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Title: Hi-Fi connections and unbalanced people
Post by: Yngve Hoeyland on January 17, 2007, 01:13:39 pm
I stopped by a Hi-Fi store to pick up a set of speakers recently, and the salesperson asked me if I would like to buy some high quality signal cables for my setup. I politely told him no thanks, I'll use some standard ones for now - he clearly frowned at my response. I'd bought some fairly nice speakers, and I'm guessing he's thinking I've wasted money on expensive speakers by compromising my signal chain.

What is your take on $$$ unbalanced RCA signal cables? Is it all just a spoof?

Why do the audiophiles not use balanced connections in the first place?

I remember reading a "Slaying Dragons" article by John Watkinson about this in Resolution. Here's a PDF version:
http://www.resolutionmag.com/pdfs/DRAGONS/grounding.pdf



Title: Re: Hi-Fi people and unbalanced connections
Post by: Patrick Tracy on January 17, 2007, 02:38:18 pm
Yngve Hoeyland wrote on Wed, 17 January 2007 11:13


What is your take on $$$ unbalanced RCA signal cables? Is it all just a spoof?


Yes.
Yngve Hoeyland wrote on Wed, 17 January 2007 11:13


Why do the audiophiles not use balanced connections in the first place?


Cost/benefit for short runs.
Title: Re: Hi-Fi people and unbalanced connections
Post by: John Ward on January 17, 2007, 05:28:14 pm
I have always been amazed at people who pay hundreds of dollars for (insert brand name here) speaker and unbalanced interface cables. No doubt the stuff is good or great quality, but certainly not any better than the high quality pro audio cable that is available.

A couple of years ago I mixed a show for a very famous acoustic guitar act that brought his own mic cables (as well as some other items) that he bought at a home theater store. As the stage had been pre wired per his rider, he promptly let me know that he was going to use his "$225.00 each" mic cables. We talked about that a little and he swore that there was a huge difference in his cable and every other cable he had ever used. Turns out a few months later I could buy the same cable, same gold connectors, wholesale for about $24.00 each. Someone is making a tidy 1000% profit on these mic cabls, and someone is definately getting ripped off for 900%.....Regardless, the show was phenominal and the artist a real blessing to work with.

I have worked a lot with another guitarist whom you all may be familiar with that spent about four hours one day listening to nine volt batteries...I thought it was just him being his anal self but at the end of this little session I was either so confused that I really couldn't tell what was going on or I, too, was hearing a difference in the batteries. Same guy uses all his cable in one direction and has spent forty five minutes plugging his amps into different outlets (same circuit) to find the 'right tone'. His quirkiness has earned him a couple of Grammies so who's to argue???
Title: Re: Hi-Fi people and unbalanced connections
Post by: Bob Lee (QSC) on January 17, 2007, 05:40:01 pm
I'd say he earned the Grammys in spite of his quirkiness.
Title: Re: Hi-Fi people and unbalanced connections
Post by: Toby Pike on January 17, 2007, 06:29:28 pm
Yngve,

Several years ago, I read an interesting article in Audiophile magazine that addressed the topic of high end audio cables vs. 14 gauge stranded lamp cord.  The conclusion that the author made was that to his highly trained ears, there was no discernible difference between the two.

From an engineering point of view, the benefits of using a coaxial cable vs 2conductor ribbon cable (lamp cord) have more to do with impedance matching and transmission line theory than anything, and at the distances and frequencies typically used for audio, this doesn't normally come into play.  The only thing I would stay away from are low quality RCA cables available from "bulls eye" department stores or "electronics outhouse" chains, but if you pick up a reel of lamp cord from the "house box" store, you won't be disappointed.
Title: Re: Hi-Fi people and unbalanced connections
Post by: Patrick Tracy on January 17, 2007, 06:35:21 pm
Lamp cord for speakers might be okay. For unbalanced line connections coaxial shielded is the way to go.
Title: Re: Hi-Fi people and unbalanced connections
Post by: Mike Butler (media) on January 17, 2007, 06:47:39 pm
Obviously you don't use unshielded cable for line level signals.
Title: Re: Hi-Fi people and unbalanced connections
Post by: Michael 'Bink' Knowles on January 17, 2007, 07:14:20 pm
Mike Butler (media) wrote on Wed, 17 January 2007 15:47

Obviously you don't use unshielded cable for line level signals.



