Point-to-point wiring (1) eliminates the sonic signature of a circuit board (copper embedded in a dialectric or varying quality, teflon being the best but most expensive alternative) and (2) can use higher quality wiring than the copper traces of a circuit board (e.g., silver in teflon, cryo treated, directionally installed). When both are well executed, the point-to-point wiring will typically have superior sound quality. That being said, their are some extremely high quality, SOTA, components that use circuit boards. The cost of labor in point-to-point wiring will add dramatically to the cost-to-manufacture of the component.
As Rushton says, circuit boards allow cheap components that look tidy.
The other advantage is that each device that consumes power has a direct path back to the power supply and therefore the differences that can occur when all the devices are trying to draw power from a common distributed supply are eliminated - theoretically making each perform more identically. It is an indication of extreme attention to detail.
'point to point wiring' is code for 'it was made in the room over the garage by dyi enthusiasts'.
While not disagreeing with Rushton's comments, you should not conclude that point to point is inherently superior to circuit board based designs. Each accomplishes the same goal and you would have to look at the overall circuit design to infer which method is "better" for that specific application. This is particularly true when you factor in issues such as circuit complexity, reliability, ease of repair and ability to upgrade.
Another downfall is a circuit board can be very susceptible to airborne and mechanical vibrations. Some manufacturers implement "floating" the boards with small springs or rubber devices on the mounts to the chassis to reduce these effects.
Circuit boards (if intelegently designed) enable optimum placement of components with minimal wire runs between them. And, it avoids the need for wire "dressing", which always was something of an art. Depending on how many of the circuits you will manufacture, circuit boards may or may not be less expensive to produce. The use of "point-to-point" wiring may reflect the fact that few of the units are produced, and the supposed benefits cited as a cover-up.
PCB's are quick and easy. Design a board, have it made for you, pay minimum wage employees to stuff the boards, install them into the chassis with plug in connectors, test it, put it in a shipping box. Sell a $1K mod six months later, changing out a handful of caps and resisitors that should have been used in the first place.
Yeah, PCB's have brought us a long way.
It's a throwback, and like a number of other things in audio (tubes and vinyl) it gets the juices of old audiophiles going. Whether any of it is an improvement is all in the mind. You know what? Chicken tasted a lot better when I was young.
interesting to see some contrasting views on this subject. Being relatively new to the hobby myself, I'd always heard point to point wiring spoken of as if it was some really great thing.
Speaking for myself only, chicken tastes as good today as it did when I was a youngster. I fully comprehend your analogy, but feel that it doesn't fit in this situation.
We've all heard what different cabling can do for a system, (some of us have even the sonic effects of changing out an input wire on an amp). This said, it makes sense that internal direct wiring within the circuit itself would have similar effects. It may be difficult to have a wire trace with as much actual area as a 12 or 14 gauge wire, (which may be the optimum size for the circuit design). We haven't even gotten into different grades of copper used in PCB's as compared to the extremely wide variety of wire available for use.
I believe that there are some great reasons for PCB's, sonics not neccessarily one of them. We all have PCB's in our systems, so I'm not saying that good sound isn't possible with PCB's, just that they present compromises.
To state that point to point is amatuerish, DIY, or throwback is off base and may not be the primary reason for utilizing this build design.
Sorry, I don't know how you can say: "We've all heard what different cabling can do for a system... " On that point count me out. I have yet to hear a cable that actually improves anything except through the power of suggestion. Which may work quite well BTW. I simply prefer buying recordings and listening to them. If I have to sit on the edge of my seat and squint to hear an improvement, I quickly conclude that at my age life is just too short to worry about that. On the other hand, I am thinking of getting my head cryoed. Hope it works out.
Pbb if you get your head Cryo'd I want to be there to document it.
I'll wager that just before total freeze up you will realize that chicken tasted better when you were young because they were all free range then as opposed to living in ten inch square wire cages and eating their own crap.
Anyway you need not fear being taken in by the "cable hoax," because you decided long ago that these forums were a place to spend your aggressive tendencies and fight rather than spend $100.00 for a used interconnect and improve your own system.
I would say that the last laugh is on you because you never get improvement in music playback, but I now realize after reading dozens of your comments you really don't care. You just want everyone else to be miserable too.
I am not sure in regards to audio equipment. But, point to point usually means the within a computer network bandwidth is not shared such as the one implemeted by the new Serial networking technology as opposed to the more common daisy chain networking which has to share bandwidth with whatever else is hooked up to it.
