Main Street

October 19, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

I wonder why some topics raise the hairs on the backs of our necks more than others.

Any mention of cables and their sound quality and all hell breaks loose. Or, vibration control. Or electrical power improvements.

Perhaps it can be said that the farther away from Main Street the more brightly the fires of dissent burn.

But here’s the rub. Main Street is boring. We’ve all been there more times than we can count.

If we want to grow and expand it’s good to get out of the mainstay and into the suburbs of questionable practices.

Everything you find on Main Street started out at the edges before becoming accepted.

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40 comments on “Main Street”

    1. Ha! The influence of music, pop music is all around, maybe more than we realise.
      The very first thing I thought of when I saw ‘Main Street’ was Exile.
      Even ‘drowning’ reminds me of lyrics….’Sara’ – Fleetwood Mac.
      It’s a little game I like to play occasionally, talking in lyrics, actually not that easy 🙂

        1. When she finished her laundry she was all in a quandary
          And made it for the street like a hare
          Her escape was so urgent, she forgot her detergent
          And dropped all her clean underwear

          From 1976, one of the greatest third verses?
          Heard it again on the radio this morning.
          Felt compelled to post 😉

    2. Personally I think the external DAC will be a novelty in the future.

      Cambridge Audio were the first to externalise it, to separate it from the mechanical CD spinner. It is beneficial to include the streamer and DAC together, due to connectivity issues alone, if not also with a pre-amp stage.

      My own audio dealer has reduced the offering of standalone DACs to a total of 4, 3 from dCS and one from Audio Research, but they sell a wide range of multi-function units.

  1. These concepts have been appreciated for ages. I’ve had an Olson “Sound Fantastastic” mains block/cleaner for 20 years, the product has been in production for about 50 years and sold in vast numbers. I also have an ifi PowerStation, the more recent equivalent, a better featured, affordable and hugely popular product. Vibration control has been vital to turntables for decades. The manual for the Quad ESL63 issued in 1982 specifies the required electrical properties of the speaker cables.

    All these component groups have one thing in common – they don’t add anything. They reduce pollutants, whether mains noise, EMF, RFI or physical vibration.

    How can a cable have a sound quality? It cannot improve the signal, it can only be less worse than other cables that pick up noise, have the wrong specification, etc.

    What bugs me is the idea that you have to spend a fortune to do these things effectively. If it can be done relatively cheaply and effectively, like the ifi PowerStation, it becomes a Main Street product and no one gives it a second thought.

    My perception is that many people resent the idea that your system is broken if you don’t have $500 or $5,000 interconnects. I don’t because I don’t have any interconnects, and my only two signal cables are ethernet, total cost about $40.

    People can spend their money as they want, flush Chateau D’Yquem down the toilet for all I care, but some other these things are the B/S side of there hifi industry that I have no doubt puts people off and gives it a bad name.

    1. No one in their right mind would even imagine flushing Chateau D’Yquem without letting it pass through their kidneys first.

      When will the topic of cables recede into the distant fog except for component reviews? If you don’t like like reading these articles then just pass them by. When will we keep our opinions to ourselves about repetitive subjects like this instead of preparing for battle every other day I never see the end of the road? Why not do your own thing and I’ll continue to do mine. I’ll never hear your music system and you’ll never hear mine so how can we have a normal conversation by pontificating? We’ve done this dance too many times. Why not move on?

  2. In order to dwell in the suburbs of questionable practice, (Which in a lot of cases has a Main Street) then the opportunity to do so has to be available.

    Quite a few manufacturers don’t offer that opportunity. Only their idea of what the ‘suburb’ should be. Often they offer Main Street also to keep their products relevant to the masses.

    As far as cable or wires go it’s up to the individual. There’s technology and thought there. Mostly in the geometry and dielectric. If you don’t hear it, then get anything. If you’ve experienced or experimented and have found differences then pursue that as long as you want or can. The nay sayers are every where and loud.

    Maybe going way past the burbs to the country is a better idea. Peace and quiet.

