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Hi-fi rack effect on sound?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Daneel, May 8, 2004.

  1. Daneel

    Daneel
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    Having just bought a Soundstyle Status hi-fi rack in the classifieds, I went in search of reviews on them.

    The only one I can find on the Status series is this one. It's not the same model, but the construction is the same. Is it just me or are the statements about the rack's effect on the sound rather hard to believe?

    Has anyone out there been able to tell the difference between different racks in a blind test?

    I think the rack I've bought is great looking and very well built so I'm not going to let this put me off my purchase. I was wondering what other people thought about this.
     
  2. overkill

    overkill
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    I would say listen and see. I've heard kit in all price ranges on dedicated equipment stands as opposed to bog standard shelving, and there is, depending on quality of kit, improvements to be had. However, I would add, that to date never as wild as the reviewers claims...............

    The biggest and best improvements I've heard have come from wall stands for turntables and CD players.


    I would also be interested to see what others have found.
     
  3. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    bump

    I am one who has 'reservarions' about glass as a shelf material but it is popular. Personally I like wood based units or high tech composites
     
  4. karkus30

    karkus30
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    They definitely make a difference, I agree with overkill on the wall shelves as they isolate components to a greater extent than a stand that just sits on a suspended floor.


    Seems its all down to component microphony within each part of the system !
     
  5. Daneel

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    Well, I got my rack and have set it up. Things look a lot better now (link). I can detect no "glassy" or "metalic" sound as described in the review or by some people. I think it's all in their mind.

    I believe I have managed to improve the sound I'm getting, but that's because I have moved the speakers further away from the wall due to the increased floor space. Bass respsonse is flatter (though far from perfect, using MCACC still makes a marked difference) and imaging seems to have improved too.

    If this was really such a factor I'm sure many of the high end manufactuers would put special feet on their components to isolate them. I'm sure someone somewhere has done this. If not, let's hope I've not given them ideas.
     
  6. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    They do, tag made a big thing on this
     
  7. suzywong

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    Linn's "Trampolin" base for the LP12.

    Naim's "Fraim" equipment rack

    ....to name but a couple......
     
  8. Daneel

    Daneel
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    Can either of you tell the difference in a blind test?
     
  9. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Hey Daneel I hope you are enjoying your hifi rack, one of the most contentious issues in hifi to me has always been hifi racks & cables (ICs), now I have tested my perceptions with cables blind and guess what ? I can hear no difference whatsoever, I also own a couple of racks, the pride & joy is my Ash Design Cosmic 4 Rack cost me the best part of £500, I also own a rack made up of pine from a furniture shop, and I have also had my system sitting on an antique writing desk, Ikea Lack furniture can I say it has sounded noticeably worse on any of these surfaces ? Nope not at all, I would not even bet I could identify any of those "support" sonically blind. Other people may vary but that the joy of hifi, getting demos of racks is nigh on impossible ie in your home with your system never mind "blind" hence you will see one set of support rack users deride another set without any hint of irony.

    Many manufacturers like to spout theory upon theory of why they think "microphony" can effect sound transmission in electronic components but it is purely hype & speculation to sell their wares to the public IMHO, in a lot of cases they are pandering to audiophiles need to "have every base covered". Ive even heard of Naim now suspending circuits boards in silicon to "dampen" vibrational effects. This in effect is very humorous in itself when you consider that Naim users swear by mainly 2 different types of racks (Fraim & Mana), both do their support tasks in very different manners, both "impart" a sonic signature that each set of supporters believe knocks the other into the weeds, but one set if obviously wrong would you not think ? Hype dude, racks and their benefits have long since passed me buy, the kit either sounds good or not, no rack can transform a systems sound IME, but to many audio users it can, you may be one of those dude.

    ATB & good luck
     
  10. Daneel

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    Thanks CJ. That's pretty much what I thought, but I didn't want to offend anyone. The reason I say blind test, is because otherwise it is all but meaningless.

