Cable auditions - Hard Work?

Does anyone find it to be "hard work" to audition cables? I find that I have to be 'fresh' before I can begin to listen to cables. After I begin, I can only listen, with the intensity needed, for a period of about an hour.

As I do A/B comparisons, it sometimes seems, my impressions change as I listen. Sometimes the differences are so small or subtle, that I question if I'm hearing a difference at all. Have I lost it?

How do you folks do your cable auditions? I'd really like to know.

Mine too are hard work, and I too question whether I'm hearing a difference. Don't know if you've lost it or never had it. :-) I know I've never been a GEA; I have to work to hear differences in cable, electronics, etc.

After conditioning it for days with my VCR driving an input on my preamp, I insert the new cable in the tape-monitor loop of my preamp. (This TM loop contains no electronics.) I determine if the insertion of the cable is audible. If it is, I reject it immediately. If it's not, it has passed the first test and I then replace my system cable with the new stuff, and also reinsert the 'old' cable to verify differences. It's still hard work.
Ideally, I like to listen to new cables for about a month before I form an opinion. I also like to have the cable burned in by someone like The Cable Burner Co..
I've done many cable comparisons over the years, while I may start off with short listening sessions and A/B comparisons I've found that making the best decision only comes from long listening sessions over several hours and days. I know the cable is a contender if I stop analyzing and instead just get lost in the music.
Another reason that it is important to do long listening sessions over several days is that cables often sound much better after having at least a 24 hour period in which to just sit and settle in.
Oldpet, I find doing amp and speaker auditions much harder work for obvious reasons. My process for audtioning cables is a threefold process: 1) Put one cable at a time in my system and do no serious listening untill the amount of time for burn-in that the company suggests is reached. 2) Use the same 6 to 8 recordings that I have been using for the last 30 years to measure differences/changes such as timbres, soundstage, imaging, air around players, liquidity, bass/prat, high end extentsion, and details. Normally, anything new in your system will sound striking at first, but no necessarly an improvement. 3) Finally, and I think it might be the most important step, after about three days of serious listening, go back to your reference and decide if new cable really is an improvement over your older cable. I have auditioned some cables that were so unpleasant I did not wait for the three days because I knew that I did not like them, so why bother. Other times, some cables were so right that I knew that they were superior to my reference, which turned out to be valid, but I always go back and put the original cable back in, just to validate my first impression.
Save yourself. Make a choice then never, ever go back and do it again. Comparing cables truly sucks and should only be done with one goal in mind ... to pick one then enjoy it forever.

I'm probably worse than you. I need to not have made any changes to the system in a couple of months. Mostly I can hear some changes within minutes of trying;--- The changes that take back and forth multiple times, push my sanity.--which are already pushed---.
About ten / twelve years ago my dealer wanted me to try this Res. Audio dac. I had a Theta Pro Basic2 at the time.At that time I was unaware of break-in.Mine sounded as good as his. Then he had me try this Encore dac. (The Pyramid looking one)---SAME thing;back and forth 20xs.I ended up buying a Theta gen5--- That, I knew right away.---I know dac's ain't cables but burn in and such are similar.The way I figure it; if it moves me right away;it's a keeper. Bringing a third item into the mix ?-- that's beyond me. 'Guess I have a short memory attention span?
Hmm, surprised nobody's mentioned the Cable Company yet. They make the process very simple - they send you multiple burnt in cables based on your system and stated preferences.

I insert one in the needed area (preamp to amp, CD to pre, etc) and play as much different types of music as possible. I keep that cable in as long as I enjoy it, and change it out if/when I don't like it, or want to hear something else.

After I've heard them all, I'll start the process over again, but the winner is the one that does the most time in my system.

But definitely use a service like Cable Company where at least you don't have cable burn in to deal with. That makes it much much much too painful.
It is so hard, I don't even do it. I choose a quality cable based on reccomendations and price and hope for the best.
bob,best cable advice ive ever saw!
Pardales pretty much summed it up for me as well.
would suggest you upgrade to after market power cords throughout the system.. they make a big difference.. it is really hard to audtition cables without going through the powercord upgrade thing (also forgot to metion suspending the cables)

assuming the cable is broken in.... i let it "settle in" after installing it for at least one hour..the changes become much more pronounced..

its not to a bad idea to listen to a broken in cable with really familiar material.. the changes become may be subtle at first, but the longer you listen and go back to the old one, they become evident pretty quick (what can be bad, is when you hear something 2-3 weeks after you bought it that you dont like)... the more "tuned" your ear becomes and the higher the resolution of your system, it becomes pretty obvious very quickly ( not always but generally speaking)

you also might have to make small speaker placement adjustments to compensate for the cable depending on your speaker...

