Originally Posted by VicAjax
1. taking the advice of you bastards.
My biggest mistake was not trusting myself enough to know what I want.
Originally Posted by Welly Wu
What are your top 10 mistakes in getting involved in this hobby?
For me (in no particular order):
- XM Satellite Radio
- SA-CD and DVD-Audio
- Power conditioning
- Modifications of stock equipment
- Reading high end audio magazines both online and in print
- Spending more money on hi-fi than music
- Online discussion forums
- Upgrading too much too fast too many times
- Spending too much money on hi-fi equipment only to have to sell it because you didn't factor in unexpected emergencies
Originally Posted by Welly Wu
Here is something I am doing right: reading more basic electronics, electrical engineering, and scientific journals about various aspects of our hobby. In other words, I am getting an education about transistors, op-amps, DACs, electricity, etc. from people who only want to sell me information instead of product literature.
Originally Posted by rsaavedra
The real top 1 mistake I have made was to solder the ~100 resistors on the Elma attenuator of my Dynahi in reverse order without noticing, so that volume goes up on it when turning it counter-clockwise
Very insightful post Welly Wu, reminds me of a link recently posted by someone to an article listing the 10 biggest lies in Audio. I particularly like the wise approach you have taken, phrase in bold here:
Originally Posted by Welly Wu
What are your top 10 mistakes in getting involved in this hobby? I performed a few searches and I was surprised to see that there was not a thread dedicated to this specific yet pretty broad topic.
For me (in no particular order):
XM Satellite Radio: the sound quality is beyond horrible. Take your favorite music and compress it hundreds of times more than a Britney Spears CD and then feed it through more processors before it gets beamed to you via satellite and I guarantee it is going to sound awful. I don't even know why I listen to XM anymore except for in the car, but I have a CD player. FM still sounds far far superior to XM any channel every day.
SA-CD and DVD-Audio. Fool me once, it's my fault. Every time I look at my ModWright LLC Pioneer Elite DV-59AVi, I look at my collection of SA-CD and DVD-Audio discs and I ask myself: WHY?! I hardly watch TV let alone DVD-Videos. There is something I got that I don't need to use. For your information, I stopped searching for good music on SA-CD (half of my music collection is classical) and DVD-Audio about two years ago...you know when the formats tanked. Chalk up two unnecessary features I will not get to use in the several years. Most of all, I am pissed that I allowed myself to get duped into the whole hi-rez garbage by high end audio magazines such as Stereophile or The Absolute Sound or this place. Sometimes I wonder if some of the people who make it their holy grail to defend these failed formats don't already get payolas from the rags to pimp the propaganda. Lesson learned the expensive way: identify existing technologies that have proven themselves and maximize their performance.
Power conditioning. I spent a boatload for essentially a glorified surge protector. I can not reliably tell the difference between regular A/C from the wall to my custom heavily modified BPT component or A/C cord. And I am doing sighted A-B tests! If you want to see high end audio at its worst, visit http://www.b-p-t.com and take a look at their marketing strategy and outrageous claims. Here is the truth: it doesn't work...period.
Cables. Another bogus piece of horse crap. I can safely say that my regular 18AWG zip A/C cord sounds just the same as my Cardas Golden Reference Power cord. I am also happy to report to you that my Blue Jeans Cable stereo RCA cables sound the same as my Cardas Golden Reference Interconnects. In other words, both make my music sound deeply involving, but neither sound different compared to one another in multiple A-B sighted tests. I don't have crappy equipment. I am not inexperienced with this hobby. I am just foolishly gullible.
Modifications of stock equipment. This has got to be the best marketing scam in the history of high end audio. Sell them something that can not possibly work as advertised and then sell them dubious upgrades that can not only possibly work but will void their warranty for the product. When I upgraded my BPT A/C cord and unit, that is a perfect example. When I modified my Pioneer Elite DV-59AVi, I simply spent more money to improve the performance of features that I no longer listen or watch. Great. I must have an inverse IQ curve. Moving right along to numero 10...
