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

Showing 50 responses by bryoncunningham

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
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
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
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
Here are the putative explanations I've been able to find for why a fancy fuse might improve sound quality...

1. Lower DC resistance
2. Less voltage drop
3. Lower microphonics
4. More conductive materials
5. Better electrical contact between fuse caps and fuse wire
6. Better mechanical contact between fuse and clips
7. Better conductivity due to cryo treatment

For the folks who know about these things, do any of those seem plausible?

Bryon
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
M. Spock-

Here is the information you requested...

Social Security: 4b76 #9877 274à
Drivers: $^&::}_
Bowling Average: 1000

The soup, deed, rings, and interconnects I have sent UPS, tracking number here.

Unfortunately, all of my fuses are directional, so I have sent you a pair of mittens instead. I trust this will meet with your approval.

Awaiting your instructions.

Truly,
Bryon J. Cunningham, esquire
04-29-12: Kijanki
If these fuses make "major difference in sound" as Tbg stated then why manufacturer's don't install them in gear they sell...

Hi Kijanki - That's a fair question. I suspect that if fuses did indeed make a major difference, and a manufacturer was aware of it, he MIGHT be inclined to include them in his products.

On the other hand, there are very well respected manufacturers who do NOT include accessories that many audiophiles consider essential to good sound. Most amplifiers, even quite expensive ones, come with generic power cords. My Pass amp came with the same power cord as my microwave. If you believe power cords have an effect on sound quality, then why don't manufacturers include better ones?

Power cords are just one example. I am also aware of a $12K preamp from a very well known manufacturer that has a $55 off-the-shelf power supply. Are we to believe that the manufacturer thinks that a preamp's power supply is unimportant to its sound quality?

In other words, I think that "Manufacturers don't use it, therefore it doesn't affect sound quality" is not a valid inference.

Having said that, I will repeat that I am not convinced that fuses affect sound quality, in spite of a personal experience in which they seemed to. I am open to both sides of the argument. That is why, in my last post, I asked folks to weigh in on the plausibility of the technical explanations offered by manufacturers of fancy fuses. I know you have considerable technical expertise. Do any of the items on that list strike you as plausible?

Bryon
A characteristically thoughtful and well informed answer. Thanks, Al. You have raised the level of my skepticism about what I MIGHT have heard when I installed the fuses.

I think I will A/B the ordinary and the fancy fuse and see if I can reproduce the effect. I may even experiment with direction. :-0

Bryon
Some kind of unfriendly ghost doesn't want me to A/B anything. When I decided to A/B grounding pigtails in a friend's system a couple weeks ago, he suddenly blew a tweeter. The replacement tweeter still hasn't showed up.

When I decided to A/B my Hifi Tuning fuses 2 days ago, I removed the fuse from the amp and cracked the fuse housing! It still works, but taking it in and out of the amp 10 times to A/B is a bad idea. I talked to Pass Labs yesterday (they are really nice guys, btw), and they are sending me another fuse housing free of charge. Should be here in a couple days. So I will in fact A/B these little suckers.

I'll report back about whether I hear Magic or Placebo. Admittedly, they sound similar, but I'm doing my best to keep honest.

Bryon
-----------THE RESULTS ARE IN--------

Today I had an opportunity to A/B the Hifi Tuning fuses with the stock fuses. As I was alone, I was not able to A/B/X. For those of you who believe that that invalidates my observations, you can stop reading. For everybody else...

The answer is Yes, I heard a difference between the Hifi Tuning fuses and the stock fuses. Here's the good part...

I preferred the stock fuses.

I suppose that makes me a fool twice over. First, for buying the damn things. Second, for initially preferring them. In my defense, I didn't hear much of a difference when I put the Hifi Tuning fuse in my *preamp* a few weeks ago, and so I didn't actually prefer it to the stock fuse. When I put the Hifi Tuning fuse into my *amp* a few weeks ago, there was a noticeable jump in headroom. But I could NOT reproduce that effect today. I therefore suspect that the initial jump in headroom was attributable to...

1. My imagination.
2. The possibility that the new fuse was clean and the old fuse was dirty.
3. The dog turning up the volume while my back was turned.

Returning to today's results...

What I DID hear today was a "phasiness" with the Hifi Tuning fuses, which sounded like a combination of decreased clarity, softening of transients, and slight loss of imaging focus. This was most perceptible in the bass during fairly loud playback.

For those of you who think this is all nonsense, I don't really have a good response, since I did not A/B/X. So I am prepared to endure your ridicule.

Bryon
Hi Wolf - I tried them forwards, sdrawkcab, miɿɿoɿɘb, uʍop ǝpısdn, and ndsıpǝ poʍu ɐup qɐɔʞʍɐɹps.

Hi Al - I agree it would be interesting to test a number of different cheap fuses. If my listening tests are valid, then there is an audible difference among at least some fuses. But like cables, more expensive doesn't always mean better.

Bryon
FWIW, during my recent listening experiment, I A/B'd fuse direction in the amp (Pass XA30.5). I must have switched fuse direction 15 or 20 times.

