The curious world of audiophile craziness continues. Here are a couple of recent things that really make me question the pursuit of high-end audio and the sense of the people involved:
Well-heeled audiophile enthusiasts (or just plain quality conscious network professionals) can purchase a CAT-6 Ethernet Cable from AudioQuest for $10,500. The article I read didn’t include the length of the cable but I hope you get a long section for that price. The AudioQuest company has got snake oil “marketing speak” down to a science. According to the article at The Register in the UK (you can read it for yourself by clicking here), this ridiculously expensive cable is “a ‘money no object’ cable for the dedicated Hi-Fi enthusiast that has extended into a world of digital audio sources.”
The “ultra-performance RJ45 connector (is) made from silver” and you’ll have to take extra care that you plug these cables in with the arrow heading from source to destination because these are “directional” Ethernet cables. That’s what they claim! Here’s the text right from their very polished website (style over substance wins every time):
“All audio cables are directional. The correct direction is determined by listening to every batch of metal conductors used in every AudioQuest audio cable. Arrows are clearly marked on the connectors to ensure superior sound quality. For best results have the arrow pointing in the direction of the flow of music. For example, NAS to Router, Router to Network Player.”
I want to evaluate the job qualifications of the person in charge of “listening to every batch of metal conductors” to determine the directionality of that batch. Are there really people that believe this stuff…let alone purchase their products?
It seems AudioQuest is in the business of selling snake oil to audiophiles. You’ve been warned.
And there’s the article about the sonic differences between Networked Audio Servers. The article is titled, “Listening To Storage…Listening tests reveal significant sound quality differences between various digital music storage technologies,” by Andrew Harrison and Stephen N. Harris. These guys are hearing differences between a stream of digital ones and zeros coming from one NAS and a different unit. I admit I’ve never done this sort of listening test but I have auditioned my tracks in my studio from Nuendo, Blu-ray discs, Pro Tools, a RAID, and USB stick and never noticed any differences in the storage medium OR the digital cables carrying the signals around the studio. I think we’ll get better results looking into ways to avoid heavy handed mastering than worrying about the “sound” of hard drives.
They closed their piece with the following:
“As it turned out, it was possibly the best sounding source yet. It could sustain pace and drive, and gave body and richness to music where the Kingston SSD, for example, had been heard as limpid and lightweight. Maybe higher frequencies still weren’t as insightful as direct CD playback at its best, but the sound had a relaxed quality that this listener has found quite enticing enough to plan a migration of all music onto it — pending a test of other NAS combinations!”