IET, Bi-wiring does not work and other myths

admin_exported

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For those who subscribe to the IET (Institute of Engineering and Technology) magazine E & T, will know that the latest issue is an audio special.

One of the sections takes a look at some hifi "myths". They basically have said that there is no evidence that bi-wiring works and that equipment burn-in does not really improve anything either.
Is this simply a bog standard Electronics Engineer not understanding the mysterious art of HiFi design or does the article have a point.

I know I was at a hifi show once and an exhibitor was demonstrating the sonic benefits of buying ever more expensive speaker cables;the only trouble is I could not hear any difference whatsoever.
Are there other myths that we need to be wary of?

For those who have access to this magazine I urge you to read this audio special. It contains some great information from Studio recording technology to future hifi technology. There is also an excellent article on Vinyl.
 

amcluesent

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>Is this simply a bog standard Electronics Engineer not understanding the mysterious art of HiFi design<

Yep. Anyone who doesn't 'get' having a linear PSU on the router or directional SATA cables is cloth-eared by definition.
 

Craig M.

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i think this blog from an engineer should be required reading for anyone thinking of buying a new hifi. it's a shame most people seem to choose to believe a marketing department over someone who actually knows what they are talking about. :wall: :help:
 
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Anonymous

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Creepy,

Very interesting post and link. There is a huge amount of claptrap talked about in hifi circles. Burn in is just one of many examples. Mechanical components may well need to be run in (not burnt in), and speaker suspension can become more compliant with time - and this may change the sound.

Electronic components however do not drift into spec through use. No component I have ever specificied or bought has said 'these parameters will only be met after 100 hours of use' - its pure nonsense. This is not to say equipment won't benefit by being left to warm up and to reach a stable operating temperature. All components exhibit some form of temperature sensitivity, and it is at least possible that an amp's sound could change as it warms up.

Burn in is a technique where electronic products are run at elevated temperature to accelerate infant mortality - usually for test / commercial equipment, primarily to limit warranty claims. Nothing to do with improving the equipment performance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burn_in
 

pauln

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Craig M. said:
i think this blog from an engineer should be required reading for anyone thinking of buying a new hifi. it's a shame most people seem to choose to believe a marketing department over someone who actually knows what they are talking about. :wall: :help:

Some would rather not face the truth...

head-in-the-sand.gif
 

Pete68

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Some high end gear sounds better than budget, bi-wiring does have benefits for some speakers but the most important thing is getting the synergy right between componants.
 

Nelly

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but is the price difference to sonic performance that huge ?.is it more important to have good speakers as these at the end of the day are where everything ends up playing from
 

matt49

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Nelly said:
just read that article so as im new to hifi that is the most helpfull article ive ever read.so the expensive stuff looks cool but does not realy sound that much better its just your brain saying its expensive so it must sound better.i also found this article about how many watts you realy need to power speakers

http://www.sonicsense.com/blog/getting-the-most-out-of-your-equipment/how-many-watts-do-my-speakers-really-need/

I read the blog twice, and I get a quite different meaning from it. The author certainly does think that in many cases people have pointlessly spent large amounts of money on hi-fi kit because they've been seduced by marketing, peer pressure, false measurements of the kit's performance etc. But he doesn't say that spending large amounts of money on hi-fi cannot get you better quality sound. His central point, it seems to me, and the one he returns to in his conclusion, is that the measurements provided by manufacturers are in many cases wildly inaccurate and misleading, and that they should be subject to closer scrutiny.

I'd add that anyone who reads this blog as a killer argument for the 'objectivist' party (i.e. those who think that measurement is ultimately all that matters) should re-read this paragraph:

THE MODERATES:[/b] Just as with politics and religion, it’s not black and white. Some have a foot firmly in both the objective and subjective side of things. Some examples are John Atkinson at Stereophile, John Siau at Benchmark Media, and to some degree, myself. We value objective measurements but also trust our ears and just because we may not hear a difference we accept someone else might. I believe those in the middle are generally the most open minded.
 

