Cryogenic treatment of brass instruments?

On another newsgroup, the subject of cryogenic treatment of brass instruments came up, with the claim that it was "snake oil" and offered no
improvement. On a trumpet newsgroup, I've seen postings by people who claimed that their horns sounded much better after cryogenic treatment. The general claim was that the treatment aligned the molecules and relieved internal stresses in the metal, or something like that.
Perhaps you metal guys have some insight on cryogenic treatment as it pertains to brass, and brass instruments in particular. Any basis in fact, or pure BS?
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Jedd Haas - Artist
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"Jedd Haas" wrote: (clip)Any basis in fact, or pure BS? ^^^^^^^^^^^ Has anyone ever done a blind test on this? This is the kind of thing that can be enormously influenced by the placebo effect.
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Cryogenics is a weird thing. The only documented eveidence of any effect is with ferrous materials. I know of no other documentation for having any molecular effects on any other material: non ferrous or plastics, etc. Having said that, though, I did a little experiment that I learned of in other newsgroups. I made two CD copies of a disc and simply froze one in a regular freezer for a few days. The frozen disc had a bit more bass and resolution. The effect seems permanent, too and this is without going to cryogenic temperatures. Perhaps it affects the thermal dyes used in a CD-R, but even in blind tests, most listeners can pick out the difference. Seems to me we need a little more research into this (probably means too much $'s, though). Oh yeah, I know a trombone player who had his instrument cryo'd. His comment was that it didn't affect the sound so much as it affected the slide action.
Stu
Stu
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There are more than a few reasons to doubt that there is a real change here. And it's trivial to extract the song files from that CD, and compare the two disks.

Do you have an actual study to back that up? The problem is, it's a digital storage medium. They're either zeros or ones. The bits aren't going to be come zero-er, or one-er, just because it's been chilled, and if the bits get flipped, that's going to induce noise, not "a bit more bass and resolution". I won't even get into the error correction bits built into the format that also prevent this sort of thing from being plausible.
People were convinced that green magic marker around the edge of a CD made them sound better too, but that also isn't going to change zeros into ones, and even if it could, it wouldn't do them in an audibly pleasing and predictable way.

You could do it for free, with a Mac and iTunes. Or maybe even the PC version of iTunes. Or, if you agree that a CD-R is a digital storage medium, fill it with whatever data you want, freeze one, don't freeze the other, and run an MD5 checksum of both disks to verify that there's no difference.
Hard to say about the brass instruments. Without a controlled experiment, people are likely to hear what they think they want to hear, just like your frozen CD-R's.
Dave Hinz
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Actually, checksum didn't reveal any difference. I doubt if the cold treatment did anything to the dyes, but I inserted that coment just in case someone would speculate about the dye lots. I actually beleve it is doing something to the plastic.
Stu
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Well then.

If the checksum didn't change, the data didn't change. If the data didn't change, you're reading it through the plastic, from the die, so nothing changed. You've already disproven it yourself.
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I tend to think the only difference would be that their lips would freeze to the 'treated' horns.
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Fred R
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I have found that if I freeze a book before I read it, it becomes more meaningful.
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I tried freezing vodka, but I don't think it makes a better martini.
Gregm
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writes: | | > I have found that if I freeze a book before I read it, it becomes more | > meaningful. | | I tried freezing vodka, but I don't think it makes a better martini. | | Gregm
No, but if you mix your screwdriver as follows it's even better: 1/3 ice 1/3 orange juice concentrate, still frozen 1/3 vodka from a freezer.
Instead of a screwdriver it's called a thigh spreader. Jimmy Buffet had some similar comments about the concept, but I can't quote them exactly. Something like "I can't feel a thing!" where the response is "That's the plan, baby!"
That's as much of that cryo crap as I'll ever vouch for!
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Gah- I like to keep my OJ for breakfast and the vodka for other times. OTOH, my brother makes a nice Raspberry Wheat beer (but flavored with real Raspberry concentrate), which is affectionately known as "liquid panty remover". Though its best served a bit warmer than cryo temps, unlike Budwiser and the rest of that ilk.
Gregm
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Vodka ice cubes. You put them *in* the martini.
Jim
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Greg Menke wrote:

That's because a better Martini is made with gin.
-G
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Actually this is a common misconception. The actual reading of the disc is a totally analogue process. The reflected optical signal from the pits on the CD is not a strict "one" or "zero". The signal varies within a lower range which we call a "zero", and a higher range which we call a "one". There is a "guard" band between these two signal levels. It is only the digital circuitry that comes after the disc reading process that causes "binning" of the two signals into either a "one" or a "zero". It may not happen very often, but it is possible to introduce errors at the analogue reading stage. How this may or may not affect the sound I'll leave for others to debate. However, recall that many moons ago jitter was ridiculed and totally dismissed in the press as being an implausable cause for any affect on the sound. If I recall, it was one of these so- called nut case audiophiles that originally discovered and measured this effect. I do believe that low jitter circuitry is now pretty much standard in any decent quality digital equipment. Cheers.

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Any bits flipping because of analog effects is an error reading the medium. It happens, which is why there are ecc and checksums. Their job is to detect and/or recover from the error- the same kind of thing is done in more expensive computer memory to help recover from cosmic rays flipping bits here and there, among other things.
However, how the audio nuts go from arbitrary bits flipping between states to an organized effect like "better bass" instead of a simple increase in random noise is very curious to say the least. Particularly when such claims are not backed up by before and after disc images showing the beneficial effects and organized data tables showing the effect as a function of time-at-temperature.
Gregm
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I thought that in the case of audio media the sections of the disk normally used on data CDs for error checking and correction data were instaed used to store extra audio info hence no error correction on audio CDs.
Greg Menke wrote:

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Even if thats so, then why would the alleged bit flipping happen to the digitized audio in such an organized way as to improve the sound instead of introducing noise?
I think you should run the test as a previous poster suggested, take an arbitrary test disc, copy off its image, freeze the disc & confirm that it sounds better, then read the image again and run a md5 against both images. If the checksums are the same, you are imagining things. If they are not, then a per-track investiagtion would be the next step to find out where the errors occurred and how many occurred. Its just a matter of repetition to track down which samples have flipped bits & evaluate what the impact on the reproduced sound is.
The image reading and comparing is easier in Linux/bsd/Solaris and probably MacOS, but I imagine Windows can do it if you track down the software.
Gregm
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Greg Menke wrote:

I had a quick look and my comment was not entirely correct. On a data disc you get a 512 byte sector followed by about 150 bytes IIRC of ECC data, if the ECC can't correct it you get that nasty situation were the data is corrupted and possibly irrecoverable. The audio CD differs in the data layout but still has means of some ECC although the error handling strategies still play the CD trying to minimise the impact of errors on the reproduced audio. From this I could see that some method of uniformly tweeking the CD might have an effect on the audio output. I agree though that if you run a MD5 on the disc image and they are the same then I can't see how the freezing has effected anything.
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Yes, MacOS is a FreeBSD system, so all of the tools you'd expect on any other Unix box are there, and all of whatever you'd want to build builds just fine.
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I've had the occasional problem compiling things on OS X, different ranlib defaults for instance, but its loads easier to manage than Windows.
Gregm
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