    I've been over to PFM forums where this kind of stuff has been discussed at length. In the past I've tended to give credence to what is said by those who have been around for a while, but now I have had a reasonable amount of experience, I've come to the conclusion that a lot of people just hear what they want to. I think I'll just trust my own ears from now on :)

    I don't deny that all the effects that isolation is suposed to get rid of exist, just that they have any audible effect on the sound for 99.9% (or maybe 100%, blind test results if you want to claim otherwise please!) of people.
     
  11. karkus30

    karkus30
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    Theres no hype about component microphony, different components suffer from it to different degrees. Starting at turntables, which can easily be shown to have this effect by tapping on the plinth. CD players suffer because they are still partially a mechanical playback device, but the electronic components also suffer, in particular the laser assembly and DAC, again give them a good sharp tap.

    If you own a valve amp, then microphony does become a real problem for some, so maybe they benefit more.

    To illustrate this further, ever heard of a condenser microphone, condenser ie capacitor. How many of those do you have in a component! Digital sources are effected by the smallest circuit imbalance, capacitors produce noise and the more they are subjected to vibration, the more noise they produce. Its not rocket science, damping is an attempt to reduce the problem. It might eventually make equipment supports redundant.

    So the best thing to do is isolate as much as possible, starting with the playback devices. After that, theres less of an impact on amps and power supplies, at this point I cant hear the difference, but I dont say it does'nt exist, I cant be bothered to go that last mile to detect it.

    Bob from Neat acoustics, a speaker designer, can hear the difference between racks, but he has the sort of hearing that would make most people give up HiFi completely.

    I wouldnt worry about your rack, as long as you like the sound of your system, then be happy.
     
  12. suzywong

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    Have I heard sound differences from equipment supports? no

    Have I heard sound differences from mains cables? yes, obvious and repeatable

    Have I seen impedance mismatches in cables (removing the screen from a "screened twisted pair" which results in a change of impedance from 50 ohms to 72 ohms) result in digital signals at 8 kHz getting lost/double clocking etc? yes

    Did I once spent a month in our vibration facility, investigating microphony in electronic components (which resulted in major redesigns, changes of components etc)? yes
     
  13. Daneel

    Daneel
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    Suzy, I'm not familiar with your background, when you say "our vibration facility", who are you refering to?

    On cables....

    If you were to design a cable that, for example, rolled of the high frequencies, then I would expect a difference that would be detectable blind. However, I would also describe that cable as "broken". A cable is supposed to transmit the signal from one end to the other with as little distortion as possible, yes? The cable I have described would not be doing so.

    If the cables are not what I would call "broken", as would be evident by a frequency response run on suitable equipment, I would be very interested to see results of tests showing someone being able to hear a difference.

    [Edit - arg, did that say mains cable before the edit? The above was in reference to interconnects or speaker cable]
     
  14. karkus30

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    Are you really suggesting that speaker cables dont make a difference? Ive done the blind listening test thing and I can tell quite easily, that also applies to the stands the speakers are mounted on.

    I certainly dont have the best ears in the world, so if I can tell, then just about anybody should that has average hearing. Maybe some people are colour blind in an aural sense, those described as being tone deaf may not be able to hear the differences.

    A mate of mine is a real HiFi sceptic, did'nt believe he could hear differences between systems (never mind cables!). He listened to a few albums on my system and was really shocked at what was possible, he is yet to be convinced about cable changes etc, but has already changed his views on HiFi.

    Interconnects also make a difference, but and its a big but, different amps react differently. I can hear no difference on my Naim amps with different interconnects and assumed that that was going to be the case with all equipment. Having listened to other amplifiers, its evident that this is not the case, its just that Naim amps dont respond to spending great wads of cash on cables, the standard Naim stuff (cheap and cheerful) seems to be the best option. This doesnt apply to the phono stage, where arm wiring has a much bigger effect (its still an interconnect). Dont try using any fancy cables on the speaker cable of a Naim amp either (it makes a difference, but most times its negative) they just like the plain NAC A5 (again, its cheap).
     
