Why do intelligent people deny audio differences?

In my years of audiophilia I have crossed swords with my brother many times regarding that which is real, and not real, in terms of differeces heard and imagined.
He holds a Masters Degree in Education, self taught himself regarding computers, enough to become the MIS Director for a school system, and early in life actually self taught himself to arrange music, from existing compositions, yet he denys that any differece exists in the 'sound' of cables--to clarify, he denies that anyone can hear a difference in an ABX comparison.
Recently I mentioned that I was considering buying a new Lexicon, when a friend told me about the Exemplar, a tube modified Dennon CD player of the highest repute, video wise, which is arguably one of the finest sounding players around.
When I told him of this, here was his response:
"Happily I have never heard a CD player with "grainy sound" and, you know me, I would never buy anything that I felt might be potentially degraded by or at least made unnecessarily complex and unreliable by adding tubes."

Here is the rub, when cd players frist came out, I owned a store, and was a vinyl devotee, as that's all there was, and he saw digital as the panacea for great change; "It is perfect, it's simply a perfect transfer, ones and zero's there is no margin for error," or words to that effect.
When I heard the first digital, I was appalled by its sterility and what "I" call 'grainy' sound. Think of the difference in cd now versus circa 1984. He, as you can read above resists the notion that this is a possibility.
We are at constant loggerheads as to what is real and imagined, regarding audio, with him on the 'if it hasn't been measured, there's no difference', side of the equation.
Of course I exaggerate, but just the other day he said, and this is virtually a quote, "Amplifiers above about a thousand dollars don't have ANY qualitative sound differences." Of course at the time I had Halcro sitting in my living room and was properly offended and indignant.
Sibling rivalry? That is the obvious here, but this really 'rubs my rhubarb', as Jack Nicholson said in Batman.
Unless I am delusional, there are gargantual differences, good and bad, in audio gear. Yet he steadfastly sticks to his 'touch it, taste it, feel it' dogma.
Am I losing it or is he just hard headed, (more than me)?
What, other than, "I only buy it for myself," is the answer to people like this? (OR maybe US, me and you other audio sickies out there who spend thousands on minute differences?
Let's hear both sides, and let the mud slinging begin!
To be the first to answer one's own post seems bizarre, but here is yet another slice of his logic from the same email.
"While it is unquestionably true that many technical areas have improved, many tests have shown that reports of this early harshness was, for the most part, unfounded. I.e., many of those early CDs played today sound indistinguishable when played on first generation players and newer players in a double blind test. _All_ CD players do not sound exactly alike as some are too cheaply made and others were/are simply defective. However, at a certain price point and level matched, the differences disappear. See http://tinyurl.com/53e3s for just one of hundreds of examples."

Have I lost it, or do cd players, circa 1984 REALLY sound largely like cd players of today, all things being equal, otherwise?
God, I am doing it again. I went to the site in question, and the Cd players listened to were, Krell, Theta, and others of that ilk.
I am sure he has plenty of others as 'evidence', but this one caught me by surprise.
This is in the upteenth generation of players, some 9 years after introduction.
Sounds to me like your brother is trying to get in your head and has done a pretty good job. There's nothing wrong with either of your approaches to audio -- to each his own. His works for him and yours works for you. You can't force someone to see through your eyes or hear through your ears and it shouldn't matter if someone else doesn't hear what you hear -- or else you'll end up on an audio site writing to yourself. More like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. The proper response to your brother, as well as his proper response to you is something along the lines of, "oh, you!" With a bemused shake of the head.
This question has two parts, in my opinion. The first part deals with technical superiority of new CD players (and superiority...or the Big Dog Syndrome among the new players). The second part deals with pure musical enjoyment, i.e. are new CD players more enjoyable than CD players of 10 years ago, or more.

I was recently involved in a less-than-scientific listening session involving a universally accepted state of the art digital playback system and a considerably less expensive contender. To avoid future arguments about the merits of these two players, I'm not going to mention them by name. What is interesting, though, is during the session the players were level matched and switched. The participants had a difficult time identifying which player was selected, and several times we were just plain wrong. Interesting! After a couple of hours, we could identify particular sonic cues that enabled us to correctly identify each player. To me, this simply proved that modern CD players are REALLY close in performance and sonics. It wouldn't surprise me if any individual might prefer different players on different days depending on mood and/or external influences...like having recently read a positive review.

Now, accepting that my modern player keeps up with the best of digital, I can offer an opinion regarding its performance versus a 15 year old Sony CD changer. I've had the new player out of the system at least once during my ownership, which required me to use my old player. Could I detect a difference? Yes. Was my old player less musically enjoyable? Definitely and emphatically not! In fact, I often use the changer during parties not just because of it's changer capability, but because it's somehow more relaxing and satisfying in that environment.

Now, are modern machines superior technically to older machines? Yes. Can one detect sonic differences? Yes. Are they more musically enjoyable? That...is a less clear answer.
Has -he- ever done a double blind test? That might be a good place to start.

Well said and my thoughts exactly. As larsky and I have traded e-mails discussing the pros and cons of Thiel speakers. People hear what they hear and it really doesn't matter what their opinion is as long as you enjoy it. If we listen to music and are concerned what other people hear then we are listening for the wrong reasons.

I too was a skeptic of cables and power cords making any difference. But I kept an open mind and have since proven myself wrong. And now believe there is truly a difference albeit maybe not in all systems.

As for CD players of yesteryear compared to players available today. I have played around a little bit with different players and have never heard as much of a difference as I thought I should have. My old Philips CD-80, vintage 1990, still sounded damm good when I sold it, even compared to players of today.

