Ahhh, that explains the really funny review I saw of Amir with a HT processor or receiver complaining about the noise caused by using HDMI from a PC without understanding how bad a PC is for ground loops.
As helpful as Amir is, and he is a real engineer, there are some gaps.
I have no issues using PCs as music servers, but I use correctly designed isolated USB DACs and "decent" cables. All my system is plugged into the same power DC blocked and filtered power strip. No problems. HDMI on the other hand is a disaster and who ever designed the plug needs a dope-slap. Other than going to fiber transceivers, not sure how to fix HDMI issues.
There is much more to. It then that ,myself and many others in our audio club some are true electrical engineers. ,for. Example digital noise can travel house to house that is why I isolate the coaxial filter, plus the Ethernet the Ethernet hub I use has low noise regulators ,linear-power supply,as well. As A OCXOover controlled precision clock feeding the Ethernet cable , and put in a upto date Modem router combo ,I bought the Motorola 8702 which has docsis 3.1 which is much faster, bigger buffer , even the wifi for the tv is better , and having a Quality LPS power supply to the router a 12v 4+ amp is night and day better sounding then the garbage wall warts that come with the router ,I have -0 wall warts in my system
and quality Ethernet cables over $4500 the 2 Ethernet, and usb cables Ethernet switch and LPS , efore the dac and streamer .if you want great digital performance
to surpass turntables youhave to spend $$ with the same precision you give to any
high quality turntable arm and stylus leave no weak link in the chain ,
and with XLR if all components are truly balanced for each item then sonically it’s much more quiet. Transformer coupled. This too cost $$ to do it corrrectly.
Folks, because something CAN, does not mean it DOES. Listen to your system yourself and see if you have any of these problems only copious amounts of money will solve. With my preamp turned all the way up, I hear dead silence right next to my speakers.
Totally false assumption all wall warts are the same. For instance, JDS uses AC transformers only.
XLR transformers do in fact have higher CMRR as they are truly balanced if that is your problem. Great for 100 foot runs. They also have higher distortion. My DAC to preamp cables are less than 6 inches. I don't have a problem.
I too am an engineer. I learned to solve problems that do exist, not because they can exist. So, have you re-wired your house with hot and neutral twisted, separate ground, pulled into thinwall? Do you use only commercial grade outlets?
I have an AES input on my Schiit Modius AKM4493 dac. I’ve been tempted to purchase a transport with an AES output to use with the Modius, such as the Shandling ET3. As for using computers for streaming music, I have been using Amazon Fire tablets for the past few years, with outboard D to A converters, with excellent results. IME, sound quality seems to be more dependent on the quality of the digital sources than anything else. Many sound unimpressive. However, the better quality higher resolution source material can sound quite exceptional.
Are we blaming the wrong part of our systems? Are we blaming the environment, not the manufactures who fail to properly design something to work in it?
If you buy a $80 CH-FI wonder, the FOSI V3 for instance, we expect every corner to be cut. With a background in manufacturing, I am truly amazed. OK, It will come with the cheapest power supply they can buy. If a cheap DAC, sure, an almost shielded fifty cent USB cable. Do my Elac 5.2's have cheap binding posts? Sure. What excuse is there for boutique priced equipment?
Domestic power is well understood. Cable/Internet is well understood. Ambient RF is well understood. If you make a product to work in this well understood environment, why should you be asking your customers to go buy external band-aids? You buy a $5000 DAC and then expect you have to add an external clock? External power supply? Magic cable? ( as the $2 one works perfectly). BLAME the maker of that high priced garbage that did not design their box to work in the environment it was sold into! OK, I build an amp on an old Hafler chassis. 2 wire cord and it is not double insulated. Even I can put a ground isolation circuit to retrofit an old chassis with a 2 wire power cord to a proper safety ground. Problem solved where is should be, not with some magic external box. Sure, PC's are noisy dirt cheap with every corner cut. USB is pretty rough. Granted, an Apple Dongle for $12 won't have much in the way of filtering ( though not bad either), but there is then no excuse once you cross the $100 or so level to not have a decent USB receiver, galvanic isolation and good PPL. ( Schiit USB is very good) No excuse for the DAC to rely on the sloppy computer clock to feed the DAC. We did invent buffers you know. My $99 Atom can and it is not even leveraging off-shore slave labor to make.