I SOMETIMES thought I MIGHT have heard a difference, but it was well within the category of -yourmindisplayingtricksonyou-. I'm not saying that fuse direction can't have audible effects. I'm just saying that, for me, it did not. That could be because...

1. My ears aren't good enough.
2. My system isn't good enough.
3. My amp is not sensitive to fuse direction.
4. Nothing is sensitive to fuse direction.

About which is true, I don't really have an opinion.

Bryon
05-07-12: Tbg
Bryoncunningham, does it matter which is true? I think not.
Does it matter? It matters if you're interested in the question of whether fuse direction has audible effects. It doesn't matter in the way that unemployment matters, or climate change matters, or global poverty matters. But then again, neither does anything we discuss on this site.

Whether something matters depends on what you think is worth talking about. Apparently you don't think fuses are worth talking about...
None of this discussion matters much to me.
Wait a second. Aren't you the one who started this conversation?

Bryon
Wow, Tbg. That was quite a volatile reaction. I suggest you take a cooling off period before you read my reply.

Here was my initial comment…
I'm not saying that fuse direction can't have audible effects. I'm just saying that, for me, it did not. That could be because...

1. My ears aren't good enough.
2. My system isn't good enough.
3. My amp is not sensitive to fuse direction.
4. Nothing is sensitive to fuse direction.

About which is true, I don't really have an opinion.
And here was your reply…
Bryoncunningham, does it matter which is true? I think not. To each his own. None of this discussion matters much to me. I am merely stating my experiences.
When you say “…does it matter which is true? I think not…” you seem to be saying that the question of whether fuse direction can have audible effects doesn't matter. To say something “doesn’t matter” is to imply that there are things that DO matter, but this isn’t one of them. Which is why I wrote…
Does it matter? It matters if you're interested in the question of whether fuse direction has audible effects. It doesn't matter in the way that unemployment matters, or climate change matters, or global poverty matters.
How that “grossly misrepresents” you is a mystery. Maybe you can identify exactly how it grossly misrepresents you, and you will have my apology. Until then, I will assume that it fairly represents you, and that you didn’t like what you saw. What I saw what a person who was trying to end a conversation because it led to the expression of views different from his own. That happens all the time around here. In fact, you and I have had a total of three conversations on A’gon and it has happened in two of them. The first time, you said this…
I think the entire discussion is largely irrelevant as people will buy what they like and can afford.
“The entire discussion is largely irrelevant” sounds a lot like “None of this discussion matters much to me.” They both sound like a person who is trying to end a conversation. Perhaps you will think I am again grossly misrepresenting what you said. I think your comments speak for themselves. Moving on…
Does the fruitiness of the wine matter; does the fuel economy of various cars matter to you; etc.
If this is intended to be a clarification of your position about what matters and what doesn’t, I can tell you that it clarifies nothing. I don’t even see what the two things you mentioned – wine and fuel economy – have in common. From there your post gets increasingly bizarre…
Obviously, you don't think others' experiences with fuses matters. I value others' experiences…
Let me get this straight. It’s ME who doesn’t think other people’s experiences with fuses matter. Where did you get that from? Was it from my comment 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.
I said that in this very thread, along with a number of other comments that reveal that I do in fact value others' experiences. The idea that my comments suggest otherwise is preposterous, as anyone who has read this thread will plainly see. Also, your characterization of me reminds me of something... a phrase... Oh yes, it “grossly misrepresents” me.

And now we go from the bizarre to the surreal. Your comment that...
I value others' experiences, but mainly I post to share my experiences…
Let’s leave aside for the moment that this statement is a self-contradiction. Instead, I will ask you, does a person who values others' experiences, as you claim to, write this...
None of this discussion matters much to me.
Does a person who values others' experiences write this...
…what I find useless is your posts and those posting meaningless comments.
That condemnation of other people's posts appears just three sentences after your claim that you value others’ experiences. That is an impressive level of cognitive dissonance. And now for the coup de grace…
I knew full-well that the cockroaches would come out of the walls when I posted my initial comment.
Them’s fightin’ words. Would you be so kind as to identify the cockroaches on this thread? You of course intend me to be among them. But the other cockroaches would probably like to know how you feel about them. Especially in light of the fact that you value their experiences.

Bryon
Roger makes a compelling case. When I hear things like that, it erodes my confidence in my (already tentative) belief that fuses have audible effects. Having said that, I conducted a second experiment (I use that term loosely) that corroborated (I use that term loosely as well) my initial impression that fuses do in fact have audible effects.

In my first experiment about a week ago, I A/B'd the stock fuse in my amp with a Hifi Tuning fuse. I swapped back and forth about 15 or 20 times. Each time, I heard a difference (or to put it less controversially, I BELIEVE I heard a difference). What surprised me almost as much was the fact that I preferred the sound of the amp with the stock fuse (15¢) rather than the fancy fuse ($50).

