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A collection of anti-hifi [ripoff] information, cables, tweaks, expensive equipment...
jrbamford
post Sep 5 2003, 11:44
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I've often wrestled with the issue of hifi and whether its worth it or not...

I do believe they're are improvements to be had by spending a bit more... compared to an all in one mini system from an electronics store at £300 or more... or rather i used to believe it... its often difficult to try to even persuade hifi people to even consider the possibility of this.. obviously there is an element of protecting your investment in hardware (similar loyalties run deep in games consoles wars etc)...

Anyways i've seen links and discussions on this before, i thought it'd be good to try and collect all of this in one place.. I'm sure somewhere i got a stereophile article off someone on here (dibrom?!) about a blind test they did with interconnect or spaeaker wire.. using real cheap wire compared to some mid range hifi interconnect... few people managed to spot it... if any blindly...

Its this kind of information that'd be great to have to try and let people read about it and at least consider to potentially save them more money... so any articles, links to tests done or discussions would be great.. other than just informed discussion on this thread or links to other threads would be great...

Firstly i think it'd be good to confront the wires issue... leaving whether certain hifi equipment is even useful or not.. this kind of information would be more easily absorbed by hifi-ers than telling them that there really is no need to buy an expensive cd player if you already have one... also with dual output devices (my DAC has two outputs) its much easier to easily let ppl setup two interconnects and quickly switch to do some blind testing...

Thanks


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ScorLibran
post Sep 5 2003, 12:22
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I like this idea! I've often wondered whether someone's $11,000 speakers would really be ten times better than my $1,100 speakers. I've always doubted it...maybe twice as good, if that much (though it may be hard to quantify "good").

And I've seen similar tests on cabling, with very similar results (although I am actually guilty of perhaps overspending on "superextragood" cables both in my car and in my home...oh well, the money's gone now).

Anyway, I'll try to do my part and find any relevant information I can for this topic and post it here.
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jrbamford
post Sep 5 2003, 12:39
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QUOTE
And I've seen similar tests on cabling, with very similar results (although I am actually guilty of perhaps overspending on "superextragood" cables both in my car and in my home...oh well, the money's gone now).


me too on the overspending.. i "upgraded" a cable via my hifi shop 3 times finishing with £300 or more on this bloody cable.. its van den hul the first ultimate or something.. made of linear structure carbon rather than metal.. something to do with this technology makes amp hum a real issue.. I've just brought a turntable and tried this cable first.. the turntable output is nice and quiet but unforunately this involves getting the volume close to 1/2 on the dial... above this and the buzz from the cable is a real pain..

anyways i think most people will admit that speakers at least can make some difference.. there is a lot of scope for making the sound different.. whether its better or not who knows... as for other components i dunno but the leads are a good place to start and if i can prove to myself that my £300 is no better than my £30 one then i'll never waste that much money again (enough to buy a bloody component for gods sake smile.gif

Russ Andrews are a great company but they prey on this.. they rely on ppl wanting to spend on cables.. there are power cables they sell up to their top of the range silver ultimate power cable .. which is nearly £1000.... for a power cable!!!!!!! power cables are much more difficult to test.. un plug replug etc... i've blindly tested a cheap yello cable of theirs a few years ago, and the night and day differences i'd heard dissapeared under the pressure... the thing is ABX-ing close things on PC sometimes needs you to find the right bit.. this kind of small sound test, quickly switched is just not easily possible on anything other than interconnects with hifi...


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boojum
post Sep 5 2003, 13:36
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Wire is wire is wire. Heavy duty lamp cord will sound as good as anything. Some speakers do improve as the price goes up, but it is a law of diminishing returns, just like cars, TV, etc. There is almost as much BS in the hi-fi industry as in real estate and used cars. Same sales people in all three. B)


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2Bdecided
post Sep 5 2003, 13:45
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It does cost money to do some things well. And it costs a lot of money to do things very well!

This is hidden by the huge amounts of equipment where the price is the only selling point, ie "It's $10,000 so it must be good!"