  3. I enjoy a brief stroll down Main Street, especially when it comes to the advancements of PSU, Clean power and other electrical improvements.
    On the other hand, cable talk? Oh lord I’m over it. You’ll find me crossing Main Street quite quickly while barreling through the cross walk guy. 😉

  4. The streets at one time were flooded with hifi and camera shops. These two hobbies were easy to develop- met lots of nice peeps – polished my skills as a function of meeting great folks too!
    Main Street no longer exists!
    Main Street has been replaced by online
    Warehouse with no professional assistance!
    It is difficult to flourish in ones hobbies without professional and personal interactions ,especially ,if one is eager to
    Learn !
    Recently ,my online experiences in trying to obtain help or information has been
    A disaster.I guess when you don’t have to “face” someone the degrees of freedom increase logarithmically; One just hangs up and it’s all over!
    A totally new definition of death!

    1. I’m sorry to read that it’s gone ‘pear-shaped’ for you Larry.
      As I have recently crossed the line from middle-aged into ‘old-fart’ territory, I’m glad that I had all those years of being on both sides of the home audio bricks & mortar retail counter & know what I need to know about Hi-Fi.
      You are here & you can have discussions with the rest of us; that way you’ll always know what’s going on…home audio-wise 😉

    2. You hit it right on the head larry02.
      Everything you posted here is what I’ve experienced and I’m sure many others reading these comments are as frustrated as we are.

    3. Good morning larryro2!
      Everything that you, FR, and Stempy2 right along with a few others said, is so very true!
      But let me give you all my input about hifi, and what’s really wrong with it.
      It’s nothing technically wrong with hifi, it’s just way over priced.
      Because when you really stop to think about it, most of the stuff is geared more towards the wealthiest people in the world.
      AKA, the rich fokes.
      To make my point stronger, just take a really good look at both this SACD and DSD thing.
      The playback equipment for that, is really crazy expensive.
      But the people that’s making this stuff, is getting rich at our expense.
      But now, think about this.
      Picture yourself, a teenager.
      You’re working if not one, perhaps two or three jobs.
      You’re saving up as many pay checks as you collect them from your bosses.
      You walk back in to that same hifi shop, that you walked in to, about a month ago,
      But the most shocking thing to you is, you still can’t afford that very nice stereo that you’ve been eye balling for quite some time now.
      And so, you work awhile longer, and you save up a few more pay checks.
      But the problem is, that stereo system, is still out of your reach.
      This is not something that I made up, this is a real life event.
      I don’t know any adult that didn’t worked his or her finger’s to the bone, but still couldn’t buy what they wanted.
      I’m still trying to figure out how to do this right here.
      Forget about Mane Street, I want to level the playing field, for everybody!
      I don’t think that good music and grate sound, should only be just for the well to do.
      I think it should be extended to the rest of us.
      But the sad thing here is, that’s not happening.
      You bring up brand names like Audio Research, Conrad Johnson, and even Mcintosh to people you see out on the streets everyday.
      Most people will tell you, “I’ve never heard of these companies!”
      But with the Mcintosh thing, most people will refer to that, is being a computer that’s made by Apple.
      But that’s just the operating system for the thing.
      But when you correct them by telling them, “no!
      I’m talking about stereo systems here.”
      But they still don’t follow you on that.
      But now, lets talk about this online thing for a short moment.
      If you take a real close look at the internet thing as a hole, most of what you find out there, is a lot of misinformation.
      Whatever happen to telling people the truth?
      Most of what I’ve seen so far, is an offal lot of snake oil out there.
      Some sites, don’t put up enough information about the product or products you’re looking at.
      Click the “Contact Us link.”
      To your surprise, there isn’t any phone number listed for the company’s website you just happening to be looking att.
      What happen to our planet that we call Earth?
      All of you just set back, and think about all of this for a good long moment.

        1. Good morning Richard!
          To answer the question you asked me, is this.
          No, it’s not commentary, it’s just the truth of just how I see things going down.
          I was just shooting strate from the hip.
          But now, I will ask you a question.
          What is NFT?

