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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Bruce In Philly] #2849539
05/18/19 09:30 AM
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Sure, the speakers in most digital pianos suck.
But in my case the first step up was to replace the sound generator.

The piano's native sound was terrible.
Amps didn't matter. Speakers didn't matter.
The sound was thin and crappy from the piano speakers.
It was thin and crappy from an outboard sound system.
And it's thin and crappy from the new monitors.

No speakers of any kind can make crap sound good.

Only after switching to virtual instruments was I able to hear improvement from a better sound system.

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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Bruce In Philly] #2849558
05/18/19 10:15 AM
05/18/19 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
Below is a link to a very easy to understand video on speaker design. The point of it is that measurements don't always describe what you hear, and that use of plain old trust in your ears is what counts.

Another issue, as I promote, is that the sound quality from our wonderful keyboards is highly dependent on the amps and speakers they are played through... a huge issue. Spending more usually produced emotional dividends... more truth (high fidelity), more enjoyment.

Eeh I don't think that a completely linear/flat speaker would sound very good, aye. Our ears do not have a flat frequency response either, we are far less sensitive to bass compared to e.g. 1-4KHz which is where most of human communication takes place.

I would agree that we cannot determine whether any given speaker sounds good just by looking at the FR graphs because they do not factor in our listening environment at all. heck, even listening to speakers in a store demo room is hardly useful past assessing the general characteristics because they can sound very different once they interact with your own room.

However, FR graphs can help to eliminate many a contender.
E.g.: I would not want to buy a bass heavy speaker when I am looking for sth. neutral just to end up EQing the bass out in order to bend the FR graph back. So FR graphs are useful to some extent.



Now, to the point where I disagree: AMPs/DACs. Honestly, people blow the effect of amps and DACs on the sonic characteristics of a system well out of proportion. Also, yes: I can look at a FR graph and determine whether an Amp/Dac is good or not. Anything not ruler flat is BAD in my book. I do NOT want the amp or source (DAC) to color the signal in any way. That's the job of the speaker, which I picked specifically for it's signature. Now if I want to shape the signature further, there are DSP and EQs for that but with a flat amp and a speaker signature I like, all I use that for is to correct shortcomings of a given recording. On top of that, I expect an amp to have inaudible levels of distortion/noise and obviously enough juice to comfortably drive the load attached to it w/o turning into an oven. Luckily, we live in a time where we have access to rather modestly priced amps and DACs that are audibly transparent and rather efficient speaker designs with 92+ dB/W. There is no need to drop big bucks here unless you have extraordinarily difficult to drive speakers.

Yep, you read right: most recordings are not perfect either. Thy can have clipping, anemic bass, harsh treble, squashed dynamic range ... you name it, it's probably out there. Some of that can be corrected during playback, alas clipping/loudness war victims cannot.

A general rule: A systems sound is 85% transducer 10% amp and 5% DAC/Source. Plan your budgets accordingly.

So the bottom line of Mac's post applies: no matter the grade of your system: garbage in = garbage out.
That includes crappy samples of an older digital piano.

Last edited by Granyala; 05/18/19 10:16 AM.

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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Granyala] #2849582
05/18/19 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Granyala
Originally Posted by Bruce In Philly
Below is a link to a very easy to understand video on speaker design. The point of it is that measurements don't always describe what you hear, and that use of plain old trust in your ears is what counts.

Another issue, as I promote, is that the sound quality from our wonderful keyboards is highly dependent on the amps and speakers they are played through... a huge issue. Spending more usually produced emotional dividends... more truth (high fidelity), more enjoyment.

Eeh I don't think that a completely linear/flat speaker would sound very good, aye. Our ears do not have a flat frequency response either, we are far less sensitive to bass compared to e.g. 1-4KHz which is where most of human communication takes place.

I would agree that we cannot determine whether any given speaker sounds good just by looking at the FR graphs because they do not factor in our listening environment at all. heck, even listening to speakers in a store demo room is hardly useful past assessing the general characteristics because they can sound very different once they interact with your own room.

However, FR graphs can help to eliminate many a contender.
E.g.: I would not want to buy a bass heavy speaker when I am looking for sth. neutral just to end up EQing the bass out in order to bend the FR graph back. So FR graphs are useful to some extent.



