The Emperor Has No Clothes!!

Read a post the other day where someone characterized a server/streamer as “sweet and tube-like sounding”.  It read like a parody.  Am thinking of starting a company based on tube rectified power supply for network switch.  Crowd funding?


In audio many people had no acoustics concepts or training, they think that all pertain and is explained by design of gear pieces be it tube or S.S. or class D or Class A etc or Vinyl versus Dac etc ...

But an audio stereo system work as a whole synergetically or not in three working dimensions : mechanical, electrical and acoustical...

Then even if design choices of each gear pieces matter for sure , it matter less at the end than the way we use each one of them in and for a system/room/ ears-brain ...

Because reviewers and marketing sell a piece of gear as a solution, people forget not only synergy necessities but they dont focus on the system as a whole and they dont focus on the ways( mechanical, electrical and acoustical) the system must be inserted in these working dimensions in a rightfull manner.

Then they use gross classification based on price tags : low fi, mid-fi, high fi. And they think that solutions are all costly and ready made.

There is five vocabulary in audio : electronical design concepts and vocabulary, audiophile threads language, musical concepts, acoustical vocabulary, psychoacoustical concepts ... We must learn how to hear and learn how to distinguish all these concepts in a concrete way.


«This emperor  has too much clothes»-- Groucho Marx🤓

….. and yet…. just try to unhear the tube power supply on a fantastic German direct drive TT……


And some people wax poetic about Mad Dog 20-20…


So…first off…I was the one who made that comment. It was in a discussion involving Benchmark DAC, preamp and amp. Having owned Benchmark DACs in the past, including the same exact model that OP uses in his system, and being familiar with a Benchmark sound, I made the following comment based on my experience with both that DAC model and the streamer the OP was interested in…




3,731 posts

One more thing to add…I think the very resolving, dynamic but sweet/tube like sounding N200 with the right digital cable and power cord will greatly complement the DAC3. That’s why I stated it will be a good match.


I’ve owned enough tube gear to know the sound characteristics. I’ve also owned enough streaners to know they sound different. The introduction of the Aurender streamer into my system introduced a very natural and sweet tone that reminds of good tube gear.

What analogy would be more to your liking? May be stating that the streamer has analog like sound? But it doesn’t…it lacks pops, ticks and farts. So that was my choice of words.

You seem to have some sort of a grudge here with both the fact that streamers can sound different and that I can hear it and call it out.

Now that we got that out of the way, @mdalton, the only parody here is that you have picked this as a subject of a dedicated thread. I am truly honored to live in your head rent free - I enjoy the spaciousness although it echoes there terribly and there’s a bad draft of wind.


gosh, a lot of anger there.  I actually didn’t remember who said it; didn’t really matter, as it’s just a metaphor for what I see as a broader problem with the hobby. are you saying you want to invest in my company?

Anger? No. Not at all. I actually got a good laugh out of it.
But…I took the time to clarify my statement and add some context to it.

Your comments about opening a company…man I don’t know looks kind of low grade and not very original …was hoping you can do better than that…

One should also consider…as @mahgister hints at the the actual character of clothes are unaltered by our words to describe them… warm, analog and tube like will not keep ya from freezing to death in the Karakoram…..

Can they apply to a DAC….. absolutely….. Hint there is ALWAYS an A….. in DAC

But we do our best….

But seriously, it’s stuff like this that make all of us the deserving objects of ridicule from our non- audiophile friends.  I’m convinced that confirmation bias is the dirty little secret in all our lives that we need to acknowledge before we can move on.

Anybody who thinks they’re immune is in denial.  On another thread recently, I posted the following:

“one more point: confirmation bias is alive and well in car performance, just like audio.  Case in point: I have had numerous instances where, right after getting my car washed, I experience this compelling sense that my car handles better - swear to god!  Why?  Well I’ve just spent an insane amount of money - $36 most recently, before tip! - and now my pride and joy looks beautiful.  I’m feeling good, and I’m focused on this amazing machine’s performance in a way I hadn’t during the dog days of January and early February when I kept putting off cleaning the car.  So I have an enhanced appreciation of my car’s performance, even though that performance has not changed one iota.  It happens every time, even though I know it can’t be real!  That’s confirmation bias, and that’s why I’d be a fool not to consider measurements!

last point (maybe?) thank god the car wash hasn’t started a marketing campaign that their special mix of soap and wax improves the performance of my S4 and Golf.  My god, I might be willing to pay them thousands!!!!!”


