A-B testing of cables

I recently attended The Show in Newport Beach California, and I asked some experts how to upgrade my cables gradually. I was told to start at the source. I should upgrade the source interconnect first then gradually work my way through the system, and I should hear the difference at each stage providing I am using audiophile quality cables; so I bought some cables at over $600 a pair to try out. My current cables cost $250 a pair.
My system is composed of:
McIntosh C2500 preamp
McIntosh 601 mono blocks
McIntosh mcd 205 CD player
VPI Classic 3 turntable
Nola Baby Grand speakers

I bought two y adapters and connected one pair of new cable and old cable between the CD player and preamp to do an A-B test. I also performed the same test with the turntable but I could not tell the difference between the cables whatsoever. I was very surprised and disappointed at the same time. I could not believe it so I called in others to have a listen whithout telling them what I was doing and they too could not tell the difference.

Has anyone else tried this test? I would like to hear your results.
Am I doing something wrong?

What is your experience in doing A-B testing of interconnects?
I'd expect that you'll be receiving a variety of responses, including assertions that your system and/or your ears and those of the other listeners aren't "resolving enough," the recordings weren't good enough, the y-adapters and/or the doubled cables and/or loads that were applied to the CD player resulted in a loss of resolution (although based on the impedances that are involved **in this particular case** I doubt that was a problem), etc, etc.

IMO what you've mainly determined is that your particular hardware is not particularly sensitive to the differences between the two particular cables, in the lengths that you require. And that does not necessarily have anything to do with the musical resolution of the system.

Also, I think you'll find this thread to be of interest.

I assume, btw, that the test with the turntable was done by changing cables rather than with a y-adapter, as one of the two phono inputs on your preamp is for low output cartridges and the other is for high output cartridges.

-- Al
Another reason for you not hearing a difference is that you may have bought a new cable that is similar to your old ones. What did you buy?
One of my McIntosh system just like yours. For many years I have done many ABX tesing of many tweak, Interconnect and power cord from $200 to $2,000 with my audio club friend and could not tell the difference between them whatsoever.

My thought was with the RIGHT SYNERGY on a matching system, "noting matter".
The advice to start at the source assumes that the old cables further downstream are not "bottlenecking" your system. If they in fact are, any (possible) improvement upstream may be masked by them. Shunyata recommends auditioning their power cables by temporarily using them system wide, to get the cumulative effect, warning that changing only one cord may not be indicative of the improvement possible with their product. All that takes is a willing dealer!
If you can't hear a difference, be content in knowing that the rest of us are crazy. :-)

Like others have said and will say, there are many variables in the way for a proper A/B test. It could very well be that the Y-adaptor is the limiting factor and it's making any cable you try sound similar, if not the same.

All the best,
A more expensive cable doe not always mean better sound. i have found starting at the source is good, but then i do the speaker cables before doing the interconnect between the pre amp. also changing out the power cords is a good way to get a better sound.
enjoy Pete
I also have an Allnic H3000 phono with two MC and 2 MM inputs, and I tried the cables with the Y adapters there also, but could not tell the difference. I compared 1 Meter interconnects made by: Audio quest, Morrow Audio, Audio Art Cables, Totem Acoustic, Straight Wire, Audience, and even an interconnect from Radio Shack, and my own DIY interconnect; but we still could not tell the difference in sound between any of the cables when playing SACD (I have a Denon universal DVD/CD player), regular CD or Vinyl record. We were all astonished, lost for words because we were hoping to hear some difference.
I won't knock any of these cables I am only sharing my experience in comparing them in my system, your system might produce differents result. I performing these comparisons using the McIntosh C2500 preamp remote to switch the inputs where the cable were connected almost instantly. I also changed the cables manually but nothing made a difference in sound.
My experience is sometimes there is a significant difference and other times not. It all depends.

I believe design is a big factor in how a wire 'sounds". Some wires share similar designs and others attempt more "esoteric" designs.

