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Thread: What's "snake oil" and what's not - interpreting marketing and media hype

  1. #1
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    Default What's "snake oil" and what's not - interpreting marketing and media hype

    It would be good to have in one place a master speaker designer opinion on what matters and what does not, for the benefit of all users interested in faithful reproduction of music.

    From what I have read on the forum till now, here are areas {which may be} flooded with marketing hype to trap us gullible audiophiles.

    1. Speaker cable specifications, beyond the good quality, adequate cross section copper ones that are recommended here.

    2. Stands, other than what one needs for stability and the correct tweeter height.

    It would be good to have similar clarifications about:

    1. Exotic mains cables.
    2. Exotic interconnects.
    3. Mains power conditioners.

    4. Isolation pucks and platforms for preamps/amps. I can understand that turntables and Cd players may benefit, but what about equipment with no moving parts? Lots of stuff is sold for these as well.

    5. Any other gadgetry I have missed?

    These are things on which crazy money gets spent, and given the refreshingly clear views of Harbeth about speaker cables and stands, I am looking forward to the take on these items. And others I might have missed.

    {Moderator's comment: good idea but this is the fast track to making a lot of enemies in the audio industry! How can we walk through this mine field? Don't forget: by far the most profitable part of audio retailing is accessories and breakdown insurance - many dealers need the profit from these lines to pay the bills and keep the door open, from which we all benefit. We are not hostile to the concept of profit. We are to the ludicrous claims of vast sonic improvement.}

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    Default Sustainablility - and 'honest products'

    Quote Originally Posted by Kumar Kane View Post
    It
    {Moderator's comment: good idea but this is the fast track to making a lot of enemies in the audio industry! How can we walk through this mine field?
    I suppose the way to walk it is just as has been done for the speaker cables and stands subject. It would still be after all the opinion of an individual in generic terms. And it would be of help to people here to use as a guide in making informed decisions. It is also entirely possible that the current woes of the industry are because the value it brings to customers via these products that pay the bills is not authentic enough to be sustainable? That is of course another hornet's nest I do not want to disturb!

    But it would be helpful to know, for instance - does isolating a power amplifier mechanically from external vibrations allow for better sound production from the speaker to an extent that can be noticed by the human ear? And other such things. If possible.

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    Default Great marketing = bread and meat on the table!

    The problem - and danger - I sense here is that it really isn't my place to criticise a swathe of audio accessories. Those products you mention, even though I doubt you could find an expert technical witness to defend them objectively in court (and there was a court case in the UK about the indefensibility of speaker cable claim just a year or two ago) do provide satisfaction to their users, and put a meal on the dealer's table and that of the manufacturers too. And it would be wrong to whip away that satisfaction and nourishment solely so that we could occupy the intellectual high ground. Would it change 'audiophile' consumption habits? No. Would it reduce foot-fall and 'churn' in audio retailing? Yes. Would it strain the financial viability of the few remaining independent audio dealers? Yes. They need sales of that 'stuff' and moreover, they rely on those sales. The margins for mainstream audio separates wouldn't keep a chicken alive for long.

    But it's not just exotic audio accessories that catch the attention of a certain consumer. Remembering that human hair is a lifeless cellular material, do you realise how vast the hair-care market is? I'd guess that globally its sales are 100 times greater than specialist audio and it's profits 1000 times greater. Does it harm anyone to believe that they can be more alluring if they use a certain shampoo? No, and it does create direct and indirect employment in factories, logistics, retailing and advertising agencies around the world. No harm in that.

    So what's the real objection from our side then? Our real beef is the use of pseudo-science to hoodwink the consumer into making the purchase. The very fact that you listed in your post a range of products which - as far as I can see - cannot in this universe be based on any solid science tells me that the gap between junior school science and today's consumer is frighteningly wide. And that vast gulf is fertile hunting grounds for marketeers, just as Elmer Gantry was a hundred years ago in the Wild West. How do I know? Because fundamentally I am a marketing person and I recognise great marketing when I see it. And because I'm paid to know how marketing works - in our case to incrementally build the Harbeth brand over a generation - I can see the tell-tale signs of others building their accessory empires with your cash. And good luck to them. If the consumer is daft enough to believe in the wild claims then clearly he has money to burn. The consumer's expenditure is the seller's income - that's the wheel of commerce!

