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  1. #1
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    Avoid the snake oil

    Snake Oil - Positive Feedback


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    "We can hear everything we measure, but we can't measure everything we hear. Let your ears be your guide."

    Dealer for: Aqua Hi-Fi, Aurender, AudioQuest Cables & Power Products, Avantgarde Acoustics, Avid HiFi, Berkeley Audio Design, Block Audio, Boulder Amplifiers, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), Bryston, Chord, Classe’ Audio, Degritter Record Cleaning Machines, Enleum (Bakoon), Esoteric, Finite Elemente, FirstWatt, Focal Loudspeakers and Headphones, Franco Serblin Loudspeakers, Furutech, Fyne Audio Loudspeakers, GigaFoil, Harbeth Loudspeakers, Hegel, HiFi Man, HiFi Rose, Innuos, ISO Acoustics, Keces Power Supplies, Kharma Loudspeakers and Electronics, Koetsu Cartridges, Kuzma Turntables, Lumin, Luxman, Magico Loudspeakers, MBL Speakers & Electronics, MSB Technologies, MySonicLabs Phono Cartridges, Naim Audio, Nordost Cables, Ortofon, Pass Labs, Quadraspire, Rega Turntables and Electronics, Shunyata Research, SimAudio, Stein Music Products, Stillpoints, VAC, Vicoustics, Viva Audio, Vivid Audio Loudspeakers, VPI Industries, WireWorld Cables.

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  2. #2
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Love it!
    McIntosh C49, MR85, MC7100W, R778 | KEF LS50 Meta w/S2, KC62 (x2) | Rega RP8, Ania Pro, NEO PSU | Technics SL-1500C | Audio Technica VM740ML | Hexmat Eclipse, Yellow Bird, Molekula, Molekula Mini | Pro-Ject VC-E | Falcon NW PC Server (Roon Core & HQ Player) | Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (Roon Controller) | Abyss Diana Phi | Astell&Kern SE200 | Oppo BDP105

    “One of the great challenges in life is knowing enough to think you're right but not enough to know you're wrong”
    "You can't use reason to convince anyone out of an argument that they didn't use reason to get into"
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  3. #3
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    You do end up with a nice bottle though
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Main System - Lumin U1, Modwright LS36.5 DM Preamp, LSA modded LSA Voyager Amp, EMM Labs DAC 2X (ver. 2), Torus RM-20, Thiel CS 3.7s, 2 Rel S/812 subs
    Back-up 1 - Premium Audio mini Gan Amp, Oppo 103D, 2 Richard Gray cond, Selah SA-2s, Sumiko S5 sub, Teac UD-503 DAC, Carver (modded) C-9
    Back-up 2 - Onkyo TX-NR797, Panasonic DP-UB9000, Vansevers cond, B&W P6s, PowerSoundAudio S1500 sub

  4. #4
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    I don't like snakes let alone what ever you have left once you put them in a press or blender and strain them.
    Synology 1019D+ - SGC Sonictransporter I9 w Roon/HQ Player- UltraRendu- PBD Stream IF to Playback Designs MPS5 via fiber optic - ARC 40th Anniversary Pre - ARC 610 T's - Martin Logan CLX's - 4 Martin Logan Depth i Subs - Shunyata Hydra, DIY PCOCC interconnects, speaker cables and power cords with Furutech terminations. Audio Quest Vodka CAT 7's. Acoustically treated room with one permanent chair.

  5. #5
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    loved it
    Aurender ACS10 w/Audioquest Diamond USB,
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    Clearaudio Performance DC w/Maestro cart
    Clarus Concerto & their Crimson cables

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  6. #6
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    cute ..…….
    Cheers ! …. Dave

  7. #7
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Unfortunately (though to little surprise given some of his other articles), that piece was poorly argued.

    First, Roger Skoff bemoaned "some consultant guy" for various transgressions. Conveniently, the target is left unidentified, hence the audience of the piece can not check if Skoff is accurately representing that person's position. The scent of strawman is very strong there.

    Second, he makes poor arguments against blind testing - suggesting that blind testing in audio may be fine for test tones, but using actual music introduces too many variables. First, the logic there makes even more of an argument against sighted un-controlled testing, since it would suffer ALL those variables with the ADDITION of confounding bias effects!

    Further, he's just wrong that music can't legitimately be used in blind testing. It's used all the time. Companies developing audio codecs have long used blind listening tests. Floyd Toole and others have presented tons of evidence where using music in blind testing - e.g. in testing loudspeaker designs - have provided highly reliable results.

    Personally I've used music in blind testing, successfully identifying gear. If there is a difference to be heard, it can be heard whether you are peeking at the gear or not.

    Articles like this are preaching to the choir - it's made to be lapped up by those who prefer to reject any method that might cast doubt on their own perception. This is a "technical guy" "sounding like he knows what he's talking about" so "all the more reason to reject that obnoxious objectivism."

    Before that is interpreted as claiming nobody should rely on his perception in evaluating gear, it's not. Few of us have the time, ability and inclination to get scientifically rigorous about everything we buy. I certainly don't. There's nothing wrong with approaching, say, a magazine like Positive Feedback with the understanding "These are all subjective impressions...the reader is free to put as much stock in the reports, or not, as he wants." No problemo. But it's never a good look to go so far in defending one's turf as to try to undermine...with bad arguments...the very science of blind testing. That's what you find in pseudo-science, and it's always used as a move to defend dubious belief systems.

  8. #8

    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by MattHooper View Post
    Unfortunately (though to little surprise given some of his other articles), that piece was poorly argued.

    ....

    There's nothing wrong with approaching, say, a magazine like Positive Feedback with the understanding "These are all subjective impressions...the reader is free to put as much stock in the reports, or not, as he wants." No problemo. But it's never a good look to go so far in defending one's turf as to try to undermine...with bad arguments...the very science of blind testing.

    ...
    Totally agree. Not to mention that way too many of the reviews read like advertorials.

