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M5-HPA and Audioquest 72v DBS cables


John Gallup
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I asked Richard about this and haven't heard back after a week, whereas he's usually quite responsive. So I thought I'd post the question here to see if anyone else has an idea.

The manual for the M5-HPAs has this statement:

image.thumb.png.91f64b0665fb9673a79680806054beb4.png

I thought I'd give it a try, which would allow me to eliminate the battery packs on the AQ Blizzard power cables and reduce some of the visual clutter. When I checked the output voltage from the jacks as described, it was about 2.2 vDC with the amps on and 1.8 vDC in standby. The AQ battery packs in fact produce 72vDC, as implied by the name. Am I missing something? 

On a related topic, a guy named Gene over at Audioholics.com thinks AQ speaker cables are snake oil. He's says he's an electrical engineer, and has made some measurements that he says support his argument, so it's a bit more than the usual "lamp cord is just as good" stuff.

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15 hours ago, John Gallup said:

On a related topic, a guy named Gene over at Audioholics.com thinks AQ speaker cables are snake oil. He's says he's an electrical engineer, and has made some measurements that he says support his argument, so it's a bit more than the usual "lamp cord is just as good" stuff.

I watched that video.

My opinion is that although his measurements are probably accurate enough - I have no reason to doubt them, and no inclination whatsoever to purchase a set of these cables to measure them myself - his analysis is really pretty simplistic and underdeveloped.  There's certainly way more to the story than a generalized application of Ohm's Law.

One of the limitations of the audio hobby is that although there's been lots of testing and analysis performed on the physics of it all, there has been far less done with regard to how human auditory systems respond to various phenomena that might be found in home audio reproduction.  So, there's little agreement about the effects of overshoot on audio signals applied to loudspeakers or whether time aligned loudspeakers sound better than those that are not time aligned, just to name two examples.  

Still, that shouldn't excuse him ignoring what other engineers and researchers have measured and simulated in the past.  He certainly can disagree with their conclusions as to how whatever it is might sound, but just blowing off the physics doesn't exactly help the case he's trying to make.  It's 2021 and there's well more than a half century of investigation available on the internet from a bunch of reliable sources.  Juried research papers, even.  You don't even have to get up and walk across the room to visit a bookshelf to find it.  If he can't make those measurements himself, well, then just say so.

Besides, audio cables are like the rest of an audio system.  They are luxury purchases, although we might consider them very important.  As such, if somebody finds that this cable sounds, looks, smells, or feels better to him or her than the others, why is that a problem?  If somebody can't hear the difference between zip cord and exotic loudspeaker cables, I never would suggest that she or he spend the extra money just to be one of the cool kids.  That's unfair.  Similarly, if somebody derives pleasure out of listening to a system using $50k of cable, I don't think there's any law against that.

Usual disclaimer: I'm YAGOTI (Yet Another Guy On The Internet), so this is only my opinion and you should take that for what it's worth.  You know what you paid for that opinion.  I also am not affiliated with the audio business, except as an occasional customer.  I've never heard these cables in a system nor have I ever seen them, except in videos and photos on the internet, so I have no real opinion of them. 

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8 hours ago, TomicTime said:

as to AQ cables, imo there are many deaf EE in the world, 

I'm not sure it's as much a matter of being deaf, as it is being obtuse.  (Most) EE's are human beings, which means that they have their belief sets, with all their limitations.  Many have a bias that tells them that this or that can't matter, at least based on a cursory look, so therefore it doesn't matter.  

Personally, I find it's always a good idea to keep an open mind until you can prove something and disprove everything else.  At least the parts you can disprove.  I can tell you from extensive personal experience that this is not the norm for engineers.  They often want to skip to the end and move on.  (To be fair, some others want to experiment until the sun burns out.)

But, nobody's perfect.  Especially me!

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5 hours ago, BKDad said:

I'm not sure it's as much a matter of being deaf, as it is being obtuse.  (Most) EE's are human beings, which means that they have their belief sets, with all their limitations.  Many have a bias that tells them that this or that can't matter, at least based on a cursory look, so therefore it doesn't matter.  

Personally, I find it's always a good idea to keep an open mind until you can prove something and disprove everything else.  At least the parts you can disprove.  I can tell you from extensive personal experience that this is not the norm for engineers.  They often want to skip to the end and move on.  (To be fair, some others want to experiment until the sun burns out.)

