Plenty of sanity here.
Bob Pease too has contributed much
to a rational debate on esoteric audio claims.
My most recent encounter with snake oil was
magic rock "quantum purifiers" at about a hundred bucks apiece you are urged to clamp on cables.
I love audio but am not easily fooled.
Good old WC Fields was sure right about those
Anyone recall teh "Tice Clock"? It was a $20 digital clock from Radio Shack that was "treated" I believe magnetically to "remove randomness" from the motion of electronics in the AC wiring of your audio system. Or some such nonsense.
Audiophiles fall for this stuff because the days of true "tweaking" are long gone. They used to be able to spend hours adjusting the weight of their tonearms, changing cartridges, replacing and testing vacuum tubes until they were satisfied they had the best sound (and these were all real things that had an effect on the sound quality!). Now everything is digital and sealed up, so all you can do is buy some silly device with magical properties. The supposed improvement in audio quality is directly proportional to the cost of the device.
In my early days I enjoyed Audiophile equipment and tried the big buck cabling versus standard multiple sets of zip cord. What did I find? No difference! Surprise, NOT. I did find a few things that made a difference: speakers and (in those days anyway) the turntable/cartridge. They impacted the most because they were involved in the conversion from electrical to mechanical realms. Amps/pre-amps only made a difference if they were: underpowered or had high THD. I did have a preference for the sound from the tube amp (seemed warmer) but that I think was due to the even versus odd harmonics in the distortion numbers. Anyone have similar/different experiences?
The amusing part will be the squeals of outrage from the True Believers, who themselves won't bother to gather any contrary data.
My personal feeling is that if you're gullible enough to swallow this, you deserve to get taken.
Thanks for reminding me of Spinal Tap -- what a classic movie! And the engineer in the last panel of the cartoon has exactly the right attitude: "For $2000, I'll build you one that goes to 12."
As engineers, our #1 job is to give the customer what he wants, not to tell him he doesn't need it!
Asho_#1's comments bring to mind the following amusing cartoon involving engineers and "Spinal Tap amplifiers" (originally submitted by a reader for a previous Audio DesignLine blog post):
Aren't we all just a little bit envious that there are guys out there who can package up 0R025 resistors and sell them for $ 92 each??
The trouble with engineers is that (technically anyway) they have maybe a tad too much integrity for the rest of the population. There are guys with more money than sense who get a kick out of buying things from these snake oil salesmen, and I'm far from being sure that we shouldn't let the snake oil salesmen do their worst. Then WE can get a kick (not to mention a feeling of superiority) out of NOT being conned by said S.O.S'men.
But where do you draw the line? If you allow these SOS to do what they do, shouldn't you also allow the smooth talking pyramid scheme salesmen who con little old ladies out of their life savings and leave them destitute?
Bob, you have some points, but I would like to add that the test was with the older style metal coat hangers where there was real metal, not cheap knockoffs. You could really hang a coat and a pair of pants on those without them folding up in the middle. But I digress.....
With the new ones that sag, the electrons will also fall off a bit as they round the curve resulting in a loss of fidelity, also lag somewhat compared to a rigid one resulting in phase differences, and all in all probably adversely affect the sound, although I am not quite sure how just now. Just a feeling.. :)
Somewhere there must be a machine able to measure these things.
Hey, kdboyce, them's fighting words... you lay off the metal coat hangers! For all we know, the increased resistance was of use in damping the system response. (Insert here your favorite quasi-engineering explanation. Mine is... ) Skin effect in the coat hanger raises the resistance even above that of the rat-gut steel that they make them out of, and was precisely the right amount of damping resistance to smooth out any abrupt transitions in the speaker's frequency response. And just the same, this is not a problem for the exotic-cable crowd, but an opportunity. How hard can it be to make oxygen-free solid copper coat hangers? With banana plugs? Just don't put a heavy coat on one by accident.