    Nobody needs to justify art, or whisky or a beautiful face. They are to be savoured, enjoyed whilst they last. But to cloak them in scientific mumbo-jumbo is inappropriate and indefensible (to me) even if it is ace marketing. But pseudo-science does fool a lot of people who do not have any innate sense of discrimination through laziness, education or time pressure. If you abrogate your consumer responsibilities to others, you will be led by the nose - that's a certainty because that compliant position is what marketing strives hard to hold you in, when you are at your most vulnerable and easily manipulated. But many folk really do enjoy being led, as the Apple miracle confirms by the millions.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default The hi-fi industry would collapes without accessories ....

    I have to agree with AS here. You cannot expect him to slate every dubious hi-fi tweak and carelessly cause financial woe for hi-fi dealers and manufacturers. The fact is that the hi-fi industry relies on things like cables just to stay in business. I am reliably informed that the hi-fi industry would collapse without the added sales value of cables, stands and mains products. Without these many dealers would be in big trouble. Does that mean the high-end industry should die? I don't think so - I like using my Harbeths with fancy electronics so let people buy inch-thick speaker cables if it allows the high-end to live. Use common sense for your own decisions though and make up your own mind.

    Also I think we have all been encouraged on the HUG lately to desist in continuous debates over cables and stands. Alan has made a very diplomatic and measured response to the question here when surely he is at his wits end over this sort of issue. There is plenty of information here already on all these issues if you use the search facility.

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    Default The Apple reference

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    .... many folk really do enjoy being led, as the Apple miracle confirms by the millions.
    The above quote (in its entirety) is clear and wise and much appreciated, but I'm confused by the Apple reference.

    I have read technical tests of Apple products, even those conducted by PC-based magazines and reviewers, and on objective performance measures they appear to do quite well (especially the newer models).

    Because of the closed proprietary OS, they also seem to be far less prone to viruses, worms, trojan horses, etc.

    Lastly, they're far less fiddly to configure as acceptable computer music players, provided you are satisfied with the (free) iTunes software.

    So I don't think it's just a matter of being led. Yes, I'm an Apple user, but it's mainly because I want a computer that isn't going to require a lot of work on my part to use, just as I prefer a car that doesn't require a lot of DIY maintenance. (I use a PC every day at work, so I understand the other side as well.) Others may have different preferences, and that's fine. I don't think I'm swayed by the Apple marketing machine - in fact, I find it a bit embarrassing. But it's not all marketing: underneath the marketing is a technically solid product, or they wouldn't be where they are. They're not shampoo.

    {Moderator's comment: yes they are easy to use and beautifully made and styled. Recent comparative head-to-head performance tests (link to follow) show that they are no faster and often slower than Windows to perform the same task in an industry where speed is everything, except to Apple users. They are not designed with security in mind (fact) and one reason they are not welcome in a corporate secure environment.}

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    Default Revised question - where to spend ones money

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    But it's not just exotic audio accessories that catch the attention of a certain consumer. Remembering that human hair is a lifeless cellular material, do you realise how vast the hair-care market is? I'd guess that globally its sales are 100 times greater than specialist audio and it's profits 1000 times greater. Does it harm anyone to believe that they can be more alluring if they use a certain shampoo? No, and it does create direct and indirect employment in factories, logistics, retailing and advertising agencies around the world. No harm in that.
    Certainly, though I am sure there is a lot of advice available to say that your hair is determined only by your genes and the general state of your health, but that does not have any impact on that industry! I could go on, this is a favourite subject, the vicious circle of consumerism, pursuit of economic growth, sustainability and contentment, but this isn't the place for that:-)

    My reason for this thread was only to get advice for my benefit, and perhaps others here as well, and not to cause harm to anybody, so I will rephrase my question.

    If you were putting together a audio system consisting of a CD player, turntable, amplifier and speakers, other than the equipment itself, where would you spend your time and money? What I have understood so far is - speaker stands and speaker cables to the extent already advised, and room acoustics.

    What/where else? Is that a fair question?

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    Default Security is more valuable than stying (to a corporate user)

    Quote Originally Posted by EricW View Post
    ... Others may have different preferences, and that's fine. I don't think I'm swayed by the Apple marketing machine - in fact, I find it a bit embarrassing. But it's not all marketing: underneath the marketing is a technically solid product, or they wouldn't be where they are. They're not shampoo.
    We must congratulate Apple for 'marketing' in the full, best sense of the word. They have identified what the consumer wants and given it to them. Or more accurately, they have created the consumer in new market segments that others didn't sense. And that's a rare skill. But hand in hand with that is the creation of a cult, and I'm less comfortable with that because, just as with audio accessories, it implies a suspension of disbelief on the part of the consumer and as I said before, that is the ideal position that a marketeer wants to hold his consumer in. That's the sad consequence of the consumer just consuming. He is not a content (music) creator. He has not the slightest knowledge of how music is recorded, edited or delivered to him. He is passive. He is malleable. But what if he is a content creator, a business user for such products?

