Fuses that matter.


I have tried six different fuses, including some that were claimed to not be directional. I have long used the IsoClean fuses as the best I have heard. No longer! I just got two 10 amp slow-blows WiFi Tuning Supreme fuses that really cost too much but do make a major difference in my sound. I still don't understand how a fuse or its direction can alter sound reproduction for the better, but they do and the Supreme is indeed! I hear more detail in the recordings giving me a more holographic image. I also hear more of the top and bottom ends. If only you could buy them for a couple of bucks each.
tbg
r u sure?
I have been tempted to try these, and now I feel more tempted.
@M- I AM!
I am too !!!
I have some that were conditioned under the northern lights(very transparent) and there only $199 a piece if your interested?
Those are ceramic I believe. I read a review about them the other day and it surprised me. I'd try them if I didn't have to buy them to try them. Aren't those $80?
From my experience, direction does matter but no idea why.

Check out Audio Magic fuses. They replaced all my HiFi Tuning gold and supreme fuses ... better tone, bloom ...
Knghifi, I did try them. I found them smeared and midrange oriented. I should also note that I have many of the older HiFi tuning fuses lying around here unused.

Donjr, you are right about the price. They are expensive. I don't think the Cable company allows trying them first with fuses.
I have no idea why the HiFi Tuning Supreme fuse should make a difference and yet it makes a very considerable difference in my system.No Hype just fact,these things work
04-26-12: Tbg
Knghifi, I did try them. I found them smeared and midrange oriented.
It sounds like the fuse is not broken in. When new, it sounds too sweet with emphasis in the mid but never smeared in my system. It takes 100+ hours for a fully break in. I have several friends using them with the same positive results.
They had at least a hundred hours on them.
I'm sure different fuses have different electrical properties that can affect the signal passing through it.

Personally I will not lose any sleep over fuses though. There are many other more straightforward ways to tweak the sound as needed.

Might have to consider getting into the audiophile fuse business though. $$$$$$$$$$$s
Goldeneraguy, I agree. When I was first told to change the direction of a fuse and it made a big difference, I had to face the fact that I had no clue why. Since then I have just accepted the reality that there is no explanation in EE to account for this. This, of course, means that there is no predicting which fuse or which direction will be best. For a long time I used IsoClean fuses that indicate with an arrow which way the fuse should go. Initially, I did listening tests to see if the arrow was going the right direction. It always was. Then the question is which end of the fuse is directly connected to the wall. The arrow should go from that end. Of course, with no arrow, you have to try both ways.
Well, there must be an explanation if a difference is heard.

MAybe the fuse line material is not electronically consistent from end to end resulting in non symmetric electrical properties that come into play when direction is switched?

When a fuse blows, the gap can seemingly occur anywhere,wherever the conductor is "weakest", and commonly towards one end or the other so that would be consistent with this theory.
Mapman, could be. There are many hypotheses.
Since the aftermarket fuses and cables come with arrows, there is obviously a predetermined method the manufacturers employ to control directionality during fabrication. This method most likely involves keeping track of the wire during the entire fabrication process, from rolling the metal to drawing the wires. If the fabrication process is not controlled, the probability that a given wire, fuse or cable will be inserted into the system with the correct direction is 50%. Since the crystal structure of the wire is not symmetrical after all the rolling and drawing, one direction will be noticeably more efficient for signal transfer.
04-27-12: Tbg
They had at least a hundred hours on them.
Nothing beats testing in your own system.
Only a fool would buy an expensive fuse. I bought two.

Hi Tbg - I recently bought Hifi Tuning fuses for both my amp and my preamp. Didn't notice much of a difference with the preamp, but definitely noticed something with the amp. I'm using the Silverstars, simply because they were cheaper than the Supremes. A $50 fuse rather than a $90 fuse. That's my idea of fiscal self restraint. No wonder I don't tell my wife.

I haven't experimented much with direction. For the preamp, I made sure that the arrow was pointed "downstream" (For the skeptics: Yes, I know it's alternating current, so it flows both ways). I confirmed the fuse's orientation by checking the preamp's internal wiring.

For the amp (Pass XA30.5), I can't tell whether the fuse is pointed downstream or not. The fuse is held into the chassis by a cylindrical fuse housing that screws into the rear panel. Anyone know if there's a typical orientation for those kinds of fuse holders?

On the face of it, it's baffling that a fuse's orientation could affect sound quality. I haven't experienced it myself, but I'm open to the possibility. I suspect we're going to hear from people who are not.