So, why do we think because something is used in a studio we need it at home? Because marketing has said we need a AES interphase, we need XLR to go 2 feet, we need 192/36 DAC to play Redbook? We need monitors designed to highlight flaws? ( Think L100's)
Caveat: If you play physical CDs and so are real time streaming, then I would expect a modern transport to do a better job than say, my old OPPO. I only play FLAC off my SSD, so any timing and buffering is taken care of. Problem solved without high dollar boutique solutions. And I can drag several CDs to the que and walk away not getting up to change them. :)
Yes, headphones can have a much lower background level and if you keep the volume down, quite impressive details are discernable even from a CD. No crossovers to screw things up. I hate headphones, so how much better the hi-def (compared to what?) streaming may be I don't know, but I have heard demo's on very high end speaker systems ( like Wilsons) in stores and heard zero difference. So 24 bits for a source that was maybe 12 bits to start with. Not impressed. Differences in DAC design? Clear and dramatically different.
I do know a little about sneaky problems. Did you know a 9-track tape drive sees about 60pF to a raised floor in a computer room? Deal with that RF loop! How about IBM requires third party to be on a different entrance panel. Want to measure RF on ground? How about THOUSANDS of amps! We fixed these problems by proper design of our equipment, not external hacks.
Fredrik222 you speak out of ignorance.
myself and many others in our audio club have tested many combinations
Ethernet cables ,and usb cables ,linear power supplies all have audible improvements all well tested not knowing which were being tested.
myself owned a Audio store for a decade . I have no idea what your audio system consists of but ,unless your system is of a higher quality you may not hear the improvements ,there are too many variables. I rebuilt Loudspeaker Xovers for a guy over $ 1600 and made a Very large improvement ,he was using $100 Belen interconnects and thought it was good from what he was told , you have to spend
bare Minimum of $2k just for speaker cables and a pr of interconnects to hear the nuances in the recordings and at much more $ monies there are cables much better still it all depends on your budget, this applies to everything from Electronics, to Loudspeakers . Synergy is very important ,your dac at minimum $2k to get anything respectable by Audiophile standards ,reference $6k and up. I have heard several hundred Audio systems a $25k system is a good starting audiophile system
most have $50 k + system if realism and refinement is your goal. These are my opinions and viewpoints and having owned a Audio store can speak through experience and what others expect , the more experienced you are as a Audiophile
the more you expect if your budget will allow for it.
Hello tvrgeek. I wanted to get a look at your system to see where you are coming from. No luck there. There are some holes in your arguments. But first, I read the paper and my interpretation is the author is for balanced connections. He made the comment that SE, RCA connections should have gone away decades ago.
I agree that older audio gear electrical and grounding methods needs to be looked at closely for both safety and S/N issues. I can recall as a kid in the 1960s getting zapped when touching the metal frame of my grandfather's b&w TV. Yes, I was barefoot on a concrete floor. It was a pretty strong shock. Newer Tube gear made on the US and EU seem to be good and I think most top brand SS gear going back decades is good. I stick to the well known brands after having bad experiences decades ago with newcomers or flash in the pan brands that were not so well made on the inside. Caveat Emptor is always the case.
The author expounds a lot on house wiring. I can agree with him. I found in the late 1980's my ARC SP-6b could tolerate no dimmers in the house at all. They all had to go. My newer ARC gear years later I found, did a much better job at rejecting noise. I wired in my own dedicated power lines for my stereo. (I'm a licensed professional engineer but also am experienced at wiring houses.) One thing that annoyed me is whoever wired my house mixed the White wires and ground wires on the ground busses. I know it doesn't matter but I like things looking nice and neat. I cleaned them up as best I could.
The author also made a very good point that everyone should take note: Don't operate your audio gear on a separate ground rod. You can have multiple ground rods but they must all be tied together as one, back to the main breaker panel.