I don't agree with everything on this site, but on hi-fi magazines I think he's spot on:

http://www.audioperfectionist.com/pages/magazines.html

Cheers,
David.
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jrbamford
post Sep 5 2003, 13:58
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QUOTE
Wire is wire is wire. Heavy duty lamp cord will sound as good as anything.


well with the free interconnects that came with my turntable i got yesterday i think i'm getting some interference/hum... what do i need to look for the minimum cost/spec of wire to cope with noisy interference... i have so much equipment in my room, including wifi, and various mobile phones its pretty much a nightmare scenario.. i assume some kind of decent shielding is what i need but will lamp cord have this?! or is the "heavy duty" part of your description going to satisfy this requirement...

Thanks for the link 2BDecided...


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2Bdecided
post Sep 5 2003, 14:10
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See my reply in the turntable thread. And if that doesn't help, maybe explain the problem more fully so we can follow your set-up.

I think the suggestion of "heavy duty cable lamp cord" is for speaker connections, not line-level - these have to be screened.
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fewtch
post Sep 5 2003, 14:28
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Cable capacitance is also a big issue with moving magnet phono cartridges... the interconnects shouldn't be too long, or treble frequencies can be lost (capacitance can alternately be tweaked at the phono stage, I think).

I think a lot of today's audio voodoo was carried over (incorrectly) from analog to digital days, since various tweaks that actually do something with turntables, do little or nothing with digital equipment.

This post has been edited by fewtch: Sep 5 2003, 14:50


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jrbamford
post Sep 5 2003, 15:34
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Thanks fewtch, i did wonder.. the one lead i would replace possibly will be the turntable to phono preamp ... and yes i have a moving magnet cartridge so... the question is what is required.. where can i get it from cheaply!? something with better interference protection than the thin ones that came with it... tho i will be fully testing out the suggestions in the turntable thread and using another cable which i believe is MUCH better (although MUCH cheaper) for this problem. argh!!! smile.gif a whole thread devoted to van den hul's (http://www.vandenhul.com i think) LSC technology and micro bridging whatever.. smile.gif ohh and there are those new eickmen bullet plugs for interconnects which sound good.. will get links later... at least the theory in that makes a little more sense... but again would we hear it smile.gif


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fewtch
post Sep 5 2003, 15:51
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I'd suggest using any well-shielded audio cable (maybe cut the RCA plugs off to use at the turntable end), and around 1 meter in length -- that should be sufficient (I think). You also need a separate ground wire going to the preamp/phono stage that's grounded to any metal on the table, and the tonearm as well -- hopefully you already have that.

If the cable you use has a separate braided shield, I think that's supposed to be grounded as well to bleed off charges (someone correct me on that, but I'm 99% sure).

This post has been edited by fewtch: Sep 5 2003, 15:56


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jrbamford
post Sep 5 2003, 16:23
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The turntable i got has RCA inputs anyways so thats good.. it came with its own wire complete with ground wire which i got connected between it and the phono preamp, the phono preamp is then connected to the proper amp (without phono stage) and there is no ground connection between the two amps...

So audio cables are the ones that let you have the capacitance you talked over earlier sorted?


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DonP
post Sep 5 2003, 16:43
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In the case of phono: if your preamp/receiver can't be close enough to your TT for a short cable, I think you are better off putting a separate phono stage right by the turntable than buying an expensive long cable.

On really cheap (line level) cables, they may abx as well as more expensive ones, but they are more susceptable to problems like a conductor detaching from the connector internally so the channel and/or hum cuts in and out when you wiggle the cable sad.gif
So for my money it is worth upping the ante to the $15-$20 level (ie cheapest Monster cables) for reliable construction without a dose of snake oil.

I have seen situations at stereo stores where exotic cables were worse in the end because
the connectors fit so tightly that they damage the equipment from the frequent recabling that comes from customers wanting to hear different combinations of gear.
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fewtch
post Sep 5 2003, 17:05
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QUOTE (jrbamford @ Sep 5 2003, 08:23 AM)
So audio cables are the ones that let you have the capacitance you talked over earlier sorted?