Bryon
I used to sell a lot of fuses at Radio Shack. I also replaced a lot of blown fuses in customer gear at Tech Hifi.

It's been a while since a fuse in an audio device and myself have crossed paths, but the concept of a directional fuse seems new to me. I do not recall anything dealing with one orientation versus the other? Of course, I may have dealt with a few audiophiles but most were normal people who just wanted sound to come out of both channels of their amps.
04-27-12: Bryoncunningham
For the amp (Pass XA30.5), I can't tell whether the fuse is pointed downstream or not. The fuse is held into the chassis by a cylindrical fuse housing that screws into the rear panel. Anyone know if there's a typical orientation for those kinds of fuse holders?
Hi Bryon,

It should be possible to determine that by unplugging the amp, removing the fuse, and checking for the presence or absence of continuity between the AC hot pin on the power plug and the contact at the accessible end of the fuseholder.

Best,
-- Al
Russe41: "I have some that were conditioned under the northern lights(very transparent) and there only $199 a piece if your interested?"

Only if you learn to spell the abbrevations for 'they are' and 'you are' and stop ending sentences with a question mark. ... :-)
.
Naysayers don't realize importance of the fuse and its influence on the sound. Just to test it I removed fuse once from my amplifier and sound was gone. I mean gone completely. Fuses are absolutely necessary for good sound.
Kijanki, so what your saying is that depending on the state of that little filament inside the fuse, sound quality can range from extreme paradise to nil...and anything in between?
Kijanki, I know what you mean. If I take all the gas out of my motorcycle it handles much better due to reduced weight but it doesn't accelerate very quickly. Also makes the $1000.00 Staintune exhaust seem like a waste of money.
what is they are just rebranded radio shack fuses that sell for 39 cents each and then are given a nice look and a huge mark up;this is the only area of our hobby I have a tough time with.This is my only post where I am probally going to get slammed.
For me, there are 3 things regarding fuses I know about that I would care about:

1) it's power rating
2) it's blown
3) it's not blown

Otherwise, the fuse probably rates so far down among the things I worry about sound quality-wise that I will likely never get to the point of doing a/b comparisons between fuses.

I guess even an audio nutcase has to draw the line somewhere, right?

GOtta get my new audiophile fuse business a rollin' though. I could use some dough! $$$$$$$$$$$s.
I've never tried better fuses but if it's only placebo effect that's OK too, as long as it works for you. Enjoy the improvement but don't do any double blind tests because you might loose all the effect.
If one spents thousands on a system, spending an extra $50 for a fuse is good ROI IMO. Worst case scenerio is out $50.
I just bought a HiFi Tuning Supreme fuse for my integrated amp. Why? Because I haven't bought anything for my system lately and I'm currently very happy with all the big expensive parts and I had the itch to buy something. For a mere $89.00 it cured the itch for a while and didn't degrade the sound a bit. The little box with the window on the top that it came in was so cool it could've had a Radio Shack fuse in it and the itch would still be cured. Now I sit and listen just knowing how healthy and robust those electrons are as they exit the fuse on their way to creating musical nirvana. Jeez, I haven't even had a beer yet...
It might be worth mentioning that this whole fuse directionality issue suggests a deeper, perhaps more disturbing problem, the inherent problem with all wires - they are all directional. The wiring in amps, interconnects, speakers, cd players, etc. One wonders what a system would sound like if the same care in fabricating the new breed of aftermarket fuses with respect to directionality was applied to all wires in the system?
Bizangol I am with you kind of. Well put. What it took for me was the word 'supreme' on the fuse. I just feel my system is so warm and fuzzy I got 'The Supreme' fuse, non better. Money well spent I say. Now how about those cute little screws? Or maybe change the paint color that way I can kill two birds with one stone. Make the wife happy and make me cool. Ya I thinks I will go with the paint. Anybody got earls number?
04-27-12: Almarg
It should be possible to determine that by unplugging the amp, removing the fuse, and checking for the presence or absence of continuity between the AC hot pin on the power plug and the contact at the accessible end of the fuseholder.

Ahh, of course. Don't know why that didn't occur to me. Thanks, Al.

