# Hiyup

I have mentioned somewhere around these parts that one of my first regular uses of a computer for community purposes was to connect to a BBS called “The Audiophile BBS”.  A place for sound nerds to geek out.

So this post reminds me of several somebodies.

Audiophiles get really nutty about things like cables. For example, John used to have the cables linking his speakers to his amp suspended from the ceiling using non-conductive cord. The idea behind that is that electrical signals are carried, primarily, on the outer surface of the wire. If the cable was sitting on the ground, it would deform slighly, and that would degrade the signal. Now, of course, there’s no perceptible difference, but a dedicated audiophile can convince themselves that they can hear it. In fact, this is what convinced John that it was all craziness: he was trained as an electrical engineer, and he sat down and worked out how much the signal should change as a result of the deformation of the copper wire-core, and seeing the real numbers, realized that there was no way in hell that he was actually hearing that tiny difference. Right there, that’s an example of the math aspect of this silliness: when you actually do the math, and see what’s going on, even when there’s a plausible explanation, the real magnitude of the supposed effect is so small that there’s absolutely no way that it’s perceptible. In the case of wire deformation, the magnitude of the effect on the sound produced by the signal carried by the wire is so small that it’s essentially zero – we’re talking about something smaller than the deformation of the sound waves caused by the motion of a mosquito’s wings somewhere in the room.

Ah, this makes me nostalgic for the old “CDs vs. Vinyl” days.

Snake oil salesman of the 21st century… cable makers.

### Patrick

Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution.

1. The Placebo Effect shouldn’t be waved away because sugar water is only sugar water.

• Patrick Cahalan

Sure.

But you can buy cheaper sugar water.

• Not only that bu real medications have the placebo effect too.

2. This serves as a reminder that I need to write my guest post about learning socialization at the knee of BBSes.