The day before yesterday I conducted a similar experiment with my preamp. Again, I swapped fuses maybe 15 or 20 times. Again, I heard (or believe I heard) a difference. Again, I preferred the sound of the stock fuse.

In both the amp and the preamp, the Hifi Tuning fuses had a strange phasiness, lack of pitch definition in the bass, and imprecise imaging. None of that was audible with the stock fuses.

Possible interpretations of the data...

1. Fuses have audible effects.
2. I am crazy.
3. A butterfly is trapped somewhere in the house.
4. All of the above.

Which of these is true remains unclear. So I've done the only thing a sane, rational, and sensible person could do.

I've ordered a Furutech fuse.

Bryon
05-11-12: Kijanki
...we discuss here if "major difference in my sound" that Tbg experienced can be repeated and benefit others.
Hi Kijanki - Yes, the question of whether fuses can make a "major difference" in sound quality is one of the things we've been discussing. But there's also a contingent of people who maintain that there is NO audible difference among fuses. So that seems to be a topic of discussion as well.

At one end of the continuum, we have the folks who say that fancy fuses are amazing. At the other end, we have the folks who say that they're nonsense. I've been exploring, both through discussion and through (admittedly unscientific) experimentation, whether the truth lies somewhere in the middle. As it usually does.

Bryon
05-11-12: Geoffkait
Almarg, you said,

"The assessment was conducted in a sufficiently disciplined manner to rule out the possibility of misperception, placebo effect, or self-reinforcing mass hallucination..."

The problem here, methinks, is that you assume that nobody who hears the benefit of aftermarket fuses or fuse directionality is capable of conducting a proper experiment. Zen and the Art of Debunkery might be of some help to naysayers in crafting arguments why fuses cannot be of much importance. Please find below a few examples for your consideration...
Geoff - The examples which you go on to quote, drawn from Daniel Drasin's Zen and the Art of Debunkery are, without doubt, many of the unfair tactics employed by devotees of Ideological Skepticism. Drasin's arguments remind me of Thomas Kuhn's observations about scientific progress in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, except that Kuhn spoke from a podium, and Drasin speaks from a soapbox.

While I agree with many of Kuhn's and Drasin's observations about the sociological, methodological, and ideological obstacles to scientific discovery, I don't agree with Drasin's apparent belief that a significant fraction of scientists are regularly prejudicial, dishonest, close minded, rigid, arrogant, childish, dismissive, dogmatic, illogical, reductionistic, manipulative, unprincipled, deceptive, and sophistic. While SOME of those terms certainly apply to SOME scientists, characterizing the scientific community as a whole in that way is a grotesque distortion of reality.

From what I can tell, you have a background as a scientist, Geoff. So you may question the basis of my impressions of the scientific community. While there are a great many people who have more experience with scientists than I do, I can tell you that I've done post-graduate work with 2 scientists at the forefront of their field. My closest friend is a high ranking government scientist working at CalTech. I've been acquainted with a dozen more scientists and science historians. I wrote a dissertation in the philosophy of science, part of which was published as a paper in the journal The Philosophy of Science. So while I'm not a professional scientist, my acquaintance with science and scientists is not casual.

Returning to how this bears on this thread...

So far as I can tell, very few of the unfair tactics employed by Ideological Skeptics appear on this thread. And by quoting Al, you appear to be implying that what Drasin describes about Ideological Skepticism also describes Al. Anyone who has spent 5 minutes reading Al's comments, on this thread or any other, will see the patent absurdity of that suggestion.

Geoff, you regularly accuse other posters of strawmanning. I would invite you to consider that, when taken as descriptions of the scientific community as a whole, Drasin's statements are a reckless act of strawmanning. And, when taken as descriptions of Al, your statements are a preposterous act of strawmanning.

You seem to be surrounded by straw men. There are medical experts who can help. The first step is admitting...

Bryon
Mapman - I want a piece of that. There's gold in them hills!

05-12-12: Geoffkait
I think it would be a fair statement to say, however, that many of the "arguments" presented in Zen and the Art of Debunkery actually do apply to many of the debates on audio forums, especially those concerning controversial tweaks, like the directionality of fuses or fuses in general.
I agree with this, Geoff. And I too find it regrettable, because it shuts down the exploration of ideas. But I will reiterate that I do not believe that Drasin's descriptions of Ideological Skepticism describe Al. Although he and I have never met in person, I can say with absolute confidence that he is open minded. I have personally presented a number of "mystery experiences," in threads like this, this, this, and this, and in each of those he demonstrated abundant open mindedness. Others can report similar experiences. So your choice of target was poor, IMO. Moving on...

Drasin's descriptions of Ideological Skepticism don't remind me of scientists, but they DO remind me of people who are dogmatic or doctrinaire, and there are plenty of those around. My suspicion is that the scientific community has FEWER people that meet that description than the general public. But of course that is a speculation.

