Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

Audiophile prices, 2020 edition

Saturday, November 28th, 2020

Those of you who were C&I readers may remember that I did way too long discussions of how cheap or expensive audiophile-quality systems can be, based on Stereophile‘s Recommended Components lists.

I’m doing it again, but more simply, and I’m adding another source, The Absolute Sound, a competitive high-end magazine that doesn’t do measurements at all and where many reviews feel like pitches for the product and its company.

Stereophile-based systems

Stereophile divides recommended components into several grades, with A and A+ being the absolute best regardless of price, B-E being still great but less expensive. I’m showing four sets of components (turntable, arm, cartridge, CD player, preamp/amp, and full-range speakers): lowest and highest priced in A and A+, and lowest and highest price in B and below. I’m ignoring cables (which could add $100 to $10K or more), headphones, digital streaming and the like. I’m sticking with full-range speakers for simplicity. I’m also using integrated amps (with phono preamps) for B-and-below and separate phono preamp, preamp, and amp for A/A+. All amps are solid-state, although that wasn’t an assumption.

  • Lowest-priced grade A and A+: Turntable: Rega Planar 10, $5.695; Tonearm: Audio-Creative Groovemaster II Titanium, $1,823; Cartridge: EMT TSD-15, $1,950; Phono preamp: PS Audio Stellar, $2,499; CD: ATC CD-A2 Mk 2, $4,249; Preamp: Rogue Audio RH-5, $2,495; Power amp: Schitt Aegir, $799; Speakers: GoldenEar Technology Triton Reference, $10,000; System total: $29,520.
  • Highest-priced grade A and A+: Turntable: Techdas Air Force One Premium with Titanium upper platter, $162,000; Tonearm: SAT CF1-12, $59,810; Cartridge: DS Audio Master 1, $20,000; Phono preamp: CH Precision P1, $80,000; CD: dCS Vivaldi 2.0, $116,495; Preamp: Dan D’Agostino Momentum HD, $40,000; Power amp: DartZeel NHB-468, $180,000; Speakers: Tidal Audio Akira, $255,000; System total: $913,305.
  • Lowest-priced grades B and below: Turntable: Rega Planar 1 (includes arm and Ortofon cartridge), $475; CD: Rega Apollo, $1,095; Integrated amp: NAD C-328, $599; Speakers: JBL Stage 70, $500; System total: $2,669.
  • Highest-priced grades B and below: Turntable: Haniwa Player w/HTAM01 Arm, $15,000; Cartridge, Rega Aphelion 2 MC, $4,995; CD: Bryston BCD-3, $3,995; Integrated amp: Naim Audio Uniti Nova, $5.990; Speakers: KEF Reference 5, $20,000; System total: $49,980.

Yep. The most expensive system with no Grade A components costs about two-thirds more than the least expensive system wit all Grade A components–and the most expensive Grade-A system costs more than thirty times as much as the least. [Unlikely that a buyer would spend less than a $million on that highest-priced system, even without digital streaming.]

Absolute Sound prices

Just a low and a high, since apparently everything this magazine reviews is wonderful. I’m assuming integrated amp with phono preamp at the low end, all separates at the high, and floor-standing speakers.

  • Least expensive: Turntable: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC (includes arm and Ortofon cartridge), $449; CD: Rotel CD14, $799; Integrated amp: NAD D 3020 V2, $449; Speakers: PSB Alpha T20, $649; System total: $2,356.
  • Most expensive: TechDas Air Force One Premium, $145.000; Tonearm: Swedish Analog Technologies CF 1-09, $57,418; Cartridge: Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement V2, $16,000; Phono preamp: VAC Statement, $80,000; dCS Vivaldi series 2, $116,496; Preamp: Boulder 3010, $130,000; Amp: D’Agostino Relentless, $295,000; Speakers: Wilson Audio Chronosonic XVX w/subwoofer and crossover, $373,500; System total: $1,113,414.

Whew. Yes, there’s more expensive gear–for example, Wilson Audio had a limited run of speakers costing more than $800,000.

