Who’s Responsible for Showing Sonic Improvement?

Reviewing a piece of equipment, an expensive interconnect or speaker cable, or some other audiophile accessory is a tough thing to do. Is simply listening to an item in a high-end system and reporting on the results sufficient? Or should there be some investigation into the technical/scientific merits included in the opinion of a “so-called” expert? I’m naturally skeptical of claims of positive enhancements on things that just don’t seem to make sense. The whole CD Illumination thing is an example of audio snake oil, which I carefully evaluated and discovered was pure bunk (you can read the post by clicking here). The copying of a replicated CD to a CD-R made no difference to the audio fidelity despite the insistence from the person doing the “vivifying”.

I receive the Audiostream emails and have long considered the editor Michael Lavorgna a friend and knowledgeable reporter on computer audio and high-end gear. On May 26, 2015, I read “The Synergistic Research Grounding Block and High Definition Ground Cables” review in the cables and accessory review section of the site authored by Steven Plaskin. Anything from Synergistic Research always gets my attention, so I read the article. The site gave the grounding block and $395 “high-definition ground cable” (for a 4-foot cable) a “Greatest Bits” award and Steve glowed in his review of the SR products.

The SR stuff is basically doing a “star ground” setup. In many audio systems that I’ve put together, it’s often advantageous to isolate the individual ground leads from each piece of gear (or their power cords) and connect a dedicated piece (I typically use 1-12 gauge) of zip cord to a “ring” or circle of tinned wire and then connect that to a copper rod pounded into the earth. This is the way all of the studios in my building deal with ground or common grounding. It’s the way professional studios do it. It prevents line hum and guarantees that everyone is grounded in common.

I admit that I have no personal experience with the SR grounding products. But I have experienced some of their other products during demos at CES and other trade shows. I’ve been underwhelmed each time. Steven’s gave these particular SR products thumbs up! His final paragraph states, “More Than Just A Tweak”. You can read the review for yourself at Audiostream.com.

It’s hard to believe that there were “major sonic enhancements” in the fidelity of his system knowing something about grounding and electronics and having done audio professionally for over 40 years. But OK, Steven likes the products.

I posted what I thought was a gentle comment titled Professional Studios,

“It might be interesting for readers to know that professional studios do not use products from SR…and we’re the ones making the records. I sank a long copper rod in the ground behind the building and ground everything to it. Works like a charm…and costs a whole lot less than the hocus pocus discussed above.”

Michael took some offense to my posting. He wrote,

“You mean like HD recordings? Tons of people believe HD recordings are nonsense based on ‘science’ so I find your view of this review as being based on ‘hocus pocus’ to be not only ironic but ill-considered.

If you want to make that claim, back it up Mark.”

I assured Michael that I am quite dubious and quite vocal about the nonsense in the HD world. But the issue here is whether it is sufficient for a single reviewer to wax poetically on a device and some cables without facts to back up his claims? Michael places the responsibility on me to show that they didn’t improve the sound. I think he’s got it backwards. Wouldn’t the audio world be a better place if the makers of cables and accessories had to back up their claims with some actual science?

The site posts “subjective reviews”…end of story and responsibility. You can believe that SR makes solid products because Steven enjoyed what they did for him or you can walk away based on your own experience or knowledge of the products. I’m one of those guys that require the people/company making the product to demonstrate their products actually do what they say they do.

Sorry Michael, it’s on SR and Steven to make more than subjective claims.

++++++++++++++++++

For those that might have missed the posting of the latest rev of the diagram in the comments yesterday, here’s the last(?) iteration.

150616_hra_chart_v3

I’m still not finished with the rest of the pages, so this graphic and the entire brochure will be sent as a PDF file. When it’s done, I’ll let you know. I think I’ve included all of the wonderful suggestions and error reports. But there are probably things that can be improved.

Dr. AIX

Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

56 thoughts on “Who’s Responsible for Showing Sonic Improvement?

  • June 16, 2015 at 4:36 pm
    Permalink

    I don’t understand the link between the vinyl master tape and the turntable … What step takes place to produce the vinyl, and why is there no medium symbol for it?

    Reply
    • June 17, 2015 at 11:25 am
      Permalink

      I’ve added the DISC Cutting production step…there is also duplication but I’ve left that out. Too many icons.

      Reply
  • June 16, 2015 at 4:38 pm
    Permalink

    Hi Mark,
    Every time I enjoy to read your passion with Hi-Res Surround Music from TYO JAPAN.