I often tend to notice differences with unbalanced (RCA type) analog cables in cases with clearly distinct designs when used from source to pre-amp or pre-amp to amp. I tend to not notice much difference with good quality digital cables.

Also if balanced connections are used, my understanding is most good quality ones tend to share a similar design and also tend to sound more similar.
Mcintosh, while being very well made, isn't the most detailed equipment that you can buy. It wouldn't be my first choice to do a cable shootout with. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes the more detailed gear can drive you crazy.

Looking at the cables you tried, the AQ, Morrow, Audience are all solid core copper designs. Not that they should all sound the same, but you can expect some similarities between them. If you're trying to hear a difference take one of the solid core cables and put it next to the Straight Wire. When you listen, play something well recorded that has a singer and just one or a few instruments, like a piano or an acoustic guitar. Closely miced recordings like this present a lot of detail and it makes it much easier to hear small differences. Listen to the high frequencies, like cymbals and vocal sibilance. You should here some differences in those areas. Also, pay attention to image size, or scale. The difference may not be big, but there's usually a difference to be heard changing from stranded to solid core.

Sometimes when dealing with products like cables, that don't always make a big difference, you just need to focus and hear it that first time. Once you hear something for the first time, its usually much easier to keep hearing the same type of thing, again and again.
Roger Russell dealt with this subject at McIntosh. While his testing at the time didn't specifically address IC cables, the came to some interesting conclusions. Link [urlhttp://www.roger-russell.com/truth/truth.htm#truthandsuper]here[/url]. You can also check out his comments on speaker wire where he feels physics is physics.
Missed the =. Link here[urlhttp://www.roger-russell.com/truth/truth.htm#truthandsuper]here[/url].
Not sure what that markup tag isn't working. Try this one: http://www.roger-russell.com/truth/truth.htm#truthandsuper.
Fwiw,I have Mac stuff C50 pre.501 monos.I recently installed Signal Cable silver reference balanced ic's between pre/pwr combo and dac/ pre combo,and never looked back.There may be better cables out there,but at their price point plus 30 day trial period they represent a great value and have all the audiophile attributes we all look for.Just give them a good 75-100 hrs break in before passing judgement.In my system they are amazing.
If you're trying to hear a difference take one of the solid core cables and put it next to the Straight Wire. When you listen, play something well recorded that has a singer and just one or a few instruments, like a piano or an acoustic guitar. Closely miced recordings like this present a lot of detail and it makes it much easier to hear small differences. Listen to the high frequencies, like cymbals and vocal sibilance.
+1 ZD I just recently upgraded my speaker cables and didn't think I heard very much difference. That was until I put one of each cable in. At that point the difference was very noticeable.
In my experience, a longer term audition is better than a quick A/B comparison. I have found that by leaving one cable in your system for a longer period (at least two weeks to a month), and then swapping it out with the comparison cable provides a better indication of which cable you will enjoy long-term. Because of the “new factor,” we are sometimes drawn to something that is new and/or different, so this longer term comparison is a more reliable comparison method, to me.

Also, recognize that component-cable interactions may cause a particular cable to sound differently when used with different components. Therefore, settle in on your components before spending a bunch of money on cables.

Finally, I wouldn’t spend a bunch of money on cables. I have found there is often not much correlation between cost and performance since (some but not all of the) cables I have made from high quality bulk cable or wire, and high quality connectors, sound every bit as good as, and in some cases better than, name-brand high priced cables I have owned.
I went cable crazy for a quite a while setting up my main system. In my experience upgrading the power cords made more of a difference than interconnects. Biggest difference in interconnects was:

1. source to pre (by far the largest)
2. preamp to power amp (noticeable)
3. speaker cables (only minimal improvement)

That was helpful as speaker cables are the most expensive as they're generally the longest.