Lrsky, just relax and enjoy the music and forget what your brother thinks. I believe most of us who frequent this site are on your side. As to why do intelligent people deny audio differences. I don't think in general they do. Maybe your brother does because he is either close minded or simply doesn't hear it or both. I consider my self fairly well educated with a BSME and MBA from a major Big 10 school. And as mentioned above do believe differences exist. I am also sure others do as well or this site wouldn't exist.

By the way I am looking forward to that speaker trial; you are not backing out are you.

Before I get blasted on this I'd like to clear the air with everyone knowing I have an education degree in industrial arts. Having attended teachers college and interacting with many educators through the years there is a tendency among the rank and file to talk down to adults as well as the children they teach. They are acustomed to shaping minds and yours is no exception. I have teachers that are my friends but in general I bristle at the attitude your brother displays. I'd suggest simply never talking about audio. You are not going to change his mindset and you hear what you hear. This is one reason I decided not to teach officially. And yes, there probably is some sibling rivalry going on here. Get this out of your head.
The connection made between inteligence and subjective opinions about audio equipment is troubling. You should consider that perhaps your brother is too smart to be swayed by hype. And vice versa.
Your brother is exaggerating a bit for effect, but his general point is correct. He's clearly done a good bit to educate himself about the field of audio reproduction. Perhaps you could learn from him.

And no, you are not delusional. But that doesn't mean that every difference you think you hear has a physical cause.
I agree that intelligence,per se, may not be the issue.
There are allegedly 16 types of intelligence, anyway.

If your brother can't hear the difference between sources or amps, he simply may not be very discerning at this time.
That is why in college they make you take Art Appreciation.
It is like any endeavor-he doesn't know what he doesn't know at this point. But if he is content-what can you say.
Hey, 61 million people voted for Bush. The world has all kinds.

I just replaced my source with a different one.
It sounds so much different (and better) it is not even funny.
By the way (as you are probably wondering) I replaced a $1500 cd player with a $700 cd player. Price sometimes is not relevant.
Let me guess... he's the left brain, and you are the right brain of the family...
Just think how happy we would be if we thought an $89 CD player sounded great! Is ignorance bliss? I don't know the answer, but I think it's cheaper!
Good advice from several people on this thread. Forget it! You will never change his mind, but mor than that, he's having too much fun yanking your chain. Arguing just encourages him.

I don't try to explain why a cd player might be worth $3000 to people who don't understand. If you don't hear a difference, you shouldn't buy it. The last thing I want to discuss with my friends who are not in to audio is the price of components in my system. They think I'm crazy, and maybe they're right.

How much of this chase is about ego? It's sometimes difficult to admit that things that cost less are better. We have so much time, money and ego invested in a product, that if something cheaper and better comes along, we resist it. I just sold my amp and preamp in favor of an integrated that is about 30% of the price. It absolutely sounds better to me! I didn't want to admit it at first, but I heard what I heard. Frankly, I miss the bragging rights, but the music sounds better with the integrated, and that's most important to me.

Your brother is at one extreme, and it's easy for us to be at the other. Things aren't always better because they cost more, but it's silly to think they all sound the same. Chip sets, power supplys, and transports are just a few of the things that can make one disc player sound different from another. Ego and price justification can cloud our objectivity, but if your brother really doesn't hear the differences, he should keep what he has. If you hear a difference, enjoy it! and don't let your brother rain on your parade.
I certainly recognize that intelligence insures nothing as it relates to this topic, just to get that out of the way; from an art perspective, Andy Warhol, like him or not, was wildly successful, and had an estimated I.Q. of 85, which places him in the mildly slow category, as average uis between 90 and 110, average being established by the largest portion of scores i.e. the most will score 100 with others falling at the extremes. I only point out that someone who is a thinking person, will take an issue, and treat it with such a closed minded approach, disallowing even the remotest possibility that cables, and power cords for example, can make a difference.
I am on the side of the ledger that states, 'just because I don't understand or can't rationally condlude why this IS the way it is, doesn't make it untrue, and doesn't mean it isn't happening.
In Psych 101 the professor asked the old chestnut, "if a tree falls in a forrest and no one is there to hear it, is there any sound?" Someone in the front row said no, and he agreed. I raised MY hand and said, "well if there's no noise, there's also no tree, and no forrest."
The professor immediately told me I was being disruptive, and I pointed out that I had simply taken his logic one step further, for illustrative purposes. The answer being, if it takes human interaction for reality to have occurred, (an event such as gathered sound waves) it also takes eyes to behold the tree, and or the forrest.
The point here is, I don't need to understand why, to appreciate differences, whereas, emperically, he does.
Someone said, 'there is a tendency for teachers to talk down to both adults and students, so I chose to get out of the field." I think that that is the real hook here, the smugness of the response.
Thanks for responding.
Is this the only example of debate you have with your brother? Otherwise you get along? Insensitive as it sounds, I envy you. Whenever I try to engage my brothers in a conversation about any audio related topic they begin to complain of physical pain-its like I am giving birth ooooh(godfrey). I...can...hardly ...breath. Or, My favorite-distortion! thats what is..on the line...we are breaking up... i can hardly hear you! Whatever your relationshiop with your brother is, it is certain this debate you have had has helped you define your point of view. Otherwise,you might have asked why it is SOME people deny audio differences.
Heh, yer brother is messin with you, there are definatly differences in CDP's

I have 2 sources hooked up, a Denon 2900 and a Pioneer CDR. I keep the CDR mainly for recording and do pretty much all of my listening with the Denon 2900.

He gets off work a couple hours before i do and usually has music playing when i get home.

