p.t. barnum is validated once more.
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Were you compaing "junk" cables to quality cables or did you also compare several quality cables and hear a real difference?
I've read more than once that cables to really matter as long as you have one that's adequate in size for the system requirements. I take this to mean that if your cables are too small you will certainly notice a negative effect, but once you get into the right sizes the difference are minor to non-existent though there has to be some difference otherwise the too small cables wouldn't matter.
You need to do a double-blind A/B with matched levels to truly know if there is any difference. The human ear can detect minute differences in volume. A box to do this test is not available at Radio Shack. You need to check the volumes carefully with a meter and have the adjustments built into the A/B box with a high-quality pot. Only then can you conduct the experiment to see if you can really hear the difference.
Based upon everything I've read, there is no detectable difference in the sound quality (not to say volume) of any reasonably well-made cables. Hum, RFI, etc. can be brought into your system by a poorly shielded cable. But the sonic quality will not change otherwise.
Well Rok2id, I didn't expect you to concede so quickly, come on, state your case.
Great points Chicagojtw this is important to ensure that you aren't being fooled by any number of factors that can make you believe you're hearing something that in reality you aren't. This is going to be an interesting thread.
Forget the logic and science of what should be Rok2id. I agree with your premise but what you have to do is listen before being biased into a logical conclusion based on what you think should be. I understand your point and I'm not sure there is a definitive scientific explanation of what we perceive to hear but it is my contention that one can hear differences in cables regardless of what the actual causes are for those differences. In my experience the differences are much more apparent the greater the resolution of the system.
The only possible differences are with respect to R, L or C. If anyone can explain how the resistance, inductance and capacitance of wire change the quality of the sound, they should say so. While that person is at it, he should state how that quality is measured and what equipment can be used to do so.
The r,l and c of the cable interacts with the source r,l and c and the load r, l and c to very the frequency response and phase shift of the audio signal. Also shield effects rf pickup by the cables that get fed back to the amplifier and fed back to the input by the amps feedback loop. These few factors alone can alter the sound of various cables in any given system. The differences can be small or very noticeable or not noticed at all
Would you agree that "immeasurably small" is the same as "not noticed at all"? Therefore something "very noticeable" ought to be measurable, correct? If so, please advise where in the literature of cables one can find a side-by-side comparison of phase shift or frequency response pitting one cable against another under identical conditions.
I would also contend there is no way a reasonably short cable (<4 feet) could possibly contain enough capacitance to affect the loading of the input, though there may be some poorly made beast out there that does. Shielding is a different issue, which can affect sound, particularly in low-current turntable connections. But added RFI is not the issue; sound quality is. I still don't know what independent variable can be assigned to a cable for this.
"being biased into a logical conclusion" you wanna retract that:)
No because my logic always won out until I started doing extensive listening and realized I was hearing differences, sometimes profound differences between ic's and speaker cables. Sometimes there are no apparent differences. How can this be?
"Whether the difference is better or worse is a subjective judgement made by the listener" I agree Ahendler
The history of this hobby always has the naysayers and a healthy dose of skepticism is always a good thing to maintain to keep reality in check. All I'm saying is that I can hear differences between cables that matter to me in the best examples and don't in many or even most cases.
If there is a specific study at Audioholics, I would be glad to read it. As for the Cardas link, that pertained to speaker wire, not interconnects. I would certainly agree that speaker wire should be as short as possible to minimize resistance. Anything fatter than 14-gauge, however, is probably overkill except on the longest runs.
But there really isn't a measurable difference among reasonably well-made interconnects (i.e. decent connectors, well-shielded cable). R, L & C are the only variables, and none of them vary enough in industry products to make any measurable--certainly audible--difference. Use whatever you like, but if you're changing out one decent cable for another, you are wasting money, time or both.
my only concern is for the guys just getting started, and post asking for advice on how to get started. one person wrote in asking for that advice, and on the first response, was told to start off with a very good power cable. That is an outrage. The pity is many many ecperienced people on this site know better, but seem to be reluctant to challenge the "if YOU can hear it, its real" crowd.
"And if someone wants to try and understand the science that goes into designing cables, better call Jim Aud from Purist or Stealth people. They would fill your head with this stuff in no time."
Not that they would have any vested interest in trying to fill your head with this stuff, right?