I tried various cables of similar price points with only small but noticeable differences. Only when I took a big leap forward in price and design by trying Nordost did I hear a "Wow!" difference. So yes, a fresh $600 cable may not sound any better initially than your broken-in $250 cable. Cost is not always indicative of price.
I'm of the camp that thinks ICs are the most important, particularly from source to amp. Throw in separates and I'd suggest staying with the same ICs. If you're going to throw money at something, do it with the ICs.

I also agree that it makes choosing a SC all the more easier as you don't need to spend insane amounts of money to get great results. Once I settled on the best ICs I could get for my system, I discovered SCs that went for $15/ft. that smoked anything else I had in my (small) inventory.

It made a believer out of me of the importance of getting it right upstream first. As for PCs, I'm tempted to try something else but seriously doubt I could better my present set up without spending more than I'd like.

All the best,
"07-07-15: Mitch2
In my experience, a longer term audition is better than a quick A/B comparison. I have found that by leaving one cable in your system for a longer period (at least two weeks to a month), and then swapping it out with the comparison cable provides a better indication of which cable you will enjoy long-term. Because of the “new factor,” we are sometimes drawn to something that is new and/or different, so this longer term comparison is a more reliable comparison method, to me."

I agree. That's really the other half of the equation. There are things that I need to listen for when doing a quick A-B test like we were talking about above. But the final test is to leave the cables in the system for a longer period of time. You'll notice just as many differences between cables when you are NOT listening for changes.
years ago when I first got into this hobby, I went cable crazy. bought and tested bunch of different cables used through audiogon, and I can't remember the name of that used cable site (?) they are super helpful there.

I could tell a difference in interconnects for sure, and speaker cables to my then big Maggie 3.6's. I could hear nothing at all in the way of difference from power cables to any of the equipment.

Nothing over the basic upgrade sounded any "better" to me in the way of I/C's or Speaker cables. For a long time I used Kimber Hero's and Zu Libec speaker cables. I only recently switched to all AntiCables. I've always used Signal Cable power cords.

So, I'm not surprised you hear no differece.
If you can't tell the difference, then you don't need to change cables :) Try A/B cheap cables and see if you can hear a difference.
Almandog - did you allow the new cables sufficient time to "burn-in"

The KLE Innovations gZero cables I am currently using took over 300 hours to sound anywhere near their best - in fact they are still getting better. Having said that they blew the doors off the old cables - IC's and speaker - right off the bat, so it was not difficult to appreciate the improvements.

Even once burn-in is complete, if you disconnect them and reconnect them, some cables may require time to "settle" or "re-seat".

Sounds bloody crazy, but again, my KLE Innovations gzero cables require up to 60 hours to settle if disconnected, before they perform there best

As to which should you upgrade first - I try to get the speaker cables sorted first and then deal with interconnects, because as another poster pointed out - downstream cables could be the bottleneck.

Hope that helps :-)
I read an article on another site that linked to about a dozen tests done over the years on "High End" audio.

I can't remember the name of the company or the owner but the test was an ABX test to see if people could tell which speaker cables were better.

The owner of "xyz" co. who sold speaker cables for $3,000 participated in the test and could NOT tell the difference, in an ABX test, from his cables or $300 Monster Cables.
Tests like that are not conclusive. There's just way too many variables in play. Also, I question the salesman's claim about not being able to hear a difference. There's people that hate high end audio so much, they make stuff up.
Depends on a number of things. The cables under test, the system use for the test, whether there are mistakes in the system, how long cables are broken in, how long the system components are broken in, things in that vein.

This does not surprise me. I have speculated about this before on the forum.
I would love to read a technical analysis of speaker cable "burn in" .

Is someone going to suggest that the cable needs time for the electrons to "Line Up" or "configure" in a specific order so that the cables sound good?

There are no moving parts in a cable. Speakers, sure I understand that concept….and they wear out.

I'm open to learn something proven by science. Who's got the White Paper on this?
Gorquin... you say...

