Are cable recommendations worth anything?


I am a Denafrips dac owner. I use the Denafrips Facebook site for the same reasons I use this site.

Discourse, basic information and hopefully some enlightenment.
Recently one of the contributors asked the default question of "Can you recommend RCA cable brands that match well with Denafrips from dac to amplifier?"

Am I the only person that is confused when someone asks an open-ended question like this about cables?The sheer variety of "highly recommended" cables, lends me to believe that the cables are much less important to the sound than the component itself. Recommendations ran the gamut from the Tellurium Q Black Diamond cables at $1,100 CDN per metre, to the Blue Jeans cables at about $50 CDN per metre.

How does that make sense and how can this possibly help the poor slob that asked the question?
Previewtony1954
Questions like that make no sense. Not because cables don't make a difference, but because it completely misunderstands the difference they do make. 

There is no such thing as the best cable between this and that. This and that do not care the slightest what is between them. Its you. You are the one and only thing that cares. If you are serious about building a music system that sounds good then that is the one and only thing you can afford to be concerned with: how it sounds. 

For how it sounds you can forget what is connected at either end and focus entirely on the sound. Because sorry, but the system matching guys are wrong. A cable with a wide deep luxurious stage is gonna be like that no matter what. Its not gonna magically change and become flat and lifeless just because you didn't find the right match. Synergy. Balance. Whatever. All BS. 

So first you must know what you value most in a component. Which component? Doesn't matter! If you want a deep wide 3D sound stage with beautiful presence and dynamics then you want that from everything. You do not match some hyper articulate crap to balance out whatever. You want it all, each individual piece, to be that way. That's the question you ask: What cable will give me a big bold dynamic 3D sound? And I answer: Synergistic Research. Or you ask What will give me thin hyper analytical: Nordost, Transparent. Like that. 


People I know who have been focused on cables for many years basically take this approach -- they establish a price point around which to try several, they get someone like the CableCo or others to send them a few pairs to compare, then they listen attentively and return either all of them or all but one. A good dealer will be able to at least attach an adjective to a cable, as MC did above, and then it's up to you to negotiate a trial.

In my case, I took what seemed like a good recommendation, found it used (50% off or more) and when I heard it, it sounded fine and I have just moved on. I went with Analysis plus cables.
Depends on your system and your wallet.I using PURIST by far the best cables i have had in my system Blue Jeans are good for jeans.Cables co is good if you like to pay near list price.
"Blue Jeans are good for jeans"?
Months ago I read an article about 2 scientists did a double blind study testing an expensive cable vs a coat hanger. The coat hanger won. That’s where I’m at with cables.
Just remember that Paul's opinion on double blind tests is about as informed as our company's janitor. His statement is self serving at best silly for the most part.

To the op, notice any cable suggestion thread and if 20 people respond, there will be 20 different answers so your basic premise and statement is obviously right.

Ignore certain posts that state a good cable will always be good. That just ignores reality. You can create a cable with universally good shielding. You can create a digital cable with uniform and accurate impedance (and shielding). For anything analog, it's always a system that consists of the source, the load and the cable which is not to imply that the cable will make a difference you can hear, but no suggestion is likely to be correct unless it takes into account both the source and the load.

Too much inductance can make a speaker cable warm by attenuating highs but the impact is likely to be subtle. Too much capacitance can make some amplifier/speaker connections unhappy, and you can create subtle increases in distortion with certain cable impedances coupled with certain amplifiers and speakers, though audible or not is highly questionable.


Warm, or bright for interconnects is suspect as differences between most in most systems would be in small fractions of a db, and there are no transmission line issues, settling issues, or any of the myriad of other claims. Shielding can make a huge difference.

Digital cables carrying synchronous audio can certainly impact jitter, but for asynch USB, no, not even a little bit. They can help or hinder noise transmission, but a well designed piece of equipment should reject any noise on USB or Ethernet, so makes me wonder about the claims when connected to $5-10+ equipment. Are they designed that poorly?

And yes, a coat hanger with the right system could sound better than a $10K cable, or worse, and all this talk of geometry, dielectrics, etc. etc. is for the most part pretty meaningless. Weird that only in audio do these things matter. You would think all those high powered scientists would have picked up on these advances by now for their scientific endeavors.