And finally to the topic that will send this thread over a cliff...
I suspect the arguments presented in Zen and the Art of Debunkery are probably intended to represent those who feel threatened - or feel that the scientific community is threatened - by something that cannot be explained, like UFOs
Again, I agree. More importantly, UFO's exist! Whether they contain little green men is another question. But the documentation of UFO encounters is vast and incontrovertible. For a recent book that compiles the official testimony of dozens of military pilots, commercial pilots, radarmen, commanding officers up to the level of General, and others, see Leslie Kean's recent book. To the uninitiated, it's shocking. Most of the Ideological Skeptics I know won't read it! :-)

Bryon
05-12-12: Almarg
(a)The EXPLANATIONS that are offered for their purported effects do not stand up under quantitative scrutiny.
Hi Al - There's a guy over on the Polk Audio forum who claimed his measurements corroborated both that fuses measure differently and that even fuse directions measure differently. You can see his measurements here. I don't really know what to make of it. What do you think?

(b)I suspect that a substantial number of reports of differences, but certainly not all such reports, are due either to failure to recognize and control extraneous variables, or to effects that are system dependent and do not have broad applicability to other systems, or to misperception.
This happend to me, as I described in an earlier post on this thread. When I first installed the Hifi Tuning fuse in my amp, there was a noticeable jump in headroom. I thought, "Wow, these really work." When I later A/B'd the Hifi Tuning fuse with the stock fuse, I could not reproduce the effect. Therefore, my initial impression was either (a) misperception or (b) attributable to some other variable (cleaner contacts, better grip on the fuse, etc.).

(c)I see no reason to expect that where a fuse upgrade makes a difference that the difference will always, or even usually, be for the better.
This also happened to me, as I mentioned earlier. After extended listening, I preferred the sound of the stock fuses to the Hifi Tuning fuses, both in my amp and my preamp.

Of course, I've since ordered fancy fuses from two other manufacturers -- Furutech and Isoclean. So maybe I'm in for a real treat! Hmm. For some reason I'm reminded of birth rates.

Bryon

P.S. For a limited time only, I'm making available a pair of Hifi Tuning fuses. I've done the courtesy of breaking them in for you. Just $300 for the pair. Don't miss out!!
...just curious, though, does your "technical intuition" come from a crystal ball or do you have a strong technical background?
Hmm. Doesn't Machina Dynamica sell a crystal ball?
05-12-12: Almarg
The most notable differences occur for non-harmonic frequency components that are at levels of 60 or 65 db or so below the amplitude of the 60 Hz component. Those differences were generally in the direction of favoring the expensive fuses, but in some cases favored the stock fuses. But consider that 60 db corresponds to 0.1% in terms of voltage, and 0.0001% in terms of power. And along the lines of Roger's comment, those percentages will be GREATLY reduced by rectification, filtering, and in the case of many components voltage regulation, that occurs in the circuitry between the output side of the fuse and the signal path.
Thanks, Al. That's more or less what I thought when I looked at it. I suppose that means that the differences heard among fuses are either...

1. Misperception.
2. Misattribution.
3. Attributable to other variables.

I'm interested in knowing which of these it is, though evidently it's not an easy question to answer. Within a week I'll have fuses from Hifi Tuning, Isoclean, and Furutech, in addition to the stock fuses. I will do my best to A/B, A/C, A/D, B/C, B/D, C/D them. It's certainly not science, but it's something.

Bryon
05-13-12: Almarg
Just to clarify, I think that in number 3 you are referring to other fuse-related variables, perhaps unexplainable ones.
Yes. Sorry, I should have been clearer. I was saying that it's possible that there are properties of fuses that account for audible differences among them (assuming they exist) that were not measured by the guy on the the Polk audio forum. And yes, those properties might be not only unexplained but unexplainable. I'm not saying that's true, just that it's possible. And, btw, thank you for your characteristically substantive comments.

05-13-12: Mapman
Well, maybe I'm wrong. After all, it's merely intuition.
05-13-12: Tbg
Mapman, you are right relying solely on your intuition is not science at all. It is just a personal bias of no value to others.
05-08-12: Tbg
I value others' experiences...
I suppose this means that you value others' experiences, so long as they are not Mapman's experiences. Or mine. Or Al's. Or Roger's.

The role of intuition, which Mapman raises, is quite relevant to this conversation. I brought this up in an earlier post...
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.

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.
Whenever you are at the boundary between the Known and the Unknown, intuition is a significant factor in judgments about what is plausible, what is possible, and what is nonsense.

Bryon
I found another set of fuse measurements, this one done by Hifi Tuning. You can see it here.

bc
So what is it we are arguing about again?
The Believer says to the Skeptic, "You must be deaf.”

The Skeptic says to the Believer, "You must be a fool."

The Engineer says to the Believer, “Where is the evidence?”

The Believer says to the Engineer, “In my ears.”

The Skeptic says to the Believer, “Your ears are failing you.”

The Believer says to the Skeptic, “Your brain is failing you.”

The Philosopher says to the Believer, “Let's use reason.”

The Believer says to the Philosopher, “I am using reason.”

The Skeptic says to the Believer, “So am I.”

