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

Brian Hall

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I am a big endian, I mean, how could you even define yourself as an audiophile if you decode your PCM from the little end? That just doesn’t make sense at all, also in the big end you have more airiness, that’s where you want to decode first to achieve a better fidelity and not spoil the file.. The basics man, the basics! :D

The source and all of the equipment, especially the DAC needs to be big endian too. Converting between the two somewhere in the chain would obviously introduce unacceptable jitter.
 

muza_1

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Sort of.

In conditions similar to a vacuum chamber, sound transducers show a roll-off of -12dB per octave above their resonance frequency. Earphones, which operate under conditions similar to those in a vacuum chamber, typically have a single driver with a resonance frequency around 3000Hz. As a result, iems with one driver can struggle to extend high frequencies above this threshold. (usually they put a solo driver which is very capable of delivering information above 3000hz and use acoustic filters around mids to tame its energy down afaik. Sennheiser does that a lot. )

To put it simply, if you place a driver with a flat response inside an earphone, its response would show the 12dB/octave roll-off beyond the 3000Hz cutoff frequency. This is a simplification, of course, intended to illustrate a point. To illustrate this point, I attached this image below. Assume the cutoff frequency is 3000hz and that's how a flat response driver would roll off if placed inside an iem case in ideal conditions:

b9ebd7c691239213b73b8c9685c79cb9.png

You can definitely tweak a single driver to get a pretty even response across the board, using acoustic filters for extended bass and treble, and keeping the mids smooth. But if you really want smoothness and clarity up top, namely above 10kHz, a HF dedicated driver is necessary. Take the Samsung Buds2 Pro as an example – even with all the fancy DSP tech they use, they still have 2 drivers, despite with DSP everything being possible.

An IEM with 2 drivers can measure great on test fixtures, you can see their target curve fit Harman curve nicely, however when you do not have perfect seal, using the same 2 iem driver example, the bass response should roll off dramatically below the drivers resonance frequency(3000hz~) and your iems which measured like they have a lot of bass will sound bass light. Achieving a perfect seal with IEMs is close to impossible. This phenomenon I explained this paragraph is called as leakage tolerance and 2 driver iems have usually bad leakage tolerance. Amir doesn't take leakage tolerance measurements but thereare few people who takes such measurements(Oratory and headphonetestlab)
To counteract this issue, manufacturers often add an additional subwoofer driver dedicated solely to bass frequencies which has good leakage tolerance. (better than a mid driver)

In short 3 drivers are ideal, 2 drivers is good enough. One driver + DSP or One driver + careful tuning can come close to perfection too but it can't really be top tier. I can't see the point of using more than 3 drivers. It reduces the R&D costs of making a very capable HF / bass driver probably.

tl;dr, iems operate in vacuum chamber conditions, that brings limitations in HF extension and bass leakage tolerance. That's one of the reasons why we see iems with a lot of drivers and headphones with just one driver. Headphones operate under vacuum chamber conditions up to 150hz~ whereas iems up to 3000hz~.
You are right but must of the times when you hear that they are just referring to the audiophile myth, I was talking more about the real life scenario in which you can have a single driver sound as good as a (well tuned) multi-driver one without the added complexity and price hike that comes with it. And while I know is easier to design multi-drivers to comply to a target it's often used in "esoteric" and more expensive designs with wonky response (in the audiophile headphone world at least).
 

krabapple

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If you knew JJ couldn’t talk about it then asking me to ask him was just obnoxious and pointless
You're quite the charmer yourself!

But you're right, it's pointless to lead a horse to water sometimes...

Again since he can’t discuss these things asking me to talk to him about them is just obnoxious and pointless.

And again I don’t need to talk to anyone about the performance of the BACCH SP. it is quite demonstrable. And testable. Funny how some folks here on a science based forum feel free to make assertions of facts about something for which they have zero objective data or actual experience.

If anyone wants to do some blind listening tests I’m all for it.