The sillyist of all, the taker of all cakes, is using a battery or anything else to put a bias on the shield/ground or any other part of the cable. Who is the moron who came up with that idea?  What's worse is these turkeys in another piece of marketing literature will try to use triboelectric effect to justify their cable. Bueller? Bueller? ..... This only occurs very low signal levels and very high impedances (think medical). Even with a turntable you would be hard pressed to show there is any triboelectric effect.  However, if you want to ensure you maximize the triboelectric effect (which is a bad thing), then bias the shield so you maximize the charge of the capacitor. The things audiophiles will believe.




There is no open-and shut on double blind, as that door was shut ages and ages ago. Double blind works. If you don't eliminate bias (which double blind does), then the results of any subjective test are suspect. The only definitive aspect of a double blind test is the "tester" has no idea at any time, either directly or through inadvertent suggestion (hence double blind) what particular product they are testing. Take 30 second to test, take 30 minutes, take 30 days. It can still be double blind. Any reviewer who claims immunity to bias is lying.
Ok, well, I admit I'm new to the issue and without any expertise. I just saw that many still debate it and seemed to have decent arguments. But you seem very confident that all those debates are empty -- motivated by bias of one kind or another.  

I will need to think about what you're saying and if it ends the debate for me, that's a win. Typically, when I have tried to test things, I will ask family members to switch things around without telling me. I know that's not double blind, but it did help me rule out buying a power cord I didn't need.
Double blind tests are nothing more than a parlor trick, right up there with seances. You can take something 100% provable and subject people to a DB "test" and come back with 50-50 results. All it proves is that uncertainty increases under the guise of testing. Bias is never eliminated but skewed for all the wrong, unanticipated reasons.

Also, I never heard of doing any type of DB test involving more than a few seconds between samples. Even the Amazing Randy knew that if  enough time were to elapse, most would be able to suss out the correct cable and he'd have to pay out that $1million. It's long term listening that audiophiles do to figure things out so he kept the time frame short between takes.

All the best,
Nonoise
@tony1054
Am I the only person that is confused
Six different posters so far, six different opinions, so nope....no confusion.
How does that make sense and how can this possibly help the poor slob that asked the question?
It can’t because the poor slob didn’t ask the right question.  Garbage in, garbage out.  He got exactly what he deserved IMO. 

I can tell you unequivocally, without any reservations, that you should definitely use cables.

Most things after that are going to be personal preference or budget. I once had a salesman suggest a cable that cost more than the component it was connecting. It may have been phenomenal, but I could never bring myself to even try it. And just because you set an arbitrary budget doesn’t mean there isn’t an acceptable or even preferable option at a fraction of the price. I imagine a lot of people have a box full of “okay” cables that they don’t use anymore. I know I’m starting to accumulate a few. Maybe your ears or your system aren’t resolving enough to make a difference apparent. And that’s okay. Maybe you’ll feel better about it if you spend a little more or get a deal. That’s okay, too.

People will offer recommendations of what worked for them in their systems. They may or may not have ever tried other options. Best suggestion I’ve read above was to pick a price point first, and then try a few cables if you can return the ones you don’t like. If I had done that I wouldn’t have so many spare cables. 
To simply answer the question "are cable recommendations worth anything?"
To me, no they're not. 
Care to give examples of something 100% provable where results came back 50-50 with a double blind test?   How can you skew bias when you have no idea what is being tested. That makes no sense.

Double blind tests are nothing more than a parlor trick, right up there with seances. You can take something 100% provable and subject people to a DB "test" and come back with 50-50 results. All it proves is that uncertainty increases under the guise of testing. Bias is never eliminated but skewed for all the wrong, unanticipated reasons.

If we eliminate double blind tests what should science replace them with to control for bias? I always thought they were critical in understanding if something worked independent of our wants. Double blind testing could substantiate cable claims as easy as refute them. 
Recommendations of cables apart from the manufacturer recommended use, in sets, are pretty well worthless. 
@soix

And what exactly was the "right question"?

Medicine has a hard enough time ensuring honest outcomes when testing placebos: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546641/

Conflating such a medical procedure with what can be done with audio samples is rather silly. It can give the illusion of rigor and science but it doesn't equate.

A patient can exhibit all manner of responses to a placebo, but in the end, that patient will succumb to the disease. That's in the long run. What I hear may be tricked by a parlor trick but my tastes that developed from what I hear will always be there, in the long run. It proves nothing.

Does a recording engineer torture him/herself with repeated DB testing, or does he just A/B the sample and proceed from there? Audiophiles are no different in that they're very disciplined in the art of listening, especially in the context of their own system, and know a difference when they hear it. That's science, folks.

Don't let the audio commies dumb down everything to the point where no one has a system better than someone else because they all sound the same and that nothing better can be achieved. Trust your ears.

