Hype, Hyperbole and high price!


Okay, I understand that this site has to make money by having advertisers, but cheese and crackers, the claims that are made are just laughable if not down right criminal!  Before I attended an engineering university I too was duped into buying expensive wires and such.  Now, armed with an engineering and physics background, I can see through the BS claims made.  I try and not let it get in the way of my enjoyment of good quality stereo equipment, but when a salesman tries to sell me something based on testimonials, hype and hyperbole, I tell him politely my background and then ask him a series of questions which leaves him dumbfounded. 

Such crap as directional wires - (I used to work for both Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman) and trust me, if we had to test the miles of wires for directionality in every piece of equipment built...well you get the gist.

I have friends that are audio snobs and although they argue with me (Basically buyer's remorse) they know that what I say is true and end the conversation.  Oh well, I suppose I will continue to get a headache when I read said claims.

Sigh!
Convert?fit=crop&h=128&rotate=exif&w=128kenny928
I am sure if Lockheed Martin or Northrup Grumman were to manufacture audio cables it would take hundreds of millions of dollars in government funded r&d, several years with many delays, and never actually get sold to the public even if they could afford $200k speaker cables. 
I have friends who are engineering snobs and they are all amazed at how good my stereo sounds compared to theirs. 
I worked for both LM and NG as well and doubt that either is aware of wire directionality. Why would they be? Besides wire Is directional only insofar as sound is concerned. And to my knowledge neither LM nor NG have any audiophile divisions. Are there Lockheed Martin speakers or Northrup Grumman cables? In addition, satellite, microwave and other wireless systems are not directional so who really cares about wire? Perhaps if we all join together we can get NASA to do a study. Or MIT or AES or DARPA.

I am an engineer first and an audiophile second.  I just get tired of the massive increase in prices over time.  I have been an audiophile since 1979 and have seen the increase in hype and prices without empirical data to back the claims.  I have had a slew of systems ranging in names from ML, Krell, MBL, Meridian and the like. My preamp is the MBL 6010 of 1998 vintage and it is powered by the ML 331 so although older, it is a kick butt system.  No tweaks or thousand dollar interconnects or speaker cable or power cords.  The beauty of having a dear friend that owns a high end audio shop allows me to audition thousands of dollars of cables and you would be surprised that the $6000 cables sound no different from the $200 ones.  Not an engineering snob in the least, just annoys me when terminology is snatched out of the air and used to make claims just to sell the product.  Ever notice that power cord shipped with the product?  It is an inexpensive one.  Why would a 20K piece of equipment be shipped out with such a feeble cord if it made such a huge difference in sound?  Just sayin'!
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The very same.  BTW sound is not transmitted through speaker wire/cable but rather a signal.
I see it's cable debunking time again.
This is a first.

I agree that some cables are overpriced but......
Nonoise, not debunking but rather cringing at some of the ads I recently saw.  A 249 dollar wall outlet??  Beeswax filled fuses??  Cryogenic treated
products??  Just that we get bombarded with stuff like this just to get our money.  Worse than a politician!
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I have friends who are engineering snobs and they are all amazed at how good my stereo sounds compared to theirs.

Your stereo sounds good because snob engineers built amazing amplifiers through lots of research and actual engineering work.  Same for your speakers.  Your cables, power cords, interconnects do absolutely nothing to improve the sound.

The only reason you are listening to your music tonight on your very nice and awesome stereo is because engineers and scientists, using reason and science, built them.  And none of them would be caught dead with a speaker cable, power cord or fuse (I can't believe people fall for this one) costing more than a few bucks.  If they tell you otherwise they either work or are being paid by an audiophile cable company.

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kenny928, when my wife complains that her television show is terrible, I tell her to just change the channel.
It shouldn't be that difficult for a well trained engineer such as yourself to just find another website. I hear there are other sites out there, maybe try the DIY section at Audio Asylum.

Just sitting around whining and complaining really doesn't accomplish much, at least it doesn't for me. YMMV.
Kenny928, point taken. Some of this stuff has me scratching my head as well. But to go so far as Mazur as to state that cables have absolutely nothing to do with improving one's sound leaves me scratching off what's left of the hair on my head with amazement.