    It is my latest Hi-Res album work,It enable to down load as free,please check it out with UNAMAS FREE DL.

    http://nadac.merging.com/friendship THEN CLICK UNAMAS.

    Reply
    • June 17, 2015 at 11:27 am
      Permalink

      Thanks Mick. It’s been a long time since we met and shared some time in Tokyo with Morten. Still pushing. I’ll take a listen. Thanks

      Reply
    • June 17, 2015 at 12:58 pm
      Permalink

      Wowza, that Eriko Shimizu recording sounds beautiful, my ears say that piano sound spot on.

      Reply
      • June 17, 2015 at 1:27 pm
        Permalink

        To MICK SAWAGUCHI: How do I buy the album? The web sites listing the album are incredibly convoluted and I’m obviously not interested in the ITunes option.

        Reply
      • June 17, 2015 at 1:33 pm
        Permalink

        Mick is a very talented audio engineer…he gets it.

        Reply
  • June 16, 2015 at 4:55 pm
    Permalink

    I find it hard to believe that any cable can improve digital sound. It’s digital fer cryin’ out loud. )’s and 1’s interpreted by a processor, not a cable. Consumer Reports and other verifying agencies have for years posted specs and graphs showing no such magic. In fact as a result Monster Cable, once a huge proliferator of such huge hokum has scaled back drastically, even on ten gauge cable to basically 16’s zip chord (lamp wire). Oh sure you will still find hucksters who promote better jackets, oxygen free cable etc yada yada, but seriously folks, cable has been proven in the digital world to be snake oil as a lot of other high end hokey pokey. And the improvement per ten thousand dollars spent between upgrades on high end stereo systems is minimal or marginal at best and IMHO not worth that ten thousand. Also because of the nature of the market there are questionable durability claims verifiable by many in respected audio forums. The market has it’s share of supposed audio gurus and fly by nighters and only respectable firms should even be considered. Track records on everything are available for those who are willing to do the research, especially cables. Beware those whose living depends on reviewing such merchandise. Especially those who post dubious claims without any real evidence to back them up. Amen!

    Reply
    • June 17, 2015 at 11:27 am
      Permalink

      I’m still open to analog cables but a “high-definition ground wire”…that’s a bit a of reach.

      Reply
  • June 16, 2015 at 5:01 pm
    Permalink

    Steven seems to do all the reviews of SR products on that site. Not surprising, he always loves them.

    Reply
    • June 17, 2015 at 11:28 am
      Permalink

      I wasn’t aware of Steven’s writing…but his review and response leaves me wondering.

      Reply
  • June 16, 2015 at 5:14 pm
    Permalink

    I just read the article and the comments. I find it fascinating that it is now up to the consumers to prove that a particular tweak works or not, rather than the other way around. It should be up to the manufacturer to prove that their product does work. It should be up to the reviewer to do more than quote advert copy from the manufacturer to justify his opinion. I have been an audiophile since the 1980’s. The whole audio press has become a joke and are nothing more than shills for the companies that advertise in their pages. Point this out and they come at you will all they have.

    Reply
    • June 17, 2015 at 11:29 am
      Permalink

      I wasn’t surprised at the review but I was honestly surprised by the harsh comments to my post.

      Reply
    • June 17, 2015 at 1:24 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Joe,

      We come at you because in our case you are simply wrong. Advertising for AudioStream is handled by a dedicated group that we have zero interaction with in terms of what we review and what we say in our reviews. These people learn about same when they read what we’ve written after it has posted on our site. So there is no connection between advertising and editorial content whatsoever on AudioStream.

      Reply
      • June 17, 2015 at 3:46 pm
        Permalink

        HI Michael. I am glad you cleared that up and it is good to hear. I have heard differently about other publications that I don’t see the point of mentioning here where such pressure exists. You can generally tell who they are because they never run negative reviewed. I am glad your site is run differently. Nonetheless, I still feel your response to Mark was a bit over the top. I also don’t feel that it is the responsibility of your readers to prove that a given manufacturer’s products don’t work as advertized. Attacking the customer, in this case the reader, is never a good idea IMHO, regardless of how pissed off you may be. Nevertheless, I still I look forward to reading more of your reviews, even though I may not agree with them.

        Reply
        • June 17, 2015 at 4:34 pm
          Permalink

          Hey Joe (I enjoy that reference every time),

          I don’t think it’s the reader’s responsibility to prove anything. Rather I feel when commenting on a review, one’s opinion has much more merit when it’s based on experience especially when denigrating the reviewer’s work.

