John Atkinson no longer editor of Stereophile.

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Thouston, Mar 2, 2019.

  1. gov

    gov Forum Resident

    Location:
    NYC
    I recently upgraded the power chord on my okkie Nokki to an audioquest dragon high current.

    Is this the thread to comment on the improvement the chord brought in my highs and soundstage after cleaning records with it?
     
  2. Ponso1966

    Ponso1966 Member

    Location:
    Florida
    It’s shocking sometimes to read that something like a 60k amplifier given to a reviewer is defective after measurements are done. Makes me wonder what percentage of gear is defective out of the box. This is one good thing measurements are good for.
     
  3. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    Or another no-win situation, the reviewer might find it sufficient to hook the $100,000 preamp up to a $20,000 Audio Precision analyzer and make some measurements.

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Dream On

    Dream On Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    I find it crazy how some people are dismissing measurements, as if they have no value whatsoever.

    I guess it's debatable whether measurements can inform us how something will sound. Certainly, we'll want to do proper set up and listen to a system in our room (this is the real test). I think measurements can be helpful here - they definitely can tell us how something is likely to sound - but I wouldn't rely on them too much.

    So don't get me wrong here - ultimately, to decide whether we like or dislike how something sounds, we must use our ears.

    But, where measurements are crucial, are things like impedance matching. Looking at the impedance and phase angle of speakers is crucial to matching them up with an amp. Also, I've been thinking of adding a separate DAC to my system and thanks to Stereophile I can see that the Border Patrol DAC will not be a good impedance match with my Sugden amp. So this potentially saves me from spending money on something that I would end up disappointed about.

    To me, insights like these are very important, and there is almost nowhere but Stereophile to gain them. All we usually get with reviews is a bunch of rambling on in varying degrees of positive descriptors about the sound, and that is far less useful. This is why I think I prefer some of the British mags for that type of review - if you are going to ramble on about stuff like this then please try to get to the point and keep it relatively concise.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
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  5. ALAN SICHERMAN

    ALAN SICHERMAN Van Cortlandt Park

    Location:
    Cleveland, OH
    Stereophile has changed a lot over the years and IMHO not for the better. Many writers I've liked are no longer there and I've decided to let my subscription lapse.
     
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  6. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    I suppose but the Audio Precision is over $20,000 I believe - and besides Audio Note uses a better one than your pictured one. The notion that tube amp companies don't measure is a miss - as you can see for Audio Note's factory tour at 45 seconds

    The job of measuring and testing and designing is the manufacturer's not the consumer's. Consumer's job is to listen - If you one listen and determine what is good or not - this is probably not the hobby for them. Buy your stereo from Walmart and take up fishing or photography or photographing fish.

     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
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  7. Dream On

    Dream On Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    I don't fully agree. Part of the consumer's job is selecting components that play well together (otherwise s/he may be sorely disappointed). In this respect, Stereophile did more than their share to help. Manufacturers might measure but they often do not publish those measurements that can help a consumer successfully match one component to another.
     
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  8. Giacomo Belbo

    Giacomo Belbo Journalist for Rolling Stone 1976-1979

    I get what you're trying to say but honestly there are so many exceptions to that rule: a lot of components that theoretically do not go well together they actually do and the other way around and the key reason for that is that measurements capture only a very narrow part of the listening experience, in that respect they might become misleading in some cases.
     
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  9. ZenArcher

    ZenArcher Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham, NC
    I don’t know of any other hobby or avocation where the consumer is discouraged from knowing the facts about a product they’re considering. To expect consumers, most of whom these days have no way to audition and compare products, to ignore specs and measurements before they buy is unrealistic. Looking at measurements by independent third parties can help the consumer at least narrow down his options and keep from making a bad choice.

    The last sentence illustrates why this “hobby” is dying. It’s become an exclusionary, faith-based clique where people who just want good, accurate sound without a lot of fuss are flipped off and sent to Walmart.
     
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  10. Fruff76

    Fruff76 L100 Classic - Fan Club President

    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    Haha
     
  11. Fruff76

    Fruff76 L100 Classic - Fan Club President

    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    I had an experience like that at Axpona. A designer was telling me about all of his reviewer friends in Manhattan and how they gush over some amp that lets them hear tiny details of people wheezing in the audience or what not. This was in a room with $15,000 boutique bookshelf speakers. When he asked what i have, and I told him JBL, he seemed visibly annoyed and very dismissive.
     