hope that helps,

Auditioning cables is hard work - but it doesn't have to be excrutiatingly painful and the benefits can be great. The place that I get demo cables from to try (The Cable Company)has them already broken in, so unless I am trying something silver-based or one of the PAD cables with ferox, this isn't an issue for me. I have 6 specific "cuts" ( solo piano, solo female and male vocals, live acoustic jazz combo, symphonic piece, acoustic guitar, and drum solo)that I use and my methodology is pretty straight forward. I play all 6 cuts on my system the way it is which lets everything warm up and sound its best and refreshes my point of reference. I then change ONE set of cables and play the same 6 cuts again with the new cables in place, listening for how they sound or rather how the system sounds with them in place, compared to the reference and that completes the serious listening. I then play whatever else I feel like that night and repeat the process in reverse the next evening. The new cables will either prove their worth that way or the old cables will - one or the other. If I can't decide on this basis- the money is not spent and I haven't driven myself crazy.
Have your buddy, Jack Daniels, come over and help. After a bit, even the $8,500 cables will sound o.k. :)

Lots of good ideas, and great advice. Thank you one and all.

I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who finds this cable auditioning thing to be.....a pain. I actually find it to be stressful at times, like i have a final exam coming for which I haven't studied quite enough.

I would just buy some cables and stick with them, but I have found that different IC's - even in my self imposed price range - do bring various qualities to the table. I love 'air' and detail etc. but, i don't want to give up good deep bass with slam to get it. uuugggghhh!

I just have some self imposed rules on budget...I won't spend more than $250 on a pair of IC. Speaker cables are different for me because of the length of the run - 17+ feet. :-( That sort of limits my choices. I've done the DIY Canare 4S11 speaker cables - they're actually excellent for the $$.

I've never tried the Cable Co. I suppose I don't have anything to lose. Just some more sleep.

thanks again to all. Any more thoughts are still welcome.

Hi Paul,

I have spent way too many hours agonizing over this same thing. I finally figured it out, spend a few nights listening to your system with one cable, then with the other. If you found one was less enjoyable than the other, get rid of the one you didn't enjoy. In your price range it should not require such intense listening and stress. It should be apparent without a lot of thought after a couple nights, as to which was more musical and enjoyable.

I guess what I'm trying to say is if you're listening to your system and not your music, than you're missing the whole point of this hobby. ENJOY THE MUSIC! That is the goal.

If you are spending hours comparing cables, something is not right w/the rest of your system. Folks, the cables biz is a scam, and the sooner audiophiles learn this, the more money we'll have for what we value most: music.
Yes, it's hard, tedious work. The good news is once you're done, find what you like, you don't have to go through it again for years as suggested above. As I built my system I used perfectly acceptable $200-$300 ICs for my 'major' components. Now that the system is 'done', I just wanted to dial-in the last bit of resolution and (yes) freq balance to my liking. But going through about 20 $300-$1000 ICs takes a LOT of time, esp as I was generally intentionally auditioning cables that had similar characteristics.

The Cable Company is both a blessing and a curse. My 'salesman' was incredibly knowledgeable and patient, helping me narrow things down considerably. They have every cable made, a reasonable (?) lease cost, all cables fully burned-in, painfree return shipping labels, but before you know it you've spent $400 just to audition. At least the price can be fully credited to buying a new or used cable from them at a fair, if not audiogon, price.

I can do up to 90min at a time, at the expense of getting on with my life. I have about a dozen CDs and a dozen LPs I use and know what to listen for. I tend to cover as much ground as I can in an intense listening session, rather than just listening to a particular cable for days more casually. Some of this may be the 2wk time limit of The Cable Co, a lot of it is I just want to get it over with. So it's usually one track I'll listen to once or twice before switching to a different cable. I can only compare one cable to another at a time, so I have to carefully choose the order in which I stage the cables, and can quickly narrow down to the favorites A/Bing against each other. I take copious notes (what a surprise) so I don't have to repeat a comparison unnecessarily.

The good news is I have found the 'perfect' ICs I was looking for to fit my system/ears/preferences (if not budget!) which takes the whole system an appreciable step beyond what the previous (decent) cables did. And learned a lot about many of the popular current cables available today. The bad news is I could have accomplished a lot more useful stuff (and saved a lot of money) in the hours and months it took to get to where I am now -- but we can all make that claim in this hobby. I don't know that I could have short-cutted the process and have the same level of confidence that I didn't hear cable XYZ that has such great press against my final choices.

The only thing 'worse' I can think of is auditioning power cords, which I did only enough of to replace all my generic IEC cords with $50-$200 cords -- relatively cheap -- with an absolute minimum of critical auditioning. YMMV of course.
In response to Bojack, the cable business is not all a scam. This is an irresponsible comment that sends the wrong message to newcomers of this hobby who seek to improve their system beyond their source, electronics and speakers. Sure, many cable prices are downright ridiculous but there are some cables that are not inexpensive and yet they bring on a level of improvement to a system as significant as other links in the chain for the same cost. Of course that system has to have the ability to benefit from such cables.

