In Which The Author Asks You To Go Visit Another Blog


From time to time, I have the luck to meet someone “virtually” who significantly expands my understanding of the world. Former Sterophile iconoclast and controversialist John Marks is one of those people. We’ve never laid eyes on each other, but he has taught me quite a bit about high-fidelity audio, music history, and certain aspects of morality.

Having recently decided to leave Stereophile for good, John has decided to chart his own path on the Internet. With my encouragement and minor assistance, he’s set up a blog of his very own. I think some of you will like the name he chose for it.

The blog is called The Tannhauser Gate. Like me, John is a Ridley Scott fan in general and a Blade Runner fan in particular. In one of his introductory posts, however, he expands the existing scholarship on that film by suggesting a Christian interpretation of the film:

For the entire last scene, Roy Batty tenderly holds a white pigeon (or a dove). When Batty dies, the bird flies skyward.

I think that the bird not only symbolized that replicants have immortal souls. I believe that the bird represented the active presence of the Holy Spirit, and that that was what inspired Batty to save a man who had earned death.

John sees more than most, to put it mildly. And his ability to analyze a piece of music in its proper cultural and temporal context is both enviable for the cognoscenti and accessible to lay readers. Go check him out. Tell him Jack sent you!

17 Replies to “In Which The Author Asks You To Go Visit Another Blog”

  1. jz78817

    Stereophile has been something of a conundrum for me. They don’t shy away from some of the more technical aspects of audio hardware, but they’re simply way too credulous when reviewing/discussing the quackery that infests the audio world. I’m better off ignoring the publication entirely.

    • Johnny Puddles

      My dear friend Jack did not post about Stereophile; in view of my having resigned there in July last year, I think you can safely continue to ignore them, but you actually might get something out of the article that so impressed Jack.


  2. galactagog

    I think the bird represents the gift of life, and the mercy Roy bestowed on Deckard, when Roy he realized he was going to die and there was nothing that could be done about it

    Logically, killing Deckard would not make any difference

    So he let the bird fly, as he exhaled his last breath

    you could say, he flipped Deckard the bird as a final gesture 😀

    although this is interesting:

    it was somewhat improvised by Rutger:

    “In an interview with Dan Jolin, Hauer said that these final lines showed that Batty wanted to “make his mark on existence … the replicant in the final scene, by dying, shows Deckard what a real man is made of.”[9]

  3. Michael

    I’ll check it out, but the link to “Esperanto Audio “Small Batch” S/PDIF digital-audio cable” reminds me of the “small batch hand crafted”rye and bourbon manufactured by MGP in Indiana.

    Cheers, Michael

    • Ryan C

      I try.

      I try to remind myself: just because you don’t share the wingnuttery of the person you’re trying to engage with, doesn’t mean that person is crazy or useless. It is in this spirit that I have useful relations with astrologers, past-life reincarnates, snake-handlers, and people who read the New York Times.

      But manufacturers of $500 S/PDIF cables are where, alas, my personal line may be. Mr. Marks is probably more knowledgeable than I about a great many things. I’m sure he has much to teach me. But when I read that site, I’ll just be thinking about his devotion to $500 cables.

      (I feel like an elaboration is needed: I can believe there’s $500 in parts, labour, and acceptable profit margins in the thing; I can believe there’s happy and willing customers for the product, and I certainly have no intention of interfering with this happy commerce. But I cannot believe there is anything like a purpose to such an object. It’s a diamond ring, only less intrinsically pretty and only capable of sending a social signal to a few thousand people on the planet, of which probably only one or two will ever look behind your stereo to be impressed. This is an audio dreamcatcher, though I’m sure it works very well at that job.)

      • Jack Baruth Post author

        Sir, perhaps I can interest you in the $895 USB cable I saw in the Music Direct catalog yesterday. It keeps the ones and zeros from getting fuzzy. Truth!

      • Johnny Puddles

        Hi, Ryan.

        My cable comes with a money-back guarantee. Furthermore, I have no trouble keeping in the forefront of my mind two things: lots of people are not the right customer for my cables, and, there might be systems where the DAC’s jitter rejection is so good that my cable might not add anything worthwhile. People who have no need to pat me on the head have clearly heard sounds that they like better, when switching to my cable–but, putting it between a $4500 computer-based “memory player” and a $9000 DAC.

        Indeed, industry insiders tell me I’d be better off charging $1200, because there will be people who won’t consider my cable because it doesn’t cost enough.

        I can appreciate the work and the lessons learned and the love of the sport that makes Orvis’ top bamboo or composite fly-fishing rods worth it to people whose idea of fun it is to put on waders… NOT ME!

        But I would never presume to call Orvis’ rather expensive simply ornamental. I might not be able to feel the difference in an expensive fly rod or in a professional-quality tennis racket. But that does not mean that those who devote much time to designing such are practicing astrology.

        Why don’t you go back and read the Blade Runner piece and try to same something intelligent or nice or both about it? Because as things now stand, you are a reverse snob and a troll.

        Immer essen,


        • jz78817

          ” lots of people are not the right customer for my cables,”

          yes, people with functioning brains. The two most important contributors to how your system sounds are 1) the room, and 2) the speakers (and usually in that order.) Worrying about the effect of the cables, or whether an amplifier has 0.01% less THD+N (when even an incredible speaker has about 1-2% THD) is like insisting you need a bandaid for a paper cut all the while your jugular artery is spurting.

          • Johnny Puddles

            The people who are buying my cables have their systems well thought out and well set up.

            My first customer has a Bricasti M1 DAC–it costs $9000, and Bricasti M28 mono amps, $30,000 the pair. He was thrilled with the improvement.

