Interconnect cable upgrade disapointment

I have recently upgraded my Audioquest Topaz XLR interconnects from my amp to preamp and from my preamp to my CD player with Audioquest Cobra XLRs. I was expecting to hear a substantial difference based on the significant price difference between these cables but I hardly noticed any difference at all. If I need to break in the interconnects to have an apples to apples comparison I would appreciate tips on how to do so. Currently, I have a CD playing on repeat. How long will the break in period take and can I expect to observe a substantial difference? Your help would be greatly appreciated.
I would think to be fair about 100 hours you should hear a nice change...,but don't expect miracles........
Cables are OH SO system dependent, you always want to try out the cable before buying it. Also... if these cables have those batteries as some Audioquest cables do, they are always broken in. When I auditioned cables for my system, Audioquest did very well. The only thing better in my system (maybe yes, or maybe no for yours) is Anti-Cables.
listen to them for a few weeks and switch back (if you still have them) and see how you feel. The better qualities of new cable can sneak up on you sometimes...
If the geometry and total gauge of the two are not that dissimilar, then you have your results - more the same than different. You will not get a sea change in performance from break in. Your ears may acclimate to the sound, but that should not be confused with performance improvement.

Sounds like the upgraded Cobra fails the Law of Efficacy in comparison to the Topaz, in that there was not a significant, easily discernible difference (we could say "worthwhile", as opposed to your experience, "hardly any difference at all"). I would suggest going to an entirely different line of cables, where you likely would hear a much more distinct difference.

There is one other possibility, which we could eliminate if we knew what equipment you are running. If you have closer to Mid-Fi gear then you likely would not be able to discern differences between the cables nearly as easily as if you have higher end gear. This is not a judgment, merely a statement of fact. Rules of thumb are not exact, but can be helpful. If you have any or all of the following, 2 way smaller monitor speakers, vintage gear, or a rig not much beyond $5K, then you will likely not hear much difference. If you run a rig with what is approaching a true full range floor standing speaker, current and higher end gear, maybe in the $30K-$40K total cost category, then you should be able to hear more of a difference. IF you have that kind of rig and the difference is marginal, then the cable is likely a virtual clone of the earlier model, or Audioquest made a lateral move (at least to you) in improving their cables.

Even when I had a modest rig I could hear what I felt at the time were significant improvements between AQ cables. However, that was within the same line; the Topaz is the old line, and the Cobra is the new. What differences exist between them, aside from cosmetics, I am unsure. A breakdown of the configuration of the two cables might provide the answer.

I never depend on break in period to determine whether a change is efficacious. If the difference is not significant immediately, discernible within seconds to a minute or two - several minutes at the most, then it was a mistake or mismatch and if kept will limit how much improvement you will achieve, as you will be settling for only a marginal change. Any change which does not strike you as impressive is not worth considering. There are FAR too many fabulous improvements out there in cables, components and speakers to settle for mediocre changes.

Thank you all for your comments. My set up is as follows: Classe CA 200 amp, Classe CP 35 preamp, Classe CDP .5 CD player, B&W 802 Matrix Series 3. Perhaps I should demo some higher level audioquest and a different line of cables. I will make a trip to my local dealer.

Thanks for your kind assistance.

Joe, your equipment is good. It's possible your dealer has another line of cables to try. It's very likely you will hear more difference trying a different brand. Also, cables have a "compounding" effect; the more changed the more you can move toward your desired sound - that is, if you like what the cables do.

Note well: It is definitely NOT necessary to spend inordinate amounts within the same cable line to achieve a much different sound. Different brands have sonically quite different "house" sounds. Many times the average priced cables of different brands will sound significantly different. This is why I suggest an alternative brand to compare.
I use to be a dealer for them years ago, was not taken with them in those days, liked Siltech and Van den Hul and Kimber better. Mapleshade is very good at a reasonable price if you can deal with the fragile construction.
I'm not a fan of using a CDP to run in wires with. Not at all. Something with moving parts, especially my main source? Nope. I use the cable box, or my 400 CDP unit, and alternate between the two.

I figure why waste the main source? there's only so many spins in there anyhow. ...and a signal is a signal. Cables is stupid. they've no idea where that signal is coming from and I am not about to tell them.

the last few hours, 30, or 50, or so, THEN, I'll use the main source... but not before. it's senseless.

BTW... attaining different is lots easier than getting 'better' when changing in or out ICs. Perhaps another brand entirely?

Good luck.
I've never used XLR interconnects, but I do remember auditioning the single-ended Topazes and Rubies from about 20 yrs ago, and the AQ Rubies were obviously better. Any chance there's less audible difference with balanced?