    There are some alarming issues concerning computer data security. Apple computer products are not targeted at business users and deliberate and entirely appropriate decisions were taken by their marketing people about how much or little security to build-in for what are intentionally consumer products. The iPad is a classic example. Consider super-confidential potentially ruinous data of the sort that in the wrong hands could destroy your business or family - the RADIAL project pdfs (thousands of pages) for example. Despite the beautiful styling, fantastic functionality and great usability I would never, ever, put confidential data on such a unit.

    In secure corporate environments where the marketing flim-flam of styling, thinness, weight and such factors are an irrelevance and security is a must-have, their IT people know that wrong decisions about IT selection can and will put jobs at risk. This is the exact analogy of speaker cables: the really important part is not the fancy coloured sheath but the copper itself. The really essential part of the computer is its data security.

    Now, there are business-orientated tablet products available but they're not made by Apple because Apple does not target the business user. For example, the new Fujitsu Q550 here which is built for the corporate user with security at its core with an encrypted disk, smart card and fingerprint reader. Yes, I would store RADIAL data on this unit without fear. Datasheet here.

    Just to conclude this line, products are promoted in a way that highlight their positive features and down-play the negative ones. If the positives (beautiful styling) are so striking the negatives are buried. It is smart marketing that, for example, the battery of the iPad is not user-replaceable when everyone knows that batteries are consumables. That is sheer genius as it tethers the owner to the maker with an invisible revenue chain. Brilliant! (The Q550 obviously (as a corporate machine) has a replaceable battery because corporate users consider the total-life cost of ownership). They are, in short, far more intelligent buyers.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default Identifying the really important things for optimum sound ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Kumar Kane View Post
    ...If you were putting together a audio system consisting of a CD player, turntable, amplifier and speakers, other than the equipment itself, where would you spend your time and money? What I have understood so far is - speaker stands and speaker cables to the extent already advised, and room acoustics.

    What/where else? Is that a fair question?
    It's a good question. I think you've identified all the important things. I would just add speaker placement and where you sit to the list.

    Myself, I have spent money only on components (bar the amp, which I nicked from my Dad :), sturdy stands, basic cable (Chord Rumour, chosen because my local shop stocked it). No isolators, power conditioners, vibration absorbers, etc. I also have spent no time on room treatment, because my room and speakers are forgiving anyway.
    Ben from UK. Harbeth P3ESR owner.

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    Default One biased listener's priorities ...

    OK, just for the record here is my own, jaundiced take on this. When I was in my mid tees I was lucky enough to mix with sound engineers at the BBC. I compared and contrasted how they as content originators behaved, what they considered most important and then went home and read HiFi News. Those were the days before tweakism (I just invented a new word!) took hold and long before the utter insanity of removing tone controls from amplifiers (which should be a capital offence) warped the minds of an upcoming generation of 'audiophiles'. And there was a strong correlation between what I observed and read in those days. That isn't true now. So my list for what it's worth....

    1. First-class, digital recording replayed over a digital playout system (CD player, DAC) or better. Recording quality is really, really important. Analogue recordings for historical value.

    2. Room treatment especially in the low frequencies and/or careful placement of the speakers themselves or the use of good quality (e.g. STAX) headphones

    3. An amplifier from the stores, preferably a pre-power, convenient if with remote control, British ideally, serviced to be in-spec and with a known service back-up and a case that allows easy inspection for the curious (warning: mains voltages can/will kill - don't do this yourself.)

    4. Stands, for stability and the correct tweeter height made of any material

    5. Exotic mains cables - no interest. The (nuclear) power station has delivered the mains supply to me over about 70 miles of aluminium pylon feed, the last foot or two is unimportant.

    6. Exotic interconnects - no interest. Buy them in bulk from trade supplier for about $1/2m

    7. Mains power conditioners - see 5.

    8. "Isolation pucks and platforms for preamps/amps. I can understand that turntables and Cd players may benefit, but what about equipment with no moving parts? Lots of stuff is sold for these as well." Surely you're pulling my leg aren't you?!