"There are no moving parts in a cable"

Fact: there are billions - of electrons, proton etc. Just because you can't see it movin - just sayin :-)

- There is also the effect a cable has on the performance of the connected components - at both ends

- Certain architectures actually lower the noise on the neutral side of connected components

- There is seating of the connectors - a bond that can take days before optimum performance is achieved.

- There is the effect the insulation has on the cables performance - which over time can change for better or worse.

And that is just scratching the surface.

Having dabbled with cables for years I now have cables that actually allow my components to run cooler - simply because of their architecture.

The "science of cables" is only just (i.e. in the last 30 years) being investigated and understood - it is insanely complex and as such - "papers" are extremely rare.

Choose to believe it or not - scoff or investigate - your choice.

Right now - the proof is in the listening - not in white papers.

I have heard a difference many times - sometimes to my own amazement.

My cables are an integral part of my system and I consider them just as important (if not more) than some components.

But that is just my own observations - others may not experience the same.

If you are ever in the Toronto region - drop me a line and come on by for a listen - bring your cables - we'll have some fun trying :-)
It doesn't matter what you say, he'll never change his position. Its not about cables, its about him being right. Give him all the proof you want, and he'll come up some excuse, no matter how small, to invalidate whatever it is you show him. Here's an example.

Gorquin. Here's a white paper on Audioquest's DBS system. It goes over what break in is, and what it is not. You'll also see the patent number AQ has on this system.

In my exprience, cable sound has much to do with what it is plugged into. The same cable sounds different in different systems. I suspect that to get the results of what the cable sounds like in your system, you would have to connect it in the traditional way. I'm not an electrical engineer, Y connectors have always damaged the sound of anything i tried it with.
Gorquin - since, and I quote....

"I'm open to learn something proven by science"

I'll share some of my experiences....
- I was installing a new light fixture in the hallway that employs a two-way switch - i.e. you can turn on/off from either end

- to verify the wiring was correct I tested the circuit with a digital multi-meter
- With the light in the on position I checked the circuit
- the wire that carried the power to the light registered 120 volts - as it should
- to my amazement the other wire i.e. the one that carries voltage when both switches are in the other position and should be at ZERO volts - but actually registered a voltage around 43 volts.
- to make sure I was not measuring incorrectly I double checked with a second analogue meter - it recorded a voltage of 13.5 volts.

What I was actually measuring was a voltage that had been "induced" into the second wire...

The reason for the disparity between the two meters was due to the internal circuitry - the analogue meter draws more power than a digital meter, therefore the voltage recorded was less.

This is actually a well documented phenomena - simply google...

"two way light switch register phantom voltage" for some articles about it.

So what does this have to do with audio?

Inductance takes place ANY TIME that two conductors (i.e. wires) are
1. parallel to each other and
2. very close together

The induced signal, or noise is directly related to the length of the two conductors and how close they are.

If you look at the most common geometry used for cables i.e. IC's, Speaker Cables and Power cables, you have two conductors encased inside a sleeve in very close proximity.

They may have a slight twist in them, which makers state is a "noise rejecting geometry' (noise rejecting my A**).

Why are they made this way? - it's much cheaper to produce!


Companies like Kimber Kable, figured this out many years ago and started using braided conductors for a superior result.

Some companies figured out that the induction process could be reduced significantly by tightly twisting two conductors together - such as the geometry used in Stager Silver Solids IC's

Others utilized a loose spiral wound around a spacer between the two conductors.

AntiCable (amongst others) found a very good solution was to wind the neutral conductor around the signal conductor in their IC's for even better performance - but they are hand made and a little more expensive to produce

Now - If you cross two conductors at an acute angle - generally between 50-80 degrees, such as that employed in Anticables spiral IC's - the induction effect is significantly reduced and this translated into a quieter background and better clarity. It also facilitates a more spacious and wider/deeper image.