Your cheerleading for crosstalk cancellation is becoming a thing of wonder in itself.

I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. The goal is to just get to it.

I wonder how you felt in the 90s about the odds of vinyl sales surpassing CD in 2023?
I bet you would have called it absurd.

This is silly (one might say inexcusably so).

The reason vinyl sales surpassed CD is because...there arose another player in the market for digital music. You might have heard of it. It's called streaming (and its cousin, downloads) . It turned out to be the successor to CD for digital audio delivery media, and digital still dwarfs analog media, including vinyl.

When *that* situation changes, get back to me.


We don’t know the future. And it’s not a question of faith.

But your misrepresentation of current facts was inexcusable.

I don't see that I've 'misrepresented' anything, not that I seek to be excused by you anyway

Let's see what the future brings.
 
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I would add two audiophile mythical creatures:

- wife, able to hear smallest adjustment, while cooking in the kitchen
- old friend, violin player, confirming whatever myth.

I submit the ne plus ultra of the former trope: this Alan Moulton review of the Stenheim Alumine Three.

My 10-year-old son walked into the room, and I think it was Sonny Rollins’ Way Out West that happened to be cued up. He rarely offers any comments/opinions on anything I have at home (which has been a lot), but this time after about a minute he said, “I like these better.” I quickly turned the volume down to get any unedited nuggets that I could. “Why do you like them better?” He followed with something completely unexpected, and keep in mind that we don’t discuss audio equipment and he has shown virtually no interest in it. He explained, “They project better.” What? Where on earth did that come from? “What do you mean they project better?” Without missing a beat, he continued, “They sound purer. It’s like you’re right there.” That from a 10-year-old who’s never read an audio review and doesn’t really talk to me about the gear I bring home. And it’s not like I have audiophile friends for him to overhear and pick up on their accepted terminology. This was a raw, unfiltered response. He went on to tell me that he used the word “project” because they have a projector at school. In other words, he was telling me that these compact Stenheim loudspeakers were projecting a picture. A real picture. “Like you’re right there.”
 

Justdafactsmaam

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You're quite the charmer yourself!

But you're right, it's pointless to lead a horse to water sometimes...
There is no “water.” You know JJ can’t talk about it and yet you double down on this.

As if I wouldn’t be picking his brain as much as I could if he were allowed to talk about it.

Pure posturing that contributes nothing to a meaningful discussion

OTOH he apparently is allowed to comment on the state of Dolby Atmos. He said the following on another thread.

“Oh, my opinion on Quad failing was very simple, it didn't provide enough gain in actual experience to be worth it, on top of various recording and playback issues. The "one seat only" was also a problem that limited the market.

The "one seat only" was due to bad production methods, but I'm not sure the ability to do that right existed at the time.

The problem now with immersive content is that the same production methods are still being used. If "immersive" content is going to be a thing, it needs to have value for the experience to matter.”

“ ATMOS is primarily a loudspeaker format, I'm disturbingly well aware of it, and of how it creates some very unhappy results when used in the "most heavily coded" variety.

Atmos (the actual physical format) can be created in any one of a large number of ways. It's HOW it's created, and how well the coding can handle the resulting PCM streams, that is the issue there.

HOW it's created is disturbingly important. Do you want properly decorrelated "base" or whatever they call the reverberant content, or do you want something that kinda-sorta-mostly-somewhat unsuccessfully sounds that way?

What's more, it seems entirely inappropriate to me to limit playback to certain speaker layouts and certain specific angles. It's not a whole lot harder to just make it FIT your actual layout. Yes, this is all done and waiting, but it's not going to work in the hopelessly constrained Atmos coding format. This whole game of "using old stuff and calling it new stuff" needs to stop.”

That does not strike me as a glowing endorsement. Maybe your read is different?

Your cheerleading for crosstalk cancellation is becoming a thing of wonder in itself.
I’m defending facts against misinformation. Kind of like when people say power cables make an audible difference and we have to keep setting them straight. It’s tedious but I wouldn’t do it if misinformation wasn’t being posted.

