A couple of recent examples of audio silliness show how two groups - audiophiles and popular "audio" columnists - seem to remain immune to any increased technical understanding of audio.
In my last post I noted how technical audio awareness increased among the general public as a result of audio issues surrounding a popular sports broadcast. Unfortunately at least two groups seem to remain immune to any increased technical understanding of audio - audiophiles and popular "audio" columnists - as shown by a couple of examples of recent audio silliness.
First, once again confirming the time-honored observation that "there's a sucker born every minute," is an audio cable break-in service. For only $25 per unit, this service will relieve you of the annoying and "difficult" hassle of breaking in your new audio interconnect and speaker cables.
As all true audiophiles know, brand new cables won't sound their best until they've had time to "settle in" - a process that can take weeks or months under normal listening use. (The reasons for this phenomenon remain somewhat "mysterious" of course, but suggested explanations range from "electron lineup" or "electrostatic charges" within the cable, to the "properties of the dielectric changing from the magnetic fields that are around the wire as the signal flows through it.")
Now no audiophile wants to buy fancy new audio or speaker cables and then have to wait weeks or months for them to sound their best! So the solution, according to standard audiophile best practices, is to manually speed this process up by putting the cable(s) in question through a formal break-in procedure.
This usually involves hooking the cables up to their associated equipment - or to an appropriate test set-up and load (not something I'd bet most audiophiles are familiar with) - and then sending a signal continuously through them at appropriate levels for at least 24 hours. The details of this procedure may vary according to the instructions provided by the cable manufacturer, and may also require the use of special test "burn-in" CDs.
For best results, of course, you can always use specialized equipment like an audiophile burn-in generator. Given all the time and effort involved, it only makes sense then to consider a service offered by cable break-in professionals!
The other bit of technical nonsense that caught my eye was yet another article from an "audio" columnist on a mainstream media site promoting an ever-so-false but persistent fallacy about the difference between analog and digital audio. Yes, you guessed it - it's the old "analog waveforms are continuous and thus have infinite resolution and digital doesn't" canard.
The column in question this time, on CNET, is titled "An analog/digital audio smackdown" and comes complete with a large graphic showing continuous and dotted waveforms representing analog and digital, respectively. The author clearly doesn't have a technical background, but neither has he apparently bothered to take the time to understand the basics of digital audio - as is obvious from the article's very first sentence: "Every sound you hear in real life that doesn't come out of a speaker is analog."
The author looks like he might be open to reason and I considered emailing him or leaving a comment, but it seems that a number of his sharper readers have already taken him to task on this point. Besides, he's probably busy packing up all his audio cables to send off to the cable break-in service.
Comments, questions or suggestions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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