Now, to the point where I disagree: AMPs/DACs. Honestly, people blow the effect of amps and DACs on the sonic characteristics of a system well out of proportion. Also, yes: I can look at a FR graph and determine whether an Amp/Dac is good or not. Anything not ruler flat is BAD in my book. I do NOT want the amp or source (DAC) to color the signal in any way. That's the job of the speaker, which I picked specifically for it's signature. Now if I want to shape the signature further, there are DSP and EQs for that but with a flat amp and a speaker signature I like, all I use that for is to correct shortcomings of a given recording. On top of that, I expect an amp to have inaudible levels of distortion/noise and obviously enough juice to comfortably drive the load attached to it w/o turning into an oven. Luckily, we live in a time where we have access to rather modestly priced amps and DACs that are audibly transparent and rather efficient speaker designs with 92+ dB/W. There is no need to drop big bucks here unless you have extraordinarily difficult to drive speakers.

Yep, you read right: most recordings are not perfect either. Thy can have clipping, anemic bass, harsh treble, squashed dynamic range ... you name it, it's probably out there. Some of that can be corrected during playback, alas clipping/loudness war victims cannot.

A general rule: A systems sound is 85% transducer 10% amp and 5% DAC/Source. Plan your budgets accordingly.

So the bottom line of Mac's post applies: no matter the grade of your system: garbage in = garbage out.
That includes crappy samples of an older digital piano.


I don’t agree with your percentage breakdowns and that has not been my experience in building my system over the years, but you are entitled to your opinion as much as I entitled to mine. Amps are a much larger percentage of the sound, IMHO.

Last edited by LarryK; 05/18/19 11:32 AM.

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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Bruce In Philly] #2849588
05/18/19 11:41 AM
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This is just silly.
Originally Posted by Granyala
I don't think that a completely linear/flat speaker would sound very good, aye. Our ears do not have a flat frequency response either, we are far less sensitive to bass compared to e.g. 1-4KHz which is where most of human communication takes place.
A sound system should try to produce the same sound as that of some original source (if such exists). Defects or limitations in our hearing don't suggest that this goal be set aside.

This seems to have been pulled out of thin air:
Originally Posted by Granyala
A general rule: A systems sound is 85% transducer 10% amp and 5% DAC/Source. Plan your budgets accordingly.
You could have said 50%-20%-30%, or any other three numbers. The only "general rule" is that they must add up to 100%. smile

And you've left out one of the most important factors: the sound source. What piano are we hearing? What microphones were used and how were they used?
There are more than three numbers to consider.

Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: LarryK] #2849590
05/18/19 11:42 AM
05/18/19 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by LarryK
I don’t agree with your percentage breakdowns and that has not been my experience in building my system over the years, but you are entitled to your opinion as much as I entitled to mine. Amps are a much larger percentage of the sound, IMHO.

I was speaking of today's current technology.
Obviously I am too young to know how the situation was 20years ago, so if you use vintage gear your experiences may differ.

Imho all modern solid state amps sound alike as long as they are driven within their specs. In case of headphones, output impedance/damping is the most easily heard difference between them resulting in lower and more focused bass levels due to low resonance.

Friend and I compared a 3000 € DAC/AMP stack from Cambridge audio to his 700€ Pioneer AVR because everyone told him how horrible an AVR is for stereo music and the differences between the audiophile stack and the AVR were pathetically small.
WAY less than 5% for DAC/AMP combined, we had to strain to be able to hear the slighty refined bass of his Focal Aria 926.

Needless to say: we were pretty disappointed and disillusioned.

What I am saying is: unless you have TOTL or close to it speakers and a well treated room, spending big on DAC/AMP is pretty pointless b/c there are far greater benefits to be had by upgrading the speakers or improving room treatment.

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
This is just silly.
Originally Posted by Granyala
I don't think that a completely linear/flat speaker would sound very good, aye. Our ears do not have a flat frequency response either, we are far less sensitive to bass compared to e.g. 1-4KHz which is where most of human communication takes place.
A sound system should try to produce the same sound as that of some original source (if such exists). Defects or limitations in our hearing don't suggest that this goal be set aside.

It should, yes. But frankly spoken: most people do not like flat gear. Most people prefer the U shaped "bathtub" signature because they perceive it as more exciting. Companies produce what people like b/c it sells.
Apart from that: I believe it is still impossible to design a transducer that has a completely linear FR.

Obviously the numbers are fake, but they do demonstrate how little the amp and esp the DAC matter in the grand scheme of things and reflect the consensus of many an "objectivist" I have encountered. Naturally, most audiophiles and esp gear sellers do now want to admit this but once a DAC is audibly transparent it doesn't get any more transparent just by throwing more money at things.