  9. #9
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by nicoff View Post
    Totally agree. Not to mention that way too many of the reviews read like advertorials.
    X2, well said Matt …….
    Cheers ! …. Dave

  10. #10
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    IMHO there are a couple of take home messages from this article. First, use reviews to get information about a product (not uncommonly a reviewer is given information from the manufacturer or distributor that is not easily found elsewhere). Second, don’t be foolish and buy something based on another person’s recommendation unless you are confident that that person’s sonic tastes and priorities are like yours.

    Almost everything else the author says is just as much snake oil as the opinions he is criticizing.
    Rob
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    Tascam BR-20; Technics 1506 with tape path upgrades, FM head and custom repro amp; Modwright Oppo 205 full tube mod w/LPS; Euphony Summus server, EtherRegen, HDPLEX LPS; MSB Discrete DAC (dual PS, ISLPro, balanced out); Pass Labs XP-12, XA60.8 (pair); Daedalus Audio Apollo 11’s, VMPS Larger Sub; Daedalus/Wywires, Acoustic Zen, Sablon Audio, Wireworld, Shunyata Research cables; Core Power Equi=Power;
    Adona rack, ​​​​​Stillpoints, IsoPods, ASC, GIK Acoustics accessories

  11. #11

    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Have we run out of new things to discuss?
    Micro Seiki SX-8000 air bearing table, SME 312s arm, SME 3012R arn, Dynavector XV-1s cartridge, Lyra Etna SL cartridge, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 2 track R2R, Ampex 350 tape repros, Roon Nucleus Plus music server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6, ARC Ref 75 with KT-150s, JBL 4345 speakers, Viero Equilibro Level 3 speaker cables, and Definitive Technology Ref subs.

    Reviewer for Positive Feedback

  12. #12
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    Have we run out of new things to discuss?
    LOL, don't sit there like a lump, come up with something !
    Cheers ! …. Dave

  13. #13
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    Have we run out of new things to discuss?
    There's always analog vs. digital
    Rob
    __________________________
    Tascam BR-20; Technics 1506 with tape path upgrades, FM head and custom repro amp; Modwright Oppo 205 full tube mod w/LPS; Euphony Summus server, EtherRegen, HDPLEX LPS; MSB Discrete DAC (dual PS, ISLPro, balanced out); Pass Labs XP-12, XA60.8 (pair); Daedalus Audio Apollo 11’s, VMPS Larger Sub; Daedalus/Wywires, Acoustic Zen, Sablon Audio, Wireworld, Shunyata Research cables; Core Power Equi=Power;
    Adona rack, ​​​​​Stillpoints, IsoPods, ASC, GIK Acoustics accessories

  14. #14
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    Have we run out of new things to discuss?
    An interesting topic is the rapid rise in “vloggers”. Are they a threat to print media? Will we see print media have to jump on board into the vlogger world?

    Someone sent me this video the other day and my reaction was “who the F are these guys?”

    Danny at GR-Research Is Elitist and Delusional - YouTube

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    "We can hear everything we measure, but we can't measure everything we hear. Let your ears be your guide."

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  15. #15
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    An interesting topic is the rapid rise in “vloggers”. Are they a threat to print media? Will we see print media have to jump on board into the vlogger world?

    Someone sent me this video the other day and my reaction was “who the F are these guys?”

    Danny at GR-Research Is Elitist and Delusional - YouTube

    60,000 subscribers.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

    Looks like Audio needs drama to keep it interesting. And as we know, its the internet where everyone is an expert at something..
    2chl : Pass Xa-30.5, W4S STP, Kef 201/2, KEF 140, Vapor Breeze, Lumin, VPI Classic, Manley Chinook, Bryston CD, BHA-1, HD650, HD800s, HD820's, Dan Clark 1.1, Focal Stellia, OPPO 203, 105.

  16. #16
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    I took it as trust your ears and trust your local dealer.

    Double blind tests are good, but I do not need one to tell me what piece of equipment sounds better to me.
    My Gear- Mains System-Pass X250 amp, BAT VK-51se preamp, Luxman DA-06 DAC, Magnepan 1.6's, Thorens TD-145 TT, Dual Martin Logan Subs, Vintage Luxman T-110 Tuner, Other systems- Parasound A21 amp,Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid tube DAC and Preamp, Magnepan MMG's, Monitor Audio S1's, PSB B6's, Def Tech Pro Monitor 1000's, Velodyne sub, Adcom GFR-700 AVR, Music Hall 25.2 modified CDP, Cables by Cardas Parsec, AQ Columbia DBS 72v, Wire World.

  17. #17

    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    How many audiophiles only buy gear if they can do a blind listening test first? Professing love for blind listening tests vice actually using blind listening tests to choose your gear are two separate worlds that don't meet. It's just one more category on the audiophile argument wheel that keeps getting spun.
    Micro Seiki SX-8000 air bearing table, SME 312s arm, SME 3012R arn, Dynavector XV-1s cartridge, Lyra Etna SL cartridge, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 2 track R2R, Ampex 350 tape repros, Roon Nucleus Plus music server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6, ARC Ref 75 with KT-150s, JBL 4345 speakers, Viero Equilibro Level 3 speaker cables, and Definitive Technology Ref subs.

    Reviewer for Positive Feedback

  18. #18
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    How many audiophiles only buy gear if they can do a blind listening test first? Professing love for blind listening tests vice actually using blind listening tests to choose your gear are two separate worlds that don't meet. It's just one more category on the audiophile argument wheel that keeps getting spun.
    It's one thing to acknowledge that the vast majority of audiophiles don't employ blind testing in making decisions on gear, which is of course true (for reasons I stated). The problem is that the article makes gratuitous, bad arguments against the very method of blind testing.

    In any case, I personally have used blind testing occasionally and sometimes it certainly has influenced my purchases. For instance I had a bunch of very highly regarded, expensive AC cables to test out. At one point I perceived one of the AC cables as changing the sound of my system. When I had a friend help me blind test between them, I couldn't tell any difference in the sound. I saved a lot of money right there!

