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The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

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The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Iago on Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:17 pm

I just got through reading this post from Stereophile, and I am still marvelling at it. I mean, we are all arrogant in our own ways, especially as A/V nuts, but this one could almost be a parody, if not for the fact that the writer is really quite serious. In addition to the fact that his threadbare description of the listening test makes it pretty clear that it made no attempt at any form of blind testing (which automatically invalidates his reaction, in my book) he continues to express confusion at why people did not hear what he was hearing, without ever once questioning his OWN listening impressions -- those are taken as gospel.

http://www.stereophile.com/content/music-or-sound


While I tend to hate the rantings of the "cables-don't-make-a-difference" crowd as much as I hate the silliness in this article, one of the commenters asked some very good questions:

Please explain what these terms mean.

Airy: What is Airy ness? How does a cable manufacturer design a cable to be airy? Where in the audio spectrum does the airy ness takes place? Can someone measure Airy ness?

Open: ? What does open sound sound like? what about Closed sound?

Tighter bass? I know one can affect bass with electronics and EQ but how does a cable able to make the bass response tighter? What if a manufacture of cables want there cables to have loose sounded bass how would they do that?

Organically: what the hell is that?
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Seamaster on Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:15 am

The comments are the best part of that article.

That article borders ridiculous. I particularly enjoyed Jason Victor Serinus's (that could almost be a made-up name, but I digress) admission that he told the second group what to hear when he did not get the results he wanted. The subtext screams that a serious attempt was made to bias the results. That's so blatant that it's not even a clever attempt to influence the situation through suggestion; it's damn-near coercion (not quite, but I'm being melodramatic on purpose).

Like you, I fall in-between on cables. Regardless, I would never admonish someone for believing one way or the other, if that is what pleases them. It does no harm to me or others if someone wants to spend thousands on one pair of interconnects. If they have the means and they perceive that they hear the difference, and it is something that matters to them, all the power to them. What I dislike is when others feel deficient for not having the expensive cables because they have been convinced that they are missing out on organic music with tight bass that's full of air and openess.

I have humble Blue-Jeans interconnect and some other rather more expensive Van den Hul interconnects. I have tested and my hearing must be flawed because I could not detect a real difference when tested blind. However, I do like the way the Van den Huls look. I have no problem admitting that they are jewelery for my equipment and that it makes me smile when I look at the back of my rack. By comparison, the Blue Jeans stuff is a bit bland. But it performs just as well, and at the end of the day, that's what matters most to me. I watch movies by looking at my display and I listen to music by sitting in the sweet spot. I don't do either by standing behind my rack and looking at the cables.

A couple of years ago I was in an audio shop near my house and I was talking to one of the staff (I think he might be an owner). He was talking up Nordost power cords. The conversation was quite polite, but his end argument is that I would need to buy a cable north of $1000 and let it break in for about 30 to 60 days before I could really hear a difference, but what a difference that would be. He might be right, as I've never tested his assertion. I couldn't bring myself to gamble $1000-plus on something that might be, considering that his return policy only allowed for returns within 30 days of the sale. After all, Day 31 might be the day when everything got better.

I do have some other after-market power cords though (a Gutwire, two Grant Fidelity cords, PS Audio), which were much more modest priced and at a price I was will to gamble. I initially thought the Grant Fidelity cords made a difference, although I haven't done a true blind test to be sure (I did with a couple of power conditioners, but didn't get around to the power cords). Nevertheless, they do look cool, coiled up like snakes guarding my equipment.
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Iago on Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:07 pm

Well, cable break-in is something that I do reject utterly. The subjectivists just never seem able to accept that one's perceptions change over time, even if the item being perceived does not. Much if not all of what is being attributed to break-in is simply the listener's ears getting accustomed to what they are hearing.