$peaker$ and cable$: a fun post

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020

Just to get away from the madness for a little while…

An audio magazine I currently receive published a special issue consisting mostly of directories of speakers, subwoofers, and cables from companies the magazine regards as worthy. Oh, and lots and lots of full-page ads from many of those companies,

The directory covers 96 speaker companies (and three that only produce subwoofers, which I’m not dealing with here) and 31 cable companies.

I believe speakers are one area of high fidelity where you can probably keep getting better performance for more money for a very large span of “more money,” although for most of us the point of diminishing returns would come fairly early (as might the point at which we could clearly appreciate a difference).

Even so, some of the numbers are, well, at least interesting.

Speaker prices

  • Only 22 of the 96 companies have any speakers costing less than $1,500/pair.
  • 28 of the 96 have no speakers costing less than $10,000/pair. (The company I’d likely buy from if I had great wealth and needed a really good pair of speakers doesn’t have any speakers costing $10,000/pair or more…)
  • 47 of the 96–nearly half–had at least one pair of speakers costing $50,000/pair or more.
  • I saw 34 speakers costing $100,000 to $199,000 per pair…
  • …and 28 speakers costing $200,000 to $499,000 per pair…
  • …and four costing at least half a million dollars per pair (“at least” because several speakers had “price on request” or some other version of “if you have to ask”).
  • Two of the speakers cost more than $800,000 per pair. Eight hundred thousand dollars.
  • At least five of the speakers weigh half a ton or more; not clear whether that’s per-speaker or per-pair.

Cables (10ft or 2meter speaker pairs or one-meter interconnects)

Almost all of these noted below are speaker cables. I believe each of these prices would need to be doubled for a pair of speakers, but I could be wrong:

  • 26 cables cost $10,000-$19,999.
  • Another 26 cost $20,000-$49,999.
  • Three cost $50,000 or more. For a speaker cable or cables. But hey, if you’re spending $855,000 for speakers (the top price I saw), what’s another $50,000 or $100,000 for cables?

I offer no comment.

The Stranger in the Mirror: A mini-memoir during the pandemic

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

Random current personal observations on the day after completing GOA5 and the day before starting the Countries book…

My wife and I had an advantage going into the shelter-in-place (we’re in Alameda County, Calif., one of the six Bay Area counties to S-i-P before almost anybody in the US): we’re both introverts.

For us, s-i-p has meant missing the usual monthly dinner with our best friend, and more difficulties with shopping. Oh, and wearing masks whenever we’re in a public space (except walking, where we can always stay 6′ from other walkers). For me, it’s meant doing without the 2x/week going out to lunch I used to do–but am getting takeout once a week, from one of the same restaurants. And doing without library books and a weekly 2-5 mile amble with acquaintances (but my wife and I still do our daily 2-mile brisk walk). For my wife, it’s meant not doing the library-related work she was doing (volunteer) at the local history organization, because that’s been closed.

That doesn’t amount to much by most standards. We believe we both had Covid-19 around the start of the year, me a mild case, her a more severe but not quite hospital-grade case–but we’ll probably never know for sure. I’ve been tested twice for it within the past three weeks, for reasons that will come up later, and tested negative both times. And yes, we both take care–because we can’t be *sure* we’ve had it, because we don’t know whether we’re immune, and mostly because we don’t want to help spread it.

As for weight gain…well, I was in the hospital twice during the holiday season; the second time was an upper bowel obstruction which is probably always going to be with me to some extent (adhesions, probably from prostatectomy), and that had the effect of reducing my weight from 162 or so down to 148 or so. Well, and completely changing my diet in ways that make it difficult to get enough calories every day. (No rolled oats; no unpeeled fruit or vegetables; basically no raw vegetables; no nuts; pretty much nothing fibrous…and I stopped eating junk food and fast food, and sodas, a long time ago.) Once I regained the energy and stamina I’d been missing for months (that was the first hospitalization, a LONG one, from a massive staph infection resulting in a 60-day antibiotics regimen), I found that I was healthier at 148lb. than I had been at 162 (itself down from the 165-167lb. I’d been carrying most of my adult life). So I’m just trying to stay around 148-150lb. (I’ve shrunk to about 5’9″ from a former 5’11”, so I’m now at the lower side of a healthy BMI range, rather than the upper limit.) That, as it turns out, means averaging 2,200-2,400 calories a day; without Ensure, I’m not sure how I’d get there. (It also means five small meals a day instead of three larger ones. And aiming for “satisfied but not full” as a benchmark.)