    9. A means of capturing and archiving high quality audio from the internet (BBC Radio 3 concerts for example) such as Total Recorder (recommended, I use) and saving to hard disk and a means of playing those over the audio system. Either burn to CD (I do), stream over home network (I don't have) or direct USB-DAC feed to amp (I do use). Set aside a USB (or better) hard disk to store all those audio files as future-proof WAVs and duplicate it for back-up.

    10. Time to switch off the world and devote oneself to listening (this is actually the most important facility of all).

    Oh - forgot - some thick-ish speaker cable, flexible, such as QED 79 strand or similar. And the final, vital step is a nice G&T with ice and lemon and you're all set.

    P.S. Don't underestimate the importance of a G&T. It can transform any one of the above steps beyond recognition!
    P.P.S. If I may recommend ... the pre-mixed G&T in a small can has the most marvellous (although a little pricey) audiophile credentials. In my own experience it has turned old analogue recordings into pristine digital ones, overcome almost all room problems, de-jittered* my transport and extended the resolution of my speakers by at least 15dB and added another 2-3kHz to the top end. By far the best audio investment I've made and I'm not joking!

    *I'm not sure what jitter is. It sounds impressive though. I thought it was the slight tremble in my hands.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default Leg pulling ....

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    8. "Isolation pucks and platforms for preamps/amps. I can understand that turntables and Cd players may benefit, but what about equipment with no moving parts? Lots of stuff is sold for these as well." Surely you're pulling my leg aren't you?!
    Thank you for taking the time to write that summary. I didn't quite get the pulling your leg question though - what part of my statement would that refer to?!

    And Ben, thank you too.

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    Default Trusting your ears?

    What part do you think?!

    Again, this touches on the barmy army's (a-phile) bonkers belief and over-confidence in the human ear's abilities. The ear is not a precision measuring instrument - not by a very long way. No instrument would age so miserably, would be so susceptible to illness and disease and of such poor resolution. So whilst we can all make factual claims about effects that are measurable under lab conditions, in the real world when music is playing they're all buried far under the music and hence irrelevant.

    Just as an example ... when we listen to speakers we never hear pure tones in the bass. Typically there will be many percent harmonic and other distortion present. 10%? 30% distortion. Yes, that is indeed probable. Can we identify that distortion by listening? No. Does it diminish our appreciation of music? No. Is it what we are conditioned to expect from our audio equipment? Yes. Would we prefer the sound if all the LF distortion was removed? Probably not: it may sound too dry.

    I cannot stress enough: the ear has all the resolution and ability that evolution has needed it to have, and not a jot more. And as music only appeared about 35,000 years ago against an evolutionary time line of millions of years our ears are absolutely not optimised for music. And never will be with the ever lowering quality of audio compression. Proof enough here.
    Alan A. Shaw
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    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    What part do you think?!
    I remember reading something that went - the sound coming from the speakers will, if you don't watch out by using the advertised product, set up vibrations inside the ICs and other components inside the amplifier, resulting in the amplifier performance degrading, affecting the sound that comes from the speakers in turn, that in turn....or something to that effect. Written a lot more cleverly of course.

    And I have read reviewers writing of the profound improvement in the sound...air, decay and other such favoured jargon...once the product is introduced into the system. Anyway, enough said.

    I have what I wanted to get in terms of an educated opinion, and I trust others may benefit as well on reading and thinking.

    Thanks again.

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    Default *Never* underestimate the importance of alchohol!

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    P.S. Don't underestimate the importance of a G&T. It can transform any one of the above steps beyond recognition!
    P.P.S. If I may recommend ... the pre-mixed G&T in a small can has the most marvellous (although a little pricey) audiophile credentials. In my own experience it has turned old analogue recordings into pristine digital ones, overcome almost all room problems, de-jittered* my transport and extended the resolution of my speakers by at least 15dB and added another 2-3kHz to the top end. By far the best audio investment I've made and I'm not joking!
    *I'm not sure what jitter is. It sounds impressive though. I thought it was the slight tremble in my hands.
    I agree about the G&T concept fully, though it is whisky that floats my boat! Allied to some great music, it makes me recklessly generous.

    And don't disillusion me about jitter now, I just got myself an asynchronous DAC to overcome it!!!:)

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    Default The biggest load of BS ever written ....

    Quote Originally Posted by Kumar Kane View Post
    I remember reading something that went - the sound coming from the speakers will, if you don't watch out by using the advertised product, set up vibrations inside the ICs and other components inside the amplifier, resulting in the amplifier performance degrading, affecting the sound that comes from the speakers in turn....
    Get away. You are kidding. I've never read such a load of bo--ocks in my life!