As for what audiophiles need to learn here, I suggest we keep an open mind and not be influenced by blanket statements. The thing to do is to try many different products in our own system and determine the value added for any system change at that time.

In another A'gon thread this week I covered the details of changing all the cables in my system to the Kubala-Sosna Emotion series ..... and, with the honor of Joe Kubala himself taking much of a full-day to help me with this task. The time spent swapping out each cable to a K-S, was ultimately exhausting but it proved a lot to even this long-time skeptic of power-cord differences. When you have the potential for a high-resolution system but you have been using cables that have masked some or much of these strengths for so long, it is quite incredible to hear the transformation. And the NBS and MIT cables that I have been using for so long are very good in their own right. But the K-S cables in my system brought on a new level of musicality that was simply breathtaking. Of course this comes at a cost.

I was able to hear a far greater capability of the Aesthetix preamp and CAT amps....and even the Manley DAC had a bass rhythm that has been lacking all along. It will be awhile before I can afford to purchase each and every one of these cables, but what this experience did for me was make me aware of what is there to achieve without the desire or need to change the other components in my system.

John, I think you offer a thoughtful perspective. But, what I think you are referring to more than the issue of cables is the issue of SYNERGY. A system that is assembled to work toegether can sound outstanding regardless of price.

A knowledgable dealer, even one that will only discount 10% of of retail, who listens to the customer, is knowledgable, and assembes a system where all the componenets (cables included) work together, can construct a system that genuinely sounds engaging.
Pardales - I agree with your comment on synergy. During the Kubala visit, by the time we got to swapping out the IC from the line stage to the amp, from MIT 350 Evo to K-S Emotion, there was a huge peak in the midrange. Anyone would immediately point blame to the K-S cable. In fact Joe Kubala made a bold statement and said it had to be the Concident TRS speaker cables in my system. His theory was that I had managed to obtain a "synergy" between the MIT and Coincident cables to achieve a balanced midrange. But with this also came a slight roll-off of the frequency extremes. This was new "territory" for me to take on such a theory so seriously and yet you know what...when we put in the K-S Emotion speaker cables, Joe was right on! What my synergy before was nothing more than a bandaid that happened to work with these two different cables. The musicality was there but now with the K-S pair, I had so much more resolution and frequency extreme extension. Two identically voiced cables paired together were far more accurate than two different cables. That's not synergy, that's neutrality and accuracy. I learned far more than I ever would have expected from the Kubala visit.

Synergy is important to compensate for faults in other links in the chain. As we upgrade our system, one component at a time, we base the performance of that new component on how it "mates" with the rest of our system. We need to put in component ABC with its Fault22 because component XYZ is complimentary to this with its Fault47 and so on.

So many people here claim that when one picks a cable, it should be the same model throughout the system. So far I have only ever heard one cable model where this can be done to excellent success - the Kubala Sosna Emotion. Even the Purist Dominus B which I have listened to for 2 days now, and absolutely love, would most likely be too much of a good thing for me if used throughout. It errors just enough from neutrality to make me feel summing up this error in many links would not be ideal. Here, "synergy" would be critical.

In time, I am starting to dislike this whole synergy thing more and more.


I used to be a skeptic about cables too. however I do hear differences in various cables - especially ICs.
Bojack - Not sure i agree with your statement that cables are a scam. I agree there must be a price point where the returns diminish so greatly, that it no longer is a worthy pursuit. But, there are differences, though subtle, in the cables I'm currently auditioning.

I think my stress is due to the fact that I don't want to be missing anything in the sonic picture, not the actual act of auditioning. Although - I will admit - I hate getting up and down to switch the cables. :-)

Synergy - I think I've just been lucky so far with regard to synergy. ALL of the pieces of equipment that I've inserted into the chain have performed well. My preferences dictate which i like better, but, none of them have been a disaster the likes of which I've read about on these threads. I suppose, this is why I always come back to cables.
Here’s some food for thought.

If there is such a thing as a completely neutral set of cables, as has been suggested by Kubala-Sosna about the Emotion cables, it would be hard to prove by listening. The Kubala-Sosna Emotion cables (power cords, interconnects, speaker cable and digital cables) pass a square sign wave through the full audible spectrum. This is the only test I know of that can quantify a cables ability to transfer a signal without altering the characteristics of the signal. I can not verify the point, but KS explains that other cables they have tested are not able to pass a completely square wave throughout the frequency spectrum. If I understand this correctly, that means all the other cables he tested were not able to transfer the signal un-altered. I do not know if this creates neutrality or simply effects the dynamics, but...