But, nobody's perfect.  Especially me!

yes, i have myself not yet achieved perfection. My ear brian bias says cables matter. I worked for thirty years in an engineering and technology company, i am fluent in Engineer...deep deep in man rated space hardware to stuff that blows up on purpose. Having said that, i also have a new gig at a company making software for Quantum computers ( we run on 4 competing boxes..today so no vaporware... AND since spending time in the Q world, i can say there are many things we di not understand from a theoretical, physical science basis..let alone Engineering... fun.

imagine a world where we know everything..... sounds like ....well, best not to go there...

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On 4/17/2021 at 2:53 PM, John Gallup said:

I asked Richard about this and haven't heard back after a week, whereas he's usually quite responsive. So I thought I'd post the question here to see if anyone else has an idea.

The manual for the M5-HPAs has this statement:

image.thumb.png.91f64b0665fb9673a79680806054beb4.png

I thought I'd give it a try, which would allow me to eliminate the battery packs on the AQ Blizzard power cables and reduce some of the visual clutter. When I checked the output voltage from the jacks as described, it was about 2.2 vDC with the amps on and 1.8 vDC in standby. The AQ battery packs in fact produce 72vDC, as implied by the name. Am I missing something? 

On a related topic, a guy named Gene over at Audioholics.com thinks AQ speaker cables are snake oil. He's says he's an electrical engineer, and has made some measurements that he says support his argument, so it's a bit more than the usual "lamp cord is just as good" stuff.

DBS provides a bias voltage which helps form the dielectrics in the cable or any capacitance.  Also helps keep the cable where music left it last.  This is a static charge with no current flow.  The very small input resistance in most meters pulls this voltage down  through the 30 meg resistors.  Keeps the Regulators happy and provides a static voltage higher than 72v.  As far as wires go I get jealous when people say all wires sound the same because it saves them a lot of trouble and MONEY!  For me the sonic improvements are there!

RV 

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26 minutes ago, Richard Vandersteen said:

DBS provides a bias voltage which helps form the dielectrics in the cable or any capacitance.  Also helps keep the cable where music left it last.  This is a static charge with no current flow.  The very small input resistance in most meters pulls this voltage down  through the 30 meg resistors.  Keeps the Regulators happy and provides a static voltage higher than 72v.  As far as wires go I get jealous when people say all wires sound the same because it saves them a lot of trouble and MONEY!  For me the sonic improvements are there!

RV 

Thanks, Richard. 

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John, that was a great question.  It also shows that measurements often only tell part of a story (addressing the second part of this thread).  I know we all talk about Brain/ear bias etc.. and make 'excuses for lack of a better word' as to why a higher priced cable sounds better or doesn't.  As BK stated, bias is inherent even in many studies.  

I guess the only thing I could say is asking how many of you have done a listening session with someone who would mix and change cables or cords so you had no idea what was playing?  I love doing this with friends changing an interconnect (easiest to do quickly).  It's very rare for someone to not hear the difference (for better or worse).  Even with that, it still doesn't mean that someone will like the sound of the more expensive cable, just like some don't like the AQ cables as much as they like Transparent or similar.  

Been off board since last week with major sinus and nose surgery.  It's good to be able to even read a computer with swelling starting to go down a bit, lol.  Thanks for a great first thread.

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18 hours ago, GdnrBob said:

@TomicTime,

Wow, you are working on Quantum computers!

 I just listened to a podcast about them.  Qubits, decoherence, adiabatic computation-Whew...

You must be a very capable engineer.

Bob

Hi Bob...not an engineer, just an Economist.... That podcast will serve you well. my best to you

jim

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5 hours ago, ctsooner said:

Been off board since last week with major sinus and nose surgery.  It's good to be able to even read a computer with swelling starting to go down a bit, lol. 

Been there, done exactly that.  More than once.  No fun.

Glad you're feeling better!

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6 minutes ago, BKDad said:

Been there, done exactly that.  More than once.  No fun.

Glad you're feeling better!

Thanks for sharing BK...hit in head with baseball bat during frosh gym class.  Revived and needed total reconstruction.  Got the same surgery when I was 31 and now again at 61 (30 years to the date based on old medical records).  When you are away from things, you really appreciate important things the most.  This board is as good as any audio board I've ever been a part of.  Most know that I am a fairly active member of at least 7 audio boards that I can think of as well as a few private OU sports boards.  