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  12. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Well I suppose we need to address what specific measurement is going to help people match components. The first and simplest measurement on a speaker is the sensitivity. Most speaker manufacturers sell stereo pairs - two speakers. Right? 99.99999999% of everyone who buys loudspeakers for the last 30 years are buying TWO (2) I repeat TWO speakers or in fact more than two if it is a home theater - they may buy two rears a center and a sub.

    So Devore 0/96 and the AN E are nice examples where Stereophile (maybe because they don't have an actual qualified degree holding engineer) measures only one loudspeaker in the middle of a room emulating the anechoic chamber (basically this takes the walls out of the equation). So DeVore publishes 96dB - very likely because Devore measure their speakers(plural) at 1 meter.

    The second speaker ADDS 3dB, a side wall adds 3dB and a back wall adds 3dB. So DeVore claims 96dB - Stereophile says 91dB - well with the second speaker applied to the Devore it is 94dB if the Devores are free standing. Pretty close.

    In the case of the AN E's 97.5 dB Stereophile got 92.5dB (which is still better than the Devore) - add the second speaker and corners (which is how the manufacturer measures and tells people the placement is for the corner and 92.5+9dB is 101.5dB at 1 meter - but AN measures further back at a realistic listening distance - probably 10 feet so 97.5dB.

    The point here isn't that Stereophile is necessarily wrong for having a standard measurement protocol - all speakers must fit the round hole. But that the round hole isn't designed for the odd square peg. IMO if you can't even do this basic testing element to be able to offer fair advice for speaker sensitivity then what else is missed. A Professional should phone up Devore and Audio Note and say "hey we got this measurement can you explain how you got your measurement). Before you try to insinuate people are liars - make a phone call.

    Now to be fair JA did say in both cases that they are fine with flea watt amps. But then isn't that all you need to know. Can I drive this speaker with an 8 watt SET amp and get ear damaging volume levels and the answer is yes - yes you can. Some stuff is important at a practical level and some stuff is winning numbers arguments. What matters is whether the speaker will work with the 8 watt amp I own or intend to buy.

    And umm - one can determine that by walking into the shop - putting in your favorite AC/DC track and turning the volume way way up. Gee the 8 watt amp can make me crap myself - good job. Speaker is easy to drive.
     
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  13. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Unfortunately these sales people are all over the place in all kinds of products. If it needs to be sold by a salesman hard - then it probably isn't all that great.

    And in fact it may be that a $15,000 speaker might let you hear an audience member sneeze while your speaker does not - but that doesn't necessarily mean the former sounds better. It may do one thing better - it still may do 9 things worse.
     
  14. captwillard

    captwillard Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nashville
    Well, things like measurements certainly go against agendas. Of course, measurements can't tell you everything, but they cartainly can give you an idea how accurate a component is, how much noise it adds to the signal, how well it drives difficult loads, etc. What they can't tell you if a particular listener will enjoy what some of these less that ideal measurements do to the overall sound or at least do to the sound of recordings the one enjoys.
     
  15. Giacomo Belbo

    Giacomo Belbo Journalist for Rolling Stone 1976-1979

    Sadly they cannot tell you at all how accurate a component is. If you're referring to sources or amplifiers there is zero measure and if you take speakers there is the frequency response which of course doesn't reflect accuracy because it does not include all the other parameters of the sound (timbre, dynamics, etc.). So measurements can't tell you really anything about the most important part when buying a component hmmm. The rest (noise level, etc.) are just details...
     
  16. JMAC

    JMAC Audio subjectivist

    Location:
    PDX, OR, USA
    As it happens, I’ve found myself terribly distracted by all the audience and room noise in the recent Gorecki release sung by Beth Gibbons and conducted by Penderecki. I wish they would have recorded that one differently; there’s too much distance between the orchestra and the listener.

    I don’t totally understand the people that revel in those sounds.
     
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  17. captwillard

    captwillard Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nashville
    I don’t agree. You can certainly measure inputs and outputs of components and compare. Just like you can on video.
     
  18. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Seriously?
     
  19. Dream On

    Dream On Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    Well, what does it mean, "theoretically do not go well together"? That needs to be defined. If it doesn't look like the best match but it's not terrible, then go ahead and try. It may work. But...

