Tag Archives: Audiophile

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Fact or fiction?

I thought it might be fun to start a mini-series called Fact or Fiction: dispelling or accepting audiophile beliefs. Not to get political, but when it has somehow become acceptable to separate facts into categories of believably I thought it’s time to put some of these concepts to the test.

What I will attempt to do is offer up the audiophile belief and then follow that with what facts we know and how they may or may not relate to real life.

Here’s the list we’ll tackle and, if you have others to suggest, certainly feel welcome to offer your suggestions in the comments section.

  1. Performance above 20kHz matters
  2. Expensive audio equipment always sounds better
  3. Vinyl is more musical than digital
  4. Amplifier headroom matters
  5. Power supplies are equal in importance to amplifier circuits
  6. Sub-woofers are an unnecessary luxury
  7. Parts quality affects performance
  8. Single driver speakers are better than multi-driver designs
  9. Speaker size should match the room
  10. Cables matter
  11. Vibration isolation products are snake oil

That’s quite a list and we start with item number one in tomorrow’s post.

Stay tuned.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Audiophile rating system

While answering a customer’s question about matching amps to speakers an old memory popped into my head. The industry’s effort to craft an audiophile rating system.

It was a few decades ago but back then the idea seemed promising. Within the audiophile community, we’d set up a rating system for sound quality to insulate us from the overzealous performance claims of mass market consumer audio companies. Perhaps it would be on some sort of sliding scale or points system, whatever. It really didn’t matter how the metrics worked, just that there would be some agreed upon standard of performance. Once that was decided then manufacturers could submit their products to a listening panel for review. That panel would then rate the product to be “audiophile approved” or not. This rating could apply to equipment and recordings as well.

The purpose of this rating system was simple: a means to separate the wheat from the chaff. If you go online and read the descriptions of power amplifiers, for example, everything from a $19.95 20-watt amp to actually decent sounding products all claim to be “high-performance” or “audiophile grade”. Clearly that is not true nor will it ever be true.

So, how’s a customer suppose to decide if an amplifier, CD player, preamp, recording, or loudspeaker meets some sort of minimum standard of performance? What might be helpful is a stamp of approval similar to a Michelin Star system but without the gradations. Just approved or not approved. Simple.

In the end, the idea was abandoned because of manufacturer infighting. Who would make these judgments? Who would maintain them? Wouldn’t members of the review board wield too much power over the industry? Would there be an appeals process? What if bribery got involved?

My arguments were on the flipside. Perhaps manufacturers that wanted to be approved but weren’t could be given a ratings sheet letting them know where they fell down: poor FR, flat imaging, 2-dimensional sound, too bright, too this or not enough of that. Then, their engineers could upgrade the product until it met with approval. Bingo! Better sales, better sound. Win, win.