That said, I stlll firmly believe that not everything that makes an audible difference can be measured. From a strict measurement perspective, you cannot account for the differences that I hear between analogue and digital delivery. Yes, there are some factors that one does have to honestly admit regarding LPs, such as their tendency to add euphonic second-order harmonic distortion instead of harsher third-order harmonic distortion, but I am not just talking about LPs. However, the commenter that I quoted does make some excellent points. How exactly can a cable provide tighter bass? While the concept of "tight" bass is something that largely relies on listening perceptions, there ARE measurable and observable effects can be noted about it. With a subwoofer, you can measure the oscillations or "ringing" of the driver that happens after the signal stops, which is what results in a fatter, looser sound. You can observe a difference if the driver stops moving the instant that the signal stops, and that is a hallmark of a good subwoofer. If a cable could truly provide that effect, you should be able to demonstrate that it does so.
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Iago on Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:23 pm

Speaking of cables and arrogance: it looks like karma has been a bitch for Monster Cable with their Beats by Dre headphone deal. They let themselves get royally screwed. I had not seen this story before -- Gizmodo says that it is an exclusive:

http://gizmodo.com/5981823/beat-by-dre-the-inside-story-of-how-monster-lost-the-world
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  East on Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:46 pm

one thing about monster cable, best buy loves selling them to you for $80 a piece and the same monster cable can be readily had on ebay for $12-20. (In my experiences anyway)

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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Iago on Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:12 pm

The margins for retailers on Monster products are 50% (so the markup is 100%.) They also set SRPs that retailers do not deviate from -- Monster wants to protect the image of its value. So on a cable that retails for $79.95, the retailer (like Best Buy) is paying about $40.00. Best Buy does not mark them up any differently than anyone else does; they are following Monster's own pricing structure. If you are seeing the exact cable for that little on eBay, then something is up. Either it is bootleg, or is really used and repackaged, or some other kind of shenanigans. Retailers do not pay that little for the cables, so while their markups are indeed steep, they are not steep enough to sell at that kind of price without taking a major loss. Monster would also stop doing business with someone who was not following their pricing structure, so no matter what those cables on eBay are not from authorized dealers.

Now of course, when you consider that Monster is making a tidy profit of their own from the price at which they sell their products to retailers, and you get a real idea of just what the manufacturing costs of their cables really are, compared to what consumers pay for them!
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  East on Fri Feb 08, 2013 1:26 pm

I forgot to mention that. The cables are indeed used.

This is how I acquired the last monster cable I picked up. it was a 12ft dvi to hdmi. Its personal preference but TBH as long as the cable is in good condition used does not bother me.

Here are a couple of good examples

New: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Monster-Cable-THX-1000-HDX-Ultimate-High-Speed-HDMI-12-FT-3D-Compatible-/160769105795 $42

and Loose (I consider it used) http://www.ebay.com/itm/Monster-Cable-1000-HDX-HDMI-Cable-12-FT-1080p-15-8-Gbps-THX-Certified-/221000455308 $34

Now in best buy the word hdmi seems to constitute a minimum charge of $30 no matter what brand or length cable you are buying.
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Iago on Sat Feb 09, 2013 3:20 am

I just had to do an "emergency" purchase of a USB to micro USB cable at Radio Shack, and the damned things were $20 for a 6' length. It was a fairly generic brand, too. The whole world has gotten in on the cable ripoff market.
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Seamaster on Wed Feb 13, 2013 2:06 pm

Too bad you had to make an emergency purchase. Blue Jeans sells such a cable for much less. Heck, I have spares lying around and never used that I would gladly send you.

I also didn't know about the story behind Dr. Dre and Monster. Very interesting from a number of fronts: the David-Goliath spin, the idea of intellectual property and who owns what and how that can be turned around with a carefully worded agreement, the negotiating ploys that appear to have gone on behind the scenes, and the idea that the product might have had some merit. I've never listened to the cans as I dismissed them as being mass produced and over hyped. Now I'm almost interested to hear what they sound like. Still, I'll stick to my usual cans.
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Iago on Wed Feb 13, 2013 2:20 pm

Well, Monster has acted like a Goliath of their own when trying to go after companies like Blue Jeans and Monster Golf, but they appear to have made a deal with a giant much bigger and much more saavy then they are. And they fully deserve to get screwed.