All the best,
Nonoise
@tony1954 as to what would be the “right question,” here’s the original question...
"Can you recommend RCA cable brands that match well with Denafrips from dac to amplifier?"
Any cable under the sun can be an appropriate answer to this question because people’s individual tastes are all over the place not to mention that the answer also relies heavily (among other things) on the particular amp being used. What the hell does “match well” even mean? What matches well for one person may sound like utter crap to someone else. Case in point about the recommendations he ended up getting...

The sheer variety of "highly recommended" cables, lends me to believe that the cables are much less important to the sound than the component itself. Recommendations ran the gamut from the Tellurium Q Black Diamond cables at $1,100 CDN per metre, to the Blue Jeans cables at about $50 CDN per metre
The better and more effective way to ask the question would be to specify what interconnect (and amp) they’re currently using and what specifically they’re looking to improve upon and what aspects of sound reproduction (i.e. tonal warmth, upper octave detail, 3D soundstage, PRaT, micro/macrodynamics, etc.) are most important to them — along the lines of what @millercarbon said earlier. Then the recommendations would be more focused on what the OP was looking to actually achieve rather than being useless and all over the map. The more effort and info you put into asking a question the more targeted and effective the recommendations here will be, and the opposite is also true. Period. This poster’s question was very vague, and accordingly the responses were predictably all over the place. Like I said, garbage in, garbage out.

And BTW, just because the differences in “wires” may be lower on an absolute basis than, say, speakers, that doesn’t necessarily make them less important. That’s like saying a car’s engine is more important than the tires — silly. In the end everything in an audio system impacts its sound and performance and needs to work together within the context of a particular system and listener tastes. Discount the importance of interconnects, cables, or power cords at your own peril.
I consider cables to be the last step of a system build to satisfy a particular listening taste. Fine tuning, if you will. As for reviews, they can be somewhat useful to establish a general trend in perceived sound characteristics but, because of system and room variables, the final decision-making process should be based on evaluations in YOUR system. Let your ears be the judge! 
@raysmtb1

’Months ago I read an article about 2 scientists did a double blind study testing an expensive cable vs a coat hanger. The coat hanger won. That’s where I’m at with cables.’


Me too. For years I tried different cables, copper, silver plated, twin and earth solid core even, thick, thin, but none of them could perform the desired conjuring trick some reviewers had suggested.

Those who don’t like even the simplest blind a/b test (let alone the double blind!) might need to ask themselves what accursed sorcery occurs to highly acclaimed cables as soon as the lights are switched off.

Do they turn into coat hangers in the dark?

@douglas_schroeder mentioned that manufacturers recommendations might be worth noting. This is how I was led into first using the Linn K20 and then the extremely unwieldy Naim NAC A4.

Apparently Naim amplifiers needed special cable with high impedance to work really well. Apparently.

Or maybe once Naim fell out with Linn
(after the Scottish blagards began to encroach upon the exclusive territory of those game boys from Salisbury by shock horror, releasing their own amps) Naim thought we’ll have some of that cable action if you don’t mind.

In any case I don’t know if Naim are still insisting that users of their amps MUST use Naim cables, but I have noticed that the successor to the A4, the cleverly titled A5, just happens to be far more conventional in appearance and thus user friendly.
@soix 

You are certainly bright enough to understand that not everyone is capable of conveying the minutiae of what they are looking for as eloquently as yourself. It is also true that someone relatively new to this site probably hasn't learned how inflexible, arrogant and abusive some of the other participants are. How they overreact to anything that isn't exactly in line with their beliefs and how they believe that everyone else is an idiot. Despite this inherent arrogance, they seem incapable of just ignoring a topic, but instead they need to rub the OP's nose in it.
Sorry, but I am not a fan of this type of conduct when someone asks a legitimate question.

Aw Tony, let’s put on our big-boy pants here and get our facts straight, shall we? I wasn’t speaking to the OP of that post, rather I was trying to convey to YOU on THIS THREAD how he might have asked his question so he got a better answer.  But the fact that you don’t know why it wasn’t a good question explains a lot.  I’d never approach someone like that by being mean or dismissive, and I always try to provide sincere help to everyone I respond to here. I remember that post and probably didn’t respond, but if I did it’d be along the lines of this, which is a response I made to a similarly vague post so I could try to provide more useful recommendations to the guy...
Let’s back up a bit. What would you most like to improve upon over what you have now, and what aspects of sound reproduction are most important to you? You’ll get much more useful and targeted recommendations if you can specify these crucial things.
I have asked similar questions in response to countless threads here in an effort to provide them with more helpful recommendations. Does that sound inflexible, arrogant, or abusive to you? In the context of YOUR post I was expressing my frustration over the sheer amount of vague questions that get asked here.