Ideally, it would be good to actually do some exact matching based on the cartridge and phono preamp input specs. In reality, I would think any cable like Monster or Radioshack Gold Series should be fine, as long as you keep it short.

This post has been edited by fewtch: Sep 5 2003, 17:16


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Audible!
post Sep 5 2003, 23:01
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Speaker cable "differences' over average distances are
usually entirely imagined (requires registration).



QUOTE
John Dunlavy, who manufactures audiophile loudspeakers and wire to go with it, does think questioning is valid. A musician and engineer, Mr. Dunlavy said as an academic exercise he used principles of physics relating to transmission line and network theory to produce a high-end cable. "People ask if they will hear a difference, and I tell them no," he said.

Mr. Dunlavy has often gathered audio critics in his Colorado Springs lab for a demonstration.

"What we do is kind of dirty and stinky," he said. "We say we are starting with a 12 WAG zip cord, and we position a technician behind each speaker to change the cables out."

The technicians hold up fancy-looking cables before they disappear behind the speakers. The critics debate the sound characteristics of each wire.

"They describe huge changes and they say, 'Oh my God, John, tell me you can hear that difference,'" Mr. Dunlavy said. The trick is the technicians never actually change the cables, he said, adding, "It's the placebo effect."
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jrbamford
post Sep 5 2003, 23:35
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Thanks Audible! great link.. thats what i'm talking about... the more tests we can get the better.. thats so cruel showing them expensive cables smile.gif wierd as he does sell these things yet says you wont hear it!?? why is he selling them then smile.gif


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Audible!
post Sep 6 2003, 00:53
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QUOTE
wierd as he does sell these things yet says you wont hear it!?? why is he selling them then


Apparently Dunlavy feels his cables are theoretically the best possible design and so he sells them to people who want "the best", regardless of whether it's audibly better to the ear in any way biggrin.gif
It seems like he has a good point - those people are going to pay too much for Somebody's speaker cable, it might as well be his.
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ChrisGranger
post Sep 6 2003, 10:22
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I would like to see a properly conducted ABX test of 1m interconnects. I highly doubt that anyone could tell the difference between expensive cable and the more generic ones. The ones that come with hi-fi equipment are sometimes shoddy, but that's more a construction quality issue rather than a sound quality one.

I agree with the advice above to get an entry level name brand cable like Monster. Then the quality is nice, gold plated connectors, etc. People who spend crazy amounts of money ($1000 for speaker wire, etc.) on cables do so out of fear that they're somehow missing the music with cheaper cables. It's silly. Do they rewire their CD players and amps (the inside circuits) to improve quality? Of course not, unless they're truly certifiable. rolleyes.gif

As for really expensive speakers sounding 10x better than ones that cost 10x less, well, I would use the analogy of exotic cars. Is a Ferrari 10x better than a Ford at a tenth of the price? It's entirely subjective. The super expensive speakers will probably sound a little better and that improvement will be worth the expense to some, and to others it will be a huge waste of money for not enough return.

The price of high-end gear often has a lot to do with construction though, so the price of those speakers may include real wood instead of wood-grain vinyl, hand-crafting instead of assembly line, limited edition products, that sort of thing. Price doesn't equal sound quality necessarily.


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ChrisGranger
post Sep 6 2003, 10:34
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Oh, and to reply to the initial post, I really think those all-in-one mini systems are vile, generally. Some of them may be acceptable but they often have terrible specifications and low power output. They're fine for listening to the radio or whatever, but hardly worthy of a serious music lover's attention.

