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Old 15th Oct 2017, 11:25 am   #161
Argus25
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

It seems awfully easy for people with electronics engineering knowledge to slag off the Audiophiles with derogatory remarks. But if you point one finger at someone else, you have three pointing back at yourself.

I submit that part of this problem has come about because as a group of Engineers and Scientists, we have failed in our job as educators. We dropped the ball.

What has happened is that one of the oldest sins, human greed, has been left to run rampant in the field of audio engineering. So now, with a bit of help from the internet, the marketing of audio related products has about as much meaning and truth as a copper bracelet to cure arthritis or a Homeopathic treatment for cancer.

Perhaps as a group we should be more active in creating scientifically based documentation on audio amplifiers and related products to help inspire a quest for relevance and scientific reasoning. Actually Silicon Chip in Australia have been good at this, with their many projects on low distortion amplifiers.

If we don't put effort in this area, then it will be hardly surprising that someone tells you a valve sounds better because it has a black plate or some specific type of getter.
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 11:41 am   #162
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

Look, all this really is very simple...

The hi-fi market has been declining for decades. Today, it's a minority interest for a very small percentage of the population, and it's harder than ever to make a living from it.

The present state of affairs is the response to this. Rather than waste time on the technical aspects of these cables and accessories, try studying the marketing of this stuff. Really study it - from inside the industry. It's simultaneously fascinating yet depressing yet somehow impressive. We as engineers are far too quick to dismiss marketing, but it's far more important than the actual product you're trying to shift. The people doing it have very, very different mindsets to ours, but they're just as smart as we are. Perhaps more so - which is the depressing yet inevitable conclusion when you compare salaries

People need to put food on the table, and they can't be too fussy about whose money they take...
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 12:46 pm   #163
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Argus25 View Post
I submit that part of this problem has come about because as a group of Engineers and Scientists, we have failed in our job as educators. We dropped the ball.

What has happened is that one of the oldest sins, human greed, has been left to run rampant in the field of audio engineering. So now, with a bit of help from the internet, the marketing of audio related products has about as much meaning and truth as a copper bracelet to cure arthritis or a Homeopathic treatment for cancer.
There is definitely some truth in this. But it's no more than half of the problem. The fact is that it's very difficult indeed, some would say impossible, to reproduce many musical performances, from small-scale pure-acoustic soloists and ensembles to massively amplified stadium rock, using any domestic stereo system. The best that can be done is to create a good impresssion of the real thing, enough of a 'reminder', if you like, to allow you to imagine that you're not on your own in your living room. But from the customers' point of view that leaves plenty of room for improvement. They want better. There is real consumer 'Pull' here as well as industry 'Push'.

An engineer/scientist might say "We've done the best possible. There's no more improvement to be had. Like it or lump it". A salesman might know this to be true but might tell the customer that the new kit contains technological improvements which will make a difference. He might be fibbing, but when it comes to the experience of audio we are all suggestible. So that fib, if it convinces us, can genuinely make our experience better. This is the critical point. Lying about electronics can't make a plane's autopilot work better. But it can make the sound of a hi-fi system better. And it can do so when the engineer/scientist has got no more to give. So in those circumstances how wrong is it to lie ? The salesman might argue that he has taken people's money and given them a better experience.

Where I definitely do object though is when someone tells me that my understanding of what's going on is wrong, and if I can't hear the improvement then I'm either deaf or simply trolling.

Quote:
Perhaps as a group we should be more active in creating scientifically based documentation on audio amplifiers and related products to help inspire a quest for relevance and scientific reasoning ... If we don't put effort in this area, then it will be hardly surprising that someone tells you a valve sounds better because it has a black plate or some specific type of getter.
This assumes that the customers will want to hear this message. I'm afraid a lot of them don't, and just won't listen. For those who do Ethan Winer's videos are well worth a watch e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zvireu2SGZM

Cheers,

GJ
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 1:07 pm   #164
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

There's a very old saying in the advertising industry: "Sell the sizzle, not the sausage."
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 1:29 pm   #165
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

Take a good, hard, look at the firms selling the snakiest, oiliest, silliest cables and they're tiny. Their turnover is minuscule in units per annum and they need the ludicrous prices to survive. No-one is getting rich on making this stuff. The snobby hifi boutiques handling multiple brands might be doing a little better but the real money comes from the quick turnover cheaper stuff and that's been sewn up by Currys, Richer Sounds, etc. Independent hifi shops, record shops, camera shops all wiped out.

It's a different world.

Many people are PROUD of not understanding 'technical" things.

