Another Pair of Skeptics Converted

This past weekend I had the pleasure of showing in a straightforward manner two "cable skeptics" who came to hear my system how cables change the sound. In this instance I was unaware that they were so set against the efficacy of cables. During our listening session I simply commented that if they wanted a change to the sound, I would swap a set of interconnects, which took about 1 minute.

I did the swap, and they were amazed. Both started discussing how they would never have believed changing cables could alter the sound. The change was quite evident, and we discussed at length the effect on the sound holistically. I didn't have to prompt them in any of this. I began to educate them that a person can do this with all the cables in a system to tailor the sound.

One of these men spent many years in the studio and both were musicians in bands. One had some hearing damage from playing live music, but still hear the result from switching just one pair of interconnects. They admitted they knew little about home audio and had a lot to learn. They had not heard that many high end systems, yet had formed opinions about cables. They needed a real life demonstration, an education in what's possible, and the result was a changed opinion.

This is a regular occurrence in my room, where people who hold strongly skeptical opinions regarding the ability of cables to alter the sound change their opinion in one day, in one listening session. In fact, the only person who ever remained somewhat skeptical after such a demonstration was a man who admitted he had significant hearing loss due to playing in a rock band for many years. I presume his hearing loss was profound to the point that it was impairing him from enjoying the differences.

I share this in the hopes that if someone has simply formed an opinion about cables and has not attended a demonstration, they would likely find it interesting and perhaps enlightening to do so. Merely being in the orbit of music, sound, pro gear, the studio, etc. does not assure you are correct when it comes to discussion of the efficacy of cables. :)
I agree 100%.
The difference between relatively inexpensive AQ King Cobra
(formerly Python) and Acoustic Zen Absolute in my system
wasn't very pronounced. Both had same neutral sound but AZ
was more refined/cleaner, faster, more vivid, blacker
background etc. How much is it worth? To me, as much as I
can afford, since it is non-perishable item.

Your guests were just skeptics but many become activists
against cables, posting on cable forums and often praising
lamp cords as the best there is. When people believe
strongly that cables cannot make any difference - then all
cables will sound the same to them - negative placebo
effect. Such people often start forum threads intended to
shame people who believe in cables. The reason for it is
the fact that they cannot stand when others hear something
they can not. I was just a skeptic, but kept my ears open.
I've learned not to question other people findings. There
are people with better hearing than mine, people who are
trained musicians, audio engineers etc, not to mention
people with much better systems.
It seems that cable difference deniers adhere to some type of conventional wisdom, which describes a wide belief held by public and experts. How many have bothered to try and just listen as Douglas recommends? All of my cables tell a difference musical story, and my cables are not expensive compared to what's out there.

As Kijanki points out, folk become polarized in their belief systems, more so nowadays than past times with just about everything that matters to them: politics, religion, the weather, you name it and a very strong and nasty reaction seems to accompany the belief held.

Whatever happened to middle ground? Nothing in life is black and white what with all the shades of grey in between and that's where the differences lie, especially when it comes to cables, yet some stand firmly on the extremes shouting down all who stand in and see, feel and hear the reality of the middle ground.

All the best,
I'm not sure that cable skeptics really say that all cables sound alike - except for the ones who really cannot hear the difference or do not listen for the things better cables can bring to a recording. I think the more educated skeptics say that there are no differences in cables that cannot be explained in terms of resistance, capacitance and inductance.
But I'm not going to feed the cable fire any more than that.
+ 1

Here is one more an empirical testimonial supporting this position....and that may be its time for the uninformed and the naysayers to hark and heed.

NORDOST ran a demonstration symposium at the 2014 TAVES audio expo in Toronto and its symposium was written up in an audiomag below. The thousands that attended it came away with the universal conclusion that cables DO matter. It wasn't any kind of a David Copperfield illusion or mass hypnosis ......Read for yourself .....

"....I had a chance to sit in on a couple demonstrations in the Nordost room, giving my feet a well deserved break. I’m very familiar with the benefits of high quality cables and use a full Nordost Heimdall 2 loom with my reference two-channel setup. That being said, I always find the Nordost demonstrations to be an “ear-opening” experience. Michael Taylor from Nordost demonstrated the significant sonic benefits of replacing an OEM cable with a Nordost model – in particular 1) a swap of a single USB cable, from OEM to Nordost Blue Heaven ($250/2m), to Heimdall 2 ($500/2m) and; 2) a swap of a single RCA interconnect, from OEM, to Blue Heaven, to Heimdall 2, to Tyr 2 and finally Valhalla 2. Along with convincing the audience in the room that cables DO matter, I’ve now got the bug to upgrade...."
I dunno, I'm a little skeptical of cable A/Bs myself since I'm a believer in the notion that unplugging and plugging power cords or any cables disrupts the subtle mechanical/electrical interface which takes time to reestablish itself and "heal," or so it would appear. How well broken in the cables being A/B'd is another big variable. Not to mention skeptics are known to recant. Lol
Another vote for 100% agreed- Douglas.
Cables/power cords do excite and fascinate me at the same speed. Which brand(s) did you use for your demo?

Keep me posted and Happy Listening!
It's all true however cable should be cheap and reasonable. It's definitely not worth $500/2m... More like $25 or $50max.
I did the swap, and they were amazed. Both started discussing how they would never have believed changing cables could alter the sound. The change was quite evident, and we discussed at length the effect on the sound holistically. I didn't have to prompt them in any of this. I began to educate them that a person can do this with all the cables in a system to tailor the sound.
There is sincerity & innocence in your post & thanks for being such a good audio host but you cannot be so naive as to think that the mere change of audio cables will change the sonics simply due to the materials & construction of those audio cables. Doug, you've been around the block many times to make such a statement or even a post....
BTW, I do believe that cables make an improvement but I'm more cautious. just to let all know that I'm not an upgrading-your-cable hater & neither do I want to shame people who've spent a lot of money of their cables.
You didn't mention which cables you swapped out but I'm GUESSING it was the pre-to-power.
You have a passive pre & it's output impedance's interaction with the interconnect cable will have to be considered. There might be other cable-electronics interactions in your system esp. if your sonics are changing that much by the mere changing of 1 set of interconnect cables. I find this to be a bad thing in your system - your system is too sensitive to cables.
Interconnect cables & even speaker cables do have changes in the sonics but they are (very) subtle & not as dramatic as your post makes it out to be. There's something wrong in your system where the cable is loading your electronics & creating a low-pass or high-pass effect.
While I haven't taken the time to study the specifics of Doug's system, speaking generally Bombaywalla makes some very valid points IMO.

In a post here from a few years ago I summarized many of the ways in which cable behavior can be expected to vary widely depending on the characteristics of what the particular cable is connecting.

For the most part, these dependencies have no relation to the musical resolution and sonic quality of the system. Assuming that musical resolution is not grossly deficient, systems at any price point can be expected to vary widely in their sensitivity to cable effects. A very expensive very high quality system can certainly be designed such that it will be less sensitive to cable differences than many lower priced systems. For example, consider the post by Atmasphere here, regarding interconnects. Note especially the proof he provides of his contentions, which IMO is highly persuasive.

-- Al
Does anyone smell red herring?.
Everyone seems to agree to some degree so what is really behind the contention?