Actually, it's the twist that makes most of the difference. Think of largely unshielded phone lines and CAT5 that use twisted pair.

-Bink
Title: Re: Hi-Fi people and unbalanced connections
Post by: Andy Peters on January 17, 2007, 07:48:34 pm
Yngve Hoeyland wrote on Wed, 17 January 2007 11:13

Why do the audiophiles not use balanced connections in the first place?


Because audiophiles are, by definition, unbalanced.

-a
Title: Re: Hi-Fi people and unbalanced connections
Post by: Ian Hunt on January 17, 2007, 07:59:49 pm
Can we rename this thread Hi-Fi connections and unbalanced people then  Smile
Title: Re: Hi-Fi people and unbalanced connections
Post by: (Josiah) (Peterson) on January 17, 2007, 11:59:37 pm
Andy Peters wrote on Wed, 17 January 2007 18:48

Yngve Hoeyland wrote on Wed, 17 January 2007 11:13

Why do the audiophiles not use balanced connections in the first place?


Because audiophiles are, by definition, unbalanced.

-a


Ain't that the truth Very Happy

-Josiah
Title: Re: Hi-Fi people and unbalanced connections
Post by: Tim Padrick on January 18, 2007, 12:35:00 am
Many Hi-Fi magazine reviewers and store salesmen can't hear differences in gear that are readily heard by the guys who travel around to manufacturers and distributors trying to sell advertising in said magazines, and the girls who work in the offices of the hi-fi stores.  (Experience, not conjecture.)

I've listened to tons of cables.  They all sound different.  Most of the ones with exotic materials and/or construction sound worse than ones that are nothing special.  (The commonly found 200+ strand 12 gauge speaker cable sounds worse than 56 strand 12 gauge zip cord.

One may indeed be foolish to buy expensive speakers.  The better the speaker, the more it reveals the musical inadequacies of the gear that's driving it.  Get the CD (or record) player that you think gives the best performance that you can afford, then select the rest of the system based on their performance with the selected source.
Title: Re: Hi-Fi people and unbalanced connections
Post by: Mark "Bass Pig" Weiss on January 18, 2007, 02:33:07 am
With speaker cable, it's all about current carrying capacity which is important for damping and good woofer control.
Title: Re: Hi-Fi people and unbalanced connections
Post by: Mike Butler (media) on January 18, 2007, 04:55:13 am
Mark "Bass Pig" Weiss wrote on Thu, 18 January 2007 02:33

With speaker cable, it's all about current carrying capacity which is important for damping and good woofer control.

And break-in period and directionality.  
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Title: Re: Hi-Fi people and unbalanced connections
Post by: Yngve Hoeyland on January 18, 2007, 08:09:15 am
Tim Padrick wrote on Thu, 18 January 2007 06:35



One may indeed be foolish to buy expensive speakers.  The better the speaker, the more it reveals the musical inadequacies of the gear that's driving it.  Get the CD (or record) player that you think gives the best performance that you can afford, then select the rest of the system based on their performance with the selected source.




So what you are saying is buying a pair of high quality speakers (say e.g. B&W 802Ds) is pointless if your CD player and amps aren't top-of-the line too? I agree at some level, but I don't follow your idea of "buying speakers to fit the rest". My own listening experiences tell me that good speakers are a lot harder to make than good CD players and amps - and without doubt the speakers are what colors sound the most by far. And - how on earth do you A/B a CD player without listening to it through speakers? It's all interconnected...

I would rather pick a pair of speakers that I like first - and then match the other components to them.



Title: Re: Hi-Fi people and unbalanced connections
Post by: Yngve Hoeyland on January 18, 2007, 08:10:43 am
Tim Padrick wrote on Thu, 18 January 2007 06:35



One may indeed be foolish to buy expensive speakers.  The better the speaker, the more it reveals the musical inadequacies of the gear that's driving it.  Get the CD (or record) player that you think gives the best performance that you can afford, then select the rest of the system based on their performance with the selected source.




