back to article Audiophiles: These Wi-Fi speakers have a stereo drift of less than 25μs – good enough for you?

Although this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was chockablock with Bluetooth-connected wireless speakers, the UK's Imagination Technologies bucked the trend: it demoed its own wireless-speaker tech, the Wi-Fi–enabled Caskeid system. Caskeid – pronounced "cascade" – was announced last September, but CES 2014 was …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you're going to transmit sound over the air then you need to have a clean house, low dust and the right temperature.

    You need Monster polish and cloths for your furniture, proven to offer much better sound quality when using Wifi sound.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That or gold plated antenna.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "That or gold plated antenna."

        And the gold plated Monster branded mains cable is able to filter out all that dirty electricity so the speakers don't pick it up, you don't want added harmonics in your sound? do you?

      2. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Don't forget the Denon interconnect cable for your router.

        http://www.amazon.com/Denon-AKDL1-Dedicated-Cable-Version/dp/B000I1X6PM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389734781&sr=8-1&keywords=denon+cable+cat

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          > Don't forget the Denon interconnect cable for your router.

          [amazon link]

          Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed:

          Uranium ore, "Fresh Whole Rabbit", "The Best of David Hasselhoff", and the "JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser / Tank"

          Really? I think "Tom 35" has some 'splainin to do...

          1. Tom 35 Silver badge

            The "The Best of David Hasselhoff" was not me!...

            Actually all of them are items that have loads of "funny reviews" on Amazon.com.

        2. Bigbird3141
          Coat

          Why would I want that cheap tat, when there's this:

          http://www.futureshop.co.uk/product_info.php?products_id=5848#.UtaQQJ5_vVE

        3. IsJustabloke
          Mushroom

          I was interested to see on the page you link to.. in the people also viewed category this item ->

          http://www.amazon.com/Images-SI-Inc-Uranium-Ore/dp/B000796XXM/ref=pd_sim_sbs_e_2

          :/

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Don't forget the Denon interconnect cable

          I'm sure that cable could be plugged in the wrong way round. It also appears to be coiled so the electrons on the outside of the coil have further to travel. That means either a mushy signal or possibly a differential L/R delay.

      3. AndrueC Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Not forgetting to ensure that you have gold plated connectors on your TOS link cable.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Monster polish is indeed good but did you buy the AK407 OxyUnit dish to hold it in? Since getting mine I have a much more crisp and faithful reproduction in fact it might now sound better than the live recording. The AK407 OxyUnit Dish has made an incredible difference. It vibrates the polish to keep it at optimum gloopyness. They told me the dish has added carbo nano oxy molecules added in at creation as it's being hand woven. It was a real bargain at £3,000 as well. I'm tempted to buy more so I can leave the Monster polish in different parts of the house. I think having more of them might even have a cumulative effect and so it might sound even better!

      1. Mike Bell

        You're wasting your money. I read somewhere in a magazine once that the best way to improve sound quality is simply to adjust all the screw heads in your house so that their slots are aligned vertically. You might need to replace a few Philips screws, of course, but that's a small price to pay for audio bliss.

        1. Elmer Phud

          Lie Lanes

          " adjust all the screw heads in your house so that their slots are aligned vertically."

          But you will need the £5000 ley-line detector to endure perfect alignment of all the screw head slots.

          (the £5k is for an app -- the stand-alone model is based on the 'explosives detector' like wot was sold to the Middle East and goes for £20k)

    3. Henry Minute

      More Monstrous

      Better than Monster Polish, I find, is Swizöl International’s Divine car wax. The Monster cloths work well with it though, so I agree there.

