Friday, October 15, 2010

Ethan Winer

I stumbled across Ethan Winer's website while looking for info about power conditioners.  Interesing guy, mostly on the audio objectivist side of things, owned a studio but sold it to go with Cakewalk digital production exclusively, written lots of magazine articles in popular and recording engineer magazines.

He has a take on the use of various kinds of distortion to sweeten recordings.  He says the way recording engineers use tubes, transformers, etc., these days is not because of higher fidelity or the inherent superiority of analog.  It is because the addition of a tiny bit of distortion often makes things sound better.  This is not a stupid idea at all, and he proved it in a cello recording project.  He calls for the use of digital plug-ins to get these effects instead of often extremely expensive hardware.

Here is his article.

I think this is probably true, at least largely true.

And here is his discussion of power filtering (and dimmers)

he recommends the use of the Corcom Series R (inductor-capacitor) filters, which has got to be a more cost effective solution than using Monster, Belkin, Furman, or even APC filtering strips.

I note that he also has delt with ground loops in a way not recommended by electricians and institutions like UL.  He says:

In my studio I have ground lifters on everything except my main mixer. The entire system is grounded through the audio wire shields that connect to the mixer, but only the mixer is connected to the power line's ground through the third grounding pin of its power cord
BTW, for liability reasons, I won't recommend that anyone do this, it could cause death through electrical shock, it's against all electrical codes and may even be illegal.  However, this is similar to approaches I have used in some of my systems.  The idea is to "lift" all grounds except one (either power amp or preamp) using grounding plug adapters that are not sold to be used this way.  I know lots of audiophiles who do this, and I can see why, it's almost impossible to get a complex system hum-free any other way.

Now I have done lots of reading and research on this subject.  If equipment had been designed properly, this would not be required, but hardly anything actually is, it turns out.  There is a particular way of isolating signal and chassis ground that can be done with a diode bridge, but hardly any manufacturer actually takes the trouble and expense to do this.  They just connect signal ground to the chassis at some point, and this will cause hum if there is more than one piece of equipment connected.  I will discuss the grounding and hum issues more in a future post, but here I just wanted to show what somebody else says.  Here we have a well informed professional actually suggesting something against electrical codes and potentially deadly.

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