    I started my career in the semiconductor industry with NEC Corporation of Japan, one of the world's biggest semiconductor manufacturers. I can tell you with one hundred percent certainty that low-level vibration of the barely measureable type you mention will have no effect on semiconductor performance what so ever. It is an absurd idea.

    Semiconductor technology is science based (it has to be: many of the chemicals used are lethal) and is the most researched area of manufacturing. Everything about chip design and manufacturing is quantified, and because the bahaviour is so predictable simulations of chip design can be sure to lead to perfect, stable fabrications. The fact that operational ICs are so fantastically reliable both on earth and blasted into space under enormous G forces testifies to the stability of the design and the utter repeatability and certainty of performance. It is that stability that underpins every electronic product and has created the modern digital world where users can be completely careless about nurturing their electronics products - they'll just continue to work.

    The primary variables that effect performance are extremes of temperature and radiation. Obviously if the circuit board becomes wet tracks may short, but the ICs themselves are sealed.

    Are you telling us that even one would-be consumer would fall for such a concocted tale? I just don't believe anyone could be so stupid. I'm going to have to lie down in a darkend room for a while to get over this shock. I just can't allow myself to believe you. (Maybe I've slipped away into fairltale land where black is white and white black .... wait .... I hear angels ..... not yet!)

    P.S. The most famous audio IC is the now venerable TL07x series. There is a very high likelyhood that inside some or even all of your audio equipment there are some of these. In the mixing desk there will be hundreds. As you can see from the datasheet here the characteritics of this (and all) ICs are very finely specified. On page 1/2 you will read the manufacturer's specification and absolute maximum ratings. See the section on vibration?
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default It was me ....

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    Are you telling us that even one would-be consumer would fall for such a concocted tale? I just don't believe anyone could be so stupid.
    Yes, I am telling you this, and with the greatest of certainty, because it was I that was so! :)

    And I have seen the evidence in a few places, so I ain't the only one!! Thankfully, they were just relatively cheap pucks under an acrylic slab that happened to be lying around at home and so I did not pay for that at least.
    There is an old parable - The Emperor's New Clothes - that I am sure you have heard a few times till now...

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    Default American English ....

    Quote Originally Posted by Kumar Kane View Post
    Yes, I am telling you this, and with the greatest of certainty, because it was I that was so! :)....
    Oh my goodness. No. Can't be.

    You know, Americans (not Brits, we'd never say this) have a word for (slight cough) people like, er .... you. "Suckers". And I've heard Americans saying that the consumer has been 'suckered'. How does it feel to be 'suckered'?
    Alan A. Shaw
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    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default Suckered for more and for longer!

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    How does it feel to be 'suckered'?
    Ah well, one born every day, right?! :)

    And I am not going to talk too much about the power conditioner that I almost bought once. Sanity prevailed when I realised that the only way to get "clean" power was to generate it in the basement of my apartment via a DG set, and I was't totally in a brain freeze.

    The one consolation too is that I have seen people in the hobby suckered for a lot more and for a lot longer.

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    Default Table d'hote bought-in parts from a menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Kumar Kane View Post
    ...The one consolation too is that I have seen people in the hobby suckered for a lot more and for a lot longer.
    It's so depressing, and so avoidable with a constant awareness that whilst 'audio' is a serious hobby to the consumer, it's a business to the supplier.

    The wealthy can take care of themselves whatever we may think or say. It disturbs me that the ordinary hard-working music-appreciating audio fan spends far more than he strictly should and achieves far less value that he rightly deserves for his hard-earned cash. Furthermore, if for example, the motor industry relied on the BS pseudo-science that the audiophile industry is seemingly neck-deep in, the Hindustan Ambassador with various fancy wheel hubs, pink furry trim and dangling dice would be the very pinnacle of suburban motoring performance and style. More on style and grace here*. Mercifully, there is more discrimination amongst car enthusiasts, and that has reflected in real, genuine and progressive development of the car industry such that today's cars are truly superior in every way to those of a generation ago. Not so in audio where what is engineering stasis is spun by brilliant marketing into progress.