This is silly (one might say inexcusably so).

The reason vinyl sales surpassed CD is because...there arose another player in the market for digital music. You might have heard of it. It's called streaming (and its cousin, downloads) . It turned out to be the successor to CD for digital audio delivery media, and digital still dwarfs analog media, including vinyl.

You totally missed the point. It wasn’t about the same old tired beat to death debate about vinyl vs digital. It was an illustration of how things happen in the future that were hard if not impossible to predict.

I don't see that I've 'misrepresented' anything, not that I seek to be excused by you anyway

When your vision becomes the reference for objective reality let me know. Till then I accept that you don’t see it. ButI saw it and called it out.

Let's see what the future brings.
Sure. In the meantime I’m focusing on the present and what works best now.

Let’s see what we can all do not to generate new audio myths.
 

Mnyb

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No .. deck,then arm,then cartridge!

I do wish some would read exactly what I said...

I later heard a turntable NOT Linn which clearly out-performed it and cost less too, but I'm going into territory alien to most of you and maybe it's for the best as it's a territory I've long ago left...
That’s what I meant ! sorry for sloppy English :) ....The Deck .... is the preferred term for the turntable itself without any tone arm or cartridge
 

Mnyb

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Another one ,you are listening to “wrong records” ofcourse it does not sound god ! Putting the horse before the cart is a thing ? ( ignoring the circle of confusion...)
 

Audiofire

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The worthy audiophile terminology for an audio cable is an interconnect. A CD player is called a transport. Acoustics is called a soundstage. Attenuated frequency response of analog technology is called warmth. Requiring verifiable evidence for woo woo is called tomfoolery.
 
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Palladium

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My experience with Chinese quackery including audiophiles, their arguments always go on a very predictable route of "How could you know if you never tried it" to "Those will spent so much on BS couldn't be stupid" then finally "Hahaha what do poor plebs know".
 
OP
Talisman

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I submit the ne plus ultra of the former trope: this Alan Moulton review of the Stenheim Alumine Three.

My 10-year-old son walked into the room, and I think it was Sonny Rollins’ Way Out West that happened to be cued up. He rarely offers any comments/opinions on anything I have at home (which has been a lot), but this time after about a minute he said, “I like these better.” I quickly turned the volume down to get any unedited nuggets that I could. “Why do you like them better?” He followed with something completely unexpected, and keep in mind that we don’t discuss audio equipment and he has shown virtually no interest in it. He explained, “They project better.” What? Where on earth did that come from? “What do you mean they project better?” Without missing a beat, he continued, “They sound purer. It’s like you’re right there.” That from a 10-year-old who’s never read an audio review and doesn’t really talk to me about the gear I bring home. And it’s not like I have audiophile friends for him to overhear and pick up on their accepted terminology. This was a raw, unfiltered response. He went on to tell me that he used the word “project” because they have a projector at school. In other words, he was telling me that these compact Stenheim loudspeakers were projecting a picture. A real picture. “Like you’re right there.”
For years now, I haven't been able to read subjective reviews, especially when they're ridiculous like these (and there are many....) and it's not that I don't try, but I just get to a certain point and I can't think anything other than "but how much bullshit...."
 

Mnyb

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The ingenious marketing in the 80’s and 90’s that somehow made for example British cottage industry brands much better and more musical than an Japanese amplifier ;)

What a load of ..... such terrible products like Sugden A21 or Musical Fidelity A1 or some entry level little NAIM ?

This is history now , but I still remember and in retrospect i’m thinking what fools we where.

I remember that a proper card carrying audiophile tried to minimise the amount of Japanese products in their hifi .
High end was American or British hifi .

Exceptions where loudspeakers, for some reason probably logistics back them shipping speakers where not a big thing so we had a lot of local brands in Europe and local manufacturing.
Nowadays Far East manufacturing and shipping has gotten so cheap that speakers are made everywhere .
 
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