So what you are saying is buying a pair of high quality speakers (say e.g. B&W 802Ds) is pointless if your CD player and amps aren't top-of-the line too? I agree at some level, but I don't follow your idea of "buying speakers to fit the rest". My own listening experiences tell me that good speakers are a lot harder to make than good CD players and amps - and without doubt the speakers are what colors sound the most by far. And - how on earth do you A/B a CD player without listening to it through speakers? It's all interconnected...

I would rather pick a pair of speakers that I like first - and then match the other components to them.



Title: Re: Hi-Fi people and unbalanced connections
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on January 18, 2007, 12:10:40 pm
Tim Padrick wrote on Wed, 17 January 2007 23:35

Many Hi-Fi magazine reviewers and store salesmen can't hear differences in gear that are readily heard by the guys who travel around to manufacturers and distributors trying to sell advertising in said magazines, and the girls who work in the offices of the hi-fi stores.  (Experience, not conjecture.)

I've listened to tons of cables.  They all sound different.  Most of the ones with exotic materials and/or construction sound worse than ones that are nothing special.  (The commonly found 200+ strand 12 gauge speaker cable sounds worse than 56 strand 12 gauge zip cord.

One may indeed be foolish to buy expensive speakers.  The better the speaker, the more it reveals the musical inadequacies of the gear that's driving it.  Get the CD (or record) player that you think gives the best performance that you can afford, then select the rest of the system based on their performance with the selected source.


It seems like we've been down this path before but perhaps the skilled reviewers and while I hate to say this, even store salesmen, are the more credible sources in this case.

JR
Title: Re: Hi-Fi connections and unbalanced people
Post by: Dave Unger on January 18, 2007, 04:21:32 pm
I've just finished putting together my "home p.a."  All my connections are balanced.  I have an old Yamaha mv802 and run the subs off an aux!  Speakers are NS10Ms and are driven by a Crown D75A.  All pro live gear and sounds better than most "audiophile" systems I've heard.  

What I really don't understand with "audiophiles" is why their gear isn't rack-mountable.
Title: Re: Hi-Fi connections and unbalanced people
Post by: Andy Peters on January 18, 2007, 04:24:19 pm
Dave Unger wrote on Thu, 18 January 2007 14:21

I've just finished putting together my "home p.a."  All my connections are balanced.  I have an old Yamaha mv802 and run the subs off an aux!  Speakers are NS10Ms and are driven by a Crown D75A.  All pro live gear and sounds better than most "audiophile" systems I've heard.


Heh, my computer gaming audio system is a pair of Infinity speakers driven by a D75.  Various computer outputs feed a Rane MLM82A which drives the D75.  Works for me.  One day I'll put in a switch box that disconnects the speakers so I can use the headphone outs and play Doom3 without scaring my wife.

Quote:

What I really don't understand with "audiophiles" is why their gear isn't rack-mountable.


Today's acronym: WIF (Wife Acceptance Factor).

-a
Title: Re: Hi-Fi connections and unbalanced people
Post by: Greg Cameron on January 18, 2007, 05:35:52 pm
Dave Unger wrote on Thu, 18 January 2007 13:21

Speakers are NS10Ms and are driven by a Crown D75A.  All pro live gear and sounds better than most "audiophile" systems I've heard.


Hmm. While the NS10's are an industry standard for near-field studio monitors )because if you can get a mix to sound decent on them it will sound decent on almost anything), they'd be my last choice for a home system. I've always hated they way they sound.

Greg
Title: Re: Hi-Fi connections and unbalanced people
Post by: Eric Snodgrass on January 18, 2007, 05:45:53 pm
Andy Peters wrote on Thu, 18 January 2007 13:24

Today's acronym: WIF (Wife Acceptance Factor).

-a

Wouldn't that be WAF?
Title: Re: Hi-Fi connections and unbalanced people
Post by: Ian Hunt on January 18, 2007, 06:13:19 pm
I always heard it was SAR (spousal approval rating)
Title: Small studio monitors
Post by: Michael 'Bink' Knowles on January 18, 2007, 06:35:12 pm
http://www.sorcerersound.com/ns10.gif

Greg Cameron wrote on Thu, 18 January 2007 14:35

Dave Unger wrote on Thu, 18 January 2007 13:21

Speakers are NS10Ms and are driven by a Crown D75A.  All pro live gear and sounds better than most "audiophile" systems I've heard.


