"High-End Audio: Science or Snake-Oil?" - Beat Stamm
In 2006 I was invited to a local high-end audio store’s annual show where I had a chance to listen to an unusual demo.
A salesman for expensive turntables, along with an editor of Stereophile fame, tried to convince the audience of the inferiority of CDs compared to vinyl records.
Equipment were top of the line Wilson Audio speakers ($135k/pair), VTL tubed monoblock power amplifiers and associated pre- amplifier ($60k, if memory serves), and speaker wires that could make your average garden hose jealous (I’ll come back to those esoteric speaker wires below).
In the first part of the demo, the turntable salesman played a record he had bought the night before, in a second hand record store in the University district.
Before lowering the needle into the grooves he expressed his joy and pride about his find ($5, no k here).
It sounded like a used record: Dusty.
Would it hurt to clean the record before playing it on a stereo that cost more than my three bedroom house in 1999?
I tried to listen to Charlie “Bird” Parker, ignoring the pops and clicks of the vinyl, and there was a saxophone in a club. Not a particularly enjoyable listening experience, but it sounded like a saxophone nonetheless.
In the second part of the demo the salesman played a CD he had made from the above record, also the night before.
Something like connecting the line-out of the phono stage to the line-in of the laptop, have the laptop quantize the vinyl, clicks and pops and all, such as not to make the comparison too obvious, and then play it back through similar means.
As far as I remember, it was level matched, and the track sounded just like the record.
It was, after all, a faithful, digital copy of the record.
Once the saxophone began to play, the difference became painfully obvious.
The crude analog-digital-analog conversion process easily managed to ruin my listening experience even more.
Behind all the pops and clicks the saxophone sounded synthetic.
Somehow the audience was left with the worst of both worlds.
continua - http://www.beatstamm.com/scienceorsnakeoil.htm