All the best,
Nonoise
jmcgrogan2- Ahh, the beauty of freedom of speech, ain't it a grand?  As for whining, that is a matter of opinion and as for joining another forum because you dislike what I say, see above.  The beauty of it is being able to engage in meaningful discourse (that's adult discussion BTW) without resorting to name calling and the like.  I served my country for that very right for you to have your opinion and me mine.  Like it or not, I'm here to stay regardless what you like or dislike.  And I am sure that other adults capable of discourse would agree with me.


@jmcgrogan2 I think the post has less to do with debunking and whining and more to do with @kenny928 showcasing how highly educated and smart he is.
asp307 - When it comes to money, yes, has nothing to do with me proving how smart I am.  I am just trying to generate a discussion on what is transpiring in the industry.  The smart consumer is an educated consumer.  Would you buy a car on pure hype?  Much like the vitamin industry claims can be made without any substance.  Just look at Machina Dynamica's Brilliant Pebbles!  Type that into oogle's search engine and tell me that that will do what it claims!  I have a friend with a 30K system and he actually bought these!  Really?
kenny928,

Go to one of the Nordost cable demonstrations. If you can't hear the difference, then go to Home Depot and buy some wire if you need it, otherwise, have a great day, relax, listen to some music and enjoy yourself.
Another flat-earther.   
Like the OP I too have been an audiophile since approximately 1979.  And I too spent my career at what during its latter stages became a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, performing and managing design of analog and digital circuits.  And I too am frequently and greatly turned off by claims and explanations in audio-related marketing literature, as well as in forums, that I know to either be complete BS, or that I know to have little or no likelihood of being great enough in degree to be audibly significant. 

In the recent past there was a very lengthy thread here entitled "Why do people feel the need to buy expensive cable."  I posted the following in that thread, which I think is sufficiently relevant to be worth repeating here in its entirety. 

To put it all succinctly, my opinion is that as with most things in life the truth lies somewhere in the middle ground between extremist points of view.

Almarg 3-15-2016 3:30pm EDT
1)Wires sound different, to a greater or lesser degree depending not only on the wire but on the technical characteristics of what they are connecting, their lengths, the AC voltage and noise characteristics at the particular location in the case of power cords (at least), the system, the room, the recording, and the listener.

2)For many reasons, including synergy with the aforementioned variables, the correlation between cable price and cable performance is significantly less than 1.0 (i.e., significantly less than perfect).

3)Based in part on a substantial body of anecdotal evidence that has accumulated over the years, the correlation between cable price and cable performance is significantly greater than 0.0 (i.e., significantly greater than none).

4)It seems evident that some cables are overpriced, one reason among several being that their prices are determined in part based on what the market will bear. And it seems evident that SOME segment of the market assumes a higher degree of correlation between cable price and cable performance than is actually the case, and that segment of the market will therefore pay higher prices to achieve results that may (with sufficient experimentation) be achievable at lower prices in their particular cases.

5)Additional reasons that cables may in many cases be overpriced relative to the benefit they are likely to provide (I’m quoting from myself in the following thread from a couple of years ago; and pardon the redundancy with some of the points mentioned above):

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/small-cable-companies-making-preposterous-claims

(a)As seems to be generally agreed by most audiophiles, cable performance is highly system dependent.

(b)From a technical standpoint, it can be expected that cable performance will vary significantly depending on the technical characteristics of the components that are being connected, such as impedances. Even to the point of a comparison between two cables yielding exactly opposite results depending on what they are connecting. In past threads, such as this one, I have cited examples of situations in which exactly that can be expected to occur. [See especially both of the paragraphs in my post in that thread dated 12-15-2012 which begin with "one interesting example"].

(c)It seems to be generally agreed by most audiophiles that cable performance cannot be either fully explained or fully predicted based on generally recognized science. It follows from that, however, that the cable designers have no way to accurately predict the point of demarcation between optimization of a given cable parameter or design characteristic and what may be overkill of that parameter or design characteristic, which will accomplish nothing in most or all applications. Therefore it can be expected that what is likely to be a significant driver of the cost of many very expensive cables is overkill of some or all of their design parameters and characteristics, which will accomplish nothing in most or all applications.

6)It can be expected that if SOME audiophiles whose cable experience has focused disproportionately on the higher part of the price spectrum were to give equal opportunity to a variety of cables at lower price points, and experiment with such cables as extensively as they do with higher priced cables, there is a significant chance that they may be able to achieve performance comparable to what they have achieved at those higher price points at significantly lower price points. A substantial body of anecdotal evidence that has been reported here and elsewhere supports that conclusion, for example the threads about vintage Western Electric wires.

