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Testing audiophile claims and myths

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by prog rock man, May 3, 2010.
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  1. taffy2207
    LP's were the excuse I had to let girls into my bedroom with my Foster Father. :thinking: "But she doesn't have a Record Player".

    I used to love the ritual. Tearing off the Cellophane, blowing on the disc, reading the sleevenotes etc.

    I don't miss the sound, but to this day, hearing certain Albums evoke memories of when I bought the LP, the first time I heard it or the rituals involved.

    Edit I had a Dual CS 505 for the curious.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2019
    bfreedma likes this.
  2. KeithEmo
    I used to get a little bit of that feeling....

    But I would also have to worry about turning down the volume, and not putting the needle down too hard, and not accidentally sliding the stylus across the record, and whether there would be any new ticks or scratches that weren't there the last time I played it and, if I heard a tick, whether that speck of dust had just become permanently embedded in the surface of the vinyl... and we won't even discuss whether the copy of the album I had was a good one, or whether copies from earlier or later in the pressing run were better, and whether I'd gotten the new vinyl or some of the recycled scraps that sometimes had more surface noise...

    I much prefer a nice reliable digital file, which I can count on to be exactly the same as every other copy, and which I can back up just in case, and run a checksum on to confirm that it really is exactly the same as it was yesterday.

    I agree it doesn't feel the same...
    When I click "play" I don't hold my breath for the first few minutes waiting for a new tick or pop that wasn't there last time...

  3. Phronesis
    Similar for me. Spotify and Tidal have enormously increased my access to music, but I do sort of miss the ritual involved in playing LPs (the ritual of playing CDs never felt on par with playing big LPs). But I had those LP experiences when I was a younger and different person living in a different time, so my judgment on this could be unreliable because I'm comparing recent experiences with memories colored by a strong sense of nostalgia.
    pilgrimbilly and StandsOnFeet like this.
  4. analogsurviver
    The solution for pancake loving analog record listener using Thorens turntables is - at least - by now 4 decades old. Sold by - you've guessed it - Thorens itself ; at least back in the day. It can be still bought today - as NEW equipment - under Q-Up name : http://www.thequp.com/ https://www.amazon.com/Q-UP-The-Tonearm-Lifter/dp/B008OAMD26

    I managed to procure the original Thorens badged unit - used, from ebay - about half or so year ago, in a bunch of other dedicated analog record playback accessories..

    There is a high end version device made for the same purpose today - called Little Fwend http://www.littlefwend.com/ It unfortunately definitely belongs to the new wave of recent-ish money grabbing analog accessory wave - priced to appeal to the (analog) audio snob.

    However, IF one is skilled enough, it is possible to get a second hand vintage TT with specs ( and actual real life performance... ) that dwarf Thorens' to begin with; followed by integrated not only lift, but auto return to boot - for a really experienced buyer for less than the new Q-Up is going to set one back.

    THE User Friendly Award in TTs ? Remote controlled programmable ( vintage ) TT - it can be programmed just as a CD player, in any sequence of choice, in case pictured up to 8 tracks :

    It can be made to repeat the chosen sequence indefinitely - or simply return to start position once the normal playback or any chosen sequence is finished.. The old butcher's method of wrapping the calculator ( in this case remote control ) in a transparent plastic bag works great for cooking, too.

    Needless to say, such a TT is also friendly to The Lady ( and Children ) of the House - if they learn to handle record properly, there is next to none possibilities to damage the record. or stylus. The convenience stops at the requirement to manually change the record sides; going one step further ( allowing for playback of BOTH record sides without the requirement to manually change the record sides ) unfortunately as a consequence sacrifices proper record support and thus ultimate SQ obtainable from record. But - it did exist back in the day.
  5. Steve999
    I get the record player and LPs out for my kids once in a while, or if they get to like an album I have an LP of, I’ll just get the LP out for them to look at the record and the jacket and they like that. They love the experience of watching the record on the turntable and hearing the music by putting their ear down by the stylus if I have the volume all the way down. And they are fascinated to think that what they hear on my stereo is those vibrations getting amplified. It’s conceptually much more accessible I think, much more visceral, more mechanically obvious and immediately interesting what’s going on. Of course the sound is not as good and it’s not as convenient as compared to streaming or CDs but I can see from my kids it is a gratifying experience in a way that is not just nostalgia.

    Edit: I have a very old JVC QL-A7 TT-71 direct drive turntable that still gets the job done, what, 40 years later? That’s pretty cool.