    Back when home theater was becoming all the rage and cable companies were seeing dollars in their eyes "more cables to sell!" the subjective mags were lauding the performance of expensive video cables (deeper contrast! Better color saturation! Clearer image!).
    I got a hold of a range of video cables from cheap all the way up to Nordost.

    I *thought* at first I was seeing some differences. But in blind testing...I realized I couldn't reliably detect any difference at all (which would have been predicted by the engineering theory anyway of such cables). Again...saved money by realizing I could get the necessary performance from cheaper cables.

    More recently I switched digital servers. For some reason I perceived the new server as sounding a bit off balance, a bit brighter, which bummed me out because I really wanted to use it. If what I was hearing was real it would force me back to using the old server.
    But knowing that there should not be any technical (and audible) difference I double checked, blind tested between them and...what do you know?...there was NO detectable difference. I'd imagined it earlier. So I just went with the new server and had no issues since...sounds just like the previous one.

    So I am among those who are happy to have blind testing in the tool box.

    (As I mentioned earlier, it's not like blind testing erases any audible differences: I've successfully identified between DACs, for instance, in blind testing).

  19. #19

    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Why shouldn't there have been any differences in SQ between two different servers?
    Micro Seiki SX-8000 air bearing table, SME 312s arm, SME 3012R arn, Dynavector XV-1s cartridge, Lyra Etna SL cartridge, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 2 track R2R, Ampex 350 tape repros, Roon Nucleus Plus music server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6, ARC Ref 75 with KT-150s, JBL 4345 speakers, Viero Equilibro Level 3 speaker cables, and Definitive Technology Ref subs.

    Reviewer for Positive Feedback

  20. #20
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    Why shouldn't there have been any differences in SQ between two different servers?
    Because they were sending the identical digital sound files to a competently designed DAC (Benchmark).

    (If digital signals didn't work reliably in that fashion, my industry - digital post production sound - would be sh*t out of luck as we are constantly sending our digital sound files via all sorts of servers).

  21. #21

    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by MattHooper View Post
    Because they were sending the identical digital sound files to a competently designed DAC (Benchmark).

    (If digital signals didn't work reliably in that fashion, my industry - digital post production sound - would be sh*t out of luck as we are constantly sending our digital sound files via all sorts of servers).
    You are leaving out all sorts of variables that can affect the SQ of servers. Normal PC acting as a server meaning the MB has a built- in video and audio card? Running Windows or Linux? SMPS or linear power supply?
    Micro Seiki SX-8000 air bearing table, SME 312s arm, SME 3012R arn, Dynavector XV-1s cartridge, Lyra Etna SL cartridge, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 2 track R2R, Ampex 350 tape repros, Roon Nucleus Plus music server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6, ARC Ref 75 with KT-150s, JBL 4345 speakers, Viero Equilibro Level 3 speaker cables, and Definitive Technology Ref subs.

    Reviewer for Positive Feedback

  22. #22
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    You are leaving out all sorts of variables that can affect the SQ of servers. Normal PC acting as a server meaning the MB has a built- in video and audio card? Running Windows or Linux? SMPS or linear power supply?
    I went from using the Apple Airport Express as my music server to the Raspberry Pi, both via S/PDIF to my Benchmark DAC 2L.

    Strangely this forum won't allow links that I supplied. But you can look up measurements of the Apple Airport Express by kenrockwell and Stereophile, as well as the Raspberry Pi as streamer measured at Archimago's Musings.

    But the upshot is, as I mentioned, both are sending identical digital sound files via a S/PDIF cable to a DAC competently designed to deal with any possible spuria, e.g. jitter.

    There is no reason to expect audible differences.

    As to the other scenarios you mentioned, I'm aware plenty of audiophiles think practically anything affects sound quality. I'm also aware that we are very good at imagining things. I have personal experience of this :-)

    And, as I mentioned, in the pro audio world our files are flying around the world via the internet, sucked up by all sorts of different servers and set ups, gawd-knows-what-cables, people are using internal drives, external drives, you name it, and there are non of these fussy audiophile problems. Because the sonic quality is found in the sound files - digital audio works reliably (in this sense) by it's very nature.

  23. #23

    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Your last paragraph was all I needed to read to understand your simplistic outlook on the role servers play in digital audio.
    Micro Seiki SX-8000 air bearing table, SME 312s arm, SME 3012R arn, Dynavector XV-1s cartridge, Lyra Etna SL cartridge, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 2 track R2R, Ampex 350 tape repros, Roon Nucleus Plus music server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6, ARC Ref 75 with KT-150s, JBL 4345 speakers, Viero Equilibro Level 3 speaker cables, and Definitive Technology Ref subs.

    Reviewer for Positive Feedback

  24. #24
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    Your last paragraph was all I needed to read to understand your simplistic outlook on the role servers play in digital audio.
    Can you explain why one would expect audible differences to occur between digital audio files sent by the two servers I mentioned, used how I described?

    That would be a start, in showing where I've gone so wrong.

  25. #25
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by MattHooper View Post
    I went from using the Apple Airport Express as my music server to the Raspberry Pi, both via S/PDIF to my Benchmark DAC 2L.

    Strangely this forum won't allow links that I supplied. But you can look up measurements of the Apple Airport Express by kenrockwell and Stereophile, as well as the Raspberry Pi as streamer measured at Archimago's Musings.

    But the upshot is, as I mentioned, both are sending identical digital sound files via a S/PDIF cable to a DAC competently designed to deal with any possible spuria, e.g. jitter.

    There is no reason to expect audible differences.