          Thanks for reading.

          Reply
  • June 16, 2015 at 5:38 pm
    Permalink

    Why are the little shaded icons at the end of the second row for a CASSETTE TAPE, along with redbook CD? Should it be a record player instead of a cassette tape? And the redbook CD icon on top, record player below where it is in line with the vinyl chain?

    Reply
    • June 17, 2015 at 2:01 pm
      Permalink

      You’re right…new things are brewing.

      Reply
  • June 16, 2015 at 5:42 pm
    Permalink

    Mark, please clarify the “circle of tinned wire ” for us….. Sounds like the holy grail those power generative types, like McGowan, would rather ignore.

    Seriously. does anyone read the audio rags, at least whore houses have “red lights” ?
    I’ll take the Sears Catalog any day, and make my own choices.

    As for zip cords, I believe Tesla, Roger Russel, and Gedlee would concur.

    Stay the course Mark, pseudo types hate reality, their busy counting undeserving income.

    Reply
    • June 17, 2015 at 2:02 pm
      Permalink

      It’s a stripped end of a multi thread cable (zip wire) that is tinned with solder to which all grounds are connected.

      Reply
  • June 16, 2015 at 6:42 pm
    Permalink

    Whereas I think it’s totally fine if someone can hear a difference/improvement with a cable, even if science doesn’t back it up, I wonder how many audiophiles actually ever try a basic cable. My total current outlay on both speaker cable and interconnect would give you change out of 20 bucks, and yet my system still sounds fabulous, in my view at least.

    And, yes, I’ve spent a lot of money on cables in the past when I probably had more money than sense – no, make that definitely. With no kids and few responsibilities I could indulge myself, but now I kick myself for being an audio snob and never trying inexpensive cable back then, because it really and truly delivers. Instead of reserving around 20% of my budget for wire, I could have bought even more exotic separates.

    My conclusion out of all this is that it’s best to concentrate on your main components, but if you have the spare cash and can’t resist dabbling in every possible tweak then knock yourself out. It’s your money and your system at the end of the day. I just feel that it’s not necessary, which is the point I think you’re also making Mark?

    Reply
    • June 17, 2015 at 1:34 pm
      Permalink

      I would only add to make sure you’re playing the best versions of the recordings.

      Reply
  • June 16, 2015 at 7:23 pm
    Permalink

    Hi Mark,

    I have made several critical yet extremely polite and well founded comments regarding precisely the same kind of unsubstantiated claims and subjective reviews at audiostream, and more than once I have received personal attacks from Michael, instead of the expected and perfectly legitimate counterarguments which would dignify or enrich a dialogue or discussion as such.

    Apparently, when you hit a nerve, Michael responds in aggresive manner, with personal attacks that are also some times joined by his followers in a nefarious mob mentality fashion. I have seen it several times, and I’m pretty astounded that none of his readers have ever reacted or called attention to this completely out of control behaviour towards his readers.

    I would sincerely advice you to drop this fight altogether, it just ain’t worth it. You’ll probably end up with another thread with over 500 posts of pure nonsense discussions and gratuitous insults based on no science or common sense whatsoever.

    It’s sad that Audiostream is there to spread the DSD gospel and write about the obvious sound quality difference between analog recordings just because they have been put into large bit buckets – and played on audio systems that aren’t capable of revealing the difference between CD and HRA even if it was actually there – and the typical golden ear reviews of DACs describing dramatic differences that would never survive a blind test, etc., but it’s not worth dignifying it with any critique if the only thing coming out of it are personal attacks and aggressions that are completely uncalled for and completely out of line.

    I appreciate that you called attention to this behaviour, and that you have the gesture of offering to continue the argument or discussion on good terms and based on some facts and science, or at least the will to attempt ones best at it. My experience is that Michael will defend the legitimacy of his subjective reviews beyond reason, and refuse any mechanisms to prove his or the manufacturer of the reviewed product’s claims aside from his golden ears. That alone – aside from the personal attacks – already proves your point and calls any bluff.

    I appreciate a good and passionate discussion, but within the respect among people with common interests and with the use of reason and facts in order to support and make legitimate arguments. I believe Michael has already gone beyond those conditions, and I don’t believe getting drawn into a street fight is worth the time or the effort.