            I sold two suites of cables to a chap with a DAC stack including Rubidium atomic clock that retails for $120,000 or so.

            What makes you look like a real troll is that customer no. 1’s doctoral thesis was on the Black-Scholes stock-option pricing equations as a special case of Hilbert Spaces, and customer no. 2 has an MBA–from BU, IIRC.

            They both function pretty good.

            Is your next post going to be, “There’s no Porsche that’s really better than a Subaru, it’s all wishful thinking?”

            The world waits with bated breath.


  4. Michael

    I sold stereo gear in an upscale shop from 1994 to 2001. While I may have occasionally wrote an order for triple or quadruple digit cables, I never attempted to sell them to a customer. I preferred to sleep at night.

    • Johnny Puddles

      Hi, Michael,

      Please see my response above.

      I have been involved in recordings since 1968 and professionally since 1982; a recording I produced was featured in live performance on the NBC Today Show the Sunday morning after Thanksgiving a decade back. I have also had music placed on a top-rated daytime drama and used as environmental music in a Sigourney Weaver film. I have done architectual acoustical design on jobs up to the $1.5 million dollar range.

      I cheerfully admit that retail margins on speaker wires have gotten out of hand. A dealer can live on 50 points or he can sell someone else’s cable. I spend more on the made-in-USA zippered padded stuff sack my cable comes in than many companies pay for the whole schmeer in my price tier.

      I have no trouble sleeping at night–at least over this project.

      Please go back and read the article that moved Jack, and please come back and attempt to take part in an on-point conversation and not be a troll!

      Cable Mafioso, Kidnapper, Extortionist, and General Grouch

  5. VicMik

    The Radio Shack RCA cable leash on this Sony sub stuffed under the coffee table is pumping fierce Prodigy beats to make my nuts buzz at 50Hz – I could almost let a nut loose – not today, not now, not until the kids stop stomping to these delicious beats and are safely tucked for bedtime.

    To each his own. The perceived value of a $1k cable can not be dismissed at making a middle-aged man with imperfect hearing to greatly enjoy his favorite album. Worth every Benjamin.

  6. galactagog

    yep, Jimi Hendrix sure sounded like crap playing through that $5 curly coil guitar cable!!

    I’d better buy $500 cables, so it sounds decent on my stereo

    I jest…

  7. Mopar4wd

    I really don’t want to troll but reading the data over the years and double blind tests the improvements over $30.00 cable are almost certainly placebo effect. SPDIF has issues with jitter etc but almost none of it can be fixed with a cable its more of an issue of the pieces it connects. Again cables matter but really just cheap vs some quality after that they are likely the most ridiculous luxury item on the planet right up there with $10,000 phone cases.
    I’m not really one to talk as I have sold very expensive things of little value in past jobs but they at least gave the impression of value more then a $500 cable.

    • Mopar4wd

      I was little grumpy last night so here is an additional comment. I liked the article on the small audio system and I’m looking forward to the rest of the system. Sorry for the negative waves .

      • johnny puddles

        Then, I am doubly glad I bit my tongue; thanks!

        I have spent my consumer career putting together affordable systems; but, my professional career has been spent pushing the envelope in recording and playback.

        Not to be argumentative, but, where I am coming from is, first of all, S/PDIF is an ANALOG, 1970s-broadcast-television-recording-based system that bootstrapped the installed base of Sony analog cassette broadcast TV recorders.

        The default hookup of 75-Ohm coaxial on RCAs was compromised from DAY ONE, because the physical dimensions of a standard RCA “phono” plug and jack CANNOT make a true 75-Ohm connection. That cannot be disputed. (That’s why the BNC connector, which can make a true 75-Ohm connection, sounds better.)

        So, you get reflections, and then you get timing errors. (Even if the cable length is right; but in that case, the reflections don’t move the zero-crossing point that signals the embedded S/PDIF clock signal.)

        I am totally uninterested in any “reductionist” telling me that if a DAC can’t reject that “teeny” bit of jitter, it is broken. Because the reductionist has just admitted that the cable+connections system has introduced INDUCED jitter that was not there to start with.

        So now we are arguing about “How much?” (To quote GB Shaw.)

        So, I will leave it at that, and please tune in Thursday when I discuss the AMAZING $349 Class A/B (non-switching) power amp (45 Wpc) that is in two executive suites at Steinway because of me.

        Because they fit within the budget, and sound fantastic. $349. Less than my cable–which is not made in Taiwan… .

        If you want to have a valid discussion about transmission line theory as it applies to S/PDIF, it helps to have a working knowledge of the magisterial contributions of Maxwell, Faraday, and Heaviside.

        It was the unheralded Heaviside who put Maxwell’s equations into their current form (he had to invent both vector analysis and the equivalent of Laplace transforms in order to do so). In 1880, Heaviside was awarded the patent on coaxial cable. Contrary to all conventional wisdom, Heaviside concluded from pure math that by distributing inductance rather than trying to eliminate it, he could make a cable resonate (I say, “sing”), resulting in less attenuation, and less distortion.

        Read Heaviside’s Wiki.

        It is humbling.

        My cable is designed, by math and listening, to resonate and be more open, with less attenuation and less distortion.

        Sneeze if you wish. I worked on this cable over the course of three years, waking up to make equation notes at 3:00 AM on Post-It notes. Top digital-company people like my cable.

        And Matthew 10:10 says, the laborer is worth his hire.


  8. AoLetsGo

    A $500 cable? No that would be a big jump for me. But, you have inspired me to replace the $25 speakers I bought for my desktop machine from Micro Center. Not that I don’t appreciate nice sound, I can still hear the babbling brook from my x-ski trip through a still, northern forest, cedar swamp last weekend.


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