You can check this site if you prefer a more scientific approach, as opposed to audiophile placebo: https://www.audiosciencereview.com
Because the point is: we cannot trust our ears. Perception bias and confirmation bias are real and heavily influence our decisions as many a failed "distinguish that amp/DAC" blind test has proven.

Originally Posted by MacMacMac
And you've left out one of the most important factors: the sound source. What piano are we hearing? What microphones were used and how were they used?

What exactly does that have to do with amps / speakers?

I wrote a bit about imperfect source material, apparently you glanced over it.

Last edited by Granyala; 05/18/19 11:52 AM.

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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Granyala] #2849607
05/18/19 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Granyala
Originally Posted by LarryK
I don’t agree with your percentage breakdowns and that has not been my experience in building my system over the years, but you are entitled to your opinion as much as I entitled to mine. Amps are a much larger percentage of the sound, IMHO.

I was speaking of today's current technology.
Obviously I am too young to know how the situation was 20years ago, so if you use vintage gear your experiences may differ.

Imho all modern solid state amps sound alike as long as they are driven within their specs. In case of headphones, output impedance/damping is the most easily heard difference between them resulting in lower and more focused bass levels due to low resonance.

Friend and I compared a 3000 € DAC/AMP stack from Cambridge audio to his 700€ Pioneer AVR because everyone told him how horrible an AVR is for stereo music and the differences between the audiophile stack and the AVR were pathetically small.
WAY less than 5% for DAC/AMP combined, we had to strain to be able to hear the slighty refined bass of his Focal Aria 926.

Needless to say: we were pretty disappointed and disillusioned.

What I am saying is: unless you have TOTL or close to it speakers and a well treated room, spending big on DAC/AMP is pretty pointless b/c there are far greater benefits to be had by upgrading the speakers or improving room treatment.


Yes. I have top of the line speakers and a top of the line amplifier. The speakers were designed with great care to sound good in a small room, which is what I have. They were introduced in 2003. My amplifier was introduced in 2011 and it sounds far better than the 90 watt Class A amp from 1978 that it replaced, which I had had completely rebuilt. I buy used gear from wealthy individuals who are upgrading to levels way above my level. I’m the case of the speakers, the guy was converting his three car garage into a listening room. In the second case, the guy had bought massive monoblock amplifiers to drive speakers that cost approximately $250k.

There is always a sky above a sky.


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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: LarryK] #2849609
05/18/19 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by LarryK
There is always a sky above a sky.

Technically that would be called space. laugh

Don't get me wrong: I'm not advocating to not buy quality amps or DACs. I'm merely encouraging people to look past the pricetag and personal bias in order to spend the rather limited budget we mortals usually have on stuff that nets them the most benefit.

1978 to 2011, whew I can imagine that upgrade was an eye opener. laugh


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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Granyala] #2849619
05/18/19 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Granyala
Originally Posted by LarryK
There is always a sky above a sky.

Technically that would be called space. laugh

Don't get me wrong: I'm not advocating to not buy quality amps or DACs. I'm merely encouraging people to look past the pricetag and personal bias in order to spend the rather limited budget we mortals usually have on stuff that nets them the most benefit.

1978 to 2011, whew I can imagine that upgrade was an eye opener. laugh


Yes, it was indeed an eye opener. The designer of the first amp basically predicted the cost of the second amp. He had designed a lot of gear during his career and he knew how much it would cost to replicate/best his state of the art amp from 1978, today.

I absolute agree with moving the needle the furthest, which is why I do not spend big bucks on cables. I don’t buy junky cables but I don’t spend a lot of money on them. It’s all relative, though.

Last edited by LarryK; 05/18/19 12:46 PM.

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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: LarryK] #2849653
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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Granyala] #2849659
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LOL. I managed to find a pair of high quality speaker cables made by the same manufacturer as my speakers, at least ten years ago, at about 1/31st of the price of the cable you referenced with that link. That price may still freak some people out but I’ve seen my speaker cables on sale for more than I paid for them so I’m happy.

Last edited by LarryK; 05/18/19 02:11 PM.

