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Old 10-06-2016, 12:47 AM   #1
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Audiophiles

As I was gear hunting and following threads, I started wondering about an experience I had a while back when looking for headphones. I came across some audiophile sites. You will find some fine hair splitting about the more subtle intricacies of digital encoding all down to the importance of the oxygen content in copper cables. With precise impedance measurements, should you desire to go down to that level of detail. And, if you follow the finely laid out arguments, you should most definitely want to as it is so vital for the sophisticated enjoyment of unadulterated finely crafted music.

I ran the test myself and sought to find out if I can tell the difference between a FLAC lossless codec using a headphone amp with a better DAC vs an MP3 file on my iPhone using good IEMs. I can't .

Clearly my hearing is poor.

I wondered about the production side of things. No one in their right mind would buy $300 oxygen free cables for an analog signal path because it "ruins" the sound. Or would anyone?

up to a point you do get a noticeable improvement in sound quality, and it's hard to precisely say where tinfoil hat territory starts, but it certainly exists. The realm of no discernible practical relevance.

I'm getting the impression that pretty much anything that gives a clean sound with a low noise floor is good enough for most on the producing end (is it?). So, what then do you make of those audiophiles?

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Old 10-06-2016, 01:58 AM   #2
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Re: Audiophiles

I've wondered about all of this myself and the main issue I have with all of this is most of it is based in measurable facts and statistics, which is all well and good if we all listened and heard in the same way..but we don't..and there in lies the problem. Each of us are individuals with different levels of hearing..so, realistically speaking, how the hell can we even begin to speak of listening to audio in such absolute terms as these folks do? What you said about personally not being able to tell the difference is a case in point.

Tbh, I only ever hit those kind of sites up if I'm looking into buying hardware, as these sites offer the best reviews imho..but I still treat what I read there as only an indication of what to expect, rather than something set in stone.

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Old 10-06-2016, 02:31 AM   #3
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Re: Audiophiles

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Originally Posted by A.M View Post
I've wondered about all of this myself and the main issue I have with all of this is most of it is based in measurable facts and statistics, which is all well and good if we all listened and heard in the same way..but we don't..and there in lies the problem. Each of us are individuals with different levels of hearing..so, realistically speaking, how the hell can we even begin to speak of listening to audio in such absolute terms as these folks do? What you said about personally not being able to tell the difference is a case in point.

Tbh, I only ever hit those kind of sites up if I'm looking into buying hardware, as these sites offer the best reviews imho..but I still treat what I read there as only an indication of what to expect, rather than something set in stone.
That's kind of how I see it as well. Some have a passion for minutiae that's well beyond reasonable. But what you say about the reviews is spot on. Can't find the frequency response on the manufacturer website? No problem.

Then there is such verbiage as "slightly more nuanced presence in the midrange"

So, is that better? By how much?

It helps greatly if you have an anchor point. That is, a review on something you own or have used, but seek to replace.

Best combined with consensus scoring across multiple portals.

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Old 10-06-2016, 03:24 PM   #4
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Re: Audiophiles

Oh boy audiophiles.... I used to be one, then I figured out math. I see them kind of like wine connoisseurs, I think they care way too much for very small differences (sometimes making them up to justify the money they spend- confirmation bias much?). I do think it's worth noting that they do have some points when it comes to the measurement of human hearing. Basically, if we assume that listening ability, like so many other human traits, is distributed on a bell curve, then the scientific average represents only the average person's listening ability. Surprisingly, very few people will actually fall precisely on the average, for the most part, 50% will fall above it and 50% below (and some very far from it). In theory, audiophiles like to think they're the .6% that statistically fall more than 2 standard deviations above the average in a bell curve. The problem is there's no consensus on what the standard deviation for human hearing is. Apparently most of the studies people will quote to outline the limits of human hearing are decades old, and there's not enough money in this stuff to get better data.
So is CD quality audio enough (it can capture frequencies out to 22khz, 10% beyond average listening ability)? If it's not, how much farther do we need to go? Where is the limit? Bear in mind, some of these guys just want to see bigger numbers because they don't know either, but if the number is getting bigger, it can't be bad, can it? (actually, it can't help very much and can be very expensive, but who cares when you can throw 25k at your system and not think twice?)
And then you have the subjectivist camp that won't even look at measurements, they only listen to the sound and decide if they like it or not (that's where you get people looking at $1000 cables and seriously considering them, even though they are often measurably worse than something you can get on monoprice for 10 bucks).
Personally, I have pretty good hearing, I can hear a difference between my USB DACs running out of my laptop and the DAC playing the same files burned to CD in my SACD player (I got it used for cheap, I'm pretty reasonable for an audiophile ). And vinyl is not necessarily better, but it is very different from digital (very different way of storing/retrieving information, audio included). I also use cables from monoprice because they use copper conductors (not 99.999% pure oxygen free uber-copper, just copper) because it's factually better than using cables with aluminum conductors. I even throw cork pads under all my audio components to keep vibrations from moving from one part to another (especially my turntable). But that's about the limit for me. Sure, I'd like to hear a Schiit multi-bit DAC, which claim one of the lowest noise floors in the world through the use of hardcore math, and pick up a reasonable tube amp, just to try it out, sometime, but I don't feel a need to try every phono cartridge I can get my hands on thinking it will somehow make Discovery's beats that much more beat-y.
But that's just my audiophile experience, I think it's worth noting that most of these guys, if they even are musicians, don't do electronic music, and electronic music has very different stuff going on from acoustic music. There's no reference for what your synths "should" sound like, except for other recordings for the most part (which all face the same limitations of recorded audio). And if you use softsynths, then every reference out there is touched by a lowly PC motherboard at some point (at least for the CPU to run some numbers), which is what most digital audio snobs want to avoid (lots of possible noise interference). As an audiophile turned musician, I can say all the money I spent on gear didn't do for my hearing what working on music has: you probably have a better ear for what you're doing than any audiophile because you are making it, not just consuming the end product. So I wouldn't put too much stock into what audiophiles say when it comes to electronic music. I think people who make this stuff and know what they're doing are going to be much more helpful than audiophiles.
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Old 10-06-2016, 03:30 PM   #5
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Re: Audiophiles