Bryon
I am not going to comment on this thread. However, I'm going to let this ell known designer speak for me:

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=105425.0
Do you "re-fuse?" (my 32nd most cerebral pun of the decade). Follow the rubber line. Now I feel I have to take every piece of my gear apart and see if the wires are "direction appropriate"...would an electron microscope be useful in detecting the optimal wire grain orientation direction? Damn...this is gonna take forever....
Wolf_garcia, Forever? What about house wiring. You have no idea how long and painful it was to pull and reinsert wires in opposite direction. I'm working on power company to do the same but for some reason they are very resistant to this idea (definitely not audiophiles)
Although I now own them, I don't take fancy fuses very seriously. I bought them largely out of curiosity, after reading dozens of testimonials from audiophiles who reported hearing results. I too thought I heard results. I'm happy to be wrong about that. I don't mind being the victim of placebo, and I don't feel the impulse to defend my initial listening impressions. Listening impressions, and particularly the inferences derived from them, can be mistaken for all kinds of reasons.

Having said that, I tend to take audiophiles' listening impressions at face value, unless I have a good reason not to. Sometimes I have a good reason. But most of the time, I recognize that he was there in the room and I wasn't, so why not give him the benefit of the doubt that he heard what he heard. The benefit of the doubt can always be withdrawn, and very little is lost except some conversation. All of this is prologue to what I'd really like to say, which is an observation followed by a question. The observation is this...

It's widely (though not universally) acknowledged by people who are both audiophiles and experts in electronic design that, in addition to the Known Parameters that affect sound quality, it is likely that there are Unknown Parameters that affect sound quality. Those Unknown Parameters are either unmeasured or unmeasurable, though that could change with the progress of knowledge, either theoretical or applied.

And the question is this...

For those who acknowledge the likelihood of Unknown Parameters, what is the standard by which Possible Unknown Parameters are distinguished from Impossible Unknown Parameters? Since by definition it cannot be the standard of prevailing knowledge, it must be something else. But what? Intuition?

If the answer is intuition, I can accept that. I believe intuition is worth something. In fact, I believe it's worth quite a bit. But I will point out that intuition, even the intuition of experts, has been wrong innumerable times, with consequences ranging from trivial to amusing to catastrophic. In fact, there is reason to believe that intuition is wrong far more often than it is right, for the reason that there are VASTLY more ways of being wrong than being right.

So again, what is the standard by which Possible Unknown Parameters are distinguished from Impossible Unknown Parameters? I ask this because, IMHO, the idea that wires are directional or that fuses can affect sound quality, while they may be outside the scope of prevailing knowledge, fall within the scope of possible knowledge.

I could be wrong. People usually are.

Bryon
The problem with the argument that "innumerable" people, even experts, are wrong is that there only needs to be one person, expert or not,that is right to prove the thing works. There are obviously many reasons why someone might not get the expected results, including impaired hearing, lack of listening experience, faults somewhere in the system, failure to follow instructions, etc. Thus, negative results mean precious little, except to support claims by naysayers that the device under test disobeys all known laws of science, is fraudulent, or is simply a placebo.
04-28-12: Geoffkait
There are obviously many reasons why someone might not get the expected results, including impaired hearing, lack of listening experience, faults somewhere in the system, failure to follow instructions, etc. Thus, negative results mean precious little, except to support claims by naysayers that the device under test disobeys all known laws of science, is fraudulent, or is simply a placebo.
On the other hand, positive results don't mean much either, unless:

A)The assessment was conducted in a sufficiently disciplined manner, and with sufficient understanding of the variables that might affect the results, such that there can be a reasonable degree of certainty that the result is being attributed to the correct variable.

For example, extraneous variables that could conceivably affect assessment of a fuse, especially one that is claimed by some to require 100 hours of breakin, would include ongoing aging, breakin, loss of breakin or rebreakin of system components; equipment being in a different state of warmup during the different parts of the comparison; differences in contact integrity resulting from removing and replacing the fuse, including scraping away of oxidation that may occur, as well as differences in contact pressure; changes in AC line voltage or noise conditions; changes in room temperature (temperature is a parameter that is fundamental to the physics of transistors and other semiconductor devices); and changes in RFI/EMI conditions.

B)There is sufficient understanding of the mechanisms by which the device works, if in fact it does work, to provide confidence that its effects are not just a quirk of its interaction with the particular system, that would not occur in many or most other systems.

For example, a finding that a fuse makes a difference with a Class AB or Class D amplifier, for which the AC current draw fluctuates dramatically as the volume of the music varies, IMO would say nothing about the likelihood that it would make a difference with a Class A amplifier, for which there is little fluctuation in AC current draw.