The price of entry level equipment from a 'real' hi-fi manufacturer isn't too far above the cost of a mini system, so that's what I'd recommend to anyone on a tight budget. You can get very good sound for around US$1000 (CD player, integrated amp and speakers). That is, unless you work for UHF magazine. Those guys seem to think that a CD player under $2000 isn't fit to be used as anything but a doorstop. tongue.gif


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DarkAngel
post Sep 6 2003, 11:43
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I lost almost all faith in high end hi-fi magazines when i saw a certain UK magazine comparing digital audio cables. Fine, but they were coming up with stuff like 'this cable sounds more bassy, this one lacks treble', etc. Unless some cables have mini-dsp's hidden in them, there is a fundamental lack of understanding of digital audio technology. How a cable can produce errors in digital data which results in a change of sound shape is rather difficult to understand.
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Patsoe
post Sep 6 2003, 23:39
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QUOTE (jrbamford @ Sep 5 2003, 11:44 AM)
...Anyways i've seen links and discussions on this before, i thought it'd be good to try and collect all of this in one place...

I guess you mean you couldn't find them back tongue.gif

Here's a good one: http://www.roger-russell.com/ - scroll to his speaker related sites.
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polandro
post Sep 7 2003, 00:23
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If you want a link to a snake-oil type site try

CODE
http://www.belt.demon.co.uk/


QUOTE
"beginners pack"
We are offering to new customers a "beginners pack" consisting of a pack of Rainbow Foil, a jar of Cream-Electret, half a metre of Spiratube and two Red Ring Ties on crocodile clips and samples of three of the Morphic Message Foils for the inclusive price of 50 UK pounds or 75 US dollars or 75 Euros
ohmy.gif

Um, I can't support this guy's findings but maybe someone wants to ask for a free sample of P.W.B. Silver Rainbow Foil:

QUOTE
I sent for the free sample of Silver Rainbow Foil being offered at the time. Upon receipt of the foil, I applied the small strips to a number of CDs and then froze the discs, twice, in my refrigerator per Mr. Belt’s instructions. The foiled and frozen CDs sounded better than they had prior to the treatment.
rolleyes.gif

apparently

QUOTE
Mr. Belt’s products change our perception of the sound coming from our audio system. The sound is not changed in any way—it is our brain’s interpretation of the sound that is changed. This is not the sort of concept that receives great acceptance in the mainstream audio press—you know, the people who say there is no difference between zip cord and Nordost cables.
dry.gif

Anyway, I'll let you look for yourself. I think I am staying on topic according to the thread title laugh.gif
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Audible!
post Sep 7 2003, 00:29
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QUOTE
It's silly. Do they rewire their CD players and amps (the inside circuits) to improve quality? Of course not, unless they're truly certifiable.


Amusingly enough, some of the new mid-high end Yamaha recievers use Monster cable for interior wiring. Does it make a difference? Not that I can tell.

Monster speaker cable is drastically overpriced. Every blind or double blind test that I've seen between speaker cables shows that any 'differences' are not observed when the observer does not know beforehand which is which.

Component interconnects may be a different story. Gold plating on the other hand, is useless unless both connectors are gold or you live immediately adjacent to a body of salt water. Galvanic corrosion ensures that Ni plated -> Au plated interconnections cause the Ni plating to corrode faster than it would with Ni -> Ni or Au-> Au connections.
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Bongoboy
post Sep 7 2003, 00:50
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QUOTE (jrbamford @ Sep 5 2003, 11:44 AM)
Anyways i've seen links and discussions on this before, i thought it'd be good to try and collect all of this in one place.. I'm sure somewhere i got a stereophile article off someone on here (dibrom?!) about a blind test they did with interconnect or spaeaker wire.. using real cheap wire compared to some mid range hifi interconnect... few people managed to spot it... if any blindly...

I'd be a little doubtful about few people being able to spot the difference between mi-range an real cheap interconnects. Of course "real cheap" to me means the build quality of the ones that come with equipment just to make it work out of the box. I'v had some of those that were made from the super thin wire that's usually on cheap earphones.

I checked one set and it wasn't even shielded! I'm sure Faraday's rotting zombie carcass hunts that manufacturer in their sleep!