I would think something as modest as Kimber Hero would trounce Topaz.
Here is a trick that I don't think anyone has mentioned to my knowledge around here. It will only work if you still have the old cables and that is burn them in and live with them for whatever time ( 6 months should be plenty ) and then switch back to the old cables. I found this way to be more revealing. Like when I switched my Cardas NR's down to Monsters, big difference and very noticeable.
See if you can borrow a cable cooker. I can't get over the improvement from my Hagerman FryKleaner (the pro model, not the little one). Even cables that have been in use for years will surprise you with the way they sound after 72 hours on this thing. I've also wired a harness to cook tonearm cables -- which NEVER break in because of the minuscule signal they carry -- with pretty spectacular results. Dave
Perhaps I should demo some higher level audioquest and a different line of cables. I will make a trip to my local dealer.

FWIW - you should NOT expect to find a substantial difference in one good cable to another more expensive good cable if your equipment is well matched to start with. Perhaps your ears are just confirming what should be expected from an engineering point of view ( a wire is a wire and without an active component or a ground loop issue one should not expect night and day substantial differences )
Shadorne, It's very likely he didn't hear a distinct difference, because there is not a distinct difference in the cables themselves. If someone can demonstrate that the Topaz and Cobra are quite different from each other, the I'll be happy to reconsider the conclusion.

I don't believe it has anything to do with how well matched his gear is. Of course, the better the synergy/match between box gear the better the assessment of the cables. :)
Joe, you have very nice components and in my experience if you don't hear a difference right away good or bad, hours of waiting aren't going to change it....IMHO. I've owned alot of cables and I have never experienced the phenomenon of significant change after burn in. No doubt a small change not a big one.

My best example is Kimber Select 1030's - some say they need 500 to 1,000 hours to sound best. In my system they sounded good right out of the box and maybe 5% better after 1,000+ hours. System synergy is the most important factor. For me, the most important synergy with cables is with the cartridge (if your into analog) and the speaker.
Papajoe - I had both of them but not XLR. I guess by Cobra you mean King Cobra. First I had Topaz then upgraded to Ruby. After that I upgraded again to Viper and then to King Cobra, Currently I have Acoustic Zen Absolute XLR.
King Cobra is the same IC as older Python. Audioquest moved manufacturing to China and changed pricing (and names) to stay competitive. Python was about 3x more expensive than King Cobra.

Topaz and King Cobra are in completely different class. Topaz was not very detailed, Ruby was better bot not extended on both ends. Viper was very dynamic with better bass control, King Cobra added smooth and extended top - very natural sounding cable.

Cables need playing time to polarize dielectric. If you don't play for a while they discharge and you have to start again. Battery on newer families of Audioquest ICs put voltage in order of 30-70V to polarize dielectric and to keep it.
Not your brand but every other cable I have tried needed at least 150 hours to come up. If your jumping levels....the improvement should be apparent right away...if only upgrading to the newer version...then the breakin is needed. A synergy with the same cable line is important....if one cable is a mismatch with the others...that might limit your overall gain.
The break in time is determined by how long it takes you to believe that there is a change. This is because there is no actual change between 1 minute and 2000 hours of use. Change likely will occur after many years, decades, centuries, or millenia due to disintegration of the materials.
Sorry I missed that part on you having XLR Ics.

The cable burner idea is a good one, if you don’t mind the expense for something you only use once a year or so for a few days, maybe. It would be handy in any case though.

Of course there are adapters too which make XLR into RCA and cost around $8 a pair. Your XLRs could then be plugged into another setup easily.

The cables which I’ve seen requiring more time than others are those ‘brand new’ sorts. Other preowned cables only need time to be “re-loosened” up, as I call it. The significant time or the more important time is that period where the cable has to be attached to the two items it’ll hang out with until it’s replaced. I call it the “getting acquainted” period. That should not take more than a day and likely, less.

There are lots of pro XLR cables around really cheap. $20 per pair or so. Having a set of them around and exchanging them with your more expensive ones will no doubt prove some things to you as to cable performance. Same thing with RCA cables. Radio Shak has loads for way cheap. I suggest the Rat Shak as the build.connectors are usually a tad better than the ones supplied with mass fi items and again, should prove or disprove the aspect of cables performance, run in, etc.

My exp, and more importantly, my ears, have shown me there is something to the fact of run in times, getting accquaitned time, and one level of cabling over another. There are those who do not hear any substantive diffs. I wish I was in that camp, and RAT SHAK wires would be draped all over the rear of my rack instead of what’s hanging there now… and I’d enjoy the savings… trust me on that!!

To give some substance that differing cables, both brand and model do have differing
Characteristics, and therefore sounds, I thought I’d do an A – B test and see for myself, once and for all! I’ve never had items with remote control that could provide me such a testing base. It came to last night that I did, so my curiosity got the better of me and I did my test.

I hooked up two devices. A receiver and my DAC. The DAC has two sets of analog outputs. Once connected and a source selected, and with no changes anywhere else in the system, and setting the receiver to use no EQ or DSP effects for either selection, all I had to do to select either pair of ICs was to push a button on the remote.

All else in the signal path was exactly the same. Same amp, same speakers, same source. Only the two different pair of analog ICs were the difference.