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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Bruce In Philly] #2849660
05/18/19 02:17 PM
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Buying these cables is only half the story. You’ll have to determine also their direction. Luckily it’s so easily audible that it should be an easy task. One direction and it sounds awful. Other direction and it sounds like heaven. With that in mind I wonder if digital piano manufacturers have soldered speaker cables in their pianos with the proper cable direction. Maybe that’s why Roland supernatural modeling is so bad. Someone should try resolder them the opposite way.


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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: CyberGene] #2849663
05/18/19 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Buying these cables is only half the story. You’ll have to determine also their direction. Luckily it’s so easily audible that it should be an easy task. One direction and it sounds awful. Other direction and it sounds like heaven. With that in mind I wonder if digital piano manufacturers have soldered speaker cables in their pianos with the proper cable direction. Maybe that’s why Roland supernatural modeling is so bad. Someone should try resolder them the opposite way.


Couldn't they just turn the piano upside down?

Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: CyberGene] #2849665
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Buying these cables is only half the story. You’ll have to determine also their direction. Luckily it’s so easily audible that it should be an easy task. One direction and it sounds awful. Other direction and it sounds like heaven. With that in mind I wonder if digital piano manufacturers have soldered speaker cables in their pianos with the proper cable direction. Maybe that’s why Roland supernatural modeling is so bad. Someone should try resolder them the opposite way.


LOL. I still haven’t asked the seller of my amp, an electrical engineer with a number of interesting patents to his name, what he thinks about sound differences based on cable direction.

The small power cables that go between my speaker bass roll off unit and the crossovers on my speakers are wired in such a way that direction matters. One direction lights up the LED lights at the base of the speakers to indicate my crossovers have power and the other way, the lights do not get lit. My engineer friend explained to me why but I have forgotten, I’m a software guy. I could find the explanation in an email. It has to do with how the cable is wired and the pin outs, and which pin carries the voltage. There is no indication of which way the cables should be put, you just have to try one way and switch it if the lights don’t light.

Last edited by LarryK; 05/18/19 02:32 PM.

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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Granyala] #2849672
05/18/19 02:48 PM
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$31,500 for a full meter-long cable. Such a bargain! Gotta get me some.
Even more economical: $39,900 for two meters!

. . . The Odin 2 Loudspeaker Cable is constructed using 26 silver-plated, solid core conductors, each taking advantage of Nordost’s proprietary Dual Mono-Filament technology and encased in a high purity class 1.003 FEP extrusion. The conductors are carefully arranged and precisely spaced on either side of a hollow inner core in order to provide a perfect mechanical interface along the length of the cable.

. . . The meticulous layout of this flat speaker cable minimizes skin effect and reduces damping, while the mechanically tuned lengths reduce internal microphony and decrease high frequency impedance. This cable is terminated with Nordost’s gold-plated HOLO:PLUG® spade and Z-plug banana connectors to ensure maximum surface contact and signal transfer.

. . . The state of the art technology applied to Nordost’s most advanced speaker cable provides extremely wide bandwidth signals along with unmatched dynamic resolution. The Odin 2 Loudspeaker Cable promises to deliver an impeccable and realistic performance from your hifi audio system.

Dual Mono-Filament technology!
FEP extrusion!
Mechanically tuned!

Don't you just love these things? smile

Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: MacMacMac] #2849677
05/18/19 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
$31,500 for a full meter-long cable. Such a bargain! Gotta get me some.
Even more economical: $39,900 for two meters!

. . . The Odin 2 Loudspeaker Cable is constructed using 26 silver-plated, solid core conductors, each taking advantage of Nordost’s proprietary Dual Mono-Filament technology and encased in a high purity class 1.003 FEP extrusion. The conductors are carefully arranged and precisely spaced on either side of a hollow inner core in order to provide a perfect mechanical interface along the length of the cable.

. . . The meticulous layout of this flat speaker cable minimizes skin effect and reduces damping, while the mechanically tuned lengths reduce internal microphony and decrease high frequency impedance. This cable is terminated with Nordost’s gold-plated HOLO:PLUG® spade and Z-plug banana connectors to ensure maximum surface contact and signal transfer.

. . . The state of the art technology applied to Nordost’s most advanced speaker cable provides extremely wide bandwidth signals along with unmatched dynamic resolution. The Odin 2 Loudspeaker Cable promises to deliver an impeccable and realistic performance from your hifi audio system.

Dual Mono-Filament technology!
FEP extrusion!
Mechanically tuned!