Let’s actually discuss this. Has nobody else ever experienced this, or something like it?



Few things to remember and take into consideration…

You don’t need to justify anything to your non-audiophile friends - the less they know the better it is for them and you, unless they express interest getting into this hobby. This works the same way with watches, cars, guns, etc….whatever someone is into. The non-audiophiles won’t even understand why in today’s world you would go and buy a special vinyl record or an SACD when you can this album from Apple Music thru your earbuds and be as happy as a clam.  
Don’t volunteer the information to your non-audiophile friends and you will never be ridiculed - it is, from every aspect, a loosing proposition. Moot point.


Confirmation bias is a two way street - it works both for and against. However, some of us are in this hobby long enough to have an approach to auditioning components (and that includes cables) that minimize the effects of confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias, your brain playing tricks on you…all these standard lines are used by those who either 1) can’t hear; 2) never heard and have no experience, and 3) can’t afford to own

To those, once again, no one owes any explanation or justification.


And yes my car always feels better after the car wash. I have a monthly plan that I pay $40 for and it includes unlimited full service car wash. My ride is kept clean. And trust me it doesn’t feel better after because I have spent $40 for unlimited car wash. It feels better because it was vacuumed, the dust was wiped off the dashboard and instrument panel, the windshield is clean on both sides(better and clearer view) and the paint is shiny. I think that’s pretty simple. Don’t see any mystery here. 

As I said, anybody who thinks they’re immune is in denial.  Other thoughts?

No one is immune to confirmation bias. Key is to be able to not rush to judgment, spend enough time to gauge the differences, if any, and only then draw your conclusions. You seem to think that this could not possibly be the case and you’re looking for a confirmation of your confirmation bias. Anyone is welcome to chime in. But you will get participants from both camps. Your confirmation bias won’t be indisputably confirmed. 

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Based on @mdalton posts, I don’t see why anyone should give any credence to OP opinions on streamer/server…he is a hard core Vinyl enthusiast and he will never pursue or ever concede to a notion that a SOTA streamer/server can outperform a Vinyl setup. Just my .02 cents. 


First off, I haven’t heard a streamer that is “tube like” but I’ve only heard a small fraction of streamers out there.  There are CDPs that use tubes ; is it really nuts for a streamer to do the same.

Secondly, do non audiophiles laugh at us?  Of course they do; it isn’t a “dirty little secret “.  There are probably less than half a million audiophiles in this country.  Most people are content with lousy sound.

so i used the car example to try to take some of the audiophile mysticism out of the equation.  (Another common example is that most people have very different responses to a man with a deep voice saying something, vs. a woman -or man - with a high pitched voice saying the exact same thing.)

But back to my car example: I’m a very experienced driver. I’ve been driving high performance cars - mostly manual transmissions - for almost 40 years.  So I have a similar passion there to my audio passion.  So maybe it’s not quite as good an analogy for others as it is for me.  Regardless, in that case, I know that the science tells me what I’m feeling is not an accurate representation of what’s actually happening.  Don’t need to measure it because I don’t have any doubt.  I could measure it however, though in this case it would  be a pain to do so.  My approach to audio is very similar.  If I feel something that science - or measurements - tell me is not actually accurate, I don’t reject the science.  It helps me sort thru my experiences to weed out those that are not an accurate representation of what is actually occurring.  That way, I can spend my money where I can be sure it will make a real difference.

Of course, maybe my car example is telling me not to overthink it.  Maybe if I just enjoy the moment, and let myself be carried away by my passion for my hobby, I don’t need to spend much at all, just put my gear thru a $40 monthly wash, lol!


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Confirmation bias, your brain playing tricks on you…all these standard lines are used by those who either 1) can’t hear; 2) never heard and have no experience, and 3) can’t afford to own

And this is the standard line used in response to allegations of confirmation bias. #3 is especially obnoxious -- "your system is not resolving enough."