The Engineer says to the Philosopher, "We need to find evidence."

The Philosopher says to the Engineer, "I found some right here."

The Engineer says to the Philosopher, "Let's take a look at it."

The Believer says to the Skeptic, “I have to step out for a second.”

The Skeptic says to the Believer, “I'll come with you.”

bc
05-14-12: Almarg
On page 3 they state in reference to the resistance measurements that:

"There is a measurable difference in directivity of fuses. Mostly that will be due to the way the melting wire is manufactured. The difference is in the range of 5%."

In fact, all or nearly all of the directional differences in resistance were vastly smaller than 5%...
That was exactly what I thought. I wondered where they got the 5% from. When I looked at the measurements they provided, I thought "Wow, those are tiny differences. How is that audible?" It makes me wonder whether I heard what I thought I heard.
I don't exclude the possibility that a fuse change can make a difference, but once again the explanations that are offered in support of the existence of those differences do not withstand quantitative scrutiny.
Again, I agree. And thank you again for your substantive comments.

I have a question about Hifi Tuning fuses and directionality...

I've read in several places that Hifi Tuning fuses are supposed to be pointed "in the direction of current flow." Leaving aside for the moment that we're talking about Alternating Current, I've taken those instructions to mean that the "arrow" that appears on the fuse should be pointing "downstream" toward the equipment's power supply.

The problem is that the "arrow" looks like a diode symbol, and the "arrow" in a diode symbol customarily points AGAINST the direction of current flow. So it's totally unclear to me which way the folks at Hifi Tuning think is the "correct" way to install the fuse. Anyone know?

Bryon
Bryon, you and Al think there are NON-QUALITATIVE reasons to believe fuses/direction can have audible effects? That's very interesting. Do you mean psychological reasons? Please expand.
My statement of Al's views in my previous post was based on the same information you have access to -- what Al has said in this thread. So I cannot speak for him beyond what I already have.

Speaking for myself, the answer to your question is no, I wasn't talking about "psychological reasons" when I used the phrase "non-quantitative" (not "non-qualitative," as you wrote). I was simply talking about ANECDOTAL evidence, which is typically non-quantitative.

But we've been through all this already. On 4/28, you wrote...
B C - not sure why you use the word intuition, that appears to be your way of saying this whole thing is psychological.
To which I replied...
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.
My view has not changed since then.

Bryon
Hi Mapman - It seems like there's a growing consensus that IF fuses and/or fuse direction have audible effects, it must be as a result of fuse parameters that are either unmeasured or unmeasurable. If that's true, then the only "evidence" available for deciding whether fuses have audible effects is personal experience and anecdotal reports.

Recently I joined the ranks of those who believe they've heard differences among fuses (but, in my case, not fuse direction). By the end of this week, I will have fuses from each of the major manufacturers - Isoclean, Furutech, and Hifi Tuning. So I should have more to report by the weekend, FWIW.

Headed deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. I hope I can find my way back.

Bryon
All good questions, Mapman. I won't pretend to know the answers. I'm just trying to do my part to keep the streets safe! ;-)

bc
Kijanki and Mapman - For my little experiment, I will take care to control as many potentially confounding variables as possible. For example, I will...

...conduct the experiment late at night.
...turn everything electronic outside the system off.
...turn off all the house lights.
...disable the computer modem.
...move the audio equipment only once to access the fuses.
...take care not to touch anything else when swapping fuses.
...clean all the fuses with the same contact cleaner.
...minimize the amount of time the amp is powered down for swaps.
...give the same amount of time for the amp to warm up after a swap.
...keep track of which direction the fuses are pointed.
...use the same 2 pieces of music to evaluate.
...never never never touch the volume control.
...ask the wife to leave the room (nicely).
...ask the dog to leave the room.
...strap on my tin foil hat.
...put on my listening ears.

While that hardly ensures a foolproof procedure, it may assuage some of your concerns about the validity of my methodology. But perhaps the greater concern is not my methodology but my psychology. Wait a sec, have you been talking to my wife? Like I tell her, my psychology is what it is, so it's better to adjust your expectations downward. Having said that, I'll try not to let my psychology destroy the validity of the test. I have at least one thing going for me...

A common criticism of audiophiles who buy expensive toys of questionable value is "You paid WHAT for it? Of course you're going to hear improvements from it!"

No doubt that is true for some folks, but I think this is one form of self delusion that I am fairly resistant to. In other words, I doubt my judgments about sound quality will be influenced by the price of the fancy fuses. When I go to a restaurant, I eat what's on the plate and I say, "That was good" or "I'm never coming back here." I don't adjust my feelings about the food when I see the bill. The meal could be $15 at Fat Matt's Ribs Shack in Georgia or $1500 at Louis XV in Monte Carlo. The food at Fat Matt's was awesome. The food at Louis XV sucked. I didn't let the fact that Louis XV cost 100 times more than Fat Matt's change my opinion.

Perhaps that won't be much reassurance, but it's all I've got.