      Although ostensibly a car wax I find it equally efficacious for furniture and at only $2,800 surely a bargain basement option.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: More Monstrous

        The real problem is the air. It's basic science, the radio waves generate minute ionic imbalances in the air molecules which effectively scramble the individual bits in the data steam, that's why all blue-tooth and wi-fi sound is fuzzy and unclear. The only solution is to pump all of the air molecules out of the house and fill it with inert Argon or preferable an Argon/Xenon mix (73.2% 26.8% has been found to be the optimal ratio) this will provide the perfect medium for the radio waves to full synergies and reach optimal coherence and allow them to interact with the antennae with enhanced magnetic flux and much smoother field lines. Your simply will not believe the difference in tonal balance and purity in the final audio.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Go

      Don't forget the acoustic cloth

      As room layout and hard furniture causes standing waves.

      Available for a very reasonable £1/cm2 from all branches of "I'm Rich Sounds".

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't forget to put your MP3 drive on a 500kg granite block to cut down on vibrations. And make sure you use a gold-plated USB cable for a warmer sound.

      1. Fihart

        "put your MP3 drive on a 500kg granite block to cut down on vibrations......"

        Jest ye not !

        The Marantz Special Edition version of their CD63 CD player has a metal bracket within as, apparently, one of the first steps designer Ken Ishiwata took to upgrade the design was to stiffen the case.

        Personally, I suspect that the bracket was added to boost the weight by about a kilo so buyers felt that the extra cash they paid for the SE version bought something more substantial than the less tangible changes to circuitry.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: "put your MP3 drive on a 500kg granite block to cut down on vibrations......"

          Temperature stabilised interconnects anyone?

    6. Scroticus Canis
      WTF?

      RE: "If you're going to transmit sound over the air "

      Well how else unless you live under water or press your ear to the ground to pick up vibrations via the mastoid bone?

    7. AceRimmer

      For hifi wifi transmission the best air is no air

      The second best is air that is completely unreactive to those wifi signals

      My living room atmosphere is now 99.999% helium-4

      1. Benchops

        Re: For hifi wifi transmission the best air is no air

        Excellent advice on all the Monster polish and cloths etc. I think I'm going to get out some of my old C90 compilations and see how good they sound now!

    8. shaunhw

      I've got an idea - Fibre optic cables directly to ones earlugs.... Hardly any delay then ...

    9. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

      Also, one requires a gold-plated vice...

      A vice to clamp one's vacuum-bearing skull in position, positioned *precisely* equidistant between the two time-aligned speakers.

      How far does sound move in 25us?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No, it is not

    "Good enough for you?"

    No. Simply because it it more time coherent does NOT mean that it actually sounds good. Time will tell that judgment.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: No, it is not

      Hearing it go wrong as you move rooms is far more noticeable than a minute difference in the 120-125Hz range.

    2. Nigel 11

      Re: No, it is not

      Never ceases to amaze me what people will pay and do to avoid using a piece of wire. (Failing which, an analogue RF transmitter/receiver which will maintain coherence of 1us per quarter-kilometer, or thereabouts).

      Of course if you are turning a typical MP3 file into sound, it's FUBAR whatever you do with it. The only decent audio file is one that's compressed losslessly, if at all.

  3. Big-nosed Pengie
    Thumb Down

    Caskeid – pronounced "cascade"

    Seriously - who are the fscking idiots who come up with these names?

    1. FartingHippo
      Coat

      Re: Caskeid – pronounced "cascade"

      Some pretentious kuntt(TM), that's for sure.

      1. Lis 0r

        Re: Caskeid – pronounced "cascade"

        Google, the trademark office registry, and focus groups :P

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Caskeid – pronounced "cascade"

          You mean a cunch of bunts?

          1. monkeyfish

            Re: Caskeid – pronounced "cascade"

            Stupid spellings are so you can trademark them. You can trademark 'Caskeid', but not 'Cascade'.

            1. Nigel 11

              Re: Caskeid – pronounced "cascade"

              You can trademark "Cascade" for audio products, if no-one else is already using that name in connection with audio or digital networking. The latter has a problem: www.cni.net Maybe they decided the phonemes first and the lawyers decided they had to change the spelling?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Caskeid – pronounced "cascade"

              > Stupid spellings are so you can trademark them. You can trademark 'Caskeid', but not 'Cascade'.