Don't you just love these things? smile



It’s easy to belittle things like this but I’ve got more respect for a speaker cable manufacturing company working hard to produce the finest speaker cable in the world than I do for some dude on eBay trying to sell an Epiphone acoustic signed by Paul McCartney for the same price:

Signed Paul McCartney guitar

That’s some expensive Sharpie ink!

My wife and once looked at an apartment that overlooked the patio of Sir Paul’s old apartment. He has since moved. If we had bought it, I could have catapulted guitars onto his deck in an attempt to get him to sign them so I could cash in! Paul, Paul, incoming Epiphone in box, Paul!!!

Last edited by LarryK; 05/18/19 03:24 PM.

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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Bruce In Philly] #2849681
05/18/19 03:30 PM
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Cables are not rocket science. You could’ve used the cheapest ones. Expensive cables are scam. As is almost anything in the audiophile world smile

Last edited by CyberGene; 05/18/19 03:31 PM.

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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: CyberGene] #2849684
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Cables are not rocket science. You could’ve used the cheapest ones. Expensive cables are scam. As is almost anything in the audiophile world smile


We disagree, so be it. There is no difference in sound between a Bose Wave thingie radio and my system, hahahahah. All human endeavors are a scam because we all wind up dead no matter what we do. Edison should have concentrated on his golf game instead of inventing things. No modern audio system is better than his wax cylinders anyway and the patent office should have been closed in 1900 because everything that could be invented had been invented by that time.

Last edited by LarryK; 05/18/19 03:55 PM.

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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: LarryK] #2849713
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Originally Posted by LarryK
at about 1/31st of the price of the cable you referenced with that link. That price may still freak some people out

Most definitely.
1K for speaker wires is still insanely expensive.

Considering that I bought a 5m extension for my Focal Clear for umm.. 9.99€ and still don't hear a difference. *chuckles*

Originally Posted by johnstaf
Couldn't they just turn the piano upside down?

I laughed way harder than I should have trying to picture this. Thanks. laugh

Originally Posted by LarryK
We disagree, so be it.

There is nothing to disagree or agree when it comes to cables.
It is a scientific impossibility to hear them and that has been proven in countless blind tests.

Also, keep in mind that before the signal gets to your awesomesauce super expensive cable, it is run across a circuit board with conductors printed on.....
Whatever degradation a "conductor" can do to your signal already happens inside your amp and inside the non BS professional equipment used to make your music.

Last edited by Granyala; 05/18/19 05:56 PM.

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Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: Granyala] #2849721
05/18/19 06:19 PM
05/18/19 06:19 PM
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 1,151
New York City
L
LarryK Online content
1000 Post Club Member
LarryK  Online Content
1000 Post Club Member
L

Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 1,151
New York City
Originally Posted by Granyala
Originally Posted by LarryK
at about 1/31st of the price of the cable you referenced with that link. That price may still freak some people out

Most definitely.
1K for speaker wires is still insanely expensive.

Considering that I bought a 5m extension for my Focal Clear for umm.. 9.99€ and still don't hear a difference. *chuckles*

Originally Posted by johnstaf
Couldn't they just turn the piano upside down?

I laughed way harder than I should have trying to picture this. Thanks. laugh

Originally Posted by LarryK
We disagree, so be it.

There is nothing to disagree or agree when it comes to cables.
It is a scientific impossibility to hear them and that has been proven in countless blind tests.

Also, keep in mind that before the signal gets to your awesomesauce super expensive cable, it is run across a circuit board with conductors printed on.....
Whatever degradation a "conductor" can do to your signal already happens inside your amp and inside the non BS professional equipment used to make your music.


I think it’s insane to spend over a $1k for headphones because music reproduction on headphones can never come close to music reproduction on a two channel system and there is nothing to discuss on that matter. Focal Nonsense. How much do you think the parts in your headphones cost, $100?

Last edited by LarryK; 05/18/19 06:20 PM.

Yamaha U1 Silent Piano
Re: Audiophile Stuff! Turn away! Specs and sound. [Re: LarryK] #2849733
05/18/19 07:23 PM
05/18/19 07:23 PM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 6,918
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
Tyrone Slothrop  Online Content

6000 Post Club Member

Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 6,918
Originally Posted by LarryK
I think it’s insane to spend over a $1k for headphones because music reproduction on headphones can never come close to music reproduction on a two channel system and there is nothing to discuss on that matter. Focal Nonsense. How much do you think the parts in your headphones cost, $100?

Headphones are ones only choice when one can't use speakers due to neighbors or time of day.


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