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Improved audio rendering with an optimised version of memcpy (2013) (audioasylum.com)
529 points by Paul_S 18 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 757 comments

It's important to appreciate that there are several different breeds of audiophile out there...

There are those that are obsessed with objectively measurable sound quality. They want to reproduce the recorded waveform as accurately as possible, and they want products that can be measured doing that, but they often pursue accuracy beyond the limits of any human to hear.

There are those that like a little distortion or degradation if it sounds nice to them. These are the people who collect tube amps and will openly admit they're not as accurate, but accuracy is not what they're after.

There are those who embrace voodoo. I knew a physics professor who was one of these. He had hideously expensive isolation platforms, resonator weights, unobtanium cables, "ambient field conditioners"... You name it. He knew there was no scientific basis for any them to work, but he had very deliberately deluded himself. If asked, he'd explain that the ultimate goal of the audiophile's pursuit was pleasure. If he could shut down his reasoning and spend hours moving resonator stones around on top of his CD transport until he thought he had improved the sound, and this gave him pleasure, was that pleasure not real even if the sound was exactly the same?

Then there are those who combine contradictory aspects of all of the above without any self-awareness or critical thinking skills. That's the sort that will torment themselves, and others, arguing on internet forums about why their own snake oil of choice is legitimate, real, and how anyone who isn't using it is a cretin.

I'm an instrumentation junkie at heart, but I'm a pragmatist first. I have a cheap receiver and cheap speakers. What I want so badly is for software solutions to be properly cheap. Rooms are relatively static conditions, meaning a simple FIR filter can be tuned once and give consistent results. Calibrating speakers and room multipath should not be gatekept with $1000+ hardware. Freedsp is the only name I know that offers a cheap option. They are a modest operation that only supply designs and bare boards. Integrating freedsp into a modern home theatre setup requires inelegant solutions (Source -> TV -> Receiver -> freedsp -> amplifier).

I just wish there was any competition left in the big players to push measurable home audio performance higher.

> Calibrating speakers and room multipath should not be gatekept with $1000+ hardware.

Not really that expensive: https://www.parts-express.com/Dayton-Audio-OmniMic-V2-Acoust...


If you already have a receiver, pretty much anything these days will come with a room measurement system to create that FIR filter. You don't get the coefficients, though.

Unless you spring for fancier receivers the most you get is parametric EQ weights. It's a simple IIR filter rather than a proper FIR.

>they often pursue accuracy beyond the limits of any human to hear

Not simply beyond human hearing but beyond the limits where any information is preserved at all. There's a class of audiophiles who have never even heard of Shannon-Nyquist.

And then there are those who only listen to SACD or 96kHz FLAC

I echo the above, but wanted to an important (to me) nuance for those who pursue accuracy beyond the limits of human hearing.

Usually, errors and distortions stack across multiple system components. While really bad components can be A/B/X tested accurately, good ones rarely can be. Still, imperceptible errors that accumulate/amplify can result in actual, audible differences. One can liken it to floating point computations where the error ranges grow each time and can reach unacceptable levels.

> If he could shut down his reasoning and spend hours moving resonator stones around on top of his CD transport until he thought he had improved the sound, and this gave him pleasure, was that pleasure not real even if the sound was exactly the same?

Of course it was, the placebo effect exists and works after all. Where these audiophiles turn into audiophools is here:

> hideously expensive isolation platforms, resonator weights, unobtanium cables, "ambient field conditioners"... You name it

They allow themselves to be duped by unscrupulous snake oil merchants instead of simply telling themselves that the rocks they collected on the beach are just the thing to liven up their sound stage.

>was that pleasure not real even if the sound was exactly the same?

Not as real as the pleasure obtainable by spending all that money on hookers and blow instead of hideously expensive snake oil.

Money can buy happiness, but it's not always a good deal.

And here I can't even get a parametric EQ for Apple Music

I've always felt totally alone falling somewhere between hardcore audiophiles and the 'norm,' which seems to feel a cell phone or cheap laptop speaker is as good as anything else for music. I really notice the difference between cheap crap, and say an older used brand name receiver with freestanding floor speakers, the kind of system you can find on craigslist for about $100. But I cannot notice a major difference between the $100 system, and say a $100k system (or whatever audiophiles spend). I also do notice a big difference between a 96Kbps MP3 and 320Kbps, but not between 320Kbps and lossless.

You certainly aren't alone! I find 128kbps unlistenable but I A/B tested 320 vs lossless and - nope, couldn't tell the difference, even trying hard to do so.

I consider myself an enthusiast/hobbyist, not an audiophile, and hold a pretty high level of scepticism about the truly devoted tbh.

That said I've never had the pleasure of listening to anything north of around the £10k mark, so I would love to be convinced of a genuine move-the-dial listening benefit of the really high end gear!

Buddy of mine has a $20k pair of monitors in a soundproofed room, and I was able to A/B 320 vs lossless on that system only, and only on certain types of material. The difference was only evident in the very high frequencies, and I really had to focus to tell.

>The difference was only evident in the very high frequencies, and I really had to focus to tell.

This becomes a curse if you practice it too often. Yes, if you strain your ears during cymbal crashes, you'll hear warbly bits in compressed audio, especially if that's all you're looking for. And then you'll start hearing it everywhere. In terms of casual playback, it's not terribly important, and if you don't tune your ears, it won't matter. (Lossless is important for archival copies though, IMO)

My favorite/worst example of falling into this trap occurred for me when I was mixing an EP by my band. We had terrible recording equipment, so I was trying my 22-year-old best to carve something workable out with EQ and panning and whatnot. On the kick drum, I wanted the 'click' of the beater hitting the head, but it accentuated this squeak that my pedal made every time I hit it. I spent a little too long trying to cut this squeak out, to little avail. It was like an icepick in my ears, but no one else in the band could hear it.

Later that day, I got in the car and put in a CD by the band Cake (this being the early 2000s) - one that I'd heard countless times. On this playthrough though, clear as day, I heard the squeak of the drummer's kick pedal.

I switched to pure electronic music for weeks just to cleanse my palette.

I love the squeaky bass drum in some Led Zeppelin records. Adds to the charm.

I worked on a big studio in the late 90s/early 2000s, and it was kinda funny how professionals have (or at least had) an attitude of just not caring about those things. Try to fix with a gate in about 10 seconds, if it doesn't work just turn it down a bit. Or not ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I think you're describing the audio engineer and producer equivalent of "perfect is the enemy of good". Creating an overall sound which is appealing, expressive and characterful is much more important than nailing down every detail.

Yep, that's exactly it. Audio engineering is heavily affected by diminishing returns, since spending hours mixing a song is a sure-shot way of ensuring your ears will be fatigued at the end and the result will be sub-par.

Hah! Been there, except for me it was with pure electronic music. Too much tweaking and then you come back later and go "WTF was I thinking!"

There used to be an ABX plugin for Foobar, where you could test yourself if you could make out the difference between an MP3 of your choice and a lossless one.

I think I scored worse than a coin flip when it came to 320 files

If you scored worse than a coin flip, then you are successfully able to distinguish 320kbps from lossless, which is a rare feat in human beings! (Just invert your answer for the correct one.)

If you cannot distinguish, you will be the same as a coin flip; i.e. random.

Hah! Never thought of that. Nice one

Studies have shown that people that grew up listening to compressed audio tend to rate it as 'better' than lossless, which is kind of sad/amazing.

Anyway, not to take this sub-thread too seriously, but obviously it depends how reproducible your deviation from 50-50 is :-)

10-15k (mostly in speakers) is around when you start experiencing strongly diminishing returns.

Some really nice floorstanding speakers though offer a jaw dropping improvement that’s measurable.

Lower that by an order of magnitude. Genelecs are some of the most common studio monitors and they are way less than that. A pair of JBL 308ps for $700 is the point of diminishing returns for accurate reproduction.

Only reason to spend more is aesthetics, features, and SPL (fair enough).

Most of the budget in high end production facilities goes into room design and acoustics.

So, two things:

1. Studio monitors are chosen for their flat response curve over a given range not because they: a) accurately cover a large frequency range including bass, b) have exceptional clarity and ultra low distortion. 2. Bookshelf speakers can get really good but they ultimately require subwoofers to cover lower frequencies and that requires not only a good subwoofer with excellent clarity. 3. The vast, vast majority of studios master audio to sound good on a wide range of devices ranging from smartphone speakers to earbuds to $50 soundbars. And ultimately with the "loudness wars" still in full swing, dynamic range compression is widely used.

I don't disagree with you that room treatment is of paramount importance. But there is a very, very noticeable difference hearing a good recording over a pair of floorstanding full range speakers with excellent tweeters+woofers and a decent amp. My point a good setup including subwoofer+crossovers+bookshelf speakers that hits the point of diminishing returns tends to approach the $10-15k mark including amp.

Some things are a total waste of money. Fancy power cables, super-expensive amps with zero measurements to justify the cost. Snake oil stuff like special ethernet cables, etc.

But speakers, as the highest distortion element of the audio chain, absolutely improve noticeably even up to $10-15k or so. I purchased some GoldenEar Triton One.R speakers a few years ago and they still blow people's minds when they listen to them. Everything from the bass to the treble are crystal clear yet not fatiguing.

> absolutely improve noticeably even up to $10-15k

Except, they don't. The only reason to buy a 15k speaker is to gain a higher SPL before distortion kicks in, or you want some cool feature or aesthetics.

For a home user just seeking good (accurate) music reproduction, there is not much point to spending more than a couple grand on a 2.1 system.

Beyond that, you are best to spend money on EQ, then room treatments and extra subs to try and sort out the low end (the most challenging aspect of music reproduction).

> there is not much point to spending more than a couple grand on a 2.1 system. Well, that's a personal choice right? Improvements are noticeable up to the point I mentioned. But is it worth it? Nobody can possibly answer that for you.

There are actually some streaming services offering atmos and high-res audio, so the market is actually quite interesting right now if you have the budget for the equipment. A top of the line experience will cost you a bit north of $1000 per channel assuming you dont get too picky with the speakers, do would be 7+2 -> 9K for a full blown domestic system. The audiophile crowd is buying 2 channel dac systems at a third of that value, just because.

> . 3. The vast, vast majority of studios master audio to sound good on a wide range of devices ranging from smartphone speakers to earbuds to $50 soundbars.

Great. So I really don't need the expensive stuff then. It will actually be a distortion of what the engineer intended

You don't need the super-expensive stuff anyways. But you're obviously not going to get full frequency range (especially bass) on smartphone speakers.

Additionally, a few genres (notably some jazz and Western classical) as well as select recordings here and there actually do not have "loudness war" issues and might actually have good dynamics. For these, it's nice to have a system that can handle, say, the full blown volume swings of a Romantic-era symphony.

You can probably fulfill these requirements with a system far under $15K. :)

I actually was under the impression that the audiophile market (at least the stereotypical) was fairly "dead"; it was more of a thing in, say, the 1970s-1980s phenomenon (with a follow-up in the late 1990s with the home theater boom) when the gap between consumer electronics and hi-end electronics was a lot bigger, and there was a lot less technical information out there (so mythology over things like cables and flowery descriptions of sound were more rampant).

A pair of Genelec 8351 is around 7000 USD. Add a subwoofer and you’re not too far from 10k.

There’s also many other brands in high end production facilities like for example ATC which easily exceed 10-15k a pair.

I think the key to it is using the listening rooms that hi fi shops often offer, and being honest with oneself about whether the impact is really tangible or not.

Be a while before I can justify even contemplating that sort of hifi spend anyway so I shall proceed in blissful ignorance for now :-)

But consider also the (IMO irrational) devaluing of 'used' items in the USA. I have a great sounding set of older high end floor speakers I pulled for free from a dumpster... one subwoofer had a small tear in it, and I was able to glue that up with no apparent sound quality degradation, and then later replace the entire sub when one came up cheap on eBay.

I often see fairly high quality floor speakers for near free at thrift stores, etc.

To be fair, I am talking about things that were probably $1-2k new, and I don't feel that I could personally tell the difference from that and something $10k new. Especially with the real world high noise floor- vehicles outside, pets, kids, etc.

> 10-15k

Is that in USD?

whether that is any major western currency such as USD, EUR, CAD, CHF, GBP or AUD, it doesn't really matter when the error bar is that big

It could be JPY ;)

In the real world it is 15k yen.

That's the price of a Yamaha HS5 and some other speakers in that range.

And yep after that you definitely start getting diminishing returns.


That's what I was wondering, as that amount in USD (or EUR/GBP etc) seems like a ridiculous amount of money to spend on speakers, even to me, a well off US-ian.

Uh.. while my comment was firmly tongue in cheek I don’t think you realise how ridiculous these things can get.


Can be yours for the bargain price of GBP 57,750

Oh, a budget pair of speakers.

I think the gentleman is looking for something a bit more high class sir.


Thank you. Speakers that weigh more than a few cars and cost more than a nice condo in a major city are exactly what I was looking for.

Oh boy, you're in for a surprise, specially if you already know that there are people that buy golden toilets.

we are on an english speaking, western centric platform. what are the chances a non denominated amount to actually be in JPY ?

Yes, USD.

    That said I've never had the pleasure of listening 
    to anything north of around the £10k mark
I've listened to gear well north of that and I certainly don't have "golden ears" (I don't think many do) but the TL;DR is that you hit diminishing returns way before £10k.

Ultimately, we're talking about signal reproduction here, and inexpensive gear can put out some seriously accurate sound thanks to onboard DSP processing that uses software to compensate for less than amazing hardware. As long as the sound reaching your ears is correct, doesn't matter how it was achieved.

The one thing you can potentially gain once you get in to the realm of paying thousands of dollars is oodles of power from the amplifier and oodles of power handling from the speakers, which may or may not let you begin to approximate the sound of live music.

If you have ever had the pleasure of hearing an orchestra perform live, the average SPL (sound pressure level) may not be that high, but the fleeting momentary peaks from something like a timpani might be north of 100dB. That's a bit of a feat for your stereo system to pull off and there's no substitute for horsepower there.

But even then, this doesn't necessarily cost megabucks.

Good point. If you are entertaining a large party, you can expect to pay a lot more for quality too, for similar reasons.

Yes. And for large rooms, IME dealing with the room itself quickly becomes the challenge.

I heard this system in person at this event. A million dollars of objectively great gear, and the end result was it sounded like the PA system at a high school football game.


The reflections in that room were a nightmare. Look at the giant glass wall behind the seating area, perpendicular to the speakers. Holy jesus. So you have the speakers putting out some massive waves, and then you have waves reflecting off of the glass wall with nearly equal energy, and then you have everything coming together and canceling out and/or creating resonances... right at the seating area. Absolutely insane, absolutely pathological.

I think the main sell of hidef audio isn't so much the 'extra bits' but usually they're different masters, and not compressed for CD. A lot of it is in the mind though for sure. Almost anything sounds pretty good on good (>500 euro) headphones. :}

    I've always felt totally alone falling somewhere between 
    hardcore audiophiles
To me, the "hardcore" audiophiles are the ones who understand a bit of actual science & engineering and don't go chasing ridiculous crap like audiophile USB cables.

The lunatic fringe gets all the attention, because they're comically delusional, but they are not hardcore to me.

    or whatever audiophiles spend
Bought new, the modern equivalent of that $100 Craigslist system is (vast simplification and approximation) about $500. A well-researched $500-$2500 (new) stereo system is in my experience and opinion the range where you get appreciably better and better sound.

At $500 you are already getting a system that is not doing a whole lot wrong. But not massive output or deep deep bass.

By $2500 you're getting something that's doing very close to the full 17hz-20khz at output levels that will more than exceed just about any reasonable residential situation. And in fact your listening room is the bottleneck now.

Above that price you're paying for very boutiquey exotic stuff that can pull off certain tricks, very high levels of output, etc.

Those prices are very approximate and assume a well researched and set up system.

You certainly aren't getting any speaker going correctly to 17 Hz even for ten times this price.

Stereo speakers are not made to go very low, that's what a subwoofer is for. Not all subwoofers even go that low!

Above $2500 for a good stereo system will get you a better sound, but as always, the more you pay, the less you'll be able to hear the difference. Also, the better the sound is, the more you'll have to be careful about amp pairing and room acoustic.

Right. I was including subwoofers in the cost of those systems approaching $2500. It's a broad topic, of course, and I'd already typed a zillion words. It's always a challenge what to type and what to leave out, huh?

A stereo system with subwoofers is still a stereo to me. My main system is 2.2 and I call it a stereo. But I see the confusion. Some people don't call it a "stereo" unless it's strictly 2.0!

Define "correctly". Frequency correct or audible correct? While 17hz is the floor for audible frequencies, even if you can hear it, you won't be able to perceive that much detail. In fact, I'd argue that a $2500 system with a subwoofer will sound the same as a $250 subwoofer, assuming the same sensitivity. Thing is, human ears are crap (imagine low-res gif pictures and thinking of it as 8k frames), and very very bad below 100Hz. What better/more expensive systems have (besides better quality components) is often better sensitivity, so a passing its not audible on your $100 system becames audible - not because frequency - but because sensititity (the cone is actually able to reproduce the faint sound)

I can genuinely tell the difference between 320K MP3 and CD, and between CD and HD, (a group of enthusiasts got together and double-blind tested each other) but only in carefully controlled circumstances with a LOT of focus. As in, wearing really good headphones in a silent distraction-free room with my eyes closed and focusing on particular features like cymbals and chimes and staging, and even then only after switching back and forth between samples a dozen times. So after realizing that, I always aim to have CD quality, but I couldn't care less about HD audio. And like you said, $100 Craigslist systems from 1990 sound drastically better than modern consumer-grade systems. People started caring more about "smart" convenience features and less about sound quality a long time ago.

I don't think you're alone at all (I'm in that range, for one) I just think people liking good audio without spending a ton doesn't grab a lot of attention. There are decent articles on headphones in the $60-300 range, mobile DACs that don't break the bank, etc, that I think show that our contingent is alive and well.

> But I cannot notice a major difference between the $100 system, and say a $100k system (or whatever audiophiles spend).

You definitely will, but at lot of it will come from the fact that the latter system will be set up well in an isolated room with proper speaker placement, while the former will be some speakers thrown in a living wherever they fit.

Sensitive speakers are the huge difference, because they will give you more detail at normal listening amplifications. A good pair of speakers and 25-50W of amplification power is more than enough for most domestic scenarios, and even then you'll be using it with volume in half. The difference are the speakers - and sensitive speakers are expensive compared to a "$100 system"

I'm in the same camp. I consider myself an audiophile, but spend most of my time reading things and laughing at "them". There's definitely a fair bit of critical thinking required when you're investigating audio gear for personal use. That said, a proper DAC/Amp stack and a good set of headphones are well worth the investment, it's just that you are strongly into the diminishing returns area once you spend more than about $1k all-in on the entire setup.

The thing is, I think of it like I do many of my "hobbies" which are really just about improving my actual quality of experience/quality of life in the things I do every day. I am typing this comment on a custom-built $900 mechanical keyboard, and just got off a conference call where I was speaking into $1k worth of microphone gear, with a $3k camera setup pointed at me, and listening to the other person through $2k worth of audio output gear (headphones + DAC/Amp stack). To the casual observer that's utterly ridiculous and I've wasted all this money for nothing. On the other hand, I spend 8+ hours a day wearing those headphones, on meetings, and typing, anything that even marginally improves the quality of my experience doing the things I do for 8+ hours every day and intend to do for most of the remainder of my life, means that I am improving my overall quality of life in a meaningful way.

I do this for the exact same reason I spent big on my chair, desk, lighting, and my bed. Between my home office and my bedroom, I spend 75% or more of my entire life (roughly 18 out of every 24 hours) in those two places until I retire. It is absolutely worthwhile for people who spend a lot of time listening to audio to optimize the way they listen to audio. You just have to really keep your critical thinking hat on, though, because the market is full of snake oil.

> But I cannot notice a major difference between the $100 system, and say a $100k system (or whatever audiophiles spend).

I more or less agree with this but the main problem is that people listen in untreated rooms with horrible acoustics.

Once you hit that "medium good" threshold, which is pretty easy these days, more expensive speakers aren't going to make a difference until you get your acoustics under control.