7)It can be expected that if SOME audiophiles whose cable experience has focused disproportionately or entirely on the lower part of the price spectrum were to focus on the higher part of the price spectrum they might in some cases, depending in part on their equipment, be surprised at how good the results are. A substantial body of anecdotal evidence that has been reported here and elsewhere supports that conclusion

8)Some audiophiles care more than others about achieving the last 5 or 10 or 20% of the performance their components are capable of. Some are satisfied with 80% and just want to listen to music. Both approaches are equally valid.

9)Assertions that wire is just wire are erroneous, and that belief should not be promulgated.

10)Assertions that more expensive necessarily = better are also erroneous, and that belief should not be promulgated, by implication or otherwise.

11)Just as not all audible differences are measurable, not all measurable differences are audible. I say that in connection with measurable differences that are presented in some marketing literature.

12)An assertion that spending more on cables rather than less increases the **probability** of achieving optimal results is arguably correct, but pronouncements to that effect are not gospel. And opinions to the contrary, if presented in a respectful manner, can and should be discussed in a respectful manner.
Kenny928, thanks for your bravery in initiating this thread.

Regards,
-- Al
jperry - I have a friend that owns a high end shop and I have sampled various cables and interconnects worth $$$$$ and yes I will agree with you, Nordost does sound good and I have been to their demonstrations, however, it is best done in one's own listening room.  I do have them on my tube system as they seem to do the trick.
You must have the best system on the planet what is it?????
Al - BRAVO!! 
jperry - I have the opportunity to get cables well below their MSRP, I tend to buy equipment used so as not to take the depreciation hit.  Believe me, I have had some pretty pricey setups in the past, all obtained used.  For my aged ears the three best preamps I had were, the First Sound Presence MK3 (paid 500), should have kept that, the MBL 6010 ($950) and still have and the Meridian 600 series, just found one again.  I have 6 pairs of speakers, 2 pairs for the tube set up, one folded horn and the classic Klipsch and the remaining for solid state which I switch depending on the type of music I am in the mood for.  Jazz, classical, Celtic, etc. 
Mazur, Despite my initial tongue in cheek comment to kenny928 I completely agree with him about prices and the claims that some make. Sorry the humor was lost on you. People take the littlest things way too seriously. I sincerely wish that all I had to worry about in life was the cost of audio cables, unfortunately I have much more meaningful things to worry about. 
ebm - Far from it!  System one, main listening area:
MBL 6010
ML 331
ML 35.1 transport (Horse traded for this one)
Meridian 566 dac
Sonus Faber Olympica

Tubes
VTL ST-125
Axiom ll passive pre
Kenny928, I think you led us all a bit astray as earlier on you stated there was no difference between $6K dollar cables and $200 dollar cables and here you are happy to get a very pricey pair below cost.

Again, I'll agree with you that some cable are overpriced but if it's a matter of what you can afford and knowing there's better out there at a dearer cost, then there's really nothing to complain about.

Except the cost and not the performance, which comes at a cost. :-)

All the best,
Nonoise
Geez Kenny,
Why do some people feel they need a BMW M5 to get to work when a Kia Sportage will get them there just as easily? It's a marketplace. If  people want to spend thousands of dollars on speaker cables then for cripes sake let them! Are they better? Who cares? They think they are. Just because I can prove that a Kia Sportage from an engineering standpoint can get you to work the same as a BMW M5 doesn't mean there isn't a market for the M5! And whose standard are we to live by? I get tired of those who put down audiophiles based on "engineering principles". Do your research, find what works for you and go with what you can afford. It doesn't mean any one of us is right or wrong. Hopefully we're happy with our system and that's all that's required. BTW, why are you using Nordost  cables when you can get them much cheaper from Radio Shack? 
nonoise - I tried a slew of cables for free just to see what the hype was about.  Some were better than others and some were offered to me at a sweet deal because he could not get rid of them or were demo samples.  Some I passed on others I took.  I did perform a comparison with pairs and found little if any difference between some.  Example: Kimber 8TC v. Transparent Audio reference.  Old ears, maybe, but the Kimber was easy on the ears for some reason.  Also constructed my own braided pair which I still use and they sound really nice.  I am always experimenting with different equipment.  That's the fun about this hobby.  Unfortunately, this industry is akin to that of the computer industry, what's hot toady is not tomorrow.  Remember the future proof components of years past?
kenny928, I hear ya. My forays into the cable world always had a cost limit which I believe helped to fine tune my ears as to the small differences that exists at the lower levels which it made easier to appreciate the larger differences when my wallet opened up a bit. And there is a limit to how much my wallet will open. :-)

I was lucky enough to find a large improvement by approximately doubling what I used to spend on cables. That next tier up holds lots of surprises. I rationalized it by adding up the costs of all the cable sets I've bought at those lower prices and after a minor moment of schadenfreude (with me being the victim) I took the plunge and couldn't be happier. 