Albert, the only issue I have is with the new orthodoxy where everyone who listens to reproduced music is somehow expected to hear improvements that I simply do not hear or that appear to me to be so evanescent as to make them at best insignificant, and at worst a hindrance to enjoying the music. As a pursuit that does no one real harm, I really don't care that anyone attempts to refine their systems to the nth degree by whatever means they chose. I do hear differences in systems, but can tell you that they usually are related to main components, the speakers being the usual prime suspects. I can tell you that I heard some systems in a price range I would consider quite high that did nothing for me. On the other hand, I heard some very reasonably priced systems that included what you would consider laughable wire that sounded amazingly good to me. (a system consisting of Naim electronics and Spendor speakers comes to mind, another that was all Rega is also remembered fondly). So my only point, brought out with a regularity that no doubt has a lot of folks here wanting to get their Voodoo dolls out, is that not everyone is convinced of all that has been touted as advancements or improvements in audio over the last decade or so that has come to be known as "subjective" audio. That an argument is predicated on the assumption, such as the one I objected to, that everyone is in agreement over some point and then proceeding with an analogy proves nothing. I remember someone posting many months ago that cables cannot make much of a difference since the signal goes through so much in the way of copper traces and wires inside amps that the last few metres could not possibly make a difference. What you have now is the mirror image argument that since cables make so much of a difference the copper traces inside amps are obviously deleterious to sound quality and hard wiring (no doubt with cult wire) is the only way to go for great sound. All I am saying is wait a minute. Insofar as my cryo remark, don't take it personally, as I have not taken personally the fact that you want to be present at my demise at the hands of the cryo gods. In closing, a lot of people have remarked on AA that 'Agon forums are now as dull as dishwater. I am counting on you and me to bring some life to the discussion without animus. And, in any debate or discussion here, you certainly have a couple of lengths on me since way more people here like you. I guess that's the price to pay for being a curmudgeon, a contrarian and a cheapskate to boot! A price I am willing to shoulder for the advancement of audio...
In regard to an inability to discern significant differences in sound between differing wires, my ears, and they definitely are not "golden" indeed have been amazed by the noted improvements. In terms of point to point wiring, at least on my newly acquired Quicksilvers, the sound is extremely captivating and engaging causing one to want to spend more time then is probably good for one's "family peace" listening to all my records and CD's over again. Yes, this is a hobby and changes/improvements often accompany careful improvements to the system. And if you can't hear the "improvements" you can save a lot of money by refraining from "upgrading" but for those "fortunates" that do hear a diffence enjoy your hobby.
Miler- In my opinion, PCB mounted components, be they thru-hole or SMT, ensure that all units are manufactured identically, whereas point-point wiring varies from assembler to assembler, or even with the same assembler during the course of the workday. And there is the obvious cost advantage over point-point except for an extremely small run. My two cents....
Point to point wiring is a heck of a lot easy to repair and modify than PCBs. BTW, my Cary amp was NOT assembled in a garage. I've been to the factory and met the nice ladies that assemble them. -JT
I appreciate Pbb's skepticism. "The Great Cryo'd Outlet Test" thread is a "great" illustration of its legitimacy and with a healthy supply of misinformation, people concerned about cryo'd screws, and people hearing differences after refrigerating their CDPs and thousands of hours of burn-in, those who say "nay" before I do are practically refreshing.
"You just want everyone else to be miserable too."
Pbb's post made me laugh.
"...you and me to bring some life..." Pbb, from Texas millionaire? I really doubt it.
On the other hand, I heard some very reasonably priced systems that included what you would consider laughable wire that sounded amazingly good to me. (A system consisting of Naim electronics and Spendor speakers comes to mind, another that was all Rega is also remembered fondly
Not only do I agree economical systems can sound good, I am responsible for two guys in my audio group staying on target for their high end budget audio systems.
Eric had $2200.00 and Robert had $1400.00. Both systems required I assemble CD player, speakers, amplifier, preamp, cables (and on the $2200.00 rig), turntable, arm and cartridge.
Both these systems perform admirably and both came in on budget, thanks to Audiogon. I choose Vandersteen speakers, tube amps and preamps and Home Depot wire for both systems. There are topics on both these systems and I worked hard to make this right, including (in one case) driving 50 miles to pick up the Vandy's to avoid possibility of shipping damage.
Now just in case you think that I have made a 180 degree turn, this is not the case. Once a system reaches the point where all the components are approaching maximum performance level, then specialized cable, AC cords, NOS tubes, isolation feet and many of the other tweaks discussed here become valid.