But...if you mean the $10-20 range entry level interconnects then it's really doubtful that they'd be ABXable by John Q Public, as the major thing is resistance, which will reduce line volume (and possibly act as a low pass filter if the wiring is very strange...) while other variables are relatively negligable. Capacitance can't do much at line leveIIRC, and inductance on a straight piece of wire next to a mains cable will likely reach a fraction of a uH - not enough to act as a high pass filter below the UHF range...

and shielded, low resistance cable is quite cheap...just don't do something stupid like using shielded 75ohm TV cable. laugh.gif

I knew that electrical engineering degree would come in handy one day! wink.gif


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Bongoboy
post Sep 7 2003, 01:24
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QUOTE (Audible! @ Sep 7 2003, 12:29 AM)
Gold plating on the other hand, is  useless unless both connectors are gold or you live immediately adjacent to a body of salt water. Galvanic corrosion ensures that Ni plated -> Au plated interconnections cause the Ni plating to corrode faster than it would with Ni -> Ni or Au-> Au connections.

what? I can think of at least two things wrong with that.

First of all Galvanic Corrosion (or electroplating as it commonly known) would be generally accelerated by saltwater of other electrolytic fluids, so obviously you would want matched metals near the sea.

EDIT: unless you meant "both connectors are gold AND you live immediately adjacent to a body of salt water." in which case, sorry.

secondly. Gold is the least chemically reactive metal. without the prescence of some extremely toxic (i.e. arsenic) electrolytic fluids or extremely high voltages it just will not electroplate anything but aluminium. That's why it is often used in engineering for as a protective coating specifically to stop Galvanic Corrosion. also Ni and Au are close enough on the anodic index that as long as the nickel is keptout of humid conditions it will not oxidise. (au=0.00 ni=0.30)

Also, Gold does not naturally oxidise, whereas Nickel does. (Incindentally, NiO is toxic. don't eat it. wink.gif )

So technically Au-Ni and is no more likely to oxidise than Au-Au. if anything Ni-Ni is the most likely to rust.

Unless you live somewhere wet like atlantis, of course. Then you should start worrying about that pesky galvanism.

This post has been edited by Bongoboy: Sep 7 2003, 01:26


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Audible!
post Sep 7 2003, 02:03
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QUOTE
First of all Galvanic Corrosion (or electroplating as it commonly known) would be generally accelerated by saltwater of other electrolytic fluids, so obviously you would want matched metals near the sea.

That is exactly right.
Au (all around) is desirable if general oxidation is a real issue obviously.

QUOTE
it just will not electroplate anything but aluminium.


You note that Ni is .30V and Au is of course naught. The likelyhood of galvanic corrosion happening is directly related to the difference on the anodic scale -> bimetallics will corrode at a higher rate than monometallics (all else being equal (namely plating not compromised) pure monometallics will not do so at all), with the more highly anodic metal doing the corroding.

The general rule of thumb in harsh environments is about half the difference here.
I.E. in outdoor environments no more than a ~0.15V difference is acceptable. In non-temp/humidty environments which are sheltered, ~0.25V is the standard.
(note that the difference here exceeds both these values)

The size of the difference in the index is somewhat irrelevant because I was contrasting it relative to monometallic couples, which by definition cannot constitue a galvanic 'cell' because electronegativity of the species is homogenous throughout.
No inherent potential difference means no cell.
No cell means no GALVANIC corrosion, yes?

"Electroplating" is of course not the only thing that can happen to cause problems with dissimilar metals in direct proximity. Cu will diffuse into Au if in contact with it. This is thoroughly undesirable if you wish to disconnect them at a point in the future. In addition, Au with Cu mixed in can corrode. Hence, Cu-Au couplings in industry almost invariably have an intermediate plate layer.

QUOTE
Also, Gold does not naturally oxidise, whereas Nickel does

Yup, hence it's (Au) always going to be cathodic in any bimetallic 'cell'.

edit: diffusion in reverse order, italics fixed, spelling fixed, clarity improved X3, "in addition"
next time I should edit before posting sad.gif

This post has been edited by Audible!: Sep 7 2003, 02:20
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