It really does no good to have this debate in a macro sense. Each individual tweak, type of gear, etc., has its own likelihood (or lack thereof) in influencing sound.

There are CDPs that use tubes ; is it really nuts for a streamer to do the same.

CD players that use tubes include the analog stage of the DAC. That may influence sound. A pure streamer takes the PCM stream (packetized) from the LAN port and outputs it via USB or SPDIF (or other). There’s no analog stage. Putting tubes in an entirely digital data processing device is beyond silly. If it affected sound at all, it would likely be detrimental since a tube is more sensitive than solid state to many electrical issues that theoretically could affect a streamer.

The introduction of the Aurender streamer into my system introduced a very natural and sweet tone that reminds of good tube gear

Let’s break this down: (1) if used as a server only (with another device - a streamer --  on the other end of the network attached to a DAC/with an internal DAC) then the server cannot possibly affect sound quality except as to DSP processing or similar - i.e. the bit perfect signal received by the streamer is the same no matter what machine is transmitting that signal across the network; (2) if used as a server/streamer, then yes, it can theoretically affect sound quality, but only in the sense that the theory goes that the processing at the server end can be electrically noisy and detrimentally affect sound - so a really well designed server *might* be able to avoid some of that, but most likely using a server/streamer combo device isn’t optimizing sound quality if it makes a difference at all. It’s possible you like sub-optimized sound, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

it’s stuff like this that make all of us the deserving objects of ridicule from our non- audiophile friends.

I think the point here is that audiophiles look silly putting rocks on their speakers, using directional colored fuses, and making claims about digital networks that make no sense to the experts that really know how they work. Then the anger and ganging up that occurs when someone makes a point using science and engineering just exacerbates this.

I am a big proponent of being open minded and considering anything, at least for a minute. But you still do have to engage the logical/science part of your brain at some point. Science hasn’t explained everything yet. So observation has its place in starting a thought process. But that also doesn’t mean that network gear has magical qualities that literally cannot exist given how networks work.

All of that said, I don’t know that I would have started a thread just to make fun of someone. I think a response in that thread that explained the science and engineering behind the server-streamer concept would have been sufficient.


... stuff like this that make all of us the deserving objects of ridicule from our non- audiophile friends ...

Once you grow up you’ll find it doesn’t matter what other people think.

If your friends ridicule you, perhaps you’ve made a poor choice of friends.

@jji666 you can call it obnoxious. That’s totally fine. It does not eliminate that category though. And like I said it isn’t limited to just audio. 

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Thanks for your comments.  On your last point, I would like to apologize for my tone.  I did mean to mock an idea, not a person, but I can see how it came off the same way; I’m sorry.  And hobestly, I did mean to be click-baitey, but maybe that was a bad decision.  My intention - however poorly executed - was to provoke an earnest discussion.  

@mdalton it seems like this is becoming personal to you with the way you react to what I say. about what I say. 
Let’s just agree to disagree. You don’t seem to like servers and streamers and you are convinced they all sound the same. That’s fine. 
I don’t like licorice - and I don’t participate in licorice forums. 

@lalitk Agreed! make it .04 cents now. 

 Based on @mdalton posts, I don’t see why anyone should give any credence to OP opinions on streamer/server…he is a hard core Vinyl enthusiast and he will never pursue or ever concede to a notion that a SOTA streamer/server can outperform a Vinyl setup. Just my .02 cents. 

+1 Carlsbad.  Everybody wants to sound like a professional audio reviewer.  The language is overwrought.


It is absolutely not personal, but my apology stands.  The irony is that my system reflects a complete lack of dogma, including with respect to measurements.  I do tubes and vinyl for goodness sakes!  I know that the amp in my big rig has a rated signal to noise ratio of “>90 db”.  Compare that to the Benchmark or the newest stuff from Simaudio where it’s something north of 120 db.  I also know that tubes are inherently more susceptible to noise and I choose to live with both of those limitations, cuz I just love my gear!  What I don’t do is try to argue that my stuff is better, or more resolving, than everybody else’s.  I know better.