I hope the Nordost work for you in the long run.

All the best,
Nonoise
Kenny928 wrote,

"That's the fun about this hobby. Unfortunately, this industry is akin to that of the computer industry, what's hot toady is not tomorrow. Remember the future proof components of years past?"

The computer industry?  Surely you jest. Is "hot toady" some kind of Freudian slip?
nonoise - Make friends with a store owner, a drink or two will open up lots of doors when it comes to sampling product.  You may, like I have,  get to see and or assist in setting up megabuck systems in the 1% households!  When their wallets open they really open and seem to be free flowing.  Always good for me because that equates to fine single malt scotch and a cigar or two.  Schadenfreude ist nicht so gut , mein Freund
A little knowledge and recognizing extreme uncompromising views goes a long way for cutting through the bs and there is plenty of that whenever there is money to be made by easily fooling people.  

It's  called common sense.  

The best things seldom come easy.  ⚖
mapman - Well said.  I always look at marketing with a critical eye.
geoffkait - My ADHD kicking in.  Good catch!  LOL!  BTW, USN vet here, and thank you for your service!
It seems  many are conditioned these days to accept being lied to.    It's very sad.  
Kenny- leaving aside marketing hyperbole and specious scientific claims, do you acknowledge that you have heard a difference with different cables? I certain have, and am agnostic: my first experience in doing in-depth cable comparisons was done in the late ’80s- using a pair of Quad electrostats, which admittedly have their limitations and quirks but a very revealing midrange. I sat on the floor with about 5 different speaker cables and tried them out over the course of a long weekend. Not much discussion, as I recall, about cable break-in back then. I just installed a cable, listened for a while, then changed it. At some point, I must have done a run-off among a narrower sub-set of the ones I liked best, and frankly cannot even remember which, by brand or price, I preferred.
Fast forward several decades- I’ve tried several different cables in my current system (which I assembled circa 2006-7, with various updates over the past 10 years- but the core of the system has been essentially the same)- vinyl, SET amps, horns. Again, the cables-- this time interconnect and speaker, as well as power, made a difference. What I’m using isn’t the most unobtanium, fanciest or most expensive, but in comparisons in my room, over my equipment, I heard differences. I don’t know that I ever read a white paper about them, or was lured into buying them because of some claims about their sonic properties-- they seem to work well in my system, which can be somewhat unforgiving and is pretty revealing.
As far as value is concerned, I’m not one who chases the "next great thing." My Quad-based system was assembled in in the mid ’70s and with upgrades to the same line of amplification and speaker (Crosby 63 for the original 57 panels, better ARC amps and preamps, etc.), that system remained in place through most of the ’90s.
My horn based system has evolved in similar, long term ownership fashion. So, an investment in a good set of cables that made my system sound more like real music (really a better illusion) made sense to me. Will the cable I use will do the same thing for someone else, with different gear, listening preferences or budget? I have no idea and certainly don’t pretend to stake any absolute ground here-whether the cables, beyond a certain point are acting as filters, or simply better at fending off extraneous noise or interference, perhaps the answer is all of the above. There do seem to be certain preferred "matches" or synergies by people using certain combinations of equipment, and I don’t doubt that, based on their experiences, they have come to conclusions that are subjectively valid. I don’t know if your engineering vantage point goes so far as to say it isn’t valid science if it can’t be measured, but I’m old enough to remember the transition from tube to solid state and certainly from analog to digital, and early efforts on both fronts did not meet the measured science. Today, thankfully, I guess, solid state and digital is far better than at the time of consumer introduction. As to hype, generally, welcome to life. Everybody is selling something, right?
 
mapman
13,241 posts
05-04-2016 9:07pm
"It seems many are conditioned these days to accept being lied to.   It's very sad."

"The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" - Chicken Little



Must say you are very reliable always popping up when Summoned. 

