Knowledge nibbles

April 10, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

Here are two interesting and opposing gems of wisdom: a little knowledge goes a long way and knowledgeable enough to be dangerous.

In my experience, the last one more often than not is what passes on the internet for information claimed to be factual.

Recently, one of our community members emailed me with a question. He had read an ad for a cable suggesting that its practical bandwidth limit was set by its thickness. That a 22 gauge wire was only thick enough to pass 192kHz and that to go higher would require a heavier gauge.

I was thankful he reached out to me for clarification because clearly, whoever wrote the ad was confused.

Just enough knowledge to be dangerous.

As engineers and teachers, we like to use analogies to explain complex issues. One of the most popular analogies used to explain electrical movement through wires is water. So it's kind of easy to understand how someone with the water picture in their head could imagine that the more of something you need to get through a wire the bigger in diameter that wire has to be.

On some level it makes sense. Of course, on some level, it also makes sense that the sun is circling the Earth.

If you're sensing that some piece of information isn't making sense, it might just be that there's a good reason for it.

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25 comments on “Knowledge nibbles”

  1. Then there's, "A lot of arrogance makes you rude & ignorant."
    Speaking of 'CtA' & "Knowledgeable Nibbles" here is the site
    to go to if you don't understand audio terminology:
    Audio Terminology & Definitions Dictionary / Headphone Reviews and Discussion -

      1. You are obsessed with me, what a strange person. There are psychopathologies associated with your behavior.
        Someone who claims to have graduated fro the "poshest" school in NSW if not Oz, has nothing in his accomplishments but selling mid-fi and insulting people. Look back, you never accomplished anything. Insulting is the only thing you have left. Go scratch your "arse" and watch some cricket. Drink some beer while at it.

        1. CtA,
          You idiot!
          You just can't help yourself can you.
          Just keep spewing your repetitive crap instead of learning
          audio terminology.
          I'm not obsessed with you; I'm amused by you.
          You just need a little poke every now & then & the same
          verbal vomit comes out of your mouth.

    1. FR
      If I take your advice seriously, how do I understand the following?
      "Juicy - Sound that has joie de vivre, energy and life."
      Is it then lemon juice or orange juice or even grapefruit juice - everything on the sour side?
      Or is it pear juice or cherry juice - more on the sweet side?
      And - if it's juicy, is it then wet too? Because juicy, wet - that confuses me.

      Or take, for example, "Woolly - Loose, ill-defined bass."
      Is there then a difference between sheep-wooly, angora-wooly and cashmere-wooly?
      And what are the differences?

      For me it's all what I call "audiophile poetry" - nice to read but not helpful.

  2. The water analogy is overly simplistic but can help with a basic understanding. Add frequency, current requirements, skin effect & etc and things become more complex. What interesting is that in about 15 min time of searching one can find everything from simple to the complex...,.
    Dangerous Knowledge.....? Or the limited knowledge is dangerous? ✌️

  3. A little knowledge in the wrong hands can and probably will it be dangerous. It happens every day in so many ways and for the most part if we only research what’s being said we may avoid many pitfalls that lie in front of us.

  4. The trivialization of knowledge in the wrong hands, even well meaning people, can result is those "stupid ways to die" videos, we tragically stumble across.

    When Physics, F=M*A and not wearing a Safety Belt coincide, no amount of warning can help that genius who knew better and simply refused to develop a good habit as they smash into the windshield with half a ton of force.

    Show these people a diagram of a vehicle collision at 40mph, and they will probably will doubt the diagram, and say that it is fake news.

    Imagine a Forum where random folks challenge Board Certified Physicians with similar analogues, that would make for an entertaining read.

    I have heard people say that Power Supply Chokes "slow down the music" and create "noise".
    While I hear others say that "music sounds better" in "High Humidity" rooms.

    The amount of creative misguided assumptions arise from the lack of understanding. It is the few who break open a textbook and calculator to "see for themselves" that there is an order to Science, that an Education is not a waste of time.