    As to the other scenarios you mentioned, I'm aware plenty of audiophiles think practically anything affects sound quality. I'm also aware that we are very good at imagining things. I have personal experience of this :-)

    And, as I mentioned, in the pro audio world our files are flying around the world via the internet, sucked up by all sorts of different servers and set ups, gawd-knows-what-cables, people are using internal drives, external drives, you name it, and there are non of these fussy audiophile problems. Because the sonic quality is found in the sound files - digital audio works reliably (in this sense) by it's very nature.
    You need 10 total posts to post links.

    Servers can sound dramatically different using the same file. Power supplies, designs which limit noise and even the software itself, all have an impact.


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    "We can hear everything we measure, but we can't measure everything we hear. Let your ears be your guide."

    Dealer for: Aqua Hi-Fi, Aurender, AudioQuest Cables & Power Products, Avantgarde Acoustics, Avid HiFi, Berkeley Audio Design, Block Audio, Boulder Amplifiers, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), Bryston, Chord, Classe’ Audio, Degritter Record Cleaning Machines, Enleum (Bakoon), Esoteric, Finite Elemente, FirstWatt, Focal Loudspeakers and Headphones, Franco Serblin Loudspeakers, Furutech, Fyne Audio Loudspeakers, GigaFoil, Harbeth Loudspeakers, Hegel, HiFi Man, HiFi Rose, Innuos, ISO Acoustics, Keces Power Supplies, Kharma Loudspeakers and Electronics, Koetsu Cartridges, Kuzma Turntables, Lumin, Luxman, Magico Loudspeakers, MBL Speakers & Electronics, MSB Technologies, MySonicLabs Phono Cartridges, Naim Audio, Nordost Cables, Ortofon, Pass Labs, Quadraspire, Rega Turntables and Electronics, Shunyata Research, SimAudio, Stein Music Products, Stillpoints, VAC, Vicoustics, Viva Audio, Vivid Audio Loudspeakers, VPI Industries, WireWorld Cables.

    https://suncoastaudio.com/
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  26. #26
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    You need 10 total posts to post links.
    Thanks for that info Mike!

    (If the software alters the sound file in any way, sure that can affect the sound, but aside from that...)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    Servers can sound dramatically different using the same file. Power supplies, designs which limit noise and even the software itself, all have an impact.
    If that were the case this should be a huge problem in my industry: there is little consistency in the way the files are being transferred in the sense that many audiophiles would demand - all sorts of bog standard cabling, different CPUs/Hardware, different peer to peer file sharing, the "problems" which would add up to alterations of the sound of the files would go on and on.

    And yet there are NOT these "dramatically different" changes in sound when we do our work this way. If there were the system just wouldn't work. I do sound design and I am often meticulously balancing a great number of tracks so you can *just barely hear* X or Y elements vs others. I literally have to match the sound of the "air" recorded in a room for dialogue tracks. If this timbre changes, it's a problem.

    But despite the relatively haphazard combinations of technology (to the audiophile anyway) that all these sounds fly through, we RELIABLY get the same sound. In the mixing theater it sounds just as I created it. If another editor or mixer and I are sending various edited versions of sessions and audio files back and forth to our work stations...they sound the same. Because digital audio works reliably (so long as some minimum technological criteria are satisfied - e.g. to spec equipment).

    You may indeed know something I don't know on the issue. However I have to factor in to any such claims of "dramatic differences" that audiophiles, like any other human being, are subject to biases and imagination. Therefore I'd like to see more than anecdote or speculation. In regard to the elements you mentioned, what measurable changes in the audio files are we talking about, and how was it determined they are audible (hopefully controlled for bias).

    Or just take the example I gave of my own situation. Can you explain why there could have been audible differences between the files sent via the Apple Airport Express vs the Raspberry Pi, via S/PDIF, to a Benchmark DAC 2L?

  27. #27

    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    I'm not touching this thread with a 10 foot pole (oops, guess I just did).

  28. #28

    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    What's the total cost of the two servers you compared?
    Micro Seiki SX-8000 air bearing table, SME 312s arm, SME 3012R arn, Dynavector XV-1s cartridge, Lyra Etna SL cartridge, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 2 track R2R, Ampex 350 tape repros, Roon Nucleus Plus music server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6, ARC Ref 75 with KT-150s, JBL 4345 speakers, Viero Equilibro Level 3 speaker cables, and Definitive Technology Ref subs.

    Reviewer for Positive Feedback

  29. #29
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by MattHooper View Post
    Thanks for that info Mike!

    (If the software alters the sound file in any way, sure that can affect the sound, but aside from that...)



    If that were the case this should be a huge problem in my industry: there is little consistency in the way the files are being transferred in the sense that many audiophiles would demand - all sorts of bog standard cabling, different CPUs/Hardware, different peer to peer file sharing, the "problems" which would add up to alterations of the sound of the files would go on and on.

    And yet there are NOT these "dramatically different" changes in sound when we do our work this way. If there were the system just wouldn't work. I do sound design and I am often meticulously balancing a great number of tracks so you can *just barely hear* X or Y elements vs others. I literally have to match the sound of the "air" recorded in a room for dialogue tracks. If this timbre changes, it's a problem.

    But despite the relatively haphazard combinations of technology (to the audiophile anyway) that all these sounds fly through, we RELIABLY get the same sound. In the mixing theater it sounds just as I created it. If another editor or mixer and I are sending various edited versions of sessions and audio files back and forth to our work stations...they sound the same. Because digital audio works reliably (so long as some minimum technological criteria are satisfied - e.g. to spec equipment).

    You may indeed know something I don't know on the issue. However I have to factor in to any such claims of "dramatic differences" that audiophiles, like any other human being, are subject to biases and imagination. Therefore I'd like to see more than anecdote or speculation. In regard to the elements you mentioned, what measurable changes in the audio files are we talking about, and how was it determined they are audible (hopefully controlled for bias).

    Or just take the example I gave of my own situation. Can you explain why there could have been audible differences between the files sent via the Apple Airport Express vs the Raspberry Pi, via S/PDIF, to a Benchmark DAC 2L?
    I’ve just finished a late night install. I’ll respond later, but for now, I wouldn’t expect there to be much difference between a Raspberry Pi and an Airport Express. But no serious audiophile uses either of those. Look up Taiko Extreme as an example.