Won't having two wires of differing length effect cable performance?

NO - see *** below

Going back to your "No Moving parts" - brings me to my own "atomic theory for beginners" understanding of electricity.

Electrically Conductive materials have loosely coupled electrons (i.e. moving parts) that allow them to conduct electricity - they are called valence electrons ( for the sake of brevity look it up on the web)

The reason silver is a better conductor than copper is that silver has more valence electrons. But more importantly, the electrons are in a more "spacious orbit", so it takes less electrical potential to get them to conduct, i.e. compared to other materials.

Net result - silver cables (in general) tend to exhibit a more dynamic presentation - because they are simply - faster

Some people reported silver cables as being "too bright", but this is probably due to the cable geometry used and the other materials used in it's construction - it has little to do with the conductive qualities of Silver.

So, couple the better conductive properties of Silver with the advanced geometries now being explored and you have a cable that WILL perform better many other cables out there.

One last thing to expand your thought process even further.

*** There is a common belief that
- one conductor in a cable is the for the signal
- the other is the return path

To challenge that belief - if you think about the function the cable is actually performing from the perspective of the attached circuits you may come away with a very different conclusion.

Please read the lower section of this blog post:

As you can see - the neutral conductor simply maintains a potential of ZERO VOLTS between the two components and has little to do with the "return path"

There should be no signal in the neutral side of either component!

And so - Their lengths really are immaterial

But it is imperative that no noise gets "induced" into the neutral sides of the cable, resulting in noise in the neutral sides of the connected components - resulting in a degraded system performance.

Which is just one reason why cables DO make your system "sound different"

Power cables also experience similar issues and cable geometry is probably the most important thing to consider when trying to remedy power related issues. But that's for another day :-)

That's a very brief summation of some of the cable related thing's I've personally encountered and tried in the last 4-5 years

Hope you found it informative :-)

Steve (Williewonka), re the blog post you referenced, keep in mind (as I'm sure you realize) that for current to flow a complete circuit has to be present, from source to destination and back to source.

When the output of one component provides a signal to the input of another component, there indeed has to be a path for the corresponding current to return to the source of the signal. And the quality of that return path will matter just as much as the quality of the path for the "signal." In fact, it will often matter more, as explained in the next paragraph.

Depending on the internal grounding configuration of the two components, even very small amounts of resistance in the return conductor may contribute significantly to ground loop issues, which can in turn result in issues involving high frequency noise as well as low frequency hum. While the resistance of the signal conductor in a line-level interconnect that is conducting an analog audio signal will only matter if that resistance is a significant fraction of the impedances of the connected components, especially the input impedance of the destination component. And for line-level analog interconnections, that resistance will be a totally miniscule fraction of that input impedance in nearly all home audio systems.

-- Al
ZD you don't know much about me to make a statement like that. Oh wait, so that means I couldn't possibly be correct in anything I say because you've already convicted me and YOU must be correct. LOL Works both ways doesn't it.
No one is debating that inductance and capacitance have an effect on cable performance.

The DBS "paper" is an opinion. Here's a curious challenge: http://www.audioholics.com/audio-video-cables/top-ten-signs-an-audio-cable-vendor-is-selling-you-snake-oil/audioquest-responds-to-top-10-snake-oil-article

Does anyone know if DBS accepted the "Testing" request and if so what were the results?
I'm NOT saying that cables don't or can't make a difference. Cheap, thin, poorly constructed cables can be microphonic, pickup radio waves, and sound like garbage. I've seen it with guitar cables plenty of times.

I question "claims" that can not be substantiated by anything but an opinion and a marketing campaign.

Looking for some proof to the DBS claim I came across another article where Mr. Patrick of Audio Quest clearly states "you can't measure it".

BUT, the good part is that anyone who chooses to "hear" an improvement can certainly pay what ever price they wish for what ever product they wish if they "hear" a difference.

