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rec.audio.* FAQ

Answers to common questions about audio equipment, selecting, buying, set-up, tuning, use, repair, developments, and philosophy.

This rec.audio.* FAQ was compiled and written by Bob Neidorff with numerous contributions by others.

Part I: Intro

-1.0 Contents:
-2.0 Organization:
-3.0 Purpose:
-4.0 Omissions:
-5.0 Credits:
-6.0 Errors and Corrections:
-7.0 Disclaimer:
-8.0 Copyright Notice:

Part II: Systems

-9.0 High Fidelity Systems
-9.1 What is a receiver?
-9.2 What is a tuner?
-9.3 How should I go about selecting a system?
-9.4 How can I improve the sound of my stereo?
-9.5 Do I want a combo system or separate components?
-9.6 How can I get better FM radio reception?
-9.7 How good are these compact FM antennas?
-9.8 What makes the best FM radio antenna?
-9.9 What about power line conditioners?
-9.10 How can I reduce vibration sensitivity?
-9.11.1 Any information on equipment made in other countries?
-9.11 What equipment can I buy that is 100% made in the USA?
-9.12 Should I buy "xxx"? Which is better: "yyy" or "zzz"?
-9.13 What is Surround Sound? Pro Logic?
-9.14 What do they mean when they say "It sounds warm?"

Part III: Sources

-10.1 What should I listen for when evaluating a turntable or CD player?
-10.2 Are some discs better than others?
-10.3 Are CDs better than LPs?
-10.4 What turntable should I buy?
-10.5 What phono cartridge should I buy for my older turntable?
-10.6 Will phono cartridges still be around ten years from now?
-10.7 Will LPs still be around ten years from now?
-10.8 What about CD green pens?
-10.9 What about CD stabilizer rings?
-10.10 What about CD spray treatments (ArmorAll et al)?
-10.11 Are 1-bit CD players better than multi-bit players?
-10.12 Are three lasers better than one in CD players?
-10.13 Is the BMG 11-for-1 deal good?
-10.14 What should I do if there is a problem dealing with BMG?
-10.15 How do I get out of the BMG racket?
-10.16 How do I get the most out of BMG?
-10.17 What are the differences between multibit and Bitstream/MASH Analogue to Digital converters (16-bit vs 1-bit CD players)?
-10.18 What is the best under-$200 CD player?
-10.20 What is the best under-$500 CD player?
-10.23 How can I clean a dirty CD?
-10.24 Can you repair a damaged CD?
-10.25 Can I add digital output to a non-digital-out CD player?
-10.26 What can I get in the way of a CD test disc?
-10.27 How do the letters ADD on my CD relate to sound quality?
-10.28 How can I clean LPs?
-10.29 How do you set the stylus pressure correctly?
-10.30 How do you set the anti-skating on a tonearm?
-10.31 How else do you adjust a tonearm/cartridge/stylus?
-10.32 Do CDs deteriorate with time? What is their life span?
-10.33 How much music can you possibly cram into a CD?
-10.34 What are input and output levels and impedances for signal sources, preamps, amps, etc?
-10.35 Why are turntable speeds 78 RPM, 45 RPM, etc?
-10.36 Why is CD digital data written in 44.1 kHz samples?
-10.37 What's the latest on DVD and DAD?
-10.38 What's the latest on the MiniDisc(tm)?
-10.39 How can I record an LP or tape onto a CD?

Part IV: Amplifiers

-11.0 Amplifiers
-11.1 What is Biamping? Biwiring?
-11.2 Can amplifier X drive 2 ohm or 4 ohm speakers? How do I raise the impedance of a speaker from (say) 4 ohms to 8 ohms?
-11.3 How do I drive more than two speakers with one stereo amplifier?
-11.4 How big an amplifier do I need?
-11.5 Do all amplifiers with the same specifications sound alike?
-11.6 Is this amplifier too big for that set of speakers?
-11.7 Where can I get a cheap low-power amplifier?
-11.8 Is the stuff sold by Carver really awesome?
-11.9 What is a preamplifier?
-11.10 What is a passive preamplifier?
-11.11 Do I need a preamp? Why?
-11.12 Should I leave equipment on all of the time or turn it on and off?
-11.13 Do tube amps sound better than transistor amps? FETs?
-11.14 What about swapping op-amps?
-11.15 Where can I buy electronic parts to make an amplifier?
-11.16 Where can I buy audio amplifier kits?
-11.17 Where can I read more about building amplifiers, preamps, etc.?
-11.18 What is Amplifier Class A? What is Class B? What is Class AB? What is Class C? What is Class D?
-11.19 Why do I hear noise when I turn the volume control? Is it bad?
-11.20 What is amplifier "bridging" or "monoblocking"? How do I do it?