    Heavily graphic intensive software like Roon which is built on a P2P network needs a powerful CPU (and therefore noisy) and that degrades the sound.

    I’m glad you’re asking these questions. It shows that someone on the other side is interested in learning. That’s awesome!

    I would ask you, assuming you’re not using tape (which is disappointing if you’re not), what A2D are you using? Do you use compression sparingly or quite liberally? What other modifications in the song are you doing using ProTools?

    I would love to learn how the production and mastering side could be improved (in your opinion). If the song is badly recorded, admittedly, there is only so much we can do on the other end. Lipstick on a pig if you will.


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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    I used to use a high-end laptop for my digital music. I then built a custom desktop with a low ripple power supply and other handpicked components and no video card. The difference is sound was very noticeable with the desktop sounding much better. It was like a veil was lifted. I would expect that different servers can sound different.
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by MattHooper View Post
    Thanks for that info Mike!

    (If the software alters the sound file in any way, sure that can affect the sound, but aside from that...)

    If that were the case this should be a huge problem in my industry: there is little consistency in the way the files are being transferred ...
    I don't think anyone here is questioning the integrity (i.e., bit for bit identical) of the music files; it is how those files are then transferred to the DAC and the resulting analog sound, with oh so many variables on that path.

    Although a year or two ago Kuoppis posted a link to a publication from CERN that did indeed question the integrity of digital data transfer for their huge files; although it was very small and not likely to occur with files the size of audio (or even typical home video), when the file size is hundreds of TB there may be a handful of errors that occur during transfers.
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    I’ve just finished a late night install. I’ll respond later, but for now, I wouldn’t expect there to be much difference between a Raspberry Pi and an Airport Express. But no serious audiophile uses either of those.
    I'm a serious audiophile and I used them, so I'm afraid that claim is incorrect. (Unless you want to go full No True Scotsman fallacy).

    (BTW I see the MBLs in your posts. I'm a big fan of MBLs, even owned the MBL 121s for many years!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    Look up Taiko Extreme as an example.
    Am I too assume that "Much More Expensive Is Better?" Should I simply buy in to the marketting claims of such an outrageously priced device?

    There have been numerous very highly priced items, including digital devices, measured by Stereophile and others that have been either embarrassing given the claims made for the device, or which have been handily beaten by much cheaper gear. Take for instance the recently reviewed (on Stereophile) CH Precision D1.5 SACD/CD player/transport, which purports to go to heroic efforts to reduce any forms of distortion, yet which is handily outperformed by vastly cheaper Benchmark gear.

    So, again, I'm not looking for marketing speak or anecdotes. Can you point me to where the Taiko Extreme has been shown to be measurably superior to cheaper, competently built streamers? Then we could address whether any audible claims are even credible.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    Heavily graphic intensive software like Roon which is built on a P2P network needs a powerful CPU (and therefore noisy) and that degrades the sound.
    What's the evidence for that claim? Does it require more CPU than for, say, a Pro Tools system, either desktop or used in mixing theaters? In decades of using such systems I've yet to meet anyone in post production sound, nor anyone from Pro Tools, express the claim you have made about a powerful CPU "degrading sound." Can you understand why I might have grounds for skepticism before accepting these claims?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    I’m glad you’re asking these questions. It shows that someone on the other side is interested in learning.
    I'm always interested in learning, especially that I may be wrong or may be misinformed. However, I also have justified skepticism about claims in the audiophile world because there has been a tremendous amount of pseudo-science promoted and believed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    I would ask you, assuming you’re not using tape (which is disappointing if you’re not),
    ???

    I started in the business when tape was the norm. I've never been more glad to leave a technology behind.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    what A2D are you using? Do you use compression sparingly or quite liberally? What other modifications in the song are you doing using ProTools?

    I would love to learn how the production and mastering side could be improved (in your opinion). If the song is badly recorded, admittedly, there is only so much we can do on the other end. Lipstick on a pig if you will.
    The questions you are asking seem to assume music production, and would be a whole other topic (and one better answered by someone in music production). I work in film sound post production. And we certainly care about sound quality. The point being that if all the things you seem to believe affected sound quality were true, it would imply we'd be having problems in digital sound production that we are simply not having.

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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    What's the total cost of the two servers you compared?
    What a strange question, IMO. It doesn't matter what a device cost: what matters is how well it does it's job. And there are functions for which less expensive devices are perfectly adequate (e.g. sending digital information reliably).

    I mentioned the devices - Apple Airport Express as my music server to the Raspberry Pi (3), both via S/PDIF to my Benchmark DAC 2L.

    Again: can you give a reason beyond marketing claims, speculation or anecdote for why I might expect one to have sounded different from the other? In other words, any objective evidence?

    Or for instance why your music server (not your DAC) would produce a measurably/audibly different signal from the same digital files, vs say my Raspberry Pi?

  34. #34
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by rbbert View Post
    I don't think anyone here is questioning the integrity (i.e., bit for bit identical) of the music files; it is how those files are then transferred to the DAC and the resulting analog sound, with oh so many variables on that path.
    If they play the same digital files, it's the same file. The sound is encoded in the file.

    Again, I can send a sound file over Ethernet cables, internet provider cables, through the air, to any number of FTP servers, which go on to other work stations through all sorts of "variables" and it can be sent back to me through all those "variables" and it remains the same sound file (sonically identical and zero change in waveform, for instance). It plays back the same. Because that's basically how digital audio has been designed to work. If there were truly the amount of corruption happening that many audiophiles believe, we'd be having all sorts of problems that we do not have. Think of Tidal - the sound files are tiny pieces, coming in packets, flying all over the internet, sometimes even arriving at different times, yet because tcp ip error correction WORKS it ends up being the same file to be played via your DAC. A DAC can in principle change the sound depending on the design, but it's being fed the same files. It would seem Tidal or other streaming services couldn't even work if the amount of "variables" being suggested alter the integrity/sound of the files.