OK, for the sake of argument let me say that the KS Emotion are as close to neutral (not effecting signal and sonics) as any product tested. If we set up a system with 100% KS Emotion cables, than in theory we would be listening to only the equipment, and not the effects of the cables. Now say we add one cable from some other manufacturer that is not passing 100% square sign waves. Let’s for the sake of this discussion say the high frequency sweep was distorting on the scope, meaning we are losing signal or what we call rolled off.

The effect on the sonic qualities in our system would appear as more bass. We might even conclude this cable added bass, but it is not possible for a cable (a passive device) to add, so in fact the bass sounds deeper because the high end is no longer fully extended. Now through trial and error we find an interconnect that appears to add treble, so combined with the other cable it sounds balanced. In fact the second cable was rolling off the bass, thus balancing the signal back to neutral, but with both high and low frequencies rolled off. This is in effect what we experienced with John’s final two cables.

Cables do not EVER add, unless they have some active electronics in them, possibly cables like MIT or transparent may add, but that is something different all together.

So when someone tells you it’s synergy, it may be but it’s backward synergy. We spend $$$ on a source and more $$$ on amplification and more $$$ to turn the signal into music through our speakers. If we want to receive the most of what we purchase, it makes sense that we want to lose the least signal as it passes from source to speaker. Every time a cable rolls off a frequency we are losing a small amount of the potential we paid for. Add this up with a number of cables and the net result is something far less than our components are capable of.

This would tell me we should want as neutral a cable as possible. Or in other words a cable that alters the original signal as little as possible. It appears that the Kubala-Sosna cables are in fact doing just that. At this point my system is one cable short of 100% Emotion cables,(power cord to Hydra power conditioner) and that should mean I’m hearing my equipment for the first time. This of course means my isolation techniques that were created using the Valhalla cables needs to be looked at. I have no idea what a sign wave sent through the Valhalla cable might look like, but sonically my system sounded thin in comparison to now.

Here’s a second set of thoughts;

Let’s say you have your system all set up with brand X interconnects, and brand Y speaker cable. So far your budget or your denial of power cables making a difference has prevented you from trying power cords. So now you decide to try three different brands. Each one had some effect, one sounded bright, one was bloated in the bass and one seemed to dampen the entire presentation. What really happened? How did cord one sound?

There is no true way to answer this question, and because of this we have created audiophile lingo to describe our findings. Synergy, system dependent, my opinion, blah, blah, blah. The reality is person one experiences brightness because of the other cables weaknesses. He never actually heard the power cord, only the effect of that cords weaknesses upon the other weaknesses from the interconnects and speaker wire.

So when you are testing cables, it is not fully possible to explain the characteristic of one cable or another unless you have full understanding of what your system is already losing.

Is this an explanation to why some people do not hear a difference? Is it possible that the interconnect someone tries has less added roll off that the remaining system? This would mean the final sonic characteristic did not change with the new cable because the remaining cables were performing below the capabilities of the tested cable.

To actually say that cables make no difference is just plain naive, or it’s someone who has too much ear wax or it’s someone who has so many bad cables they have not experienced the issue or it’s just a jerk looking for a fight. This is not a debatable topic, cables do matter, and to a much bigger degree than we know.

So when you buy that new cable and put it in your system, remember, your not hearing that cables characteristics, your hearing the remaining cables, assuming of course your upgrading.

If you are interested in hearing your components I recommend finding a neutral cable. I personally have found the KS cables to effect my system with a completely different result than any other cables I’ve tried.. I have now heard these in five different systems, and in each and every case the effects were the same. In my system the bass tightened, the noise floor dropped, the highs remained fully extended yet with body. Midrange is very colorful. The notes appear more separated, more defined, yet my system does not at all sound clinical or analytical. In fact it sounds the best it ever has. I guess that means the equipment I have sound great.

I believe Kubala-Sosna cables are 100% neutral, and that no other cable they tested were able to pass a square sine wave. I believe this is a break through product, and it has helped me understand how cables work.

I hope this post was understandable, for I think it is a whole new thought process for explaining the effects of cables.


Thank you for the amazingly well said explaination. In theory this all makes perfect sence. It's also sad to think that only one cable (KS Emotion) is able to pass a perfectly square sine wave, thus allowing a pure signal to reach the speakers. At $2700 per meter, the KS is out of the question for me. So the question arises - Does anyone want to buy my rig? :-)
Jadem6, you've completely sold me on the K-S Emotion cables with this and your other post. I've already told Joe by email that I will be saving up over the next year and will completely upgrade my system to his cables. Thanks for some very enlightening information. You have provided some terrific posts about these cables and information that I can really use. Thanks a million.

I believe all three, actually five lines of KS cables have the same characteristics. I actually know very little about the other lines, other than each line is about half the cost of the one above. They also come with a trade up policy which allows upgrading if desired.