Paragraphs????
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Old 10-06-2016, 03:57 PM   #6
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Re: Audiophiles

I still want a Shiit Bifrost Valhalla combo to listen to audio at home.
It's entirely unreasonable and I make no excuses.

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Old 10-06-2016, 04:11 PM   #7
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Re: Audiophiles

http://www.musicdirect.com/p-971-cable-elevators.aspx

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For me, products like this represent everything that is insane about audiophiles.
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Old 10-06-2016, 04:33 PM   #8
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Re: Audiophiles

HAHAHAHAHAHA Oaty killed it!

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Old 10-06-2016, 04:41 PM   #9
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Re: Audiophiles

"Magnetic fields" are created when you run current through a wire.
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Old 10-06-2016, 04:46 PM   #10
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Re: Audiophiles

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"Magnetic fields" are created when you run current through a wire.
And vice versa

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Old 10-06-2016, 04:48 PM   #11
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Re: Audiophiles

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And vice versa
Yep.
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Old 10-06-2016, 04:48 PM   #12
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Re: Audiophiles

A lot of this is the sophisticated physics equivalent to snake oil, aura reading, and that sort of esoteric hokus pokus

unparalleled clarity... undeniable improvement. it's all in the adjectives.

I think there is a market for monocrystalline copper wires.

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Old 10-06-2016, 04:57 PM   #13
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Re: Audiophiles

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Originally Posted by U-235 View Post
Paragraphs????
Yeah man, I had to vent a lot of stuff there . I forgive anyone who doesn't read all that, or any of it, as some is at best tangentially related to the op.
Also, Oatbag, amazing. I thought I had seen it all when they told me to pay $100 for re-branded tinfoil with holes punched in it to contain the magnetic field of my CD player, but this is glorious. It reminded me of this (skip to 8:20, they start dropping price tags, though there's some crazy stuff throughout). My desire to not end up like these people turned me away from audiophilia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xs1aUws0Lrs
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Old 10-06-2016, 05:21 PM   #14
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Re: Audiophiles

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Old 10-06-2016, 05:32 PM   #15
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Re: Audiophiles

Trust yourself and your own hearing, do not read and subscribe to bs.
I can definitely hear a difference between some MP3's and FLAC, but all this stuff, if it does anything at all, is well into the 'diminishing returns' category that I'm not interested in until I win the lottery.
All the gear, no idea.
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Old 10-06-2016, 05:42 PM   #16
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Re: Audiophiles

i would be audiophile if not my tinnitus lel

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Old 10-06-2016, 05:51 PM   #17
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Re: Audiophiles

My heavy metal albums sound so much better now

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Old 10-06-2016, 06:16 PM   #18
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Re: Audiophiles

You should hear John Cage's 4′33″ through a set of Bang and Olufsen speakers..glorious!

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Old 10-06-2016, 06:27 PM   #19
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Re: Audiophiles

Everything sounds better with your ear straight up touching the tweeter

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Old 10-06-2016, 06:30 PM   #20
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Re: Audiophiles

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Everything sounds better with your ear straight up touching the tweeter

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Ummm..a picture of pure bliss, if ever there was one.

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