If you do have a nice room, you will definitely notice the difference between the medium good setup and a nicer one, although you will hit diminishing returns WAY before you reach the $100k speakers.

absolutely and whether you think you care about sound quality or not, one thing I have found is that it makes a huge difference for dialog clarity. I watched Dune when it came out in a brand new theater in Los Angeles and then a few months later on my home system. I was quite surprised by how much more of the dialog was intelligible than I had thought

I do not think that it is a controversial opinion to say that a floor speaker sounds better than a phone speaker.

I OP means most people really just don't care

Are headphones, sound bars, and the like not an enormous market segment? Do you think people wouldn't notice if a cinema replaced their 10.2 surround with a couple of phone speakers?

This reads like "I feel totally alone in diverging from the norm that microwave TV dinners are as good as any other food, I much prefer home cooked meals". Like... that's not a controversial opinion, that's normal. OP taking an elitist stance about doing something that everybody else does and having an opinion that everybody else agrees with.

30 years ago members of the general public spent money on home stereos with good speakers. Photos, videos, and movies from the 80s of male teenagers' rooms all had at least decent stereos if not pretty good stereos.

And now they don't. Your comment conflates two things: what people agree is true vs what people do. Everyone knows that decent stereos or audio setups sound better than phone speakers. That isn't up for debate. But they stopped buying decent amplifiers and speakers because music precipitously dropped as a cultural cornerstone with the mainstreaming of the Internet. If you ask someone with headphones on today what they're listening to, it's just as likely to be music as it is to be podcasts, news, youtube videos about video games, or youtube videos about a random topic that you would never think people would care that much about.

> Do you think people wouldn't notice if a cinema replaced their 10.2 surround with a couple of phone speakers?

This is actually a pretty good example. Obviously they would notice. But it turns out that they don't actually care very much: the masses are perfectly happy to watch shows and movies on tiny screens with terrible audio.

This is just false. People tolerate watching things on small screens without good audio, sure, but that doesn't mean people prefer it. TVs are still found in every home even though they are rarely hooked up to anything other than internet streaming any more.

The reason sound systems aren't as popular as they were in the 80s is that most modern TVs come with decent stereo sound, and bluetooth headphones are excellent. People are buying decent amplifiers and speakers, built in to other things because manufacturers know that they will get more sales if they make the built-in audio quality of their devices better.

What did I write that is false? You didn't actually contradict any of it. You wrote about what people prefer and I wrote about what people do.

> People tolerate watching things on small screens without good audio, sure, but that doesn't mean people prefer it.

Their actions indicate their preferences. If they're doing it a certain way then they, by definition, prefer to do it that way. No one is forcing them to do otherwise. Audio equipment is not expensive.

I think a lot of people elsewhere in this thread are confusing a simple majority of the whole population, with a large minority which obviously does care enough about audio but is nevertheless a minority.

25% of US adults, say, spending on audio gear may be a huge market segment, but it's still a minority!

I don't think that's true either, because most people I know (even ones who don't have tons of disposable income) have invested in some form of speaker system or headphones. I don't know anybody who just listens to music from their phone speakers.

I doubt that $40 billion of AirPods would be sold every year if most people didn't care about audio quality to some extent.

> I doubt that $40 billion of AirPods would be sold every year if most people didn't care about audio quality to some extent.

The original airpods did not sound good at all, so I don't see what your point is here. Yes, they're still better than phone speakers, but if people actually cared about quality they wouldn't sell as much.

> The original airpods did not sound good at all, so I don't see what your point is here. Yes, they're still better than phone speakers, but if people actually cared about quality they wouldn't sell as much.

The point is that there's a $100b+ industry towards selling audio devices.

You can debate to what extent people care about audio quality, and what tradeoffs they're willing to make for better quality, but you can't deny that the majority of people appreciate that phone speakers are not the optimal audio setup.

If people didn't care about quality, they wouldn't put in the money, effort, discomfort, and fuss to use airpods instead of their phone speakers.

In my experience, most people will choose to listen to music directly from a phone or laptop even when there is a good floor speaker system in the same room they could connect to and play through in seconds, because they just don't care.

In what context?

If you're talking about someone hosting a party where they're playing music off their phone/laptop, that's something I've never personally seen before lol

I'm talking about my family members and girlfriend playing music or movies in a room where I have a great stereo system, and not connecting to it, even though they are already paired and just need to click the icon.

I think you hit the nail on the head- people think a big stereo is for volume levels, not quality. They will obviously switch to it when they want things louder, but often not before.

You must not have normies in your life. I'm subjected to cell phone and laptop speakers constantly.

Not sure what your definition of normie is, but that's been my experience across a fairly wide spectrum of US society.

When I went to public high school in rural America, pretty much everyone I knew owned some sort of headphone/speaker system, and they would be used at every party / larger gathering where audio was important.

It depends on the context though. Obviously if someone is just sharing something casual like a Youtube video on their phone, they're going to use the built-in speakers.

Hmm, I know a lot of people who just use the earbuds that came with their phone. I guess those aren’t included nowadays, but for a while there it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that most people had never bought a pair of headphones.

But like always “most” depends on the population. Most people would have no opinions or nonsense opinions on programming languages I guess, because most people have never written a line of code. It doesn’t tell us much about the popular programming languages, the general population is just the wrong one to sample for that kind of info.

>I doubt that $40 billion of AirPods would be sold every year if most people didn't care about audio quality to some extent

Considering the top100, yah, no one cares about audio quality. Airpods are a symbol of status, not a relevant audio accessory, and from a hifi perspective, they are shit. Im not saying they dont sound good, what Im saying is that equalization does miracles when the sound isn't there. The compression format is lossy.

It really depends on you define "most people". Most people have an IQ of less than 100.

So pretentious.

I don't ask people for their IQ score before I spend time with them, but this has held true across the entire cross-section of society that I've personally experienced. When I was working as a dishwasher, everyone would bring small Bluetooth speakers to their area if they wanted to listen to music.

Do you think that people with a certain background / IQ score are not enlightened enough to recognize tinniness or poor sound quality?

You're misinterpreting my comment. I was not implying any correlation between IQs and audiophile-ness. I was pulling out a random example of a counter-intuitive property that "most people" have, though it's clear from your response that I picked a bad example.

Ah gotcha, apologies for misinterpreting.

I can't claim to speak for everybody, but I think that as high-end (relative to previous standards) audio tech has become very mainstream over the last decade or two, most people recognize that the default phone/laptop speaker setup isn't ideal.

Its actually not true, but is that relevant? Can't a simpleton of IQ 60 be the bearer of golden ears? You seem to equate variable "measurable puzzle-solving skills" with common sense and capacity to act on a specific domain; please don't do it, because it makes the rest of us feel sorry for you.

By definition, no they don't.

That's the way with so many things, huh? I got a one of the nicer sets of Logitech computer speakers, and while it's not amazing, it's fine, and definitely better than the junky speakers that use to come with desktop systems. I can tell the difference between $.99 coffee and $3 coffee, but $50 coffee is lost on me. A $10 wine is likely to be better than Three Buck Chuck, but I don't know if I could tell the difference between $10 and $100.

For almost everything, unless you're really, really into that thing, there's a segment of the price curve where more money == more better, but afterward you're just shoveling cash into a black hole.

There is a lot of diminishing returns for audiophile products.

You should be able to hear the difference between a $100 speaker system and a $1,000 speaker system.

But there are other things like room acoustics and stuff that can cause issues. If you put a really good system in a bad room I could imagine it would be harder to tell a difference.

$1,000 to $10,000 might be a lot harder to tell the difference assuming you sourced a good performing setup at each price point.

Same for MP3 vs Lossless, you could probably hear the difference between 320Kbps on specific songs if you know what to listen for but I doubt you can hear it on everything and you would have to concentrate pretty hard rather than enjoying the music.

Tiny class-d amps, containing barely $20 worth of parts, produce perfect (to my ears) sound. I don't know why receivers are still so expensive, but I suspect it's a total racket (literal price fixing).

On the other hand, TVs, sound bars, and the HomePod mini produce audio so bad I can't believe people put up with it.

> On the other hand, TVs, sound bars, and the HomePod mini produce audio so bad I can't believe people put up with it.

I can chime in on this one. I used to be like OP: Not an audiophile, but someone who can appreciate the difference between a $1000 setup and a $100 setup. Once I got married, and someone with better interior decorating taste started having a vote on home decor, that appreciation had to go out the window. Nobody with any taste wants floor-standing big ugly black boxes positioned at the "Optimal" listening positions in the living room. Do an image search for "high end speakers". Yuck.

Now days, receivers are much more of a home theater setup and less of an audio setup, if that makes sense. Lots of 4k upscaling, DSP for video, and handling the different standards like Dolby Vision and Atmos. If you're just looking for something to play music, you can get a lot of amazing receivers from the late 80s - 00s for pennies on the dollar.

I think that fundamentally, everyone agrees that there are diminishing returns with audio products, people just have different tolerances for bad audio, different amounts of fucks to give about it, and different levels of ability to configure their setups. I don't know what the distribution of people looks like along those axes, but you sound "normal" to me in regards to taste, and by virtue of being on this forum are probably above average in regards to technical ability to configure things. Lots of people would probably find it a bit too much trouble to worry about and configure the external audio receiver and freestanding floor speakers (which incidentally describes my setup as well), but I don't think that's equivalent to them not recognizing the improvement. Sound bars seem to be deliberately intended to fill the market segment for people who want and can afford better sound, but can't manage the configuration.

Sounds like audiosciencereview.com might be your crowd. There are a lot of us science minded audiophiles!

You can notice the compression at the edges of the audio, like vocals or cymbals. Linda Ronstadt is one singer who's voice makes compression obvious - her line turns into a hacksaw blade on some songs.

That said, every system has distortion - the question is what sound do you like/want. Do you want a sound that's more forward or more laid back? Do you like more midrange? Vocals?

Audio also becomes more complicated because of hearing loss. I can't hear anything over 12-13k, so I'm sure that's affected my audio setup at some level.

I think there are a lot of us, but we aren't very visible because we just buy some best-bang-for-the-buck equipment to get us above trash-tier sound, or hit a few pawn shops, get set up to our satisfaction, then don't think about it again. Shit lasts decades, once you hit good-enough there's not much reason to keep messing with it. Only thing you might be replacing about once a decade is headphones—maybe.

The money is irrelevant.

The biggest differences are almost universally going to be detected when you move from a loudspeaker with minimal volume to one with large volume.

Basic physics, dimensions of rooms, etc are way more important than anything else.

Sure - more lumber costs more, but there are clever ways around this too.

Your position is completely reasonable.

It's just that most loonies like to argue more than most sane people care to respond.

Same here! We stopped using laptop speakers around 5 or so years ago when we got some good bookshelf speakers[0] instead. We mounted them to the foot of our bed where we use our laptop.

We've since built our own subwoofer and also mounted a bass shaker[1] (transducer) below the bed, which produces actual vibrations in response to low frequencies, by moving a heavy weight instead of a speaker cone.

The tactile stimulation from low frequencies actually significantly helps with immersion, focus, and relaxation, similar to some can easily fall asleep in a running car.

Of course, it also helps when we're just in the mood to transmit high-power bass frequencies straight into our fricken' bones...

Anyway, I think the total for our sound system is below $1k. We never made a parts list for our subwoofer but we estimate the cost to have been around $300–400. The rest of the system consists of the $180 (at the time) bookshelf speakers[0], the $50 (at the time) bass shaker[1], and the $80 (or so) amplifier to drive said shaker[2].

We also use a device called a "line driver"[3] (around $20) to raise the signal level for the input to our bass shaker's amplifier. "Line driver" is indeed the magic search term, and "preamp" will get you garbage (either $2 op-amp boards, or phonographs).

But aside from all the engineering effort that went into it, because it was a really fun hobby project, it's mostly just a mediocre system. We're totally content with that, and proud because it is a great experience for us, and very fun to listen to.

At this point, the only upgrade we would really want would be to find a new living space that can accommodate a rotary woofer[4], which changes the air pressure of the entire room to produce frequencies from around 20Hz down to even 0Hz.

But our current setup is more than enough to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate. <3

Also we store our entire music library in mp3 format >:3

[0]: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GMPDAHM

[1]: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CDDPJTI

[2]: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TTMN51V

[3]: https://www.ebay.com/itm/271412659106

[4]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotary_woofer


Actual link to forum: https://www.audioasylum.com/messages/pcaudio/119979/

"found that a function called memcpy was the culprit, most memory players use memcpy and this is one of the reasons why memory play sounds worse ie digital sounding. Fortunately there is an optimised version of memcpy from http://www.agner.org/optimize/, using this version removes the hard edge produced by memcpy."

It's probably that by optimizing code they reduced CPU load, therefore reducing fan noise due to overheating, and finally inducing clearer sound quality with lower SNR. It makes sense to me.

You mean to tell me that a media player doing audio playback is thrashing memcpy so hard that it's spinning up the fan? And that there is enough low-hanging fruit in standard memcpy implementations to actually make a difference?

The more likely explanation is that these people are simply delusional.

I mean, we know for a fact that audiophiles are delusional, but I remember computers of the time had terribly noisy audio output affected by all kinds of EMI, from fans to hard drives to CPU utilization. The noise floor was a mess on most devices. I even remember listening to the interference from my arriving SMS messages, zap-zap-zap. Desktops also tended to make about the same amount of fan noise as a space heater. Pretty much the only common device of the era with a good SNR and no screaming fans was the iPod/iPhone.

Pretty much any Apple device was surprisingly better than the median PC until the late 2000s or so but that wasn’t because Apple was great so much as even the big PC vendors couldn’t pass up the chance to cut corners. So many vendors would sell you a $3-5k computer and then save $0.50 on the DAC or use a noisy power supply. I used to work with some researchers who collected lab data by connecting sensors to line in audio and they did some tests & found that the Mac audio input was roughly the same as the external boards they had been paying a scientific supplier a few grand for but the comparable priced Dell & HP workstations had a shocking amount of electronic noise. Granted, I had a $50 Belkin USB audio adapter which was even better because it did higher bit rate and depth than was common at the time.

(There’s a famous exception on ambient noise: the PowerMac G5 was like having a hair dryer running in your office.)

Yeah until I got balanced jack-to-XLRs for the Focusrite to the monitors, the cables were insanely affected by EMI from my GPU. Whenever it did more than move windows around (i.e. starting a game, playing a video) it noised out like crazy.

There was a time when if I went to a room in a MUD with a long text description, scrolling that text would cause the MP3 I was listening to to stutter.

Of course that was 25 years ago on a Pentium 133, I understand things are better now.

Yuo see, when standard memcpy runs it has a big variance of power, i.e. large cycle to cycle differences in effective current through the processing chip. Agner Fog's memcpy is optimized to use the pipelines effectively, makes the processing operate smoothly and not in discrete steps, much less variation. That variation causes fluctuation in primary voltage supply which leaks into the analog path, creating noise and harshness.

I can’t tell if you’re joking or not

I guess it's not serious in this case, as streaming audio is not very CPU-intensive, BUT I noticed that when I trained my ML model (basically 100% GPU usage) I could hear a noise in my M40Xs. I guess it's some MOBO/GPU insulation issue.

Most GPUs have some degree of coil whine, often under high or specific load. Even my PS5's has it in the menu of a particular game, I suspect they haven't capped the framerate for that menu.

My what-if joke was going to involve memcopy bringing up the dormant avx unit & causing some power fluctuations in the system. Which is like 99.9999999% a joke.

Surely they'd run this on a system without a fan? I'd say immersed in liquid nitrogen to minimise thermal noise and powered through an ultra-low noise, DC, battery-only supply, and the whole thing inside an independently Earthed faraday cage.

If not, all the effort on the memcpy is going to waste.

I think this is close to the most credible explanation for why you could ever hear a difference. High CPU load could result in buffer underruns, which can result in audible artifacts (as there's not enough samples in the buffer to guarantee smooth playback). Although I highly doubt that this would be a problem on 2013 hardware...

Hmm, I'd guess that it might impact something that is different between different compilers and the like - timing on when the different code runs. Eg. One memcpy sometimes runs faster than other times, leading to distortion on the music. I imagine there's lots of built in tools that minimize said distortion by buffering, but if your buffered data is just barely keeping up with what's playing, a slightly slower copy could leaver the buffer empty for a moment

And what about the one thousand parallel memcpys happening while you listen to your non-memcpy audio program?

Like in, is really one less memcpy doing all that difference?

I'm not sure if that's what the (almost certainly delusional) linked article was talking about but your explanation holds water... but only for onboard motherboard embedded audio. That does tend to pick up a lot of electrical noise and just be mediocre at best.

However this can all be sidestepped with an affordable external DAC connected with optical or USB.

No it can't! I have a IEEE1394 pro-grade interface AND IT IS STILL BUZZING!! Everything is shielded. I even added ferrite rings onto the data cable.

That sounds like some kind of ground loop problem, then, maybe?

There are battery-powered USB DAC/amp combos, primarily designed for portable use. I think FiiO makes/made some. That should solve or at least isolate the problem further to some extent.

I don't know why people are mocking this discussion. It's well documented that tight loops on CPUs can cause electromagnetic interference. Old timers with C64s will recall how it could affect the TV monitor output "fuzziness" and nearby AM radios - heck, I could even tell how a program hung by the sound it made.



Modern CPUs can produce an AM radio signal too https://github.com/fulldecent/system-bus-radio

Is the website a play on insane asylum for audiophiles?

No. They really are like that!

I mean, it depends on our definition of "they."

Lots of audiophile communities (ones based around actual engineering) who laugh their asses off at this insane lunatic fringe stuff just like HN does.

Fun fact: vinyl has constant angular velocity, not constant linear velocity. It means that sound fidelity gets progressively worse while going from outer tracks to inner tracks.

Also fun fact, stylus are usually rated only for 150-250h of play before needing replacing.

If you're avidly listening to music this is less than a year.

The vast majority of vinyl junkie audiophiles are not replacing their stylus anywhere near that frequently.

Another fun fact, there are obsessive people out there that they use a new stylus for _each_ song. (I came across one)

I think there may have been a misunderstanding. There are many of us who regularly switch to a different stylus depending on the record or genre we're playing. I haven't heard of anyone treating a stylus as single-use.

Nope, the vinlys were very old (antique?) and he said he was doing it to preserve them.

I hope they put on new shoes every time they leave their daily new house

Depends on the content/ amount of sound recorded. Memory: Frank Zappa used to go for 22 mins a side on lps to allow the quality to remain constant throughout the playing of his plastic releases.

Sorry, no source/ link atm.

Also the reason bass heavy tracks are always first on the album. Not enough room for those huge valleys towards the center; needle will skip a lot.

The needle wiggles side-to-side and might collide with the groove next to it if two bass hits are poorly timed. I suppose the likelihood becomes greater with the more compact inner area?

Also the high end sounds better the faster the vinyl is going so the outer tracks win there too. 45rmp records have more sparkle. The speed of the vinyl is like sample rate.

How can audiophiles continue to exist with knowledge being so easily available? And how can someone be clever enough to be a software engineer and not clever enough to figure out crystals in bags taped to cables do not affect music quality.

Just some nuggets from that thread:

"Sounds awesome, the previous version had a slight tendency to defuse the treble, but with VS2012 compile it is a much more complete sound with absolutely no digital harshness, some 16/44 albums I could hardly play before without getting a headache are now rendered in their full glory."

"It's just lazyness on the part of the player developers that they rely on the old methods, I guess they think bits are bits."

"Goto also sounds better than anything else I have tried." - the "Goto" in the quote means a goto in C used to replace a loop.

"also most players use malloc to get memory while new is the c++ method and sounds better."

I think about the audiophile fringe approximately the same way I think about flat-earthers: I'm sure there is a core of true believers, but that at this point there's just massive amounts of trolling going on - and Poe's law applies: any sufficiently advanced form of trolling is indistinguishable from kookery.

That is always my initial thought... until I remind myself that audiophile products exist, and they are being bought by somebody! Trolling on internet is cheap/free; buying audiophile equipment is not :O

My favorite is audiophile network switches. Never mind the fact that two devices connected with RJ45 ethernet have no direct electrical connection since signalling is done via transformer coupling, so it is impossible to have a ground loop. Never mind the fact that it is a digital signal and audio streaming has robust error correction via TCP.

For the low, low price of $3800, you can be the proud owner of an audiophile grade, 100Base-T network switch: https://innuos.com/phoenixnet/

I know this sounds stupid, but I actually had something like this happen to me. It was due to the cable.