    If my Benchmark DAC is sent a digital sound file from my desktop computer, or my raspberry pi or whatever, it has received and is therefore playing the same sound file, hence the same sound.

    Quote Originally Posted by rbbert View Post
    Although a year or two ago Kuoppis posted a link to a publication from CERN that did indeed question the integrity of digital data transfer for their huge files; although it was very small and not likely to occur with files the size of audio (or even typical home video), when the file size is hundreds of TB there may be a handful of errors that occur during transfers.
    Yet another reason why I await some actual objective evidence for the type of audible claims being made here.

    Cheers.

  35. #35
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Oh dear Matt, you have so much to learn young grasshopper. You can hear what you can measure, but you can’t measure what you can hear (tone, depth of soundstage, instrument separation, etc).

    Feel free to drop by the store with your Apple device and I’ll use the Taiko for comparison purposes. I’ll let you hear the difference.

    Im far too busy to argue with meter readers.


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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    Have we run out of new things to discuss?
    This is a new level in Irony , cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy associated with PF and to be fair many online rags in general ...!




    Regards
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  37. #37
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    An interesting topic is the rapid rise in “vloggers”. Are they a threat to print media? Will we see print media have to jump on board into the vlogger world?

    Someone sent me this video the other day and my reaction was “who the F are these guys?”

    Danny at GR-Research Is Elitist and Delusional - YouTube

    60,000 subscribers.


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    Yea Danny is bigger and more influential than PF ..! He actually measures and listen to audio gear ..!
    * An Audiophile is only as old as his tweeters ..!!

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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    Oh dear Matt, you have so much to learn young grasshopper. You can hear what you can measure, but you can’t measure what you can hear (tone, depth of soundstage, instrument separation, etc).

    Feel free to drop by the store with your Apple device and I’ll use the Taiko for comparison purposes. I’ll let you hear the difference.

    Im far too busy to argue with meter readers.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    While I appreciate your kind offer, given you are eschewing any objective evidence, your reply seems to fall in to the usual Golden Ears response. "You can't measure what I can hear!"

    The Golden Ears approach to audio (where we have utter confidence in our subjective inferences over any objective verification) doesn't allow any way to find out you are wrong. After all, if I come over and compared an Apple Server to the Taiko and detected no difference, you can always claim to hear a difference. Hence you would be likely to ignore my negative result as suggesting you may have been fooling yourself as a data point and just put it down to your ears being better than mine.

    As to:

    You can hear what you can measure, but you can’t measure what you can hear (tone, depth of soundstage, instrument separation, etc).

    That is too vague and hence misleading. We can hear *some* things that we can measure, but not all. The reason why we often invent and use measurement devices is to EXTEND beyond what our senses can detect.
    I hope you have a CO2 monitor in your house! You won't be seeing X-rays any time soon, but instruments can detect those. You also can't hear certain levels of distortion that can be measured (and depending how old you are, you likely can't hear above a certain frequency response that can easily be detected with instruments).

    It's very important to acknowledge that we can measure things we can not hear. Because sometimes...very rarely in high end...a company will say 'look, our product made a measurable difference' but that doesn't automatically entail it is an AUDIBLE difference.

    As to things we can't measure: first of all, we certainly can tell you that if two sound files are identical and the output signal measures precisely the same you are NOT in all likelihood hearing any differences - timbre, soundstage or otherwise. Measurements matter.

    Further, of course tone can be measured! It's one of the most salient characteristics of sound - the frequency response of a loudspeaker (or EQ settings etc) will reliably affect the tone. I manipulate tone and timbre of sounds all day long in my work! Further: The overtones and harmonics that distinguish instruments and their timbre are well documented and measurable!
    (Ever wonder how synth designers emulate different instruments if the character of tone/timbre weren't understood in measurable terms?)

    As for soundstage depth and instrument separation, there is plenty known about what measurable aspects can affect those impressions - e.g. room acoustics, speaker design, etc. (I play with soundstage depth and width all the time in my listening room, via altering the acoustics). And in terms of the actual sound source: Those very properties are manipulated all the time by people creating sound (like me) and by mixers. Tons of plug-ins, EQ, reverbs, transient shapers etc work to modulate the depth and width of imaging in a mix - all of course had to be built upon measurable, predictable sonic characteristics to even work. It's not Voodoo. (There are even tutorials from mixers on youtube explaining how you can manipulate the soundstage and depth with various tools).

    When people say things like "science can't measure X" often what they really mean is "I have no idea how X is measured." It's a projection of one's ignorance in that sense. I don't know about your technical knowledge so I'm not automatically assuming this of you, but...perhaps you may have a lot to learn as well on the topics you are mentioning? ;-)

    I am not, btw, claiming to be anything like a technical expert myself on all these matters. Certainly not!

    But I do know enough to recognize legitimate reasons for skepticism, and when I'm seeing the type of responses that are more-of-the-same in terms of a Golden Ear type response. (Assertions and anecdote about "what people hear" without additional technical/measurable corroborative evidence, or a dismissal of the relevance of measurements to one's claim).

  39. #39

    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Troll Alert.
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  40. #40
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    Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by MattHooper View Post
    While I appreciate your kind offer, given you are eschewing any objective evidence, your reply seems to fall in to the usual Golden Ears response. "You can't measure what I can hear!"

    The Golden Ears approach to audio (where we have utter confidence in our subjective inferences over any objective verification) doesn't allow any way to find out you are wrong. After all, if I come over and compared an Apple Server to the Taiko and detected no difference, you can always claim to hear a difference. Hence you would be likely to ignore my negative result as suggesting you may have been fooling yourself as a data point and just put it down to your ears being better than mine.

    As to:

    You can hear what you can measure, but you can’t measure what you can hear (tone, depth of soundstage, instrument separation, etc).

