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Re: [ARSCLIST] Aren't recordings original sources?
The current discussion of power cables brought me back to my
days as an audio equipment salesman.
In the late 70's, Bob Fulton had the temerity to market a set of
interconnect cables for the outrageous price of (are you sitting down)
$30/pair. To say they were met with scepticism is an understatement;
condemnation was more like it. This is understandable since, as the
time, interconnects ran about $5/pair.
I was among the muttering sceptics. How could anyone in good
conscience charge $30 for cables?
Then I listened to them. As I recall, the first words out of my
mouth were, “Holy [bleep]!” To make sure I hadn’t accidentally
sipped the punch at a Grateful Dead concert, I replaced the standard
cables and heard the sound degrade. Back to the Fultons: sweetness and
I felt very conflicted about this. One the one hand, I was
delighted that for only $30, I could have as large an effect as
replacing my power amp; on the other, I was still hung up about paying
$30 for a pair of cables. Eventually, I caved and bought a set, which I
Through the years, I’ve heard many cables, some good, some
not, and I’ve come to a few conclusions. One reason audio cables are
particularly difficult to review is that, more than most types of
equipment, cables are synergistic. Their performance, good or bad,
varies with the equipment they are connecting. An interconnect may
sound good between a CD player and preamp, but not so good between the
preamp and power amp.
I remain very sceptical about judging equipment by measurements
alone. If measurements tell us everything about how audio equipment
sounds, why do they keep inventing new ones? First, there was THD,
total harmonic distortion. Then, when that didn’t seem to be getting
the job done, they came up with IM, intermodulation distortion and TIM,
transient intermodulation distortion and others. My point is not to
disparage these tests, but to suggest that we can’t yet describe how
something sounds using numbers, words, and graphs on a piece of paper.
There is no substitute for listening with a critical ear.
Getting back to the current discussion about power cables, do I
think many of them are ridiculously overpriced? Of course. It seems
like many audiophile products are priced by what the market will bear
with little regard for actual production costs. But is this industry
alone in that practice? Hardly.
Are there some snake oil salesmen in the audio accessory
marketplace? Absolutely. What makes it difficult is that there are
also some products which offer genuine sonic improvements. Years ago I
was convinced by the writings of the late Enid Lumley to replace my
electrical receptacle with a hospital grade receptacle. Sounds looney,
right? Well, it was some of the best money I ever spent. Who
No manufacturer is holding a gun to anyone’s head, forcing
them to buy a $1500 power cable. Would you buy a $1500 power cable
unless you clearly heard a $1500 improvement in the sound of your
system? I wouldn’t.
I happen to think spending a quarter million dollars on a car is
absurd, but I don’t blame Ferrari, Maserati, or Lamborghini for making
(These views reflect only my personal opinions and not those of
any company or institution with which I have or had any affiliation.)
>>> Clark Johnsen <clarkjohnsen@xxxxxxxxx> 10/16/2008 3:22 PM >>>
On Thu, Oct 16, 2008 at 2:50 PM, David Breneman
> --- On Thu, 10/16/08, Clark Johnsen <clarkjohnsen@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> > > * An example of this type of marketing, and the associated
> > > reviews in magazines, is the $1499 power cord, for which
> > > the reviewer states that "The choice of power cord one makes
> > > to transmit AC over the final feet to a component has the
> > > potential to be the most influential sonic link in a music
> > > system's power chain."
> > And that statement is incorrect, how, exactly?
> David Breneman replied:
> Well, if the power cord cannot conduct enough current to
> run the device, I suppose that makes it the most
> influential component in the chain.
Yes. *Reductio ad absurdem.*
> Otherwise, the claim
> is patently silly on the face of it. I mean, is the
> reader meant to believe that a stinking power cord is
> more important than a transformer, or rectifier or
The reader is indeed, and *correctly*, meant to believe that way, and
to experiment. The fatuous phrase "a stinking power cord" could only
be spoken by someone with no experience in this area.
> > And what
> > makes it a matter of "marketing" anyway? Alternatively,
> > everything is marketing.
> Because a $1500 power cord is designed to separate a
> sucker from his money. That's pure marketing.
You have data on that?
Perhaps a study published in a reputable, peer-reviewed journal?
If not, then you're operating on the same level as the evil
marketeers, albeit taking the negative. Claims vs. counterclaims, but
of the "evidence" and "proof" usually demanded by "objectivists".
On another tack, perhaps a $1000 power cord would please you better? Or
about a $500 one? Specialty cords are available for $100 as well. Are
these OK by you?
See, I can't quite decide what you dislike more, the price (admittedly
or the very concept that a mere cord (!) could make more difference
transformer, or rectifier or
filter". There being no evidence offered, I'll just have to note that
wide-range high-resolution audio systems I've ever heard, specialty
cords have wrought major improvements. Granted that's just
data, but it's the only data so far.