Bryon
05-16-12: Mapman
Also just to be sure, you have no financial interest in expensive audiophile fuses/tweaks right?
Me? No. But my wife does. Her financial interest is that I stop buying them.
05-16-12: Kijanki
Bryon, be sure to turn OFF and UNPLUG! Do test with preamp (regulated supplies) as well.
I just received an Isoclean fuse for the preamp, so I will be A/B'ing the preamp as well as the amp.

In my earlier tests, I've been turning the amp off, but not unplugging it. Am I asking to get fried?

bc
To add some fuel to the fire...

I found at least one amp designed by a well regarded manufacturer that includes fancy fuses: Spectron's Musician III Mk2.

Spectron's Senior Engineer, Simon Thacher, weighed in on the value of fancy fuses a while back, right here on A'gon...
It is my firm opinion that HiFi Tuning fuses are very synergistic with our amplifiers, Spectron Musician III SE. For my ears they clearly and without any question remove "gray noise" across the Spectron from high frequencies to low - making sound much more "liquid" and involving.

FWIW.
05-16-12: Almarg
Just speculating, of course, but given that Class D amplifiers can be expected to have a significant amount of RF noise running around inside them as a result of the high speed switching processes that are going on, perhaps the material used to enclose the body of the HiFi-Tuning fuses lessens the amount of that noise that is picked up by the conductor within the fuse, compared to a glass body. Or perhaps the frequency content of the noise that is picked up is at least altered to some degree.
I had roughly the same thought, Al. My preamp is filled with digital circuitry, so maybe I will hear benefits from one of the fancy fuses in it.
05-16-12: Kijanki
Bryon, be sure to turn OFF and UNPLUG!

05-16-12: Geoffkait
Unplugging a component from the wall and plugging it back in often results in a noticeable degradation of sound, if you're paying attention to such things, until such time as the contact between the plug and the wall socket has a chance to "reestablish" itself, which can take a few days or longer. In fact, Disturbing cables or power cords in any way should be scrupulously avoided IMO, especially during tests.
Great, now I have to choose between experimental validity and experimental survivability. Hmm. Think. Think. Got it...

Is anyone here available this weekend to assist with my fuse swapping experiment? You do the swapping and I do the listening? Being minimally conductive is a plus, but not a necessity.

Bryon
05-16-12: Kijanki
Bryon, Be sure that you don't have any DC on power line. Electrons in the fuse wire don't move with AC (vibrate in place) but with DC they will very slowly move (called "drift velocity") from your expensive fuse into home wiring. Don't let expensive electrons, that you paid for, drift away!
No need for concern. I've installed a Dark Energy Electron Regulator of my own design. It works through a proprietary technology called Quantum Sequestering,* in which Higgs Bosons are suspended in an electromagnetic field through Superconductive Supercolliding Supersymmetry. This revolutionary technology is almost exactly like the Large Hadron Collider, but considerably smaller and with no moving parts.

The Dark Energy Electron Regulator (D.E.E.R.) will be available in the fourth quarter of 2012 at a special introductory price of $4,999 for the standard edition. The Special Edition, which is $6,999, is treated with quark-gluon plasma for two weeks before it ships. Terms and Conditions apply.

Terms and Conditions: No home trials. No refunds. Opening the Dark Energy Electron Regulator voids the warranty, and may result in the temporary reversal of space-time, leading to what we call the "Benjamin Button" effect. We strongly discourage customers from taking any such risk. If the D.E.E.R. is opened, it is likely to trigger an instantaneous antimatter collision, so that the box will appear empty.

*Patent Pending. Well, Patent Applied For at least. Actually, they told me to stop writing the patent office, but I think they were joking.

Accepting all forms of payment, provided it is mailed in cash to my P.O. box in Burkina Faso. Address available on request.

Bryon Cunningham, PhD
I should clarify that I meant it is now probably many years BEFORE it will taste its best.
I knew what you meant, Al. Louis XV is a joke, IMO. I've eaten at an unconscionable number of the putatively superlative restaurants in the U.S. and Europe and, at an alarming number of them, the chef comes to your table stark naked, asks you to admire his beautiful new clothes, and then presents you with a $750 bill. In addition to Louis XV, Marco Pierre White in London and Jean Gorges in NYC are two that come immediately to mind. Speaking of the Emperor's New Clothes...

My Isoclean fuse arrived. I haven't had a chance to do any serious A/B'ing, but I couldn't resist the temptation to install it in the preamp. It sounds terrific!

Point: Believers.

More to follow.

Bryon
THE RESULTS ARE IN… AGAIN…

I completed the A/B’ing of the various fuses in my possession.

-------THE METHOD-------

--For the preamp (an extensively modded Meridian G68), the contenders were: stock fuse vs. Hifi Tuning Silverstar vs. Isoclean

--For the amp (a Pass Labs XA30.5), the contenders were: stock fuse vs. Hifi Tuning Silverstar vs. Furutech

--All fuse endcaps were first cleaned with Cardas contact cleaner. I was careful not to touch the endcaps when swapping fuses.