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Old 15th Oct 2017, 2:37 pm   #166
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

I like the chassis!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refugee View Post
When I bade up the cabling for MP3/CD to a valve amplifier I put the loading resistors for the 30 ohm in the jack plugs at the amplifier end of the cable. It is common practice to match a cable run at the destination.
Yes I agree to match at the remote the end... But that's only if the cable has 30Ω characteristic impedance and also it's electrically 'long.' Assuming that it isn't, and also that the MP3/CD output you're using is the headphone output, why would you deliberately load this down? Almost certainly it'll just be a complementary NPN/PNP emitter-follower pair, with beefy enough devices to drive 30Ω without dying... why not give them an easier life by letting them just feed into a near open-circuit, and avoid any crossover distortion at the same time?

Last edited by kalee20; 15th Oct 2017 at 2:38 pm. Reason: Quote correction
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 2:52 pm   #167
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

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Originally Posted by GrimJosef View Post
Lying about electronics can't make a plane's autopilot work better. But it can make the sound of a hi-fi system better. And it can do so when the engineer/scientist has got no more to give. So in those circumstances how wrong is it to lie ?
Very wrong. Because a lie is practically always something that has some downstream destructive effects. Sometimes it is not obvious how it will. A lie could be one of the most well intentioned acts in the world, even set out to "help people" or make them feel better, but it often leads to trouble...because...someone believes it, and then acts on it and there is the problem.

People in the audio profession & business would be held in some regard by their non technical customers and asked for advice at times, there is a trust there. If the engineer or sales people push a fable, like the Emperors New Clothes, saying something is there, or some improvement, when its not, that trust is violated, regardless of whether the customer believes what they are told or not. Even if they feel happy about it and now think their stereo sounds better, it is wrong.

Look at the results of what amounts to the marketing lies in audio components, claims of superior sonics from valves, cables, tube sockets, capacitors, resistors etc. Then downstream someone on this forum is trying to do a period correct restoration and goes to get a valve and finds its $200 because it has been deemed an audiophile type type with black plates and superior sonics. This is the price we pay for the dishonesty in the marketing that made someone feel better. I've even seen EF50s' sold as audiophile tubes.
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 3:06 pm   #168
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

Heres a pic of some Naim speaker cable being sold second hand on a hifi forum, apparently it's directional? He's asking 200 euro for two 4.5m lengths (plus postage).

Mick
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 3:17 pm   #169
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

Adequacy is the enemy of perfection. Today's mass-produced amplifiers and speakers can give a performance that would once have been considered excellent. It's not perfectly linear from DC to RF, or even over the full range of human hearing; but it's good enough for most people, most of the time, so that's the way the market moves. Once you pass a certain price point, diminishing returns set in; but even before then, the amplifier and speakers will already be near enough perfect that the listening environment is going to begin to dominate.

The scientist or engineer can prove that there is no measurable difference whether or not a certain expensive gadget is used, but the audiophool can always protest that the instruments being used are simply not sensitive enough.
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 3:41 pm   #170
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mhennessy View Post
Look, all this really is very simple...

The hi-fi market has been declining for decades. Today, it's a minority interest for a very small percentage of the population, and it's harder than ever to make a living from it.

The present state of affairs is the response to this. Rather than waste time on the technical aspects of these cables and accessories, try studying the marketing of this stuff. Really study it - from inside the industry. It's simultaneously fascinating yet depressing yet somehow impressive. We as engineers are far too quick to dismiss marketing, but it's far more important than the actual product you're trying to shift. The people doing it have very, very different mindsets to ours, but they're just as smart as we are. Perhaps more so - which is the depressing yet inevitable conclusion when you compare salaries

People need to put food on the table, and they can't be too fussy about whose money they take...
So true Mark. And I can say that, having started out as an electronics test engineer (a techy) and ending up in the heady world of marketing communications in the electronics industry (a marketing man). Ok, that market is very different to the retail/commercial electronics side of electronics, but it's an area I have worked in since 1989 and rose to become a director of such a company. It's all about convincing a potential customer that what you are selling will make them feel 'how they want to feel' given the nature of the particular product that you are promoting. And in the case of audiophiles (I'll refrain from using 'audiophools' for a minute!) that's largely a feeling that:

1) It will improve and enhance their listening pleasure.
2) It will impress their friends and associates on forums.
3) It will give them a feeling of belonging to an elite group of people who appreciate better hifi equipment

I'm sure it creates other feelings too.

Out of interest, what does buying a new (vintage) piece of hifi equipment mean to me?

1) Nostalgia, it's probably a piece of kit that I saw as a teenager, lusted after but could never afford.
2) The pleasure and satisfaction of getting it to work properly.
3) It's visual appeal - new stuff just doesn't compare for me.
4) Hopefully it sounds better than the previous one. Doesn't matter that much though!
5) Maybe an investment if I bought shrewdly and made a good job of fixing it up.
6) The chance to share my problems and get advice from people on here while I fix it, and ultimately do a 'write up' that may help others.
7) The thought and satisfaction that I have 'saved' a relatively modern piece of hifi from being junked and turned it into a desirable piece for many similar minded collector enthusiasts.