Part V: Speakers

-12.1 What should I listen to when evaluating speakers?
-12.2 What should I listen for when evaluating speakers?
-12.3 Why use a subwoofer? Will it help? One or two?
-12.4 How do you connect a subwoofer to a stereo?
-12.5 What do I need for surround sound?
-12.6 I was just approached (accosted?) by a couple of kids driving a van that said they had some GREAT speakers to sell. They are overstocks, used by major recording studios and DJs or even hot, and they normally sell for $1000/pr, but they'll let me have them for just $399. Am I getting ripped off?
-12.7 What speakers should I consider in the $XXX/pair price range?
-12.8 Can you build better speakers than you can buy?
-12.9 Where can I read more about speaker building?
-12.10 Where can I buy speaker drivers?
-12.11 Where can I buy loudspeaker kits?
-12.12 How can I improve the sound of my speakers?
-12.13 How can I replace/re-cone my old speakers?
-12.14 What computer programs can I use to design speakers?
-12.15 Can I magnetically shield my speakers for use near a TV?
-12.16 What are all of these abbreviations people use for speakers?
-12.17 What are fluid-filled (fluid-cooled, ferro-fluid) tweeters?
-12.18 Should I use spikes under my speakers? Pennies under the spikes?
-12.19 How do you couple speakers to speaker stands?
-12.20 What is a Sealed, Ported, Bass Reflex, Acoustic Suspension, Bandpass, and Coupled Cavity Speaker? Which is better?
-12.21 What is the best material to make speaker boxes out of? Why?
-12.22 What size fuse or circuit breaker should I put in my speaker to protect it from damage?
-12.23 Why are speakers labeled + and - or Red and Black?
-12.24 What is the best "stuff" to fill a speaker cabinet with?

Part VI: Rooms

-13.1 How should I place speakers in my room? What size room is best?
-13.2 How do I wire a house for sound?
-13.3 Where can I read more about listening room construction and tuning?
-13.4 What is white noise? What is pink noise?

Part VII: Recording

-14.0 Recording
-14.1 What is DAT? What is its status today?
-14.2 What is DCC? What is its status today?
-14.3 What about writable compact discs? What is the status today?
-14.4 What are Dolby B, C, and S, HX Pro, and DBX? Are they compatible?
-14.6 What is PASC? Can I hear the effects?
-14.7 What is SCMS? Can I hear the effects?
-14.8 How can I bypass SCMS?
-14.9 What's this about a tax on DAT?
-14.10 Is it legal to copy an LP, CD, or pre-recorded tape?
-14.11 How do I clean and demagnetize tape heads?
-14.12 How do I adjust a tape recorder for best results?
-14.13 Where can I get new pinch rollers or drive belts?
-14.14 What is a good rubber (pinch) roller cleaner?
-14.15 How can I program a recorder to tape a radio broadcast?
-14.16 Will CrO2 or Metal tapes damage a deck made for normal tape?
-14.17 Why do my old tapes squeak in my car cassette deck?
-14.18 Is VHS Hi-Fi sound perfect? Is Beta Hi-Fi sound perfect?
-14.19 How do HiFi VCRs compare to cassette recorders? DAT recorders?
-14.20 What is the difference between VHS HiFi and Beta HiFi?
-14.21 Is there any good reason to buy a HiFi VCR for common TV shows?
-14.22 What is the best cassette tape?
-14.23 What is the best Reel-to-Reel tape?
-14.24 What is Type I, Type II, Type III, and Type IV cassette tape?
-14.25 Why do I have hum when I connect cable to my VCR (or TV), which is connected to my audio system?

Part VIII: Wire

-15.0 Wire
-15.1 Do speaker cables matter?
-15.2 What speaker cables are available and how good are they?
-15.3 What can I use for budget speaker cables?
-15.4 What can I use for budget speaker connectors?
-15.5 What about interconnects, such as the cable between tuner and amp?
-15.6 What about Phono Interconnects:
-15.7 Is there really a difference in digital interconnects?
-15.8 Can I make very good interconnects myself?
-15.9 Is there a standard for wiring balanced XLR-3 cables?

Part IX: Retail

-16.1 Should I use an up-scale retail store?
-16.2 Should I use a discount store?
-16.3 Is it right to negotiate price?
-16.4 How can I negotiate price effectively?
-16.5 It sounded great in the store. Is it great?
-16.6 Do sales people try to trick the customer?
-16.7 How can sales people trick the customer?
-16.8 What should I ask the sales person?
-16.9 How do I impress the sales person?
-16.10 How do I get the best service from a sales person?
-16.11 What is "street price" or "list price"?

Part X: Mail Order

-17.0 Mail Order
-17.1 Who sells brand XXX equipment mail-order?
-17.2 Is the stuff sold by DAK really awesome? Damark?
-17.3 Is the stuff sold by Cambridge Sound Works really awesome? What about the other brands of tiny satelites and subwoofers?
-17.4 What should I watch out for when buying mail order?
-17.5 What is gray market?
-17.6 Are there any good mail-order sources for recordings?

Part XI: Networking

-18.1 What are the audio newsgroups? Which group should I post to?
-18.2 What network mailing lists are out there which aren't on usenet?
-18.3 Should I post a question about "XXXXXXX"?
-18.4 How can I suggest a change to the FAQ?
-18.5 Where is the FAQ for rec.audio. archived?
-18.6 What does FAQ stand for?
-18.7 Why did I get a bitter reply when I posted a simple opinion?
-18.8 Can I post a "FOR SALE" notice on rec.audio?
-18.9 Can I cross-post? Should I cross-post?
-18.10 Are there any sites containing audio files available for ftp?
-18.11 Are there any audio-specific World-Wide Web sites?

Part XII: The Press

-19.1 Which magazine should I read?
-19.2 Which reviews are better?
-19.3 Is Consumer Reports right?

Part XIII: Miscellaneous

-20.1 What do I need to know about warranties?
-20.2 What is blind testing? Non-blind? Double-blind?
-20.3 Where can I get a service manual or parts for brand XXX?
-20.5 How can I take 115V gear over to a 230V country or vice versa?
-20.7 How do I find out how much an XXX is worth?
-20.8 Do people really hear those differences?
-20.9 Why do people disagree on what is the best sound?
-20.10 How do I contact the manufacturer of XXXXX? How do I get repair service on XXXXX? How do I get replacement parts?

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