Platinum spark plugs would be wasted in a Ford Pinto but they are a necessity in many German cars, including Porsche. So, does that mean that testing Platinum spark plugs in a Pinto and getting crappy results prove the part is worthless? No it does not.
If a system is pushed far enough ALL these tweaks matter. Audiogon is for music lovers and home theatre fans and there is room for many opinions. I help people every day with answers to problems that have nothing to do with the components I choose for my own system. I also respond to those who have gone the limit and want answers about equipment at the upper limit.
If you think making fun of ideas that didn't work in your system constitutes fun, then don't be surprised when I come along and challenge you.
Kkursula, I don't understand your comment. I take great offence if your referring to me as Texas millionaire in your reference to Pbb.
Albert, don't you need to settle down a little? No-one even knows what a Pinto is anymore!
Its easy to assume that you are a millionaire since you have such a wacked stereo *and* you live in Dallas, *and* you get a tax write-off on your SUV. Its an innocent enough mistake. Now if you lived in Wisconsin, you would be safe from such assumptions and you could rest at night, knowing you were finally getting enough cheese :)
I suppose I should put in my two bits about handwiring. Its Good. You can control stray capacitance, you can build circuits with custom wiring if need be, servicability, updatability and upgradability are improved. If laid out properly, bandwidth is improved and the stray capcitance caused by layout is of a better quality (a circuit board must be regarded as a form of capacitor- no-one wants to listen to capacitors with a fiberglass dielectric). If done efficiently, it is more reliable, especially if you have hot tubes and tube sockets, and in such cases often not any more expensive. I have more reasons, but I degress. The real reason we are here is to give Albert a hard time.
Pbb, surely you were educated by the Jesuits - Loyola or Brébeuf? I find your sense of logic (especially establishing the premise of an arguement) refreshing.
I rather thinkPBB is antonymous of Jesuit thinking if Jesuit thinking equates to Cartesian thinking.
I think it would be better if inpepinnovations, Pbb, the Jesuits, and I all join together to give Ralph (Atma-Sphere) a hard time. He's the guy with the $27000.00 amps and a paid for home, I still have 20 years to go.
Huh. Is that anything like that time we were in San Francisco?
Guess I missed that joke.
Ralph is just mad that you've long since moved on from his amps, Albert.
Steveg2, knowing both Ralph and Albert, your comment is way off base.
Rush, I just arrived and caught up on this thread.
I suspect Steve is teasing us. Everyone knows Ralph and I have been friends for years, we just like to give each other a lot of sh*t and I think he was joining in.
Hard time? Get it? Oh, never mind :)
On a more serious note (somehow back on topic), I don't think anyone pointed out here that point to point wiring is a much bigger deal for tube amps then transistor amps. Tubes being high impedance devices, they are affected to a much greater degree by stray capacitance then transistors. To control the variables thus introduced, point to point wiring can be an elegant solution. OTOH for transistors, for the most part, its a red herring.
Ralph, are the high voltages involved also a factor? It seems it would be trickier to maintain proper clearances on a PCB than by using wire.
There is certainly some truth to that. I have seen arc-over, due to circuit board contamination, that has heavily damaged PCBs in some tube amps I have serviced over the years. This is something that does not happen with point to point wiring.
Vacuum tube audio equipment that is point to point wired survives much longer (and is therefore preferred) in tropical climates.
Like all design methodologies, there are good point-to-point designs and bad ones. If all the wiring is done correctly, to control the current and current-return paths, the performance can easily exceed that of printed circuit boards. The dielectric in circuit boards has very high dielectric absorption compared to good cabling.
It requires good cabling, good circuit design and a knowledge of power delivery and signal path current flows to get a good result. Most tube amp and even some SS amp designers like to star-ground everything. This is good for noise abatement, but usually not good for the sound....results in a soft-sounding amp, no dynamics.
Audioengr- While the dielectric absorbtion of PCBs may be higher than that of "good cabling", the signal path on a well designed circuit card assembly (typically) would be much shorter. Does on cancel the other? Like most things in our hobby, implementation counts heavily.
As far as a grounding scheme, I do not see how you can (unequivically) say that star grounding results in a soft-sounding-amp with no dynamics. That certainly is a generalization.
Russ- Audio and video engineer.
Russ_l - Based on my experience, it does not take much trace on a circuit board to muck-up the signal, particularly if the traces are wide, so it's hard to make this comparison. I would rather have 1 foot of good silver in a loose Teflon tube or cloth jacket than 3" of circuit trace for instance.
The grounding scheme is primarily to minimize loops and therefore increase noise susceptibility. The down side is that it generally forces the currents to flow in patterns that are not optimal for good transient response.