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The bestiary of the most common (and debunked by science) audiophile myths

Talisman

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What are the audiophile myths
most heartfelt and senseless things you have ever heard (and perhaps even believed in?)
I'll start by saying mine in order of memory

- 200watt amps sound "strongyer" than 80watt amps when running at 3watts

- dacs all working perfectly but at the same time sounding different

- digital cables that make music "more musical"

- separate systems (pre and power) always sound better than integrated systems

-class D is not as musical as class AB, class A is the absolute best in terms of audio quality

- I listen to music strictly at 192khz, I hear a difference day and night with 48khz.

I'm sure I can think of others, in the meantime, which are your favorites and most heartfelt?
 

Exaybachay

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The biggest myth still is that speakers should be toed in by 30 degrees, so they are separated by 60 degrees. Even here on ASR. I have 90 degrees between my speakers (and I know I'm not the only one). Much better sound stage. Of course better separation. Simply closer to listening to a live band close to you. 60 degrees just give you messy sound brooth. I couldn't listen to music like that.

Here's something about it:
https://hifiauditions.wordpress.com/2021/01/29/long-wall-speaker-placement/
 

Somafunk

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Your system is not revealing enough to benefit from “insert tweak here”
 

Vincent Kars

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Audio Woo Checklist
(attributed to Sean Adams, founder of SlimDevices)

You claim that an

( ) audible
( ) measurable
( ) hypothetical

improvement in sound quality can be attained by:

( ) upsampling
( ) increasing word size
( ) vibration dampening
( ) bi-wiring
( ) replacing the external power supply
( ) using a different lossless format
( ) decompressing on the server
( ) removing bits of metal from skull
( ) using ethernet instead of wireless
( ) inverting phase
( ) installing bigger connectors
( ) installing Black Gate caps
( ) installing ByBee filters
( ) installing hospital-grade AC jacks
( ) defragmenting the hard disk
( ) running older firmware

Your idea will not work. Specifically, it fails to account for:

( ) the placebo effect
( ) your ears honestly aren't that good
( ) your idea has already been thoroughly disproved
( ) modern DACs upsample anyway
( ) those products are pure snake oil
( ) lossless formats, by definition, are lossless
( ) those measurements are bogus
( ) sound travels much slower than you think
( ) electric signals travel much faster than you think
( ) that's not how binary arithmetic works
( ) that's not how TCP/IP works
( ) the Nyquist theorem
( ) the can't polish a turd theorem
( ) bits are bits

Your subsequent arguments will probably appeal in desperation to such esoterica as:

( ) jitter
( ) EMI
( ) thermal noise
( ) existentialism
( ) cosmic rays

And you will then change the subject to:

( ) theories are not the same as facts
( ) measurements don't tell everything
( ) not everyone is subject to the placebo effect
( ) blind testing is dumb
( ) you can't prove what I can't hear
( ) science isn't everything

Rather than engage in this tired discussion, I suggest exploring the following factors which are more likely to improve sound quality in your situation:

( ) room acoustics
( ) source material
( ) type of speakers
( ) speaker placement
( ) crossover points
( ) equalization
( ) Q-tips
 

Mikig

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If I think about it carefully,

I would say that for the most part the audio world is made up of myths that are handed down from guru to guru, from magazine to magazine and from forum to forum.

The myths about brands, accessories, devices, behaviors, ways of doing things, combinations, advice and the inevitable tricks…..

Thousands of users “educated” over the years to set up systems with the logic of the myth…..
fascinating, but not very concrete !!!
 

mhardy6647

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I want to share one that isn't an audiophile myth per se, but it is a myth (!) and it seems to have legs (as they say) and it results in a fair amount of dudgeon, snark, and ill feelings across the internet's hifi-curious and audiophile community.

Too little amplifier power can destroy tweeters due to clipping.

JBL, of all "people" sort of started this one :eek: in a technical note many years ago. In fairness to JBL, they did ultimately (but kind of quietly) walk this one back -- but the perception persists and the topic seems to get people as worked up as cable debates or... well, all of the other popular audiophile shibboleths. :(

Here's the currently available version of the tech note, which does subtly reflect the earlier version's, shall we say, shortcomings without quite owning up to the brouhaha that persists to this day. ;)

"Why is it that we recommend a power amp that’s twice as big as the speaker? The short answer is
that a quality professional loudspeaker can handle transient peaks in excess of its rated power, if the
amplifier can deliver those peaks without distortion. Using an amp with some extra headroom helps
assure that only clean, undistorted power get to the loudspeaker.