Redbook CDs have limitations as compared to the master tape. That doesn't mean that converting to hi res is pointless. It's more about the filters and the skill of the engineer than the technical matters. CDs have less limitations than LP's. And yet Vinyl sounded better for many years. I was convinced CDs were inferior until I got my new DAC and CD Transport a couple of years ago. That opened my eyes to digital music. Today I can enjoy both sources equally. They each have their own characteristics but it is more of a flavor rather than a deficit or advantage. Vinyl was considered an inferior source well into the 1980s. Ironically, CDs seemed to elevate the status of vinyl back in the 80s and 90s. What was better than vinyl, you ask? R2R master tapes. The hardcore audiophiles back in the day would listen to nothing else. I think vinyl sounds great. Shows what I know.
Comparing how things sound at a hifi shop is a no go. Even the most high end boutique stores have one goal: Move product. They don't have the time or interest to dial a system in to within a 1/4" when everything is likely to me moved the next day or next week. Even at my favorite audio store in Michigan decades ago, Harry would pull the Magenpans away from the wall and roughly position them if you wanted to hear that system. It always sounded great but imagine if the room didn't have all the other gear stacked up in there and the panels were dialed in precise. Secondly, audio stores have dirty power and lots of EMI from lights, other businesses and all the other gear operating in the room/rooms. I begged the owner of a store to just buy a couple of FMCs to isolate his ethernet optically. He is demonstrating DCS and Chord DACs. They sound so lackluster when he is streaming with them and I know it is due to noisy ethernet. Sure, high end gear should not be affected by noise coming in. And apples shouldn't start rotting when they fall off the tree. In the real world we have to isolate and protect our precious, tiny little signals from our tonearms, our streamers and our preamps from the harsh and cruel disruptors of RFI, EMI and even mechanical vibration.
I stared this thread as there is a lot of incorrect perceptions on the subject.
I agree SE was never the best answer, but he is talking about the physics, not if you need it. My point is, SE is probably just fine for a home system. Listen to see if it is, don't assume what is needed for 100 foot studio runs is also needed for 3 feet. Fix real problems you find in your system with the help of information from the actual field experts rather than the fad of what You-Tubers and audio parlors can sell you.
Yes, we have electrical building codes for a reason. Follow them. Yes, a lot of old equipment did not have safety grounds and the leakage could give you a tingle. Easy to fix. I like the JDS answer to use AC wall wart transformers. No ground loop and zero risk of fault to mains. Any competent mains powered unit will deal with ground isolation internally. It is not hard or expensive. Even I can. No excuse.
I only had one piece of equipment that had line induced issues. A Parasound amp so I dumped it as being incompetently designed. It also sounded like garbage. Not like the old 1200's. I do run a DC blocker as it filters DC added within my house by cheap devices not supplied by the power company. Real problem. Real fix.
One store I visit does play all kinds of games moving speakers within 1/4 inch. So what! I move my head more than that. If you have to hold your head that still, it is a useless system. ( Kef Meta's?) On the other hand the big store here has the wall of speakers driven through switching and a mid-range class D amp which are almost useless other than to eliminate the worst of the bad. They will take a pair down to a better room to their credit but that leaves you with no comparison and within seconds your brain remaps so still not a very valid audition. End result is, you can pick something to take home over the weekend and give areal listen.
R2R, I think you mean Reel to Reel low generation dups onto quarter track a few studios issued? All analog. ( In todays jargon, it is assumed to be a ladder DAC) Yea they were good but I only had a couple. Way out of my price range and were only available mail order. I had a 10 inch Teac. Like vinyl, they degraded with every play. I went for the direct-to-disk live performance route where I could afford them. And don't tell me MoodyBlues analog mastering quality is HALF of Redbook. Things got better with the second generation SONY digital mastering ,16 bit, then 18 and on. Yea, my CATs CD was mastered in 14 bits. Most early Deuchas Gramaphone was. No wonder the best vinyl sounded better. 40 years later, newest studio work can be very very good. Unfortunately most of my music collection predates digital recording and was re-mastered and processed digitally for CD release.
