Audiophile Fakery


I recently became aware of a trend in the auto world and I'm wondering if there is an audiophile analogy.

The sound of a revving engine says something primal to those who know and appreciate such sounds. The rumble of a V-8, the whine of an in-line four, that 12 cylinder growl and of course, the Harley heavy metal thunder. The newer, smaller and more efficient engines simply don't make these sounds and the auto makers have found a way around what they perceive as a problem. They simply fake the sound and run it through the car's audio system. Sometimes the engine sound is digitally synthesized and other times it's actual engine noise run through mechanical or DSP processors and then amplified. The list of manufacturers that engage in this sort of fakery includes BMW, Ford, Lexus, Volkswagen and Lotus.

I don't know if there are any high end audio equivalents of this practice, but could there be?

How about a preamp with half a dozen tubes prominently displayed, but when you examine the signal path the tubes are all bypassed. Or maybe a loudspeaker with a ribbon supertweeter that's not connected. A 160 lb. mono power amp with 120 lbs. of lead shot concealed under the circuit board. If these products existed would they be fakes or are the manufacturers just giving the people what they want, or at least what they think they want?
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They really do thatt with cars? I like mine quiet.

There may be some smoke and mirrors that goes into marketing to audiophiles for sure but placebo tubes seems a bit far fetched. I doubt that would get very far even if tried. Why bother as a maker and too easy to determine as a user. Most smoke and mirrors pitched at audiophiles is the kind that offers large profit margins and is hard to either prove or disprove. You know the old "you gotta try it" ( ie buy it) to know pitch.
Didn't Lexicon take an Oppo player and just put its own chassis around it and sell it for 2-3 times the Oppo's price a few years ago? Would that qualify here?
Even when gas is cheaper nowdays(no for too long tho), I still prefer my 2.0 XVCrosstrek to anyanyany roaring V8 muscle or power monster and my quiet BMW K1200 that can humiliate with ease any noisy Harley(anyone wants to throw cash to the race huh?). I like things as-is, americans love fake boobs, lips and hips too, so not interested in modifying my motorized vehicles with any unwanted fake noise at all.
The audio landscape is covered with BS to sift through.
There are many Chinese manufacturers that will use fake parts of any type labeled as OEM parts.
In the 1970s many of the Japanese speaker manufacturers made what is now loving referred to as "kabuki speakers" with as many drivers as possible, often 9 or 10, 15" woofers, multiple tweeters some horn even loaded. In some models, several drivers were not even hooked up to the crossover.

Not that all of the kabuki speakers were terrible; I rather like the Pioneer CS-99A and some of the Sansui behemoths.
Wow so interesting zzzz.
As if the constant Magico threads you post are eye openers, LOL!
I saw the inside of a 5k speaker cable that was twice as thick as a garden hose, underneath the ten pounds of cotton was one thing, a single 22 gauge cheap wire.
Stakes are highest assuming audiophile "fakery" with high end audio no doubt in that high end infers large chunks of money being thrown around in the pursuit of always better sound, more so than the alternatives. It is no doubt fertile grounds for "fakery". Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.
Wow I'm now in the corner crying Viridian!!!
"I don't know if there are any high end audio equivalents of this practice, but could there be?"

I don't know of any, but I know who the car companies can call. I've read many AG posts that praise Robert Grost from Unity/Cerious audio. I'm a fan myself. He's a very talented designer. Its hard to believe, but he use to work for GM and was in charge of making a Corvette sound like a Corvette. The only thing is, he had to do it the hard way, for real. No running it through the stereo system. If you ask him, he'll tell you.