    I currently mostly use Spotify and Apple Music. One Spotify account subscription will accommodate a family of 5 (or up to 6) so each has their own User ID access but we can share music and see what each other is listening to.

    As far as song and album info goes to substitute tor the old LP jacket I just Google (or Duck Duck Go!) if I really like something—there is an endless wealth of information on many recordings and artists. Though the net is more comprehensive and informative it’s still somehow not the same as the physical album cover and sleeve. I still have all of my old LPs, a small collection I guess, something substantially less than 200.

    For the most part I have ripped all of my LPs where I couldn’t get the CD and it’s not on a streaming service. Slowly I’ll come across a Japanese or European issue of the corresponding CD or it will show up on Spotify or Apple Music, making fewer and fewer of those LP rips really invaluable.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2019
  6. bfreedma
    What I miss from vinyl is the large format album art and all of the information typically printed on the back/inside of the sleeve.

    Having recently adopted Roon as a front end to my local collection and Tidal, I have access to more album and artist info than before. The convenience, combined with content availability across platforms is, at least for me, a terrific solution.
    sonitus mirus likes this.
  7. bigshot
    I find that the info scraping on Plex more than makes up for the lack of album covers.
  8. AKGForever
    My fond memories of turntables were visual as well as aural. I remember, at night, sitting in the dark, with headphones on and watching the strobe light on the turntable flicker. It was a Technics SL-D2 and while fairly accurate, the lines would slightly wander back and forth. You don’t get the same effect watching the numbers climb on a CD player.

    After digging the Technics out of storage after almost 20 years, I find having to flip a record every twenty or so minutes, a major pain in the ass. I ripped the records that never made it onto CD or MP3/AAC into digital files before putting the turntable back out of service.
  9. GearMe

    Making sure you installed the arm, then the cartridge correctly...

    Is the cartridge the optimal one for the arm? :astonished:

    What about the MC preamp for the cartridge?...Is MC really better than MM? Is everything set up/done just right...VTA...Azimuth...Anti-skate...Anti-static? :anguished:

    Not to mention changing the side every 20 minutes...blech :angry:

    I had some nice manual turntables over the years (Thorens, Linn, Luxman, Technics, etc.) with a variety of arms (SME, Grace, etc.) and cartridges (Decca, Denon, Dynavector, Drado)...can you say PITA?

    Couldn't run fast enough to CD's when they came out

    Today...having music on a server/pc/phone is even better!

    My 'turntable' for the gym/running/walks (below)
    $99 with very nice sound through my iems


    TBH...the main reason I had a nice cassette deck and a reel-to-reel was to avoid some of the repetitive hassles of TT's
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2019
    Bytor123 likes this.
  10. Glmoneydawg
    Lol...not willing to suffer for your hobby!!..blasphemous:wink:
    castleofargh and GearMe like this.
  11. TheSonicTruth
    What do you all think about this:

    A customer where I work disagrees with me about no difference between $5.99 Radio Shack RCA interconnects and $599.99 boutique ones.

    He described a listening demo he attended some twenty years ago.

    Setting: A gentleman's living room where my customer and a half dozen others were gathered to listen to the demonstration.

    Equipment: My friend did not specify brands, but mentioned that the components - CD player, Tuner, Turntable, etc. - were connected to a pre-amp, which fed the final amp and speakers.

    At first he thought the source was the tuner, and that the equipment owner simply switched out the Radio Shacks for the boutique RCAs while the radio was playing.

    I immediately stated that invalidated the test, disconnecting the one set of cables and reconnecting the new ones while the source was playing. Not to mention that even over a separate component tuner, the radio is the black hole of Calcutta of audio fidelity! He shook his head.

    He then stated that yes, he now remembered that a CD was playing, and that after the owner switched the cables, the difference in the sound was, to use his words, "day vs night".

    I told him of course the difference was 'day and night' - he listened to the first verse, or movement, when the Radio Shacks were connected, then a silence of probably about 2-3 minutes to switch out cables, - then back to what was probably the next verse or movement! If not, the next song altogether. He still insisted in this 'day vs. night' difference. I mentioned expectation bias to him, but he stood his ground.

    I then described a proper A/B switch test set up, or at least restarting the same music CD track after the cable swap. I also asked him if he saw the owner touch ANYTHING at all on the front of the equipment - the volume, the tone controls, any buttons, etc. - he said 'no'.

