high likelihood of backfiring.

If I refine the alignment of my phono cartridge, I'm tweaking it.   If I clean my plugs and jacks, ditto.
Definition of terms?  You can't lump all tweaks together and make any kind of meaningful statement.

That said, I doubt if you could prove something like tuning fuses can't possibly work.   I'm not an advocate of tuning fuses, but likelihood is not proof.
It will be interesting to see what's written here.
neo

 There are many manufacturers who claim Quantum theory, string theory, & particle physics went into the design of the product they' re trying to sell.
One example ...... "little black boxes" which claim to have some proprietary circuitry inside which alters the air in the listening room to make it more
compliant. These little black boxes sell for $1500 which according to the reviewer you need at least 4 or 5 of them to really notice the effect. How do you
measure the compliance of the air in a room. I think this is a good example of the kind of tweak Roger is talking about. In the review of the product it was
noted that the designer..... had a background in physics.

« Last Edit: 14 Jul 2014, 09:12 am by fastfred »

Devil Doc

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Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #4 on: 9 Jul 2014, 02:30 pm »
I vote none of the above.  By lumping all tweaks together you are at great risk of having this whole thing seen as arbitrary and illogical and with a high likelihood of backfiring.

If I refine the alignment of my phono cartridge, I'm tweaking it.   If I clean my plugs and jacks, ditto.
Definition of terms?  You can't lump all tweaks together and make any kind of meaningful statement.

That said, I doubt if you could prove something like tuning fuses can't possibly work.   I'm not an advocate of tuning fuses, but likelihood is not proof.
It will be interesting to see what's written here.
neo
I don't consider the things you mention, tweaks. Cleaning contacts and adjusting ones turntable are just normal maintenance.

Doc

rollo

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Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #5 on: 9 Jul 2014, 02:34 pm »
   Roger are you saying companies like Synergystic Research, Herbies, Mapleshade are Charletons ? Did you hear the demo of the Synergystic HFT's using a Bose radio at Rocky mountain ? Ever try Maplehade products ? Herbies TT Matt ?
    When a company offers a 30 day money back guarr. what is the fuss all about ? If one is willing to learn something good or bad and gets their money back if desired let it be.
     Now pet rocks and the like are out there for sure and anyone who falls for them well what can I say. however there are many products that actually make a difference. We have tested many using blind tests in our AudioSyndrome Audio Club.
      Getting into a debate that is system dependent and subjective is waste of time. We have two members who use your Amplifier. We have experienced a change for the better using NOS tubes, Synergystic fuses and footers. One installed Duelund CAST caps which was a serious improvement. We have brought the amp to several homes with different components and speakers. Some combos sounded fabulous some horrible. Same amp different set ups.
      In general the buyer must be pleased with the result. Wether actual or perceived improvement. Perception is key not someone else's opinion.  If we able to measure why we cannot get the live sound at home that we hear live then I would agree that measurements and the science  are the only determining factor in what we hear. Until then tweak away.


charles
 

DaveC113

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Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #6 on: 9 Jul 2014, 02:39 pm »
................
« Last Edit: 9 Jul 2014, 03:41 pm by DaveC113 »

neobop

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Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #7 on: 9 Jul 2014, 02:41 pm »
I don't consider the things you mention, tweaks. Cleaning contacts and adjusting ones turntable are just normal maintenance.

Doc

No, that's exactly what tweak means.
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tweak

neo

Roger A. Modjeski

Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #8 on: 9 Jul 2014, 03:35 pm »
I vote none of the above.  By lumping all tweaks together you are at great risk of having this whole thing seen as arbitrary and illogical and with a high likelihood of backfiring.

If I refine the alignment of my phono cartridge, I'm tweaking it.   If I clean my plugs and jacks, ditto.
Definition of terms?  You can't lump all tweaks together and make any kind of meaningful statement.

That said, I doubt if you could prove something like tuning fuses can't possibly work.   I'm not an advocate of tuning fuses, but likelihood is not proof.
It will be interesting to see what's written here.
neo

Neo makes some good points here, so I will experiment with tweaking my post.  :D

I wo
No, that's exactly what tweak means.
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tweak

neo

I agree with Doc that cleaning contacts, adjusting turntables are normal maintenance. These practices actually fit the Webster definition better than the current use of the word which I take to mean buying something based on the claims of others that cannot be supported in any other way than subjective.

I would like to see members here sharing things they have done to improve their systems, especially things that do not require significant expenditures of money.