  15. eviljohn2

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    If you're trying to fill your room with huge amounts of bass for HC using an enormous (or even a small) subwoofer, I don't think any rack is going to make any difference to components vibrating. The whole idea is of course to make everything in the room shake!
     
  16. buns

    buns
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    I no longer believe a rack is of any sonic value to anything except my cd/dvd player. Even then, I think the effect si really seriously subtle and I seriously doubt most people will notice it because the reality is that it is swamped by other much larger things

    ad
     
  17. Daneel

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    Subject to the cables not being deisgned to change the frequency response of the signal, as described in my previous post, and being of good construction (guage, soldering etc), yes.

    Perhaps this could be tested at the next time some of the forum guys get together, someone would need to be able to test for "broken" cables though.
     
  18. overkill

    overkill
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    I think in fairness, the Hi-fi rack makers are offering an alterative to the old cabinets which aren't well isolated enough for the various sources. I would agree though that you will hear no difference with amps or lesser sources (Tuners, Cassette decks) between stands. I think what CJ is referring to is the hi-fi presses claims that different racks make huge differences to sound. If they can, I havent heard it.

    As before though, wall mounted isolation tables for TT's and CD players do make a big difference - as do speaker stands.

    On someone elses point, the glass vs MDF thing, i've heard stuff on both. I would go for the MDF, not because of any great sonic differences but because I would be afraid of busting glass!!! Only takes one drunken moment.......... :)
     
  19. Daneel

    Daneel
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    The rack I bought supports 95kg per shelf, one of the reasons I went for it. If you see the glass, it's clear that unless you take something very sharp to it, breaking it is unlikey. :)
     
  20. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    :laugh:

    Sorry.
     
  21. Daneel

    Daneel
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    :clap: :rotfl:
     
  22. overkill

    overkill
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    LOL!! Yep, that was a good un'!! Sorry to worry you Daneel but we broke one when we dropped an MA65 on it!! :blush: It wasn't from a great height either!! :smashin:









    Only happened that once though, so I shouldn't worry too much................. :D Methinks it was faulty shelf.

    But we were too shattered to check.
     
  23. CJROSS

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    Karkus if you can identify any type of cable be it IC (normally screened coaxial rather than freebies leads) or speaker cable (of similar cross sectional copper area that is & not bell wire) under controlled blind tests consistantly then you will be the first person Ive ever heard of in hifi circles to do so, there is even rewards on the net from a guy called Steward Pinkerton for $1000 IIRC on offer for you if you wish.

    What Daneel is questioning above IMHO is whether racks can act like “tone-controls” on frequency response I very much doubt it, I also doubt this for ICs & Speaker cables FWIW, either a loudspeaker supplies current or not, hence cross sectional area is paramount. If CSA is not enough then amplifier will struggle to send current along thin CSA and give up the ghost (hopefully after clipping sets in), next we get into how LRC factors can effect “tone controls” of a system again I don’t buy the argument as such, these conversation have been done to death on various hifi forum but it boils down to 2 distinct groups of audio believers IME.