If your "audiophile Ethernet" sounds better to you, have fun. It is your perception in your system that matters to you. I am not a fan of made up problems that may exist in theory, but not in the real world. If network noise is causing you a problem, you need to find the faulty devices. We don't need audiophile grade switches for 10G, live fire, nuclear, life threat, and can bounce 100% reliable data around the world on the Sonnet ring and satellites. If you can't within your house, you got a problem. If you can identify the demo of a DAC being lackluster due to Ethernet noise, you should get some University to study your clairvoyance. I am not saying you did not hear a lack-luster DAC. You heard it, I did not. I suggest your reasoning is less than a guess. It could well be you are not used to a clean reproduction from a really good DAC? Or maybe it was Cambridge/Rotel/Arcam amp with half the power supply reserves needed not the DAC? Was the stream actually high quality? Most is not.
Setup, room, treatments, yea, duh! Differences almost as large as the speakers.
You missed my point on if high end gear is effected by noise; digital, ground loops, power, then yes, I blame the OEM. NO excuse. Apples will start rotting as that is the environment they live in, just as dirty power is the environment. We understand the environment of apples and learned to pick them before they fall off. Just as decent engineers know how to handle system noise.
If you play vinyl, then isolating your player in a sealed box does wonders. Put your RIAA preamp in the base of the table close to the arm and you won't have any RFI exposure. That way you can maintain the balanced signal from the cartridge until you have provided enough gain that a couple feet of coax is fine.
I don't think you can expect manufacturers to anticipate every possible scenario for noisy power, noisy environment, vibrations, RFI, EFI, etc. The costs would be very high for those components. Should everyone pay for those features if they do not need them? They design to standards and our homes must conform to certain standards. The same for the modem and router. Beyond that, it is up to us- the hobbyist to either accept the performance as is or experiment and find ways to enhance the sound. That goes from what is most obvious and accepted such as isolating your turntable from mechanical vibrations to the more controversial audio grade Ethernet switch and silver plated Ethernet cables. Results vary from user to user which should be no surprise. A DAC or music server may already have adequate isolation or perhaps its performance is of such a low level that a difference cannot be detected.
I have an 8 meter run of balanced cables from my preamp to my amps. My shorter runs are also balanced connectors. Nowhere here was it mentioned that the output of DACs and preamps is higher for balanced out than for SE. I consider that another benefit. I also like the connectors much better than RCAs. Some electronics may have XLRs but not be a true balanced design. In that case figure no electrical advantage over SE.
For high end ,YES I DO expect them to deal with the environmental issues. That is what you pay the high price for. For commodity grade, sure as people make decisions on features and price so every corner must be cut.
Yes, the balanced lines have higher voltage REFERENCE which makes any interference relative lower by a few DB. But, that is only because there is a pseudo standard for the professional industry ( many OEMS do not comply to anyway). Just as some pre-amps have much higher maximum output voltage. I think my old Nak did about 9V se. All three of my preamps have two gain ranges. On the flip side, I run about 70 feet of coax to my antenna and it carries microvolts just fine. Note that amps do not all have the same front end overload or the same gain. THX has sort of pushed for a voluntary gain standard so at least multiple amps in a system can match levels. Lack of standards was one of the key points the presentation mentioned and why the committee exists. And some standards are not standards. HDMI for example. Like the old saying :" I love standards as there are so many to choose from"
8 meter? I sure would also go balanced. That is what it was designed for. Did that in my last house where my pre was across the room from the amps and speakers. My desk dac has 6 inches of coax to the pre and 2 feet to the amp. Noise is not an issue. Balanced connections would be useless feature not providing any advantage. Don't tell me a $5000 DAC can't afford an optical isolator on the USB when my $99 Schitt can! Power line RF? Bought a pack of 30 ferrites for about $12. No excuse.
Another place where balanced does make sense is with amps like the Purify where the amp architecture is balanced by design, not by input add on. Like I said, look at your reality, not the marketing one. If I could stand a class D, I might have a March and would do balanced DAC and pre. I can't, so I don't.
Thanks for posting the article. I’m lucky to not have line noise problems right now, but I have had them in the past, tried everything to no avail, and now have some understanding of why I failed to fix it.
I’m using a computer with HDMI output going into a cheap Denon receiver. I’m not having any issues with power noise coming through the system. This may be the quietest setup I've ever had. Usually I can hear a little buzz if I put my ear right up to the speaker, but now it’s dead silent, other than the amplifier’s own hiss if I turn it up. However, I switched out to a different used receiver to test out and am now getting what sounds like CB radio coming through once in a while. What’s really strange is that it came through the right rear speaker, so I figured it was a problem with that amp channel. Last night it came through the left rear speaker. Scared the crap out of me. I thought my system had become demon possessed. The voices are distorted and weird sounding. I can’t make out what they’re saying.