              That's so leim...

  4. 142
    Facepalm

    Less than 25us? Why?

    Ok. 400ms is an utter disaster. That is worse than the sort of delay you get an outdoor concert.

    But *microseconds* between separate speakers? It's pointless in even a professional scenario (unless they're in a mathematical array, like a line array). Sound travels just over half a centimetre in 25us! No one sets their speaker positions, (and I won't even mention the LISTENING position) to that level of accuracy. And he's talking about multiroom accuracy: you could have 10ms+ delays for that and it wouldn't be audible.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Re: Less than 25us? Why?

      because audiophools will believe anything.

      1. 142
        Meh

        Re: Less than 25us? Why?

        They never cease to amaze me with their awe-inspiring lack of critical thinking.

    2. Annihilator Silver badge

      Re: Less than 25us? Why?

      "Ok. 400ms is an utter disaster."

      Nope, he said "300, 400 microsecond", not milliseconds. That's (at worst) 0.0004s drift.

      I agree, 0.4s would be bad, but to answer his question:

      "they're sending the exact same audio information to each speaker and just kind of hoping that their 300, 400 microsecond drift is not that noticeable to you"

      They're getting away with it then, as no, it's not f**king noticeable! It's the difference between 12cm, which frankly I could generate by accident simply by turning my head.

      1. BongoJoe

        Re: by turning my head.

        I read that last bit as "tuning my head"

        And then thought that you had come up with another audiophile application which no-one needs.

      2. 142

        Re: Less than 25us? Why?

        "Nope, he said "300, 400 microsecond", not milliseconds. That's (at worst) 0.0004s drift."

        Ah. I wonder was the article edited? I would have sworn it said ms there when I replied.

        But yes, 400us is absolutely nothing in this context!

    3. John Tserkezis

      Re: Less than 25us? Why?

      "Ok. 400ms is an utter disaster."

      It actually isn't. By my calculations, it's a little over 5 inches, which is about what would be the least if you leaned over on the couch. As it turns out, the volume difference in that instance would ruin the stereo positioning before any delays are noticed.

      A concert hall is an utter disaster, depending on where you are, the distances are a short stroll. But that's the LEAST of your worries, the echos around the location will by far drown out any stereo positioning you may have hoped for.

      As you've said, delays are but one of many issues to contend with, that turn out to have the least effect compared to other sound quality issues that would be more apparent.

      Like a Marantz sales rep said to me when I questioned their use of 256 times oversampling on their CD players (verses 8 times that everyone else uses) - "I know it doesn't make a difference, you know it doesn't make a difference, but people don't buy CD players, they buy numbers."

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. 142

        Re: Less than 25us? Why?

        ""Ok. 400ms is an utter disaster."

        It actually isn't. By my calculations, it's a little over 5 inches, which is about what would"

        To clarify, I used 400**ms** deliberately, as I thought that was what the article said.

        400ms is nigh on 400feet. My experience with Apple's Airplay encoding has been delays in this sort of region.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Less than 25us? Why?

        "Ok. 400ms is an utter disaster."

        It actually isn't. By my calculations, it's a little over 5 inches,

        Clearly anyone making comments like this hasn't properly set up their "listening room" and positioned their "listening chair" in precisely the correct position relative to the speakers along with the correct adjutsments to the head restraint to ensure that you keep your ears in precisely the correct location. Seems that some people aren't prepared to make the effort to hear music properly!

    4. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Stereo sound

      If you have Stereo sound it's important that the sound arrives on time. Just think of your own ears, they direct sound by the time differences between the signals. So a millisecond delay difference would already be rather noticable. (=> roughly 30cm at the speed of sound) I don't know if 25us (roughly 7.5 mm) is relevant, but it's likely that if you employ any kind of technology which gives you sub ms accuracy, 25us is a low hanging fruit.