🐢
kenny928 OP16 posts05-04-2016 4:44pm Before I attended an engineering university I too was duped into buying expensive wires and such. Now, armed with an engineering and physics background, I can see through the BS claims made.
Engineering school has a course for street smarts?

I tell him politely my background and then ask him a series of questions which leaves him dumbfounded.

One of those, Do you know who I am types? That’s all I need to know.

I am an engineer first and an audiophile second.

When it comes to audio, I trust my ear 1st. My fancy degree, specifications ... come 2nd.

I just get tired of the massive increase in prices over time. I have been an audiophile since 1979 and have seen the increase in hype and prices without empirical data to back the claims.

It’s call capitalism! Entrepreneur identifies a market and create companies to fill a void. If you fall for the hype, it’s not companies fault but yours. There are consequences in a free society with the ability to choose.

Audiophile companies operate in a niche market where demand is low, supply is low so price is high. If you only sell 50 amps annual, you have to charge more for each to stay in business. Conversely you have companies like Walmart that deals with high demand, high volume so prices are low. Economics 101.

Ever notice that power cord shipped with the product? It is an inexpensive one. Why would a 20K piece of equipment be shipped out with such a feeble cord if it made such a huge difference in sound? Just sayin'!

Simple, like most tube components, companies anticipate you roll them so don't bother including expensive PCs. 

falconquest78 posts05-04-2016 7:47pmGeez Kenny,
Why do some people feel they need a BMW M5 to get to work when a Kia Sportage will get them there just as easily? It’s a marketplace. If people want to spend thousands of dollars on speaker cables then for cripes sake let them! Are they better? Who cares? They think they are. Just because I can prove that a Kia Sportage from an engineering standpoint can get you to work the same as a BMW M5 doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for the M5! And whose standard are we to live by? I get tired of those who put down audiophiles based on "engineering principles". Do your research, find what works for you and go with what you can afford. It doesn’t mean any one of us is right or wrong. Hopefully we’re happy with our system and that’s all that’s required. BTW, why are you using Nordost cables when you can get them much cheaper from Radio Shack?
Kenny boy thinks he better than you. Everybody should live by his standards, frugalness and street smarts. Notice how he criticizes his friends getting scammed and duped? With a PITA friend like Kenny, who needs enemies.

Remember, Kenny has an engineering degree so you can’t dupe him and is much smarter than all of us . GMAB!!!
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Mapman wrote,

"Must say you are very reliable always popping up when Summoned."

I like your new avatar, by the way. I’m just guessing but is that supposed to be you and Batman? Or the Teletubbies?

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geoffkait - Really?  What is the preferred way of speaking or writing where you come from?
Kenny928 wrote,

"geoffkait - My ADHD kicking in. Good catch! LOL! BTW, USN vet here, and thank you for your service!"

Good for you. I worked on boomers myself. But strictly as a civvie.

Mapman wrote,

"A little knowledge and recognizing extreme uncompromising views goes a long way for cutting through the bs and there is plenty of that whenever there is money to be made by easily fooling people."

Emphasis on the phrase "a little knowledge." Ever heard the expression "knowing just enough to be dangerous?"

I spent more time in the water than on it in VA Beach.  As for a troll, naw, just a guy that loves Bikes, babes, hifi and guns. 
BTW, I write and speak for a living, hence the unfamiliar pattern of writing.
Sometimes the ads are BS and other times not.
I do agree that many items are overpriced.
I trust my ears and what I hear.
lak - Agreed, hence me testing out equipment loaned to me. 
Kenny928 wrote,

"BTW, I write and speak for a living, hence the unfamiliar pattern of writing."

Oh, it's not unfamiliar. It's very familiar.

kenny928, now that I have read through this thread it seems apparent that your original post was completely disingenuous and simply meant to be inflammatory. You do indeed appear to be an audio snob but your own variety. You seem to think that others are idiots for paying their hard earned money for things that you have found a way to try for free or reduced prices.
Almost every post is a demonstration of why you feel superior to the other posting members here. Just what is it that makes you think you are the only one here who has served their country? I have to live with the effects of my service every day but I don't go around rubbing every ones nose in it to show that I feel superior for it. Many thousands have served both before and after you so that YOU have the right to spew your superior nonsense on this forum.
You seem to think that everyone should bow to your obvious superiority and when they don't you resort to trying to demean them and make them appear unpatriotic. I don't know anyone in the Armed Services who talks the way you do. We all have pride in upholding an ideal of freedom and liberty for all, not just those who have served.