As to tuning fuses, unlike magic dots they can be harmful to your system. The manufacturer is making a claim that he reduces microphonics in his fuse construction. Just how is a fuse microphonic and just how could that affect my system even if it was? I think I will go hook up a microphone  to the power line and start talking to people thorough their systems. Gee why didn't Bell think or that.

One of the many things that offend me about the purveyor of Tuning Fuses is his claim, as expressed on his website, that manufacturers use the cheapest components they can find. For example: est. 90% used IC's in the Hifi - Equipment cost around $ 0,80 a piece, but the Highest - Quality IC's cost est. $ 60.00 a piece or more! Perhaps he naively believes that price equals quality. Perhaps he doesn't know or care to find out that a $60 op amp (there are very few) is designed to optimize some difficult characteristic, like offset, that wouldn't matter a hoot in an audio application. Perhaps he doesn't know that some op amps are very expensive because they are obsolete and in short supply. Perhaps he doesn't know that some 60 cent opamps are also available in a metal can and because that configuration is made in very small quantities it costs a lot more.

When I go shopping for op amps, such as the one I am using in the servo for my OTL,  I note that the same part number varies in price widely with the letters on the end. Perhaps he doesn't know what these letters mean. In many cases they mean an op amp is selected from production to have optimum characteristics in some particular area that might be important in one application but not in my application. The letters also describe the temperature range the part is guaranteed to operate over. It costs more to make or select an op amp to run over a wide temperature range. We don't need our op amps to operate from -55 to +125 C. Here are the temp ranges used by makers of electronic parts. Wider ranges cost more. Is that money well spent or would it be better spent on a bigger power supply or more isolation from the power line.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operating_temperature

The silicon used in a $60 op amp is the same silicon as in a 60 cent op amp. I invite you to read the whole page http://www.hifi-tuning.com/index_eng.html. I also find it odd that although he is the creator of HI FI Tuning Fuses I could find no mention of them on his website.

Speaking of Mapleshade, I have been getting his catalog for years and I feel the man is making an honest effort to make something real. At least his products won't damage your system. His brass tube covers have a good chance of reducing microphonics in tubes. If properly used they do no harm. I do think it is appropriate for us to mention particular problems we might have encountered with anyone's products. For instance I repaired some of his cables and found the copper foil to be very fragile. That is something that would be useful to know and perhaps he could improve.

I think we all want to see better products. I think the ones making specious claims should be discussed as to the validity of those claims. My interest is education. Read the post http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?. I entered this discussion to give the reader some simple rules that would allow him, from reading simple specs, to determine if an amp has the possibility of being class A. Many manufacturers are claiming class A when their very specs say otherwise. Once a person understands what class A means he can decide for himself is the claim is true. The discussion has also brought up the question Is class A bias even necessary in today's amplifiers?

I have chosen Tuning Fuses as an example because the claims by the maker and the reviewers are so much like what Harry P said to me years ago about High End audio. "Hi Fi is a drug and I am the Hi Fi pusher" When a reviewer of some merit says "I loved listening to this CD player, but when I replaced the fuse this rather good player became a world class player" I have to wonder what is going on in his mind.  We who make things work hard at our craft. OEM pricing on many "audiophile" capacitors, fuses etc. often has a 70% discount off what the public can buy it for. If the maker of the CD player could transform his good player into a world class player with a fuse that cost him a few bucks, wouldn't he.

High End audio is not supervised or regulated by any agency. Consumer Reports doesn't even notice us. Perhaps we need some organization or forum to look at equipment objectively. We certainly have enough organizations looking at it subjectively. Although subjective tests may be amusing there is no end to them.


Wayner

Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #9 on: 9 Jul 2014, 03:55 pm »
Even if we use the definition of a tweak supplied by neobop, the concept is a moving target. Simply put, we have no reference line to compare it to. The tweak may make it sound different, but is different better, or just plain different. I have tried many tweaks over the years and almost all of them have been undone the day after I tried them. Why? Because the tweak was just that, an alteration.

One has to ask some of those age old questions. For example, there are studies that suggest that most of the food that we taste is actually stimulated by our eyesight. And the other question I have is why does buttered toast taste better with the butter side up? I thought all the taste buds were on our tongues?

We all know that we hear music with our ears, but we can also feel it with our nerve endings in our skin. We feel it in our bones. Perhaps our eyes contribute as well. On top of that, I believe that temperature and humidity (that change from day to day) affect the way we hear things.

Oh, did I forget that we are a moody lot?

paul79

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Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #10 on: 9 Jul 2014, 04:21 pm »
I'll play...