--Nearly everything electronic in the house was turned off. House lights were turned off. Air conditioner turned off. Very little ambient noise at the time of the test.

--The amp was never unplugged during the test. The preamp was unplugged for each fuse swap, because the fuse could not be accessed otherwise.

--Down time while swapping: 45 seconds for the preamp, 30 seconds for the amp.

--Fuse direction was noted during every swap.

--Volume was never changed.

-- 3 auditions of each fuse in each direction

--Music used: 1. J’ai Deux Amours on Careless Love by Madeleine Peyroux. 2. L’Estate 2 from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Drottingham Baroque Ensemble, BIS Original Dynamics Recording

-------THE RESULTS-------

The preamp fuse winner is… Isoclean by a nose! The Isoclean fuse had slightly better resolution, imaging focus, and overall naturalism than the stock fuse. The stock fuse was better than the Hifi Tuning Silverstar in those same categories.

The amp fuse winner is… a tie! The stock fuse and Furutech were indistinguishable. And boy did I listen close. Both were better than the Hifi Tuning Silverstar, which had a strange phasiness, as I reported in an earlier post, and heard again in this test.

AND ON THE DREADED TOPIC OF DIRECTIONALITY...

I could not hear any differences when changing direction for any of the fuses. Make of that what you will. Bad system. Bad ears. Bad method. Bad attitude. I just didn't hear it.

There it is. My not-particularly-scientific experiment in fancy fuses is concluded, and I am happy to be done with it. I can now move on to more important things, like A/B'ing capacitors!

Bryon
Thanks Kijanki, Al, and Mapman. I appreciate your support throughout this largely absurd endeavor.
05-18-12: Almarg
One piece of data that I think might be worthwhile appending to your report would be what your line voltage is, for the conditions under which you ran the tests (time of day, things turned off, etc.).
That's a good idea, Al. I will test it and report back.
05-18-12: Tmsorosk
...too bad you weren't able to test the High Fi tuning Supreme fuses, they really did make a difference and you don't need to listen very closely like you do with other fuse comparisons.
NOOOO!!!! You are tempting me to buy YET ANOTHER fuse! I don't know if I can bring myself to do it. Am I really that stupid? Maybe. It's additionally tempting because the Hifi Supreme fuses are designed in collaboration with Mundorf, and I've been very happy with the Mundorf caps (both Supreme and Silver/oil) I've used in the crossovers I built for my speakers. Hmm.
05-18-12: Geoffkait
...whatever happened to the word Terrific you used when you couldn't resist replacing the fuse in the preamp a few days ago? I was all set for a rave review.
My expectations were the same as yours, Geoff. The Isoclean fuse WAS perceptibly better than the stock fuse, but not by as large a margin as I was expecting, given my experience the other day. Don't know what to make of that.
I still say wait a few days and re-evaluate the sound after the power cords break back in.
I agree that long term listening often reveals things that you can't hear during A/B tests. But I can't bring myself to devote a week to testing each fuse. I must try to have some semblance of a life. :-)

Bryon
Liquid fuses. Cause that's what I want next to my electricity -- liquid.

Wait a second. Just looked them up. Audio Magic's liquid fuses also get their proprietary "NANO Stream Treatment." Impressive.

But not as impressive as my proprietary "PICO Stream Treatment," which I'm offering for the Dark Energy Electron Regulator. You see, NANO is 10 to the minus 9. PICO is 10 to the minus 12. That makes my treatment 1000 times more effective. It's simple math.

bc
Hey Chad - Believe me, I dream of Duelund caps. But wow are they pricey. If I could just stop buying fuses, I'd be well on my way!

bc
05-21-12: Geoffkait
Hmmmm...one wonders if Bryon Cunningham installed some of the fuses incorrectly during his recent testing of aftermarket fuses. If so, that might explain his less than stellar results...
I could not have been clearer in my post on 5/18 that I did in fact test fuse direction during my experiment. In the METHOD section, I said...
--Fuse direction was noted during every swap.

-- 3 auditions of each fuse in each direction
And in my RESULTS section, I said...
I could not hear any differences when changing direction for any of the fuses. Make of that what you will. Bad system. Bad ears. Bad method. Bad attitude. I just didn't hear it.
That should clear that up. As far as your comment that...
I have lost faith in ANY tests of fuses unless the person performing the tests is already familiar with the difference in sound fuse direction makes...
...you can't possibly mean what that appears to mean, namely that, in order to hear differences among fuses, you must have ALREADY HEARD differences among fuses. That would mean that no one could possibly hear differences among fuses FOR THE FIRST TIME. That is dumb.

You've been accused of many things, Geoff, but being dumb isn't one of them. So you must have meant something else.

Bryon
--Report...

--Measured line voltage on dedicated line powering entire audio system...

--Reproduced conditions similar to fuse test...

--Result: 120.0 V (On the dot. Meter ranged from 119.9 to 120.1, within the meter's +/-)...

--End Report.