As to Mr. Patrick's claims that selling "millions of dollars of cables every year" substantiating that his cables work I point to Bernie Maddof who had Billions of dollars pouring into his co. LOL

To each his/her own. Anyone compare DBS cables to other expensive non-DBS cables and hear a marked difference either way?
Thanks Al - Nicely put

Absolutely, the circuit has to be "complete" for it to work.

I guess my problem is the "vision" people tend to get in their minds that an actual return signal flows in the neutral side.

But if the neutral side of all components is grounded at zero volts(as depicted in the diagram), at least in all good designs, there should be no signal as such in the neutral side of the component or cable - is there?

In support of your statement about miniscule amounts of resistance in the neutral side of cables - I found with various versions my own Spiral IC's - performance improved as I added more conductors to the neutral line - but the signal conductor was better with a single 24 gauge solid core silver conductor.

I think were are saying the same thing, just a little differently - but I know we agree on the importance of a "zero volt" neutral side of the audio pathway.

Hi Steve,

Agreed for the most part, and the experience described in your second from last paragraph makes a lot of sense. However, a current will indeed flow in the return conductor of an unbalanced line-level interconnect, that is equal to the current in the signal conductor. Or, at least, the two currents SHOULD be equal. Any slight differences that may exist between them would mean that some fraction of the return current is finding an alternate path, such as the return conductors of other cables that may be connected between the same components, or through the AC safety ground connections of the two components (which would constitute a ground loop issue, to some degree that may or may not have audible consequences).

But if the resistance and impedance of that return conductor is 0 ohms at all relevant frequencies (to a very close approximation), then the voltage drop from one end of that conductor to the other which results from the current flowing in it will be, per Ohm's Law, 0 volts (to a very close approximation). Which in turn will mean that the return conductor and the points in each component to which it is connected will all be at 0 volts, relative to the circuit grounds of both components. (Keep in mind that any voltage number, including 0, is only meaningful if a reference point is defined, at least implicitly. In this case the reference point(s) would be the circuit grounds of the two components).

In any event, thanks for sharing your experiences, which I know are particularly extensive in these kinds of matters.

Best regards,
-- Al
Thanks for referencing the audioholics articles. I know it well and was about to list it myself. In it, they call the DBS system snake oil, and follow up with some scientific info as to why the DBS will make no difference. I see a couple of problems with their argument.

The main issue is simply this: If you read through the articles carefully, you'll see that not 1 of the skeptics so much as laid a finger on a DBS cable. How can anyone make a conclusive statement on the system without actually using it first to see if it works or not? Its silly. In order to claim science, you need to do something scientific. If they would have tried some of the AQ cables and didn't hear a difference, I can respect that. But they're not interested in the truth, they're more concerned about winning the argument.

The other major thing that stands out in the article, is that they're challenging AQ to send them some cables to demo. To me, that sounds like they are afraid that they may be wrong. I say this because if these people wanted to conduct a test of the DBS system, they could easily do so at any time. You don't need AQ to do that. DBS cables are sold in Best Buy. They can buy a pair, test them and then return the cables if they are not happy with the results. What could be easier? That's what most of us here do if we are considering new gear. We demo it. The skeptics can do it too, but they choose not to. I wonder why.
You lost me at the Y-cable....another misguided well meaning audiophile goes down the rabbit hole. Sadly, cables that cost a fortune can and do sound better....as always, the results are system dependent and thoroughly neutralized by pseudo-intellectual, financially challenged DIY types.
Perhaps a different test could be tried using both mono amps and speakers thus:
Hook up one channel of the preamp to one splitter, then send both signals to mono amps and then to speakers. Put the speakers next to each other. Result is a duplication of one channel, but using different interconnects (or speaker cables if desired, but not both at same time). One speaker could be connected to each output (i.e. Output 1 Left channel, and Output 2 Left channel) of the amp. Simple switching between the outputs of the amp at a moderate listening level could yield quick comparison versus turning off the amp, swapping wires and establishing the signal again.