Don't know what these technically are, or even if one can say, "this is a technical tweak, system upgrade, maintenance, necessity", or whatever... Just my experiences on some things that improved or did not.

NOS Tubes made marked improvements to my tube amps. Primarily the driver tube. Any new production signal tube has yet to surprise me. Some are good, but none have the magic that some of the NOS tubes can give.

Another improvement is feeding my entire system with a PI Audio UberBuss. This is one fantastic product that only improved my system in all ways, and this is not subtle. I show people what it does regularly, and I get some looks and some "What happened?" when I do this. I've garnered sales for Dave more than a few times doing this.

Isolation on my TT and CD transport made nice improvements as well. Never heard any differences using isolation under anything else.

Damping tubes has done nothing but negative things here, but I will say I've never spent more than a few cents on some O rings to try this... Also only tried on the top and or bottom of the tube, cause I don't want to mess up the pretty print :)

Absorption and diffusion considered a tweak? If so, this made tremendous improvements to my listening room. No question.

Never tried or even thought of trying audiophile fuses. I won't put them in my system for fear of something happening. Tried and true is where I stand in this regard.

My system, my ears, my brain..... YMMV...


srb

Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #11 on: 9 Jul 2014, 04:26 pm »
Fascinating stuff, this variability of human perception and the interaction of our different senses, environmental conditions and emotional state.

I hadn't really thought about it, but it kind of makes sense that eating toast buttered side down when angry wouldn't be as satisfying as butter-up & happy.

Steve



paul79

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Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #12 on: 9 Jul 2014, 04:33 pm »
LOL! Butter on just about any food makes me happy. ;)

Devil Doc

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Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #13 on: 9 Jul 2014, 05:01 pm »
Why does buttered toast taste better butter side up? Because you can't taste it on your shirt.  :duh:

Doc

kernelbob

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Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #14 on: 9 Jul 2014, 05:07 pm »
I also think the topic is too broad and vague.

If using contact cleaner is a tweak, is it suggested that the effects of contact cleaner/conditioner are inaudible?  In my experience the sonic benefits are obvious.

Regarding tube dampers.  My experience has alos been that o-rings consistently muddy the sound.  However, the tube damper devices from Herbies Audio Labs have been (again obviously so) totally positive.

As far as cables, some would say that there's no difference in how cables sound.  Some would probably say that different cables can't possibly matter.  My experience is that differences are easily audible, power cords especially, in my system.  I can easily demonstrate the difference to even the most totally non-audiophile.

Absolute phase?  That's another easily demonstrable item that, again even for the non-audiophile, can be easily demonstrated in my system.

There are of course systems where the differences between cables, tube dampers, parts, solder, etc. won't be audible.  I'm only reporting on my first hand experience and that of others first hand experience.

Personally, I'd be leery of purchasing a product from a designer who says that different wire types don't matter, that different solder doesn't matter, that different types of caps, resistors, etc. don't matter.


AJinFLA

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Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #15 on: 9 Jul 2014, 06:33 pm »
Perhaps we need some organization or forum to look at equipment objectively.
Like this? http://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2011/1/Russ-Andrews-Accessories-Ltd/TF_ADJ_49597.aspx#.U72A8rGTHqQ
Methinks we have too many lawyers here for that to work.

Although subjective tests may be amusing there is no end to them.
That's the part I like. :wink:
In all honesty Roger, I think you're wasting you time. Believers are going to believe, whether it's magic power fuses or power bracelets http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_Balance. They all "work" on some, regardless. It's only human. Can't change that.
You seems to make some very nice amplifiers. That's where I would concentrate my serious efforts.
View the rest as solid, unending entertainment.  :green:  http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/1107awsi/

cheers,

AJ

Roger A. Modjeski

Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #16 on: 9 Jul 2014, 06:33 pm »
Even if we use the definition of a tweak supplied by neobop, the concept is a moving target. Simply put, we have no reference line to compare it to. The tweak may make it sound different, but is different better, or just plain different. I have tried many tweaks over the years and almost all of them have been undone the day after I tried them. Why? Because the tweak was just that, an alteration.


We can conduct some experiments if we have the time and interest.  Perhaps we can share how we go about determining if a change is worthwhile or not. AB testing works for me, however it takes a lot of effort to set up. I want to hear the difference in a controlled situation. As Wayner said, We are a moody lot and I hope to minimize that effect.