Am I the only person that is confused when someone asks an open-ended question like this about cables?
So yeah, most likely you are. I think most people are not surprised that when you ask an open-ended question you’re gonna get a wide range of answers, but somehow in your surprise you’ve construed it to mean that interconnects are less important. Huh. But to answer your initial question more directly — yes, cable recommendations can be extremely helpful if the question is asked in a way that allows someone to provide a useful response. Hope this helped clear up your confusion.

@audio2design - you've really burst onto the scene here with gusto, huh? since you know everything, are you participating in these threads for the pure joy of smug lectures and dismissive takedowns?  do you think that by rudely 'setting everyone straight,' you are providing us all a useful service?  or are you righteously fighting the good fight against 'audiofoolery' for the good of all mankind?  seriously dude, please chill out...
@soix 

According to your profile you have asked 32 questions, but have provided 3,208 responses. According to those metrics, it seems that there are very few instances of you not sharing your opinion.

"I’d never approach someone like that by being mean or dismissive, and I always try to provide sincere help to everyone I respond to here"

"Garbage in, garbage out.  He got exactly what he deserved IMO."

Yes, very sincere.

@tony1954 — Wow, you really wanna push a bad hand eh? Ok.

According to your profile you have asked 32 questions, but have provided 3,208 responses. According to those metrics, it seems that there are very few instances of you not sharing your opinion.
So I’ve been on here for like 20 years trying to help people. Guilty. What’s your point? You’ve asked 4 questions and given 78 responses, which makes you an expert on, what? You’re still in diapers here dude, and you’re making yourself look like a bit of a fool gotta tellya.

"Garbage in, garbage out. He got exactly what he deserved IMO." Yes, very sincere.
Again, because this still doesn’t seem to be penetrating the cranial armor, I wasn’t speaking to the guy who wrote it but more to you in the hope you might learn something about how to ask a question here and actually get helpful responses since you don’t seem to understand why the “poor slob” as you call him (not very respectful BTW) got unhelpful recommendations that were all over the place. And yes, my GIGO comment was very sincere and very true. Big-boy pants. Use’em.



I would never blame the cables.
@soix 

20+ years of doing something does not necessarily make someone more caring or more willing to answer a simple question Sometimes it just makes them jaded. Have a good night and remember to wear a mask.
@tony1954 — Due to your complete and ongoing inability to understand my post here you’re making unfounded and inaccurate accusations about me, my motives, and the posts I make here.  You’re just completely and utterly wrong and seem unable to process information properly.  Go read through my responses here that are always respectful and as helpful as I can make them, then go eat your uninformed and ignorant words.  Sorry you got your panties all in a bunch over nothing.
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@soix 

I took your advice and read through your previous responses and I humbly offer you my apologies. Unfortunately, I overreacted to a perceived lack of character that doesn't exist and for that I am truly sorry.
Despite what you may think, this is not what I am about and I hope you can forgive my rudeness. 
It's all good folks. 
Sometimes it's difficult to discern what the intention is from behind a keyboard.

All the best,
Nonoise
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@tony1954 — Thank you Tony.  All good.  Water under the bridge.
I think the short answer is they are only worth something if the recommendations are a) to make sure the connectors are well-made b)wider gage for longer runs, and c) the cable you already have is probably fine.  Those are the only things scientific evidence suggests at this point, despite the occasional furious snowstorm of denial.
Those are the only things scientific evidence suggests at this point, despite the occasional furious snowstorm of denial.
Well, I listen with my ears not scientific instruments.  Not too hard to hear differences between cables IME.  Whether the differences are improvements or not is another matter entirely. 

Well, I listen with my ears not scientific instruments.  Not too hard to hear differences between cables IME.  


I don't find that argument at all compelling, as the scientific evidence covers audibility as well, with thousands of blind tests.  And if you are confident, there are many opportunities to prove that you can hear a difference for money.  No money has been claimed.  There's just zero evidence that such a claim is true, so the reasonable assumption is that the difference you are hearing is a placebo effect.
ahofer
... the scientific evidence covers audibility as well, with thousands of blind tests. And if you are confident, there are many opportunities to prove that you can hear a difference for money.
Please tell us who is conducting these blind tests, especially those offering prize money. Please also tell us the details of the blind tests you have conducted yourself.
Please tell us who is conducting these blind tests, especially those offering prize money. Please also tell us the details of the blind tests you have conducted yourself.
You'd have to be hiding under a rock or willfully avoiding them not to have seen them, after decades.