The complicating factor in all this was that I needed cataract surgery in both eyes–and was scheduled for June 4, that schedule made just before S-i-P.

As it turns out, the opthalmologist’s office and the outpatient surgery center I planned to use reopened just in time–and, surprisingly, I was able to keep the dates (June 4 for one eye, June 18 for the other. Plus lots of associated office visits–and because the outpatient surgery center, part of Stanford Health Care/ValleyCare, is currently requiring a Covid-19 test the same week as any surgery, two visits to the drive-through test facility, one agonizingly slow, the other very quick, in both cases reported the next day to my healthcare account.

This was all much harder on my wife than on me, for a variety of reasons, in part because I can’t safely/legally drive until at least late this week.

Oh, and our 20-year-old dryer started leaving scorch marks on clothes, so add to that the need to acquire a new washer & dryer. Interleaved with everything else. And, of course, donning masks even indoors when delivery and maintenance people were here. (So far, in my experience, *almost* everybody wears the masks when they should, but there’s always a jackass or two…)

Oh: the title? I’ve worn glasses pretty much all my life, ever since I told my parents I was having trouble in first grade because I couldn’t read what was on the blackboard. So for, say, 68 years, I put on glasses first thing in the morning and took them off last thing at night, And they would be coke-bottle lenses were it not for the miracle of high-density plastic.

But with both eyes done, my eyes appear to be around 20:30 (they’ll be changing for another few weeks, but that seems to be where they are now). So I have drugstore glasses for the computer and for reading (different strengths), and dark glasses for outside for the moment, but otherwise don’t have glasses, Which means I see a stranger in the mirror–a stranger that looks something like my father, albeit less handsome. (We’ll stick with “readers” for a few months as everything settles down, then see whether prescription reading/computer glasses make sense. Because of difficulty getting consistent readings, only my right eye has a toric lens to correct astigmatism, but I don’t seem to have left-eye problems that would suggest serious astigmatism. We shall see.) Oh yes, and as you’d expect, things are much brighter than they were last year. Much. And apart from corneal edema, right eye only, that required a week or so to heal, the surgeries were just as painless as advertised.

So that’s my non-story. I was only slowed down on the Gold Open Access project by about a week, and will start on the Countries book tomorrow. The public library has started doing what looks to be a safe-for-them, safe-for-us circulation (place holds. make appointment, show up, call #, open trunk, they bring out the bag of books–and if you feel the need to return old ones, there’s an outside book drop, but they keep moving due dates forward, and they abolished fines last year), and I may start using it after I can start driving again. Which may be late this week or early next. I hope. Not because I love driving–I don’t–but because it relieves pressure & demands on my wife. I’m hoping we can go back to the occasional dinner with our friend in a month or so; a distanced version of the weekly hikes/ambles starts in early July; and maybe some day I can go back to eating lunch out from time to time. When it seems to be safe…or safer.

I feel sorry for the people really damaged by the pandemic. I do not feel sorry for the fools who did their damnedest to ignore Covid-19 for months, are now busily reopening, having beach parties, and generally risking their own and other people’s health. I guess the US needs to be #1 in something, and we’ve squandered moral and ethical leadership, so maybe MORE PREVENTABLE DEATHS AND ILLNESS is our big claim to fame. Whoopee.

[Not that anyone will read this. If you do, maybe leave a comment.]

Notes on journals 6,001-7,000

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

Followup: some notes on the next 1,000 journals in my scan of DOAJ; compare to the first 6,000… (I sort by publisher, then journal, because that speeds things up).

A few items do seem interesting.