My PC is very electrically noisy on account of the GPU. This noise was coming out of all the ports, including the Ethernet port. It was making it through that port, by CAT-6 cable, to my switch. The switch then sent it to my Raspberry Pi I was using as a streamer, then into my DAC, amplifier and finally speakers. You could hear it, it was loud when a game started up.

The solution - swap out the CAT-6 with CAT-5 cable which doesn't connect the ground planes. Instantly solved.

I think electrical engineers having done some RF designs generally regard audiophiles as flat-earthers explaining what is wrong with a flat map; they might get it right now and then, but always for the wrong reasons. Remember how in the 90ties you could hear an SMS coming to a phone near an audio device? Right! No physical connection and sure you can’t hear the 900mhz ish gsm signal, but the rectified and smoothed signal had an audible time division multiplexing (envelope). And the carrier wave often resonated with paths in the signaling path of the audio device.

The keywords are: EMI (electromagnetic interference), signal integrity, power integrity.

Memcpy can have second order effects due to EMI radiated by CPU, motherboard or coupled via power fluctuations.

There are audible and measurable effects of audio system clock jitter which in turn depends on oscillator power quality.

Someone mentioned that ethernet has isolation transformers. But isolation transformers have parasitic common mode coupling which can inject the noise to ground plane if interference is strong and device is susceptible enough

Watch the EEVBLOG on company which designed scope capable of measuring 1kV common mode signals. (present in EV electronics) https://youtu.be/I7ppDNLlEL4

Audiophile stuff is a weird mix of real effects and snake oil.

Yeah.... but somehow changing the memcpy method improved the audio also of the commenters. Unless the commenters have all the same PC, it all smell like "bias".

This, so much this. Many people ignore most of the things affecting sound quality in their setup. Audiophiles don’t, and they often go the extra mile to satisfy their compulsion for better sound—up to and including psychoacoustics.

If a $10,000 power cable makes your amp sound better to you, who’s to say it doesn’t?

the aunt of a friend promised sick people to talk to angels about their issues for only a modest sum. i'm sure those people felt at least a bit better afterwards, because they were of options otherwise.

on the other hand, they spent hundreds of dollars for nothing and if they eventually recovered they'd tell other sufferers about it, dragging them down too.

does the victims glimmer of hope justify her scam?

background: she herself suffered from an "incurable" illness for months, where she paid other angel conjurers (that's where she got the idea from). turns out it was just iron deficiency and easily cured with iron supplements. at that point she'd already paid several hundred dollars to those charlatans.

That is called ”caveat emptor” and it is the founding principle of America.

Just because the placebo effect is real, it's bad to advocate people spending $10k on a placebo.

Hey, some people buy ads on social media.

What do you mean the 90s? I can still hear my phone pining the tower when it's too close to my speakers ? (Eris E5 on balanced XLR into a Scarlett 2i4)

The common term is 'GSM buzz', you'll find a lot about it online.

I've also heard it in the 2000s.

On a Sunday morning I used to lie in with the radio on, sleeping on and off.

There was one song around 1999 that included the sound and also had my ring tone.

It was a very confusing time.

Found it: https://youtu.be/y8ClVMzt9Dw

[edit: added link]

I heard it just a couple years ago, when I used a 2G phone. 3G and 4G don’t have that fault.

Fault or feature? Was nice to get some warning your phone was about to ring

... in the 90s? It still happens today with my phone

No, we don't. And with having enough budget and skills we try our best to shield stuff we make. As for radio noises: just remember that every freakin physical body is an antenna. Not just wires. All we can do generally is tune things in such ways that they resonte in a range we need and be as silent as possible in all other frequencies.

Hum,Im pretty sure you mean STP vs UTP, and not cat5 vs cat6. Electrically, cat5 and cat6 are equal; cat6 is slightly thicker, has a thread separator in the middle, and its rated for higher frequency. Electrically? The same. STP cable (regardless if specced for cat5 or cat6) does have a ground plane.

Oh! That must have been it, thank you. I'm not very familiar, I just knew the cables were cat6 and cat5. Thought it might have something to do with the shielding.

Looking over the product page, it's marked as S/FTP

Yeah don’t use grounded cables if you don’t have ground to actually ground them.

At least that’s what I was told once upon a time since EE is definitely not my forte.

Correct. More specifically, if a shield is not actually grounded, all it becomes is a re-radiating antenna for all of the EMI around it, as well as a means by which to directly transfer electrical noise from one device to another.

I never see either of these terms on sites like Newegg. How do I know which is which? Which one am I supposed to use at home?

The "U" stands for Unshielded, the "S" stands for Shielded. For home use and office use, UTP is fine. STP makes sense in "noisy" (electrical or magnetic) environments, such as factory floors with heavy machinery, clinics & hospitals with specific machinery, etc. See more details on the kind of protection the shielding offers here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shielded_cable

Makes sense, but my point was that I've never even seen an option to buy one kind of ethernet cable or other. Is it safe to assume the $15 StarTech cables I buy from Newegg are unshielded? And does the "TP" stand for "Twisted Pair"?

Yes and yes

I have a computer that will sometimes crash hard, frozen screen and mouse, awful static on the speakers and, interestingly, something coming over the ethernet port too. This interference goes up to the next device on the line, my network switch, and brings that to its knees too. Nothing can move through the switch while that computer is having a seizure. I can disconnect the wire at the switch and the network comes back to life within a minute.

I'm considering putting a sacrificial switch from my junk box inline to that one computer so maybe the rest of the network can survive its crashes.

That is probably the nic in said machine still being alive and unable to pass any received frames up to the os. When its buffer runs full, it starts spamming pause frames, which dumber switches just blast out every port effectively paralyzing the whole network segment.

You could verify this by running Wireshark on another machine, or try disable sending pause frames on the machine before it crashes via eg ethtool

Mmmmh interesting.

In my case just a few weeks ago I had an AP that went bananas, and was directly connected via ethernet to a RPi4, and made the Raspbian kernel panic on the Broadcom driver, randomly. Not long after the AP stopped working completely.

I cannot upvote you enough, as I've been through similar problems many times. But in your case you could just re-crimp one side of your cable with unshielded connector. This is actually a good practice not only for noise and ground-loop preventions, but electrical safety too. Also, CAT.6 doesn't require shielding like FTP/SFTP/etc. - I'm using a CAT.6 UTP right now.

And anti-audiophiles are sometime becoming even worse than manical audiophiles - because of their deep blind belief in their educated superiority (while in reality it's a bit .. untrue).

There's usually a grain of truth in that audiophile nonsense, that it could in theory have some material basis in reality. The problem is the complete rejection of the scientific method.

Or better, use devices designed with a propper grounding scheme and avoid the Raspi DAC for anything critical.

The raspberri pi isn't a dac, it's a streamer. It acts as a middleman to avoid using my PC as the source of the audio.

I'd definitely prefer a DAC with good filtering on its inputs so I wouldn't need to use a middleman, but that is expensive. One with a proper USB module with complete isolation can run ~$5000.

I've heard the following mind numbing phrase used by one person to describe their vinyl music listening experience: "uninterrupted magnetic chain" (ie: from the production all the way to their speakers). The absolute lack of understanding of: electrical engineering, acoustics and signal processing is on full display with these folks.

To me it really highlights the difference of those who seek to understand deeply, and those who interact with the world only in superficial and aesthetic ways. The latter really want to depend on the "magic" within the machine, and can get upset if you try to shed light on how these things really work.

The thing is, some original Vinyl recordings really do sound better than recent heavily compressed "remasters" on CD. Perhaps this person just doesn't know how to explain why the Vinyl sounds better when all the techies say CD is superior (e.g. higher dynamic range, in theory).

'i can hear a difference' is much more honest and plausible than making up a technical sounding phrase to pass for explanation.

It looks like the big spend (besides avoiding Gigabit being a feature… wow) is the power supply being linear. Having taken scopes to power lines in homes, I can grudgingly attest to the non-zero impact switching power supplies have in audible frequencies.

But it’s comically small and solvable much more easily than spending this kind of coin.

I was expecting an AVB switch with locking connectors and redundant power. You know, like a pro audio mission-critical device. Instead it’s basically like using stacks of hundreds to vibration insulate your CD player. It might technically improve things, but the return on investment is poor.

> having taken scopes to power lines in homes, I can grudgingly attest to the non-zero impact switching power supplies have in audible frequencies

I haven't used a scope, but I have had some laughs plugging things into the same circuit as high gain guitar equipment.

Yes please, let's amplify those audible frequencies to audible levels. A good PSU goes a long way.

By the way, if you are ever tempted to measure AC with an oscilloscope, please use differential probes to reduce the risk of damage/electrocution. It is very easy to create a pretty significant voltage potential across your probe and reference when poking around with high voltage.

And to go with that you can use $500 ethernet cables, with directional arrows painted on. ACK, and that's not talking about TCP (sorry).


(unfortunately this was from Denon who I've had great luck with an entry-ish-level AVR from for years)

> Never mind the fact that two devices connected with RJ45 ethernet have no direct electrical connection

> For the low, low price of $3800, you can be the proud owner of an audiophile grade, 100Base-T network switch

That buys you a seriously good piece of switching gear with 10GBe (or even higher) fiber optic links to whatever devices you could possibly want in a home. Heck, even a little over $100 buys you a switch with 4 SFP+ (Mikrotik CRS305).

I guess audiophiles will claim that the optical transceivers introduce latency and _they can hear it_

The absolute pain when the entire song is delayed by 10ns or what not. If only I could compensate by pushing play a little bit faster.

The issue is not constant latency, but jitter i.e. latency is changing between bits

Like the sibling poster said, this won't cause jitter.

The audio isn't played directly from the ethernet packets. It has to be decompressed, decoded, buffered. In the end of it all the audio goes into a ring buffer and it is played very precisely by the sound card.

The playback itself is a hard-real-time process that needs time guarantees. Failure to fill the ring buffer by any reason can cause audible skips, but not jitter. But most players in practice will simply stop the playback.

The maximum jitter allowed by the IEEE specifications is 1.4 ns for 100-megabit Ethernet and 300 ps for Gigabit Ethernet. The bit time for a 48 kHz audio signal is ~20 000 ns. It is absolutely impossible that you can hear the Ethernet jitter.

Jitter matters in very specific cases in very specific pieces of equipment.

Jitter on the Ethernet transferring the file will have no effect.

The thing is, there's this plausibility factor that makes it hard to filter out BS

You could 100% design a network switch to be good for audio.

- ensure periodic packets like say arp don't introduce jitter

- do qos on audio streams vs other data

- favor latency over throughput

- maybe tune things like MSS to keep packet sizes smaller, but no fragmentation


Yeah, no because "streaming" is just transferring a chunks that can then be played. You are not sending bits from the network card straight to the audio out. Even if you have a certain % packet loss, there is 0 impact on the playback as long as the next chunk arrives before the previous one has finished.

That is a protocol specifically designed to accept input from audio devices like microphones, etc and output directly to audio devices like speakers.

To do the same with ethernet you would have to use an industrial ethernet implementation of which I know at least three and they are all incompatible with each other and even then you would most likely benefit from an audio focused implementation.

All of this is much harder than just buying a better switch and claiming it improves the sound. Your audio playback device and speaker would have to support the same implementation of industrial internet.

No, it’s more — AES67 is a network audio routing protocol using Ethernet frames. Some variations such as Dante can use normal RJ-45 Ethernet gear.

You know, streaming isn't really just getting bits across the wire intact.

For one thing, timing is important. A simple example would be getting video in sync with audio. You could go deeper and manage timing for speakers side to side or front to back. It would get lots harder if a microphone was introduced - then latency would be a big big deal.

These sorts of things are probably why bluetooth isn't used as much with a/v systems.

(lol, here I am arguing the merits of an audiophile network switch)

> For one thing, timing is important.

So long as the amount of audio sent in a packet is larger than how long it takes the next packet to get there, you'll be transfering audio data faster than it is playing, making minor fluctuations in timing between packets irrelevant.

Bluetooth isn't used because BT audio transmission is lossy, audio gets recompressed. Newer BT standards have good quality compression, but you are still recompressing the audio. BT isn't meant to be a high bandwidth protocol.

BT's latency around audio is because 99% of BT implementations suck. Latency can be as low as 50ms or so, but it is often in the 100s or even 200s of ms.

> So long as the amount of audio sent in a packet is larger than how long it takes the next packet to get there, you'll be transfering audio data faster than it is playing, making minor fluctuations in timing between packets irrelevant.

Even major fluctuations. Not talking about the quality here (but the received quality is identical to what is being sent), but just think about Netflix & Co, Imagine if they had to maintain an "ideal network, with no packet loss and constant ping" to your device or otherwise audio and video would be out of sync?

There are protocols that shuffle more or less raw audio streams over the network (Dante for example). In that case yes, you do things to make sure the variables are within a certain range by (usually) segregating the traffic etc, but even then if the timing is off the playback will stop until the stream is reestablished properly. Theoretically it's the same as with any other media stream, just much more sensitive to fluctuations as it is real time (i.e. delay so low you are unable to hear it).

192khz/32bit audio track is 6.144Mbps. Assuming smallest data packet, at 64 bytes data per packet that's 12kpps. Any switch that has more bandwidth per port, more total non-blocking switching and forwarding rate that the sum of each port in use will suffice. These days, you would definitely go for gigabit non-blocking switches which have <1ns inter-packet gap and way too much bandwidth and forwarding rate than what your PCM stream needs.

> 192khz

Please don't. You'll make Nyquist sad. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyquist%E2%80%93Shannon_sampli...

On its way to your speakers, a audio file sampled at 192khz will ideally be identical to a recording done at 44.1khz, except over sampling can introduce audio artifacts that degrade audio quality so you can end up with worse audio.

So, please, don't unnecessarily over sample.

If you're talking about a general WAN, there's no guarantee that jitter on your route may not violate 12kpps, and it's quite common on most oversubscribed ISPs to stutter receiving 6.144Mbps due to occasional high latency causing a missed packet window (oversimplifying here because there are audio receive buffers as well.) Over a LAN this would only happen if you're pushing your switch to the limit.

Should you buy an audiophile network switch? God no.

But this only matters either if you don't have enough bandwidth to compensate and a buffer, or for whatever reason can't buffer much (e.g. it's live and two-way)

Yeah hence I mention the WAN. Generally some link along your WAN route is oversaturated, on a shitty ISP it's probably the link to your local ISP itself. I presumed audiophile switches would be popular for real-time streaming solutions, but I still don't understand the appeal.

The larger the buffer size, the larger the latency. This is mostly irrelevant for playing an audio file, but in some cases a long chain of buffers in the OS before it leaves to the speaker can be an issue for music.

The main place you will see this issue is playing audio in something like a video game due to an action like pressing a button, firing a weapon, etc then it can be very noticeable if you're buffering too much audio because it wont sync to what you're seeing and the game will feel laggy even if it's running at a high frame rate.

I can encode video in real time and send it a hundred kilometers with lower latency than Bluetooth can send 192kbps of data to my ear.

>You could go deeper and manage timing for speakers side to side or front to back

Audio data frames are interleaved, ie RLRLRL. There's no point managing timing of network packets because after going over the network, all the data goes into a buffer at the other end before being played.

The timing is determined by the sample clock of the DAC. The network switch has zero influence on it. If the system has multiple DACs and/or ADCs, their clocks can usually be synchronized via BNC cables.

What if you have multiple dacs (and other types of conversions)?

Excepting subs, it seems many speaker systems are hardwired together downstream from the dac, but there should be a good way to have multiple independent speakers networked together that could be time consistent. and audio <-> video consistent with whatever display you have.

and bnc cables.... would be another whole network.

Sorry but you keep talking about timing. With network speeds nowadays, the audio files get completely or almost completely buffered in the PC from whatever source you are reading it (NAS for example), and then played. Same with video (even when it doesn't buffer the entire video). And video/audio frames are interleaved.

Is not that every packet is "output" as soon as it arrives to the PC.

Or I didn't understand what are you saying.

As an example, let's say you're playing a video.

A playback device creates a stream of audio and video data that is consistent and together. But if there's a network involved, say you have stereo wifi speakers, then the video and audio streams are separated. Maybe the playback device sends the data to the display using hdmi, and that device sends data over the network to the speakers. Now there are two delays - one for decoding and presenting video, and a second separate one for transmitting and then decoding audio. The second one is variable depending on the network.

These are old and solvable problems (audio sync). For example I'm using HDMI ARC to output the audio of my TV, and the TV has a menu to coordinate video/audio (by inserting a delay). In my case I don't need it.

But it's delay, and not integrity of the data being played back. If the network sucks and there are retransmissions, your data might still be integrous without loses (depending on the protocol).

It also happens for musicians on stage. They play and after some delay they hear their own sound back. So they use monitors to hear themselves and the rest of the band.

While in lockdown people gathered together to play music with special software. That tells you something about how this problem is well known and how it can be solved in every situation.

But it’s all buffered at a bunch of different places though, right? There must be a stream buffer before the DA to compensate for any upstream latency, no?

not a networking expert, but isn't all of this a complete waste of effort when you can just make the sample buffer deeper? uncompressed CD audio is only 1.5mbps, so it's not like the cost of dram is going to be a limiting factor.

Yes. It realistically only matters in cases where the bandwidth is so low you're teetering on the edge as it is or it's a live two way conversation where introducing too much buffering will create noticeable lag.

Its still bs. You have stuff like https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avionics_Full-Duplex_Switche... already. For audio in a home setup? If your problem is arp or latency, you seriously barfed your setup (bear in mind you can actually use direct crossover configurations to deliver at least 100mbps, more than enough for many uncompressed high-bitrate streams). Audiophile is a niche market with many people with more money than brains, that more often than not, dont really understand tech.

Yea, linus did a roast of one of those that was just rebadged COTS switch.


I hate the network switch debate. Most center around noise shaping the sound.

It is a one or zero, it will checksum and TCP either gives the correct packet or drops it. Also I do not know many audio streamers that do not buffer since TCP works way faster than a song can play. Plenty of time to make sure the packets are correct.

I have no idea why the audiophile network switches irritates me the most. At least with audio cables I guess you can do measurements that show the signal is cleaner, even though there is zero chance of you hearing a difference most of the time (I just make sure cables have good shielding and if the cable has to be seen it better look cool too, haha).

Ya know there are even audiophile USB cables.......not a joke google it.

Both USB and Bluetooth use a connectionless protocol without any retransmit for real-time audio.

I know these products sound stupid, but Ethernet can insert a DC bias and repeat AC-coupled noise from other sources. This includes its own PSU. There are industrial Ethernet products that specifically address both these problems, because in a factory environment, both phenomenon can have practical consequences when there's motors and power electronics throwing around big magnetic fields. I imagine being near speakers with big drivers can also cause some of the same problems that would never be found in a typical desktop or datacenter computing environment.

But that would trigger error correction, not degrade the sheer quality like it would happen with analogical signals. Ok, if there are enough errors it would make the playback problematic, but it would be the same for any kind of data transmitted.

I think they're saying that the noise from the Ethernet circuit will leak into the analog speaker connection.


Ok, then I misunderstood the big speakers magnetic field issue, sorry. I thought it was the big speaker interfering with the switch, and not the other way round.

Just use wifi?

Whilst I agree on it, this is partially true. shielded cables can create current flows between switches, have seen it previously, and had to fix it as it was inducing problems on the traffic over that cable

To be fair, there's Ethernet switches with AVB support. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_Video_Bridging

AVB is a set of IEEE standardized 802.1 extensions that provide better control over bandwidth and latency. This is important when you're playing multiple audio and/or video streams to multiple endpoints connected at different points in the network and they need to be low latency and still kept synchronized.

I've seen professional switches from a large vendor where the AVB license cost as much as the rest of the switch.

As with everything we cannot deal in absolutes. Whilst I in no way want to defend ripof garbage like the linked product you should consider Ethernet for live streaming. TCP correction can very much be audible and UDP is often used.

How can it be audible on TCP when TLS doesn’t break on the same network equipment? Or when you can read documents without typos or parsing errors.

UDP is another story and it’s normal to hear things.

If the correct data only comes in too late after you were meant to hear it.

I use a RME DAC in my setup, and one of the things I like about it is the Bit Test feature. RME supply the WAV bit test files on their site. I've converted them to FLAC. The DAC shows up a message on the LCD when the bit test (played on repeat) is matched perfectly. So no stuck bits, missing bits, bit flips.. just the correct sequence repeated over and over again.

My FLAC files live on a SSD attached to a Raspberry Pi that serves them up over NFS. The data passes through three gigabit switches before arriving at another Raspberry Pi running Volumio, which is connected to my DAC.