    On a more interesting topic, I really like the graphic improvements of the presentation; the icons are really nice and it all looks a lot cleaner and is easier to get a visual overview of the comparative aspects, as well as the rationale of the source/production/delivery sequence. I did see that some of the typos and flaws from the first presentation were still there, but I find that the graphic aspect really improved. I agree with keeping it basic, but I would still add a DSD sequence and at least the name of the concept of provenance, to at least insinuate the relationship it has with delivery.

    Nice work!

    Reply
    • June 17, 2015 at 1:36 pm
      Permalink

      I’m not looking to fight with anyone. That’s been my approach since I started this blog and will continue to be so. I try to make my points and if there is blow back, I’ll move on.

      Reply
  • June 16, 2015 at 9:53 pm
    Permalink

    Mark- Who is responsible? I think all of us.

    I found this post most enjoyable. There is no credible analytical agency that is an honest broker about consumer audio. That has funded research, verification and validation to manufacturers claim. But why do it, it would ruin the economy and many would rather spend the emotional dollars getting fleeced in another industry. Why not keep it here in yours?

    Remember – this who care about music, but not about sound quality, are just as misguided as this who care about sound quality and not music.

    Claims should have quantifiable facts, facts are based on evidence. No one has provided anything but evidence of opinion in the example you mention. Pointing fingers will just get you two frustrated.

    In your chart:
    -You need a key for each of those symbols and colors. I see that red means a few different things; is reduced resolution just as bad as the recording and mixing console?
    -You need to define resolution in the supporting text. Give us industry definition and what is the truth. (Sample rate is about bandwidth and bit depth is about signal to noise ratio and their product is bit rate.)
    -Define each specific resolution that is on the chart and why, with evidence.
    -Much of the writing comes off as opining, which may be your choice of tone. I recommend that you remove the opinion/emotional comments and replace facts, i.e. , “When you transfer from one analog tape to another there is a loss of 3dB.”

    Questions:

    Is there ever a case where reduced resolution is better than standard resolution?

    The difference between Master Source Quality and Standard quality is the Analog to Digital converter?

    I’d like to see the publish standards, and know that they are industry agreed terms. I like that 20z-20Khz, 130 dB – what else?

    Again, after several months of reading your comments I seem to enjoy them and really am thank full for you passion and hard work.

    -Bill

    Reply
    • June 17, 2015 at 1:37 pm
      Permalink

      I’m still drilling down on the chart. Stay tuned.

      Reply
  • June 16, 2015 at 9:54 pm
    Permalink

    Be careful Mark. I’m 100% on your side and agree with you completely. But you are really getting the reputation of a guy that just won’t “play ball” with the rest of the snake oil peddlers in the industry. I don’t know how vulnerable your business and income are to being hurt by the audio zealots but looks like you are running the risk of getting locked out. All they need do is what they have already started and attack your hearing, equipment, judgement etc, to discredit your position. Sometimes you have to go along to get along if you want to make money..
    Let the crazy ranters like me, Peter Aczel, Arthur Salvatore, etc, call the lunatic fringe out on their BS and you protect your ability to make a living in this business.

    Reply
    • June 17, 2015 at 1:40 pm
      Permalink

      Sal, thanks for the counsel. I’m not in this business to “play ball”. I’ve been making records for 40 years and feel it’s important to get some facts straight without filters. I don’t read many other sites…my father taught me to tell the truth and have integrity. I’m doing my best.

      Reply
  • June 16, 2015 at 10:10 pm
    Permalink

    For an advertiser-supported publication – web or paper – to require proof from its advertisers of their claims would run counter to their business model.

    It’s far more in their interest to require proof from those challenging their advertisers’ claims.

    Reply
    • June 17, 2015 at 1:43 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Phil,

      As I stated above, there is no connection between editorial content and advertising at AudioStream. Also, as far as I know, Synergistic Research has never advertised on our site.

      Reply
  • June 17, 2015 at 4:03 am
    Permalink

    About the chart, it’s getting better and better. But from the way it is now, vinylists will happily conclude that a vinyl LP is as high res as you can get, except with less SNR!
    The only difference between high and standard resolution now seems to be in the A-D conversion, which only applies to CDs.

    Shouldn’t it be mentioned somewhere that tape machines can’t record any higher than xx kHz and therefore cannot meet the demands of high res? Thus CDs and LPs can never be high res?

    Reply
    • June 17, 2015 at 1:41 pm
      Permalink

      A new version is coming…expanded.