C)The assessment was conducted in a sufficiently disciplined manner to rule out the possibility of misperception, placebo effect, or self-reinforcing mass hallucination (a la the stock market, ca. 2000). As a minimum, that would mean going back and forth at least a couple of times between the devices being compared, to verify that the results are repeatable. In saying that, I am not necessarily referring to an immediate ABX-type back and forth comparison, since I recognize that not all differences will be perceivable in a short-term comparison.
04-28-12: Bryoncunningham
What is the standard by which Possible Unknown Parameters are distinguished from Impossible Unknown Parameters?
As with most things in life, IMO it comes down to judgment, hopefully judgment that is as informed as possible. Informed by a combination of technical understanding, experience, and inputs from others. While judgments will certainly differ considerably from person to person, it is all that we have to go on. In applying that judgment, we weigh what we consider to be the likelihood of significant benefit against the time, expense, and potential risks and downsides (see the link Clio provided) that are involved in pursuing it.

FWIW, my own "a priori," subjective, and certainly fallible judgment is that the possibility of a fuse making a sonic difference falls within the realm of a Possible Unknown Parameter, while its directionality does not. In saying that, I certainly do not exclude the possibility that cables (as opposed to fuses) may have directional sensitivity, the two situations being distinguished by the vastly different lengths that are involved, by the less direct relation between a fuse and the signal path, and by the fact that many cables are asymmetrical by design (with the outer shield being grounded at only one end).

Best regards,
-- Al
Almarg, for what it's worth, I agree. I certainly think that mankind lacks total understanding of how the universe works and in fact when it comes to quantum physics may lack the capability to understand. Any one who believes that all wires sound the same, all capacitors sound alike, etc. just isn't listening with normal ears.
04-28-12: Almarg
...my own "a priori," subjective, and certainly fallible judgment is that the possibility of a fuse making a sonic difference falls within the realm of a Possible Unknown Parameter, while its directionality does not. In saying that, I certainly do not exclude the possibility that cables (as opposed to fuses) may have directional sensitivity...
I agree. As I said in my last post...
...the idea that wires are directional or that fuses can affect sound quality, while they may be outside the scope of prevailing knowledge, fall within the scope of possible knowledge.
I mentioned *cable* direction but I deliberately left out *fuse* direction, which I doubt is a Possible Unknown Parameter. But I don't have a particularly informed judgement about fuse directionality either. Speaking of informed judgment...
IMO it comes down to judgment, hopefully judgment that is as informed as possible. Informed by a combination of technical understanding, experience, and inputs from others. While judgments will certainly differ considerably from person to person, it is all that we have to go on.
I agree with this, Al, as a general statement of what we must rely on to distinguish Possible Unknown Parameters from Impossible ones. Your last post also gives me a better idea of some of the specific factors that influence your judgments. I'd be interested to hear from other folks as well about what specific factors influence their judgments. It interests me both as a philosophical question...

--How do you decide when something is worth exploring?

...and as a practical question...

--How do you decide when something is worth experimenting with?

There's of course a great deal of variation among audiophiles on these two questions. Personally, I like to explore and experiment with a wide range of things, including some things that fall into the category of Magic. I like to think it's out of curiosity, though some will say it's out of gullibility. So my own answers to the questions above are...

--A thing is worth exploring if it is reported by either (a) a single source of known credibility OR (b) multiple sources of unknown credibility. And...

--A thing is worth experimenting with if (c) it meets condition (a) or (b), AND (d) it doesn't strike me as deception or insanity.

IMO, both cable directionality and fancy fuses meet conditions (c) and (d), and so fall into the category of Possible Unknown Parameters. But I respect that other people arrive at these decisions differently.

04-28-12: Geoffkait
The problem with the argument that "innumerable" people, even experts, are wrong is that there only needs to be one person, expert or not,that is right to prove the thing works. There are obviously many reasons why someone might not get the expected results, including impaired hearing, lack of listening experience, faults somewhere in the system, failure to follow instructions, etc. Thus, negative results mean precious little, except to support claims by naysayers that the device under test disobeys all known laws of science, is fraudulent, or is simply a placebo.
This makes it sound as though the intuition I was challenging in my last post was the intuition of BELIEVERS, when in fact I was challenging the intuition of SKEPTICS. It is remarkable, Geoff, that although my last post was in effect a DEFENSE of your views that cable directionality and fancy fuses might affect sound quality, you chose to treat it as an ATTACK of your views. No good deed...