But I have developed a passion with respect to the network switch/server/streamer end of things because that’s where I believe there is the greatest amount of misinformation in our hobby.  I do not doubt that most of the people responsible for this misinformation - including you - believe very strongly in what they say.  But as a long-time audiophile -even longer than my car passion - I feel an obligation to continue to share my views - respectfully - in order to help others in our hobby.

One of my favorite management aphorisms is: “Don’t always believe what you think.”  It’s a really good lesson to us all.


@mdalton we’re good. But you should probably start a new discussion and remove this one. 

@mdalton On the lighter side...

If you think your S4 performs better when it's clean versus dirty, next time put a coat of good wax or sealant on then report back on the seat of the pants performance enhancement :)

(former chipped A4 owner, 312k miles- all mine! now A3 daily driver and a Porsche for weekend fun)


carrera 4s is my dream car.  I call my chipped Golf R the poor man’s Porsche.  After I chipped it, it increased hp from 256 to 311.  The S4 is my wife’s (yes, I know, I married the perfect woman); anyway, since it got my car close to the power output of hers (333 hp), she made me chip hers, so it now puts out ~ 430 hp!  What Porsche do you drive?


@mdalton Boxster S 6-speed, incredibly agile, stable and fast, wife loves it! Owned my dream car- black carrera base 7- speed, uninspiring really, wife was intimidated by it, so sold it. Should have bought a 4S instead but it too would have become a garage queen.


very nice.  yes, it’s for the same reason i’ve thought that if the moment ever comes, I might double-clutch (pun definitely intended!), and go for the Cayman S.

Joining late.

The main worry I have about meaningless or disconnected praise is that it distracts or diverts me away from improving more important problems in my system.

Early on, I kept reading about expensive fuses. I’m glad I turned away from that to spend money on room treatments. It’s not that fuses might not help, but surely they should be lower down on my priority list than other unsolved bottlenecks.


Some audiophiles here have either diminished or depleted sense of humor and might not understand or take any jokes.

The best remedy for that is just knowing that absence of sense of humor is some sort of mental disorder or incapability. 


Let’s just agree to disagree. 

This is a good step towards mutual respect and a civil discussion (or lack of any discussion) but I suggest it needs to come with the caveat that if someone makes an unqualified statement (i.e. doesn't portray it as an opinion or experience and rather as a fact) that is contrary to science and engineering, that it's fair for others to chime in and say that it's not supported by science or engineering (perhaps best in a non-mocking tone). 

You don’t seem to like servers and streamers and you are convinced they all sound the same.

I can't speak for mdalton but I love both and have built many as a hobby in excess of what I really need. I've also bought them.

I think it's important to differentiate between the server role and the streamer role even if there are combo units.  The server sends digital audio, the streamer receives it and passes it on to a DAC (or its internal DAC).  

Science and engineering say that servers must all sound the same assuming identical software configuration. Streamers can theoretically be different, but in this day and age it takes a poorly built DAC to be sensitive to the theoretical differences (i.e. cannot reject electrical noise if there even is any). 

What I mostly rail against, trying to be respectful, is the server/streamer combo unit. If someone likes the convenience of the specialized software on those units, that's fine, and if someone is interested in units built like a tank for reliability or longevity, that is fine. Or if someone wants a fancy unit because they want the Porsche of audio, bling, that is fine. I have done my fair share of conspicuous consumption. 

But building out a server/streamer combo with the idea that it will sound best because of all the effort to isolate/insulate against electrical noise, that's a waste of effort and money, because you can get the same isolation and insulation by using a separate server and streamer and isolating the streamer with the network.  So a $10,000 combo unit won't beat a laptop as a server and a decent streamer from a SQ perspective (albeit it may be more fun to play with).  

OK I've said my piece on this one.  Peace all.  Enjoy the music! 

This is what my first dreamed stereo system was looking like ( in fact all the pieces of my first system wasin one furniture box) 😁 when i thought that this was the dreamed Hi-Fi upgrade with no knowledge about mechanical and electrical embeddings controls devices at the times and no acoustics knowledge at all ...

Things are not so much different today when people are focussed on gear piece price tags more than on the relation between gear pieces(synergy) and the room acoustic content and your head-ears-brain characteristics..