Before i even open my door i can tell if he is listening to the radio, comcast digital music, the CDR, or the Denon 2900.

The problem with those tests is how many of those audiophools owned the players being tested?

I can tell which source is being played before i even walk into the room because i have had enough time with my system to be able to tell the sonic characteristics of each well enough to make a guess as to which it is with about 90-95% accuracy.

Put me in a room on a system i dont know, with several players of various price points and i wont be able to tell them apart for a while either. And even when i do start hearing and recognizing the sound to A B and C which would probably take days of extended listening, i would need even more days to be able to even ATTEMPT to guess the price tags of the players.

There are differences but they are subtle, and i dont believe anyone will be able to just walk into a strange system and be able to tell which player is which just from listening to them for a few minuits, it took me a few weeks to really pin down the sonic characteristics of the Denon 2900. The radio usually sounds compressed and crappy, the Digital Music is pretty clear but still compressed with a higher noise level, the CDR is pretty good but just lacks the detail of the Denon 2900

Sometimes it takes a little while to get to know the characteristics of a new piece of gear and how much you like it, but you can take a song and play it on my Denon 2900, Pioneer CDR, and 4-5 other players, i wont be able to tell what the other players or thier price points or anything, but then the Denon or Pioneer are playing on my system you bet yer ass that i will know it. Those 2 players on my system are plain as day to me.

I would be willing to say the same thing about any component i have in my system.

I dont know how it is for others, but when i get a new piece of gear and it sounds better, well, it sounds better right off the bat, it just takes me a while of listening to figure out exactly what it is that i was missing before.

that is the problem with the super-triple-threat double-dog-dare Uber-stupid bogus blind tests.

How the hell are you supposed to pin down the sonic characteristics of CDP's on gear you dont know?

as for your brother saying if it cant be measured it doesent exist, that means that we currently have the ability to measure and quantify everything in existance.

So that means that since we havent measured god that must he doesent exist, which basically means there is no afterlife, so he better have fun with the time given to him cause once it is over it is totally over.

better go ahead and tell all the scientists to go ahead and take a break cause we know everything.

It has also been proven that people imagine differences that are not really
there at all. John Dunlavy used to do an experiment where he would gather
audiophiles in his lab, position a technician behind a set of speakers, change
speaker cables and the audiophiles would claim to hear large differences --
but the trick was -- the cables were never changed. Now, show me an
audiophile who is open to the idea that there is a very real possibility that the
differences he/she hears is due to his/her imagination and I'll show you an
audiophile who is REALLY open minded. There is more than enough irony in
listening to audiophiles who think they are immune to such imaginary effects
calling others closed minded. Unless you can prove that you aren't imagining
the differences you are claiming to hear or that the differences are audible to
your brother, there is nothing here but a he said/she said type of debate.
There is a very real possibility that some of these alleged differences are like
the emporer's new clothes. Without proof of the existence of these alleged
differences, there's no proof that there are any clothes to see. So, in absence
of that proof, there's no justification for smugness on anyone's part.
Anecdotal testimony with regard to these alleged differences wouldn't hold
up in any scientific debate. So, what do you do when you're debating sounds
that haven't even been proven to exist -- and no anecdotal testimony is not
accepted as *PROOF*. So many of these alleged differences disappear under
double-blind testing that, IMO, a little humility is in order. Show me the
humble audiophile who is open to the possibility that he/she is affected by
peer group pressure and his/her imagination and you win a trip to Bermuda!
But, if YOU are satisfied that you hear these things, be happy. If others --
like your brother -- are cynical, you've got no magic bullet to end the debate.
Further, just as people can imagine hearing differences because they think
they are supposed to -- it stands to reason that people can fail to hear
differences because they think they are not supposed to. Also stands to
reason that one must think any differences, if they do in fact exist, are worth
hearing in order to hear them. These are just some of the reasons these
types of debates rage on. And, why the correct response, IMO, to either
position is just a bemused, "oh you!" But -- that's just my
Great post! I love it. Does your brother have anything to say about speaker breakin? Book smarts mean nothing. My IQ is over 130. So what!

Sometimes it takes 20 or 30 minutes of loud music to what the amp. is really doing. Maybe he is tone deaf.

It reminds me of the old days, when kids would come into the shop saying that they got an XYZ amplifier for $100, and it sounds as good as any other amp because it had only .00000001% distortion, and no other amp could possibly sound better than that.

Some things never change.
Highly educated neither infers common sense nor open-mindedness.
They can't hear the difference and aren't interested in trying to hear a difference.
Lugnut nailed it. Academia Nervosa.

My brother maintains an information network at a large university, yet:

My brother believes the US government has deceased alien corpses locked away in a meat locker. He also believes everything Oliver Stone sends his way.