Cutting open several HDMI cables, as I was having issues with POD and ARC, I found on several the shield drain was not connected and some the foil had the insulated side ( mylar) against the drain making it totally ineffective. Bought a Belden cable and no more problems. Belden, Belken, or for a few bucks BlueJean. No magic, just made correctly. Connector is junk. Not secure, prone to falling out and can't support the weight of a correctly made cable. I wish it was a DB-25
Many years ago I had long speaker runs and someone in the park had a "foot warmer" in their truck. For the younger crowd, it was a modified Lafayette 1000W amplifier on CB which was limited to 2.5W non-side band. Picked it up, feedback loop amplified it and fried a tweeter. I went to Kimber cable leads and when I tracked him down, a pin through his coax took care of the root of the problem.
If your speaker leads are not twisted, you might try that.
Of all the "cheap" audio gear, I have always found Denon to be on top of the category. They have even at various times made some truly high end. 🙂
Hello tvrgeek. I would point out to you that if you look at my system page, (something you might want to post as well) you will see that my phono preamp sits directly below my turntable. I will also mention that the cable from my turntable plus the cable from my phono preamp to preamp likely cost more than your stereo system based on what I have read into your posts. I’m not even talking power cords yet. I’m not bragging. I am pointing out to you that you have no idea what audio can do. You will not experience it with a short visit to a high end store. If you are lucky, you might catch a shadow of a glimpse of the possibilities at a well run, well set up store. Audio sound reproduction has levels that go beyond what you think you know is possible- but it is not cheap to get there. For example, audio can create a holographic sound stage that puts sounds in various points in space from the floor to the ceiling and beyond the walls and in some cases behind the listener- all with just two speakers. It is not just sounds but actual body, shape to the sounds. When I got to this level I was playing my Pink Floyd DSotM album. At the end of side two the laughing voice was right at my ear. I jumped out of my chair the first time that happened. A Roger Waters album plays sounds 90 degrees to my right and my left. It’s uncanny. I don’t know how they do it. Sure, its about phase and amplitude in each channel. No VR glasses needed.
Beyond that and more amazing is how a high level system can convey the soul of the musicians. That’s the best way to put it. This is going well beyond making sound, good bass or clear highs. These are systems that invoke emotional and physical responses. Systems that make you feel what the performer is feeling. Systems that can make you soar, make you sad, invoke tears, goosebumps and toe taping. A good system can build that intimacy just as if you are sitting at the front table of a small club. Carly Simons live Grand Central recording is fun to listen to. The ambience comes through so well it feels like I am standing in Grand Central.
These types of systems are not plug and play no matter how much one may spend. They require tuning, and yes some tweaking. The room is as important a component as the amplifier. Cables matter. Good cables cost a lot. Opinions abound in these threads about what makes sense and what doesn’t but until you have experienced it for yourself it is something difficult to believe is possible.
Yea, the best cables can cost $30 at least. Go all out for Mogamni and maybe $100 a 1M pair of RCA WBC's from Amazon. But plain old Belden "Brilliance" stranded RG-79 is just as good. Blue Jean will assemble cables to your length using good stock and ends. Or you can "tune" your system with boutique cables that filter and distort the sound to your liking. If you like them, fantastic as liking your system is what is important. Your system, your ears. But we do live under the same laws of physics. I don't deny differences. I have had some exotic cables and listened to quite a few in systems that have sufficient resolution. I disagree with what the differences are and why.
I have heard half-a million dollar systems. Nice. Irrelevant. I am a retired Civil Servant, not a Greek shipping tycoon. My system costs less than my collector car. The room is far more important. Actually I have been very disappointed in most boutique level systems. A prime example was the first few generations of Wilsons. They have gotten a lot better though. Current B&W are to my ears, horrible. Plain horrible. Moving way down the scale I find the SF Luminas smoother than the Sonettos. Played only at low or moderate levels of course as they are small bookshelves. Evoke Dynaudios over the Special 40's. I know, not high end, entry but my point is cost does not dictate sound. Engineering does.