As far as no other cable... I'm not sure, this is the only one however I have tried that is unique in it's characteristics and thus revolutionary in my mind.
Jadem6: That was a really outstanding analysis you provided. Made good sense, to me.
With all due respect to Jadem6 and your excitement over the Emotion, we need to be careful not to jump to the wrong conclusion here.

A perfect square wave is the sum of an infinite series of sin waves. It is impossible to generate exactly, and no wire with any impedance will pass it exactly. In theory, only a wire with resistance, but no capacitance and no inductance, can pass a square wave without creating distortion. So wires with low impedance are preferred if this is the goal.

Kabala-Sosna claims that their Emotion has the lowest overall impedance of 31 competitive cables (which they do not identify). However, it is still not zero. So it would not be accurate to say it can pass a perfect square wave. In fact, it is careless to assert that there is no other cable that can pass a square wave as well as the Emotion, since all other cables have not been tested. If low impedance were the only design goal, it would not be difficult to achieve. However, there are other factors in cable design and these all must be taken into account.

So, Kabala-Sosna is doing something different, and many believe it is better, however, it isn't necessarily "the best" or "totally uncolored" when compared to others. Remember, the cable effect is also dependent on the componants it connects, and these dependencies may override everything else.

I have the Emotion XLRs and find them extremely musical and listenable. However, in my system, I don't believe they are necessarily the most neutral for purposes of a reference. The most neutral is not always the most listenable, but I continue to enjoy them anyway. I don't like neutral food either, and enjoy adding some spice.

If all of the various lines of KS cables have the same characteristics, and by that I assume you mean -they allow a perfectly square sine wave to pass, then how is the halving of costs accounted for?

Any piece of wire can pass a square wave in the audio frequency range perfectly at the cable lengths we are using, maybe you are mis-interpreting what Joe meant? Maybe he can post a graph showing what he means.


Paul (Oldpet) I can not answer your question without speculating. I will attempt to ger and answer from Kubala-Sosna.

Zargon, I agree with all your comments, and I believe I tried to point these subjective conclusions out.

[So, Kubala-Sosna is doing something different,and many believe it is better, however, it isn't necessarily "the best" or "totally uncolored" when compared to others. Remember, the cable effect is also dependent on the components it connects, and these dependencies may override everything else]

If I failed to get that across properly, I apologies for it does indeed remain subjective.

Steve, I would not be surprised if I mis-inturprited much of what I was told. I do however stand behind the general pholosaphy behind my posted thoughts. Both you and Zargon have put words in my mouth however. Below I copied my words:

"If there is such a thing as a completely neutral set of cables, as has been suggested by Kubala-Sosna about the Emotion cables, it would be hard to prove by listening. The Kubala-Sosna Emotion cables (power cords, interconnects, speaker cable and digital cables) pass a square sign wave through the full audible spectrum. This is the only test I know of that can quantify a cables ability to transfer a signal without altering the characteristics of the signal. I can not verify the point, but KS explains that other cables they have tested are not able to pass a completely square wave throughout the frequency spectrum. If I understand this correctly, that means all the other cables he tested were not able to transfer the signal un-altered. I do not know if this creates neutrality or simply affects the dynamics, but..."

"OK, for the sake of argument let me say that the KS Emotion are as close to neutral…"

"If you are interested in hearing your components I recommend finding a neutral cable."

"I believe Kubala-Sosna cables are 100% neutral,"

"I believe all three, actually five lines of KS cables have the same characteristics. I actually know very little about the other lines, other than…"

I never did claim a perfect square wave and I hedge the neutrality issue with “IF” there is …

This is a concept “we” audiophiles throw around a lot, yet I’m not even sure what neutral is. I assume it to be something with little affect on the audio signal, and yet I have tried to make it clear I have no test to verify this. So if we need to nit-pick over my words, please use my words and not others.

I stand by the intent of my words, that these are unique to my ears, and I do believe they are break through. I understand this is only my personal experience, but my experience on five different systems, and in all cases it has had the same affects.

Point well taken, Jafox, and OK, I may have oversimplified and generalized an important part of our hobby. I think I was simply dismayed that there are those of us out there who are getting hung up on the system link that I feel is perhaps the least important. Personally, Olpet, I would go with Audioquest, as I have stuck with it for 15 years.
I'm sorry Bojack, but your two comments here show a great hypocritical view. First you claim cables are a scam, a comment I did not even give you the courtesy to reply to, Then you tell the poster of the thread to use Audioquest, as you say you have stuck with for 15 years.

What is your point? That because you have stuck with AQ for 15 years all others are a scam, or are you the scam, and clearly not worth listening to?
Can spending 40K on cables make your music sound 40K better? How much money went into making those cables? I think that is the part of the cable industry that is a scam. I have no doubt that cables make a difference but at what price is the difference a worth while investment, and does cable A sound better than cable B or just different.
Auditioning cables has been difficult, somewhat complicated by previous cable (including power cords) "upgrades." Earlier on this thread someone related a story about his previous Coincident speakers cables having been a synergistic band-aid with MIT ICs, proven when he used Kubala Sosna ICs and speaker wires simultaneously. I agree with the band-aids scenario, but how do you really know which set of cables were more accurate and which are synergistic band-aids?

