Heavy == good... why?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Martin Rendall, Aug 19, 2002.

  1. Martin Rendall

    Martin Rendall Screenwriter

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    [rant]Time and time again, I read posts which compare players, and the respective weight always gets raised as a factor. The Sony ES players are repeatedly called good, as they weigh lots. The Pioneer Elite DV47 doesn't measure up - it's too light.

    What the heck does weight have to do with quality, or durability? Something doesn't have to weigh 30lbs to last 10 years... nor does it need to weigh 30lbs to reduce vibrations... 30lbs doesn't guarantee that the changer mechanism won't break anyway, or the tray won't jam. There have been posts which prove that.

    I accept that sometimes having better, or more transformers can raise the weight, but shouldn't one talk about the components used, not what they weigh?

    Back in the earlier mainframe days, IBM used to put led weights in their keyboards so they could charge more. The weights had no effect on the usability of the keyboard, but customers didn't think they were being ripped off. Basically, IBM played on the "heaver MUST be better" mentality.

    Let's stop talking about how much a DVD player weighs, and concentrate on how it sounds.
    [/rant]

    Martin.
     
  2. matthew_rm

    matthew_rm Second Unit

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    Yup[​IMG]
     
  3. Ian Montgomerie

    Ian Montgomerie Stunt Coordinator

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    I think "weight == better" is a false generalization from the fact that "audiophile" players, in general, weigh more than mainstream players. This is simply because they have more stuff on them - larger circuit boards to fit custom DACs, larger power supplies, etc. And really cheap players use cost-cutting measures like minimum metal/maximum plastic, and smaller circuit boards with less chips, that tend to steadily cut their weight. But these are just general trends. Comparing specific players on weight, if they have similar features, is ridiculous. The direction of cause goes the other way - adding more "audiophile/videophile" features to a player tends to make it weigh somewhat more than standard models. But weight doesn't mean better. I am positively certain that manufacturers of high end players _deliberately_ layer on weight in the construction to take advantage of the people who want hefty high end players.
     
  4. Michael Yung

    Michael Yung Stunt Coordinator

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    Martin, don't take everything so seriously. Using weight to judge the quality of a DVD or CD or amp or anything else is just a generalization. Bottom line is that good power supply does weight more. Metal weights more than plastic. And insulation also adds to the weight of a player. Take the generalization for what it's worth but don't use it as the single most important factor.
     
  5. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    I am all for the best sounding equipment possible, but If I am spending my money on a component I would rather have it sound good and have a quality build as opposed to good sounding and cheaply made.

    J
     
  6. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Martin, weight certainly doesn't guarantee quality. For the record, I am one who has complained about the overall build quality of the '47A. However, I have not once commented about the performance of the '47A except for summarizing comments I have read from others. The fact is I do not have enough firsthand experience with the '47A to fairly judge its performance. However, I do expect a component that retails for $1200 to be built far better than what the '47A shows. If I am going to spend $1000 or so for the '47A (street price), I don't want $300 build quality. Frankly, the '47A is built no better than many $300 components out there in my opinion. I'd like to see the '47A put on an extra 10 or 20 lbs. given the price.

    Would an extra 10 or 20 lbs. influence the performance of the '47A? Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn't. As you can gather by now, increased weight is not just about performance for me. My issue is that the build quality of the '47A doesn't justify the price. I look at the '47A, and I feel like it's a non-Elite component. Remove the Elite badge on the front panel and the black Urushi front panel, and it looks like any ordinary Pioneer component. When I look at the '47A and $1200 retail price, I feel like I am paying for the Elite name and the fact that it is the first legitimate universal player. That's a pet peeve of mine.

    My issues with the '47A aside, weight can influence performance. Vibration and, therefore, isolation can influence sound quality. So, the hefty weight of a front-end component can improve sound quality. The hefty weight could also reflect the quality of the power supply, which definitely can influence sound quality. A weighty component may not be a good performer, but the weight can contribute positively to the performance. Regardless, we come back the good old advice that one should always audition a component before buying and let his or her ears be the judge.
     
  7. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    I would agree with most of what others have posted. Weight is but only one measure by which a piece of equipment can be judged.

    Power supplies, shielding, toroidal transformers (more strongly correlatable in amplifiers), etc.

    In my experience I have found that again, in general, heavier products do tend to relfect that in better performance.

    But I have also found the converse too. The 7 lb HHB pro CD-R/RW burner I have, beats the pants off any CD player (and I had a Nakamichi OMS-7AII once) or DVD-player-as-a-CD player for CD playback. Just has awesome DACs in it.

    I would put the following forth: specifically for Sony ES and Pioneer Elite, if it weighs more, then it will be better performing than at least the equivalent Sony and Pioneer non-ES, non-Elite products.
     
  8. Martin Rendall

    Martin Rendall Screenwriter

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    Keith,
    I didn't mean to single you out. I hope no offense was taken. The Pioneer was only the first example which came to mind. I've read the weight comment time and time again, for a variety of products.
    But what you said did sort of make my point. I have no experience with the '47, so I'm not about to defend it. But, if someone is going to criticize it, I'd rather hear statements like, "the plastic drawer mechanism is so flimsy it looks like it will break down easily", or "the unit suffers from excess vibration. A heavier chassis, or a better design could have been used to rectify this," or "poor power supply", or something else concrete about the deficiencies. Do you think of it as $300 build quality as it is light? Or is it because you've analyzed the components and design, and have concluded that it doesn't measure up to other $1300 products?
    I agree that in many cases heavier usually means more and better components, but to emphasize weight, when it's only a side effect of the design, is adding a certain amount of superstition to an already overly complex and superstitious hobby. That's my beef [​IMG]
    Kevin makes a good point, though. I bet the manufacturers such as Sony have learned to choose weights appropriate to the quality of the design, so people are willing to pay accordingly. It just makes things easier for them.
    Martin.
     