This community is by far the best.  We all have our differences, but all share that common bond.  We love our audio and we also all love our music.  It's what seems to separate the Vandersteen customers from the others who have their boards.  Go visit and read the Wilson, Magico, B&W boards (and others) and it's not nearly as civilized much of the time.  They aren't sharing music from what I recall, like we do.  We also have Brad and Richard who pop on when there are legit questions we ask.  Just some observations.

I can honestly say that my upgrade to the M5-HPA from the Ayre AX5/20 is significant to say the least.  I dont' even have a top volume control and it's still crushing it.  I think I'll be getting a stand alone DAC (maybe Auralic's top Vega with the analog volume control along with their external clock).  That way I can save and buy a nice preamp in a year or so when I may be able to afford one.  Time will tell, but it's nice to have music back.

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1 hour ago, ctsooner said:

This community is by far the best.  We all have our differences, but all share that common bond.  We love our audio and we also all love our music.  It's what seems to separate the Vandersteen customers from the others who have their boards.  Go visit and read the Wilson, Magico, B&W boards (and others) and it's not nearly as civilized much of the time.  They aren't sharing music from what I recall, like we do.  We also have Brad and Richard who pop on when there are legit questions we ask.  Just some observations.

Totally agree. No politics, no ad hominem attacks. That audioholics board is a bear pit. Audiogon seems similar.

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9 hours ago, TomicTime said:

i probably should also have said..there are many deaf economists....ha

Deaf, or... obtuse?

Home audio is not for everybody.  I (very casually) know of a bunch of musicians who couldn't possibly care less about the sound quality of their home system, if they even own one.  Clearly, these people are not deaf - they can hear the difference between their phone playing an mp3 file into earbuds and something better.  They will even tell you so once they hear it for themselves.  It's just not a priority for them.  You might think that it would be in their own interest to, ahh, take an interest since their avocation or even livelihood is based around being able to express themselves musically to others.  But, they don't care about recorded accuracy, as my wife described it to me.  The modern equivalent of a record player is fine for them, as it is for most people.   They derive listening satisfaction from aspects of the music that don't require much in the way of fidelity.

Only certain people care about anything approaching accuracy.  Most of them are Vandersteen Audio customers, I think. 😉  

It might even be associated with some aspects of autism, especially what used to be called Asperger Syndrome.  That's not a knock on anybody, either.  A friend of mine brought his son, who was characterized as having some level of Asperger's, on a college visit to an engineering and science school that is generally recognized by everybody everywhere as the quintessential nerd school.  The admissions fellow who was giving the tour pointed out to my friend that probably 80-90% of the kids in the classroom they just walked into would be diagnosed as having Asperger Syndrome.  It's just the brain chemistry they have that drives them to do the exceptional things they do.

But, all these things evolve and go through waves.  Home movies were dying an awful death until convenient video systems came along.  Now, with the cameras built into phones, video is everywhere.  In many ways, it's even supplanted listening to music.

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That way I can save and buy a nice preamp in a year or so when I may be able to afford one.  Time will tell, but it's nice to have music back.  

Speaking of preamps, in the last video of Richard at John Rutan's, after discussing the attributes of the M7-HPA and the M5-HPA, one of the guests asked Richard if a Vandersteen preamp is in the future.  Richard's pause for a second and his reply  "maybe" sure got me thinking.  

I imagine Peter that you would be one of the first to know  .............. and probably order  :)

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37 minutes ago, Steve Edwards said:

Speaking of preamps, in the last video of Richard at John Rutan's, after discussing the attributes of the M7-HPA and the M5-HPA, one of the guests asked Richard if a Vandersteen preamp is in the future.  Richard's pause for a second and his reply  "maybe" sure got me thinking. 

@Steve Edwards.

I think that was me.

Bob

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10 hours ago, TomicTime said:

well........selfish me wants a narrow model < 17” wide..... , reference me wants something better than my Ref5se, ..... i guess we shall all await.....

So you are saying that we are both waiting to get something that sounds even better than say the Audio Research Ref 6SE.  Gotcha.  I'm all in!  ha ha. I'm doing to just love what I have for now and not think about the future as much as I have been.  I will work on my digital source/DAC first.  

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