BigH

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Nelly said:
but is the price difference to sonic performance that huge ?.is it more important to have good speakers as these at the end of the day are where everything ends up playing from

If what ends up at the speakers is rubbish then no, no matter how good the speakers it won't sound good. You need a decent source, not nec. expensive, some people use Blu-Ray dvd players or laptops, an amp that can amplify and control the speakers. The power of the amp. will depend on room size, sensititivity of speakers and volume level you require. As you spend more there are a lot of diminishing returns. Speakers make the most difference to how the sound sounds.
 

Nelly

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so realy we should not read reviews and confuse ourself with all the jaron as these test and reviews will be nothing like our home enviroment.so to me it means is that we all have different views on what sounds good so we should just go for what we think is the best sound for us if that means £200 amp/speakers or £2000 amp/speakers.for me i love the sound that my soundcard produces through my active speakers(£70)so i thought if i buy a decent amp which i did(marantzpm6004)and decent speakers(still looking)then the sound would be more amazing.but now im thinking that i might hate the sound even if the system costs alot more.i cannot get home demos and as ive said demo rooms are so different from our real life abodes that this is realy not an option.
 

davedotco

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First thing you need to do is to define what you are trying to do.

A thoughtful objectivist wants a system that gets him as close as possible to the original recording.

A thoughtful subjectivist wants a system that gets him as close as possible to the original performance.

Not at all the same thing.
 

CnoEvil

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davedotco said:
A thoughtful objectivist wants a system that gets him as close as possible to the original recording.

A thoughtful subjectivist wants a system that gets him as close as possible to the original performance.

Not at all the same thing.

Nicely put.........and the trouble comes when one side says that the other is misguided.
 

Overdose

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davedotco said:
First thing you need to do is to define what you are trying to do.

A thoughtful objectivist wants a system that gets him as close as possible to the original recording.

A thoughtful subjectivist wants a system that gets him as close as possible to the original performance.

Not at all the same thing.

I'm not so sure. They should be the same thing, as a good recording should be able to accurately capture a performance, but venue accoustic recording limitations will be tricky to overcome and the sound reproduced on a hifi will only ever be an illusion of a live event, unless your listening room happens to be of the size of the original venue and with a suitable sound system to properly fill that space.

In my opinion, you are always better off going for as accurate a system as is possible, because there are too many other variables that have a much greater effect on what you actually get to hear, like how the recording/mastering was finished, through to room accoustics at home.

I suppose it is possible to reproduce a vocalist for example, seemingly giving a personal performance in your living room, when the recording was done in a studio, as the original 'room' that the recording was taken in, can be removed in the mastering, not so in a 'live' environment.

I also don't believe that subjectivism or objectivism has anything to do with it. In the case of a studio recording, then that original recording sound is desired. If a recording of a live event, then as close as possible to the live event sound is desirable, though much harder to quantify (and create), as the only way to tell after the event, is to listen to the recording. Way too many variables for live events though and only a close facsimilie is possible and perhaps all that is needed, to recreate an effect of atmosphere.
 

ISAC69

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Hi

I do think that bi-wiring is not more than voodoo , bi-amp is another story put 4 mono blocs or 2 power amp to the spaekers : more power

is more control on the speakers you should find a huge sound improvement .
 

shafesk

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Nelly said:
just read that article so as im new to hifi that is the most helpfull article ive ever read.so the expensive stuff looks cool but does not realy sound that much better its just your brain saying its expensive so it must sound better.i also found this article about how many watts you realy need to power speakers

http://www.sonicsense.com/blog/getting-the-most-out-of-your-equipment/how-many-watts-do-my-speakers-really-need/

hi Nelly, I think you got a wrong idea about what the article was saying. Anyway, its rarely true that the expensive stuff looks cooler but doesn't sound better if you are talking about amplifiers, turntables, speakers...it is debatable to a certain extent when you are talking about dacs or digital sources and cables but even then I've found much more expensive dacs to sound better than entry level ones, mind you, to notice a big improvement with digital sources I have found that you need to spend much more than if you want a big improvement with an analogue source.