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/catalogue-of-blind-tests.8675/

I've blind-tested all my amps and did so with cables until I stopped buying anything fancy (but not DACs, I really should get to that).  I was unsurprised to hear no difference in the old expensive cables I own (Cardas and..Opus, I think it was?) and anything else I could find. That was a long time ago and I never looked back, given that the third party evidence is just..monumental.  There's a great test in that thread where the listeners prefer a coat hanger, and another where they can't distinguish a rube goldberg connector made of very thin transformer wire, a paper clip, and some alligator clips. Cables are pretty easy with level-matching, obviously, but the time between swaps can be pretty hard on audible memory.  If you are willing to live with hi-res digital files using each cable, go on over to Archimago's site and take a trial yourself with rapid A/B.

Amps were really a shock for me. I swore I heard differences sighted but utterly failed to get it right blind (Adcom, VTL, Bryston, March Audio).  Just used a hand-held db meter for level matching, marked off the pre-amp settings and had my son swap the amps.  I was imagining the difference, apparently.

Since then, I've offered $10k to charity to pass blind tests in a properly set up trial.  The initially interested always stomped off in a huff over the terms (I initially got Amir over at ASR and Archimago to agree to help set up the trials, and they and many others offered to chip in, you can see the details over at ASR, but that limits us to two places in the world).  Of course James Randi famously offered a lot more money.

It's worth doing this for yourself.  I still think there could be minor differences that show up in rapid A/B testing, but claims of "night and day" differences in the chain prior to the loudspeakers really don't have an evidentiary leg to stand on. Sad, as an equipment enthusiast, but the truth often is.
ahofer
You’d have to be hiding under a rock or willfully avoiding them not to have seen them, after decades.
I understand completely. You’ve claimed "thousands of blind tests. And if you are confident, there are many opportunities to prove that you can hear a difference for money," but don’t provide any examples except one from a very suspect website where no such reward is offered.
It’s worth doing this for yourself.
That’s dubious, because conducting or participating in a scientifically valid blind test is a tedious, arduous task. I have participated in a few blind tests, though, and have found the results interesting, if sometimes unexpected.
... claims of "night and day" differences in the chain prior to the loudspeakers really don’t have an evidentiary leg to stand on.
The description of differences is purely subjective, so your claim doesn’t really make sense. Incidentally, the results of listening to something is itself "evidentiary." That you don’t care for that kind of evidence is another matter.
ahofer,

I have participated in blind amplifier tests where there was no difference noted, statistically absolutely random, and I have participated where the differences were statistically significant, with some bordering on readily apparent.

I will see if I can pull the details up, but the no difference test was exclusively solid state, Krell, Parasound, a NAD, and I want to say a more "consumer" but not really low end offering, what I would consider "medium" volume, and while I don't remember the model, they were Harbeth's which are generally "easy" to drive speakers.

In the test with apparent differences, there was a mix of amplifiers, included Mac, Pass, Audiosphere, and 2 others and both Magnepan 3.6 and I believe Wilson Sophia. Admittedly this second test was set up to show that there are differences.
audio2design
I have participated in blind amplifier tests where there was no difference noted, statistically absolutely random, and I have participated where the differences were statistically significant, with some bordering on readily apparent.
Same here. I was also part of a preamp test and could easily distinguish between the two units. Units in both tests were matched for level and an ABX Comparator was used for switching.

I have found detecting cable differences to be more challenging. Those who might want to experiment for themselves might enjoy Michael Fremer’s "It’s Just Wire" experiment.
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I see, you’re promoting a gambling scheme.and requiring I have "skin in the game." That’s a far cry from your hook:
... the scientific evidence covers audibility as well, with thousands of blind tests. And if you are confident, there are many opportunities to prove that you can hear a difference for money.
You're not the first to promote this type of wagering here on Audiogon. It's always a scam.

2020-11-06 20:35:17 UTC

you don’t provide any examples except one from a very suspect website where no such reward is offered....The description of differences is purely s...

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I did none of these things. I did provide a lot of links, and I will assume good intent that somehow you mistook that for spam.  
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Unless the recommendation is to try upgraded interconnects/PCs/speaker cables/etc, in your system/room, with your own ears and recordings; it’s not worth anything!         The variables are myriad.