Hmm. While the NS10's are an industry standard for near-field studio monitors )because if you can get a mix to sound decent on them it will sound decent on almost anything), they'd be my last choice for a home system. I've always hated they way they sound.

Greg




Yeah, hated. The way I understand the progression is that some prominent studio guys brought in home consumer "bookshelf" style speakers so they could preview their mixes on something less wonderful than their Westlakes. The home speakers happened to be Yamahas. Then a bunch of other studios caught on to the idea and standardized on the Yamaha. Time passes. New people come in to the studio and hear how awesome everything sounds and they also notice the NS10Ms seemingly sitting the place of honor on the meter bridge. The NS10s get their reputation boosted by association. Now NS10s are considered studio monitors.  Rolling Eyes

Funny that didn't happen with those awful Auratone 5C cubes.  Very Happy

Ugh.

-Bink
Title: Re: Small studio monitors
Post by: Ian Hunt on January 18, 2007, 06:42:14 pm
I always thought that was 'horrortone', thanks for putting me right, on an allied theme I used to do spoken word work using the BBC LS3/5, I liked them so much I bought a pair and rapidly discovered they were great at that, and lousy at everything else.
Title: Re: Hi-Fi connections and unbalanced people
Post by: KeithBroughton on January 19, 2007, 06:35:40 am
Isn't thete supposed to be a small piece of tissue hanging in front of the tweeter on those NS10's?
Laughing
awful speakers.....
Title: Re: Hi-Fi connections and unbalanced people
Post by: Yngve Hoeyland on January 21, 2007, 11:44:27 am
KeithBroughton wrote on Fri, 19 January 2007 12:35

Isn't thete supposed to be a small piece of tissue hanging in front of the tweeter on those NS10's?
Laughing
awful speakers.....


The tissue issue ( Very Happy ) is dependant on which model you've got - there's the original NS10's (tissue series) and the NS10M's, which featured a different tweeter design.

As for the NS10 as a speaker, by any measure, it's a disaster. It is, however, true that most mixes that sound "good" on NS10's usually do translate well to other systems.
The Auratone AC5 is, undoubtedly by todays standards, a pretty bad-sounding speaker. I find them very useful for identifying level balance problems, though...

index.php/fa/7535/0/

Title: Re: Small studio monitors
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on January 21, 2007, 04:03:02 pm
Michael 'Bink' Knowles wrote on Thu, 18 January 2007 17:35

http://www.sorcerersound.com/ns10.gif

Yeah, hated. The way I understand the progression is that some prominent studio guys brought in home consumer "bookshelf" style speakers so they could preview their mixes on something less wonderful than their Westlakes. The home speakers happened to be Yamahas. Then a bunch of other studios caught on to the idea and standardized on the Yamaha. Time passes. New people come in to the studio and hear how awesome everything sounds and they also notice the NS10Ms seemingly sitting the place of honor on the meter bridge. The NS10s get their reputation boosted by association. Now NS10s are considered studio monitors.  Rolling Eyes

Funny that didn't happen with those awful Auratone 5C cubes.  Very Happy

Ugh.

-Bink


In one of my sundry incarnations I was involved with studio monitors (AMR). The back story on the NS-10s I heard was that some big shot mixed a hit on them and they became his lucky speakers. Since those guys are bigger whores than Uli about copying from each other they became "the" hot monitor.

While often mentioned dismissively it's true, if you make a mix sound good on them, it will translate to sounding good elsewhere. It probably doesn't hurt that they had white speaker cones that showed up so well in all those tiny studio photos. There actually is some science (or rationalization  depending on your POV). We as humans are very familiar with the human voice, so the NS-10's hot upper midrange is very revealing of distortion when tracking vocals. A flat loudspeaker is only arguably useful during mix-down and at that it needs to mimic the general hifi population not the creme of the crop. Thus the ubiquitous use of Auratones too.

JR
Title: Re: Small studio monitors
Post by: Mike Butler (media) on January 21, 2007, 07:06:37 pm
John Roberts  {JR} wrote on Sun, 21 January 2007 16:03

...While often mentioned dismissively it's true, if you make a mix sound good on them, it will translate to sounding good elsewhere....