    That is too vague and hence misleading. We can hear *some* things that we can measure, but not all. The reason why we often invent and use measurement devices is to EXTEND beyond what our senses can detect.
    I hope you have a CO2 monitor in your house! You won't be seeing X-rays any time soon, but instruments can detect those. You also can't hear certain levels of distortion that can be measured (and depending how old you are, you likely can't hear above a certain frequency response that can easily be detected with instruments).

    It's very important to acknowledge that we can measure things we can not hear. Because sometimes...very rarely in high end...a company will say 'look, our product made a measurable difference' but that doesn't automatically entail it is an AUDIBLE difference.

    As to things we can't measure: first of all, we certainly can tell you that if two sound files are identical and the output signal measures precisely the same you are NOT in all likelihood hearing any differences - timbre, soundstage or otherwise. Measurements matter.

    Further, of course tone can be measured! It's one of the most salient characteristics of sound - the frequency response of a loudspeaker (or EQ settings etc) will reliably affect the tone. I manipulate tone and timbre of sounds all day long in my work! Further: The overtones and harmonics that distinguish instruments and their timbre are well documented and measurable!
    (Ever wonder how synth designers emulate different instruments if the character of tone/timbre weren't understood in measurable terms?)

    As for soundstage depth and instrument separation, there is plenty known about what measurable aspects can affect those impressions - e.g. room acoustics, speaker design, etc. (I play with soundstage depth and width all the time in my listening room, via altering the acoustics). And in terms of the actual sound source: Those very properties are manipulated all the time by people creating sound (like me) and by mixers. Tons of plug-ins, EQ, reverbs, transient shapers etc work to modulate the depth and width of imaging in a mix - all of course had to be built upon measurable, predictable sonic characteristics to even work. It's not Voodoo. (There are even tutorials from mixers on youtube explaining how you can manipulate the soundstage and depth with various tools).

    When people say things like "science can't measure X" often what they really mean is "I have no idea how X is measured." It's a projection of one's ignorance in that sense. I don't know about your technical knowledge so I'm not automatically assuming this of you, but...perhaps you may have a lot to learn as well on the topics you are mentioning? ;-)

    I am not, btw, claiming to be anything like a technical expert myself on all these matters. Certainly not!

    But I do know enough to recognize legitimate reasons for skepticism, and when I'm seeing the type of responses that are more-of-the-same in terms of a Golden Ear type response. (Assertions and anecdote about "what people hear" without additional technical/measurable corroborative evidence, or a dismissal of the relevance of measurements to one's claim).
    If you prefer to look at meters which only tell part of the story (see Nelson Pass’s comments) rather than trust your ears, than may I suggest:

    Audio Science Review (ASR) Forum

    For what actual engineers say:

    “If it measures good and sounds bad, — it is bad. If it sounds good and measures bad, — you've measured the wrong thing.”

    Here’s how good relying on measurements can be (they measured incorrectly and slammed a product for their bad measurements!!!):

    EarMen Tradutto DAC - Good Measurements Gone Wrong - SoundStage! Real Hi-Fi (Ep:29) - YouTube

    Measurements vs listening - YouTube

    Podcast: Beware the measurements! | Darko.Audio

    Meet the Stellar Phono Preamp – PS Audio

    If it quacks like a duck… – PS Audio


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  41. #41
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    Troll Alert.
    Agreed. I think he would be much happier at Amir’s forum with the other meter readers.


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  42. #42
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Unfortunately I agreed Mike and MEP; "Troll Alert"....

    As someone who is a software engineer (among other things) I was in the camp of 1's and 0's... and as long as these are all lined up correctly....

    Boy was I wrong....

    I am also in the camp that I would love a Taiko but know I could never afford one. However, I do subscribe to their general path of using high quality Window machines. Even though I could not own a Taiko I can do my best with a quality computer fine tuned to the best of my abilities and running Roon Server and HQPlayer. I am very happy with the results.

    Only one "correction" in what Mike said in that the server would not be running the "Heavily graphic intensive software like Roon" in that the GUI portion of Roon should never be installed on the server, only the the controller machine (iPad, Android tablet, or what I use a Microsoft Surface). The server is only running the Roon engine, or what they originally called Roon Server, now I believe they refer to it as the Roon Core.... but the bottom line is the graphical portion does not get installed or ran on the server machine .

    With that said you really picked the wrong person to point your comebacks at. Mike runs this board, which may very well be the most knowledgeable forum for high end audio that exists. He also owns one of the most highly regarded high end audio stores that exists... I assure you not for the money but for the love of audio and music. Therefore experience and knowledge wise he may very well be the best source there is.

    You really should make sure you know and understand who you are responding to before throwing out snarky comments. Mike has been the single best source of knowledge that I have ever encountered. For this, and much more, I thank him.
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  43. #43
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by MattHooper View Post



    I work in film sound post production. And we certainly care about sound quality.
    Cool, can you ask someone to stop making all the background music and sounds louder than the dialog please?
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  44. #44
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowfax View Post
    Cool, can you ask someone to stop making all the background music and sounds louder than the dialog please?
    If it were possible to "like" this post more than once I would
    Rob
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  45. #45
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    I'm more on the side of MattHooper in this argument. That being said, I don't think all types of resources found online are necessarily good resources for this debate. Particularly resources that are primarily from consumer audio industry members or from people who can perform measurements but aren't necessarily fully read on the science behind audio or audio measurements. I would rather reference, for example, measurements from Canada's National Research Council, peer-reviewed publications from the Audio Engineering Society, and reference books from authors like Toole and Waldrep.

    Like MattHooper says, "pro audio people" do not think all things sound the same. You only need to read pro audio magazines, forums, or attend a pro audio conference/show to see that. Or to talk to pro audio equipment engineers.