    Another example: as you know we are one of the very few that make our own drive units. It's the expensive way of building a loudspeaker system. Not only do you have to design the unit, you have to source and pre-pay for all the piece-parts and stockhold them by the thousands and you have to employ expensive UK people to put them together to the correct standard and you have to cost-in the rejects that fall outside a tight QC window. We do it the hard way because it gives us a performance edge, the 'Harbeth sound'. But it is so much easier to place a PO with an overseas supplier for a complete woofer for literally just a dollar or two. The cost diverted from the core (the drive units and crossover) can then be allocated to beautification of the cabinet and to marketing and promotion as it is these that capture the user's imagination. Not the 'difficult' concepts of cone coloration.

    I think you can broadly classify all loudspeaker system manufactuers into two major groups: those that are satisfied with sub-optimal off-the-peg woofers and those who make their own. It would be the same as Jaguar buying-in a standard GM engine from a catalogue compared with Mercedes designing and building a superb engine from first principles. I really don't know why 'audiophiles' give any credence to loudspeaker systems fabricated around cheap, bought-in table d'hote drivers, regardless of price or styling. I have never seen a $50,000 speaker system with own-made drive units .... and at a few dollars a driver that's a vast cost for mediocre technology.

    *Actually I rather fancy one of these. It is the very antithesis of marketing and appeals for that reason - and it feels good to be different!
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default The myth of 'microphony'? It's another marketing idea; Stars and Cash-cows

    Alan I read your post expressing shock at the claims about speakers vibrating the ICs in amps/CD players with surprise. Not because you refuted the claim so elegantly by pointing out your experiences with NEC and the example of space travel. But because some of the hi-fi magazines are absolutely full of this theory and I thought you might have read/seen this yourself.

    It comes from manufacturers first though. There are many very popular and well-regarded (and often expensive - more than your speakers cost!) cables, tables, pucks etc. that are sold on the basis that vibrations coming from the speakers will vibrate the electronics in the room which are all (they claim) inherently microphonic and will, therefore, turn these unwanted vibrations into an electrical signal that will ultimately get turned into sound in the speakers. Stop laughing Alan - there's more...

    Furthermore, it is also claimed by some manufacturers that even CABLES and SOCKETS are microphonic and need to be lifted off the ground (where there are most vibrations, they claim) in order to reduce this problem. Sockets must be made of carbon fibre to reduce energy storage too. Some cables even have boxes half way down them that incorperate damping pathways to stop the 'transmission' of bad vibrations BETWEEN electronics (CD players/amps). These internal vibrations are said to come from the power transformers and transport mechanisms and need to be controlled and isolated from each other or they'll get mixed in with the musical signal due to the microphony effect mentioned earlier.

    I think the unpalatable fact is that most parts of the hi-fi chain have reached a virtually blameless level long ago (transducers excepted) that can't be improved to any audible extent. For a marketing department this is a terrible thing. Once you've reached the end of the performance improvements that are possible with a technology (which pushed sales up for a long time) your Star products and Cash-cows become Dogs and people just won't spend anymore money. And then you have no business.

    This is why the high-end industry now relies on tweaks and cables to stay afloat. These are the new Stars and Cash-cows that promise better sound - and many WANT to believe, or feel left-out if they don't believe or feel they have cloth-ears if they don't hear the improvements epoused by the Gurus and their converts.

    I'll end by para-phrasing respected Stereophile reviewer and analogue authority Michael Fremer:

    "Choose the colourations that are acceptable to you with your transducers (cartridges and loudspeakers) and don't worry too much about amplifiers and cables. Transducers still have a long way to go and dominate the sound of our systems."

    I think rather similar to your views in fact, Alan.

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    Default Apple - last words....

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    corporate users ... are, in short, far more intelligent buyers.
    Guess I'm stupid, then!

    Look: you make two points: (1) Apples are not designed for security, and (2) they don't have user-replacable batteries.

    As I've never had to replace a battery even after years of use, I consider the second point an irrelevance for me personally. With harder use, in a corporate setting, it might indeed be a factor. I don't believe it's an issue of revenue stream for Apple though (but I could be wrong), but that designed-in batteries give more storage in a smaller form factor, which is what they're all about.

    The real point is the first one, the security issue. But again, for me, so what? My machine is for home and personal use, and I have no confidential or commercially secure information on it. If I were running a corporation, my priorities would no doubt be different. But I'm not. Surely the "unintelligent" thing to do would be to base a buying decision on a factor that has absolutely no relevance to the intended use? How would that make any sense?

    As for "content creators", amongst many of these (i.e. musicians and artists), the Mac is the machine of choice, again because of the ease of use factor. It depends on what kind of content you're talking about.

    So the intelligent thing to do, I would submit, is to determine accurately what factors are important to the intended use, and purchase based on those.

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