    We concluded that topic by my saying that I wasn't there, so I remained skeptical - sceptical? Skeptikal?(I hate that fecking word!). But he said, twenty years later, and he recalls the difference as though he had attended this demonstration just a day before our talking about it. I insisted we talk about something else at that point.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2019
  12. bigshot
    I've told this story before, but... I once went to a high end audio store to audition speakers. I had a yellow pad and I intended to switch through every set of speakers in the house without looking at names and prices, just the letters that they were assigned on the switcher. A salesman insisted on helping me, so I sat down with my pad and called out letters for him to set it to. He had his back to the equipment and his hands were behind his back like a waiter waiting to serve. I was having him switch between two speakers and when he switched back, suddenly it sounded different. I decided I'd come back to those and move on to another pair. When I asked him to switch back to the one I was confused about, I noticed his shoulder twitch a little as he stood there with his hands behind his back. I asked him to step aside a second and the amp was behind him and the bass had been moved off the center detent. I told him that it would take me all day to make a decision if he kept tweaking the tone controls behind his back like that, and he got all huffy and stomped out of the listening room.

    I don't trust any listening test conducted by someone who is trying to sell you something.

    Also, auditory memory is VERY short... less than 5 or 10 seconds. I'm sure while the guy was swapping cables he was talking about how good this next cable was going to sound, planting the bias for people to judge with. Line level matched, direct A/B switched, blind testing with multiple tests to verify the odds. That is how a listening test should be conducted. But I wouldn't expect that at the audiophile equivalent of a tupperware party. You can tell the guy that his friend that threw the party probably got a percentage of the sales that evening. It's always good to know that your friends are trying to sell you snake oil too.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2019
  13. TheSonicTruth
    It might have been just a friend showing off their new interconnects that they mortgaged their house to pay for, and not a typical pots n pans cooking demo type thing at all.

    I tried explaining to Will what I suspected he might have heard - and pereceived - as differences in the sounds of the two pairs of RCAs. Including a lot of what you brought up. I changed the topic of conversation when it became clear he wasn't buying what I - and by extension you - was saying.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2019
  14. Glmoneydawg
    these stories might be a little more palatable without descriptions like night and day ect....been a long time and a few dollars since i've heard night and day differences in the electronics domain.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2019
  15. analogsurviver
    Well, I do know it is a fringe case - but VERY real in actual audio life.

    Imagine driving ANY full range electrostatics - with the exception of Quad ESL-63 ( it is, electrically speaking, a LC transmission line, finally terminated in resistance - not neaerly as impossible load as most normal pure capacitance ESLs ) and its later variants. Sooner or later, the purely capacitive load, most normally coupled trough a step up transformer, will reach - if not actually zero impedance, then certainly a value most amplifiers are no longer capable of driving correctly. Typically, that would be 1 ohm and lower ( highly reactive at that ... ) in the upper audible range - give or take an ohm or few kHz either way , depending on the actual speaker.

    There are behemoth amplifiers in multi hundred watts per channel range that - fall apart like broken glass in such a load. It is either complete silence (best), some very low volume level attainable before the protection cuts everything off ( worse) or some heavy distorted unlistenable screeching, too limited in volume ( the worst ).

    I have found one amp which - by specs and ratings - should NOT be suitable for driving ESLs - yet, in practice, it IS. It is the 75 w/ch into 8 ohms Technics - either as power amp SE-9060 or in integrated amp livery, as SU-8080 . The circuit is the same, differences are in the power supply - and, as it is often with Technics, the supply in integrated is actually better than in separate power amp.

    Now - any of the descriptions above vs Technics ( that can play cleanly, but, with 75W/ch, obviously can not drive typical 85 (usually even below ) dB/W/m sensitivity speakers to ear splitting levels.

    That IS night and day difference.

    There are , of course, better amps for the ESLs. But, they ARE few and far in between. Acoustat TNT-200 ( DO check its schematics - unlike anything else ... ) is the first relatively affordable amp that can drive ESLs to decent, but NOT ear splitting levels. For that, true "welding apparatus" amps are required, but that is $$$$. Gamut range of amps with a p and n pair single giant MOS-FET as output devices
    are the real deal in this case - as well as probably is Sanders amp specifically designed for the ESLs.

    Similar occurs at the other extreme - moving coil phono cartridge preamps. Particularly those that have to amplify the cartridges with below 0.1mV/5cm/sec sensitivity. Merely achieving an acceptable S/N ratio definitely is a challenge... - not to mention any further requirement. Here, the boys and men are told apart in few seconds...
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