We often ask ourselves what’s audible and what’s not.
We can say with some confidence 10% distortion is audible, but is 0.1%?
And, compared to what? Can we hear the difference between 0.1% THD and 0.0001% THD?
There comes a point in measurements where one must decide what matters and what does not. It probably doesn’t matter, for example, that one wheel of your car might be 1/10th of an inch different in diameter than another. On the other hand, 1/10th of an inch parts variability in a Swiss watch might be the difference between functioning and non-functioning.
From my perspective, once we hit THD and IM levels below 0.1% in a stereo product, the differences become more academic than audible.
And yet we hear major differences between differing topologies producing dramatically different levels of distortion.
What that suggests is simple. Beyond a certain point, the level of distortion becomes meaningless.
How those differing levels are achieved is where we find the bulk of sonic differences.
It’s good when we can cheat death, but not so much if we cheat on our diets or cut ourselves permanently short when it comes to getting what’s best from our sound systems.
When we’re in the middle of set up, short cuts, Band-Aids, and slapped together fixes are all valid temporary solutions. Once we’ve settled on the final stereo system it’s time to clean up those fixes and set things permanently right.
I remember the times I’ve had at the ready what seems like a bushel basket jumble of audio cables, tuning devices, absorbers, diffusers, and acoustic pillows as I selectively try this and that for best sound.
And then between all the cheats and experiments, you hit what sounds like Nirvana. Bingo. You’re there.
Time to clean up, make permanent what you experimented with, and call it good.
The cheats and shortcuts we employ are exactly what we need to get it dialed in.
Then it’s time to put them in the closet for the next adventure.
Like it or not we place a lot of importance on outward appearances. Take rats for example. Most of us are repelled by the sight of these rodents, but dress them up with a bundle of soft fur and a bushy tail and now they’re adorable enough to name them differently. A squirrel.
My first circuit was a phono stage that I placed in a Roi Tan cigar box and powered it with a couple of 9v batteries. Ugly and crude do not adequately describe its appearance and most of my audiophile friends wouldn’t let it near their system. Take that same circuit and battery pack, put it into a nice metal box and suddenly it’s a welcome guest.
We are very comfortable with the idea that a component’s outward appearance speaks to what’s on the inside. D’Agastino’s beautifully crafted outer chassis reminds us of a Swiss watch. It wouldn’t be wrong to imagine that same level of care went into its inner workings.
While the old chestnuts reminding us not to judge books by their covers or beauty by the depth of skin, I think it’s good to remind ourselves we’re forever tied to equate inner workings with outer appearances.
It’s not a bad thing to love the way your HiFi kit looks.
I don’t believe it comes as a surprise that at my core I am an engineering nerd. My internal fires light up when we start talking engineering-speak.
One of the real downsides to CoViD has been our separation. Before the pandemic, our engineering group was together and right outside my office door. When an interesting discussion would start my ears perked up and I joined into the fray—the classic water cooler conversation. That doesn’t happen much anymore.
So I was heartened when on our PS Audio forums, I read a long technical ramble from our loudspeaker guru, Chris Brunhaver. Chris knows more about the technical aspects of loudspeakers than any human I have ever over the last 50 years. When we get talking tech, his depth of knowledge is so great it’s actually sport to egg him on into a drill-down just to see how deep he can go.
If you are like me and enjoy getting deep into the technical nuts and bolts, head here and click on this link. https://forum.psaudio.com/t/high-efficiency-speakers-low-efficiency-speakers/22908
The whole conversation started in response to one of Steve Guttenberg’s questions about loudspeaker efficiency with one of the Zu Audio fellow
There are plenty of audiophile rituals. Though they might seem quirky or odd to the great unwashed they are part of what defines us as purveyors of the art.
Take for example the rituals many of us have for playing a vinyl record: how we carefully remove the disc from the sleeve, cleaning the stylus, perhaps zapping the staticy disc with a Zerostat, the care with which we set the arm over the record, the flourish at the end as we make a last check everything’s in order before sitting down in our listening spot.
Did I mention our listening spot? The sweet seat? The ritual where newcomers to our stereo system are offered that lofty perch from which to fully enjoy the pleasures of the experience?
Or the turning low the lights for that special track?
Or setting the cover of the CD or album upright as if it were being presented as a marquee?
I won’t even mention demagnetizing a disc before playing.
Rituals are there to make sure everything’s in order and that chaos does not affect the outcome.
As Audiophiles, we’ve certainly got our share.