I've digressed, but yes, esoteric, audiophile hifi equipment is all about money. And there is not a group of people on the face of this earth who at times will be 'economical with the truth' in order to make money. In fact, audiophile hifi equipment is as good an example as you will find.
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 3:54 pm   #171
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Argus25 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by GrimJosef View Post
... So in those circumstances how wrong is it to lie ?
Very wrong. Because a lie is practically always something that has some downstream destructive effects. Sometimes it is not obvious how it will. A lie could be one of the most well intentioned acts in the world, even set out to "help people" or make them feel better, but it often leads to trouble...because...someone believes it, and then acts on it and there is the problem.

People in the audio profession & business would be held in some regard by their non technical customers and asked for advice at times, there is a trust there. If the engineer or sales people push a fable, like the Emperors New Clothes, saying something is there, or some improvement, when its not, that trust is violated, regardless of whether the customer believes what they are told or not. Even if they feel happy about it and now think their stereo sounds better, it is wrong.
You make a distinct point below which deserves to be considered on its own. But with that exception I think we are now moving into the field of moral philosophy and, specifically, normative ethics https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normative_ethics. Most of the examples in this thread, including the issue which started it (cable burn-in), don't actually 'lead to trouble' or create 'downstream destructive effects' beyond (sometimes) parting the customer from their money without delivering the improvement they hoped for. The problem of customer dissatisfaction isn't confined to hi-fi, nor is it new, and over the millennia we have worked out remedies for it. So I think we're just left with the abstract 'right or wrong ?' discussion and the middle view seems to be that sometimes lying is unacceptable but sometimes it's OK (my friend introduces me to his wife, who's dressed up for an evening out, and he says "Doesn't she look great ?" and I say "Yes, she does" instead of "Well, not bad, but let's face it she's no oil painting" which might be most people's honest view). Each case needs to be decided on its own merits and views will differ. I'm afraid that's why I raised the question without venturing an answer ...

Quote:
Look at the results of what amounts to the marketing lies in audio components, claims of superior sonics from valves, cables, tube sockets, capacitors, resistors etc. Then downstream someone on this forum is trying to do a period correct restoration and goes to get a valve and finds its $200 because it has been deemed an audiophile type type with black plates and superior sonics. This is the price we pay for the dishonesty in the marketing that made someone feel better. I've even seen EF50s' sold as audiophile tubes.
This particular example of what we might call audiophoolery does involve negative consequences for some people. They have to be weighed against the positive consequences for other people. If the question of 'right or wrong ?' is difficult when there's no conflict of interest then it becomes even more difficult when there is one. You'd need the wisdom of Solomon to establish whose enjoyment of a rare valve is 'worth' the most ...

Cheers,

GJ
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 4:44 pm   #172
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

The need for 'burning-in' is a brilliant marketing invention.

Joe Q Audiophile buys a new cable, or a new piece of equipment, connects it up and expects to hear the revelatory experience the makers trumpet and the reviewers report.

It sounds the same. Is it faulty? Has he been told a load of bull? Is his hearing not as refined as he'd like people to believe? Is the Emperor coming out in goose pimples? These are worrying thoughts. Has he made an expensive mistake?

Don't worry, the concept of burn-in comes to the rescue. The wotsit simply hasn't had time to come up to its full wonderfulness. He needs to keep it running gently for several days for it to bed-in. Just like running in a car's engine. The amount of time is long enough for him to forget what things sounded like before the new thingy, and having it playing music to burn-in helps overwrite his memory.

By the end of the burn-in process he'll be able to believe there is an improvement just as he's been told there is.

It's one of the most brilliant ideas in maarketing. It ranks up with the invention of the disguised racing driver... That adds mystery and frees the producers to stick whoever is available in the disguise suit. there are some very bright people on the dark side!

David
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 5:01 pm   #173
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

Quote:
I put the loading resistors for the 30 ohm in the jack plugs at the amplifier end of the cable.
No need to do that, volts out will stay the same, all the 30ohm means is what the minimum resistance it can drive. You could have saved a number of pennies on the cost (grin).

And being a bit silly (if this thread wasn't silly enough, great fun though)...
Quote:
It is common practice to match a cable run at the destination
staying in the middle lane is also common practice, doesn't make it right.

Luckily today (for the last 40 years at least) we have audio stuff with low output impedance and high input impedance making cable irrelevant, even screening isn't required in most cases, just as well, the unbalanced unscreened twisted pair seems to have a following in the "interconnect" scene.

To top it all the RCA Phono "jack" is all pervading, quite a bad connector IMHO, OK it's more than good enough for audio and cheap, I use them because cables cost pennies and that saves loads of time soldering.