"For a more complete answer, JBL published the original version of this Tech Note a few decades ago.
The principle is as valid today as when it was first introduced. However, it has been re-written and
updated to remove references to ancillary equipment that is no longer in common use today, reference
items that are more common than they used to be, add more details about which power rating to use
as your loudspeaker power baseline, and mention exceptions and new concerns that should be taken
into consideration."
 
OP
Talisman

Talisman

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I want to share one that isn't an audiophile myth per se, but it is a myth (!) and it seems to have legs (as they say) and it results in a fair amount of dudgeon, snark, and ill feelings across the internet's hifi-curious and audiophile community.

Too little amplifier power can destroy tweeters due to clipping.

JBL, of all "people" sort of started this one :eek: in a technical note many years ago. In fairness to JBL, they did ultimately (but kind of quietly) walk this one back -- but the perception persists and the topic seems to get people as worked up as cable debates or... well, all of the other popular audiophile shibboleths. :(

Here's the currently available version of the tech note, which does subtly reflect the earlier version's, shall we say, shortcomings without quite owning up to the brouhaha that persists to this day. ;)

"Why is it that we recommend a power amp that’s twice as big as the speaker? The short answer is
that a quality professional loudspeaker can handle transient peaks in excess of its rated power, if the
amplifier can deliver those peaks without distortion. Using an amp with some extra headroom helps
assure that only clean, undistorted power get to the loudspeaker.

"For a more complete answer, JBL published the original version of this Tech Note a few decades ago.
The principle is as valid today as when it was first introduced. However, it has been re-written and
updated to remove references to ancillary equipment that is no longer in common use today, reference
items that are more common than they used to be, add more details about which power rating to use
as your loudspeaker power baseline, and mention exceptions and new concerns that should be taken
into consideration."
You know I've always wondered if this was actually true or not, and I myself believed it for a long time, but I don't have the skills to know if it's true or not
 

Doodski

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I want to share one that isn't an audiophile myth per se, but it is a myth (!) and it seems to have legs (as they say) and it results in a fair amount of dudgeon, snark, and ill feelings across the internet's hifi-curious and audiophile community.

Too little amplifier power can destroy tweeters due to clipping.

JBL, of all "people" sort of started this one :eek: in a technical note many years ago. In fairness to JBL, they did ultimately (but kind of quietly) walk this one back -- but the perception persists and the topic seems to get people as worked up as cable debates or... well, all of the other popular audiophile shibboleths. :(

Here's the currently available version of the tech note, which does subtly reflect the earlier version's, shall we say, shortcomings without quite owning up to the brouhaha that persists to this day. ;)

"Why is it that we recommend a power amp that’s twice as big as the speaker? The short answer is
that a quality professional loudspeaker can handle transient peaks in excess of its rated power, if the
amplifier can deliver those peaks without distortion. Using an amp with some extra headroom helps
assure that only clean, undistorted power get to the loudspeaker.

"For a more complete answer, JBL published the original version of this Tech Note a few decades ago.
The principle is as valid today as when it was first introduced. However, it has been re-written and
updated to remove references to ancillary equipment that is no longer in common use today, reference
items that are more common than they used to be, add more details about which power rating to use
as your loudspeaker power baseline, and mention exceptions and new concerns that should be taken
into consideration."
This one is a doozy! I am on the fence on this one for all the right reasons and maybe some wrong ones too. I have crunched the numbers regarding low and high power amps and speaker ratings and it's a matter of specifics and not generalizations. But yes, I agree that a 35Wrms solid state amp can shake the house.
 

mhardy6647

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JBL Harman has ahem disappeared ;) the original tech note, but it's available via the Wayback Machine for anyone who is curious.

There is a fifteen-page dustup over the issue on one of the popular hifi forums (I'll spare y'all the link -- it's not hard to find). That cluster**** led to the departure of Ken Kantor (NHT) from the forum in question as he tired of trying to clear the air on the topic.

This one is a doozy! I am on the fence on this one for all the right reasons and maybe some wrong ones too. I have crunched the numbers regarding low and high power amps and speaker ratings and it's a matter of specifics and not generalizations. But yes, I agree that a 35Wrms solid state amp can shake the house.
As can a 3.5 watt amp -- just takes 100+ dB loudspeaker sensitivity. :cool:
 

krabapple

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The biggest myth still is that speakers should be toed in by 30 degrees, so they are separated by 60 degrees. Even here on ASR. I have 90 degrees between my speakers (and I know I'm not the only one). Much better sound stage. Of course better separation. Simply closer to listening to a live band close to you. 60 degrees just give you messy sound brooth. I couldn't listen to music like that.