Or, to be less diplomatic than JR, if you make a mix sound good on them, it will translate to sounding good anywhere!  Razz
Title: Re: Hi-Fi connections and unbalanced people
Post by: Too Tall (Curtis H. List) on January 22, 2007, 11:03:55 am
Andy Peters wrote on Thu, 18 January 2007 16:24

Dave Unger wrote on Thu, 18 January 2007 14:21

I've just finished putting together my "home p.a."  All my connections are balanced.  I have an old Yamaha mv802 and run the subs off an aux!  Speakers are NS10Ms and are driven by a Crown D75A.  All pro live gear and sounds better than most "audiophile" systems I've heard.


Heh, my computer gaming audio system is a pair of Infinity speakers driven by a D75.  Various computer outputs feed a Rane MLM82A which drives the D75.  Works for me.  One day I'll put in a switch box that disconnects the speakers so I can use the headphone outs and play Doom3 without scaring my wife.

Quote:

What I really don't understand with "audiophiles" is why their gear isn't rack-mountable.


Today's acronym: WIF (Wife Acceptance Factor).

-a




The main reason for rack mounting is so it can be trucked around easily.
The only other situation is professional installs.

For the "look" rack mounting puts a straight jacket on the box width and style.

Just the sheer number of boxes involved may argue for rack mounting at home.
I look at the over 4' tall selving unit I use-
CD player
Home Theater Preamp
DVD payer
VCR
DIRECTV box
Old receiver used for surround sound

My main power amps and active xover won't even fit.

There is enough there to warrant rack mounting. On the other hand these stores make big money on AV cabinets and the wife will have some input here also.

Hmmm, maybe your right.
It's the Significant Other and all the other factors are secondary.

Wink

For a profesinal install in most cases it is in racks for safety and effeciency. The basic look needs to be "professional"
not necessarily stylish, though I wonder how much the look of pro gear effects its sale.
"Toy Factor" from well placed flashing lights and huge back lite VU meters has been known to sell PA and recording gear.
Title: Re: Hi-Fi connections and unbalanced people
Post by: Dave Unger on January 22, 2007, 01:02:49 pm
People love to hate the NS10s.  It's like a badge of honor in the studio world.  I'm not trying to mix a hit record.  They are my home speakers.  I listen to mp3s, dvds, and npr on them.  They are good enough for me.  I like the tweeter's sound in the ns10m.  I've never heard the original.  They are certainly not as good as the kick ass Tannoys I heard not long ago.  If I was working in a studio I'd want something better.  But in my tiny living room these seem to work ok for me.  I do have a sub run off an aux.


Anyone else out there have pro-audio gear in their home system?  For years all the best sound guy I knew had crappy boomboxes at home.

d
Title: Re: Hi-Fi connections and unbalanced people
Post by: Mike Butler (media) on January 22, 2007, 02:27:56 pm
JBL 4311B
Crown D150A (previously DC300A)
Technics SL1200 MK II
HHB "Burnit" CDR 830
Denon DN-720R

all racked (well, the 1200 sits on top and the speakers are where speakers go)


A lot of high-end home products (like the Technics ST-9030 tuner) were rackmount or had optional rack ears available, Of course, these could always sit freely on the shelves of an ordinary home audio cabinet if you had no rails to screw them to. When buying home gear I would always get the ears whenever possible, and it's no great shakes to create an equipment cabinet with rails, even wooden ones, instead of (or in addition to) shelves, and a nice wood-finished exterior for improved WAF.
Title: Re: Hi-Fi connections and unbalanced people
Post by: Mike Butler (media) on January 22, 2007, 02:30:59 pm
Too Tall (Curtis H. List) wrote on Mon, 22 January 2007 11:03

..."Toy Factor" from well placed flashing lights and huge back lite VU meters has been known to sell PA and recording gear.

Huge backlit VU meters have sold me many tape decks.
Title: Re: Hi-Fi connections and unbalanced people
Post by: Tom Howard on January 22, 2007, 11:13:41 pm
In mixdowns I hop to and fro the NS10s, but I wouldn't really mix on them as the primary monitors - I just don't really think they're a very faithful reproduction.

My home setup is based around a Samson Servo 260 and a pair of JBL Control 1Gs - I prefer the fuller bottom end of the 1Gs. There are balanced inputs on the Servo, but of the equipment ever attached to it only my PC has balanced outputs.