There's enough there to keep an audiophile awake at night, but the bit tests have passed perfectly whenever I've run them. No expensive cables, linear mode power supplies, or audiophile switches would make the tests pass any better.

Well, when they're claiming to hear different versions of memcpy, I can't imagine the bits coming across the same is enough for them.

Im assuming you're using sata over usb for the ssd; that latency hoop alone would give nightmares to some audiophiles :) kudos for having a true hifi system without buying into the bullshit

That would be correct if things went this way:

Storage -> TCP Stream -> Sound output.

However, it never works like this, except maybe in some rare live conditions (in which case, why are you even running this on TCP?). In reality, it goes:

Storage -> TCP Stream -> Ring buffer -> Sound output

Unless you manage to empty your ring buffer (which, in the case of modern hardware can easily be 32+MB, or multiple seconds of audio), you will not hear a single bit of difference. And if you do, it won't come in "after you were meant to hear it", you'll either get a massive gap, or repeats. There is no such thing as "data coming in too late/out of order".

Audio is rated at kilobits a second while modern networking equipment is rated at gigabits a second. So your networking equipment is multiple orders of magnitude faster than your audio file streaming speed.

If you’re getting audible errors from your network then literally everything you do on that network would feel like 90s dial up days and with lots of corruption. Most websites wouldn’t even load due to TLS errors.

The problem such arguments as yours is that people have subjective experiences that can be influenced by a multitude of personal emotional states and they then retrofit pseudo-technical explanations for why they perceived those experiences. Or in layman’s terms, you basically just buy an expensive placebo.

I aggree the placebo effect is a huge problem. I am not suggesting expensive solutions, I am just saying check your physical installation and maybe not the very cheepest hardware off AliExpress.

The are lots usecases for nearly live audio where TCP stalls cause problems you would never notice browsing the web and would not be a TLS error (which is ushally how networks are 'tested' leaving the problems unfixed).

Live is a very different problem to home listening. Live requires near real time playback on content that is generated in real time. Whereas for any kind of pre-recorded performance, such as listening to music at home, you can read ahead and buffer. So the issues you present simply don’t exist in home set ups.

And before you comment about listening to live performances at home: the broadcaster would be compressing your audio stream anyway. That would be far more impactful to your audio quality than a few dropped networking packets.

Source: I used to work in broadcasting.

Edit: and just to be clear, the biggest reason that live performances are sensitive to latency isn’t because of sound quality. It is because latency is distracting to the performers (eg if their ear piece is ahead of the speakers) and annoying to the viewers if different systems aren’t in sync (like with a movie where the sound is half a second behind the video). So it’s got naff all to do with satisfying audiophiles.

But that is a correctness issue (to the end user), not a quality issue. Wouldn't that cause lag/pauses, or other errors when playing in real time?

TCP preserves the order.

By retransmitting. Packet loss causes stalls and if there's insufficient buffering, that's an audio glitch.

A patch cable or its connectors would need to be in a dreadful state to get packet loss though, i.e. physically damaged or defective.

As someome pointed out, even 99% packet loss on a modern network wont affect the stream. I've actually seen (unfortunely) 100mbit "working" with cat3 (phone) ribbon cable... For short distances (<10m), it wont even reach 10% packet loss. And players buffer. Always.

Back of napkin estimates:

For lossless CD-quality audio you need about 160kbyte/s.

So on a gigabit network (125Mbyte/s), you'd need over 99.999% packet loss in order to not keep up.

So they're comparing to an almost completely faulty cable.

I feel like a lot of audiophile stupidity is not understanding scale.

There is a difference between the fancy speaker cables and acceptable cheap ones, but it's so ridiculously minuscule as to be completely inaudible compared to, say, whether or not the listener is wearing socks or not.

And that's not an exaggeration, that difference will literally be more than the difference in cables, probably by an order of magnitude.

The only real difference between the cables will be at frequencies over, say, a GHz. ie RF frequencies 50x higher than cats might be able to hear.

But the audiofool will say, "see, there's a difference - I want my system to sound the best".

And they focus so much on ridiculously overkill cables, amplifiers and stupid stands, yet seem to often ignore room treatment which could really make a difference. It's often massive speakers in horribly reflective minimalistic rooms, driven by amps running at 0.1% of their power rating.

Another thing is not understanding tradeoffs. Everything is a compromise, so when you buy the amp that's rated at 2000W but only run it at 2W, it won't measure as well as the same quality amp that's rated at 50W, also running at 2W.

Similarly a speaker with a max rating of 500W running at 2W won't be as accurate as a speaker with a max rating of 50W running at 2W, because physically the material the speaker is made out of has to be more resilient/less flexible to handle that kind of maximum power.

But they focus on one particular thing (usually the expensive thing) to the detriment of other things.

Also not understanding wattage.

Because sound is logarithmic, it is really eye-opening how little power you need for quite loud audio. Most systems you wouldn't want to listen to at over 5W.

Eg for, say two Kef R7 speakers which have a sensitivity of 88dB, at only 5W, from 3m away is 94.4dB.

That is LOUD.

At 2W, it's 90.5dB. Also LOUD.

https://mehlau.net/audio/spl/ (+6dB for two speakers)

You don't need a 5000W amp. But they don't understand any of this so they just think higher number and more expensive equals better.

It's like buying a Mack truck because you heard it carries more than a hatchback when you're going to the supermarket, and thinking it must be better because it's more expensive.

Parent is talking about timing, I assume?

If your ethernet switch needs snake oil on your home network to sound good, I have bad news about your ISP, your cable modem, your ISP's transit provider, and your audio streaming app's data center connection.

I am not talking about snake oil. I am saying _LOTS_ of (most?) networks are installed with AliExpress wall sockets etc. and tested by loading google.com once.

If you want trouble free audio streaming it is worth checking the network.

That actually sounds a lot like snake oil. Electrical noise from outlets is irrelevant for digital package relay. Your big ass tv switches 100x more data each frame flawlessly, identifying way more channels than traditional 2-way signaling; when was the last time you heard someone saying "I bought a true filter for my wall socket and my led tv gives me better colors"? Is that level of stupid we're talking about.

Being an audiophile when you have lots of money isn't much different than buying NFTs--it's merely a status you hold by owning whatever the kooky consensus of 'best' is and being involved in making that determination.

Exactly my thoughts. Why do people buy iPhone cases with diamonds in them? Because they can and they hang around with people who are impressed by such stuff.

I feel the same way about wine snobs.

I thought that's a bit different, because they're playing a game of 1-upmanship about being able to discern flavor/scent. I suppose it is the same: ears vs nose.

I have however been shocked by how good a meal was with a proper wine pairing--having it being a firework of taste in my mouth and wishing I had the knowledge to know how to pick wines for meals.

Like wine, most audio tech and most "audiophiles" is entirely reasonable. Listening to your favourite album on a $10000 hifi setup is a much better experience than listening to it over Spotify on the cheap earbuds that came with your phone. Some speakers do obviously sound better that others, and how you place those speakers in your room objectively has an effect on how good they sound. People with good ears can absolutely hear the difference between cheap and expensive amps and DACs.

The problem is that a small percentage of people don't stop there and start chasing smaller and smaller 'improvements' in the experience until they're forced to make things up and delude themselves to find a new 'high'.

I can easily hear the difference between CD editions (of 1y/2y old albums, so its not related to mixing) and streaming. I have a low end cambridge audio setup and elac speakers. The difference is quite obvious, specially on complex tech/death metal tracks. Thing is, I really doubt a 10k system would offer something really relevant above this. For 10k, I could actually hire the band to play on my living room :D

> Thing is, I really doubt a 10k system would offer something really relevant above this.

The problem with testing Hifi using Metal is that only the recording engineer really knows what it originally sounded like. Metal recordings are also generally very compressed and so not a good test of dynamics and transients. A good test of a Hifi would involve acoustic instruments, violins, cellos, pianos, orchestras etc. You also need very well recorded source material.

> really knows what it originally sounded like

Is matching the original recorded sound really the purpose of a good hifi system ? From what I understand, studio monitors as used in production / mastering have this goal (to sound "neutral").

Hifi speakers are supposed to add their own character to the recorded sound, no?

When talking about acoustic instruments, doesn't each one sound different? Like you could buy two violins from the same manufacturer and they wouldn't have the same exact sound, esp as the years go by. Same goes for analog synths & drum machines, and that's the good thing about them, the fact that they develop their own character.

> Is matching the original recorded sound really the purpose of a good hifi system ?

Yes, at least it used to. Hifi means High Fidelity, which means a high degree of exactness in reproducing the music, as the artists and recording engineers intended.

> Hifi speakers are supposed to add their own character to the recorded sound, no?

I would argue they should not. But consumer "Hifi" certainly does often colour the sound. This is why many audiophiles had to seek out "studio" monitors and earphones. However, even this term has lost its meaning. You will not find "Beats Studio" earphones in any studio.

> When talking about acoustic instruments, doesn't each one sound different?

Maybe slightly yes, but only in certain ways. A bad audio system might make them sound unnatural. Pianos and violins certainly have much less variation than electric guitars.

Im not testing, Im listening. Sure there are degrees of creativity involved in mastering & mixing, but oddly enough, more often than not I've actually seen them live. And your definition of metal is amusing - id suggest you Ne Obliviscaris, Fleshgod Apocalypse within the segment I mentioned or Dream Theater, Haggard or Epica as multi-instrumental, operatic recordings.

> And your definition of metal is amusing

I did not attempt to define Metal. I only tried to point out that it is often heavily compressed, as is pop music, see for example:


I certainly find the idea of playing this stuff on a 10K Hifi amusing, which was perhaps your original point?


You can check your favourite albums, by using this resource: https://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list/1/dr/asc?artist=Epic...

Compare with e.g. some classical music recordings: https://dr.loudness-war.info/?artist=Berliner%20Philharmonik...

> so its not related to mixing

That seems like a huge claim. There used to be different mixes for vinyl, radio, and cd. It’s hardly inconceivable that streaming would have a dedicated mix (I’d assume something which “pops” so it’s noticeable as standalone in the middle of a streaming session, whereas the CD would be part of the album flow)

It might be the same mixing, but a different mastering.

On mastering it is completely usual to have extra compression/limiting, some light EQ and even extra "color". It is supposed to be subtle, but that hasn't been the case for quite a while.

Mastering is also when you get the final "bits" that go into a CD, so you need two different mastering sessions to get two different sounding CDs.

Fair enough. But consider this: If you're pressing 1000 units at a time, you probably don't have the budget to have separate mixes for each media. There is plenty of stuff edited by small labels (ex. transcending obscurity) on a tight budget.

Interesting thought which also begs the question whether streaming mixes can be targeted at cheap (in ear) headphones.

It would make sense since this is the way most people listen to music these days.

Knowing almost nothing about DSP is this something you can do?

Definitely. Engineers historically would monitor in the car, in tiny speakers like Avantone Mixcubes, on even on boom boxes (I think Michael Brauer and Michael Beinhorn have gone on the record about doing it).

Today a lot of them are checking on Airpods and the like.

Definitely, and there are specialized plugins and EQ presets for this, as well for other media, such as vinyl. Have a look at this article about mastering for different streaming platforms https://www.izotope.com/en/learn/mastering-for-streaming-pla... (from a software manufacturer)

For sure. The issue is the zillion variables in headphone mechanicals and transducers. Eventually someone will be making mems transducers in relatively cheap - acoustically inert - form factors and you'll just dial in your sound.

It's close with using hybrid anc but still too many variables to claim no sonic difference.

Perhaps not unlike software dev and premature optimization.

Skullcandy crushers are the peak of headphone evolution.

The meal would taste even better without the wine

I think there is probably more psychology going on than people think. I know people are assure me that some weird Swiss water contraption (a piece of wood) makes water taste noticeably better and "aligns molecules" and what have you.

I can imagine someone giving you a taste and you already assume it must be nicer so you confirm the lie. It is also possible that other variables like the fact it has been standing in a jug for longer allowing the chlorine to evaporate make people think that it tastes nicer for the wrong reason.

Man... I remember as a kid we had salesmen going around in our neighborhood selling "water magnetizers", and asking people to A-B-taste magnetic and normal water. A neighbor ended up buying the thing! And it was actually expensive, it wasn't a 10 bucks scam. It required ordering and took a few weeks to arrive. Then I went to check it out and it was just a cover for those commercial watercooler bottles with some magnets. But they swore their water tasted better.

I think these people are kids of 70s-80s who dreamed of hi-fi gear back then and now can afford it but it's no longer a thing. They are paying for nostalgia.

There might be something to this.

Sometimes I noticed older people going into tech discussion about things which were super important once but no longer is relevant.

Most are able to recognize their nostalgia as such and are willing to accept it (e.g. by doing cb radio or retro game development on deliberately limited hardware).

I see this a lot with guitars, too.

Lots of 60+ people trying to find the holy grail they dreamed about when they were kids. But HOW can a 2000, 1000 USD guitar be a "holy grail"?

So they end up with collections of six, seven, eight high-end Les Pauls, Strats, etc. Or perhaps buying USD 5000+ custom shop instruments. Some of them get to collections of 30, 50, 60.

Of course it's a lot of fun, and not as expensive as, say, a Cello or Oboe collection. So I get why they do it. But as someone who moves often, I'd rather have just one :D

This is insanity... Accidentally, clicked on a link for audiophile network switches and my brain just hurts from reading the article. You have been warned.


"Think about that for a moment: the network streamer is directly connected to a router designed for functionality but with zero made concession to audiophile sensitivities."

Well, if there is a market of nutcases, people will peddle to that market. I mean... people pay for reading the stars, tarot cards, or for literal chlorine bleach [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_Mineral_Supplement

> I mean... people pay for reading the stars, tarot cards

I used to consider these to be pretty worthless things too. After a while I started to realise that a lot of these things provide a lot of the same random platitudes that therapists typically provide too.

Given that therapists are a bit of a dice roll as far as the quality of advice you get, why not just instead make the advice given itself a dice roll. At that point, there’s a non negligible probability that the advice given by a half decent palm / star / tarot reader might actually be relevant.

Sure, it’s all just chance and luck, but when the advice ends up being relevant (or becomes self fulfilling in its relevance) and actually helps the receiver, why not?

(These learnings are brought to you by my ex who very patiently explained to me one of the ways I was an asshole when we were together. I’m now a bit more open minded and keep my eye rolls to myself behind my sunglasses)

> At that point, there’s a non negligible probability that the advice given by a half decent palm / star / tarot reader might actually be relevant.

In most cases, the advice those people give probably isn't random at all. It's likely tailored to the client, based on "cold reading" techniques, the practitioners general experience with life and people, maybe the practitioner secretly scouring social media for information about the client, etc.

At that point, you're just getting the unregulated, uninsured version of therapy, aren't you?

Exactly. Well.. mostly. I would say you're getting advice, not "therapy" per se, and that most people that others might seek advice from are not licensed therapists. Parents, mentors, priests, elders, etc.. all people that somebody might seek advice from who aren't licensed therapists, and generally nobody makes a big deal about it.

If you're going to the fortune teller or priest for advice, that's what you're getting and the quality of the product might even be good in some cases. If you're going to the fortune teller or priest to receive magical services, then obviously you're getting scammed.

> Sure, it’s all just chance and luck, but when the advice ends up being relevant (or becomes self fulfilling in its relevance) and actually helps the receiver, why not?

It's like homeopathy: still a mixture between fraud, pseudoscience and sometimes outright dangerous advice, the ratio depending on the provider. And people can and do lose entire life savings to that shit. Just because someone's cold "went away" after downing a ton of sugar pills, it doesn't mean the homeopathy caused that - it was the person's own body all along.

The worst thing about all pseudoscience stuff is that accepting it as a society means that non-scientific opinions are accepted as an equal in democratic discourse - and that is the foundation on which quackery, vaccine denialism, MMS and a whole lot of conspiracy myths grow.

Besides: there's a reason why therapists (at least in Europe) generally have to be licensed similar to doctors... bad advice can literally kill people.

We, as a society, should push for equitable and accessible actual mental health care for everyone, provided by trained and continuously educated professionals - not for quackery.

Research has been done and we know why some people see good results from alternative practitioners.

It is because alternative practitioners with bad bedside manners don't stay in business very long.

If you have a minor problem, sitting down with someone who you trust and talking about it for half an hour (much longer than the 5 or maybe 10 minutes you'll get with a traditional doctor), who then gives you some sugar pills and some other good advice (get up and stretch very half an hour), is almost always going to result in an improvement of symptoms.

A lot of problems, including pain, measurably improve when a patient feels they have been listened to, and that advice they are given is tailored to them.

Those longer, and often more frequent, appointments, also means the practitioner gets to know the patient better, which means underlying lifestyle problems can be identified. If the alternative doctor finds out someone is eating a lot of canned food, recommending they switch to "fresh natural vegetables" is a damned good way to lower someone's sodium and potassium intake.

The actual treatments are woo bullshit, but the care setting makes a huge difference.

We could have actual doctors giving that device and detecting symptoms early, but no, we have far too few doctors everywhere, and in the US y'all have your insurance bullshittery on top of that.

The solution to the severe understaffing is not enabling quackers that end up recommending their patients MMS or against chemoterapy like they did with Steve Jobs.

> The solution to the severe understaffing is not enabling quackers that end up recommending their patients MMS or against chemoterapy like they did with Steve Jobs.

I agree it isn't the solution.

> We could have actual doctors giving that device and detecting symptoms early,

One potential lesson is that we don't need full on doctors giving advice. We need people trained to forward to a real doctor if something really wrong is going on, but for a crap ton of problems, someone with basic medical (or just lifestyle/health) training is enough.

Heck there was one study that showed that elderly folks talking to each other about their arthritis pain while getting an evening drink at their local watering hole served to reduce pain symptoms.

Chatting with local bartenders and barbers can be nearly as good as professional therapy for some issues.

Having someone trusted just listen and parrot back common sense advice works really damn well.

Trusting the source of the advice, and believing it will work, has a huge impact on treatment.

The use of tarot cards as therapeutic projectives is actually backed by science though, [1] and more and more practitioners are making use of them in clinical settings [2].

You're jumping to call it quackery without having an open mind. That's not science, that's prejudice.

1: https://www.academia.edu/442955/Tarot_As_a_Projective_Techni...

2: https://psychcentral.com/pro/using-tarot-in-psychotherapy

Is it ok for doctors to give sugar pills for ailments too? They're shown to be effective for a variety of ailments.

Tarot reading goes hand in hand with reading people's fortune. I don't see how you can separate the 2 and therefore have an ethically acceptable treatment, and that's assuming the placebo isn't entirely based on the fortune reading expectation.

Is it ok for a doctor to use a rorsach test? You know the patient's father isn't actually depicted on there, it's just a random blot of ink.

Tarot as fortune telling is only something I've seen used for entertainment purposes. In the clinical setting I've only seen them used as projectives.

Tarot cards can't just be used as a projective because of their history. They are associated with fortune telling.

Denying that is like walking around with a swastika armband telling anyone who calls you a nazi that it's got nothing to do with the Nazis. Even if you're a Buddhist you still have to accept there an association there.

That is the problem with tarot cards. Some people are going to think you are reading their fortune, no matter how much you preface it.

But if I buy a lottery ticket, there's theoretically a chance of winning, even though I never actually will. It would still be fraud if someone sold lottery tickets for a lottery that never was.

Tarot readers are selling a fake good. You can't really escape the ethical implications of that.

As long as the fortune is vague enough to apply to more than 40-50 people, then the chance of a fabricated fortune-telling for you coming true simply by pure random coincidence seems to be greater than the chance of winning the lottery.

I see your point, but that's not how fortune telling is sold.

You must have had some pretty bad therapists to compare all of them to tarot cards.

Tarot cards are a genuinely helpful method of probing one's psyche and I've used them to benefit in my daily life.

I know many people who use them but none believe they have a magical power. They're projectives, like a Rorsach test.

The card will give you something abstract and you fill in the blanks. What your mind fills in can be quite elucidating. Your feeling as well, in terms of gladness or disappointment at what card you pull, can also give you insight into what issues you'd rather think about.

The demonization of tarot in my mind mostly stems from internalised misogyny and a desire on the societal level to paint anything which appeals mostly to women as "kooky," "overly emotional,". "illogical" and "unscientific" (projectives are well studied and used in clinical settings).