So just when you think the high end industry is fake, remember that when you buy a Corvette, the liquid ceramic cables go in your home audio system, and not your car.
Ebm I thought you were sleeping, shoud've held the mirror up to your mouth, but the tears would've been the giveaway.
I don't recall the manufacturer but there have been some tube products on the market in the past where the tube had no apparent or audible function. As far as the "fake" engine noise, what happens when you turn the stereo off?
the tube on the peachtree is gimmicky. it actually makes things sound slightly worse. many uniformed "audiophiles" actually think they have a tube pre amp.

czarivey, would you take that 2.0 in your subie over the 4.5 v-8 in the Ferrari 458? if so, meet at the flag pole after school.
oh, btw, I initially thought this was a thread for an audiophile bakery and I got all excited
E.I.C. speakers from the 80's [Read Extreme Consumer Ignorance! ]

Red Rose with their products all outsourced and rebranded...The list goes on and on!
"01-22-15: Swampwalker
I don't recall the manufacturer but there have been some tube products on the market in the past where the tube had no apparent or audible function. As far as the "fake" engine noise, what happens when you turn the stereo off? "

If it was an older amp, you might be thinking of rectifier tubes. I don't think anyone uses them any more because most people felt there's no SQ benefit. Now everyone uses solid state rectification. But too be fair, I do know a few people that say they make a difference.

As far as the car audio issue is concerned, if I had to guess, they probably have a separate system just for engine noise. If they didn't, you would definitely be right. There would be no control over what the car would sound like.

Although, there could be conspiracy theory behind all this. If you loose the right or left channel, the dealer might be able to trick you into thinking you lost half your engine, and would try and sell you a new one. Or, if they're wired out of phase, they could make it sound like the motor is in the opposite end of the car, and sell it as a mid engine upgrade.
Hey, maybe bumping the low end just makes the device sound more powerful, and Krell's allusion to the movie's massive power plant creates an expectation of....nah.
Didn't sunfire use this gimmick on there amps and pre-amps?I believe they used a window with a tube glowing center fixed.
Car noise being pumped back into the cabin is one of the dumbest things I've heard of. BMW even has a dial to let you enhance the sound as you like.

If a properly designed car runs quietly, so be it. I think the trouble with this theme is that people who are not car people are and have been designing cars. Some jerk who used to design toasters, pens and furniture is now deciding what we need in a car. Bullocks I say. Let a car person design a car and leave it at that.

The same goes for all the digital trickery designed into the audio and climate controls. It's the stupidest idea I've ever seen. Give me dials (the analog version of controls) as the human eye and hand react faster to them as they immediately portray a setting that's relative to the whole and not some number. Having to take your eyes off the road, going through several sub menus just to turn the volume up or the heater down is asking for trouble.

It's only a matter of time (or is it here already?) before we're going to be told what we need to hear from someone who's never really appreciated this hobby and how to hear it. No thanks for me.

All the best,
Nonoise
"Red Rose with their products all outsourced and rebranded...The list goes on and on!"

Just about every company does that now. Why single Red Rose out? Do they do something like the OP pointed out, such as installing tubes that aren't part of the circuit?

At one company I worked at the marketing department did a study of consumer preferences to things like color, style, etc. One of the things they tested for was weight. They found by putting an iron slug at the bottom of the box, people judged it to be "higher quality".

We thought that was funny, but the company never acted on that marketing info. The thing to be careful of is that if you plan on having your company continue to exist for a long time, don't be caught doing cheap and sleazy things for short term gains.

I designed an Sony interface for one company, and after I did the higher end 8 channel product, they came out with two product versions from it. The lower end product was the same electronics, but the other four channels were not wired to the panel. It was half price. I don't think anybody got cheater by that. It was a marketing decision, and they decided they need to cover the high and low end, and it was cheaper to do it with only one production board.

I've designed a lot of stuff, and never have I been asked to do anything that I thought was shady in the electrical design. Shady stuff normally comes from the marketing department, it's their job, not mine.
"The thing to be careful of is that if you plan on having your company continue to exist for a long time, don't be caught doing cheap and sleazy things for short term gains.
"

Amen brother.
..except if you are Bill Belichick of course.

