What does ‘rolling’ mean in hifi?

Twice in the past few days I have come across the term ‘rolling’, in both cases seeming to me an odd use of the word. Can anyone enlighten as to where this comes from and exactly what it means?

The two uses were rather different: the first was @Simon-in-Suffolk with his Headphone filter rolling thread, and the second was @CrystalGipsy with a post this morning in the Headphones for late night listening thread referring to “pad and cable rolling”. In both cases it seams to mean tweaking, but not a use of the word ‘rolling’ I had come across before - and oddly or coincidentally both are headphone threads.

The term is used extensively with regard to valve electronics. Swapping valves in the quest for a sound that suits so I have no reason not to think the term basically means swapping components around.

Rolling = creating or customising something that otherwise doesn’t need it.

As in smoking brand X or rolling your own.

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I think some like to use that term when swapping op amps too!

Wasn’t the loss of rolling space on the cover one of the big losses in the move from LPs to CDs?



Usually after the second bottle of red, sometimes along with dancin’.


Rolling tended to be used as in " valve rolling". As to get them out of their bases involved a gentle rolling action. So to swap valves to get a different sound became known as rolling.
These days it just means swapping.

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Feeling Zen has the same understanding as me - creating or customising something yourself to suit your personal tastes.
I have used and seen the terms used for valve swapping in amps, interconnects, cabling, configurable filters, headphone leads, headphone pads, home made PSUs, mains leads and mains blocks etc.

In my use @Innocent_Bystander the term has a stronger impact compared to tweaking which is often more about optimising around the edges.
Rolling can also have a degree of DIY or creation about it where as tweaking tends not to and is often more about consumer products selection and/or how it’s used to suit taste.

Indeed the etymology is unclear it may come from rolling your own cigarettes, or indeed an adaption of valve rolling to loosen them from their base when changing them or alignment of both meanings to now infer customisation.

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As I’m sure someone famous once said, every day is a school day - you live and learn!

Thanks to all for responses.

Swapping and comparing is always how I’ve used it.

Article - Valves: ready to roll, dates from 2019, at hifinewsdotcom

I’ve been rollin’ since 1983!

Indeed and I have been ‘rolling’ long before 2019… with various things other than valves, even including home brew and customised radio antennas …
So perhaps with valve swapping in the consumer audio space it is a relatively new thing…

When I were a lad, rolling was a dubious leisure activity. It did also improve the sound of the HiFi. Temporarily. :crazy_face:


Is that like rolling your own beer, or have you introduced another idiom to the discussion? :wink:

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Not to be confused with wife rolling!

Is that equivalent to husband rolling?

No, the latter requires a LOT more alcohol!

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Depends by what we mean by rolling… for one of the meanings I would not have too much alcohol…

I thought Xanthe’s response meant that to roll husbands in the same way a woman might need the alcohol!