Perhaps others would like to share how they evaluate changes in their system.

corndog71

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Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #17 on: 9 Jul 2014, 07:29 pm »
Having an open mind about this stuff is what got me into this hobby.  Back in 1994 I was reading and learning everything I could about car audio since I spent a lot of time in my car.  I had little interest in a home stereo.  While I'd always been impressed by the Bose and B&O demos I had not learned about true high end audio until my brother threw a catalog from the local hi-fi shop into my lap.  I saw $5000 speakers on the cover, laughed at the absurdity and tossed it in a corner. 

Months later and after upgrading the receiver and speakers in my car I was looking for ways to maximize the sound quality in my car.  I found that catalog again and despite the ridiculous prices (I was making roughly $800/mo at the time) I found in the back they sold Kimber Kable.  I'd heard of Monster cable but was surprised that I had never heard of Kimber even though they got started in the late 70's.  I was intrigued enough that I took a trip out to the shop.  I listened to the $5000 speakers and was thoroughly impressed.  I heard a sound stage for the first time!  While they were using the Kimber cables in their systems it seemed to me that these expensive electronics and heavy speakers did most of the work.  I was skeptical but wondered if even just one pair of RCA interconnects could make a difference.  I had a small external amp mounted under my dash which was connected to my receiver via two 1/2m pr. of those cheap freebie RCA cables.  (I'm guessing they were out of 1m cables that day or were just being really cheap when they installed my amp. Seeing their shoddy install work made me realize I could've done it better myself)

Since cars were supposedly more "noisy", shielded interconnects were imperative.  But Kimber's cheapest cable, the PBJ, was unshielded. I was torn.  The next step up was a semi-shielded version of PBJ called the KC-1 for roughly $70.  I swapped that in and played my discman and heard a lot more detail than I was used to hearing.  At some point I had doubts  about that "shield" and decided to strip it off leaving just the bare PBJ and take my chances with it being unshielded.  It actually sounded better and the audiophile bug bit hard at that point.

Since then I tried all kinds of cheap tweaks.  Most with little to no appreciable changes.  Eventually, I had to accept that many tweaks were mostly placebo effect.  I even tried one of those Hi-fi fuses which lasted about a week until the cheap 5AR4 tube went belly up in my ST70.  The fuse cost more than the tube!  I never did hear any difference either.  I still use Kimber Kables.  Mostly the 4VS and 4TC speaker cables as they're reasonably priced and they've consistently sounded better than every cheaper speaker cable I've tried.*

I don't dabble in tweaks as much as I used to.  Cap rolling is about all I do these days.  Lately, my main system has been sounding pretty damn satisfying so the obsession has diminished.

*For Roger...

Kimber 4VS (Polyethyline insulation)
(Cp) parallel capacitance:   340.0 pF @ 20 kHz
(Ls) series inductance:   0.596 µH @ 20 kHz
(Rdc) dc loop resistance:   0.041 Ω
(Xt) total reactance:   0.075 Ω @ 20 kHz
Frequency response ± 0.5 dB: dc - 250 kHz

Kimber 4TC (Teflon insulated)
(Cp) parallel capacitance:   362.0 pF @ 20 kHz
(Ls) series inductance:   0.715 µH @ 20 kHz
(Rdc) dc loop resistance:   0.038 Ω
(Xt) total reactance:   0.071 Ω @ 20 kHz
Frequency response ± 0.5 dB: dc - 500 kHz

srb

Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #18 on: 9 Jul 2014, 07:55 pm »
It should be noted that the specifications above for the Kimber 4VS and 4TC cables are for a 2.5 meter length with bare ends, so if comparing to other cables you could divide by 2.5 for the value per meter or divide by 8.2 for the value per foot (except of course for the frequency response!).

Steve

RDavidson

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Re: Debunking Tuning Fuses et al.
« Reply #19 on: 9 Jul 2014, 09:00 pm »
I don't consider the things you mention, tweaks. Cleaning contacts and adjusting ones turntable are just normal maintenance.

Doc

+1 I think a tweak is something that may not universally benefit any/all users 100% in all situations. Realigning a cartridge should be 100% beneficial in all instances (unless it was just re-aligned 5 minutes ago). Assuming contacts are dirty, cleaning them should also be 100% beneficial in all instances. Say you go overboard with the realignment and cleaning routine and do it daily. The benefit is still there, but the actual perceived improvement may be unnoticeable. That just makes you tweaky....er......obsessive compulsive. :thumb:
« Last Edit: 10 Jul 2014, 02:31 am by RDavidson »