      Reply
  • June 17, 2015 at 8:36 am
    Permalink

    Hi Mark,

    May I suggest a few more diagram review comments…..

    In the Standard-Resolution path, there is a link between a DAW step and Vinyl LP Turntable step. Hmm, is that correct, a digital signal going directly to turntable? (Don’t let the vinyl fanatics see this!) But if correct, then shouldn’t the link be dashed (for digital) and not solid (for analog).

    For the Analog to Digital Conversion step in the Reduced-Resolution path, there is no need to underline its description.

    Distribution of standard-resolution (44.1kHz/16-bit) music streaming is not mentioned whereas reduced-resolution streaming is mentioned. Standard-resolution music is currently available through Tidal streaming services (and Pono?) for instance, but it is a niche product as this time so the omission is certainly understandable.

    Reply
  • June 17, 2015 at 8:51 am
    Permalink

    Also,

    In the MSQ path, Analog to Digital Conversion step, add 88.2 to the 96 | 192 | 352.8 kHz because 88.2 is fairly common, at least I see it offered for download at HDtracks, so it’s omission may raise questions as to why. BTW, I never don’t 176.4 kHz anymore in the marketplace, has it gone by the wayside?

    Now for the pickiest of review comments –

    In the High-Resolution path in the DAW step description, change Hi-Res to High-Res for consistency with the rest of the diagram.

    Reply
  • June 17, 2015 at 10:57 am
    Permalink

    Hi Mark,

    First, I want to say that while I read a large number of audio-related blogs and online magazines, I find your postings among the most informative and interesting.

    Regarding Audiostream’s SR review and Lavorgna’s harsh reaction to your posting, I think you’ll see it’s part of a larger pattern there. And I believe the underlying problem is simple – Audiostream is a commercial blog, supported by advertising. And the some of the largest advertisers on their site are selling totally bogus crap. $1000 Ethernet cables – really? But then you see a large banner ad from Audioquest on the home page of their site.

    What would happen if Audiostream posted a review of a $1000 Ethernet or USB cable and concluded there was no sonic improvement over a well built $15 cable? They would lose their major advertisers, and Lavorgna would be out of a job.

    So what we see now is an excuse for no measurement of any equipment because “they don’t have the budget”. And a refusal to do blind A/B testing, and so on.

    I posted my first comment on this issue a couple of months ago on their site, and Lavorgna personally emailed me and threatened to ban my user account should I post any future comments questioning whether there as a bias towards postive reviews of their advertisers. Clearly, if there was no such issue, there would not have been such a reaction. I also saw Lavorgna threatening to ban Archimago’s account, who like realhd-audio, is behind a really informative and well written audio blog.

    With the migration of print media to the Web, and a reluctance for people to pay for online content, it’s very challenging to create a commercially viable blog on a topic such as high end audio. It’s unfortunate that the people behind Audiostream haven’t yet figured out how to do it successfully without compromising their journalistic integrity.

    Reply
    • June 17, 2015 at 1:45 pm
      Permalink

      I understand the realities of running a business. Advertising support for Audiostream is to be expected and I have no problem with that. But having the integrity to speak and write honestly in spite of the advertising is what real journalism is all about. I once had a major magazine’s editor tell he wouldn’t review my recordings because I hadn’t paid for advertising. I was surprised. And to Audiostream’s and Michael’s credit they have talked about iTrax and I’ve even written a couple of articles for them.

      Reply
      • June 17, 2015 at 2:00 pm
        Permalink

        We do write honestly with zero regard for advertising. I frankly find it insulting when people suggest otherwise.

        Reply
        • June 17, 2015 at 2:09 pm
          Permalink

          Michael, I believe you…we’ve known each other for a long time. Honestly, my initial comment wasn’t meant to be an attack or insult in any fashion. My intent as a professional audio engineer and studio owner to let your readers know that professionals don’t have anything that SR makes. And given my experience with their company and having experienced their demos, I believe they make products with little or no science behind them. For me there’s too much hocus pocus involved.

          Reply
          • June 17, 2015 at 2:29 pm
            Permalink

            Fair enough Mark. I think it’s important to allow for other opinions such as Steve’s without questioning his motives or integrity.

            I’ve also sat in on a number of the SR demos at shows and I have found that in many cases I hear an improvement when their devices are employed. That said, I agree that the information provided by SR related to how their products function to be lacking in rigor.

