Yesterday we spoke of skill. Today we’ll look at technology and its role in building products.
Can old technology ever be exciting? To make a great loudspeaker is it necessary to have a carbon fiber space age box or can designers get away with the tried and true?
Some will tell you technology has moved on. If companies don’t stay up with the times then by default they are falling behind—their products not worthy of consideration.
I wonder how audio companies using vacuum tubes or producing turntables would answer that question?
Too often we assume new is better when tried and true is just fine.
What really seems to matter is the designer’s ability to pick and choose the elements of design best suited for a specific purpose, even if those elements are from what seems like a lifetime of progress ago or cutting edge.
Technology provides us with some great new miracles but that doesn’t mean we have to use them to succeed.
Sometimes the task at hand is best handled with the latest greatest. Other times what’s worked in the past is actually as good as it gets for the circumstances at hand.
Give me a good old spoon to eat my cereal. It worked well when I was a boy and just as good now.
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Vibration isolation products are snake oil
We’ve saved perhaps the best for last. “Best” because this is a subject that genuinely gets the hairs on the back of some necks to stand at stiff attention, yet there’s ample proof that it works.
Some weeks ago I published this video of a vibration control product demonstration I saw while at RMAF. Nearly 30,000 people have viewed this video and the number of commenters is one of the highest of all my many videos. Passions run high and I think I know why. The idea that reducing vibrations has an audible impact runs so counter to what we consider normal as to inflame emotions often to the burning point. “It just doesn’t make any sense!” is a rallying cry to get the tar heated up and the feathers collected. Yet, the differences are easy to hear.
Few knowledgeable people would dispute that quieting vibration prone equipment matters: turntables, vacuum tubes would come to mind right away. Perhaps less obvious are capacitors that proliferate within equipment, but these are generally accepted by even the propellerhead measurementists. No, what really freaks people out is speakers.
Speakers make the noise we hear in our rooms and systems. They generate sound pressure and should be immune to their own vibrations, dammit!
Ahh, but sadly, the boxes that hold our speakers add to the melee of sound in the room. At the same time they radiate sound waves those same boxes add time audible vibrations through the floor. As well, some would claim those same floor vibrations are reflected back up into the box to muddle the music even more. If you have the time to closely look at the graphs Dave Morrison shows at the end of the video you’ll gain a better understanding of how isolation products—legit isolation products, that is—actually contribute to good sound.
Is there snake oil in accessories? Oh my, yes. Claims and counterclaims that match Carter and his little pills abound with abandon. Yet, I would encourage the person interested in good sound to wade through the bullcrap to find the truth.
As in any of these Fact or Fiction questions, there’s truth to be found if you’re interested in finding it.