OK, fancy phono cables. Exotic mono-crystal silver? Feeding what? The impedance matching RESISTOR network in your preamp! Did you modify your preamp to match your cartridge? Makes a really big difference. Even my old Hafler 101 had a pack of resistors. ( required "tuning" for phono systems) Pre to power: Uber cable feeding what? A 22K Ohm resistor. And let's not forget the RF filter at the input. I expect your amp is at least DC coupled so no electrolytic in series. They are quite audible and measurable to boot. 😁
Believe what you want. I believe my ears and the laws of physics equally. I do understand traditional steady state measurements do not describe musicality of a system. I understand the pure tone psychoacoustic testing does not describe how our brains interpret what we hear, only thresholds in isolation. Every audiophile I know understands that as does any competent engineer.
Instead of spending money on magic, I would rather see actual research done on what does make things sound better to me and to you. For real. Better HP crossover to your mains to reduce IM at moderate levels? Higher output transistor redundancy to improve transconductance linearity? Or maybe it is back to harmonic distortions masking noise floor pumping and non-harmonic problems. All real, demonstrable problems. All have real engineering solutions. Sure, in an AB test, we can identify very small differences in linear distortion, but in isolation, how long does it take our brain to ignore the imperfections? Not long.
You talk of system synergy. I agree. Due to the lack of agreed standards and the few that are at least published, we do suffer from some incompatibilities. Stupid low speaker impedances as an example. Different input impedances so as to make a passive preamplifiers a nightmare. Even agreeing on 0 dB levels is not followed. Worst of all are mastering standards not followed so as to fight the loudness wars causing digital filter clipping in our DACs. BUT, most of the "synergy" as described in ethereal terms by subjective reviewers is a mater of personal taste on what masking distortions they prefer. Do you want the detail of a Chord DAC, or the smoothing masking of a Denafritz? Maybe that new ESS but filtered and distorted by a tube buffer running class A no feedback. ( gasp).
Hearing a difference is a measurement, just as yet not always quantifiable. Measurable technical ( we hope) or psychoacoustic? Of course a lot of synergy descriptions is cut of whole cloth to sell You-Tub advertisement kickbacks.
Opinions are fine. Enjoy your system. Fall for placebo if it makes you happy as it is a very real effect, but until we get to quantum gravity, physics is the law not an opinion. I happen to like the elegance of "string theory" but as it can't actually make a testable prediction, it is only a conjecture, not a theory, and looks like it is totally wrong anyway. I'm disappointed in all the time I spent following it, but I got over it. I got over what I spend uselessly for cables. Got over what I spent on the reviewers cartridge of the month. ( I did like my F9L) Now on to how many DACs I have to go through to be happy. Seems they have measurable flaws that have not been worked out yet. Measurable, but not the ones Amir publishes.
Don't have any Carly Simon. A shortcoming on my part. I'll order that! The best upgrade to my stereo is always more music!
Hello tvrgeek, I see that you just don’t get it. That’s ok. Hifi is not for everyone. If you truly heard a high end system and were not moved, then you are fortunate in that you will not be driven to pursue a similar, expensive system. On the other hand you are most unfortunate to be unable to experience something more than the mundane.
You know, throughout my long engineering career I got to live and work in a couple of other countries. I count 42 countries that I have visited- many I spent more than just a few days in. I can share the experiences with others who have not traveled but they cannot know what it is truly like to visit those places and experience the food, the people and the culture. Even watching programs showing various places or reading books about them is not the same as a first hand experience. For example, standing inside the Grand Hall of the Great Pyramid is a great experience that can’t be understood without having been there. The Grand Canyon is another such place.
You totally miss-understand me. I have heard superb systems. Good music on good systems can truly be moving. In that we agree. I have even had the privilege of hearing one recording that if you closed your eyes, you could almost believe it was real. It was a 1/2 track to a Revox in the same room as recorded of an upright bass, played back on Levinson and first generation B&W 801's. No snake oil cables, power regenerators, lifts, or magic bricks. It was just a well set up room. I had two friends, both with Quads, CJ amps, one SOTA, one Linn they would endlessly argue about. No bass, but oh what fantastic acoustics and vocals. I have also heard a lot of high priced total crap. What is in my living room fits as it is a living room, not a "mine is bigger than yours" room. My electronics are hidden as they would not blend with our Asian decor. Fortunately, Vietnamese elephants make pretty good speaker stands.