Bottom line on speaker cables- there is a difference as impedence, capacitance etc will quickly indicate, the nonsense about getting "blown away" by changing speaker cables only shows how gullible some are.
Power cords - puleese. Drink deeply of the kool aid, and make some charlatan rich. A fool and his money.......
Talk is cheap. Rather than state that speaker cables are all the same or vastly different, why not actually try them? I used to be of the belief that the idea of differences in speaker cables, power cords and interconnects was snake oil.
However, there was a simple way to prove it. I contacted at least 9 different companies and they were willing to let me audition their respective cables in my home for 30 days. The only downside is that I had to pay shipping.
After experimenting with Wireworld, Straight Wire, Transparent, Home Grown, Signal Cable, MIT, Cardas, Acoustic Zen and Nordost I came to the conclusion that Wireworld Silver Eclipse was my personal favorite.
Does this mean that this particular cable is the end all be all? No, not at all. As they say - De gustibus non est disputandum. If you don't mind driving yourself insane and paying for shipping, I would bet that you would find that cables do indeed sound different. Is it worth the hours of changing out cables and spending time sampling and listening? Some people will love it and some people will dislike it.
The only downside is that after you select your favorite cable, it costs a pretty penny to purchase them for your system. Is it worth it? I believe it is. I feel a synergy to my system with all matching cables from one manufacturer. Am I crazy? Perhaps.
I would suggest, try it yourself and let your ears decide.
Certainly stirred up a hornets nest with that one!
Just to clarify, it was only the speaker cables that I changed, and the removed cables were very cheap (and nasty..). The cables I moved to were not uber-expensive, but the sound difference was real. Mceljo made a comment "were they junk ..." and yep - I'd agree the old ones were. Still, as a skeptic, I believed all cables send a signal, and can all do so effectively (a long as the guage is suitable) and any differences in sound between them were 'make believe'. Not true. I'm not even going to comment on my belief about i/c's and power cables...maybe one day I'll explore that too.
What's humorous is when the experience of hearing the difference is made so easily available, yet people will harp on its impossibility. I have little time for people who in their arrogance insist that efficacious changes in cables are impossible.
There will always be cable skeptics, since the ability to hear such changes is predicated upon the quality of the system, the room and hearing acuity.
The more I'm in this game the more I realize there are a LOT of guys who have bad ears; they have such diminishment of hearing that they'll never be able to discern such differences. That adds to the frustration of the ongoing discussion.
There are also a lot of guys who are so proud, so rock-headed that they will not try something unless it's their idea. The kind of man a woman laments being married to, the opposite of the users of the tweaks of questionable value. :)
I second the comment by Bill (Audiofeil), and the similar comment by Blkadr.
It's surprising how cable debates always seem to turn into arguments about whether differences do or don't exist, and ignore what is IMO the real question, how strong is the correlation between performance and price. See my post here for some thoughts on that question. (Ignore the first paragraph in that post, which is about a different subject).
Some gear will be affected much more than others. The magnitude of difference a cable makes is largely dependent on what it is connectd to. It makes little sense to speak of cables without the specific equipment. Cables are passive. Ideally they should have no affect. In the real world, they may or may not make a difference, depending on the type, design and choice of equipment.
Do a blind test and listen.Did you change the cables? Or did you have someone assist and you did the listening? Its important that you just listen and not know what cable is which.Then and only then can it be called a DOUBLE blind listening test.Also was your head in the same spot? The reason is that it could be nothing more then a comb effect. And I don't mean hair care.
I fully agree with Tubegroover's first comment; always trust your ears.
Sound advice with this caveat: don't jump to immediate conclusions based upon "your ears."
There have been numerous times when I have inserted a piece of equipment, cable, tweak, or whatever and noticed an immediate difference, and usually I interpret this difference as better. After living with the change for a week or two I notice the difference is gone. After configuring my system to the pre-change condition I still hear no difference. What's going on here?
Another reason to let your ears guide you over time and not immediately is the no system change but different sounding phenomenon. Maybe this has never happened to everyone but it is quite frequent with me. Sometimes, last night was a good example, my system sounds fantastic while other times it sounds good or merely adequate. This occurs over the course of a month where zero changes have taken place. What's going on here?
I chalk it up to mood or physical condition. Am I the only one who experiences this?
We "hear" lots of differences so trust your ears. Just make sure your ears can consistently hear the differences before believing they are real.