            For me, the best test of the veracity of any audio product is to use it over time. I realize that for some people this is not enough but we are certainly not claiming that our reviews are anything more than that. I also believe that the more evangelical “snake oil” hunters both overestimate their own opinion and underestimate people’s ability to think for themselves.

    • June 17, 2015 at 1:53 pm
      Permalink

      I have written negative reviews and one such review caused an advertiser to pull their account. I did not lose my job and in fact it lead the manufacturer to improve their product based partly on my criticisms. I don’t know how Mark feels about links but the product in question was the Paradigm Atom speakers.

      I warn everyone who comments on our site and claims that our reviews are influenced by ads to either prove it, which you cannot do since it is not true, or I will block your account. I see no reason to put up continued unsubstantiated allegations relating to my credibility.

      Reply
      • June 17, 2015 at 6:52 pm
        Permalink

        If a claim can’t be backed up with either measurements or credible A-B-X blind testing any review posted has no validity. If the reviewer or the reviewers sponsor insists that the published review is truthful but refuses to submit to the above verification on his finding then,
        1. The review is BS
        2 Someone is greasing someones palm for the positive review of said product.
        In no other technology or scientific community would such unverified claims be given ANY credit, they would be laughed out of the industry.

        Reply
        • June 18, 2015 at 4:25 pm
          Permalink

          If you’ve read what I wrote Sal, you already know that your #2 is just plain wrong. No one’s palm is getting greased. As for your #1, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

          Reply
          • June 18, 2015 at 6:51 pm
            Permalink

            If you’ve read what I wrote Sal, you already know that your #2 is just plain wrong. No one’s palm is getting greased. As for your #1, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

            Mr. Lavorgna
            Let’s post some factual graphs resulting from actual testing and blind AB comparisons. Using audio equipment affordable by non -golden ears and golden ears consumers who are most likely trusting customers of HD. Put evidence where your mouth is. If we want Bose magic we’ll go to Bose.

  • June 17, 2015 at 12:44 pm
    Permalink

    Stick to your guns. It is impossible to prove a negative so the responsibilities on the reviewer/manufacturer to prove their claim scientifically so that it can be tested by others. On the surface of it, it seems implausible that you can improve a standard ground. As for the protests of the reviewer, “me thinks the lady doth protest too much”. Has he disclaimed that he has received no benefit from the review?

    Reply
    • June 17, 2015 at 1:41 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Kenneth,

      Steve Plaskin receives no compensation of any kind for his reviews on AudioStream from anyone.

      Reply
      • June 17, 2015 at 6:46 pm
        Permalink

        Why is he writing these reviews if he’s not getting paid? What’s his motivation?

        Reply
        • June 18, 2015 at 9:53 am
          Permalink

          It’s not necessary to get paid to write and post articles and reviews. Heck, I do it everyday without compensation. The problem is the establishment of trust and the reputation of the reporter. I don’t know Steven’s work well enough to comment. I guess I’m going to have to get a few SR products and check them out hear at the studio before coming to any conclusions. They have a 30 day return policy.

          Reply
          • June 20, 2015 at 9:35 am
            Permalink

            I know it’s not necessary, I’m just genuinely interested in why Audiostream, the sister company of Stereophile, is not paying their writers. Why doesn’t he keep his content and start his own Blog (as you have done) or take his talents to someplace that will actually pay him? Or, are there perks to writing for Audiostream other than a paycheck?

          • June 20, 2015 at 10:11 am
            Permalink

            I certainly have written lots of articles for other websites without being compensated. I think Steven enjoys the research, the writing, and the exposure. He’s probably retired and this has become a hobby or an outlet for his passion. The only perks are that he probably gets to keep the equipment that he’s reviewing.

        • June 21, 2015 at 8:32 am
          Permalink

          I’d suggest asking Steve since motivation is a very personal thing. I imagine he enjoys the process.

          Re: Mark’s comments, Steve is a practicing medical Dr. and he does not get to keep what he reviews.

          Reply
  • June 17, 2015 at 2:23 pm
    Permalink

    Can you clarify how the isolated ground works. Do you ground each chassis, or do you have a dedicated ground through your 3 prong electrical receptacle? Thanks

    Reply
    • June 17, 2015 at 7:46 pm
      Permalink

      Several readers have shown some curiosity about this. I’m starting to think that this might be worth an article with a diagram. I, too, wasn’t quite sure, from the description given, how I might do it at home.