It's funny, this thread conjured up memories of my old store in Louisville.
The way I would evaluate anything was first, unkown, as to which was which, then, do an A/B/A. I would make notes sometimes, but usually, and this is a curse rather than a blessing usually, I would immediately hear the differences, for good or bad. Now, to be clear, I NEVER cared which was better, I only wanted to know.
This was an instructive time in my audio development, in that it taught me patience, and let me be self assured. One of the posters on here who shall remain nameless, hates me because I hear in seconds, what it takes him hours to ferret out. And trust me on this ALL of his tests are blindfold tests, and he's really good.
I only wish, God love him, that my brother and I could have a discussion about possibilities for a change, rather than onlt dwelling on that which is known. The only way we discover new things is to go out on that limb. When, (yes I am a commercial poster) I voiced my speakers, I used the Sound Labs as well as my inner reference of music as a musician for decades, as the control. I never questioned the outcome with caps etc, or wiring, regardless of where it led, I only accepted the findings, as sounding either better or not as good, regardless of what was SUPPOSED to be according to the hype or accepted wisdom.
Most of you out there when listening to power cords no doubt have had the same experience. One is better than another, WHY? Maybe a better plug, and so on, but who cares ultimately. If it sounds better it IS better, for you. This is why speaker designers pull their hair out. They are all convinced that theirs are better, no doubt, but since this IS SUBJECTIVE, we'll always agree to disagree, I guess.
Thanks, keep em coming, you guys are interesting.
BTW thanks to Lugnut, condescending is a correct description of his attitude, and God is it ever annoying.
Your brother is lucky. Regardless of the reality of any constructs which he has grasped, in the end he likes the sound and spent substantially less.
I agree to the extent, Holzhauer, only if you think that ignorance is bliss.
To never go on a cruise because you are sure without knowing that you will get sea sick, or feel confined on a ship.

To not go to Paris, for fear that the ethnocentric French will give you a hard time.

To never hear music in your home played like it can be, just to save a few dollars; when we both can agree that the undertaker rarely sews money into the pockets of shrouds.

Yes he spends less, but he can afford to enjoy one of life's great joys, music, with much more lifelike gear, but allows himself to accept less through a completley shut down logic path.

I may be frivilous, but I am having fun not with only the music, but with the joy of discovery, and I hope it will always be so.
By the way, how could someone who is as proud as you; enough so to take pictures of your system to show the world, make such a statement of how HE is lucky. I think you and I are lucky to have found something we love so much.
So, you think your brother is ignorant -- and condescending -- because he doesn't hear what you claim to hear and he probably thinks you are deluded -- and probably questions how you can say you don't care if you have no explanation for why two power cords should sound different, you just accept it with no further investigation and then assert that HIS ignorance is bliss. Ultimately, this sounds more like fodder for family counseling, not an audio site.
Rsbeck, you are being needlessly ugly here.
The first things I stated about my brother, above are, and I quote "He holds a Masters Degree in Education, self taught himself regarding computers, enough to become the MIS Director for a school system, and early in life actually self taught himself to arrange music, from existing compositions,". I would tell anyone, and have, that he is brilliant in so many ways, buy typical of many non believers. I don't point this out for the personal issues, which are real, but for the whole of audio lovers who face the same, kind of, " I won't even try it, because I don't believe it" viewpoint. I am saying that ignorance, (different from stupidity) is bliss, if one deny's him or herself the opportunity to try something due to a predisposed thought process, which allows them to not believe in the possibilities that can exist. Obviously you disagree, and I respect that, butyou are missing the finer point here, or so it seems.
He's not stupid,quite the contrary; just sure that nothing that he can't understand, or explain is possible. My point is, where would we be if everyone adopted that attitude?
Only the 'dreamers' and the 'what if people' like Edison, who performed (to world ridicule as the stories go) 10,000 experiments on the light bulb, before getting it.
The Scientific Journal asked him, "How does it feel to have so many (at that time I think it was 5000)failures.
Edison, just looked at the interviewer and said, "I don't see it that way, as a scientist, I now know 5000 things that won't work. The rest is history, and of course he perfected the bulb.I am saying that my brother's attitude, represents a group of people who, if they can't explain it, won't even try it, and for all of his brainpower, would never have invented the light bulb, or whatever, and I think that's a waste of his abilities, that's all.

Being without skepticism does not render one Edison. That's a flawed argument. I don't mean to be ugly, but you posted your family squabble on a public site and asked for feedback. I'm just telling you that it seems your brother has gotten under your skin and that it seems to me like there is more to this than audio -- this seems to be a problem for you. In my experience, when someone becomes an evangelist to the extent where you want your brother to set aside his skepticism and see the world the way you see it -- it has become a larger problem than audio. You seem extremely conflicted about your brother -- that much is pretty obvious. This, to me, seems like a larger and more important problem for you to delve into rather than trying to gather like minded audio enthusiasts to side with you against your brother -- sorry -- that's just the way I see it.
If he's really a scientist/educated person, he'd get his ears checked to make sure his "measuring device" is working before espousing "nuttin but ones and zeros" efficacies.

Digital technology is one thing. How it is implemented is another. It bugs me when people pull out seemingly related facts to support his own rationalization.
During the past several years, I've spent a large amount of time designing and building pre and power amplifiers, in an attempt to learn more about why different designs do sound different. During that time I've become more and more aware that subjective differences can arise from small (< 1dB) deviations in frequency response and also from small changes in the harmonic distortion balance. The old rule that odd is worse than even seems to hold true, particularly at high frequencies. A smoother, more velvety treble results if even order dominates and a cooler and more clinical or even harsh treble is obtained by allowing odd order to dominate. This rule seems to hold true even when distortion is <0.001%. It is also my opinion that what people are hearing when observing changes with different interconnect cables is little more than a small frequency response change due to cable capacitance. Higher capacitance can also increase the distortion produced by op-amp buffered CD players, and this distortion is generally 3rd order.

While I do believe that audiophiles can hear changes and differences that the average person cannot, I also concede that these changes and differences are often grossly overstated. Too many audiophiles seem to be caught up with small differences in sources and amplifiers. The 2 biggest contributors of distortion in any hi-fi system are : 1.) the loudspeaker, and 2.) the listening room. (IMHO)
I would caution that assuming that "because the human being is subject to suggestion, and can be fooled", does not equate to "the human being is always fooled by suggestion".

Simply because something CAN happen, doesn't mean that it IS happening in any particular case.