I too have traveled a bit. The world is a wondrous place. Just some folks think they have a better view of it without knowing to whom they are addressing. Everyone in this world knows something and has experienced something neither you nor I have or know. It is wise to listen. That is how you learn. Second lesson in Freshman Engineering Orientation. First was "Never memorize what you can look up, learn to understand it instead".
So, did you install the correct impedance matching resistors? You claim to also be an engineer, so you should understand the importance. I put my phono stage right under the arm in the base so it followed the best practice of the best part is the part (cable) that is not there. Simple engineering. I was in the process of building a thin film gain stage on the headshell when the CDs came of age and I switched as I prefer to play music than play with music.
Any yes, I am only "comfortable" as I chose to serve this great nation in the IC rather than play the contractor game. I have no narcissistic need to brag about what my system costs. I just listen to it (them). Being an engineer, I understand enough physics to know where to focus my expenditures. When I hear something I can't explain, I look for the factual reason. When I discover a problem, I look for a solution, not a band-aid.
I also enjoy magic. That really up close slight of hand. Blackwood style. Cards, balls, etc. Skill and training understanding how to fool the audiences' brains. Not impressed by modern high tech where the entire trick is technical and any idiot can run around the stage pretending to be great.
So enjoy your cables. I'll keep buying more and more music. Goodwill sells CDs for 69 cents. I have found a lot of music I never had heard of for less than a cup of coffee. Some of it quite moving even on my own designed and built amplifier and speakers.
I am no where near smart enough to design a DAC and don't see well enough to build SMD any more anyway, so buying my next upgrade. There seems to be three or four companies that do have that expertise. Also a lot who don't but that has not stopped them form selling $50,000 boxes where my JDS sounds better.
I understand you. You employ the term, “snake oil” often and claim cheap cables are sufficient. Clearly, you are a denier. You believe that if you can’t hear something then it doesn’t exist- an even better thrill for you is when measurements are unable to pick up differences. Your assumption is that if someone can hear something you can’t then they must be delusional. The way you like to slip in insults and digs, making you feel clever and pithy suggests that you cannot or will not buy high end gear and so it bothers you that others do. How many “delusional” people buying expensive cables would it take for you to believe that they might actually be hearing something? How about one. If one person can hear a difference then why can’t you believe them?
Hifi isn’t about how much money you can spend. Hifi is about great sound reproduction. Sure, it can get expensive real fast. For many years I was a DYI’er. I couldn’t afford the super high end gear. Like I said before, the room is one of the most critical components. I had a listening room that I designed and built myself in 1994. But then I moved out of that house in 1996. That was the best my system sounded until a couple of years ago. And that system back then was just some planar speakers, an old heavily modified ARC SP-6b preamp, a couple of different SS amps and Sota Turntable. I used some KimberCable and Monster Cable back then. The system rocked. My system today is on another level entirely. It took much more than money. I have spent many hours going through different cables, ethernet configurations and building the room to achieve the sound I have today. That includes dedicated power lines (something I have had in place in every house since 1989). I spent months researching streaming and trying different gear that didn’t work out so well- cheap gear actually, until I found the right combination of streamer, power supply and ethernet switch to get streaming to sound as good as CD. See, I don’t have to shop for CDs now. I have millions of songs at my fingertips with Qobuz and it sounds amazing.
Tony, This thread was highlighting a paper describing how balanced interconnects actually work and the many miss-conceptions in the audiophile world. Some well meaning based on intuition but incorrect, some supported by snake oil salesmen and their avid followers. The goal was to be helpful to those who use both reason within the laws of this universe as well as their ears. Your self-justifications don't hurt me, but may hurt someone who is actually trying to solve real sonic problems and they are spending their money in the wrong place. Glad you had the where-with-all to build a listening room. Money well spend I expect.
PS: The original Monster cable, generic copper 11 gauge twisted pair, was in fact a very good cable. Marginally better in long runs than lamp cord. Reasonably priced. Now we can get similar cable certified for in-wall use for only a little more.