            1. Good afternoon Mike!
              You said, “John,

              After reading yours and some of the comments above, all I can say is I couldn’t disagree more. One man’s truth is just his opinion.”
              I think not.
              But let me aske you one fundamental question.
              Would you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on things like speakers amplifiers and cables?
              And as for the picture I painted, I was one of the teenagers that happened to.
              So, ya, I know really what that’s all about.
              And as for the SACD and DSD thing, not everybody knows what that really is.
              And yes, the playback equipment, is really crazy expensive.
              And it in deed, is a true fact that the companies that make that stuff, is getting rich at our expense.
              There is no way of getting around the facts about that.
              Trust me, I’ve been out there, and I’ve seen it all for myself.
              I couldn’t write about it, if I didn’t see it.
              There are a pare of speakers, that I would very much love to have in my hands right now.
              But the problem I have with them, is they cost 90,000USD.
              Go figure this one.
              And as for the amps, they cost 80,000USD.
              Not that I’m picking on PS Audio, but just go to the website and take a gander at both the Perfick Wave SACD transport.
              And then the Perfick Wave DAC.
              And tell me if rather you can afford to pick up both of those pieces.
              If I were still a teenager, both of those things would still be out of my reach.
              Truth be told, they are out of my reach as I write this.

              1. Hi JP,
                I guess that’s why ‘Schiit Audio’ came into being; so that the financially challenged can also enjoy great home audio.
                And then there is also the plethora of affordable & great sounding home audio components that are being mass produced in China.
                John Darko & at least one other home audio equipment reviewer, I think it might be Guttenberg, have done presentations (videos) about putting great systems together for around US$1,000.
                Buy what you can afford & enjoy the music because regardless of how much you rant about home audio pricing, you ain’t gonna change it.
                Don’t worry; be happy 😀

              2. So here’s the way I see it John.
                When I was a teenager I too started at the bottom of the heap and put together what I could as I could afford to. As knowledge and experience increased so did the quality of the equipment I could afford.
                There has always been equipment outside of my affordability range (mostly by my choice) and always will be. High-end & Ultra High-end audio has always been pricy and will always be that way.
                It’s no different than having a mansion on the beach, a yacht or a Ferrari in the garage.

                What I inferred from your earlier writing is that there was a feeling of entitlement. That just because you can hear and appreciate the sound differences, some exception should be made for more favorable pricing. That’s what I disagreed with. We’ve all been dealt different cards and have made different choices to get to our present social economic status. Luxury items are for those who want to afford them. The rest of us do the best we can. That’s the way life works. So for me if I want any given piece of PSA gear I find a way to afford it. If I want Mac or VTL the same applies and so on up the line.

                As far as the the whole Main Street shop owner thing goes, society brought that on themselves. Go to the small owner shop, Glean all the info that one can and then head to the place with the absolute cheapest price and pronounce I got a great deal. Fast forward to today, customer service sucks, there’s no face to face communication. I miss the good ole days….

  5. Last month, out of total frustration, I happily sold a preamp and amp due to opt service and a Royal run around as to the prevailing problems with the equipment. Excuses , non truths and denial were presented by the manufacturer and staff. Finally the problem was admitted by the manufacturer as a real issue, with no resolve! Saying “sorry” for equipment that has flaws , that is under warranty, is
    Not acceptable! My time and energy to finally expose a hoax does not sit well with me. Nevertheless, the social-political environment we all live in is repeat with such behavior and that it’s acceptable is , to me, is not comfortable.
    Life is too brief to complicate the time we have fighting windmills.

  6. Why do over sized power supplies or transformers sound better? Why do some cables sound better than others? They just do. Sometimes you just need to stop testing and just listen with your ears. The ears are the best testing devices there are.

  7. The three things mentioned in the post are all clearly audible in a high resolution system. If not then either the system is low resolution or the person just cannot hear the changes for whatever reason. In fact all audiophiles improve their systems by trying different cables, using power conditioners/ generators etc. This is a fact of life and cannot be denied. If one cannot hear something it does not mean others can’t. Too simplistic a way of thinking. Regards.

  8. There are some folks here that have expressed sadness and anger that the world has changed in ways they do not like or want. I am now retired, however, I spent my career as someone who tried to make change happen and even though I was never as effective as I waned to be I feel responsible for their sadness. I want to help them see the change as inevitable and help them adjust to the change.