If someone hears some differences in products, it is certainly just as much of a possibility(or more so) that it is happening, as if it is not happening.

Relegating every unproven statement to the "junk bin" just because it hasn't undergone a battery of tests, is not scientific either. All scientific hypotheses come from observations, which then leads to testing. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes not. And sometimes the testing regimen is not correctly applied, or insufficient to determine the truth.

It is incorrect to state that there are no differences in audio products because of similarity of outcome in simple measurement protocols. It is well known that the measurement protocols for audio equipment are woefully inadequate and incomplete, and this is admitted and known even(or mostly) by the people who do this testing.

Similarly, with double-blind A/B testing, there are known inconsistencies, and the outcomes are determined statistically and never called "absolute", but are always qualified by statements such as "in this test, things tended to come out this way". And all these tests are clearly subject to at least as many "psycological issues" as the ones they claim to be testing.

To me, the interesting thing continues to be why the ear of the listener, his pleasure or displeasure, in the environment he uses, is considered to be the only measurement that is not "accepted" as valuable by the "scientific community", when ultimately it is the only measure that is important to the listener. It seems that some feel that the listener's pleasure should be eliminated from the criteria for buying a product, and that he should buy strictly on test results alone.

Truthfully, I don't understand the point of trying to argue and convince a listener that he doesn't hear what he thinks(knows) he hears. What is the benefit of it? If you do convince the person, and he goes out and buys the cheaper gear that you convinced him should sound as good(based on extremely rudimentary tests and alot of speculation), and it doesn't(and likely will not), then what have you done for him? Conversely, a person should not try to convince someone to buy an expensive product if the rest of his system isn't up to supporting the performance level of that product, because it won't pay off that way. In any case, I expect that the listener will use the available methods to audition the products before they buy, and utilize any 30-day money-back guarantees of satisfaction, to safeguard their investments. By doing this, there is very little financial risk(perhaps some shipping costs), and the user can determine for himself what he prefers for his system. This is what most people do, as far as I know, so what is the big deal?

Just because a person doesn't know everything about everything does not reflect on their intelligence level. It reflects their experience level on a given subject, and possibly some insight. The dangerous part comes in when a person thinks that they know everything, to the exclusion of being reasonable enough to think that there are some things that they personally do not understand, so they attribute them to "psychological effects", and make no further attempt to understand or learn, but simply dismiss to the easiest available rationalization. This is where learning ceases, and dogma abounds.
To further define and examine this debate, here is another dimension:


-- both that of the audiophile believers and their skeptics.

We like (and perhaps need) to justify the enormous effort and expense that can go into all this.

Non audiophiles dont like to feel INFERIOR while enjoying their Bose systems that they thought were high status, high performance products and we are quickly to dimiss as mass marketed garbage.

During my salad days as a bachelor in London, I used to enjoy having my suits and shoes all made by hand. Like audio, there are examples of huge hype and rip offs in this area, but there is also a secret world of expertise and suppliers known to enthusiasts.

Bespoke shoes are a particularly esoteric, laborious, and ridiculously expensive luxury. Anyone who knows the look and feel of bespoke shoes can spot a pair instantly, although they might go unnoticed by people not tuned into the differences.

Similar to well made audio, they might cost thousands of dollars, although will last 20 years if well maintained and can be "amortized" down to the price of more ordinary luxury items.

A friend of mine, who suffers from a similar arrogance to Lrskys brother, used to LOVE to try and taunt me that -- although he would spend thousands on suits, shirts and accessories -- that bespoke SHOES were a ridiculous waste of money and really not worth the difference.

He was a very competitive person, his insecurities would routinely lapse into arrogance, and he cant deal with the fact that HIS shoes might not be the most rarified and luxurious items and he COULDNT AFFORD $3-4000 for a pair of shoes.

This phenomenon seems to be exaggerated when people are smugly content in their own status because more reasonably priced products have been well marketed to their ego.

People who confidently stock their parties with Veuve Cliquot would be horrified to hear that its the SAME as much cheaper champagne served under a different label for 5 bucks a bottle.

I hope we are confident enough to say that maybe all of our hobby is not worth the extra expense, not as demonstrably fabulous as we think, and that we might certain fail double blind tests if forced to take them.

But I also hope we are investing in our own happiness -- even if placebo effect -- and for our own, private enjoyment.

Further to my comparison with clothes made in London, some tailors suggest that all pricey hand stitched monograms should be HIDDEN on the tail of shirts -- not on the chest or cuffs -- or on boxer shorts because they should all exist for the private pleasure of the wearer. Even better, white thread or white fabric?!? Only YOU know the ultimately discreet luxury of your clothes.

So here is a challenging existential question for audiophiles -- if you kept your system in a secret room and no one ever saw it but you, and you werent allowed to ever discuss it or disclose the price to anyone -- is there anything you would change about it?

Audio is particularly intimidating for some reason, perhaps because it is so expensive and not easily accessible to the laymen.

Meanwhile, most people have invested what they feel is a significant sum of money on "perfect sound forever".

I think this explains the biggest piece of the puzzle:

"Why do intelligent people deny audio differences?"

Long live audiophiles and Audiogon.

Best wishes to all of you.
Great comments from Cwlondon and Timpani.
I would have to agree whole heartedly with Rsbeck. Your brother is trying, with much success to get under your skin and into your head. So much so, that you need to gain confirmation in this forum to justify what you already knew to be true. If he can't or won't acknowledge that there is a discernable difference in equipment, then that's his deal. If you can hear the difference and gain satisfaction from this hobby/addiction, then relish in it and appreciate it for what it is. Leave this futile and endless conversation with your brother alone and move on.