The kubalas' because they cost more? Or is it that together, they sounded more right. But what about the rest of the system? Even if they sound more right, they may be just be better obscuring problems somewhere else. Nothing wrong at all with preference, but actually selecting legitimate accuracy may be more difficult.

Someone else suggested replacing power cords first, to better hear cable differences. This may work, but I would suggest replacing them last. I am certain that I am not the most experienced with PCs, but they seem capable of high coloration (altering the sound significantly). It seems reasonable that high quality audio gear would be completed and voiced with the OEM PCs. If this is so, then the way the gear sounds with the OEM cords is the way it is supposed to sound, at least with the frequency balance.

So first selecting ICs that perform best with the stock OEM PCs in place seems the most logical way to ensure real accuracy and improved performance. This would also decrease the potential for just a bunch of sonic mish-mash band-aids.
Auditioning anything is or can be, frustrating... sometimes... and if it is, perhaps the match is not a good one. There probably is a better path to go than the one I followed in assembling what I’ve currently got. Whether you start with power cords, or speaker cables, I know you gotta start somewhere. Given the expense of speaker cables I figured to start with interconnects, then power cords and lastly speaker cables… but that’s just me… probably doesn’t matter if one is thoughtful along the way.

Since August of this year I've been in the 'audition' mode. Power cords. tubes. Power cond. More tubes. More power cords... Dog gone little "Let's listen for some fun", listening. Well the Cable Co. ain't a bad way to go. Provided they carry the one you want to hear... but what if they don't? Whole new ball game then, huh? And trust me, they don’t have ‘em all.

Also, and I really hate this part, but it works quite well. Do one thing at a time. Doing more is very confusing… and costly. Want a cord for the amp? Put it on the amp! First and foremost. If time permits, after a decision is made then see what it does for another component… and take notes actually write things down. Review the notes…. And be blatantly honest with yourself. Did you really hear a difference, or just think it to be different? More importantly, “Better?” Being rigidly honest here will save a lot of money and regret..

More equipment is needed in that event. Adapters! Other gear... and time. I've found in my experience (s)cables, power cords, etc.. have a relationship with the item they are immediately associated with... eg, power cords for example develop a relationship with a device over some time. .. and that relationship does change with time.... to a point. It's at that point where I've found listening is then applicable. Before it, simply a waste of time. Cryogenically treated cords seem to take less run in than non treated cords, on the whole but not always.

I've taken advantage of the Cable Co. offerings and they are good folks there... Definitely. Even with their 'so called broken in' items, time in one's system is absolutely required! Nothing I've gotten from them right out of the box has performed the way it does after a week or so of runing in with my system. Nothing! So I'm fairly skeptical about them burning in things prior to lending them... matter of fact I've personally been told by them, to let the item run in for a few days before any serious comparisons are made... and to NOT 'Hot swap" cables while doing comparisons. After some time of doing this, I tend to agree. Things change. Tubes are like people, they change, evolve, especially NOS, right out of the box. Power cords get 'used' to a certain current draw... and other factors tend to change too... Time of day you listen... humidity... sources... etc...

Here's what I do... with power cords... use the IEC/AC adapters to get them warmed up... 48 hrs min. (new or unused cords require more time, comsiderably more on occasion, I’ve a couple that took over 200 hours to sound right, and up until then I didn’t care too much for them, and they continue to develop in a positive fashion), then put it into the system... for at least a couple hours... using the exact same source, and source material (CD, DVD, etc) then play and listen...though casually. Serious is a later on thing. At this point some noticeable diffs should be easily detected. Either positive, or negative. After another day or two, with NO other/additional chages to the system, try it again.. same record, CD, or what have you... now things should be far easier to determine in terms of harmonics, spatiality, tonal balance, phase shift, etc.

Everything I've implanted into my system has changed significantly after being in there for some considerable time... Interconnects seem the items that take the least amount of time... and I think it a toss up between speaker cables & power cords... used, or preowned surely take less time. Again, being in the system on the intended device is most important... especially with capacitant cords, cables, etc.

Always, Always, always... before you finally make your decision... take one last session and notes... with whatever it is that you expect to add to your system, then put back in your 'old' or previous thing, and listen to it... one last time... Differnce, yes, or not... and most importantly, was the diff, a good thing or not?