>The demonization of tarot in my mind mostly stems from internalised misogyny and a desire on the societal level to paint anything which appeals mostly to women

Yes, absolutely. The patriarchy likes to dunk on magic future telling cards.

Yes, it does, thanks for proving my point. You just ignored everything I said about their use as projective and painted them again as magical and kooky without any counter argument.

Them being rude doesn't prove your point.

But I don't think power structures have most of the blame for the fact that every single advocate of tarot reading I've seen until today said the cards were magical.

That part made me laugh

Carl Jung addressed the root issue -- pyschological taboos -- in his introduction to the Wilhelm translation of I Ching.

" The I Ching insists upon self-knowledge throughout. The method by which this is to be achieved is open to every kind of misuse, and is therefore not for the frivolous-minded and immature; nor is it for intellectualists and rationalists. It is appropriate only for thoughtful and reflective people who like to think about what they do and what happens to them -- a predilection not to be confused with the morbid brooding of the hypochondriac. As I have indicated above, I have no answer to the multitude of problems that arise when we seek to harmonize the oracle of the I Ching with our accepted scientific canons. But needless to say, nothing "occult" is to be inferred. My position in these matters is pragmatic, and the great disciplines that have taught me the practical usefulness of this viewpoint are psychotherapy and medical psychology. Probably in no other field do we have to reckon with so many unknown quantities, and nowhere else do we become more accustomed to adopting methods that work even though for a long time we may not know why they work. Unexpected cures may arise from questionable therapies and unexpected failures from allegedly reliable methods. In the exploration of the unconscious we come upon very strange things, from which a rationalist turns away with horror, claiming afterward that he did not see anything. The irrational fullness of life has taught me never to discard anything, even when it goes against all our theories (so short-lived at best) or otherwise admits of no immediate explanation. It is of course disquieting, and one is not certain whether the compass is pointing true or not; but security, certitude, and peace do not lead to discoveries. It is the same with this Chinese mode of divination. Clearly the method aims at self-knowledge, though at all times it has also been put to superstitious use."


By his "pragmatism", I understand something along the philosophical pragmatism of Wittgenstein and his "usage is meaning" line of thought. Jung is saying it is not clear how or why this stuff works, but subjectively a "thoughtful" and "reflective" person seems to discern meaning and gain (personal) insights through the process. In other words, a psychological phenomena.

He also touches on the point of your well aimed remark in noting "misuse". I personally think Jung is understating the dangers involved. (For relative reference, think of the not-so-hot topic of "dangers of meditation" to understand the underlying common pschological issue of probing your culturally protected taboo zones that keep you "normal"/"stable").

The fact of the matter is that occult "divination" tools are dangerous, more dangerous than even "scripture". They have been consistently proven to be culturally corrosive as they undermine rational thought and provide shelter for charlatans, undermine decision faculties of the diviner, and undermine the necessary coherence between our inner life and our outer reality. And the symbolism involved require deep study to avoid misunderstandings. People also seriously discount the inevitable impact of 'divination' on the mind of the inquirer, the careless and ignorant dabbler in occult tools. So promoting them as if they are harmless little nothings is very irresponsible. One has to be very thoughtful and reflective (to say nothing of the erudition required) to not misuse such tools. Very few people meet the required standard. I personally think it has been an error to promote esoterica to the masses. Its like giving guns and bullets to children.

> They have been consistently proven to be culturally corrosive as they undermine rational thought

Sources? Should be easy it's so consistent.

From what I understand of history this kind of fear mongering is much more harmful. It wasn't long ago that women were being burnt alive for using traditional medicines in Europe and the US.

Out of curiosity, would you say professional wrestling is culturally corrosive? I have to suspend my rational thought every time I enjoy watching that stuff.

> So promoting them as if they are harmless little nothings is very irresponsible

Has anyone done that here? They've only been defended for their therapeutic use as projectives. No one has said they're "nothings."

A responsible 'defense' would have the required surgeon general's warning on the tin. But your quick response here indicates you did not really reflect on what was said.

"defended for their therapeutic use"

Therapeutic means are to address 'ailments'. The ailments in this case are existential and psychological. Projectives are dangerous and require guided initiation. It is highly irresponsible to push these things.

Tarot Cards as self-administered "therapeutic" remedy on HN. We've been banging on the doors on paganism in the West for a few decades now. And here we are.

> A responsible 'defense' would have the required surgeon general's warning on the tin.

I can buy rorsach cards now on Amazon. There's no health warning on those. Maybe there should be but I think we can accept that most people buying them will use them responsibly. It seems very knee jerk to put a warning on every single thing that could be harmful if misused.

> Therapeutic means are to address 'ailments'. The ailments in this case are existential and psychological. Projectives are dangerous and require guided initiation

I understand the meaning of therapy and the types of ailments that can be helped by the use of projectives.

If you buy a set of tarot cards they inevitably come with usage instructions so that you can use them successfully and responsibly.

I'm not sure the danger is as great as you suggest. Have you got data showing the harm of using these cards?

> We've been banging on the doors on paganism in the West for a few decades now. And here we are.

Tarot cards have no basis in paganism, they are the creation of well educated men in the 19th century.

> But your quick response here indicates you did not really reflect on what was said.

This was uncalled for. I read your post and responded to the points you made.

Douglas Adams on horoscopes:

> In astrology the rules happen to be about stars and planets, but they could be about ducks and drakes for all the difference it would make. It's just a way of thinking about a problem which lets the shape of that problem begin to emerge. The more rules, the tinier the rules, the more arbitrary they are, the better. It's like throwing a handful of fine graphite dust on a piece of paper to see where the hidden indentations are. It lets you see the words that were written on the piece of paper above it that's now been taken away and hidden. The graphite's not important. It's just the means of revealing their indentations. So you see, astrology's nothing to do with astronomy. It's just to do with people thinking about people.

Thank you, this is a very poetic way of describing my meaning.

oh lord, come on. the "demonization" of tarot in modern society has nothing to do with bigotry and everything to do with the fact that its widely understood, right or wrongly as you claim, to be a tool for fortune telling... which is absolutely a crackpot thing just like flat earth and other garbage. im glad you have found a use for it that helps you, thats a good thing, but your understanding of it as a tool in the way you describe it is not how its generally perceived, and that misconception has nothing to do with internalized misogyny.

>desire on the societal level to paint anything which appeals mostly to women as "kooky," "overly emotional,". "illogical" and "unscientific"

Are you saying tarot cards are logical and scientific?

Fwiw, I associate them more with gypsies than women, so I guess I'm racist rather than sexist?

Yes, I am. Here's a study about their use as projectives: https://www.academia.edu/442955/Tarot_As_a_Projective_Techni...

You can find a tonne of literature on the clinical use of projective. The famous rorsach test is based on the same psychological mechanism.

In terms of logic they do actually have an attempt at systematising both a range of common emotions and a number of archetypal points along life's journey. I know that's maybe not what you meant by logic, but a system that differentiates its output based on input like "Cups, 6", "Coins, 2" etc. works for my definition of logic.

Lastly, and I know you asked in jest, but If your association between the cards and a specific ethnic group is what leads to you judging them as unscientific without first checking then there probably is a level of racism at play. That's nothing to be ashamed of, as everyone carries internalised racism (thanks society). As long as you can recognise it when it comes up in yourself like this and you do the work to combat it then you have nothing to worry about.

The difference between a rorsach test and a tarot reading is that rorsach tests aren't bound up with the idea that they can tell you the future.

How can you ethically give a tarot reading knowing that X% will understand it as a prediction of their future?

>If your association between the cards and a specific ethnic group is what leads to you judging them as unscientific

Why don't you apply the same nuance when deciding whether sexism is at play?

You're bringing future telling into it which is something I've never mentioned or seen mentioned in the circles of the people who use them.

They're almost always used as tools for self reflection, which is supported by the science I linked to.

I've only seen fortune telling done on an entertainment basis or on television shows.

> Why don't you apply the same nuance when deciding whether sexism is at play?

Can you tell me how I could do this?

>You're bringing future telling into it which is something I've never mentioned or seen mentioned in the circles of the people who use them.

You keep trying to separate tarot reading as fortune telling/ entertainment and tarot reading as a legitimate tool. It may be both but you can't split the 2.

>I've only seen....

And I've only seen tarot cards used as a tool for fortune telling. Is my experience unique? Is my experience less valid than yours?

I'm not so sure about the patriarchy part, but it's certainly wrapped up in the move towards narrowly scientific thinking. Or as Nietzsche would put it, we're too Apollonian and not enough Dionysian.

FWIW I'm also fond of the Tarot, and the I Ching, and find both surprisingly insightful and useful (me of 10 years ago would not believe that I just wrote that).

You keep mentioning Rorsach tests as some kind of gold standard. Rorsach tests are purely based on pseudo-science, though. There is zero empiric / scientific evidence that they do anything useful. So yeah, tarot cards are probably on about the same level as that.

I always figured it's grownups LARP-ing and not realizing it. Remember how fun that was as kids?

it's not in any way different from 'designer' clothing or handbags and such kinds of things.

one amongst the many ways to signal status to 'peers'

Except no one thinks that a designer handbag is objectively better at carrying things or that designer jeans objectively makes walking easier and more fun. Audiophiles keep arguing that the things they do and buy are better for objective reasons.

Had they said "I bought these expensive network cables because I like the way they look and they match my furniture" that would be an entirely different thing.

Exactly, not just "objectively better", but "objectively better in a way only other bagophiles can tell, which makes no sense to anyone else". I could see different pants designs/materials making walking better, but this would be more like "these pants are more comfortable because the cotton was spun clockwise to match your DNA".

I'm sure there are plenty of True Believers... which is why you see plenty of products, because there are plenty of Grifters out there. And I'll bet the latter are also producing lots of "content" which appears and purports to be written by True Believers.

Yeah they are bought by the true believers (or the completely ignorant)

When you sell a power cable for $1000 you only need to sell one to make it worth your while to produce. Many of these products move ~0 units.

It's hard not to be cynical here... the trolls might very well be the ones selling the equipment.

A brain is subjective. I believe many audiophiles indeed perceive audio quality difference so those products do really make a difference for them.

The trick is that people really do hear differences when first listening to a new piece of audiophile gear, it's just that the difference doesn't come from the new hardware but from the very act of listening carefully to hear differences . This is a skill that can be improved with practice, it's called critical listening. When audiophiles do it by accident(or because they are told to listen for "details") they basically delude themselves into thinking the hardware really is different. Once the effect wears off and they start listening passively like normal, they go looking for the next thing to improve.

All depends. No doubt the fringe is fixating on the 0.1% that doesn't make a difference.

When it comes to hardware: if you have a great and clean signal chain, good ears, decent monitors +/ good room, good headphones, you can record and hear the difference of good gear (diminishing returns though, you are paying for throughput (channels), latency, or even just build-quality/brand (Apple esque) etc at some point).

Of course marketing adds hyperbole and takes certain aspects into woo territory. At the software level: sampling rate can (depending on programming of individual plugins) make a difference in your mixing session (you get nasty artifacts, like EQ cramping, in plugins that don't have internal over-sampling).

This is all the professional gear with a track record rather than the "prosumer" gear (maybe that's the definition of audiophile you were connotating).

> good ears

Most audiophiles seem to be men in their 50s+, which makes their claims of exceptional hearing extremely dubious. Degradation of hearing with age is a virtual certainty.

If audiophiles tended to be teenagers I'd be more inclined to believe them. But old guys? Old guys with a long habit of listening to loud music? Their ears are not golden.

I’ve lost a noticeable bit of hearing, but my ability to discern different instruments is much greater than it used to be. I think practice more than offsets hearing loss up to a limit.

Yes. You still see the claim that humans can hear 20Hz-20000Hz. Well, no. We had lab equipment at school and we regularly listened to signals from test equipment - IIRC I could hear up to about 17kHz when I was 16 or 17 (when I could still hear the (European) 15625 whine from TVs). A couple of guys could hear almost up to 20kHz.

All of that was gone when we arrived in our twenties. I couldn't hear the TV anymore (younger people: That applied to analog CRT TVs back in the neolithic). I was tested in the military when I was 22. They didn't even bother testing anyone up to more than maybe 14kHz - intense volume would anyway be needed to hear that.

I can't imagine even very careful people will be able to hear a particularly wide audio range when they're 50+, not even people who walk around with ear plugs all the time for protection (some audio engineers do).

Somebody who says "good ear" can be talking about how well trained a listener is rather than the physical characteristics of their ear, similarly to how when somebody says "good eye" when you spot a bug in their code they're probably not actually implying your vision is extra sharp.

No, audiophiles are absolutely real. Look at how many of them buy vinyl records of music that was produced digitally; any sampling artifacts that might hypothetically be audible would be replicated on the vinyl. As long as the master is digital there's no way a vinyl record could possibly sound better than a lossless digital recording like FLACC or CDDA.

And then there are people who buy vinyl records of video game sound-tracks, in which case it doesn't even make sense to remove sampling artifacts since those would be present in the original game.

> As long as the master is digital there's no way a vinyl record could possibly sound better than a lossless digital recording like FLACC or CDDA

Isn't the point to actually reduce quality by using imperfect media so recording has more oldschool vibe? Kinda like all the lo-fi mixes being so popular today. At least thats what I always thought, I didn't really research that at all.

The honest ones know this. Same as using vacuum tube amplifiers, they distort the sound, but in a way that some people find pleasing.

Yes, kind of.. and I do get it. Back in the eighties I used to do long drives for work, and in the noisy car environment I found that what sounded "best" was old Rolling Stones recordings played from a low-quality cassette tape. The same songs played from a record on a hi-fi system at home in a quiet environment actually sounded worse, subjectively. Strange that. But it's all about the experience.

Led Zep might be worth a try, too.

As a vinyl enjoyer, the sound quality is absolutely not why I buy it. I also use film cameras, and image quality (meaning, definition, color accuracy, etc) is definitely not why I use it. There definitely are those that fit your description, but they are a minority.

I think where the difference comes in with vinyl is the mastering process. CD's/Digital and Vinyl usually go through two entirely different mastering processes. This will make listening to the two sound different even though the mix is the same, kind of like listening to your favorite song at home from CD, then hearing it on the radio with a more in your face sound because of brick wall limiters in the sound chain.

I am not going to debate if one is better than the other, but they will sound different just due to mastering. So it is not a direct apples to apples comparison.

I think most people buy video game vinyl just to display them, haha.

> As long as the master is digital there's no way a vinyl record could possibly sound better than a lossless digital recording

...Unless you happen to like the particular brand of distortion that every song you loved growing up happened to have.

thats not a great argument because often the master for a vinyl record is different (crucially, less hyped and compressed) to even be cuttable on vinyl. thus the final product actually can sound better in some cases (not all), not directly because of the vinyl playback but the production processes leading up to that.

Are you sure? I thought the limitations of vinyl required music to be compressed, but that was not true for digital.

Back in the day music was definitely less compressed, but I thought that was more due to different mixing philosophies.

Vinyl requires compression within a certain range - too little or too much is no good.

Digital allows for far higher compression - historically digital released have been compressed to hell into a "brick" with very little actual dynamic range. This is so that when they're played on radio they're going to sound louder than anything else. Vinyl doesn't allow for this same amount of compression. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war

Modern streaming services will recompress songs to a common standard, negating all of the loudness war stuff, but I haven't looked at new releases to see if heavy compression is still common practice on the master releases but I'd assume they still do it because practices change slowly. In that case they're just throwing away bit depth for no reason.

> Modern streaming services will recompress songs to a common standard, negating all of the loudness war stuff, but I haven't looked at new releases to see if heavy compression is still common practice on the master releases but I'd assume they still do it because practices change slowly.

I assume good mastering engineers create dedicated masters for each major streaming service because of their different requirements.

Interesting reply, thanks.

If you like the sound of a higher noise floor and less dynamic range then vinyl might sound better to you. I’m not being facetious, some people genuinely prefer the sound of records.

There is no way a vinyl can ever sound better than digital. Different and maybe more "pleasurable" (for some), but definately not better. It's more of a built in EQ profile that stems from the physical medium itself.

This isn’t really the entire point of vinyl.

I built my own audiophile stereo set based on Nelson Pass' Directly Coupled B1 pre amp design, Pavel Dudek's PA03 power amp, a pair of DIY loudspeaker kits from lautsprecherbau.de, and an audiophile Rasperry Pi DAC board which I sponsored on Kickstarter running Volumio player distribution. I went even as far as using discrete OpAmps because they sounded better to me.

Was totally worth it!

Here's some pictures of my amps: https://www.bursonaudio.com/pa03-gainclone-power-amp-by-pave...

My pet conspiracy theory is that flat-earthers are actually a false flag operation by some 3letteragency to make actual conspiracy theorists look bad. ;)

Vs. my pet conspiracy theory is that the 3 letter agencies are all false flag operations by the kooks, to convince us "normals" that trusting government is a ridiculous idea...


Well, the International Flat Earth Research Society was founded while MKULTRA was active...

But I have met at least one genuine flat Earth believer, who was a Biblical literalist and considered it must be true to match his other beliefs.

Any theories on what’s going on with audiophiles?

It doesn't need much of a theory to me. People who don't understand the engineering involved are being taken advantage of by charlatans selling phony products with explanations that almost make sense at first glance and induce a placebo effect due to that and price (so they do "sound better"). The audiophiles (and likely some amount of sellers) naturally try to defend their purchases, but they're trying to reason based on the nonsense they were sold, and end up in a feedback loop of nonsense. People getting older and trying to reclaim their faltering hearing probably plays a part in it too.

It's people that want to spend money on their hobbies and have fun collecting "cool" gear, but end up going overboard with it.

I don't do it, but IMO it's totally fine to spent thousands on a speaker or even hundreds on a cable if it brings you joy and doesn't cause financial problems, but you don't have to justify it to anyone, even (and especially) to other audiophiles. The problem is when you somehow believe that you have to justify your purchases and come up with crazy excuses. :(

A mere hundreds on cables? Obviously that's not enough to get clear instrument separation or presence.. you must spend more: https://www.referenceanalog.com/products/nordost-valhalla-2-...

That would be more comforting than the idea of people actually being that stupid.

Does that mean you also think the qanon / maga movements are false flag operation by a 3LA to make actual conspiracy theorists look bad?

Because a lot of them went to that.

This. And would add that for each absurdity with a movement believing it, there is someone smarter and ruthless ready to make money out of it.

Every community has a fringe of crazies. I remember back when I first got into audio in high school, when I bought my first pair of >$10 headphones and suddenly I could hear details in music that weren't there before, and wondering how deep the rabbit hole went. I started reading audio forums and saw that most postings came from a small number of extremely active posters that made absurd, hyperbolic claims. There's a product review that has since become a meme, about some ridiculous $1000 RCA cables, how they sounded "smoky" and "danceable". I read that when it was first posted and felt disgusted. Then the moderators of the forum I read most often announced that any discussion of double-blind testing was banned and anyone who discussed it would immediately be banned. I deleted my account on that forum. What a disappointment. But the fact that fringe crazies exist doesn't mean the subject is all a joke. Car tuning is a legitimate hobby, even though I have idiot cousins who will physically assault anyone who questions the purpose of their undercarriage neon lights. And there is a difference between junk audio equipment and good audio equipment, even though there is also plenty of snake oil under the label "audiophile".

There used to be Monster audio cables that cost thousands. The Amazon reviews were hysterical. I can’t find it anymore, but this one has funny reviews for a $1500 HDMI adapter:


Q: If I plug this into my Flux Capacitor will I finally be able to time travel?

A: Yes because I am actually answering this question from 2035 and its best supported with the flux capacitor

The reason you don't see Monster so much is the death of big box retail.

Monster's pitch to TV/electronic retailers in the early 2000s was that there was basically next to no profit margin on TVs themselves, so instead you could sell the customer a bunch of extremely high margin accessories to go with it.

This worked well in the early 2000s, because myths like "you should spend 10 percent of the cost of your AV setup on interconnects and cables" were still widely believed, and TVs still expensive enough that 10 percent was often a pretty big spend relative to today.

I worked for a major big box electronic retailer at the hight of the Monster cable era, you would not believe the pressures that were applied to sales people to include Monster accessories with every TV. It was quite common for the profit on the Monster accessories to exceed what little was made on the television being sold, and margins on almost all Monster products exceeded 50 percent. I used to wince every time I sold a 300 dollar set of component video cables.

>How can audiophiles continue to exist with knowledge being so easily available?