Here's something about it:
https://hifiauditions.wordpress.com/2021/01/29/long-wall-speaker-placement/

That article is a mishmash of anecdotes and views and doesn't consistently distinguish between speaker distance apart vs toe-in angle.

Its main thrust appears to be that wide ('long-wall') speaker distance apart + narrower distance from listeners to front wall, i.e., near field listeing to widely-spaced speakers, can sound good, which is no doubt true, because...lots of things can sound good.


And this is all, of course, about legacy, i.e., two-channel, stereo, which will surely be obsolete within a few decades.

Test tones that place signals at, between, and beyond the speakers are very useful for establishing effects of varying distance and/or toe-in, in ones own room.

Not partifularly interested in the subject of this thread, because it's reinventing the wheel; such lists have been compiled multiple times in the tediously long 'great debate' within audiophilia. And rather than long lists, they can usually be compacted to just a few general, fallacious, propositions.
 

Doodski

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As can a 3.5 watt amp -- just takes 100+ dB loudspeaker sensitivity. :cool:
Of course. The thing about this sorta stuff is it is so rare these days to find it at retail or etail and it's a specialists' endeavor. You and your cool audio gear are the exception to the rule.
 

krabapple

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Obsolete doesn't mean not in use.

cf: vinyl

It just means that spatial 'realism' will be so much better achieved, with less fuss than required today, than plain stereo ever could achieve, that the latter will become a niche*. We are very clearly on our way there, technologically.



* I could speculate on the demographic of that niche, but won't
 

Punter

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Within the bestiary, I think nothing is more egregious than the promotion of components that scientifically and technically cannot have any bearing on the "sound" of a HiFi system. The headline components for me are mains cables and fuses. Interestingly, the former begat the latter as magical HiFi tweaks. First the mains cable was targeted by the snake-oil vendors, however, once it had been pointed out that the forearm-thick mains cable had to squeeze all it's magic through a tiny filament of wire in the fuse. It was obvious that the fuse could also be invested with magical properties and had to be to maintain the lie. In fact, it was the magic fuse that finally convinced me that the Audiophools had crossed the Rubicon. Once a rational adult accepts that a fuse, the most simple passive electronic component that exists outside a piece of wire, can somehow be an intrinsic, sound improving device that I realized that the charlatans had won. The white-shoe salesmen and pseudoscience advertising copy had finally become fact and from this, there is no return, critical mass and all that. That's why I like this forum ,I have an outlet to indulge in ridiculing this outcome and have a knowing chortle with some of the fellowship here.
 

MattHooper

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Your system is not revealing enough to benefit from “insert tweak here”

That one always irks and bemuses me.

For one thing the sonic differences the tweakers describe - lower bass, higher highs, greater dynamics, sharper imaging etc - would be audible on practically any half decent speaker, cheap or otherwise.

For another, audiophiles who own systems at all price points report similar "differences" with cables. You can go through Amazon reviews and see countless folks describing hearing obvious differences with X cables on their modest systems.

The Golden Ears will greet any positive claim about cable differences with welcome arms, including all the people with lower quality systems reporting differences. But as soon as someone with even higher end gear reports "I don't hear a difference" then "well, you need a Really Resolving System then!"
 
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Dr Morbius

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Within the bestiary, I think nothing is more egregious than the promotion of components that scientifically and technically cannot have any bearing on the "sound" of a HiFi system. The headline components for me are mains cables and fuses. Interestingly, the former begat the latter as magical HiFi tweaks. First the mains cable was targeted by the snake-oil vendors, however, once it had been pointed out that the forearm-thick mains cable had to squeeze all it's magic through a tiny filament of wire in the fuse. It was obvious that the fuse could also be invested with magical properties and had to be to maintain the lie. In fact, it was the magic fuse that finally convinced me that the Audiophools had crossed the Rubicon. Once a rational adult accepts that a fuse, the most simple passive electronic component that exists outside a piece of wire, can somehow be an intrinsic, sound improving device that I realized that the charlatans had won. The white-shoe salesmen and pseudoscience advertising copy had finally become fact and from this, there is no return, critical mass and all that. That's why I like this forum ,I have an outlet to indulge in ridiculing this outcome and have a knowing chortle with some of the fellowship here.
Oh yes, all hail the Holy Magic fuse………………I still have dents in my head from banging against the wall talking to people spending huge amounts of money on a simple fuse.
 
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