Then it is not suprizing that the vocabulary used in audio threads revolved around gear pieces descriptions as if the gear own all sound perceived qualities , described as S.S. or Tubes or vinyl like or digital like etc ...😊


 As i said  above there is FIVE vocabularies different dictionaries  in audio, pick the right one and dont conflate them all ...

For the record, I really love my server and all 4 of my streamers.  I almost never participate in the vinyl vs. digital debates because it is all so system dependent.  I am often amazed at how good my digital side sounds, even though I prefer my vinyl.  And I’m willing to entertain the possibility that my preference for vinyl might be a case of confirmation bias.  I’m ok with that.  A good friend, who is a very high-end digital-only guy recently came to my house to listen to some tunes on one of my two better systems.  He made an observation about how much he preferred my vinyl vs. the digital side in that system.  I didn’t say anything, but I did not hear the same limitation he did on the digital side.  It is quite possible that he was experiencing his own case of confirmation bias cuz he knows I’ve spent more energy - and money - on the vinyl side of that system.  Who knows? But it’s certainly not worth arguing about, to me anyway.  


@mdalton I am in agreement with you here.  I think it is proper advice , especially to less experienced readers, to point out the over-the-top praising that some posters offer regarding the life changing returns on their equipment.  

Others have suggested that something is amiss with you or your equipment if you don't agree with them.  We all know the type: very superior with respect to their own opinions.  Where is the humility? 

Regarding cars, I have a 2004 Infiniti G-35 that I enjoy zipping around in.  I do have a different take regarding car washing.  I prefer to not remove the protective layer of road film.  This is much more protective than a coat of wax. You end up with a repellent coating made up of the typical, primarily oil based road droppings.  I don't worry about the salt treatment that we contend with here in the winter, it can't penetrate to the paint.  Were I to wash this protectant away, I could see the rust forming.  This is absolutely an astounding auto care revelation.  Forget wax, polish, Armor All, undercoating, etc.  Not in the same class.  I've been doing this for years, so I am very, very qualified to make this determination.

If you don't agree with me, you are obviously unintelligent, inexperienced, and so insecure that you have to prop yourself up with shinyness.  Plus you have too much money to appreciate my invaluable, lower class redneck opinion.






































































I've been into high performance cars and audio since the 60s, and can say without hesitation that after I wash a car it goes faster. Dirt particle drag? I suppose...Also note that I never wash my audio gear...a little dusting...damp cloth to remove a smudge...

Last time I checked, border patrol uses a tube in their power supply on dacs, and it sounds more "analog" or "tube like" to my ears. It’s one of the better dacs I’ve heard that appeals to my taste.

I drive a 2013 Toyota Yaris, I bought it new and it now has 230K miles on it. I hope this doesn't harm my audiophile cred.

+1 @hifiguy42 

My friends ask why my stereo costs more than my car.  The answer is my stereo takes me to places that my car cannot 

I replaced all the solid state components in my car with tubes.  The road is so much more liquid and smooth now, but man when a tube blows, you gotta hope you're not on the highway. 

Let's face it. If there were no people who could be conned, the industry would collapse.

Lets face it, if there was a majority of people acoustically informed the industry will collapse to essentials...

Each time in my life i was conned it was mostly my fault ; i did not wish to inform myself by laziness or by blind reactive emotion...

Then dont exclude yourself scapegoating others...


Let's face it. If there were no people who could be conned, the industry would collapse.


"Lets face it, if there was a majority of people acoustically informed the industry will collapse to essentials..."

That's what is often said about "global warming." Welcome to the jungle.


hah! interesting theory on car maintenance there.  Need to consult the science, and will get back to you.


see @jji666 ’s post above.  Tubes on DACs make sense because there is an analog signal involved there.


You don’t have to prove anything to me - I try to be very inclusive.


I had a used 2000 Audi A4 closing in on 100k miles; was due for a new timing belt, which would have been $$$.  When I checked blue book, I realized that my speakers were worth multiples of my car.  That’s when I got my 2023 Golf R, which I still have 10+ years later.  Have decided not to check blue book again.

@secretguy @mahgister @bolong 

yes, precisely why I feel compelled to weigh in on these issues when they come up, just to provide an alternative resource for those who are trying to sort things out for themselves.