Sorry couldn't resist that one....
How about the very simple, and I guess generally accepted, frequency contouring of speakers? An upper midrange bump for more "detail" same thing in the upper bass for more "bass", etc.
"How about the very simple, and I guess generally accepted, frequency contouring of speakers? "

The geometry of the speaker box is very important to the sound quality and projection. I'm no expert in this area, but I have experimented with speakers in boxes and small changes make big differences. It's pretty complex, because sound waves bouncing off the backplane combine with the fundamental wave and you get cancellation and addition of the waves. At different frequencies you get different summation patterns of the waves, so there is always phase problems/effects with the box resonance and reflected waves.

To see what I mean, go to a web site that allows you to play with a simulated "wave tank".
Well, it helps to have all these magazines/reviewers inspecting and judging the merits of a wide range of products. I think the biggest deception, however, comes in how components are bundled together by audio/video stores who have sales reps with far more opinions than facts about what their selling. An example, is the recommendation of amplifier power. Higher wattage amps typically cost a lot more than lower power amps from the same manufacturer. But bigger is better, right? Wrong, if the ohm rating and efficiency of the speakers are not considered, not to mention the volume of the listening space, and the listener's music preferences. I believe quality should always trump quantity in a limited resources scenario. Rarely will you find a sales person willing or able to take the time necessary to work through these types of variables. As such, many consumers wind up spending a lot of money without getting the maximum 'bang-for-the-buck'. No one likes to go over to a friend's house and hear a system obviously outperforming at a third the cost. But...it happens all the time. I guess that's why AudioGon does so well!
I'm curious as to how effective is this affective treatment?
I just might be inconsolable had I learned this treatment were applied to Ferraris.
There was a tube CD player I was reading up on. It had a tube displayed in the center behind a clear material. And when the CD player was turned on the tube would also turn on. But someone said that the tube wasn't an operating tube and the manufacturer had placed it there for aesthetics. However, someone else wrote that the tube was for the headphone amp -- I believe.

Not sure who was right on that one.

As long as the manufacturer is honest that the tube is just for visual aesthetics and is not really functional, I don't see a problem with putting some illuminated tubes on display. Some people want their equipment to look cool. The advertising should boldly say whether the tube is part of the amp.
Tom32 I didn't mean to imply that frequency contouring was easy to do, just in the context of this thread vs add on doodads and such. Meaning it's a relatively commonplace alteration. I'm sure like all aspects of speaker design it's quite complex.
"Tom32 I didn't mean to imply that frequency contouring was easy to do"

Yes, Tom32 wasn't real clear about his point, but to clarify... =-}

Speaker design is very tricky, and goes beyond standard engineering and science and into the world of the black arts. =-} Some weird features of speakers might have some type of real function. It is hard to say, the field of wave interactions is so complex. A speaker box is more than just a container for the speaker, it is an important part of the design for projecting the sound waves. A complex area...
Ebm, get out of corner and quit crying and have fun!!!
Back in the day, some 25 years ago, I sold audio at a mid-fi/lower high end retailer. We carried Sony but not the Sony ES line which was carried by a competitor close by.

When someone came in looking for Sony ES, our response was, "What for?" Its the same exact thing as the regular Sony line, the ES just stands for Extra Sides and is more expensive (as the ES line came with nice wooden sides). I'm not sure if that was exactly true or not, but it did keep some people from walking out and going to our competitor :)
And in addition to the car engine sound nonsense, which has been confirmed in the popular press by the manufacturers, it's now been reported that the NFL is investigating whether one of their team (Atlanta maybe) is using their PA system to amplify crowd noise when their opponent is on offense! Belichek is said to be beside himself w envy ;-)
No, Belichek probably already uses that one :)
I seem to recall that some time ago an amplifier company realized that consumers put some value in the weight of amplifiers, so sand was put in the chassis to increase perceived value.
Doesn't every solid-state amp have sand in the chassis?
"02-08-15: Viridian
Doesn't every solid-state amp have sand in the chassis?"

It should. But you have to watch what these guys do or they'll cheat you on that too. About 50% of these clowns don't use audiophile grade sand. Can you believe it? If you cut your amp open and tell me what the sand looks like, I can verify if its audiophile grade or not.
Didn't Rotel have front mounted heat sinks on a power amp that had no heat dissipating function. It was just there to look "audiophile macho".