The differences in order to be efficacious must be immediate, easily heard. If not, then either the cables have very similar design, or one's ears do not perceive the differences. That's not a judgment, just a conclusion.

I find that some listeners have a difficult time with any delay in comparison, and they cannot retain very well what they heard. This setup would eliminate a long pause and make it easier to hear the result in an instant. I do not find that some systems are less sensitive to cable changes, but I do find that some are less resolving. The OP's rig is plenty good for this test.

With this setup the OP and friends might hear some differences, with various cables. If they still cannot hear the differences, then they should simply pursue economical cables and be happy. :)
"With this setup the OP and friends might hear some differences, with various cables. If they still cannot hear the differences, then they should simply pursue economical cables and be happy. :)
Douglas_schroeder (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers | This Thread)"

Not necessarily. That test has some serious flaws. The first is the splitter itself. Depending on how well its made, it could rob the system of detail that would normally be there without the splitter. Also, since cables are system dependent, the splitter will match up differently with with each cable. Cable A may match up with the splitter "better" than cable B. And you'll have to double up on the runs because the splitter is in the way.

More importantly, though, testing a cable using this method won't allow allow you to hear any spacial information. To see how well a cable images, you need to be listening in stereo. Scale/image size, and how forward/distant the presentation is, can't be determined either.
FWIW, I agree in part with the preceding posts by Doug and ZD, and disagree in part.

I think that the criterion of immediate efficaciousness, which Doug has stated a number of times in the past as well as above, has a lot to be said for it. Especially in the context of cables, as well as tweaks of various kinds. Although at the same time I recognize that there can be subtle differences that may take a relatively long time to initially perceive, but once initially perceived can then be identified fairly readily in subsequent listening.

I agree with ZD that there are problems with a comparison that involves only one channel of information. In addition to the issues he cited, there is the fact that while differences may be noted in many cases in such a comparison, one's ability to reach a meaningful conclusion as to which of the items being compared is "better," or at least subjectively preferable, will be compromised by the missing information. And also by the altered placement of the speakers in the proposed test.

Regarding splitters, from a technical standpoint my expectation is that in the majority of cases the negative experiences people often report with them are not caused by the splitters per se, but rather by one or more of the following:

1)The fact that the component supplying the signal is driving two load impedances, rather than one. The combined impedance of the two loads will always be lower (more challenging) than either of the two individual impedances, and will usually be MUCH lower. (To calculate that, multiply the two impedances together, and divide that product by the sum of the two impedances. To assure that the combined impedance won't be too low to be suitable, that result should be at least 10 times greater than the highest output impedance the component supplying the signal has ***at any frequency***).

2)The fact that the component supplying the signal is driving two cables, especially in regard to their capacitances. (The combined capacitance of the cables equals the sum of their individual capacitances). The combined capacitance of BOTH cables will affect the signals seen by BOTH components that are being driven, as a result of the interaction between that total capacitance and the output impedance of the component supplying the signal. In other words, to cite a common application of a splitter, if one is used to split the output of a preamp so that it is routed to both a powered sub and the main power amp, the capacitance of the cable to the sub can affect the high frequency content of the signal seen by the main power amp just as much as the capacitance of the cable which connects to the main power amp. Or even more, if the cable to the sub is longer than the other cable and/or has higher capacitance per unit length.

3)The possibility that sonics may be affected by low frequency, high frequency, or even ultrasonic noise that may be introduced as a result of ground loop effects occurring between the three interconnected components, that might not occur if only two of them were connected.

-- Al
Always a very emotive subject...

In my experience highly resolving systems yield better results.

Another approach is to consume alcohol or drugs or both.
"Another approach is to consume alcohol or drugs or both."