Reading high end audio magazines both online and in print. This has got to be the worst mistake that I have ever made in my entire life spent with this hobby. Taking what they write at face value in this day and age is simply foolish. Their business is to sell you a bunch of nonsense that can not be verified. They are all in cahoots with one another. There is massive collusion between manufacturers, audio writers, professional reviews, and advertisers. They all got each other's backs. Why is it that most of them don't bother to measure components with each review including power cords, loudspeaker cables, interconnects, etc? It's all subjective and impossible to recreate the same listening experience that the reviewer is writing about because you don't have the components or listening room. How can you expect me to extrapolate any meaninful information so as to transpose your experience into my reference system? Why don't you provide measurements for all components that you review including power cords, interconnects, loudspeaker cables, etc? Standardize measurements across the board if you expect us to spend tens of thousands of dollars on your stupid crap. Even worse, why don't you disclose how you acquired the component under review, your discounted purchase price as a member of the established review circuit, and the relationship(s) you have with the employees of the said manufacturer? High end audio is not regulated like other industries like investing. You want to give me a hot stock tip? Reveal your holdings. Moreover, why don't professional reviewers have to take a certification course or an exam to earn their credentials? Perhaps they ought to take an ethics or morals course or two or three to get their credibility. Any fool can write a review.
Spending more money on hi-fi than music. Mea culpa. Somehow, I got the notion that by upgrading components that I would upgrade my existing music collection without having to bother with that annoying thing called enjoying different music. I listen to the same music today four years into this insane hobby that I did before I spent a single penny or even discovered Head-Fi.Org. I got thousands of dollars invested in the hi-fi and less than 700 CDs. Hell, most of them are CD-R copies that I found at my local public library. I know hi-fi very well; it's just music theory or influential artists in each genre that I don't.
Online discussion forums. Head-Fi has been a stand out in terms of how people behave toward one another, but I have read some stupid and nasty sheeeiiitt that would probably get real people in real debates vis a vis killed with multiple gang gunshots or bleed out dead through stabbings. The most sad phenomenon I have ever seen is that we have all of this advanced communication but our civility, once you take away a human face, is stuck in the pre-stone Barney Rubble eons. I have seen grown up men who make a ton of money and have years of education and experience get stupid agnry (spelling is correct when you are that pissed too) just because some one with an ISP living on a tiny speck of dirt above sea level said their amplifier sounds bad even though they ain't never heard it. I have also seen people take one another's word as the koran, holy bible, budda philosophy, also known as the holy in grail word of knowledge and go and buy components unheard only to be unhappy and sell it at a loss to be able to afford another promising component because someone else said so. I guess one pump of the syringe just doesn't have enough milliliters to totally shut down incapacitated moronic neurons and unexcited neuro transmitters firing off blanks.
Upgrading too much too fast too many times. This has got to be the most expensive mistake that people make too frequently here. It is so pervasive that I am actually going to get serious in my tone and say, "I'm sorry for you." After four years of being involved in what seemed to be a fun hobby of ours, I honestly truly deep down to the small intestines in my gut have a conviction: people believe they can own perfection. It must be this. This has got to be the driving motivation for most people caught in this sad dog chase tail vicious cycle. Tyll Hersens wrote it best and I'll paraphrase him: it's better to own less stuff but of far superior quality than a lot of garbage. Oh yeah, we ain't all presidents of a headphone company so we don't need his stash neither. Following his philosophy, minimalism ensures happiness so long as you obtain the best you can afford. Numero 10 is last.
Spending too much money on hi-fi equipment only to have to sell it because you didn't factor in unexpected emergencies. They tell you in investing to never part with money you need to live on. They also tell you not to put all of your money into one investment vehicle. Why don't people transpose these basic common sense fundamental principles with high end audio? I remember a member who bought top of the line equipment only to have to sell almost all of it in a few short months because he had a lot of debts (already) and an unexpected crisis forced him to part with his stash...at severely reduced prices because time was not on his side. Why research, work, save, and buy more than you can afford only to regret selling it later? Do people have any concept of how dangerous it is with material goods especially luxury ones? This crap is not investment grade. It will always depreciate though high end audio does hold its value. It will not deliver a historic 10% return on investment over the next 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 years. It can not be easily liquidated and it does not convert to other investment options readily. The smartest thing I have had to force myself to learn is to do two things: 1. create a realistic budget with spending and savings goals, 2. follow Templeton's 50/50 principle whereby I save 50% of what I want to buy (i.e. Wadia 302 at $5050 USD) and I spend 50% on the item that I want to buy. So, I am protect myself against uncertainty. Tomorrow is not going to go down like yesterday. It is not promised to me. Sure, it takes a hell of a lot of time. I literally have the money to leverage all of my assets for a CD player right now. But, for a CD player?! C'mon.