For myself, it's got to be an “Oh, Man!”, or “Wow!”, sort of thing if I'm going to spend a lot. or, it absolutely has to possess the subtlety I'm searching for, exactly. It can't be just different. Incremental improvements are at some point the best one can hope for... the wow! thing is the deal... for me, especially when the price for it is drammatic. You know, like when you've got to sell blood, hock the first born, put in some more overtime... and always, I've got to ask myself this, "Do I really want this because of the way it acts in the system, or just so I can say I've got one?" Ego can not play a part in any of this if I am to make a sound choice... pardon the pun.

I don't care if the folks that made it are ex-NASA engineers, astronauts, or graduates of M.I.T. or from the “Ft. Lonesome Finishing School for the Criminally Absurd”... is this thing giving me what I want? or, Is it just close to what I want? Change, simply for the sake of change, is a very expensive endeavor. Always. Frustrating too. And past the additive part of what something does in my system, and this part is something I’m pretty much a stickler for, what about the folks that support it? Are they accessible? Do I need only a simple phone call? Perhaps an email? How quickly the manufacturer responds, and how forward a stance they take in customer relations, means a great deal. A great deal! It serves no purpose to have an item wherein it takes an act of congress to have them return your call or emails… Lots of stuff to consider for sure. Not just if a thing is different. It definitely has to be better than what I have and worth it too.

I suppose, one overlooked item I mentioned early on is time. I’ve a good bit of it. Although I do not have enough time to, or the patience to,. Investigate first hand all that is available. There are far too many makers & products out there. Way too many. I’d like very much to be done assembling it at some point… There have to be limits. How long, how many, and how much, before I make a decision. My recent power cord extravaganza included ten or eleven, different power cords, from five or six makers… and spanned four months and change. . . and I’m going to recheck out one more before I get to getting it… because now other things have changed along the way.

It’s good to be satisfied with a thing, but if I depend on my happiness to come from a thing, and not from within myself, I’m lost before I begin. Audio is fun, provided I ask the right questions of myself and my gear, and others along the way to lend me their experiences. A thoughtful predetermined process, specific changes, notes, and honesty have helped me save a good bit of money, time, and effort, not to mention, a great deal of regret.
Auditioning cables is fun,I learned a lot.
Thanks for your well thought out answer. It certainly gives alot of food for thought.

Please share your new found wisdom.

I was going to look at the Oritek X-2. But, $450 for 2 feet? Plus - A 20% restocking fee? $90 for someone to put a 2 foot pair of wires back on a shelf? YIKES!!!!!!!!! Are they that good?
The cable business is mostly a scam.
One website did a double blind test consisting of 10 so called "audiophiles" testing really expensive cryo treated power cords against a cheap power cable of the Home Depot variety.
None of the audiophiles could tell the difference
between either set of cables.

I am not saying there is no difference.. there may be one, but is not something our human ears can detect.

Some websites have banned any discussion pertaining double blind testing in their forums, because they know once people realize they have been scammed by cable companies and other silly hi-fi gadgets, the gadget and cable sponsors will take their money and advertise somewhere else.

Spend your money somewhere else...

I dare anyone claiming that you can positively tell the difference between ICs, to test any of their expensive ICs against my home made Belden coax ICs on a set of blind tests, and consistently tell the difference between them.
You are welcome to bring your own music if you wish.. I am located in Northern NJ, and have BAT, Plinius, Monarchy audio, Maggies, Musical Fidelity and custom made equipment.
Hello Yuri - congratulations on finding a cable that works well for you.
Yuri,So,your saying that every cable in the world sounds the same? Wow!!
Well, I supposedly got suckered into buying a 300 dollar multi-tap with RF nodules some time ago after buying some new components and after having plugged the stock power cords into an el-cheapo multi-tap worth about 5-10 bucks. I was also curious if better quality cords make a difference sonically. What was my discovery? They most certainly do. That one 300 buck multi-tap effectively lifted the music to a far greater presence than it had before. This wasn't wishful thinking. I was very prepared to be disappointed. My ears, however, were not.

Cables make a huge difference. Period.
Washline: The bottom line is this: Without doing blind A/B testing, your emotions and the fact that you spent big bucks on power cables will influence what you are hearing.
A/B testing is not enough.

Are you willing to bet you will be able to tell the difference between your expensive power cable and a cheap one in a blind test, consistently over 50% of the time?
I am willing to bet money you can't.
Anyone in the Northern NJ / NYC is more than welcome to stop by and take me up on my bet...
Here is the power chord double blind test link folks:
Power cord test is would be slightly different from IC test.
Your power tranformer and power source varies every time you flick the power switch. The amount of current/voltage draws from your power source varies more than the output of the cd player or preamp.

It is actually harder to do power cord A/B test than IC.

As far as IC test goes, I disagree with Yuri777. The difference can be huge. Among our friends, we have test over 50 IC. Unless your system is resolving enough, they also sound different regardless of price. Even the RCA plugs sound very different.

