Very good AES presentation on inter connects and ground loops.

If everyone has not read the papers on Jensen Transformers on interconnects by Bull Whitlock I suggest doing so. An update that makes a lot of things clear was a paper he did for AES in the subject, a bit updated.  Search You-Tube for it. It is an easier presentation than app note 009.

Makes me wonder about the current fad of XLRs on home systems with 1M cables and why folks like Chord have RCA only.  Do you trust China Inc. to do it correctly? Even ASR has identified most of what they measure does not follow IEEE or AES standards let alone understand the details of the architecture. 


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.