    Maybe it'll work for some types of music only. Or in a relatively small room. Or maybe it will work but if you try a better theoretical match you'd be surprised to learn the better theoretical match is in fact superior.

    So there are a lot of variables and we'd probably need to study this more thoroughly to actually come to any real conclusions.

    Failing that I'd rather have more data than less. There is nothing that says one has to be a slave to the data. It should serve as a guide, not be a set of inflexible rules that leads a person to a system that sounds bad.
     
  20. Dream On

    Dream On Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    As I mentioned earlier, speaker impedance and phase angle. And also input and output impedance between components. You've actually talked a lot about this in the past.

    If Stereophile could do a better job measuring sensitivity then that's a separate discussion. I don't really disagree with your points about that. But all that means is they should try to improve their methods to ensure they are fair and can be applied to real life situations (like corner placement) when that makes sense. It doesn't mean they should stop measuring or that their measurements have no value.

    Not all situations are so cut and dried. Flea watts is pretty straightforward and will automatically rule out most speakers.

    Not necessarily. Some people don't have a store nearby to demo certain models. And what if they end up putting their system in a bigger room? Suddenly it doesn't sound as impressive as it did at the store.

    Again, I'm not sure why the stance against the publishing of facts about things we are spending 4 or 5 figures on. I don't want to just take someone's word for it that a system of components from different manufacturers will work fine. Or trust what I hear in a flawed in store demo (which 90% of the time you can't even do because most dealers don't carry much stock). I generally like to make educated decisions.
     
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  21. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    If I'm spending 4-5 figures on a piece of gear, you can bet it will be a in-home demo.

    Published specs don't enter into my purchasing decisions, never have.

    I look at things like speaker sensitivity, impedance, power output and general things of that nature.
     
  22. Dream On

    Dream On Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    Maybe I am misreading but paragraphs 2 and 3 do not seem to correlate.

    I just want to reiterate that I see measurements as a guide as to which components I will consider. My ears will decide which ones I buy and keep.

    So going back to the measures I uncovered in Stereophile that suggest the Border Patrol DAC is an impedance mismatch for my Sugden. I have no where to demo this DAC and no ability to try it myself before I buy. You can bet this gives me cause for concern. I am sure the DAC sounds sublime. But I will likely be choosing another DAC instead, assuming I keep the Sugden.

    Would anyone out there seriously advise, "screw it - buy the DAC, the impedance mismatch will have no impact."?
     
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  23. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I have not answer for you because I do not even consider things like this.

    Before retiring I was going to purchase a Border Patrol NOS DAC as a free stand-alone DAC.

    I could care less about the imperdance.

    In my entire life, Impedance mismatch have never effected me before. No need to start now.

    If it makes you happy...
     
  24. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    I agree with this. Border Patrol and Audio Note are basically different animals to virttually all other DACs and in the DAC 0.1x manual it specifically has a warning as to impdence matching to amplifiers.

    But the manufacturer did this already. I'm not familiar with Border Patrols manual or whether they make a note on what to look for in matching. The measurement in this case is valuable because when I review the AN Dac it is with an AN M3 preamp. So it matches. If however you were using a SS preamp.. maybe it wouldn't.

    AN does state that when ordered if you are using a SS preamp they can adjust the impedance of the DAC to match.

    But you as a consumer need to know all of this going in. If the dealer and manufacturer don't tell you then you need the measurement.

    Not against measurements. Like this or senstivity/amp matching. Still good manufacturers and dealers provide this information.
     
  25. Dream On

    Dream On Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    Thanks. The AN DAC is on my list of three or four DACs that I'm considering. It's good to know they have the ability to adjust the impedance to ensure a match. Perhaps Border Patrol can do the same. If so then that's great; it keeps both options open for me.

    With respect to good dealers and manufacturers providing this info, I don't know. I bet I could ask 10 dealers and 9 wouldn't be able to tell me. I feel dealers are kind of at the mercy of manufacturers when it comes to measurements (many of them do not publish key measurements like impedance graphs). How many dealers will take it upon themselves to measure stuff like this? Stereophile can only measure so much. The best a good dealer can maybe do is try a variety of amps with a pair of speakers to get a sense for how much power they need.
     

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