But then again, you are entitle to have subjective view.
"Washline: The bottom line is this: Without doing blind A/B testing, your emotions and the fact that you spent big bucks on power cables will influence what you are hearing.
A/B testing is not enough."

Pretty tough to judge people's ears, yuri. Better to stick with your own. It is an organ after all and every bit as fallible as the next.
Guys, don't take this personally, but unless you have done Blind ABX tests with your power cords and interconnects, it is all subjective.. you know what is playing, and you may think you hear a difference instead of really hearing one.

Stereophile magazine even did a blind A/B test with different high end amps, and most of the subjects couldn't tell the difference between them!
yep, entire amplifiers, not ICs, not Power cords..

Just a few days ago i was testing the digital outputs of my Musical Fidelity Tri Vista 21 DAC against the analog outputs of my Yamaha S2500 when playing a CD, using my transformer-based passive preamp as an A/B switch.
I couldn't tell them apart, and i doubt anyone could.
The DAC really makes a difference in units not having a great analog stage, but once you start to get in the high end of things, is hard to tell the difference.
While the Trivista 21 is one of the best DACs made, a Stereophile Class A unit, i was kind of dissapointed the analog stage of the S2500 sounded just as good, with no upsampling..
I am going to do further tests / blind tests with different CDs to see what i can hear..
I think there is some truth in what you say Yuri. Audio listening is entirely "subjective." Why is that? Because the ear is an organ that is the ultimate transmitter to the brain. As long as all potential listening experiences are mediated by such a subjective piece of material, one can never truly say that sensory experience is universal. But by the same token, no one else can tell someone else what they hear or do not hear. You can't take what is for you a good, reliable means for evaluating and assume it is more true than another. I'm sure that people do want to hear what they want to hear. So you are right on that score. But by the same token I think it's also very possible for people to hear what they don't want to hear. For example, they might wish that their expensive cable is better than another expensive cable in their system but decide otherwise. And also it might be the case that their cable is better than the other in a different system. So much of this already subjective and context-dependent that you can't make the kind of universal claims you are making here. All you can say is that there is some evidence on A/B comparisons where people couldn't make blind distinctions. This fact raises some question about the reliability of certain high end gear being superior to others. That's fine. What doesn't go is the idea that you can draw too many conclusions from this.
Yun, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah! That's all I hear.
Yuri: Your "I am right and I dare you to prove me wrong" approach leaves little motivation for anyone here to make the effort to help you determine why you are not hearing some differences with these products. Did it ever occur to you that perhaps your system implementation is the cause of you not hearing such changes?

My system is very different than yours and I do indeed hear changes that do not require any silly blind testing. Rather than preach to us that what we are hearing is all in our minds, perhaps a more pro-active approach would be to learn from others on what they have done to achieve the sonic differences.

Have you taken your audio gear to someone else's home and compared it to what they have? Maybe their setup would allow you to hear such immediate differences.

Your pedantic delivery that cables make no difference, DAC's make no difference, Stereophile's report shows that amps make no difference, etc., etc., benefits nobody. Does such a magazine report imply that everyone will have the same results in their home system? We can all determine the outcome of an audition for ourself.

"Just a few days ago i was testing the digital outputs of my Musical Fidelity Tri Vista 21 DAC against the analog outputs of my Yamaha S2500 when playing a CD, ..."

Why are you using the DAC's digital outputs to compare to the analog outputs of a CDP? What are the DAC's digital outputs driving? A more "conventional" test would have been the DAC's analog outputs vs. the Yamaha's analog outputs into the preamp. And what is driving the Tri Vista? The Yamaha as a transport? And through what digital cable interface? Just this interface alone could mask or entirely destroy the opportunity for you to hear the benefits of the Tri Vista.

"I couldn't tell them apart, and i doubt anyone could."

Probably true but more likely due to the system's implementation rather than there not being actual differences between these individual products.

What I find ironic from your Magnepan 2.7 vs. 3.6 thread, you wrote that changing only the inductors in the speaker brought on an improvement. ONLY THE INDUCTORS!!!! And yet you can't hear amp or DAC differences?

What do you listen for.....simply frequency response and tonality changes? What about dynamic contrasts, harmonic overtones, decays, separation of musicians on the stage, etc.? For me, these are the significant changes brought on by the components which you claim sound the same.

I read the report on the power cable test. A quick review of the components that resulted in that system would indicate that such a system poorly conveys many of the attributes I listed above. I own the Talons, and they are wonderful speakers, but they are not strong in the dimensionality areas. And forget about these attributes with the Parasound JC-1s and the Theta DAC/preamp. If you want to test a Ferarri engine, you don't drop it in a Buick Century.

So Yuri, the big question here is, if you can not hear any differences, then why not just go with a Best Buy rack system and be done with it?
Yuri,When was the last time you cleaned your ears,,,be honest now!Can you hear me now?