  • Of the 961 journals for which data has been recorded (39 are either unavailable or have malware issues), 430 (45%) have fees.
  • Of that 430, I find that five have submission fees rather than processing fees–and six others have both submission and processing fees. 31 others have fees that vary based on article length (I don’t record that if the surcharge begins at 11 pages or higher) or author count. Two have membership or similar fee requirements, and one is questionable (it states boldly that there is no fee, then–in the next paragraph–states the mandated fee but says it’s a gift).
  • In 28 of the 430 cases, I gathered the fee status and amount from the DOAJ record because it was not easy to locate within the journal’s website.
  • Malware is still with us: ten of the 40 missing cases have malware (six of the ten from Indonesia); twenty are missing or useless; one requires a login, which makes it not an OA journals; and eight are dead or duplicates (most duplicates are renamed journals, with the old name still appearing.
  • In cases where I do have data, the URL in DOAJ did not yield the website but a journal title search in Chrome did yield the website.

Timing

So I’ve done 7,000 in (exactly) seven weeks. That leaves 7.128 to go. Will I be done in seven weeks (and a d ay)?

Almost certainly not. Other stuff happens–and the huge chunk of university-based journals is likely to be slow going. I’m hoping to finish the first pass by the end of April–and then there’s a second pass plus a final pass for malware (after journals have had some time to clean up those cases). Then there’s the normalization, data manipulation, table creation and writing the book(s).

GOA4 (2013-2018) appeared on May 4, 2019; that was unusual. GOAJ3 (2012-2017) appeared on May 28, 2018, and even that was earlier than I’d expected. I’ll be delighted if this year’s GOA5 is ready in early June; I won’t be surprised if it takes into July…

A few (more) notes on the first 5,000

Monday, February 3rd, 2020


Followup: some notes on the first 5,000 journals in my scan of DOAJ; compare to the first 4,000… (I sort by publisher, then journal, because that speeds things up).

Just for fun–and NOT MEANINGFUL at least partly because a number of journals will show larger numbers or have problems cleared up in the “recount” segment–I’m also comparing this to the equivalent portion of the 2019 scan (that is, the same breakpoint for publisher and journal).

A few items do seem interesting.

  • Of the 4,629 journals for which data has been recorded (371 are either unavailable or have malware issues), 1,731 (37%) have fees.
  • Of that 1,363, I find that 16 have submission fees–and 30 others have both submission and processing fees. 142 others have fees that vary based on article length (I don’t record that if the surcharge begins at 11 pages or higher) or author count.
  • In 98 of the 1,731 cases, I gathered the fee status and amount from the DOAJ record because it was not easy to locate within the journal’s website.
  • Malware is still with us: 144 of the 371 for which I don’t yet have data recorded were flagged by Malwarebytes–an uncomfortably high figure. 147 others don’t seem to be there or are unworkable…and eight aren’t OA journals, AFAICT. (Yes, I’m sending DOAJ problems in chunks; yes, I hope we/they can reduce the malware count to a trivial amount as they did last year. The big trouble spots so far are Indonesia with 64 cases, Brazil with 46 and Romania with 15.)
  • In 100 cases where I do have data, the URL in DOAJ did not yield the website but a journal title search in Chrome did yield the website.


Comparisons to 2019

I’m just a bit more than 1/3 of the way done, and things will change, but here’s what I see at the moment:

  • At this point last year, I’d done 4,519 journals of which 4,412 were in the analysis (that subgroup included 10 malware cases, three not-OA cases and 43 unavailable/unworkable). That’s almost the same percentage of the whole–35.5% compared to this year’s 35.3%.
  • For this portion, the 2018 article total was 290,982 compared to 302,978 this year (but that number should grow a little). For 2017, the numbers are 251,118 and 260,556 respectively.
  • If articles were evenly spread among journals, I could project more than 900,000 total 2019 articles (since 35.3% yield 321,346)–but that’s obvious nonsense, since that projection technique yields just under 820,000 total 2018 articles for last year’s count, not the 711,670 articles actually counted. And I’d expect to see the 2019 article count for this year’s pass go up by at least 2,000-4,000. The closest thing to a SWAG for possible totals this time around might be around 786,000–but I’d suggest “somewhere between 750,000 and 850,000” is as close as I’d want to come to an actual estimate.

A few notes on the first 4,000

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020


Followup: some notes on the first 4,000 journals–partly to show just how unrepresentative any sample is. Compare this to the first 3,000… (I sort by publisher, then journal, because that speeds things up).

A few items do seem interesting.