  9. JohnnyG

    JohnnyG Screenwriter

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    I always thought that when you're talking about a CD or DVD player, the weight is there to control vibration. Why control vibration? Because it can cause read errors on the disc, which forces the error correction circuits to make 'repairs'. You want as few read errors as possible.

    Am I barking up the wrong tree?
     
  10. Ian Montgomerie

    Ian Montgomerie Stunt Coordinator

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    Adding weight to the player to "control vibration" won't have a noticable effect on read errors, no. Any well constructed disc drive will never have vibration-induced read errors from its own movement (i.e. you're not shaking the player). If you hear anyone tell you otherwise, you can bet its marketing spin on "we can reduce vibration-induced errors from 1 in a zillion to 1 in 3 zillion, so go ahead and pay all the extra $$$ for this important feature"!
     
  11. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    On amplifiers of traditional design, weight ties in to several items... Capacity of the input transformer, capacitance available, heat sink surface area etc.

    So with amps, for higher output, the weight is an important factor.

    I've seen a high end DVD player or two with lead used to increase the mass.

    Regards,
     
  12. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Martin, I didn't feel singled out. No problem. [​IMG]
     
  13. Francois Plouffe

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    I read somewhere (I think it is Secret's Home Theater), that Panasonic RP91 and H2000 (not sure if it is still around) that were essentially the same player except that the latter was heavier and more expensive.

    I admit that I prefer heavier product for the sake of build quality, but if the extra weight only goes to an all metal case and things like that, I don't think it is worth it from a performance view point.
    For an ampifier, it is understandable that more weigth equal better power supply (the heart of the amplifier after all) which most of the time translate to better sound.
    But for an all digital (well almost) device like a DVD player what matters the most is the circuitry.

    I never had any read error from my CD-Rom drive and judging by the sound comming from it, it must have a lot of vibration. I cannot think of any cheaper drive mechanism than CD-Rom drive. This is an old technologie now. Manufacturer has undoubtly come to build good cheap drive mechanism.

    All in all, it would be best to first check where the extra weight goes before making any weight=quality statement.
     
  14. GalenValentine

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    Ian, I thought one of the points behind a heavy chassis' was not necessarily to reduce vibration from internal mechanisms but to reduce outside mechanical vibrations e.g. walking across the floor in front the player. I know that there are other ways to do this, but it seems to me that a heavy chassis helps.
    Also, I would be interested in a little more technical detail if anyone has it. Are read errors measured in bits, bytes, or blocks of some other unit? How does upsampling, oversampling, or sideways sampling [​IMG] affect this value? Take a very simple example: data sampled at 192 kHz (or 192,000 samples per second) and read back with an error rate of 1 bit per million means that an error will occur every 5.2 seconds. I realize that it might more complicated than this which why I am asking. But I guess I'm trying to determine if reducing the error rate by an order of magnitude through the use of a heavier chassis really makes much of a difference.
    I've always believed that a heavier chassis was better, but maybe I'm wrong. [​IMG]
     
  15. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Galen,

    If memeory serves me correctly error correction is > 50% of the raw spindle rate. Actual is 22mb/sec, usable is 9.6mb/sec.

    So, for errors to make it through to the point of masking of some sort, there has to be more than single bit errors.

    Even so, I'd say that 1 error per million bits read is quite high.

    Regards,
     
  16. Ian Montgomerie

    Ian Montgomerie Stunt Coordinator

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  17. GalenValentine

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    Perhaps I should start a new thread for this. But, I'll go ahead and ask. If it continues much further than this I'll go ahead and start a new thread then.

    Ian, from your statements it appears that you believe there is no justification for high-priced digital sources. What do you think, then, is the point of diminishing, or "NO", return? In your opinion, why do people hear differences in, say, a Sony mass-produced CD player and a $7000 Accuphase CD player? Do you believe that there are *any* components in those expensive players that provide better performance, or is it just psychological? Will better circuit designs provide significantly better performance?
     
  18. John-Miles

    John-Miles Screenwriter

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    Ian just seems to be saying that while there are differences in many high end players, it is not because of the weight ofthe player, or some vibration damping. as he said the drive reading itself is likely not inducing the errors, the errors you hear are comming form other sources. so basically if you find two players that have the same processors and power supplies and so on and so forth, but one has several lead weights and a metal case and so weighs 10 pounds more you should not pay an additional 500 dollars for it, maybe an extra 50 or so because you perfer a metal case, but ultimately a metal or plastic case wont make a difference.
     
  19. Ian Montgomerie

    Ian Montgomerie Stunt Coordinator

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  20. Martin Rendall

    Martin Rendall Screenwriter

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    This thread has become extremely educational for me. This is exactly the sort of feedback I was hoping to get!

    Thanks,
    Martin.
     

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