To sum up, it's bloomin' audio, nothing above 20kHz means anything (outside the box anyway), nearly DC as far as cables below a mile or so long are concerned. 20kHz is about 10 miles wavelength.
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 5:02 pm   #174
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

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Originally Posted by Radio Wrangler View Post
The need for 'burning-in' is a brilliant marketing invention.

Joe Q Audiophile buys a new cable, or a new piece of equipment, connects it up and expects to hear the revelatory experience the makers trumpet and the reviewers report.

It sounds the same. Is it faulty? Has he been told a load of bull? Is his hearing not as refined as he'd like people to believe? Is the Emperor coming out in goose pimples? These are worrying thoughts. Has he made an expensive mistake?

Don't worry, the concept of burn-in comes to the rescue. The wotsit simply hasn't had time to come up to its full wonderfulness. He needs to keep it running gently for several days for it to bed-in. Just like running in a car's engine. The amount of time is long enough for him to forget what things sounded like before the new thingy, and having it playing music to burn-in helps overwrite his memory.

By the end of the burn-in process he'll be able to believe there is an improvement just as he's been told there is.

It's one of the most brilliant ideas in maarketing. It ranks up with the invention of the disguised racing driver... That adds mystery and frees the producers to stick whoever is available in the disguise suit. there are some very bright people on the dark side!

David

Were this not the case, pre-burnt-in cables would be available (great value-added opportunity for suppliers), but are in fact conspicuously absent from the market.
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 5:27 pm   #175
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

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I like the chassis!


Yes I agree to match at the remote the end... But that's only if the cable has 30Ω characteristic impedance and also it's electrically 'long.' Assuming that it isn't, and also that the MP3/CD output you're using is the headphone output, why would you deliberately load this down? Almost certainly it'll just be a complementary NPN/PNP emitter-follower pair, with beefy enough devices to drive 30Ω without dying... why not give them an easier life by letting them just feed into a near open-circuit, and avoid any crossover distortion at the same time?
The amplifiers shake everything when cranked up a bit. They are heavy enough not to shake themselves to bits too.

MP3 players are almost all 30 ohm and most decent CD players also have a 30 ohm output so that is the lead I use. 33ohms it the normal value to go in the jack plugs.
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 5:55 pm   #176
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

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Were this not the case, pre-burnt-in cables would be available (great value-added opportunity for suppliers), but are in fact conspicuously absent from the market.
Tut, tut. Everyone knows that burn-in is about bringing your cables into a state which is harmonious with the rest of your system and, just as important, the particular range of music that you like. You can't honestly expect manufacturers to stock a whole range of cables suitable for different set-ups and musical genres .

Cheers,

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Old 15th Oct 2017, 6:29 pm   #177
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

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MP3 players are almost all 30 ohm and most decent CD players also have a 30 ohm output so that is the lead I use. 33ohms it the normal value to go in the jack plugs
They are rated at a maximum (current, minimum load resistance) and don't care in the slightest if they are not loaded at all, a few k ohms might (very very very much might if the following bit of kit is DC coupled to the input and has a huge input resistance) be useful. And do you use 30 (or is that 33) ohm cable?

Some may have noticed I have not included the output impedance of the unit which, in most cases, is near zero not matching any cable.
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 6:39 pm   #178
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

You could while away many days and a king's ransom auditioning different cables pre-burnt-in for different equipment and genres. What's more, with the burn-in wait no longer necessary, a nasty evil scientist could get a whole load of cables and do an immediate ABX set of tests.... ooo... errr! No, we can't have that!

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Old 15th Oct 2017, 6:40 pm   #179
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

So cables that were "used to", say, jazz, would not sound as good when the system was being used for listening to, say, folk?

That hypothesis would be worth testing, but for the inevitable accusations of insufficiently-sensitive measuring instruments .....
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Old 15th Oct 2017, 7:08 pm   #180
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Default Re: Audiophoolery. 'Cable Break In' - I never knew that!

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You could while away many days and a king's ransom auditioning different cables pre-burnt-in for different equipment and genres. What's more, with the burn-in wait no longer necessary, a nasty evil scientist could get a whole load of cables and do an immediate ABX set of tests.... ooo... errr! No, we can't have that!

David
Honestly, some people ! If the burn-in wait is a problem for you then you'll have to get one of these http://www.bluehorizonideas.com/prod...ories/proburn/ or these https://www.thecablecooker.com/ and burn your cables in off-line. They'll be better in some ways (it says so) but true audiophiles know they'll still continue to improve as they get used to your musical tastes.

The website for the second one makes the legitimate point that running your amp 24/7 to burn in your new cables does have the unfortunate side-effect of wearing out your NOS valves.

Cheers,

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