There are many things like this. Coffee people, for instance, who will straight faced insist to you that they can tell the difference between stirring the coffee grounds with a tiny metal "distribution tool" 5 times or 10 times, and who will post "recipes" for soaking ground up beans in hot water.

Just let people have their thing. They like it.

Off topic but I bet you could tell the difference between an espresso shot pulled after stirring the grounds to ensure even distribution vs one that hasn't been messed with. I'm not saying you can tell the difference between stirring with a toothpick vs stirring with tiny metal tines. You can actually observe a difference in how the water flows through the grounds, you can measure how much coffee has been extracted into the water with a refractometer, and you can do a blind taste test and identify which is which. If the grounds are not evenly distributed, you get channels where the water passes through under high pressure, and this over extracts those grounds making the shot taste extremely bitter, and other grinds are left untouched or under extracted. I was very skeptical of this until I observed it myself.

Most people don’t realize that making espresso is quite complex due to seemingly minute factors like these. When you’re pushing water through grounds at very high pressure, there are a lot of things that have to line up to get a great shot.

Not only a great shot but consistent shots, that's even harder. I really don't understand the gripe OP has against WDT because it is really about eliminating those minute variables so that the process is reproducible.

I just tried this and could not tell the difference.

It seems like how one packed the grounds would matter more. If it’s slightly uneven, one side will get more water pushed through it.

It is about improving the packing of grounds by breaking up the subtle clumping that occurs during grinding to reduce channeling where water finds an easy path so part of the puck is over extracted and other parts are under extracted.

If you already had perfectly even flow, it's not going to improve anything. That might be true with great equipment or a very forgiving bean. It might also be true if WDT isn't enough to fix your channelling alone so there is more left to fix. This leads you to watching slow-mos of your pulls and inspecting pucks :)

Not saying that you could tell the difference, but as a random physical process I am sure there is some vague difference in stirring vs. not. So at least there is no immediately obvious falsehood.

Claiming that bits are not bits is on a flat earth level stupid.

> Claiming that bits are not bits is on a flat earth level stupid

Not necessarily, just a statement from the starting end of Dunning-Kruger. Try 0.1 + 0.2 with enough decimals and you'll see what he's trying to say. It's not that stupid of a thought if you think about it.

Something else that might seem equally stupid the first time you hear about is the fact that 1s have weight compared to 0s. Don't believe me? Look it up.

You comparing him to a flat-earther despite domain knowledge is worse than him having enough outside-the-box thinking to entertain the thought.

Audio doesn't use floating-point, it's all fixed-point. So there's no rounding error, only quantization error, and that can be controlled to whatever degree of precision is needed.

1s don't have weight compared to 0s, electrical "high" has mass compared to 0V. Which is "1" and which is "0" (if any) depends on the particular electrical specification of the protocol. E.g. with Ethernet signals are differential, ±3V, with 0V only ever reached momentarily as the + and - switch. There are also lots of cases where the "active" (i.e. "1") is the 0V value, and the "passive" (i.e. 0) is the nonzero voltage. Most reset signals are active-low.

There's 32-bit audio that sometimes named as floating point.

Haha, you're all making the same misunderstanding as the post I was replying to. The context of the "bits are not bits" is in relation to memcpy, and his lack of understanding that it's not comparing bits to bits, but the method used to transfer said bits.

Which is exactly my point with 0.1 + 0.2. Depending on the methods it will give different outcomes, some more precise than others. Guess it wasn't as obvious as I initially thought.

1s and 0s in the same order are the same, but some data may be lost in the transfer and I don't see why that has to be explained, here of all places. And that's where the Dunning-Kruger reference came from, he thinks it's the bits, when in-fact he would mention the transport had he had more domain knowledge.

".. some data may be lost in transfer.. "

I won't go into your description of why those may be lost in transfer, others have commented on that, but NO, data may not be lost in transfer. Send data whichever way you want, over Ethernet, fiber, pidgins (POaC, RFC 6214) - it doesn't matter, as long as it's TCP and it's transmitted faster than the audio output - the transport and bits and all that doesn't matter. It's all buffered at the endpoint before being slowly (relatively speaking) ending up in your audio speakers if it's audio, or if something else - in its final destination, every single bit in its correct place.

1s and 0s in the same order are the same, but some data may be lost in the transfer

Please explain? If the 1s and 0s are still in the same order, what data has been lost?

Please try to read it as I say it I don't know how to be clearer.

0001 == 0001. But 0001 + 0001 does not necessarily end up being 00001. Do you see my point now? You're missing the forest for the trees. 2 things are being discussed, not the outcome. Transport and bits, at the same time, but as separate things. Another analogy in another comment was analog wires, also good, break that and the resistance changes etc etc etc.

This many comments for something so simple. Breathe and stop going out of your way to misunderstand me. Ironically exactly how this thread even started. You clearly understand the subject since you already explained floating point arithmetic.

I'll give it one last shot: The person being referred to as flat-earth level stupid mentions bits, while he should've mentioned transport. And not taking into account his lack of domain knowledge and using the wrong lingo to misunderstand him and calling him stupid when he is right, just not wording it correctly is the problem.

If I understand you correctly, you're asserting that it's possible for transport-layer protocols to cause hiccups in the output because bits might get flipped.

Except all of the transport-layer protocols before the DAC are working in digital logic and have checksums applied to them. A bit flip is going to be detected and corrected or the packet will be dropped and resent. So the transport isn't going to have any impact on the bits whatsoever (barring effects like a packet arriving too late to emit the sound on time).

Not sure if you are serious, but that is a flawed understanding of floating point. 0.1+0.2 being slightly off of 0.3 is a floating point issue, but will be exactly the same on any normal FPU. The bits are still just bits. I literally work on floating point stuff.

Want to explain the 1 and 0 comment? Because depending on your silicon design and encoding either could be…

Outside the box thinking is great, but being bounded a bit is essential.

Instead of repeating myself I just refer to my other reply: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=35139162

When you think you're clarifying yourself, you're actually getting less coherent. I can't even parse what you're saying in your deeper replies (and I design mixed-signal audio systems for a living).

You're doing the same kind of "affect wisdom by alluding to the elephant without mentioning the elephant" hand-waving that conspiracy theorists do, but as yet you haven't shown a meaningfully concrete example (other than your misapprehension that the same sort of implementation-specific inconsistencies that are found in floating point calculations exist in the fixed-point math used in most audio systems).

Look. If I just made the .1+.2 example in passing by as how code doesn't always behave like we expect, does that mean I'm claiming we even use addition to work with sound? If everyone misunderstands a claim I haven't made, and asks me to explain that claim, how exactly do I respond?

It was an example I don't know how audio works and don't claim I do. But I do know moving bits doesn't always end up the way we expect, and different functions has different outcomes.

I shouldn't have to explain sort and sort-reverse has different outcomes, it's implied and not my point. All I'm saying is don't call people without domain knowledge idiots when they're on the right track, kind of. The rest are strawman arguments I'm supposed to explain. I'll give you an example:

> ME: 1s and 0s in the same order are the same, but some data may be lost in the transfer

> Poster: Please explain? If the 1s and 0s are still in the same order, what data has been lost?

What I say: 2 files 1010 and 1010 are the same at start, but might be 0101 at the destination. How is irrelevant, there are a million ways.

What I'm asked to explain: If 1010 is 1010 at destination, how are they different.

Then I mentioned transfer, oh-oh. Now we're going into transport protocols and not just moving bits no matter the means. Incredibly frustrating and ironic given the context. I see the misunderstandings, I just can't seem to explain it. It's not hand-waving I just don't get why I have to explain things I never claimed.

This seems to boil down to a claim that when transfering data from A to B then B may be different from A. No, it won't, and that's the point. Data transfer via a reliable protocol, e.g. TCP (and when using UDP you simply apply a framework with its own error correction, as e.g. OpenVPN UDP does). I mean, in my job we transfer petabytes of data.. if B wasn't equal to A.. no. What can, and does, happen is that the data at A or the data at B could experience bit flips typically due to cosmic radiation - this does happen, which is one reason ECC RAM is better for some situations, but if this happens during transport then the protocol will handle that and you still get B = A.

You're doing the same as everyone else.

> Then I mentioned transfer, oh-oh. Now we're going into transport protocols and not just moving bits no matter the means. Incredibly frustrating and ironic given the context.

How is it still happening. Did you read the post? Do you see the irony?

Could you please stop posting in the flamewar style and otherwise breaking the site guidelines? you've been doing it repeatedly, unfortunately, and we have to ban that sort of account.

I don't want to ban you, so if you'd please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and stick to the rules when posting here, we'd appreciate it.

> ... I don't know how audio works and don't claim I do


> All I'm saying is don't call people without domain knowledge idiots when they're on the right track, kind of

What makes you think you're on the right track?

> But I do know moving bits doesn't always end up the way we expect > What I say: 2 files 1010 and 1010 are the same at start, but might be 0101 at the destination.

Your assumption is wrong. Moving bits around is very well understood, and uses error checking where needed. 1010 does not turn into 0101 at the destination.

> How is irrelevant, there are a million ways.

Your explanation is inconsistent with the knowledge and experience of millions of engineers and users, so it's up to you to explain how.

> What makes you think you're on the right track?

I'm not claiming I am. Read the first comment I made. I'm simply stating the quote "bits are bits" is misunderstood because the one who made it doesn't have domain knowledge. I'm discussing in general terms but people expect details and proof of concepts.

I'm not arguing anything, everyone is reading me as if I was. Then I'm supposed to explain how TCP will fail and so on. Never even mentioned TCP, I said transfer.

People are too literal. But it's fine I've given up trying to explain it, this discussion has turned into the special olympics of misunderstandings. And you're all winning, congratulations.

> Your explanation is inconsistent with the knowledge and experience of millions of engineers and users, so it's up to you to explain how.

Since you insist, explain what, exactly? Quote the claim you want an explanation of.

> Since you insist, explain what, exactly? Quote the claim you want an explanation of.

Things you said:

> But I do know moving bits doesn't always end up the way we expect

> What I say: 2 files 1010 and 1010 are the same at start, but might be 0101 at the destination.

I'd like to know what makes you say these things. The reasoning behind it, or maybe experimental data.

When audio data is digital, it works in exactly the same way as all other digital data, something computer scientists, electrical engineers, network engineers, etc. happen to have a lot of knowledge about and experience with. We know how it behaves, we know bits don't just change. Therefore I say it's up to you to explain how bits can move in unexpected ways, and how they can be different at the destination than at the start.

You can't just say you're discussing in general terms as a defense for using unfounded assumptions.

This is just word soup. You never explained or claimed anything meaningful.

That's my entire point. I never claimed anything. I'm told I did and asked to explain all these strawmans. I see the title attracted all the "actually" people in the world.

Look at my first post. I'm trying explain how I read "bits are bits" and that it doesn't necessarily mean that he's stupid. Are bits always bits?

Tell me where you're confused instead.

Not to mention the fact that sometimes bits are not bits, for example see undefined values in optimizing compilers can act as if they have multiple bit representations at the same time. I can kind of see how a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing here, I don't think that the guy who said that is necessarily stupid. Certainly not flat earth level.

> 1s have weight compared to 0s

This is a simplistic view how memory and data transmission systems work.

Even in days of yore it took a schematic to figure out whether bits were being stored as "lots of electrons means a 1, few electrons means a zero", or the inverse.

Modern memory systems and fast serial buses often use whitening to reduce noise and improve clock recovery. A 1 is a 1 when the CPU decides it's a 1, and even then its physical representation is not necessarily static.

Doesn't make my claim wrong though. It's an interesting fact just to make a point that sometimes it's not as simple as we assume. Also why I asked him to look it up instead of explaining the how and in what circumstance. I'm sure he's able to find that out, it's not important to the point.

I saw that earlier claim that ones are heavier than zeroes.. could you explain what that even means? And what kind of effect that's supposed to have? I'm genuinely curious about where that comes from.

Ones as in has matter. Not the correct wording if we're literal sure, but that's nitpicking. You know what I mean.

> 1s have weight compared to 0s

Like that one time I set all RAM in my phone to 1s and couldn’t lift it anymore. /s

Technically flash memory storage would weigh more as a 1 (or maybe as a 0, depending), since it works by storing electrons. Apparently it stores something like 500 electrons [1]. My phone has 6 GB of storage, so if they are all ones that gives an extra weight of 2.50e-13 g, which is 0.0001 nanograms. Probably not measurable, though, especially since the large mass of the phone relative to the change in mass eliminates a lot of sensitive measurement techniques.

I'm not sure if RAM would have extra weight, as I know less about how it works.

[1] https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/505361/how-m...

That link never mentions that a 1 requires more (or fewer, for that matter) electrons than a 0 though.

Interesting security concern.. At the next Defcon someone announces they've hacked the NSA by weighing their computer to find the number of 1s and 0s.

I know you're being funny, but researchers in a lab got an encryption key by listening on the spinning discs if I remember the paper correctly. Was front-page few years ago.

Yeah, I've read quite a few stories like that, so that was only half a joke. Even the CPU stuff like Spectre and meltdown are almost as crazy.

… or a new exfiltration technique even for air-gapped devices

Yeah, that does sound like a Defcon talk.

Don't be silly, bits are ultimately conveyed via analog electrical impulses. Speakers consist of air compressors under electro-magnetic control. The analog emissions of a bit-carrier have as much impact on the acoustic element as an extra stir of the spoon does on the molecular flavour profile of the coffee.

> bits are ultimately conveyed via analog electrical impulses

Yes, but unless the analog error reaches some certain threshold, the 0 will still read as a 0 and the 1 will still read as a 1. The bit is still a bit. The bits only cease to be bits after they reach the DAC.

The bit is still a bit, but if the bit is generated at the beginning of a cycle it might have more voltage than at the end of the cycle and this difference could be discernable in the electromagnetic environment around the processor, which might effect the actual movement of the electro-acoustical element after the decoding by the DAC!

It's at least as likely as the coffee scenario.

>It's at least as likely as the coffee scenario.

I would bet money on a blind taste test on a well pulled shot of espresso vs just dumping some water on some ground beans would show a substantially bigger difference than these people using an audiophile grade network switch or a different version of memcpy. The two aren't even in the same league and it requires some real magical thinking to come to any other conclusion.

You're moving the goal posts. We were talking about 5 stirs of a "distribution tool"...

I would still place that bet.

In some cheap DACs with bad isolation you might even be able to hear those bits as a hissing noise.

I will defend the coffee people.

Distribution tools are for espresso, not pour over or immersion brewed coffee. In espresso, you have extremely high pressure, so if there is a density differential in the coffee cake, you will get most of the water flowing through the spot that has the lowest density, and the rest of the cake will not be visited, making for a weaker drink.

Also, the "recipes" are usually just a ratio of coffee grounds to boiling water by mass, a rough idea of how fine to grind, and a brew time. If you take these parameters and vary them by any reasonable amount, you will definitely taste the difference.

Overall, it's not an apt analogy. There is no "fidelity" for coffee like there is for audio. There is a quantitative loss function you can define for audio quality - just the sound you're trying to replicate versus the sound that your system actually ends up generating. For example, no human ear can hear frequencies above ~22kHz, meaning anything over the normal ~44kHz sample rate provably makes no difference.

> No human ear can hear frequencies above ~22kHz, meaning anything over the normal ~44kHz sample rate provably makes no difference.

The real fun is when "audiophiles" give you music with high sample rate (e.g. 384kHz) and it sounds objectively worse on a standard playback device because the playback device only supports e.g. 48kHz natively and has to resample internally, with a resampling algorithm that's worse than what you would get if the audio was resampled with a high quality resampling algorithm and directly stored as e.g. 48kHz.

Agreeing with this, and likewise I wanna suggest for some coffee drinkers who are skeptical on "coffee nerds" to try a coffee cupping (basically a form of coffee tasting, like wine tasting, where different beans are prepared identically in a particular method good for producing a very strong and flavour-filled coffee).

When you have different beans, especially from different climates, regions, and preparation methods, and taste them side-by-side. You'll notice characteristics that you would not otherwise notice drinking from day-to-day; and the ability to taste and emphasize those characteristics is why coffee nerds use different techniques and forms of equipment.

It's easy enough to make a quality coffee that is tasty (a sub-$10 of supermarket ground coffee, a sub-$10 french press, and a pot of boiling water can produce a good coffee). But to emphasize things like fruity and floral notes requires extracting coffee in particular ways to bring them to the forefront; like ensuring that coffee is constantly exposed to fresh unsaturated water, for particular amount of time, with a certain surface-area, within a narrow temperature range.

> No human ear can hear frequencies above ~22kHz

Many human ear can hear pure ~28kHz tone under ideal condition [1]. Some can hear higher.

[1] Ashihara, Kaoru (2007-09-01). "Hearing thresholds for pure tones above 16kHz". The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 122 (3): EL52–EL57


I can hear bats, which I have been told is impossible.

The electrical whine from a crt used to really about me...

I can't hear much at all in a noisy room and sometimes miss whole conversations, which can be bad for one's relationships. I was recently diagnosed with 'auditory processing disorder'. With my 'perfect' sonogram (is that the right word?) in hand, a hearing therapist suggested that I may have lost a tiny bit of my exceptional hearing and that may have triggered my brains confusion with sound.

CRT whine is at a much lower frequency, though. It's within (average, young) human hearing range.

I once debugged a switchmode power supply this way. I was in my late 20's-early 30's and walked into a room where an engineer in his 50's was testing a power supply. First thing I said, was "what's that annoying noise? Oh, it's coming from your test bench." He blinked at me, but immediately realized that I could hear a high frequency noise he couldn't and that it was related to the problem he was troubleshooting.

IIRC, the problem was that his oscillator was running at a lower than expected frequency: it should have been well outside hearing range but was actually just barely within mine.

Reminds me of the invention of Fisher's exact test:

>The example is loosely based on an event in Fisher's life. The lady in question, Muriel Bristol, claimed to be able to tell whether the tea or the milk was added first to a cup. Her future husband, William Roach, suggested that Fisher give her eight cups, four of each variety, in random order. One could then ask what the probability was for her getting the specific number of cups she identified correct (in fact all eight), but just by chance.

From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_tasting_tea

> David Salsburg reports that a colleague of Fisher, H. Fairfield Smith, revealed that in the actual experiment the lady succeeded in identifying all eight cups correctly.[6][7]


Matt parker showed that whether you add the milk first or last affects the temperature and temperature over time profile of the tea. That could have an effect on the taste.

I'm not surprised someone ran an experiment. That's exactly what I thought about when I read the scenario. The level of extraction and the taste of what's extracted will vary depending on the temperature, and adding the milk first lowers the temperature of the fluid the tea is steeping in.

For the undiscriminating palate (mine?) you probably wouldn't notice a difference. But someone who pays attention could, especially if they have a particular tea they're drinking regularly.

I would imagine that unless you controlled the specific volume of milk, there may be systemic bias towards more or less milk depending on when it is added.

ISO 3103 requires adding the milk first, otherwise the first drops will be scalded.

The thing you're laughing at is how you deal with coffee grinders that spit out clumpy coffee. If you don't break the clumps, the high pressure water from an espresso machine will distribute unevenly throughout the puck (choosing to go through the path of least resistance) and will be the difference between drinking a notoriously-finnicky-to-get-right light roast and battery acid.

It's just physics, and something you can check for yourself in 5 minutes or by asking any chemical/food engineer who knows the basics of extraction.

You have to break up the clumps. Doing it with a specially marketed metal clump breaker vs a metal spoon, a fork, a wooden spoon, etc doesn't matter. That is what they were making fun of AFAICT, not breaking up clumps in general.

Sure you can use anything, but using a tool designed for the job is generally quicker, easier and makes less of a mess.

In addition to just letting people have their fun (so long as it stays fun/isn’t just a method of gatekeeping/isn’t just picking fights or whatever) I think we should all remember to exercise a little humility and consider that maybe we are wrong about what matters or doesn’t. Sometimes things look a little ridiculous from the outside, but once it’s explained or you do it yourself, it makes a little more sense.

For instance, there was a time where if you had told me that the number one thing that would improve my coffee was the purchasing of a conical burr grinder, I would’ve raised an eyebrow. Now? I find it is almost more important than the beans I buy. Even my first cheap $50 one elevated my coffee to a whole new level. Despite years of people complementing the quality of my cold brew, I still have to insist that they buy even a cheap burr before anything else. And every single one of them that has followed my advice has thanked me later! All because someone else told me first and I said “screw it why not?”