Here is something I am doing right: reading more basic electronics, electrical engineering, and scientific journals about various aspects of our hobby. In other words, I am getting an education about transistors, op-amps, DACs, electricity, etc. from people who only want to sell me information instead of product literature. I walked into this hobby wide eyed and open hunting season was declared on my wallet. Now, I have a better solution than trial and error. Remember, these were my mistakes that I am sharing with others. I am not attacking anyone here and I have named no names.
Please share. My hope is that the open discussion framework will serve as an antidote or a self-check. I know that I really went gung ho with this thread, but I have got to get this stuff out there because I can't stand seeing otherwise well educated, well heeled, and honest people making some or all of the same mistakes that I did. It kills me to recount my own mistakes in this hobby. Seeing others make the same mistake while biting my tongue is like premeditated murder.
Originally Posted by digitalmind
Great post Welly Wu! Nice read.
I have nowhere near the amount of experience with audio equipment as most people here, but I most likely have a greater knowledge of electronics than those people. Because of my lack of experience I can't say much about most your points, other than they sound very logical to me. However, I too am very sceptic about power conditioning and most of all cables.
I'm currently studying for my masters in micro electronica design, and one of the 10 week projects I've thusfar finished was to design, build, and test an 8 watt audio amp. I've tried cheap cables and expensive ones (but none of the here frequent used brands -- but so called "good" cables nontheless), from to the speakers aswell as in the amp itself, and there was no difference on either a scope or my ears.
Opamp rolling in the preamp stage gave a slight, slight effect, and only on the scope (and only in frequencies we don't hear anymore) and nothing big enough to hear (for me that is -- I couldn't tell the difference between a NE5532 and a OPA2132). It could very well be that my ears are whack, but I highly doubt the scope was.
And oh, about powerconditioning. A simple dual RC filter with the price of sub 10 usd will clean any noise from the power line. 2 capacitors and 2 resistors is all that is needed to give a nice clean line. This will work in any situation, whether a headphone amp or anything else. (Totally out of context, but I visited a gas drilling installation last week where they have a 23 MegaWatt (to put this in perspective, it drains more power than a 50 thousand people city) engine which they used to compress that gas in the earth to 300 bar, what a beast... and yes, it was regulated by a simple RC filter, although that filter was about the size of a house. )
I have a friend who is into audio aswell, and he's a firm believer that cables do make a difference. I showed him my results, and he dismissed them. In my opinion, audio is like Hoodoo -- it only works if you believe in it. Fine by me, if thinking that a system sounds better with high priced cables makes the listening experience better, then by all means, go for it.
Offcourse, this hobby is 95% subjective, and this forum is all about sharing what one thinks of something. And that sometimes includes recommending things that are rubbish. People, make sure you know the facts of something before you buy it -- don't fully rely on opinions of others.
Originally Posted by JaGWiRE
Heh, I think a lot of it is psychological too. Personally, the only reason I would buy an expensive cable is for the sexy braiding / look of it, but I'de rather build my own and have that nice look. If you were using a software based scope (bleh, too lazy to type full name of scope, kind of a hard name to type, eh) why not post some results here. I don't have trouble believing what your saying though.
Originally Posted by digitalmind
The scope I used had a printer out and floppy drive, so I have a bunch of screengrabs and also logged alot in documents. I don't have logs of the cables, as that was just done for fun and wasn't part of the assignment. Alot of my work is only in printed form, but I could scan a couple of the scopes readings, focussing on clipping points of opamps (most of the tested opamps didn't clip untill well above 100kHz and nearing 200kHz, and displayed the same measurements across the board).
Will do this in the coming week, bit busy now.
Unfortunatly, all documentation is in dutch, but here's the final document that was delivered with the amp on completion. The schematics are in there, along with some measurements. It consists of a balance setting, tone adjustment (bass +-, treble +-, and bass frequency adjustments and treble frequency adjustments), volume, and the power amp.