  • Of the 3,747 journals for which data has been recorded (253 are either unavailable or have malware issues), 1,363 (36%) have fees.
  • Of that 1,363, I find that 11 have submission fees–and 24 others have both submission and processing fees. 121 others have fees that vary based on article length (I don’t record that if the surcharge begins at 11 pages or higher).
  • In 79 of the 1,363 cases, I gathered the fee status and amount from the DOAJ record because it was not easy to locate within the journal’s website.
  • Malware is still with us: 100 of the 214 for which I don’t yet have data recorded were flagged by Malwarebytes–an uncomfortably high figure. 109 others don’t seem to be there or are unworkable…and two aren’t OA journals, AFAICT.
  • In 78 cases where I do have data, the URL in DOAJ did not yield the website but a journal title search in Chrome did yield the website.
  • Some of the numbers in the 3,000-journal notes are typos caused by sloppy editing. I’ll go fix those now…



A few notes on the first 3,000

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

Followup: some notes on the first 3,000 journals–partly to show just how unrepresentative any sample is. Compare this to the first21,000… This is not at all a representative sample (I sort by publisher, then journal, because that speeds things up).

Some typos correcvted 1/28

A few items do seem interesting.

  • Of the 2,826 journals for which data has been recorded (174 are either unavailable or have malware issues), 1,086 have fees.
  • Of that 1,086, I find that ten have submission fees–and 20 others have both submission and processing fees. 101 others have fees that vary based on article length (I don’t record that if the surcharge begins at 15 pages or higher).
  • In 68 of the 1,086 cases, I gathered the fee status and amount from the DOAJ record because it was not easy to locate within the journal’s website.
  • Malware is still with us: 78 of the 174 for which I don’t yet have data recorded were flagged by Malwarebytes–an uncomfortably high figure. 71 others don’t seem to be there or are unworkable…and two aren’t OA journals, AFAICT.
  • In 56 cases where I do have data, the URL in DOAJ did not yield the website but a journal title search in Chrome did yield the website.
  • At DOAJ’s request, I’ve sent them the spreadsheet segment involving malware and unavailability. If the project continues, I’ll do that for every 3,000 journals.

If you’re looking for C&I..

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

At this point, cical.info will get you to the version of Cites & Insights that will stick around for at least two more years. (That was the original domain: citesandinsights.info is a pseudonym.) I’m working on getting the pseudonym restored.

Meanwhile, waltcrawford.name is now on its long-term host…

As for Walt at Random: working on it.

A little plug for A2Hosting.com. my new host: VERY service-oriented and fast.

A few notes on the first 2,000

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

Followup: some notes on the first 2,000 journals–partly to show just how unrepresentative any sample is. Compare this to the first 1,000… This is not at all a representative sample (I sort by publisher, then journal, because that speeds things up).

A few items do seem interesting.

  • Of the 1,866 journals for which data has been recorded (134 are either unavailable or have malware issues), 692 have fees. (Easy explanation: BMC’s 360-odd journals are in the second 1,000; almost all have fees.)
  • Of that 692, I find that ninehave submission fees–and 19 others have both submission and processing fees. 60 others have fees that vary based on article length (I don’t record that if the surcharge begins at 11 pages or higher).
  • In 345 of the 946 cases, I gathered the fee status and amount from the DOAJ record because it was not easy to locate within the journal’s website.
  • Malware is still with us: 65 of the 134 for which I don’t yet have data recorded were flagged by Malwarebytes–an uncomfortably high figure (but about half of those are in one series). 52 others don’t seem to be there…and two aren’t OA journals, AFAICT
  • In 34 cases where I do have data, the URL in DOAJ did not yield the website but a journal title search in Chrome did yield the website.

Paperback version of C&I 19 now available

Monday, January 13th, 2020
ci19

The paperback version of Cites & Insights 2019, including indexes that are exclusive to that version, is now available from Lulu for $25. (I plan to adjust all C&I prices to a standard level, for the final year of availability, in the near future.)

The cover for this final paperback builds on nine previous cover images.

You can find it directly at http://www.lulu.com/shop/walt-crawford/cites-insights-19-2019/paperback/product-24393000.html

(or just go to Lulu and search for Cites & Insights 2019).

If you hurry, you can use coupon code ONEFIVE and save 15%–good through January 16.