      Then there's another problem. What if you have people putting multiple speakers on top of each other? In this case you will get your original signal added with the delayed signal. You will get something called a Finite Response Filter. In this case it most likely acts as a low pass filter, and the delay specifies it's cut-off frequency. (actually it's a comb filter with evenly spaced nulls in it's frequency response, and the delay gives you the spacing. higher delay => lower spacing, you want to make sure that no spacing is within your audible range) 25us is 40 kHz, considering that you want 15 kHz still to be transmitted perfectly and the filter probably isn't to steep, it's not unreasonably to go that far.

      1. Annihilator Silver badge

        Re: Stereo sound

        "If you have Stereo sound it's important that the sound arrives on time"

        And it seldom does. You'd have to be rigidly fixed between your two speakers and never move.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Stereo sound

          Stereo sound still arrives on time even as you move your head. The stereo image that your brain builds becomes less precise and moves somewhat with you, but I think phase is not the only thing informing you of position.

          However, the problem here is, I assume, nothing to do with stereo phase and everything to do with the delay between different rooms. 400ms is a serious echochochochocho... you can quite easily hear a 25ms delay as a discrete echo, but at a millisecond or less then you're more likely to hear the effect as colouration in the frequency response.

          So it's *nice* to have the sound coming out of the speakers synchronously. How often anyone stands in the doorway listening to two rooms at once I have no data on - although the issue may be leakage from adjacent rooms. It can be achieved far more cheaply and simply by using either signal level cabling with local amplifiers, or speaker level (15A mains cable works well) for a single amplifier.

          But I suppose actually using wire is just so last century, darlings.

          1. Annihilator Silver badge

            Re: Stereo sound

            @Neil - he doesn't say 400ms (milliseconds, or thousandths of a second) though, he says 300 or 400 microseconds. 400 millionths of a second - 0.0004 seconds.

            While head movement won't make that much of a difference, I've just done the maths on a set of speakers 1m apart, listening position about 2m. The distance to the left and right channel, if you're directly in the centre, is 2.062m. If you move even 20cm to the left, the left channel is 2.022m away, the right channel is 2.119m away - a difference of 9.7cm. Or, in other words, a ~300 microsecond delay. Just by moving 9.7cm off-centre.

            1. Nigel 11

              Re: Stereo sound

              If the delay is completely constant, then I agree it's probably nor detectable, and otherwise equivalent to moving yourself or one of your speakers by less than a foot.

              On the other hand, if it occasionally glitches (changes abruptly) that would be disconcerting, and if it glitches frequently or drifts continuously that would be horrible. There's a less serious reverse effect you can experience by wearing headphones. You move your head, and the soundstage moves with you. You get used to it, but in the first instance you are anticipating the sound being fixed when you move. The effect of your head moving when it wasn't would be worse. Like being drunk or motion-sick?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Stereo sound

          "The King's New Clothes" syndrome!

      2. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: Stereo sound

        Plus, if the time delay varies, it will have the effect of sweeping the filter - much more noticeable than a fixed filter,

        Anyway, what audiophile is going to listen to Pure Jongo's? Is a true audiophile even going to be interested in multi-room? They've spent ages positioning the chair in the sweet spot between their Klangfilms, single-ended triode amp and Garrard 401.

      3. 142

        Re: Stereo sound

        "What if you have people putting multiple speakers on top of each other?" Well yes, this is a scenario I hadn't considered.

    5. Elmer Phud

      Re: Less than 25us? Why?

      Easy one -- he pretty much stated that he can go sub 25us as soon as his 'competitors' get close.

      To me, that means he has a 'Pro' version already to market.

      'Pro' meaning the usual for tech kit -- anything but.

  5. Andrew Hall

    Maybe they're aiming at the same people that buy iPhones...