    But I think what's being lost in the crosstalk is that many times the measured differences that purport to result in audible differences are not in the audio signal fidelity but rather in the sideband noise. Things like jitter, DC offset, shield or ground noise, etc. that could result in measured differences in the final analog output, but that would be completely irrelevant when discussing a system that is purely digital end-to-end. It is also fair to argue (backed by scientific evidence) whether or not those measured differences are indeed audible. You can absolutely find scientific research on the audible threshold of jitter, crosstalk, etc. It should be noted that studies are typically done with a general population, as opposed to a qualified category of people. Although I have seen studies done specifically with musicians.

    There are absolutely differences in what two people can hear. Some of that is a result of education, training, and practice. Some of that is just due to physical differences (e.g. hearing loss). But this is also something that a Golden Ear person can prove, by participating in and examining the results of double-blind testing for specific types of differences. These Golden Ears are who you will hire and use for audio research when you can.

    With respect to the use of music servers, sideband noise that does carry through the equipment chain could eventually influence the final analog output. One should still try to support any claims of that sideband noise resulting in audible differences with scientific evidence. Although the reality is that data on this is pretty much unavailable to the consumer. But such noise should absolutely not influence the fidelity of the digital data itself, otherwise you either have too much noise which you should fix or workaround, or you are using an unreliable digital transmission protocol (e.g. S/PDIF or USB Audio) that is _also_ operating in a seriously poor environment resulting in frequent and regular signal errors.

    I do think many times one concept can be incorrectly transferred from a context where it matters to one where it doesn't. Most people understand that a DAC that galvanically isolates, buffers, and re-clocks the incoming S/PDIF signal should prevent incoming jitter and noise from affecting the analog output. This also means that any jitter on the digital audio data signal between components upstream of the DAC are inconsequential as long as the digital data fidelity is preserved. The same concept applies in other contexts, such as the network.
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  46. #46
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Quote Originally Posted by NekoAudio View Post
    ...But this is also something that a Golden Ear person can prove, by participating in and examining the results of double-blind testing for specific types of differences...One should still try to support any claims of that sideband noise resulting in audible differences with scientific evidence.
    Scientific evidence is infinitely more valuable than anecdotal data and opinions, when and where it is available. As one who has helped design and has participated in some audio DBT's (many years ago, when my hearing was really really good), though, I can say with some degree of authority that it is very difficult to design and analyze a valid DBT for the kinds of audio differences being discussed here. Roger Skoff goes too far the other way, though; audio DBT's can certainly detect differences in subject matter well beyond pure tones.

    However, ultimately all that matters is what the listener/purchaser values, as I suggested way back in post #10. If you don't think anything beyond a Mac Mini and a Blue Jean USB cable to a Benchmark DAC (and this is certainly a reasonably cost-effective setup) sounds better to you, then be happy with it, but it's silly for you to criticize those who don't share that opinion.
    Rob
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  47. #47
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    Avoid the snake oil

    Everybody looking for all these scientific studies to prove a negative are fooling themselves. Independent scientific studies cost money, and since this isn’t life or death research, but rather a small hobby, nobody gives a crap enough to invest the money and time in your studies.

    If you don’t hear a difference, awesome! Stick with the apple airport express. They’re super cheap on eBay and even found at Goodwill. Save the money. Buy stocks. Eat fine steak. Drink fine wine. But for those of us with highly resolution systems who can hear the differences between network servers and even software on the same server (look at all that’s been written comparing roon Vs TAS on the exact same server!), we will continue to enjoy our servers and enjoy our music to its fullest.

    I would ask this about servers however: why do widely priced servers with wide performance differences confirmed by the vast majority, even exist if they all measure the same? Because they don’t sound the same.


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  48. #48
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    Funny things this hobby, back when I first started into computer audio I was coming from a cd player. I built myself a little fanless Windows machine, and was running J river. I then went all in on computer audio and sold my CD spinner, buying an audio research DAC. Then one day I went to sell my DAC and a friend brought over his cheaper DAC… I was surprised how much different it sounded. How could the ones and zeros sound so different? Both DACs processed the files just fine, and fed the signal through the rest of my system.

    I moved up to a dCS Rossini DAC, it was a big improvement in the musicality of the music. Same ones and zeros. And I fed this DAC via a ROON Rock on a little Intel NUC. I continued to improve my analog because I thought my digital side was at least OK. Then I added a TAIKO Extreme, and my digital sound changed dramatically. Same ones and zeros, same music, but it sounded so much more musical, more engaging, easier to listen to for long periods. This was a major improvement because previously I would get digital fatigue within a couple of hours.

    But what I have found most interesting having added the extreme server, is that the blog posts of those folks owning the extreme represent many different brands of DAC. In every case they swear adding the extreme greatly improved their digital sound. So how is it this computer/server is making all these high end systems sound so much better? And there was a recent small software upgrade On the server that everyone swears also greatly improved the sound of their system.

    Ones and zeros, it’s all the same music yet it all sounds different. Not everything in this hobby makes rational sense yet we can hear differences. If your brain is locked into the mechanical Newtonian paradigm, you might miss a lot.

    It reminds me of the time I put some little footers underneath my racks so the spikes wouldn’t go through the carpet and mark up the hardwood beneath. My wife came downstairs and listened and looked at me and asked what changed? I told her about the little footers and we both agreed all of the sound was there but the music was missing. How the hell are you gonna measure something like that? It is a crazy hobby and once you recognize everything makes a difference and then you open your brain to hearing things differently. Not everything means improvement, that is always for you to decide for yourself. But hell, if you’re happy with some Best Buy speakers, raspberry pi, and some lamp cord for speaker wire more power to you — you will save yourself a bank full of money.

  49. #49
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

    This website and the business behind it are dedicated to the proposition that there are things we experience that defy the conventional wisdom that we can measure everything we see and hear with numbers. That’s a view that discounts the richness of experience that defines high end audio. If what I experience in my cerebral cortex is so unique and specific to only me, why are so many other people experiencing the same thing? Hmmmmm.
    Tom

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  50. #50
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    Re: Avoid the snake oil

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