Hello again kids! I’m here just in time to save you a bundle of $$$. Or maybe save someone from spending a bundle of $$$ on you. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not the Grinch. I love finding a spiffy new audio component under the tree. But I hate it when someone falls for some hype and blows a lot of cash on an item that should cost a tiny fraction of what is being charged. Or worse, an item which has no functionality at all. So I have my pencil sharp here. Let’s go shopping.
Is this you?
I want to save you some money people. Let’s start with speaker cables. The sole purpose of this simple two conductor set of insulated wires is to provide an electrical connection between the output stage of your power amplifier or receiver and your speakers. Now wire as we may know is made up of a material (most commonly copper) which conducts electric power efficiently. Ideally, it will have zero loss or resistance. And because the power being conducted is not direct current, but rather alternating current, there is another kind of loss called reactance that cables could in theory have.
Now I am not going to throw at you a ton of math and physics about this. Instead here are the simple facts. In 99.9% of the home audio systems that have ever been or ever will be, simple zip cord will provide indistinguishable sound from anything more expensive on the market. Let me repeat.
Spend seventeen bucks and problem solved.
Let’s move on shall we?
Oooh! How about a fancy new turntable?
Vinyl rules! Let’s go.
So isn’t a turntable a complex piece of engineering and art like a fine watch or a violin?
Um, well, not really. There is no art in good turntable design. It’s Newtonian physics. Okay, the tone arm and cartridge have some Maxwellian and Gaussian laws at work but let’s worry about the turntable first.
What does it have to do that makes it so expensive?
The turntable must rotate the vinyl concentrically about an axis at a carefully regulated speed. The turntable must not be allowed to introduce any spurious vertical motion relative to the tone arm. The turntable must be able to physically and electrically isolate the interaction between the tone arm and the vinyl from the environment.
Wow, that’s a lot of stuff.
For a mere $650,000 you can own this turntable with a built in electron microscope:
Ahh but once again, it’s all a matter of degree, what is actually audible vs. what is down in the psychoacoustic noise.
Once again, I could fill pages with the specs that must be held in order to have truly inaudible augmentation of the program under all possible conditions. But for most of us in the real world, spending more than $1000 on a turntable plus cartridge is nonsense.
You could spend $20K and not be able to discern which is which when compared to this:
And all my advice and expertise comes to you without charge!
Merry Christmas / Happy Hanukkah from The Naked Audiophile!!