No interest in their phones. I am searching, though, as the cable in my NuForce IEMs shorted out and is not able to be swapped out. My own fault, as I kept wearing them when doing things like bent-over rows and upright rows, which are way too easy to catch the cord as you move -- I ripped the plug out of the player too many times. I was going to buy another pair, but NuForce's website said that they were discontinued in favor of an upgraded model. I got a set of Sony XBA-1s, which are my first balance armature design IEMs, but they sound too bright for my tastes. I may have to wait for NuForce to get with the program.


And I have plenty of USB to micro USB cables; I just did not have one with me at the time!
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Seamaster on Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:35 am

Understood. As an aside, if cable issues do arise and it is not an emergency, maybe post a note here or send me an email. I have collected a few over the years, which I would gladly share. There not doing any good collecting dust!

I also had a pair of Sony XBA-1s. They're not bad, but like you, I found them bright. I also have the issue of not being able to wear in-ear monitors, so I gave them away. They found a good home, so that's what matters.
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Iago on Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:58 pm

I was resistant to the ideas of IEMs at first, but I have gotten used to them. Their major deficiency tends to be in the bass, as a phone that has measurably ruler-flat response will still sound weak on the bass inside of your ear canal. Some of the bass that we hear is transferred through the bones in your skull, and while conventional over-the-ear headphones still have that effect, IEMs bypass the "skull effect" and end up sounding weak. So to make an IEM that sounds flat, it needs to have a bit of a boost in the low end. The Sonys are weak in that regard. The Nuforces were not, so presumably they were designed to sound neutral rather than actually being neutral. I just checked their website again, and it looks like the updated version is available. Interestingly, some of the changes include a beefed up cable with more strands, and a 90 degree plug, so I am not the only one who had issues with that. I was looking at a few other brands, but at that $65 price you just cannot beat them.

By the way, SVSound has introduced their first reasonably priced cable, which looks extremely well-constructed for the price:

https://www.svsound.com/subwoofers/subwoofer-accessories/soundpath-interconnect-cables

Note how they cleverly use a few audiophile buzzwords like "airy" to make sure that they are taken seriously!
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Iago on Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:09 pm

Well, that took me all of two minutes. Order placed, and $65 down the drain!
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Seamaster on Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:34 pm

Well done.

If you're serious about in-ear monitors, it is hard to beat Shure and Etymonic, but they are considerably more expensive. There are some other brands that have come on the market in the last few years, which are also pretty good, but I haven't paid much attention. Seeing as I can't use them, there is little point in me knowing much about them.
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Iago on Fri Feb 15, 2013 2:21 pm

Oh, there are literally dozens of models (and many more than two manufacturers) to choose from if I was willing to raise the spending bar. And if I was using them for critical listening in non-exercise environments I might consider them -- in fact, I would be willing to consider custom molded ones. But I have to be realistic about the potential for damage (and my first set of the Nuforces certainly proves that point) so I think that the $60-$75 range is about as high as I really should go. Though if the new Nuforces took any longer there were a couple of $100 models that I was considering.
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Seamaster on Fri Feb 15, 2013 4:39 pm

I agree. When working out, it's just about playing music to keep you motivated and drive through that last rep or set or whatever. I might even put the cap at $50 in that situation, seeing as you're not really listening.