    Our fascinating Audio hobby starts early, when we suffered through Algebra and Trigonometry. The fault of the teachers is not showing the students how the knowledge is applied.

    And some Math teachers, teach the Math, but not real world applications of the Math.

    So who can blame the students for not realizing that they are being taught the keys understanding Matter and Reality, but turn them into Math Anxious citizens.

    The word Calculus, as evil as the IRS, and Ordinary Differential Equations, a life sentence of Hard Mental Stress behind a Desk.

    Education, Health and Well Being in this age we live in, has somehow become distant, as we load up on supposing, instead of understanding, listening and proving.

    Imagine George Washington, walking into a modern classroom today and asking the class "What kind of Oil are you burning in those long white tubes on the ceiling"

  5. Actually, for DC electrical systems, the equations for hydraulic systems with incompressible fluids are almost identical. In fact the equation for a restrictor (equivalent to a resistor) is called “Lohm’s” law.

    I am just curious to what convoluted crap of a equation was used to get 192 Hz from 22 gauge wire.

  6. Many of life's tragedies result from people acting with good intentions but with incomplete knowledge. I am reminded of the building contractor who thought he was doing the owner a favor when he at no additional cost substituted a stiffer, thicker beam for the one specified by the structural engineer. It was a beam in a rigid frame where the beam ends are welded to the tops of columns. The stiffer beam introduced additional bending stresses into the relatively less stiff supporting columns. The additional stresses caused column failure and building collapse.

  7. In marketing the AudioQuest Monsoon power cable, an authorised, audiophile reseller of AudioQuest cables in the UK, uses the water analogy in explaining that the thicker the cable, the more current, or uncompressed current, will flow through it. This is what they state:

    "Imagine you're drawing water from a tap the size of a pencil. The amount of water drawn will be limited to that of the tap's size. Now imagine the tap is the size of a water bottle. You will sustain considerably more water than previously. The same concept applies to power cables when comparing the current flow between a standard thin power cable and the AudioQuest Monsoon Power Cable."

    As PS Audio recommends the use of the AudioQuest Monsoon power cable for their Stellar products, is this assertion correct or snake oil?

  8. I am amazed at how many people believe that electrons actually flow through the wires that connect all things electrical ( including audio gear ) to bring all things electrical the power they need to operate. I have to say, much to my shame, that on a few occasions I have given up and let someone think that electrons do flow through wire rather than trying to get that person to understand that current flow is just a mathematical method that we use to accurately describe the almost instantaneous transport of energy through the wire to whatever electrical thing is connected to the wire.

  9. Having sustained a mild concussion in a minor fender bender, I have been stunned by the people I call "15 min Google experts in mental health". I have entertained such basic questions about brain function/concussion protocols/correcting misinformation, that I set a limit on responding to any questions from someone without a license to practice in psychology. That is, if you don't have such a license, I'll listen politely but will probably not respond, as any response seems to connote an investment in arguing about settled science. In the words of Roberto Duran, "No mas!"

  10. There are no stupid questions just stupid people. 😉
    I think if one has solid intuition they will ask the necessary questions instead of assuming. Assuming, in my general experience, usually gets me into trouble.

  11. Having grown up in a large city which was fortunate to have a first-class orchestra and conductor as well as a fine venue, I was able to attend numerous concerts that presented a varying repertoire. I learned to love and become familiar with classical music by hearing new music as well as compositions I knew fairly well.

    I found, however, that listening to the live music had its drawbacks for me. I sometimes was looking at other people, or what the members of the orchestra were doing at any particular moment and so forth, all of which would hamper my concentration on the music.

    I now have, many years later, a fairly decent audio system in a room that is quite conducive to providing good sound. The outside hindrances to serious listening are minimal. There are number of pieces of music (mostly classical) in which I have found passages or chords that I particularly enjoy and look forward to hearing, and I get the same feeling whenever I hear them. I don't know how to analyze what the feeling is to put it in words, but it is always there. I'm glad I have the opportunity to listen as much as I can.

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