Submitted by: Corky the Cockroach.

Stay alert and beware of traps!
SOMEONE - PLEASE - HELP - ME - STOP

I just bought another fuse.
Iso - When I married my wife, who at the time was already a doctor of considerable clinical experience, I naturally assumed she would cure me of my audionervosa. In spite of several years of marital contentment, she has failed utterly in that endeavor.

In fact, she never initiated any treatment whatsoever. At times when I've demanded medical attention, which medical ethics compels her to provide, she uses strange phrases like "I'm respecting boundaries" or "It's your decision" or "Have fun, honey." Once, she even suggested that we take equity out of the house so I could build a dedicated listening room behind the garage.

So, in fact, I believe I am beyond hope.

Leave me here. Save yourselves.

Bryon
Come to think of it, for the past couple years, she's been giving me pills every morning at breakfast. For vitamins, they sure do make me feel funny.

Time to go. The orderly says it's time for daily meditation.

bc
Ok, this time I'm serious...

In addition to the Pass amp I used for my fuse experiment, I have a Parasound Halo amp that I use for home theater. Yesterday I opened the Parasound and removed all the fuses, 6 in total. First I cleaned the endcaps with Cardas contact cleaner and then I polished them with Progold. I reinstalled the suckers and fired things up. I thought I noticed a slight improvement, though I may have been imagining it.

Then I decided to clean and apply Progold to every contact in the system, including the contacts on the power cords and IEC inlets. Now THAT was audible.

Bryon
That occurred to me, Geoff. But that ambiguity is present in EVERY listening test. In other words, when you fail to hear a difference during an A/B, there are ALWAYS three possible interpretations...

1. There is no difference between A and B.
2. The system is not sufficiently resolving to hear the difference between A and B.
3. Your brain is not sufficiently resolving to hear the difference between A and B.

If your A/B testing is limited to a single system, then it is literally impossible to know which interpretation is correct. The only way around this is to (a) change an element of your system and test again, or (b) listen to the reports of others who have performed similar tests on their systems. I tend to do both.

But I dread the idea of another fuse test. I think I will just leave in the fancy fuses. After all, they look pretty.

Bryon
Ok, first off, that quote from Stereo Times stretches the limits of credibility. "Transparency to die for"? Really? Come on.

Second, your interpretation of my last post is odd, to put it politely. I was NOT saying that the results of every fuse listening test are ambiguous. I was saying that there is ambiguity present in every A/B listening test WHEN YOU ARE UNABLE TO DISCERN A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A AND B.

If that was not obvious from the sentence you quoted, it should have been obvious from the very next sentence...
In other words, WHEN YOU FAIL TO HEAR A DIFFERENCE DURING AN A/B, there are always three possible interpretations... [emphasis added]
I suspect, of all the people following this thread, your uncharitable interpretation of my post is unique. That should tell you something.

Oh, and one other thing. Your mischaracterization of my comments falls into a category you have a particular affection for...

It is a Straw Man.

Bryon
Ok, Geoff. That was a good response. Neither polemical nor irrelevant. And I do value the reports of other, especially when they coincide. So you give me very little to argue with at the moment. I have confidence you will rectify that situation.

05-26-12: Tmsorosk
I wonder if the nay sayers here have even given them a try, or is it the old, I know it all so I'll just bury my head it the sand attitude.

05-26-12: Tbg
Tmsorosk, the naysayers are irrelevant. They mainly don't want to try this tweak or they claim they hear nothing. That is their problem.
Gentlemen - The skepticism I expressed over the gushing quote from Stereo Times may make me sound like a 'naysayer,' but it doesn't make me one of the people who "don't want to try this tweak."

At this point, I've bought FIVE fancy fuses and conducted A/B tests that, while not scientific, are nonetheless careful and sincere. The conclusions of my tests make me a tentative Believer, not a Naysayer. Admittedly, I'm not a Gusher. But that is a far cry from "burying my head in the sand."

Bryon
One Man says, "I heard it."

A Second Man says, "You heard what you wanted to hear."

The First Man says, "You didn't hear what you didn't want to hear."

A Third Man comes along. He says, "I heard it in some cases but not in others."

The first two men ponder, confer, agree. They say to the Third Man, "You heard and you didn't what you wanted and didn't want to hear."

The Third Man says, "But how can I tell when I wanted to hear something and when I didn't want to hear it?"

The first two men confer again, say, "Simple. When you heard it, you wanted to; when you didn't, you didn't."

The Third Man says, "There's something strangely circular about that."

The First Man says, "Circles are the basis of all logic."

The Second Man says, "That's true."

The Third Man says, "Hmm. How do you know that's true?"

The first two men say, "Because we want it to be."

___________________

Bryon
05-31-12: Kijanki
We don't even know if 3A Hi-Fi fuse is not really 3.5 or 4A standard fuse since AFAIK there is no test or approval of any agency.

Furutech fuses have the following approvals: PSE, CE, UL

Isoclean fuses have the following approvals: UL, PSE, SA, and CE

bc