    Believers in cables, racks & tweakery
    Sceptics of cable, racks & tweakery

    Depends on which side of the fence you sit on, Its not worth arguing with a believer about “tone control” in cables when they are pre-deposed to believe all they have read on the net from other believers, hence the logical recourse for sceptics is to call in blind testing which they have generally tried (and here speaks a former cable believer FWIW), Ive been part of controlled tests over on HFC ie proper blind testing/opinion of DIY ICs of varying nature, Ive also (well the good lady) switched between the 2 anlg outputs on my DAC into 2 different inputs on my RC switched amplifier between vastly different priced/material ICs and not been able to detect the slightest difference at all, now when my ”eyes+ears=brain” are in tandem I become succeptable to pre-belief and can instantly pick out a “superior” IC, blind though there is no difference whatsoever. Ive also played around with mains cabling (and ferrite RFI clamps) Suzy to no effect whatsoever. So am sceptical of the merits of all cabling. I use cheap well cheap in relation to dealer bought ICs, £30/M Pure silver IC with £20 Audusa Silver plated Lockable WBT Clone RCAs with silver solder that sound as good to me as Ixos 104s @ £15, I also use cheapo CAT5 speaker cable that to me is as good as any dealer heard cable Ive ever heard.

    I have simply gave up thinking of what cabling can do to a system (its quite a liberating experience as an audiophile BTW), unless you are a Naim owner above where the amplifier circuit design is built around a mean NAC5 length of 3.5m and this is the only cable to use for the amp to save it blowing up due to impedence mismatch from other cables you have no worries, then yes Naim due take the hassle out of cabling, although Naim IMHO have long propogated hifi myths/legend of how good DIN connections are compred to RCA and how they fail to put a digital output on their CDPs due to it effecting playabck quality when 99% of the remainder of aduio component manufacturers can do so very easily. So Naim do compromise themselves in design stakes to me FWIW by using fixed LRC lenghths of cable inherent in their amplifier design. How many amplifier companies do you know that wont give a warranty on an amplifer if you use say QED Original speaker cable and the amp blows up ?

    No argument though they make fine sounding kit that Ive heard. Just their design ethos is a bit wayward to me.

    The point I was making earlier about one set of audio users in this case Naim, they are diametrically opposed in stand/rack beliefs, now as I said one set is obviously wrong or are they both misuguided prone to belief of whatever belief system they hold. The nearest example I could give of this is a religious one, where 2 sets of religion both worship an item/place for totally different religious reasons with differing accounts of what happened at said location, for example that tunnel under the Sepulctre in Jerusalem (IIRC) – one is patently wrong, it’s a funny thing to bring religion into hifi discussions but so fervantly are some view held that it is fundamentilism IME. No basis in reality a lot of the time. IMHO of course.

    Anyway dudes some interesting threads from HFC that centre on blind testing and claims about sound perception that may be of interest :

    http://forum.hifichoice.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=10222
    http://forum.hifichoice.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=9984

    If any of you guys are interested in “blind testing” and sonic perception about cables do a search over at HFC on a forum user called adb the guy is on a different plane intellectually IMHO, Ive not seen many cable believers come up with any valid argument to refute what he has to say (and he was saying it when I was a cable believer FWIW).

    ATB
     
  24. Daneel

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    I find the parallels between hi-fi and religion to be be both reasonable and telling. I was just thinking, this is starting to sound like a religion, before you mentioned it :)

    [Edit - nice links CJ, but I have things to do and there is a lot of reading there! That guys sounds like me with more knowledge and a higher IQ :)]
     
  25. overkill

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    I've seen that guys stuff before. He contributes to a web site on hi-fi somewhere (Sadly, I've lost the link - apologies!). He made some pretty powerful arguments there as well. One on DVD/SACD he did was excellent.
     
  26. GaryG

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    CJ

    I think you've spent too much time on internet forums! Come over to my house, I'll turn you back into a 'cable believer'. :devil:
     
  27. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    :clap: :clap: :clap: :rotfl:


    Thanks G for the very kind offer but spending too much time on forums is the biggest creator of cable belief known to man IME. Power of suggestion, peer-belief et al can cause a lot of what audio fans “want” to hear IMO & IMPE. Now Ive taken myself out that equation by blind testing, FWIW Ive spent £500 on a rack I want to hear a difference but its simply not there for me. Exact same goes with cables, I spent a fair few quid on analg & digital cables to no avail, I cant tell them apart and I want to bro to justify my audiophile spending spree days when I was a believer. Remember our chat about the different types of CAT5 ie US teflon plenum variant being regarded as the “GTI” of all CAT5 cables, well Im afraid to say after spending £50 on imported cable alone, there was no difference from the Maplins LSZH stuff (regarded as being “lower” quality to some audiophile FWIW).