And, yes, you're absolutely right, custom-molded would be the absolute best way to go. I still prefer circumaural, though. Less issues for me.
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Iago on Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:41 pm

I was seriously considering the Thinksound MS01s, which go for around $100:

http://www.thinksound.com/ms01.php

But I know that the Nuforces are outstanding performers, and the $65 is easier to swallow. Regarding working out, though, I was surprised how much that I still notice the difference in sound quality. I had been paying less than $50 before, and was happy with what I had until I heard better. It may be ridiculously audiophile-geeky to say this, but quality sound motivates me through the reps more than inferior sound can.
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Seamaster on Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:48 pm

That's fair. I generally don't bother listening to music when working out, but I might have to give it a go.
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Iago on Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:02 pm

Well, a lot depends on what I am doing -- music is an absolute must when doing cardio at the gym. Otherwise, I would kill myself after five minutes on a treadmill. But it does help with weights as well, especially with what I am doing now. High intensity interval training with weights, six days a week. Each body part starts out with 10 sets of 10 reps at 50% of your 10RM, with one minute of rest between sets and the rest periods dropping ten seconds every week. Follow that up with 3 sets at the 10RM (though after the 100 you will be lucky if you can do 5-7 reps) with a minute of rest betweens sets and exercises, and a drop set at the end. And then you move on to more exercises for that body part! Without music, it would be even tougher than it sounds.
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Seamaster on Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:19 am

I rotate through three different high-intensity workouts: One that is grueling from a cardio standpoint because you never stop, one that is just grueling because of either high reps or weight load (depending on the day) and one that is way more exhausting that it looks because it calls for working to complete failure on working sets. There is something primal about pushing (or pulling) until you can no longer exert energy and the weight starts going in the wrong direction. Of course, a spotter is a must.

For all workouts, I can get away without music as none of them are boring. And when it gets really grueling, I have to look inward and listen to the music in my head!
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Iago on Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:59 am

Well, the music in your head should provide a nice accompaniment to the voices.

I did not say that my workouts were boring necessarily, but rather the music helps keep the intensity -- and the motivation -- going when I am doing long sets. Starting each body part out with a total of over 130 reps (counting the 10/10 as well as the followup three sets plus a drop set) requires a great deal of mental focus. Tunes help me. That said, some days I do not listen at all; it partly depends on mood. Cardio, on the other hand, always requires music. Running, that is -- I listen to music whether on a treadmill or running outside, though obviously I skip it when I am on my bicycle.

I have a week and a half left of this routine, then I plan to go back to something more traditional mixed with cardio days for at least four weeks, and after that I plan to do something like the four-minute sets or a cardioacceleration routine. I have lost more body fat doing this routine than anything else, so it is definitely on to something that works for me. Plus, after experimenting with a variety of things, for my body type it appears that there is no substitute for volume. Not only have I lost more fat, but I have added a surprising amount of muscle, especially considering that you are not pushing as much heavy weight. It has you doing the same 10/10 breakdown on body parts like traps, forearms and calves, and it adds more muscle in areas like that, that are harder to train.
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Seamaster on Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:20 pm

You have no idea about the voices!

I wasn't meaning to criticize your workouts or suggest that they were boring. I was merely commenting that, in my case, I don't find music necessary. But that is an individual thing, and there is no right or wrong, excepting, perhaps, when running. I couldn't agree more with you there. In fact, I hate running so much that I have resorted to only doing sprints broken up by walks. For more consistent and steady cardio, I stick to a bike (which is hard to do in winter, I admit). I've also started swimming, which I've found great for loosening up my muscles after a hard workout. This aging thing sucks!

Would you mind sharing your cardioacceleration plan? I wouldn't mind having another workout in the mix that focuses on burning fat and lean muscle building.
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Iago on Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:00 pm

As much as I love biking, I cannot handle a stationary bike. Even when I was using my own bike on a trainer, and in my movie room to boot, it just about made me lose it. For some reason the treadmill is a bit easier, though it does require the headphones. The only thing that I can handle on a treadmill without the music is doing HIITs, because the constant need to keep changing the speed up and down in short intervals keeps me distracted. Mind you, I still prefer having the tunes, but worst case I can still do HIITs without. I have been doing them with very short intervals, only 45 seconds running and 45 seconds walking, but ramping the running up to 10mph -- which is pretty fast for a 45 year-old 215 pounder like me.