The problem with cables is that they interact with what they are plugged into having capacitance, inductance, resistance, resonance, skin effect with varying dielectrics, (PVC, PE, Teflon,etc.)and more. Next, what signal can be measured that accounts for all the variables, and how will that be interpreted into some sort of scientific statement? I think it is just easier to ignore the price tag, listen and if it sounds better get the cables, whether at Walmart or the expensive places. Me, I only use TEflon cables or PE dielectric, with silver coated copper. Best sound for a budget, and if you shop well, it can be had for Walmart prices. Jallen
Timrhu I completely concur with what you said, absolutely! These tests must be done over a period of time and the results MUST be consistent. An initial response to a change in sound is usually positive as you state. What is harder to ignore is a consistent result over time with careful assurance that all else in the system remains the same. At that point, trust your ears.
Furthermore let me ask if the doubters believe there is a different in the sound characteristics of the same tube type by different manufacturers in a given audio device with all electrical parameters measuring the same? I'll bet most would say yes and some technically knowledgeble enough might be able to give reasons as to what is causing those differences. Wire is much more difficult in this respect outside the known electrical parameters of capacitance, inductance and shielding and how those factors might be contributing overall into the differences we hear or are there other factors as well as Jallen notes?
Funny how often this same old yes/no to cables is brought up. And, as always some diehard opponents, and some diehard porponents will go at it yet again.
If only for the repeatability. I bet this same set of arguements has been rehashed a hundred thousand times in various ways over the years.
(Ps I am in the 'believer camp', but still think wire is just a damn bit of wire at the same time. So I will only spend a little on wire. say 5% to 10% max system cost. An outlier.)
Considering the cost of high end gear, it seems silly not to experiment. Someone is always in a hurry to argue against spending "thousands" vs damn near nothing. The meat is in the middle IMO as Elizabeth and others have stated.
"An initial response to a change in sound is usually positive as you state. "- not IME, although I do think that you need to leave them in awhile to get their measure- as in not a quick A/B/X.
Where's Randy and his million dollars??
I feel a responsibility to those who are just starting into audio and reading this. Pay close attention to Shadorne's comment above. Cables are passive. They should have no sound of their own. Cheap cables can impart a change in the signal. Well made cables of good quality should not. Whether you hear a difference is subjective. If the wire is extremely short, especially for speaker cables, the differences will be very small, if any. Best to pay attention to the components first, then experiment with wire. Another caveat- even though I am a skeptic I have been around long enough to know that current methods of measurement (and science in general) cannot explain perceived phenomena. The human ear can be an incredibly accurate instrument and we may not be able to measure differences scientifically that the human ear can detect. I am happy that the OP found joy and surprise with a new cable. That keeps the fun in this hobby. Lastly, let's not lose sight of the joy and satisfaction of listening to music. After all, isn't that the point?
I have always been amazed when folks argue about this subject. If you can't hear the difference, then no difference exists for you folks. Stick with lamp cord or whatever you seem to enjoy. Others that can hear a difference should continue to enjoy the "better" sounding cables they have settled on.
What is left to argue about? Some can't taste, see or smell differences as well as another. Seems we are really all uniquely made by our Creator.
Wire is no different than any other component or part a signal has to pass through. All these parts impact the final sound. Caps sound different. Transformers and wires sound different. Volume pots sound different etc... Some can hear it and some cannot.
We all love music and share this in common :-)
I agree Grannyring, it isn't really important. What IS important is conveying to people that don't really have an opinion but are inquiring, maybe novices new to the hobby that there are two camps on this subject and to find out for yourself. Having said that I will say that it should NOT be anywhere close to the top of priorities in putting together a musically satisfying system, more like last. So far as power cords are concerned, DEAD last.
It really is an individual and personal endeavour for each to explore to the degree they see fit. Beyond that, it really isn't that important to me if folks don't believe it, I really don't care if they do or not.
Concerning the topic of price, which was never part of the original question, I don't believe it is relevant to this thread but it has surfaced. Since it has surfaced, to each his own, again listen with your own ears and you decide. It can get nuts, I agree but one man's nuts is another's nirvana. I wouldn't put it to myself to make any judgement on what one can or is willing to spend after all in the grand scheme of this hobby 95% of the rest of the world would consider us all nuts if they were let in on the details of our expenditures for this hobby, at least some of us! :)