    Let me start by giving two examples of change that happened before my time ( I am 70’s now ) and then two that I know very well. Over a million years ago our very distant ancestors figure out how to make and use fire! This completely change the world. With fire we could keep wild animals away as we slept, create warmth when needed and cook food. Over a hundred years ago the self propelled personal vehicle was invented. At first it was just for the rich, but then Henry Ford came along and now automobiles are everywhere. During WWII an English chap named Alan Turing invented something called the Turing Machine. It is the fore runner of the modern computer. Computers are now integral to our daily lives. Having worked in R&D at IBM for almost 30 years I helped make that happen. In 1947 three physicist who were way more successful than I ever was at creating change invented the transistor which led to integrated circuits which led to microprocessors. Thus we have solid state amps, PC’s and smartphones. Finally, somewhere in the 1970’s scientist started linking computers together to process large quantities of data and before long we had the internet. Which led to online commerce which has certainly reduced the number of B&M audio shops. I hope this little history of how we got here helps.

  9. It’s funny how Main Streets in the U.S., and indeed other parts of the world, have evolved over the years. They started out as predominantly wood framed buildings with wooden porches and hitching posts along dirt streets that turned to mud when it rained. More expensive masonry structures like courthouses and banks cropped up in the larger towns. Dirt roads for horse-drawn carriages were replaced with brick pavers for the horseless carriages, and paved sidewalks for pedestrians. Then more masonry buildings, concrete and asphalt streets. In the 50s and 60s modernism took hold, and buildings became taller and boxier with larger spans of glass, exposed concrete and metal panel cladding. In the latter 20th century nostalgia kicked in and led to the stripping of metal panels from older structures, exposing the original brick. Streets were “humanized” with trees, planters, old-fashioned benches, brick crosswalks, quaint canopies and awnings, turning them into something they never looked like in yesteryear in hopes that people would be drawn back in from the suburbs to spend time there.

    In audio we see a progression similar to Main Street. Early systems with tubes, bulky ornate cabinets and vinyl records. Giving rise to miniaturized solid state, digital medium and minimalistic casework. Then a nostalgic return to tubes, vinyl and a fondness for bulkier retro-looking designs with large, glowing needle gages and massive speakers with a more geometric, less boxy appearance. Sound and appearance are still a matter of taste, influenced by the times. No doubt today’s Main Streets are safer, more efficient, and “better” in most respects than the Main Streets we think we remember from our childhoods, but something in us makes us yearn for that earlier, more innocent time when we were more comfortable with things as they were, and were not so eager to upgrade to something new and different.

    1. Do you think it’s possible that it would be better if we stop and smell the flowers once in a while?

      I remember playing stickball, handball, basketball and football with my friends every day after school and after dinner all the neighbors would come out on our street to talk with each other and my friends and I would be outside playing hide and go seek. The nastiest thing that we did was leaving one of our friends counting to100 while the rest of us went to get ice cream four blocks away and didn’t come back for an hour. But, at least we knew the folks that we were communicating with which is not the case today for the most part

      During those years we had High Fidelity.

      For me and my childhood friends that I still speak with, we agree that we would rather be back in the old neighborhood enjoying each other‘s company instead of being faceless people who hold a cell phone every minute of the day just like I’m doing now.

      Modern technology is a wonderful thing when used properly. Unfortunately we don’t but we do look for ways to rip people off online or argue with nameless faceless people over the way the world is changing.

      This is probably my third rant of the day.

      1. Yes, we should all find time to stop and smell the flowers.

        In my small town we played in the neighborhood streets and yards, never on Main Street. Main Street had no attraction for us kids, other than Helton Drugstore’s soda fountain.

        1. This is all because in my adult life I considered myself a Renaissance Man. When I worked as a digital engineer designing circuitry with several of the first eight bit microprocessors, I could start to see the handwriting on the wall after the first course I took in artificial intelligence. I just knew that this was not going to turn out well in the future and in my opinion I was 150% correct. For all the good that technology brings us I’m seeing a lot more terrible things now and down the road. Too many people have no consideration about the consequences of what they were/are doing until it’s too late and then greed takes over. Then narcissism comes in to play with hthe greed and they soon go hand-in-hand.

          1. I thought that that is what old age & retirement was for;
            so that we can finally slow down & ‘smell the flowers’
            while the younger ones continue to run the rat race.
            Life on planet Earth; the ultimate conveyor belt 😉

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