Hope this clears stuff out,

Shafin
 

Nelly

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lol i think i confused myself with all of this as im new sry for my unclear view.i am not concerned with dacs as my asus xonar essence stx is the perfect source for the music i listen to(my opinion)i never listen to mp3 from my pc as i have a 3TB hdd which is full of only wav file music which i understand is the best quality i can get from my pc?.my main concern with the topic was about amps.do we really need a £1000 amp if the source and speakers are good enough.ive read reviews on the tri-path amps which you can pick up for about £30.people say they are fantastic for the price.in blind tests against amps costing 10x.20x more people cannot tell which is which.so if i love the sound i get now from my source would i be better off getting a cheaper amp and better speakers.sorry if i sound like a audiophile virgin i am just trying to get as much information as i can.
 

busb

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Nelly said:
lol i think i confused myself with all of this as im new sry for my unclear view.i am not concerned with dacs as my asus xonar essence stx is the perfect source for the music i listen to(my opinion)i never listen to mp3 from my pc as i have a 3TB hdd which is full of only wav file music which i understand is the best quality i can get from my pc?.my main concern with the topic was about amps.do we really need a £1000 amp if the source and speakers are good enough.ive read reviews on the tri-path amps which you can pick up for about £30.people say they are fantastic for the price.in blind tests against amps costing 10x.20x more people cannot tell which is which.so if i love the sound i get now from my source would i be better off getting a cheaper amp and better speakers.sorry if i sound like a audiophile virgin i am just trying to get as much information as i can.

I'm by no means an expert on computer based music (I use iTunes which marks me as a lightweight to many!) but using wav files makes tagging far more troublesome - use flac files that imbed metadata in the file headers themselves that makes searching, tagging & organising music much easier. Flac is also a "lossless" compressed format so will take up less space than wavs if not by a huge amount.
 

pauln

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Nelly said:
lol i think i confused myself with all of this as im new sry for my unclear view.i am not concerned with dacs as my asus xonar essence stx is the perfect source for the music i listen to(my opinion)

An external DAC will be better than a soundcard inside an electrically noisy environment such as a computer

Nelly said:
i never listen to mp3 from my pc as i have a 3TB hdd which is full of only wav file music which i understand is the best quality i can get from my pc?

I agree with above comment about flacs - just as good as wav.

Nelly said:
my main concern with the topic was about amps.do we really need a £1000 amp if the source and speakers are good enough.ive read reviews on the tri-path amps which you can pick up for about £30.people say they are fantastic for the price.in blind tests against amps costing 10x.20x more people cannot tell which is which.so if i love the sound i get now from my source would i be better off getting a cheaper amp and better speakers.sorry if i sound like a audiophile virgin i am just trying to get as much information as i can.

Yes, get the best speakers you can afford and an amp powerful enough to drive them to the levels you require - tri-path amps do not have much power and would not be suitable for a typical modern loudspeaker of relatively low sensitivity unless you want it quiet.
 

MajorFubar

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Nelly said:
i am not concerned with dacs as my asus xonar essence stx is the perfect source for the music i listen to(my opinion)

You mght want to try to borrow an external DAC and give it a go. The sound cards in PCs are almost always nasty and I'm prepared to bet you will notice a difference. And I'm one of those people round here who very vocally speaks out against voodoo bullsh**t so you can take that as a truth.
 

ReValveiT

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It is no longer true that DAC's sound better than internal soundcards.

I bought an Asus DS card as a stopgap to a good DAC. Problem I have now is I can't find a DAC in the £200 price range to better this £35 soundcard.

So to say that DAC's are better than soundcards is a major generalisation. I'm either sticking with the DS, or I'm going to try the Essence ST if I can find a used minter.

:)
 

davedotco

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The Asus ST and STX cards are genuinely high performance items, onboard noise is well suppressed, the clock is excellent leading to minimal jitter and the analogue out is of very decent quality, sufficiently good as to make the addition of a DAC in the £200 - 300 range somewhat hit and miss.

It is an article of faith among non computer based hi fi enthusiasts that a 'proper' add on dac will always give an increase in performance, but this is really no longer the case, with this soundcard anyway.
 

busb

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davedotco said:
First thing you need to do is to define what you are trying to do.

A thoughtful objectivist wants a system that gets him as close as possible to the original recording.

A thoughtful subjectivist wants a system that gets him as close as possible to the original performance.

Not at all the same thing.

I'll have to remember this when I'm wearing my subjective hat (& keep quiet when wearing my objectivist one)!
 

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