I was planning to follow Jim Stoppani's cardioacceleration plan, which at its basics has you doing one minute of cardio -- anything, really, as long as you are working pretty hard for that one minute -- between all sets. He also has periodization built into it, and it gets pretty detailed. His site is a pay site, and while he used to have his planners as .pdfs he now has them in some web format that you can print from, but not save or copy, at least that I have figured out yet. I will try to post more detail when I solve that.

The HIIT weight training that I am finishing up next week comes from one of his plans; he calls them HIIT 100s.
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Seamaster on Fri Mar 01, 2013 3:23 pm

I didn't realize the plan came from a pay site. Don't worry about trying to extract content. That's not fair to Stoppani.

You're 215 pounds? You must have put on some serious muscle. That a fair weight for someone who's 5' 10". Well done!
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Re: The New Other Bench Audiophile Thread, astonishing arrogance edition

Post  Iago on Fri Mar 01, 2013 6:01 pm

You are too kind, but keep in mind that I am still fighting WAY too much body fat. But the muscle mass has indeed gone up, especially in the last six weeks. The weird thing about my body is that I seem to be stuck in a perfect equilibrium mode when it comes to exercise; my fat loss and muscle gain offset nearly perfectly and my weight never varies more than a few pounds. I have been stuck between 210 and 220 most of my adult life. I have lost a notch on my belt in the last six weeks and stayed at exactly 215 the whole time.

Never fear, I was not going to get you the whole workout gratis. I was just trying to figure out how to copy/paste one day's routine to give you an idea. But here is another one for you from a recent article that he did: Tabata training. You may well have already done it, but it involves doing eight sets where you work for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds, for a total of four minutes per exercise. It is named after a Japanese scientist named Tabata, who according to Jim, "was actually looking for a way to better train athletes. The story goes that he was analyzing the training of the Japanese speed skating team, in an effort to enhance their performance. What he discovered was that when he had athletes perform eight cycles of these 20-second intervals followed by 10 seconds of rest they increased both their aerobic (endurance) capacity and their anaerobic (quick power) capacity – the two things that speed skaters need. In other words, whether you’re an endurance athlete like a cyclist, or a power athlete like a weightlifter, Tabata offers you benefits because it trains both the major metabolic pathways that provide you endurance and those that provide you explosive energy. That’s why so many athletes have taken to doing Tabata Intervals."

So a sample workout from him would be (this was a regular article that I can copy/paste from:


Workout 1: Monday (Chest/Abs)

Exercise Sets/Time Rest

Bench Press* 8/20 seconds 10 sec.

Incline bench press* 8/20 seconds 10 sec.

Dumbbell Flye* 8/20 seconds 10 sec.

Cable crossover* 8/20 seconds 10 sec.



Reverse crunch* 8/20 seconds 10 sec.

Crunch* 8/20 seconds 10 sec.



Push-up^ 8/20 seconds 10 sec.

Dumbbell Clean^ 8/20 seconds 10 sec.

Dumbbell Walking Lunge^ 8/20 seconds 10 sec.

Kettlebell Swing 8/20 seconds 10 sec.

*Rest 1-2 minutes between exercises

^Take no rest between exercises


I am going to do at least 4-6 weeks of regular weight training after the HIIT 100s, but I will probably switch to either the carioacceleration or something like the Tabatas after that. I think that I am really on to something with the HIIT-style, higher volume workouts and I want to keep the momentum, but still being careful to shake that up with "regular" workouts as well.

Diet is the one area that I still do not do as I should, but on the other hand I am not willing to give up good eating, so it is all about balance. Not tonight, though -- I made farfalle with mascarpone, smoked salmon, leeks and fennel tops. I have no idea exactly what the fat and carbohydrate content was, nor do I want to know. But you do have to indulge once in a while. Fortunately, I do not eat most processed foods, fast foods or fried foods, so my diet is still better than most Americans. I am content with slower fat loss and still eating food that tastes good!
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