Anyway, the point of the above is not to brag about my coffee at home (which I’m sure isn’t even that impressive). It’s mostly to illustrate that sometimes what sounds ridiculous does actually matter. We just don’t know it.

Is there a good coffee supply store in NOLA you recommend?

Most “nice” coffee shops will carry a chemX or toddy systems of some sort. French press too. If you’re looking for a cold brew solution just go online to filtron and get their toddy. It’s affordable and really gets the job done.

You also can’t wrong going with an aero press. They’re like $30 and super easy to clean. Only good for making one cup of coffee at a time though.

If you’re looking for beans, mammoth espresso and cherry coffee roasters are both incredible.

Agree on Cherry 100%, Mammoth has good coffee and I have seen them as guest roaster at places in Baton Rouge too but their shop could be cleaner

Not to defend stir guy, but small changes to the brewing process do change what gets extracted. Chemistry is wild stuff, but if you just pour warm water over beans you found and call it coffee I can see why you wouldn't necessarily appreciate that.

I've become fascinated with James Hoffman's channel on all things coffee related - I have no desire to buy fancy coffee, grinders, coffee machines, kettles etc. and I'm perfectly happy with my cheap Sainsbury's coffee and a John Lewis machine that probably cost £60.

My most upsetting opinion on James is that he calls a $60 hand grinder an "entry level grinder", when you can buy an identical hand mill burr grinder for like $15

I use a Hario Skerton Pro (roughly $60 where I live), considered an okay starter choice, and it's absolutely an entry level grinder. I had to mod it quite a bit to get something resembling consistency. Where can you get something that grinds almost as not-bad as this for $15?

Which grinders with identical burr sets are you referring to?

It's probably the same conditioning that Pavlov discovered. The clinking metal creates anticipation leading to a real and measurable difference in satisfaction. The brain is interesting that way.

Who am I to judge? I will fight you over spaces instead of tabs and don't you dare remove my trailing commas. If it's not supported by the language I'll write a transpiler and add it to the CI flow just before deploy, because git history.

> will straight faced insist to you that they can tell the difference between stirring the coffee grounds with a tiny metal "distribution tool"

I could probably distribute the coffee by simply shaking and tapping the portafilter on the counter, but stirring it makes it more even and I'm less likely to make a mess that way.

Also that they can tell the difference between stirring with an expensive tool vs a toothpick or needle.

Sure stirring grounds to break up clumps seems like a good idea. But it's mind boggling someone managed to name the technique after themselves and get everyone to refer to it by an acronym with their name in it.

> Sure stirring grounds to break up clumps seems like a good idea.

I definitely stir my espresso grounds after grinding for this reason, but the symptom of not doing so is very evident in how long it takes to pull the volume of the shot I'm making. A distribution tool may help do it faster, but I'm not at the point where I'm willing to invest in more than the toothpick I currently use.

I do it too, also with a toothpick.

I don't think there was some grand concerted effort to self-promote by the WDT guy, it's just a legitimately helpful and (at the time) novel technique for getting decently even flow when using cheap(er) home coffee grinders. It requires like 5 seconds of time and something like a toothpick or cake tester. This is not the same as the audiophile magic cables or whatever, the results are measurable and replicable by anyone with a toothpick and a home espresso setup.

It's the scientific method, but without any rigor on the quality of experiments. Subjectivity will take you to ridiculous places. It's exactly the same root cause as the fringe audiophile stuff: the dictionary definition of pseudoscience.

What is the technique name you're referring to?

I believe they are referring to "Weiss Distribution Tool". I have a manual lever espresso machine that I used daily for a decade. The idea behind WDT is real. Distributing the grounds evenly makes much more consistent shots. If the grounds are not evenly packed, the water under pressure breaks through a channel and the shot tastes like garbage. It's not quackery, just fluid dynamics. One can argue that grounds can be distributed by other means as well. Stirring with a needle (WDT) is the quickest for me.

[1] https://coffeechronicler.com/wdt-tools-technique/

I'm pretty sure he's talking about Weiss Distribution Technique/Weiss Distribution Tools (WDT).

Would that be the same Weiss as this $10k+ DAC? https://weiss.ch/products/highend-hifi/dac502/

Well isn't that wonderfully pretentious.

meh, it's arguably the most important new technique in espresso making in at least the last 20 years. I think John Weiss deserves some credit for that.

similarly awful is "RDT" (Ross Droplet Technique: spray water on your beans before grinding to reduce clumping)

I can't believe I'm about to defend this, but unless you have an anti-static grinder spraying water does cause a lot less mess and ground coffee flying everywhere. I had to do it with my Wilfa Svart grinder (and still do when I use it) but I don't need to do it for my Niche Zero. When I use my Wilfa Svart without a spray of water (or just a droplet of water stirred in with the handle of a teaspoon) I notice the coffee is a lot messier coming out of the grounds container.

No idea if it impacts taste though.

Weiss Distribution Method

My wife keeps asking me if I prefer Twining English Breakfast or Irish Breakfast tea. I opened both boxed and had two cups side by side. They are exactly the same.

My wife will insist that one cup of tea I bring her is amazing, but another one is disgusting. However, they're all from the same box of teabags, made the same way, and the biggest correlation as far as I can tell is how long she has left it to go cold.

There are actually some counterintuitive things in coffee making process, which affect people's ability to discern between what matters and what not.

> Just let people have their thing. They like it.

Smile & wave boys!

> Just let people have their thing. They like it.

Could say that about your comment, right? Let the coffee fans enjoy the process of improving their coffee. Unless they start gatekeeping shit or insulting my (very pedestrian) taste in coffee, I don't care.

That is exactly my point and is exactly what I want you to say about my comment.

> Just let people have their thing. They like it.

What if my thing is making fun of such people?

Oh no, you’ve started something now.

> There are many things like this.

With religion being the biggest of all.

Humans are predisposed to believe in something even if it makes no sense.

Climate change falls in this category as well

Absurd comparison - channeling is a known physical phenomenon that occurs when you fail to declump the grounds. It causes the high pressure water to find the path of least resistance through the basket and leaves the majority of the grounds underextracted.

And we didn’t talk about wine yet…

Wine is interesting because, while there is definitely some pretentious nonsense going on, the other extreme is hilarious as well. There are people out there insisting that it's impossible to differentiate red from white wine by blind taste test.

...except that there have been studies that show exactly that: https://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2014/08/the_most_infam...

Interesting, but one has to ask, were they testing the hypothesis or the participants? The participants were describes as both "students" and a "panel of experts".

"54 oenology (wine science) students". Them studying wine science is presumably what makes them experts.

except the study does not test for that. it somewhat interestingly shows that distinct vocabulary gets used for reds and whites once that context is established by a visual cue. that doesn't however mean no systematic difference between reds and whites can be detected.

I used to be a member of an amateur wine tasting group.. and someone figured we should serve some snacks while we were testing the wine. Turns out that with cheese most red wines taste almost the same, unless they've gone bad. Or at least you certainly won't find much difference between cheap and expensive wines.

Hey, balancing extraction is hard! You can't necessarily make a good puck without declumping it first, which helps the process a bit! I've also seen a number of people without just also alternatively thunk it to even things out a bit before making the puck.

There are some silly things and not all are required -- I don't do espresso or distribute my grounds, for example. I just Chemex with too many beans and let the flood of taste flow. And the little things really do make a difference (proper filter to catch the oils, blooming, light pour on the water, burr grinder (!!!!), freshness of the grind and the right age for the beans, etc). I'm not the snobbiest of snobs but I can tell! And at a certain point, its like looking at a painting. Even the littlest 'off' brushstroke can ruin a whole piece of something like the Mona Lisa.

A lot of roasting software is computerized these days too, so there is some precision in the process and in very particular roasts from certain boutique manufacturers these days. It's pretty nifty stuff. If you want to nerd snipe yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0t8DZ2yHs8

So at that level, basically we are super far up the log curve of diminishing returns. But then again, if your coffee is an experience, pulling away some not-insignificant-% of those last notes of bitterness is really and truly helpful.

On the audio side -- Yes, I'm an audiophile, but a very practical one, and I try to stay by the very old adage (as it were) that music enjoyment is 90% our emotional state and 10% equipment. That said, I can tell the difference pretty clearly between 44khz and 88khz on TIDAL -- it's really not that hard for me personally, at least. Both sound great but the 44khz feels like it's projected onto an awkward hexagon, whereas the 88khz is very semicircular and doesn't 'feel' unnatural. I really have to be into the music to be noticing though. It really is worth it for that 'art museum' experience (and yes, I did check to see if I could tell 24 bit 44khz and 24 bit 88khz apart. It's a very very clear difference to me! Above it is harder and I really can't say tbh). I do have a good DAC and lower mid-tier headphones (well-worn 598s, well over a decade at this point! :D got my originals somewhere between 7th and 10th grade. man, these have been around a while, dang). So anyways I know what I like and I get to have access to an experience that I haven't been able to before. It makes me want to cry, some songs are so beautiful. I'll go downtown to live jazz just to vibe if I can, that's the best. But here, I get to get a little bit closer to that experience, and I can tell when I'm not there. The emotional side can cover the gap, but...man. The little things do matter.

So that's why I think maybe it's not so silly that some people distribute their coffee grounds. If you're interested, there's this extremely practical bloke named James Hoffman who uses it as part of his core routine, he has some phenomenal coffee videos as well. Here's a great video where he discusses some of the nuances of the different methods here, and I think he has a pretty great, balanced opinion on it! (Usually I defer to him, tbh. He does refer to at least one method as 'incremental gains'): https://youtu.be/xb3IxAr4RCo?t=239

Hope that was interesting to you. This was interesting to write, many thanks for reading and greatly appreciated for whoever stuck it out to this point! :D <3 :)))) :D

This is basically the current "holy war" among some audiophiles. There's measurement-intensive approaches likes audiosciencereview and then there's the more subjective things like "soundstage" and "depth" and "clarity".

That's why it's so fun, though. Audio reproduction can be measured objectively but the experience of listening to something can only be measured subjectively. Ultimately, if the $5k D-Link router sounds better to someone, who am I to argue?

I have a mid-fi setup by audiophile standards, but it's still more of an investment than most people I know have made. When asked for advice, I tell people to focus on what sounds good to them. If it sounds good, then it _is_ good, assuming one isn't buying something to impress others.

Also, if they ask nicely, I'll give them a discount on my optimized-for-their-CPU-architecture, hand-coded, machine language version of malloc, free, and memcpy.

this is really well summarized.

I'm in the same camp as you, I've got way more in my setup than the average person, but its mid-fi at best, and mostly on the headphone side. I like music, and I have headphones on for 5-8 hours a day, I'd like to optimize that experience. The good news is the average pair of headphones today is SO so much better than it used to be, and in a weird way some of the overpriced stuff from Apple/Sony/etc... is actually getting better sound to people that hadn't experienced it before.

I really wish there was more emphasis on the transparent + objective measurement side of things industry wide. There is in some places, but at the end of the day entire companies are built around not having objectively perfect sound reproduction, because there is a following of people that like the house-sound they engineer in to their speaker/headphones. And there is value there, its just hard to quantify.

About 12 years ago I built a pair of large (relatively) full-range bookshelf speakers for near-field studio monitor type use at my desk with a wild 3 chamber porting setup. No traditional physical filter-network whatsoever, I borrowed a decent mic, measured the response, generated an inverse impulse filter that I could use to preprocess the signal going to the amp to arrive at a "perfectly" flat frequency response. Guess what? it sounded ok at best.

Audio is hard. Your ears are weird.

> Audio is hard. Your ears are weird.

Basically this.

In the interest of disclosure, for my senior project in college (a full-year capstone project), I was on a team of students that built an analysis rig for a company that made club/venue/stadium sized speakers. Our rig reduced analysis time from 3 days to about an hour or so. However, that was just one piece of the puzzle, as the "room" also had a massive impact on sound.

That company's "demo room" was amazing. It was the first floor of an old mill building with speakers on one end of the room, and furniture at the other. At least 100-200ft if distance. It was acoustically treated, but not overmuch since one of the goals was to demonstrate the room adjustment capability. Several 5000W amps powered the whole thing, and the audio quality was amazing. It felt and sounded like listening to headphones at a moderately high volume, but when you tried to speak to the person next to you, you could barely hear your own voice.

Very cool. room correction actually has seen lots of improvement in the past decade luckily. A lot more AV receivers come with a mic and calibration process now. I'm not sure what the story for all the sonos/whatever stuff is like, but I imagine there's something. Thats not a cure-all, but its something.

15 years ago that was only for the nerdiest of the audiophile nerds, and its available to any moderately enthusiastic consumer now.

The fun thing is that generally, people do not like perfectly flat audio. From a subjective perspective, I think that perfectly flat feels like something is missing.

I think perhaps this comes from our own hearing not being objectively flat in it’s sensitivity.

Personally I don’t want to analyse my music (or my equipment) too hard, I want to enjoy it and the emotional response it invokes in me.

>Audio reproduction can be measured objectively but the experience of listening to something can only be measured subjectively

This is very true. I bought an earphone recently because it had the best technicals for its price-point. I was nice, but somewhat overwhelming to listen to for a long time. Some songs were harsh and sounded too airy. As much as I wanted to love it, I couldn't.

Then I bought a cheaper one that lots of reviewers said sounded good on anything they tried (Tin T2). It had "worse" technicals but guess what, I'm using it more than the older one and finding it way more pleasant to listen to.

> Some songs were harsh and sounded too airy.

Chances are you hear production mistakes/errors in these songs that you simply couldn't notice on the "worse" headphones. And if you produce music yourself, such "better" headphones might allow you to avoid making such mistakes/errors.

I have a friend who bought a pair of magneplanar speakers which he then sold because he could hear the pianists fingernails hitting the keys in one of the pieces. I think he decided there was such a thing as too much fidelity.

That has to be his imagination, or else maybe he's hearing some other artifact that he's mistaking for a collision between fingernail and plastic. There's no way in hell he is actually hearing what he thinks he's hearing.

Not necessarily. With good quality recording and speakers it's easy to hear things like a finger hitting a guitar string just before the string moves, lips touching a microphone, etc. I started noticing these things years ago when I first bought Blue Note recordings.

One common problem with "headphone producers" is that they often spend too much time "cleaning" audio tracks and worrying about audio leaks.

In older recordings those things were masked by other instruments, sometimes even by the room's reverb or analog noise floor, or sometimes engineers just wouldn't care about soloing tracks as much because they were on the clock and studios were expensive as heck.

Now we have everyone with super low-noise digital recording, great headphones and unlimited (home) studio time. So people spend hours obsessing about things that weren't an issue before.

What makes you so confident that is the case? I listen to lots of classical music and certainly hear musicians breathing, even on older recordings. I would imagine fingernails on a keyboard are of a similar decibel level.

Same thing with the "vinyl sound". It's a proven fact they are worse a reproducing recordings faithfully than a regular well-mastered audio CD, let alone some high resolution FLAC. Vinyl distorts the sound. But it distorts it in a way people like.

Measurement is complicated. It's not one-and-done and can easily be done incorrectly or misinterpreted. GoldenSound recently did a video on this topic, showing how minor changes in settings for analysis tools and analysis hardware can cause radically different conclusions.

There are also many techniques in hardware that make a piece of audio equipment measure objectively better, but sound worse - like feedback.

Audio is really complicated and can't be boiled down to one or two comparison charts.

ASR is essentially worthless, unfortunately.

> Ultimately, if the $5k D-Link router sounds better to someone, who am I to argue?

You can argue just fine when they fail the blind comparison test.

Audiophile-grade self-delusion is, fortunately, fairly rare. What's far more common today is the error many consumers make about 4K TV. I have friends who show me their new 4K TV and think it looks "amazing" just because they are feeding it a source labeled "4K" resolution, without considering (or even knowing) the bit rate of the compressed source.

While there are good 4K sources like UHD Bluray discs and a few decent streaming sources (but it's spotty and inconsistent), the vast majority of "4K" sources look pretty awful due to being wildly over-compressed. And the level of self-delusion from some of my friends – who are otherwise very smart – is near-emperor's-new-clothes level.

A recent example was the Super Bowl which was one of the few "special events" Comcast aired in 4K (only available on the latest version of Comcast's streaming boxes which few people have – and 4K is not available if you use DVR). I checked it out on a current-year higher-end 65" 4K TV (~$3k) which I adjusted myself to disable the myriad default settings claimed to "enhance" signals but often mangle them in unexpected ways.

Even set up properly on a good TV it looked terrible. The tell-tale DCT macro-blocking was rampant and in many shots the base 4K-ness of the resolution space seemed to highlight the 'peggishness' worse than the 1080p version (which I was cross-checking against out of now-morbid curiosity). The super bowl is widely claimed to be the best quality 4K live broadcast. $250,000 lenses on the best cameras sent through the best signal paths managed by hundreds of engineers across a small city of the world's best production trucks. All stomped into a peggish mess so that cable and satellite companies can shove hundreds of channels of infomercials and decades-old Murder She Wrote episodes down the pipe simultaneously. I guess they'll keep doing it until enough people demand better or someone offers an alternative. Afterward I searched online and it appears the only widely accessible way to view the SB in decent 4K was if you live in one of the few cities that currently have broadcast TV stations airing true 4K and you set up an over-the-air antenna. While it's still compressed, due to FCC specifications for signals actually broadcast OTA, it's pretty mild and apparently looks sensational compared the what most people saw at home on their "awesome" new 4K TVs.

Oh, this is something I've been wondering about - I've had a 4K TV for years, but I don't think I've ever seen a 4K Bluray (I don't think I even know anyone who had a Bluray player).

Are you saying that streaming a movie (say a recent Marvel one) in 4K from Disney Plus will look noticeably less good than if I played the same movie from a Bluray player?

What about a Bluray torrent?

The video file for that movie stored on a UHD Blu-Ray would probably be in the neighborhood of 50-90GB, depending on various factors such as movie length, disc capacity (I think UHD discs come in two different capacities), compression rate used, and the inherent compressibility of the movie (stuff with a lot of grain, for example, will not compress as well).

A streaming service would probably compress that same 4K movie down to around 10-15GB tops, but probably even smaller, again depending on the same factors. In my opinion most people probably wouldn't notice a huge difference, if any, but it would definitely be noticeable if you knew what to look for (loss of fine detail in fast-moving scenes with a lot going on, a smooth gradient in a low-light scene on the blu-ray might have noticeable banding on the streamed version, and other compression artifacts like that).

Blu-ray torrents could fall anywhere on the spectrum depending on how it was compressed by whoever is distributing the torrent. If you see one labeled "remux" that usually refers to a video file taken directly from the Blu-ray without any additional compression, so watching that one would give you the same experience as watching the blu-ray directly.

A 4K Blu-ray will look significantly better than streaming in 4K. Streaming has an advantage that (sometimes, on newer hardware) it can use newer / better video codecs than DVD/Blu-ray/4k Blu-ray, which are frozen in time at a specific standard for decoding. However, Blu-rays can store 100GB of data. The massive increase in bitrate more than makes up the difference.

When downloading video, you can grab a remux (the raw video files off of the disk, just stripped of DRM), or a re-encode (those video files compressed again using a better codec). A re-encode will be about the same size as a streaming release and generally has higher quality. Re-encodes tend to use cutting-edge video compression, and pirates are willing to throw more compute time at a single output format than a streaming service which has to produce video files for many target devices.

A 4K Blu-ray (or remux) will get you the best quality, followed by re-encodes, and then web-dl's.

A while back someone posted this comparison of a scene across a few services and Blu-ray.


For a more recent example, I found the desert/spice scenes in Dune to be unwatchable on HBO Max but very pleasant in my subsequent theater visit and later on the 4K disc. In my experience Netflix is the worst offender of the major streaming platforms, and iTunes/Apple TV+ can approach some Blu-rays (though there’s no trick here: they send more data down the pipe).

If you have a decent home theater setup it makes a very noticeable difference in both picture and sound. Good bluray and 4k bluray releases often have lossless audio codecs, and currently no streaming service has this. Although, sound differences might be more due to mixing differences. Streams tend to mix in a way that prioritizes the 5.1 sound still sounding good to people using the lowest common denominator setup.

But also the bitrate alone should tell you something. You will typically get around 15-20 Mbps for 4k streaming, and often lower, though Apple's service apparently will occasionally hit up to 40 Mbps. 4k discs have a bitrate of around 128 Mbps.