I have a dear friend who is actually a singer and a pretty good one at that. He once made a comment to me as we were discussing my audio gear and as I was trying to explain all of the little nuances and tonalities. He responded that he was sure that his Bose Wave Radio sounded as good and was just fine. I wanted to get into this grand discussion with him until it hit me and I realized something after all of these years in this hobby; 1. We are a small and selective group; 2. Most people can't or won't listen for the things that we do; 3. Most people put on music on their system strictly as background and don't sit there to listen and enjoy as we do; 4. Most of your friends who aren't into it will not be your friend if you belabor them with this diatribe; 5. Most importantly: If someone like my friend thinks that his Wave Radio is great, then for him it's great and that's all that counts.

Lrsky, try and just sit back, enjoy the music and let your brother go. You will be a whole lot happier.

Steve Bachman
This is a funny thread, Rsbeck don't mind Lrsky's touchy feely thin skin. He just uses that "no reason to get nasty" tactic to put you on the defensive. He likes to be in charge of the thread.

Lrsky you will note name drops more than a teenage girl to somehow convey to us all that he is an expert. Something his brother clearly has latched onto this chain and jerks him continously with it.

The fact is lay people can hear important differences in sound 99% of the time. Difference between power cords etc is usually not profound except to the negative and if your equipment is that marginal get new equipment.

As for superiority, its more a function of repitition, people who play tennis will kick a non-tennis playing audiophiles ass all over the court and while the audiophile is buying drinks he/she may not be interested in the isometric stringing of the tennis players racket which really helped increase the top spin from their overhand.

The key is to recognize when you're to obtuse to win a debate and withdraw with dignity. The "joy" of competing with Larry is one I would turn down if I was his brother, well actually he turned down the chance to compete with me. But that's another matter between 2 commercial posters.

Not everyone wants to sit and listen to music, thus the term non-audiophiles. Some of the most passionate people I know with the biggest collections of music, enjoy it as a background part of their lives. So we have to leave some latitude for peoples interests beyond "lifelike" reproduction of a CD or LP.

"Audio is particularly intimidating for some reason, perhaps because it is so expensive and not easily accessible to the laymen".....

I can finally comment now that I have stopped laughing at this comment. (whiping the tears, 1 sec)

Rule #1 of audio; Every guy believes he's born with all the stereo knowledge he'll ever need.

Audio is not expensive for the layman to get a layman's system. Audio is expensive for audiophiles because they engage in this behavior...

"I never questioned the outcome with caps etc, or wiring, regardless of where it led, I only accepted the findings, as sounding either better or not as good".

This is exactly how to build a one year of experience twenty times over resume, instead of twenty years of experience.

BTW KUDOS; to RsBeck and Tympani for their comments and insights and those who chimed in supporting their statements.
I debated 'outing' a personal experience, ie my brother, until I (probably) rationalized, that this is an issue many of us audio crazies have, with friends and acquataintences. But as I read some of the great posts here I realize that I have forgotten one of my first pieces of advice to my new audiophile customers: "Don't expect your friends to like or even understand your enthusiasm over this, You'll put on Sarah Vaughn recorded at Tivoli Gardens in 1962 live, and it will sound wonderful, and they will yawn and ask, 'you got any beer?' You can't transfer enthusiasm, or in my case fanaticism to others.The one post here, talking about the 'smug' attitude was almost a perfect balm, as it captured the exact feeling and moment.
Thanks for the posts, this is great.
The above thread shows why market pickings for the latest, greatest gizmo and twist remains good. There is so much hype and hand waving in consumer audio that it is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. And many of the customers are relatively ignorant, but very committed. And there is bit of anti-scientific method bias: How dare anyone try to measure their artistic sensibility -- one even suggested it's like trying to measure god. I love it; reminds me of the character in the BBC "Keeping Up Appeareances" who wants assurance that used electricity is not being distributed to her house.

I remain convinced that what I can hear can be measured in terms of power bandwidth, transcient response, acoustic dispersion, and so forth, and that there are many measureable differences that I cannot hear.

Now I know that exactly 25 billion and three angels can dance on the head of a pin, and I feel sorry for you if can't see that.

Who assumes Lrsky is rich
You are right about the 'ignorance is bliss' comment on me.
But to clarify; since I rarely read, other than people talk about using 'hospital grade' plugs, on power cords, as to why they are different--what I am saying here is that I personally, that is just me, not you or the other posters here, don't have to know why something is as it is--and I can still enjoy it.
As I mentioned, when some products were sent to me, with great reputations, yet failed to 'sound' better than others of lesser credentials, (and it may have had to do with the overall synergism, like so many things in audio) I picked, for my design, the one that sounded better to make the LSA. That is one area where many designers and I disagree. To me it's all about the end result and sound, not the reputation of a given product. I guess you could say that's niiave (sp), but for me its just, making a decision, (my taste again) of what sounds better.
Ultimately the market will decide if my decisions are correct. But, regardless of the 'why's' better sounding is better. I don't need a white paper for confirmation. Maybe I am completely out to lunch there, but it's how I personally evaluate.
All of you are right here, forget what your brother says, he is no more right or wrong, just has a different opinion, and I guess I am so arrogant, that if he doesn't agree with me, he's being obstenant.Who' more hard headed, him or me? HA!
All of us audiophiles push the proverbial rock up the hill, when it comes to disinterested friends, it's just that with him, I guess I'd like to share my enthusiasm, rather than explain or fight over it.
Thanks again.
I don't know that this is an arguement worth persuing. If a battle cannot be won, and there is nothing to gain by engaging in it, what is the point?