Bryon
Almarg - Positive results don't mean anything to Skeptics, that much I agree with. Since it's probably true that anyone who hasn't tried one of these controversial devices, like aftermarket fuses, will be Skeptical of them - who wouldn't be? But for those who can hear the difference, who have tried them in their system, unde whatever test conditions they prefer, blind, double blind, A/B, whatever, then a Skeptic will have a difficult road to hoe trying to convince him that he didn't hear them. It's partly a question of how much you trust your hearing, how much experience you have listening, how developed your skills are listening.

B C - not sure why you use the word intuition, that appears to be your way of saying this whole thing is psychological. I am saying that at some point one has to trust his ears and saying, well, I'm not really sure what I heard. Even the manufacturer of Hi Fi Tuning fuses steadfastly refused, for many years, to believe fuses were directional, even his own. His theory was that fuses will eventually adjust to be "correct" no matter which direction they are inserted. About three years ago guess what? His fuses come out with those funny little arrows on them. He finally saw the light. You could say he was a reconstructed die hard Skeptic. By the way, fuse directionality is not difficult to prove, it's ridiculously easy. Any old fuse will do. Just reverse fuses one at a time and go with the direction that sounds best. Mystery solved.
There's a lot of talk about how great these fuses are by some people. The way the metal is drawn, the structure of the burn wire, and endless ways of stating they must be better.

Here's one for everyone. When metals are continuously heated and cooled, their structure deteriorates. The burn wire in these fuses get quite hot, cool down, over and over.

With that thought in mind, what is better. A month old fifty dollar designer fuse, with its abused burn wire, or a new fifty cent shiny burn wire fuse, that has a burn wire that has not been exposed to all of these heating and cooling cycles yet. I'd guess the new fifty cent one is superior...
04-28-12: Geoffkait
B C - not sure why you use the word intuition, that appears to be your way of saying this whole thing is psychological.
No. I used the word intuition here...
For those who acknowledge the likelihood of Unknown Parameters, what is the standard by which Possible Unknown Parameters are distinguished from Impossible Unknown Parameters? Since by definition it cannot be the standard of prevailing knowledge, it must be something else. But what? Intuition?
As should be clear from that paragraph, I was asking people how they decide what tweaks are plausible and what tweaks are nonsense. I asked that in response to the people who have said, in one way or another, that fancy fuses are nonsense.

As far as my own view, I made it clear that I DON'T believe that fancy fuses are nonsense, though I acknowledge that it is a possibility. So you could put me down as a Tentative Believer. That is a far cry from saying the whole thing is psychological.

04-28-12: Audiofeil
And make sure you check the polarity of the dilithium crystals. The humanoids say it makes a difference.
Dilithium crystals? I will Paypal immediately. Better yet, I will send a Cashier's check for twice the price, and you can refund me the difference.

bc
It should be pretty clear that if you ask people what they think about controversial tweaks you're going to get a variety of responses. It should also be pretty obvious that Skeptics will always respond something to the effect, it can't possibly work, it disobeys all known laws of physics, it's the placebo effect, it won't pass a double blind test, etc. Don't you often find a Skeptic to be someone who pontificates from the comfort of an easy chair but who rarely, if ever, gets down to business and actually investigates the object of his pontification?

As I mentioned previously somewhere along the line, anyone wishing to indulge in armchair skepticism need look no further than Shun Mook Mpingo discs, Rainbow Foil, SteinMusic Harmonizer, those tiny little metal bowls, Schumann Frequency generators and many other devices. Controversial tweaks are controversial because they are not really subject to intuition. If they were they wouldn't be controversial.
I tried to replace my HiFi gold fuses with the Supreme fuses, and found them worse in just about every way. They were mechanical, etched, unmusical. I could hear the difference in a single fuse. I then reversed the direction and it got worse. I let it settle for a little while (in the correct direction), but it did not improve significantly.

People need to let their ears be the judge, in their own systems. If the 'sucker is born every minute' mentality were true, I would have replaced all my current fuses with the Supreme because they are more expensive and elaborate. Sometime expensive isn't always better. For me, changing fuses to HiFi gold (10 in total) was one of the best improvements for the dollar, for my system. All I can say is, NOT SUBTLE.
Geoffkait, yes, they do say all that you say. They do seem to think that smart ass response have some benefit in the argument. And they do think that they know the laws of physics or at least those from EE. They also totally violate the credo of science to get observations and data and to test hypotheses.

Basically, they are best left ignored. I must say that I wonder why you don't do so.