Sometimes that does more harm than good. Like the time when I cooked an egg on top of my Class A Pass amp. I didn't let it warm up enough, and I forgot to melt some butter on it first, like I normally do. I don't know how many hours I spent cleaning those heat sinks out.
"Like the time when I cooked an egg on top of my Class A Pass amp. I didn't let it warm up enough, and I forgot to melt some butter on it first, like I normally do. I don't know how many hours I spent cleaning those heat sinks out."

Manufacturer manuals could be more comprehensive regarding cooking instructions.
Several thoughts on this discussion.

I have no problems with A-B cable comparisons but I do have some questions about the Y-Adapters.
What are they made of and are they of good quality or are they cheapies? In my experience most adapters aren't made very well, I'll admit there are exceptions. Could the adapters be a bottleneck?

Maybe the cables you've compared actually do sound similar. I had this happen when I compared 3 different cables brands recently. They all sounded very good but very similar.
Cable questions of the profound "what is the meaning of cable" are always entertaining by right of how many clueless people are going to give you their profoundly ignorant and useless advice. Unfortunately far too many dealers and "experts" will give you advice that is almost as useless.

The advice you got about starting from the source to preamp had an element of validity due to the fact that this is the key interconnect. The catch 22 here is that unless the rest of the cable in the system is neutral regardless of how transparent it is, each colored cable adds another layer of coloration or veils detail in the case of inferior cable resolution. So you are in theory revealing more detail at the front but it won't be heard because other cables are acting as a filter.

So... while the first i/c is the one that will reveal the most detail, your other cables have to be able to allow you to hear both the detail and a lack of added coloration or distortion.

The price of cables means nothing, what is important is that you pick a company that knows what neutrality is and the importance of it. When a cable is neutral their $150 cable does what their $450, $800, and $3000 models do, just with extra levels of detail resolution. The entry level neutral cables are better than many manufacturers mid grade $3500 cables because those have coloration that cause the tonal balance to be out of kilter.

Once every cable in your system is neutral you can start doing single cable upgrades from the front back and you will see staggering differences.

In closing the reason you didn't hear differences is likely because the other cables in your system aren't letting you hear them.

I was a dealer several years ago and have tried the majority of big name cables, and by that I mean the manufacturer would send me full sets of every cable in their lines, I spent months properly breaking them in before doing tedious comparisons.

One last thing, most cables have break in periods of at least three weeks of nearly full time running. During that break in time they can sound so bad it's hard to listen to them, then they start coming around and the magic starts coming around. My guess is that many people have given up on great cables due to that.

Good luck
"10-21-15: Aintitgr8
Cable questions of the profound "what is the meaning of cable" are always entertaining by right of how many clueless people are going to give you their profoundly ignorant and useless advice. Unfortunately far too many dealers and "experts" will give you advice that is almost as useless."

Lets see where you fit in. If neutral cables are so important, define them. How do I know cable A is more neutral than cable B?
There is no such thing as neutral with anything in audio, everything has it's own flavor of sound, some artifacts are more apparent in some products than others, my opinion, when someone tells me something sounds neutral, I question how long they been doing high end audio,and what equipment have they experienced, even state of the art in any given product has it's own particular sound, however, do I hear profound differences in cables, yes!, but the sad part of it all is the performance to cost ratio is lousy!, an example in my experience was that it took going from a $3,000.00 I/C to $15,900.00 for one meter to get an incredible, astounding, difference in sound performance, do I agree with cost of cable's these days, of course not, it's ridiculous!,did I pay it, I have never paid full retail for cable's, and I suspect most of us have not,do I think the op is going to hear significant sound differences between $250.00 to $600.00 cables with the brand he is referring too, no!, very few brand's out there can manage very little differences with sound performance at this cost point!
Can't be done. Cables have to break into your system. Just moving the cable slightly changes the sound for worse.
BDP you hit it on the head, the upstream i/c is the critical one, but it's improvements can't go much beyond the downstream cables which will have a cummulative degradation of what would have been possible had all the cables been upgraded.