I have an IQ in the low double digits, actually the high teens, but that does not affect my ability to hear. That inability arises from another issue. It is not uncommon for people to be educated beyond their intelligence, not that this is the case with your brother, but someone coming from the perspective of a self-proclaimed knowledgable person is not going to be dissuaded by facts.

Claiming to hear a difference, or claiming not to hear a difference, are not proofs. Truth is not subjective, but perception is, and it is impossible to alter a persons perception of an event that by definition must be past.

Your brother could post the question: Why go people claim to hear differences. His experience is his own, to have and to interpret, and from which to draw a conclusion. Having done so does not garauntee the correct outcome.

Unfortuantely the only person who is always right is me, but that doesn't do anything to alleviate your situation.
>>I guess you could say that's niiave>>

I could...if only I could pronounce niiave.


I don't think it is naive to pick one's gear based on sound rather than
reputation. I don't think anyone argued otherwise. Not even sure how this
came up.

Am I being niiave?
Naive....Sorry I have a new ergonomic keyboard, and am trying to adjust, plus I am not sure that my spelling is always correct, and being a usually good speller, I don't check as I should, though I outght to start.
This has run it's course, and I should leave my brother alone, let him buy his multi thousand dollar camera equipment without comment...
To each his own. He's a good guy, a good brother, just annoying to a hobbiest such as me sometimes.
Thanks again for the responses.
Lrsky: Why not set up a demo that will prove your brother to be wrong and then have him eat his own words after listening with his own ears? With all of your expertise and connections in the field of electronics and audio, finding a suitable combo of gear that will demonstrate the differences of altering just one variable within a system shouldn't be hard to do at all.

Since he is a "naysayer", i would suggest using speaker cabling as a test. If you can find some inexpensive 10 gauge zip cord and some Nordost, the differences should be highly noticeable right off the bat. While Fulton Gold would work better than the generic heavy gauge zip cord, i was trying to make this as simple and inexpensive as possible in case others wanted to try such a test themselves.

The key here is to make the listener doing the comparison extremely familiar with the sound of the system and recording being used prior to introducing the variable to be tested. This allows them to think that they will know what they will hear based on previous exposure. Given that they are already familiar with the sonic traits of the recording and the system, any differences that are easily detected will seem quite pronounced to them at this point.

If you want to take advantage of your brother's belief in AB testing, use it against him. By carefully "rigging" the results, you can achieve the results that you want. That is, IF your brother is both a reasonable listener and honest.

Play a selected song or portion of a song for him using the heavy guage zip cord as the speaker cabling. Then act like you swap speaker cabling, but don't really do it. Play that portion of the song again. Then pretend to swap speaker cables again, but don't. This will give him three times the exposure to the one set of speaker cables that he would have normally had, further aquainting him with the sonics of the system. After three identical presentations, it will also lull him into a false sense of security that there is no difference between the cables.

On the fourth try, use the Nordost cabling. Not only should the differences be markedly noticed, but he should have a hard time denying that there isn't an audible difference. As a side note, i was able to identify the differences between 16 gauge and 12 gauge Monster Cable during a similar demo at a local Best Buy. I did so using songs & equipment that i had never heard before with 100% accuracy, so this test should be even easier to achieve positive test results with. Like i said though, this would require your brother to be honest. In such a test, even an unskilled listener should be able to tell the difference.

As a side note, the use of non-locking banana plugs makes speaker cable changes the fastest, most convenient method. This requires the least amount of time as you can simply pull and insert the new cabling. The use of at least 8' - 10' of speaker cabling will also tend to further highlight the differences as shorter lengths introduce less of a sonic signature into the equation. As i've mentioned before though, longer speaker cabling lengths are only a big deal when the cables themselves are not properly designed.

The reason that i picked the cabling that i did is that zip cord tends to roll-off the top end and lends a much warmer, fuller sound to the presentation. Nordost lacks warmth and tends to accent the upper midrange and treble region, making it just the opposite of heavy gauge zip cord. Both are poorly designed cables in the fact that their nominal impedance is appr 100 ohms, but due to the differences in conductor geometry, they tend to shape the audible region in contrasting fashion. Both are "coloured" cables and we are taking advantage of those colourations to demonstrate that audible differences are discernable. Sean
The fact remains that high-end audio is not for the masses. This fact is substantiated by the incredible growth and interest in MP3. The average person is happy with this level of performance. I believe that most people do hear the difference when subjected to good equipment. For whatever reason, most have little interest or it is of low priority. Unfortunately, the acceptance of mediocrity drives the retail market which in turn, gives us our source material. There is a growing concern that the MP3 format will eventually replace conventional CD's. SCARY! Even as audiophiles, we accept mediocrity in this area. As an audiophile community, are we really doing anything to advance the production of SACD's or better sounding CDs? The masses have at least one thing right....they don't have a separate collection of CD's that only sound good in the car.:-)
>>zip cord tends to roll-off the top end<<

LOL. If you call rolling off dipping at 20Khz by an amount that is most likely
inaudible. It is a joke to call that "coloration." This is misleading,
incomplete information. Give the real numbers over the audio band rather
than starting urban myths.
>>Nordost lacks warmth and tends to accent the upper midrange and treble region, making it just the opposite of heavy gauge zip cord.<<

Again, if Nordost accents the upper midrage and treble region, this should be easy to measure and quantify. Instead of throwing around this kind of verbiage, give the measurements and then we can see if Nordost is the "opposite" of Zip Cord over the audio band.
If someone wants to prove he/she can hear the difference between two power cords, the answer isn't to administer a test to the non-believer under the flawed premise that if the non-believer is honest, he/she will admit to hearing differences. The answer is for the BELIEVER to take a properly administered ABX test to prove that he/she can hear the differences he/she claims to hear. Otherwise, you've got the makings of a Monty Python sketch whereby if the non-believer fails to hear the difference, you claim victory by claiming the non-believer was not honest.