  6. dannymot

    Some people just want to get a nice amp, a nice source, some nice speakers and set them up as best they can in a nice room!

    They genuinely exist honest.

    1. hi_robb

      Erm

      Yep and I'm one of them.

      My speakers were set in their position so they were a certain distance from the rear wall to minimize standing waves, but kept good bass repsonse and tonal quality. I done it using a laser measure, taking in to account I wanted a perfect triangle distance wise between the speakers themselves and each speaker to the centre axis of my head!

      Finally toe in of each speaker was taken care of with a laser pointer. I found the sweet spot for toe in with my speakers was not firing direct at the centre of my head but about 3 inches either side of it. Basically the axis of the speakers would cross just behind my head.

      There's many methods out there for setting up speakers, I tried most of them before settling on what's essentially a bit from 2 or 3 of the better known ones (Cardas etc). Does it make a difference though? Yes absolutely, pin point soundstage, great tonality and no bass bloat, the speakers essentially do vanish and you hear the music, not the equipment. Yes it's a bit sad, but it harmed no one and I'm happy with the sound.

      I do agree though that there's an awful lot of snake oil in the audiophille world.

      D

  7. John Tserkezis

    "Some people just want to get a nice amp, a nice source, some nice speakers and set them up as best they can in a nice room! They genuinely exist honest."

    Don't under estimate yourself. Just "Nice" requires a fair bit of forethought.

    Having people come in, sit down, listen, then go home and think nothing of it, is the result of that work.

    Heard of one person speaking of a setup, that said the sound coming out of the TV was terrible, but the blueray player was hooked up to big speakers. Yep, the bottom line of their review was "big speakers".

    My brother in law is another that I haven't been able to convince yet. I'm half deaf, but most others still have so much trouble with the echos, they have to crank it up so loudly, everyone else complains.

    On the other hand, audiophiles are a special breed. This is where you get one idiot, who blindly does what another idiot says to do. The buyers follow the philiosophy "if it costs that much, it must be good. The sellers "See? The pied piper can make money out of mice".

  8. Joe Harrison

    multi-room

    I often sit using a PC located half-way between two rooms, one with a Virgin cable TV signal and one with Freesat. The audio gets delivered at slightly different times and hearing two almost-synchronous versions of Strictly Come Dancing is extremely weird.

    I remember a very long time ago visiting an audiophile shop with a friend who handed over serious money in return for an "Isoplanar CD Stand." This was a sheet of odd-looking soft plastic and it was supposed to damp any mechanical noise from the CD audio drive. Years later I replaced my old wooden chopping board and instantly recognised the same white plastic. Oh and "isoplanar" just means flat.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: multi-room

      That proves how good it is!

      Not only can it be used for chopping up niose, but it can also be used for chopping up meat and veg.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: multi-room

        Those are Kenwood products.

  9. Peter Galbavy

    Happ with my Squeezeboxen

    Slim were doing this with their network player (the synced multiroom audio not the 25uS claims) years ago. Shame Logitech bought, gutted and shut them down. Luckily, I have enough to keep me going :)

  10. jason 7 Silver badge

    Nahhh I'm going with Rocki!

    The alternative Wi-Fi audio adapter.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rocki/rocki-wifi-music-system-from-every-phone-to-all-sp

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't be too mean!

    I work in a subby, we build expensive HiFi for and can see the work that goes into 'Audiophile' products. Yes the industry full of snake oil and ridiculous claims by both seller and buyer, but it is important to point out that the costs of building and selling the units is far higher than you might think. In addition the expectations of the audiophile incur their own costs, they want fully setup listening rooms to hear the objects of their desire, and they want to take the damn thing home and try it, then take it back no questions asked. It's no wonder then that you see so much high end ex demo kit on eBay from places like Sevenoaks, or that the seemingly huge reductions still technically refelect a higher price than the store paid for the unit.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Don't be too mean!