    I should also note that Im tickety boo with my system and I don’t feel the need to become a cable believer again to enjoy my system – it does exactly what it says on the tin.

    ATB Dude
     
  28. GaryG

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    CJ

    You're not that far from me, I think it would be a worthwhile visit for both of us, especially if you bought your DVD, DAC and cables.

    As an aside, it was a case of 'third time lucky' with the CAT5 cable. The one I made with the Maplin cable as per your recommendation was very good. Over a period of a week I kept popping back into the room to hear how it was getting on (it was on constant replay). It surpassed my CableTalk Concert after about a week and finally reached a steady state after about 10 days. At that point I was sold on the 'weave' concept and was looking for something that would have a better quality conductors and decided on the LAT International SS1000.

    http://www.audusa.com/latpages/ss1000.htm

    I'll leave you with a thought, is it possible that you have reached the point where the cable's you are comparing are of such high quality that your system is not capable of resolving the difference between them?

    Go and swap you speaker cable for cheap bell wire and your silver interconnect for a cheap 'bundled' interconnect and see if there is no difference.
     
  29. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Well that could be a valid point but I think I have a fairly decent system that could tell apart cables or not (I would assume 10% of OA system cost is a good mercator) the highest end cable I have tried is my DIY pure silver effort which would sell IMHO at about £175-200 from a dealer up against a £30 Chord Calypso - nada difference surely difference would be heard ?, but here is another one on that vein then, Ive sat through one of the most incredulous cable exhibitions ever – a Nordost demo with £10,000 of cabling on £3000 worth of Primare Kit and it sounded like £3000 worth of kit. All I know Gary is that loads of different ICs to me make no difference at all from DIY (Cheap to estoric) ICs dealer bought cabling from £10 – 75, surely there must be a difference that hearable with those items in between.

    Now adding components Ive noticed differences (DACs & recently a Phono Stage) I recently added a Moth 30 Series Phono stage in place of my Sony ES Amps MM/MC stage, and I notice a “smoothness” to the flavour that is not there with the Onboard Phono stage (Now this is off a cheapy K9 MM cart) And cabling has changed (ie IC to amp from PS) so as a test I tried some different ICs and lo & behold the system sounds no different with different ICs yet sounds superior to existing phono stage.

    Im very careful to make the comparison between “properly RFI shielded” interconnect cable and freebie leads Gary, now this sort of cable is available from Maplins for 39p a metre if you look, now staying with this type of cable its basic parameter are to reject RFI borne pollution to ensure the signal travels “intact”, freeby leads don’t offer the same shielding. Ive not tried freeby lead blind wise so cant comment but I have tried many different (but of silmilar construction) ICs ie centre conductors with braid shield grounded on plugs. They sound no different to me blind. We are saying that ICs cannot act as Tone controls, if they could you could easily identify in blind scenarios (ie an IC that has lots of bass – treble etc)

    Again Im also very carfeul to quote "CSA equivalents" in speaker cabling, bellwire is oft used as a believer benchmark as an argument, but with a speaker cross section at say 1/8th of normal speaker cabling - you could not volume match both cable for the same load from a speaker, ie you would have to wick up volume on bellwire to drive the extra resistance it was encountering, speaker cables of same CSA well I would not say I could tell them apart in a blind test, now some fancy carlos fandango ausio speaker cable with the same CSA as bellwire would sound exactly the same as bellwire to me.

    BTW it’s a long way to Shropshire from where I live you must be thinking of the other cj on AVForums.

    ATB.
     
  30. GaryG

    GaryG
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    I travel a lot so my perception of distance is probably distorted, I thought you lived in Northampton.
     

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