Burn her! Burn! Burn her!...


Quiet! Quiet! Quiet! Quiet! There are ways of telling whether she is a witch.


What are they?


Tell us! Tell us!...


Tell me. What do you do with witches?


Burn them!


And what do you burn apart from witches?




So, why do witches burn?



B--... 'cause they're made of... wood?




Oh, yeah. Oh.


So, how do we tell whether she is made of wood?


Build a bridge out of her.


Ah, but can you not also make bridges out of stone?


Oh, yeah.


Does wood sink in water?


No. No.


No, it floats! It floats!


The pond! Throw her into the pond!


What also floats in water?






Uh, very small rocks!


Uh, gra-- gravy!


A duck!




Exactly. So, logically...


If... she... weighs... the same as a duck... she's made of wood.


And therefore?


A witch!


A witch!!!

Rsbeck: We went through all of this garbage concerning loudspeaker cable non-linearities in another recent thread. In case you can't remember, you weren't able to refute any of the scientifically derived claims that i made in that thread. The fact that i used the information that you yourself presented as evidence should refresh your memory a bit. As such, trying to use that same incorrect info as a point of reference in another thread will not fly, nor is it ethical to try and do so. That point was already proven wrong and you're standing on fallow ground.

As far as Nordost goes, it will not suffer as much increased high frequency loss due to skin effect as the zip cord does. This is due to the differences in the size and shape of the conductors used. This is true even though the Nordost is a cable that exhibits a less than desirable amount of inductance and a higher impedance, much like zip cord.

The reason that the zip cord performs poorer than the Nordost at high frequencies is due to a "double whammy". That is, the zip cord is both high in inductance and high in skin effect. Combine the two and you have increased high frequency losses. As described in that other thread, these losses could come into play as low as appr 2.2 KHz. Exactly where it did occur in a specific system would be directly related to the nominal impedance of the speaker being used.

Taking the measured responses as derived from that same article and applying it to various impedance speaker loads, the -3 dB point of zip cord would appear at 67 KHz with it being down - .2 dB at 22 KHz. The - 3dB point would be appr 33 KHz and -.2 dB at 11 KHz with a 4 ohm load. The -3 dB point would be at 16.5 KHz and -.2 dB at 5.5 KHz with a 2 ohm load. The -3 dB would be at appr 8.2 KHz and -.2 of a dB at 2.75 KHz with a 1 ohm load. Obviously, a -3 dB response at 8 KHz with significant deviations below that frequency would be highly audible to say the least, but this is under worst case scenario of a 1 ohm load. As we can see, lower impedance speakers introduce TWICE the amount of high frequency roll-off into the equation when using a poorly designed speaker cable, so keep that in mind.

One should remember that these reductions in linearity WILL occur IF the impedance of the speaker varies within the audible bandwidth. This means that the power transfer characteristics of such a cable will compound the problem of power transfer as the impedance of the speaker itself varies. This is why certain cables with certain electrical characteristics may sound slightly different when connected to slightly different loudspeaker loads i.e. the power delivery potential of each amplifier will respond differently to the individual combo presented to it.

It is for this reason that we should be using a speaker cable with a very low and consistent nominal impedance over a wide bandwidth. Taking such an approach reduces the potential for deviations with ANY type of loudspeaker load and offers the potential for the most consistent performance possible.

It is this treble roll-off that causes most heavy gauge zip cord tends to sound "warmer" and "fuller" than some esoteric audiophile speaker cabling that was designed with a higher level of engineering and signal transfer theory behind it. Whether or not this is audible will depend on the listening skills of the end user and individual components that the system is comprised of. One should bare in mind that this example was based on a worst case scenario i.e. a 1 ohm loudspeaker load. A speaker with a nominal impedance of 2 ohms would show an appr loss of -4.8 dB's at 22 KHz, a 4 ohm load would show a loss of appr -2.4 dB's at 22 KHz and an 8 ohm load would show a loss of appr 1.2

The reason why the Nordost lacks bass / warmth has to do with the higher nominal impedance, which is about 120 ohms or so. This very high impedance is what reduces the effective power transfer of the cable. In plain English, less current flow equals less low frequency output. On most poorly designed speakers that utilize some type of vented alignment, this lack of low frequency output can actually help to balance out an otherwise "slow" & "bloated" presentation by shifting the tonal balance upwards in frequency. Then again, this is strictly a "band-aid" approach i.e. fixing one problem with another known problem. Nobody with a degree in electronics would ever think about using a 100+ ohm cable between a device with a 1 ohm output impedance and a load that is nominally 8 ohms or so. That is, if they were trying to maintain a high level of system linearity.

None of this type of info is "new" or part of a "technological breakthrough". It's simply based on the laws of physics and the common understanding of signal propagation that most electronic professional's should know and understand. If it was "new" and on the "cutting edge of technology", i surely wouldn't know about it. The fact that i do know about it and can explain it should tell you something about how out of touch most "wire & cable guru's" and "wire & cable naysayers" really are.

Other than that, my comments were directed at identifying speaker cabling, not power cords. Please bring your ABX knife and power cord comments with you to the proper thread, as a knife is out of place at a gun-fight. As previously mentioned, your original arguments were already shot down in that other thread. Sean