      You can put a lot more effort into building something with expensive components and it can still come out shit.

      I've spent several months trying to find something as good as my 15 year old amp that finally died - even the things that cost several thousand come nowhere close so I am forced to dig out a twenty year old design and the soldering iron.

      There's more woo in hifi these days than a church full of suicide bombers - which would probably sound better!

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: It's ironic really

      PURE - the people who make DAB radios?

      If DAB is your sound source and he doesn't think there's anything wrong with it, there's something wrong with his ears. It's already even more FUBAR than MP3, and no way could you notice any gain from using audiophile components downstream. (Though I'd agree that spending money on well-chosen electronics and speakers is a better use for it than fancy pieces of wire, if your source is FM, CD, or Vinyl. )

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: It's ironic really

      I actually did an electronics degree because I was into hifi. Get yourself a copy of ngspice and the cable specs and simulate the difference between high end cable and mains cable. If you can spot a difference that is greater than the sound changes from the air rising from your body heat...

      My speakers cost around £6k a pair now* and are driven by mains cable.

      *with extra added bullshit in the glossy book they use to sell them.

  13. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Being serious for a moment

    I remember that in the 70s the recommendation was that you spend 50% of your total budget on the speakers themselves. The way technology has changed over the years, I would be inclined to up that to 80%.

  14. Measurer

    Amateurs!

    When I listen to stereo music, I bolt myself in to a seismically isolated frame with head clamp and automatic ear canal aperture amplitude calibration (or AECAAC! for short). One Direction sounds FANTASTIC!

  15. Anonymous IV
    Thumb Up

    I make it about 75 days to go

    Until this article becomes appropriate.

  16. jason 7 Silver badge

    What I love is when ....

    Hi-Fi enthusiasts/Audiophiles start trying to apply Hi-fi voodoo BS to standard computer kit.

    Open up that £3000 blu-ray player from Audio Shed Backgarden Innovations Ltd, Bedford and at its core you'll find £20 worth of PC blu-ray drive surrounded buy god knows what in non-standard/non-compliant electronics.

    Also Hi-Fi cable. I would bet that 99% of Hi-Fi cable manufacturers don't make that cable and most of it was probably specced originally by Boeing or for CAT scanners at 2p a meter. Buy it by the spool and slap your name on it. Cable making is huge industrial scale stuff not the kind of place you can just make 100m of special £1500 a meter cable in. It doesn't exist.

  17. Ye Cats

    A Belt around the ear

    No point in shaving the μs until you have decked your listening room with an array of these products:

    http://www.stereophile.com/content/2013-recommended-components-miscellaneous

    I particularly recommend slathering your body with Peter Belt's Cream Electret (£20 for 15ml) before settling down to an evening of audiophilia, and, if you are old school and still play those spinny disc thingies, his Rainbow Electret Foil stickers are a must-have. Make sure these are correctly placed or the won't have any audible effect:

    "These small, prismatic stickers are meant to be cut into smaller strips and placed directly over the '33 1/3' on an LP label, or over the Compact Disc logo on the label side of a CD."

    (Not sure where they go on your 45s.)

    You may also discern problems with parasitic resonances. Either take worming tablets (Mebendazole may work) or invest in a pair of Totem Acoustic Beaks (note that these are not intended for anal insertion, but there's nothing wrong with a bit of experimentation—if you have any Cream Electret left over it may come in handy here).

  18. Semtex451 Silver badge
    Megaphone

    I'll wait for the wetware version that connects to my brain and takes this stupid ear-bone/ drum arrangement out of the equation entirely. Its pathetic.

  19. John Hall

    I've Got 50 Gallons of Snake Oil and it Works

    I'm a high-fallutin' Audiophile who looks down my nose at you non-believers who won't spend more than £200 on getting the most out of the one thing that unites us all ... MUSIC.

    ... As I sit here listening to my Devialet amplifier, tut-tutting the rest of the World.

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