      Reply
      • June 18, 2015 at 9:56 am
        Permalink

        I’m researching this whole grounding thing. A very knowledgeable reader told me that disconnecting the grounds as I do in a star ground is illegal. I’ve got some white papers on the topic and will report back soon.

        Reply
  • June 17, 2015 at 7:07 pm
    Permalink

    Dear Mark,
    I am late with my comments on your great chart on the recording and distribution of music. Understanding that there are limits on info one can include in such a chart before it gets confusing, I still suggest the following:

    HIGH-RESOLUTION
    • Microphones: I would add that: “High quality and sometimes special mics are needed to capture all of the music”.
    • I would change the following sentence: « Human hearing can achieve 20Hz – 20kHz (or more) & 130 dB of SPL. » to « Human hearing can perceive 16Hz – 20kHz (or more) & 130 dB of SPL. » and then I would move this sentence under the HIGH-RESOLUTION title. The word « perceive » means that the human body seems to hear the extremes frequencies, but it may not be through the ears.
    • Recording Console: Because many console do, I would add: « Hi-Res Console do not alter the signal of high quality microphones. »
    • Digital Audio Mixing: « …in the digital domain » and here I would add “including SPL up to 144 dB and frequencies that may be from 0Hz to 40 kHz. » I feel it is a nice place to insist on the difference with standard resolution.
    • Digital Audio Mastering: We should have here the same description as the analog mastering. So I would add: « and all signal processing needed including spacing and sequencing. »
    • Sample Rate Conversion: « A high-res source can be converted… » I suggest « downconverted ».
    • Amplifier & Speakers: I would add the following note : « Not all audio playback system can reproduce all of the Hi-Res music ». This may add pressure on the hi-end audio manufacturers to now consider reproducing 16Hz to 40kHz and 144 dB of signal to noise.

    STANDARD RESOLUTION
    • Microphones: « I would begin this way: « Commercial mics capture hi-fidelity, as we know it since the 1960s. »
    • Recording Console: I would add the following: “Often older or analog console will limit the signal to a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz.”
    • Multichannel Analog Tape Deck: You refer to their potential in SNR, I would also say that “all tape decks limit the music to 20Hz to 20kHz when perfectly adjusted”.
    • Analog Mastering: I would add: « This is where loudness (too much music compression) is generally applied. »
    • Mastering Vinyl: Isn’t there another step right after this one for « Vinyl Printing »? It may not be worthwhile mentioning, but I figure there are chances that the music fidelity is also altered at the « printing » stage.
    • DA Converter (on the CD line): I feel we should give some credit to the CD technology and mention “CD has the potential to reproduce 20Hz à 22kHz as well as 93 dB of SPL.”
    • Amplifier & Speakers: I would add: “ All hi-end audio equipment can reproduce the standard-resolution signal.” …Reminding again the manufacturers of consumer electronic equipment that they can do better.

    MASTER SOURCE QUALITY
    • I wonder if the optional Remastering process should not be positioned before the Master Analog Tape Deck?
    • Master Analog Tape Deck: It seems to me that « Exceptionally, the source is the multichannel analog tape, which saves one generation ».
    • Remastering (Optional): I would add: « This is where more music compression is often applied so that this version sounds louder that the original recording authorized by the artist ».

    REDUCED RESOLUTION
    • Analog to Digital Conversion: This may have been underlined be mistake.
    • Lossy Encoder: I would say: « An encoder is used to reduce the file size which reduces the bandwidth of the music source as well. Since it is a lossy format, audio fidelity will be severely altered. »

    I apologize if my English is not perfect; I am a French-speaking guy.

    Reply
    • June 18, 2015 at 9:53 am
      Permalink

      Thanks….the chart is still in progress.

      Reply
  • June 18, 2015 at 7:03 pm
    Permalink

    A few other items of worthy note. Analog tape decks had limited high end range until HK and Dolby Headroom utilizing metal oxide tape. Women are more sensitive to high end frequencies. and are apt to be more intolerant of over emphasized bass.than men are. That boom boom noisebox in your trunk isn’t drawing any women fans. Last but not least the outer shape of the human ear affects the quality and quantity of soundwaves each person perceives (hears). Earphone manufacturers have know this for ages. And AGE truly does take it’s toll on what you can hear. So if you are a rich baby boomer still addicted to Golden Ear hardware, better invest in a hearing aid first, and still be aware that even that device affects what you can and cannot hear.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

one + one =