4K TV signals invariably suck, absolutely. But depending on people's preferences, they may think the vibrant colors and improved sharpness of even a mediocre 4k HDR stream looks "better" than a higher-bitrate 1080 SDR video. Personally, I'm a bit of a purist so I prefer SDR blu-ray unless the source material was filmed with HDR in mind, but I totally understand why others prefer the "pop" of a 4k remaster streamed over Netflix. It's all different preferences.

> Audiophile-grade self-delusion is, fortunately, fairly rare.

Oh not from where I see the world! hehe - infact I see most stem educated people of reasonably good IQ by and large living a mythology they do not even know they are living in because they've never really understood the difference between knowledge and understanding and the whole purpose of the humanities.

Mythology is the stories we tell about how we as individuals relate to society and the cosmos.

Elon Musk functions as a sort of deva or heroic god myth that many people do not even realise they are buying into.

Mythology even includes how we structure science - the "genius", the archetypes and roles and stories we tell about heros and how scientific activity takes place - these are myths that have causal effects in producing actual science. Mythology is meta to everything. Its literally the meaning about who we are and our place in the world. There's many cases. Pick your mythology wisely because if you don't you'll get a poor version of one by cultural default.

I can tell you a lot on Hacker News does not look too much different from the audiophile community from this perspective hehe

As long as it looks better than 1080 I'm happy with it. Are you saying I shouldn't watch or can't enjoy 4K unless it's perfect? Sounds like you're the one suffering from self-delusion.

I don’t know what it is but specifically 4k video from Amazon Prime on my tv looks absolutely awful.

Like kernel or compiler development, audio and DSP development is seen by some as a black art that’s subject to mysterious incantations and arcane rituals.

Everybody knows how to write a for loop and wire up a CRUD app these days, but satisfying a low-latency audio buffer request while decoding media and applying effects feels fraught and often (genuinely) looks like a garble of translated Matlab with countless inscrutable variable names and seemingly random constants peppered everywhere.

From that sense of awe (traditional meaning), it’s only a small leap to start wondering if even “known” textbook truths about things like memcpy matter differently than normal. And then the cultist gossip begins, you get the echo chamber effect on casual forums and meetups, and this is where you end up.

> no digital harshness

Reminds me of comments when CD's came out int he 1980's. Audiophiles and magazine articles insisted they could "hear the aluminum".

What they were actually hearing was songs mastered for Vinyl or casette that had not been properly remastered for digital. Vinyl and casettes required pre-emphasis of highs to offset the limited high frequency response and noise of analog media.

It's actually one of the best reasons to buy old vinyl for music that wasn't very popular. So much stuff got put into CDs without being mastered for it and it does sound objectively worse, as you've pointed out. There's a lot of great music (to certain people anyways) that you can't get a great digital copy of because it was never made. Even the digital copies are often pulled from a record or from a master tape but never remastered. Anything that could sell was probably remastered for CDs and digital.

Of course, anything recorded with digital recording equipment and pressed to vinyl is simply for aesthetic reasons. Some people just like playing records and listening to music this way.

I'm not sure buying old vinyl helps all that much. The bass was cut from recordings so the needle would move less and not collide with the groove before it. Early CDs also lacked bass until trends changed.

I would guess that most of the time a CD made from the master tape sounds better than the vinyl even without a remaster. Of course the remaster is almost always the best bet.

It depends on how many minutes of music were out on each side. There’s a lot of 45s that sound great and they’re worth a lot in part because of that for example. A lot of mainstream stuff started to get pressed on thin, cheap vinyl and was packed with as many minutes as possible. So yeah, loss of fidelity there and remastered CDs may in fact sound better. I think you’re probably safe until late 70s before that became practice.

There’s no masters of a lot of rare, non-mainstream things, or at least not known masters. And a lot of great music that wasn’t going to be mainstream for a variety of reasons. Think regional funk, blues, punk, psych, etc. You just can’t get a great digital recording in many instances.

100%. If you can find a quality rip of the vinyl I'll take that for convenience (I have ~1000 vinyl records so I have my fill of that magic) but especially something from long ago transferred to CD in the 80's I'm going to be very skeptical of.

Another huge factor that affects the sound is the damned stylus. It's like switching speakers. Each one has its own signature. Then there's the phono preamp/RIAA filter too! I prefer our modern times where only the choice of speakers matters that much. Think of all the permutations of stylus, preamp, and speakers you had to consider in the early HiFi days.

There's an equalization filter built into every single phono preamp to deal with this.

It's called the RIAA equalization curve.

Basically when you master the record you put something down that has rolled off bass and lots of treble onto the vinyl LP. This is to encode the music in a form that is compatible with the physical disc + stylus.


The preamp applies EQ to bring it back to normalcy.

The crappy CDs were a result of dumping a phono mastering onto a CD without realizing that a CD player was not going to apply the RIAA curve.

> The crappy CDs were a result of dumping a phono mastering onto a CD without realizing that a CD player was not going to apply the RIAA curve.

I don't believe this is the case. The RIAA curve is a very aggressive curve (40db) and no one would tolerate an uncorrected signal (plug your turntable into the line in for a taste, all you hear is sibilance). Also the filter would be applied by the person mastering the vinyl - it would not be applied before the master tape.

IMO the thin sounding CDs were because producers were used to vinyl which still has issues with bass even with the RIAA curve in place. Also because CDs were new and we lacked the knowledge and tools to use them to their potential. For example my teachers in college would have me turn in my DAT tapes with peak levels around -18db (late 90's).

> Vinyl and casettes required pre-emphasis of highs to offset the limited high frequency response and noise of analog media.

This is true of tape but not vinyl. High frequencies are difficult for vinyl and are better off rolled off. A lot of exciters were used before the tape to get a certain, pleasing distortion. Sounded bad when people started switching to ADAT from analog tape.

I love when one can't tell if someone are serious or not. This made my day.

At the risk of falling victim to it myself, that's often referenced as Poe's Law (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law ):

Poe's law is an adage of Internet culture saying that, without a clear indicator of the author's intent, any parody of extreme views can be mistaken by some readers for a sincere expression of the views being parodied.

You don't have to explain Poe's Law on HN lol

Eh, you never know who's one of those lucky 10,000. And just to satisfy you, I won't explain _that one_. X)

Audiophiles aren't just about dumb stuff of this sort though. The majority of the community is mainly interested in things like trying different speakers/headphones and listening setups, where there are measurable differences and what one prefers entirely subjective.

For me the lack of understanding that it is subjective is part and parcel with being an "audiophile" - I like the "sound" of vinyl, the difference between me and the audiophile religious I know is they'll tell me I don't just "like" it, that it's objectively better and they start saying nonsense like we're reading in the posted thread.

Comparison is the thief of joy, and the only thing audiophiles do is compare.

> where there are measurable differences and what one prefers entirely subjective.

It may be true, but the audiophile in question didn't bother to do any blind test.

And I believe that actually most of the audiophiles don't do any blind tests, otherwise they'd use twisted coatangers as cables and save themselves a lots of money.

    How can audiophiles continue to exist with knowledge 
    being so easily available?
Well, good news! There is a newer breed of data-driven audiophiles who rely on hard data and solid engineering.

An example would be https://www.audiosciencereview.com - he has reviewed a few thousand projects using industry standard measurement gear like Audio Precision analyzers, Klippel scanners, etc.

Same with Erin's Audio Corner: https://www.youtube.com/@ErinsAudioCorner/videos

Most of the audio-related subreddits hew to this approach as well.

> And how can someone be clever enough to be a software engineer and not clever enough to figure out crystals in bags taped to cables do not affect music quality.

After living through the past several years in the US, this is not a question I ask.

It’s been noted for a while with the other kinds of engineers:


Yep, once met an hydraulic engineer who thought his wife could find leakages through magnetic fields while looking at a map of a power dam.

> "Goto also sounds better than anything else I have tried." - the "Goto" in the quote means a goto in C used to replace a loop.

> "also most players use malloc to get memory while new is the c++ method and sounds better."

I think they must be the guys who understood the Matrix visuals.

Those have got to be thinly (to not at all) veiled troll statements...

No, people have hid behind "Nobody is that stupid" for too long. MILLIONS of people are this stupid and live among us and we should stop ignoring them, stop pretending they aren't being taken advantage of, and stop letting people get away with literal fraud just because it makes us uncomfortable that some people are born less able or willing to comprehend their world.

There are millions of people that genuinely reject the idea they suffer from normal cognitive biases, or that they can be fooled, and that's a huge part of their worldview, that they are "smarter" than other people because they aren't affected by those pesky "biases". So whatever they "experience" must be ground truth. So if they think the song sounds better under C++, it doesn't matter what "the experts" say, they must be wrong.

Back when I was a kid, I swore that using a different MP3 decoder in Winamp (libmpg123.dll I think?) had a much better soundstage and bass extension than the default one.

I like to think that isn’t the same madness as thinking a different memcpy, because I figured different implementations would map different inputs to different outputs and thus could definitely affect the sound, but any context or knowledge would be appreciated!

There were definitely variations in sound quality from different MP3 encoders, so you probably weren't imagining things. IIRC libmpg123 was for decoding/ playback rather than encoding, but there were a number of suboptimal encoders before the scene settled on LAME as the best option for MP3's. These days you can get better lossy encodes at smaller files with AAC (the industry standard for end-user lossy audio) or Opus — a great free & open source alternative.

All you could want to know about audio encoding, including listening tests (with original posts from the heyday) is still online at the Hydrogen Audio forum.

There are some great threads there, and they've been debunking audiophile snake-oil for decades. Enjoy the rabbit hole ;)


I appreciate the reply, I was talking about decoders :) fucking miss hydrogen audio, used to spend my teens making insane fb2k customisations and posting them there while everyone else was having sex

I have to think there are some parody/troll comments mixed in with the true believers. Strongly suspect that goto one for instance...

>How can audiophiles continue to exist with knowledge being so easily available?

Humans are not rational. This is easy to say, and hard to swallow - so, pretty similar to when you'd confront anyone's beliefs with rational refutation.

> How can audiophiles continue to exist with knowledge being so easily available? And how can someone be clever enough to be a software engineer and not clever enough to figure out crystals in bags taped to cables do not affect music quality.

You don't have to be clever to be a software engineer. It's not that difficult.

Wait till they get a handle on Rust.. There will be no stopping them.

By the by : I'm almost certain this has to be satire.

Last time I used Rust to build a music player, the resulting audio quality was much worse than my C++ version. I'm sure these new kids on the block ("Rustaceans" or whatever they call themselves) know what they are doing when building web applications and CLIs, but when audio quality has to 120% of the original sound, nothing beats true and tested C++. I cannot explain how or why, but programs made with C++ just sounds better, fuller and more authentic than programs made with other languages.

C++ has a lower-latency linker.

The borrow checker acts as a subtle low-pass filter, rolling off some of the high end and leading to less clarity.

But Rust's advanced type system will surely result in better instrument separation and wider scene.

This is because rust's borrow checker is incapable of representing some perfectly valid sounds.

Have you tried using an audio player written in hand-rolled assembly?

It sounds like a good idea but it produces worse results on other CPUs. It's best to always compile on every install as it uses the best instruction set extensions available. AVX2 produces a nice musky sound. But only with AVX-512 do you get rich aftersounds.

Of course the solution is not portable. It works for me, though. Ever since I spent $50k on my gold-plated, custom-tuned 486dx in 1992 I haven't been able to justify an upgrade (many of the Pentium series chips produced terrible audio, even in the high-end market).

Due to Rust's fearless concurrency, every time I have to add a new instrument, I either have to make a copy of the entire track to add it, or temporarily borrow the bass from the guitar track, which leads to tiny jumps in the audio. Notwithstanding the need for unsafe when I want to put the amp to 11.

This seems like the commenters on the Marc Ornstein Freestyle Canoeing videos:


Placebo effect still happens even when you know it's a placebo

I think this is key. I’m sure the listeners subjectively enjoying one version over the other, but not because the quality is any different. Instead they have the confidence that they picked the best option and can relax. Of course the real test would be if they could tell the difference, and I think the obvious answer is they couldn’t.

>And how can someone be clever enough to be a software engineer and not clever enough to figure out crystals in bags taped to cables do not affect music quality.

this is why IQ tests are BS. You can be smart in one thing (taking IQ tests) but not another.

> I guess they think bits are bits


A favorite of mine has been to say with a straight face that "it's important to make sure that there are no kinks in your cables, because the 0's pass through easily but the sharp edges of the 1's get caught on things" and seeing if anyone catches on.

> I guess they think bits are bits.

I'm guilty as charged.

> How can audiophiles continue to exist with knowledge being so easily available?

I think having a look at the current political climate answers this by itself.

Knowledge has lost much value, and anecdotal reasoning is at pre-education system levels.

Intelligence are declining in all ages [1]. And now top that with hallucinating AI:s that people without contextual knowledge can't even spot when they are making things up.

We're in for a good ride.

1: https://phys.org/news/2023-03-online-iq-scores-century.html

The human ear is analogue, therefore it can be subject to a form of asymptotic Sysipheanism, ever searching for the smallest shred of better quality audio, not realizing that "quality" can be hallucinated.

I think the same thing when I see fad diets and crypto currencies around here.

Skilled artists / machinist can train body to stupid degrees of precision, i.e. identifying colours, feeling out a thou. IMO something like that happening with audiophiles who are skilled at listening but when brain trained to discern fine details forced to rationalize inputs whose differences are largely chaotic and start hallucinating noise into conviction. I think many audiophiles are actually hearing differences, but the source of differences are subjective/meaningless.

Most "audiophiles" won't argue in forums; they'll just buy the equipment they think sounds right for them and then just leave it at that.

The listening experience differs from person to person, depending on everything from hearing, to noise to the individual listener's preferences and tastes. The audiophiles you mention try to justify that individual experience using whatever argument available, including false ones.

> How can audiophiles continue to exist with knowledge being so easily available? And how can someone be clever enough to be a software engineer and not clever enough to figure out crystals in bags taped to cables do not affect music quality.

I consider myself an audiophile because I hear a difference between no amp+dac sennheiser hd650 vs with amp+dac. so when you ask "How can audiophile continue to exist" ? thats a bit of a dumb take aint it?

All kinds of people are like this. Food, coffee, fashion etc.

The same way as flat-earthers. Also, showing off. Also, self-suggestion. Also, monetary incentive for vendors to keep their buyers spending money on snake oil.

I am a Hifi enthuiast. Member of church of hifi. Ie I believe it sounds better sometimes. This is similar to how a wine can be rated higher if you have a nice time with friends in a good setting. Lately I have started to switch over to studio monitors. Sound is subjective for example with headphones its harder to say that what audio curve is correct as that is subjective to the listener.

>Lately I have started to switch over to studio monitors.

A colleague on a Zoom call noticed I had audio equipment in my room, and excitedly asked what my headphone setup was. He didn't recognize the Sony MDR-7506 cans on my head, which were running out of a Focusrite audio interface that I use for multitrack recording. Sometimes I listen on my Yamaha MSP7 monitors. He went on to rattle off some absurdly expensive equipment that I forgot immediately upon Googling. I forget if his amp cost four figures or five figures.

I didn't have the heart to say: I'm just using what they use in recording studios.

I understand chasing fidelity, it's driven me to upgrade my own equipment over the years, but capital-a Audiophile stuff is kind of its own thing. People extracting outrageous amounts of money in return for a certain kind of marketing copy and bespoke physical presentation. It feels cynical to me, but it seems to be an ecosystem that exists on its own without much harm to the rest of the world.

I read a bunch of posts on that thread, but it wasn't clear to me the setup. Certainly seems possible that different implementations would have different CPU utilization, and impact the power supply differently. Not to mention RF noise changes to the local environment.

Today's PCs and cables aren't particularly well shielded. In fact I switched routers because an unshielded USB cable inside the router had a significant impact on Wifi performance if I used the USB for connecting storage.

I also bought a USB connected SDR (software defined radio) and I can tell you that position relative to my PC and the quality of the shielding of the USB cable was directly visible on the waterfall display. Moving the SDR (but not the Antenna) showed significant changes in reception across large swaths of the frequency range.

I've definitely had fan, coil whine, and related interference with different CPU utilization before. I've also had speakers, even wireless speakers get interference from my computer that varies with load, not to mention things like an incoming cellphone call.

Doesn't seem that crazy that different memory allocation and memcpy implementations could impact sound quality of any local audio equipment. Or that playing from ramdisk could sound better than from disk (assuming said disk is emitting noticeable RF).

It is bad enough as someone who is conscious of sound quality I would never use the term “audiophile” to describe myself and I’d advise anybody marketing audio stuff (like the serious fallen “Audioholics” which is reduced to handwringing about why people aren’t interested in buying what they sell”) to avoid using it.

I think audiophiles don't have any meta-perception of how their own cognitive process colors sensory information, while somehow being able to map the difference in aural space.

So maybe in a sense it does "sound" different, but it's more because what they are thinking about leaks into their aural experience.

> "Goto also sounds better than anything else I have tried." - the "Goto" in the quote means a goto in C used to replace a loop.

It strikes me as plausible that there might be differences in how the compiler treats goto vs whatever other loop. Pretty sure GCC can't optimize goto in the same ways.

I doubt that it matters if you decode audio files if you consider the amount data that needs to be processed and the speed of modern CPU.

>I guess they think bits are bits.

I'm speechless. I wanted to write a witty comment but I just can't.

Are you sure this isn't some po-faced intentional self-parody? Sure sounds like it to me.

I don't think audiophiles even like music. So if you take the bullshit from them, they are left with nothing.

>How can audiophiles continue to exist with knowledge being so easily available?

You ever discussed religion with anyone?

> How can audiophiles continue to exist with knowledge being so easily available?

Because not all audiophiles are gullible

But what if it's not fake...what if there's a slight...like...difference in timings or something? That nevertheless affects the ways signals are eventually rendered in the output? Or what if...literally...there is something more going on...among the movement of electrons (some other layer of information conveyance) than EE would consider...and these folks are picking up on that?

Much more likely a combination of the McGurk effect and placebo.

This has to be an elaborate joke.

How can flat-earthers continue to exist? There is no limit to human stupidity.

I didn't think flat-earthers existed for real. Then I came across them on the good old internet. At first I thought most of them would have to be trolls, not really believing it.. but then you realize that so many of them get extremely angry when you try to debate them. They truly exist.

But then again I actually met a person who believed the moon landings were fake.. brilliant guy otherwise, but too young to (unlike myself) having lived through the time period. He (and some others) seemed to believe that it was all CGI, not realizing or grasping that the watch he was wearing had way more computing power than the whole space program at that time. And that every illustration of the moon surface before Apollo 8 (they didn't land, they just took photos) were so very different from the real thing.

For the same reason religions still exist.

It's just like any other religion.

Maybe they all have a quantum computer.

Knowledge is easily available and so is a whole lot of misinformation.

Same as how homeopathy, flat earthers, etc can exist. Also people like to have something to call themselves special. This provides a group in which you can show off your 'knowledge' and gadgetry and so on.

i think its a joke.

If you read the whole thread it becomes obvious it sadly is not a joke.

You can commit pretty deeply to a joke. The indirect evidence is substantial.

If that's true those people have been maintaining a joke for literal years, and spending substantial amounts of time producing software. Do you expect them at the end of their lives to crack a smile and say "ha! got you!"?

Personally I'd expect them to take the joke with them to the grave

I was just showed an ethernet cable by a local hifi shop.. $4000. People are buying this stuff. A joke is a joke, but I don't think people will actually spend that amount of money just to keep up a joke.

For my own sanity I'm choosing to believe it is indeed satire.

Even if starts as joke, it can end as serious.

Same reason why you can be a scientist and like Trump. Or be a nurse and be anti-vax. Or be a teacher who hates kids. The world is full of fakes and irrational people.

Or think you are smart when you are really just parroting the party line of your tribe.

Or think you are anti-establishment while supporting an old white guy from new york who got all his money from daddy and has done nothing useful with his life but instead goes from one grift to the next

Or wear the punisher skull while literally being a corrupt cop

Or say that drag shows are grooming kids while the preachers in your church keep getting outed as kiddy diddlers.

Or blame the insurance industry for the problems with american health care and then adopt a system they basically designed.

> How can audiophiles continue to exist with knowledge being so easily available?

People need to feel superior. So they choose a subjective field and claim to be objectively correct. Audiophiles are a relatively harmless version of this; other sorts of "truther" become actively dangerous.

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