Lofty Audio
Golf is the most over-accessorized creation in human history. A well-financed player can spend a hundred thousand on a single golf club. So what do players really need? Four clubs (wood, driver, putter, wedge), balls and golf tees. Absolutely nothing else!
Wait, wait, wait! Players REQUIRE special golf shoes, 25 clubs, custom golf bag, monogrammed golf shirt, signature golf tees, performance golf cart, distance scope, wind speed meter, personal trainers, putting simulator, trainer clubs, golf sunglasses, a monogrammed towel to wipe off clubs….
What is the second most over-accessorized creation? High-end audio equipment. For example, while researching this blog, I came across a company called Audioquest. They make cables that connect amplifiers to speakers. What is the cost of two 20-foot speaker cables? $49,900!!! Do they double as jumper cables for a NASA rocket?
On a side note, I am an electrical engineer and can technically answer this question. What are the advantages of a $50,000 cable versus a $20 cable? There is a barely detectable difference that can be viewed with sophisticated equipment. Can an audiophile (fancy word for audio connoisseur) hear the difference? The technical (verified with blind studies) answer is defiantly no, but the “real answer” is "yes" and that will be the subject of this blog.
In order to evaluate two cables, engineers would use calibrated audio test equipment and terms like the voltage, amperage, loss, slew rate, frequency response, and impedance. These terms would assist a person in making choices on high-end audio equipment. So, one would expect to find such technical terms in a review. Right? Well, no. In fact, technical terms never appear.
The problem with these terms is that they would reveal the truth and are boring. Plus, the proper focus of high-end equipment is appearance. Audiophiles develop a new method (cult) of writing a "technical" review to get around this problem. The audiophile review! And wow, audiophiles are impressive/delusional writers. Let's look at three reviews.
The first is a review of Audioquest "Chicago" cables.
"In our system, the Chicago conveys the bluesy instrumental in Melody Gardot's Amalia with decent helpings of solidity and refinement. The cello strings and 'humming' have body and substance in what is a nicely focused and present soundstage, while the shakers and delicate strumming that come in beneath her well-focused vocal all manifest with decent clarity."
All manifest with decent clarity? Technically, this means… Nothing!
The audio company Pear is famous for outrageously expensive cables.
"On the Martin Best Ensemble disc, the Bosc had a very good lateral spread, with good body to voices and to drums. The performers also seemed more upfront in soundstage presentation. As before there was a hint of a confused, "glarey" quality in louder and more complex passages. Martin Best's voice would occasionally sound a hair thinner, flatter, and grainier than it did through the Nirvanas (which, I feel compelled to remind you, cost over six times as much). I might add that the Bosc gave the drums more of a "thwack sound." By comparison, the Nirvana cables gave the drums a slightly rounder, fuller sound. The Nirvanas were also better at disentangling the congestion in the louder, more complex sections. Also the SLs seemed a tad smoother in the upper mid-range and trebles. Mr. Best's voice sounded smoother also, with more roundness and body to it. Finally the microdynamics through the Nirvana cables seemed more refined, and the soundspace felt deeper."
Gave the drums more of a "thwack sound." Wow! It blows my mind to read these creative descriptions. The writer must have thought for hours about non-audio terms. Is this poetry? Is this marketing? Is this writing done on acid? I would consider it delusional thinking of the same type when a drug dealer gets high on their own supply.
“microdynamics” “soundspace” Wow, sounds super technical, but those “terms” are not real words.

Here is an amplifier review:
“Similar to other modern tube amplifier designs, the McIntosh Labs MC1502 didn't scream TUBE SOUND. Yet there was something more than an invisible exercise in total linearity. Before listening, I expected it to sound super-rich in that classic tube amp way. Not really. I assumed some kind of larger-than-life slam to the bass. Nah, although when the music got big and tonally rich the Mac was right there for every bit of it. When the music had gobs of subs, again, all was revealed. It was almost like the Mac is stealthily waiting for its prey to appear, then effortlessly springing into action without calling attention to itself.”

An amplifier is "stealthily waiting for its prey to appear?" Simply incredible. Do electronics actually wait for their prey to appear? Perhaps an electronic mousetrap. If you click on the review, the amplifier looks like a mousetrap. This might fit.
“larger-than-life slam” Perhaps this is the noise from dropping an expensive amplifier.

There is endless proof that "audiophile grade" equipment is not superior to standard equipment. A classic example occurred in 2011 when the audio company Denon came out with this $10,000 ethernet cable:
Somebody purchased the cable, opened it, and found a $2 ethernet cable inside. First, they posted a scathing review, and then people posted hilarious reviews lambasting this “quality” product on Amazon. (You can find them in the above link). Here is one:
"I am writing this warning from within my study, sitting at my great oaken desk, surrounded by my library of esoteric volumes. A loaded revolver sits in my lap. I don't have much time and I can hear the dull pounding in the den growing louder with each keystroke. Where do I begin? Last week I was browsing the web, searching for a very old book on pagan rituals in the south seas, when I accidentally stumbled upon this cable .... this accursed two-headed serpent from the deepest hell! I thought, "Hmmm, I could use a really nice cable to connect my new Denon AVR-3805 mega-receiver with my new Denon DNC680 Professional Rack Mounted CD Player... sweet". So, without blinking an eye, without another moment's thought, I hit the "Buy now with 1-click" and then continued on my hunt for the elusive tome. Trust me, gentle reader, I had no idea at the time that some evil hand was contriving to change the course of my life and possibly the human race itself."
Which is better? Gave the drums more of a "thwack sound." Or "I did not know at the time that some evil hand was contriving to change the course of my life."
Audiophiles have a deep connection to their delusional beliefs, and this makes me chuckle as I put aside my engineering mind. I think these reviews should be for fine art or artisan food and not electrical equipment. What is the difference between one cake and another? One had a more frosted taste with a whiff of caramel essence. No details like calories or salt content would ever be in that review.
In closing this blog, I encourage my four readers to read a few audio reviews. They are as funny as they are tragic. "A fool and their money are soon separated."

You’re the best -Bill
September 28, 2022
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