The ics being A – B’d, were Nirvana SX Ltd., and HT Magic IIs. Clearly, unless someone is tone deaf, there were audible diffs, in tonality, and sound stage. More noticeable in the former than in the latter, yet in sound stage too there were changes.


Cables conduct signals. Electricity. The issues with conductance are simple…
impedance, capacitance, resistance, and inductance. EVERY cable has varying values of the aforementioned amounts.

I believe it is these values which aid or disparage the synergy of components. If it takes only a $10 pair of wires to do this for you, then that’s SUPER! If it takes $1000? Well that’s a drag by some accounts, and ridiculous by others’. I’m not real keen on the idea of spending loads on cables either, and won’t unless I hear what I want or desire from a cable as an improvement …. Not just different.

But there are diffs from one conductor to another. How much of that your gonna hear depends on your ears, the despairity of these amounts, and your rigs resolution.

To further prove that point, I’m very happy so far, with RAT Shak RCA cables for my DD 15 sub woofer use. I’m not happy with the power cord supplied with my subwoofer.
Changing only the power cord there is good enough for me. So perhaps there is another element in picking out conductors …. “what can you live with”?

I don’t hear the lower part of the bandwidth nearly as well as I do the rest of it. Under 50 hz gets real tough for me to discern, and certainly under 40 for sure. There all I need is impact so the signal cable I require doesn’t have to be as articulate. .. and consequently, it’s not expensive.
First impression is usually correct. If you don't notice immediate difference when you changed something, there probably was little or no change. If there is a slight change in nuance that can be noticed only with extended listening, then you'll need to decide whether the change is worth the cost of the new gear.

I have different philosophy with swapping cables than swapping components. Swapping cables is more like a tweak, or something fun you can do on the side. I would first start swapping cables with friends and establish a baseline as for what kind and how much change can be expected. Going to different brands is usually more noticeable even at the same price range. Change in the speaker cables is usually more noticeable than change in interconnects. If you are rather skeptical or don't find the whole process fun, I would recommend saving money and upgrade other components instead.
Whatever you paid for the cables seems to me to just be tuition for a good lesson - that if the people posting who have scientific backgrounds point to the lack of proof of any meaningful gain from a product, and if the only place that does point to a meaninful gain are the manufacturers - while the non audiophile community pretty much looks at the justification as on par with aliens, ufo's, and the Yeti (which they do) then there may be more to that viewpoint than to the "it just sounds better" viewpoint of those who are selling the product or who are trying to justify their purchases to themselves.

It should just be common sense that the 'break in' for cables is just more of the same, kind of like warming up the ouiji board for better spirit contact because it takes time, depending on atmospheric conditions, to form the invisible ectoplasm pathway. Of course, the tuition has only been well spent if the lesson has been learned.
I reciently put in a set of tara labs rsc2 interconnects between my cdp and my preamp. i had some htp pro xlo wires in the same place before. I was a bit upset when i didnt hear much of a difference. so i thouht i will just put the xlo cables back in and sell the tara labs ic . Guess what happened. I put the old ones back in and it sounded awefull. i stuffed the tara labs back in and had the quality sound back. It was night and day. Some times i believe you should go the opposite direction to really feel a difference. try that a nd see what happens. kevin
Musicnoise, I'll be eager to read the results of your blind testing on your speaker isolation bases you plan on building (I'm sure you'll be posting it here)!

Seems any of us can be a bit inconsistent; after all, what evidence scientifically do you have that your home made isolation devices would result in improved sound over speaker spikes (In fact, I don't recall seeing much of ANY scientific studies on the efficacy of speaker stands)? Maybe you'd better start ripping on the speaker stand makers while you're at it. They're probably a bunch of crooks too. Maybe those sound isolation devices, and room tuning panel guys as well...

I'm thinking you'd have a really tough time distinguishing between the sound of your speakers in blind tests if they were set on spikes, carpeting or your supports. But, hey, if you believe your spring box device will work, GO for it!

You'd better watch that you get the absolutely correct rubber and wood; we wouldn't want a botched job due to poor materials!

It seems we all have our prejudices based on presumption. You presume cables cannot have efficacy, but that rubber and wood boxes do. And it's all happening in your head. Amazing what we can believe! :)

We don't really care to entertain any reports from you about improvements on the sound of your speaker springy things, or whatever you want to call them. We want real science. Your anecdotal report would be more akin to support for Yeti or UFOs! Really, I didn't think you were such an anti-scientific guy.

Sorry if I've been a bit sarcastic; couldn't help it. You're just a bit over-aggressive in this matter and someone has to call you on it!

Flyin2jz, it's amazing isn't it when you actually do the comparisons and hear it. No major scientific tests needed. The ears can tell quite easily the improvement. Yea, even "night and day."

One thing that is becoming clear to me through online discussions is that virtually no one has actually conducted comparisons between suites of cables. It seems that typically one cable is changed, one power cord, etc. No wonder so many give up or conclude cables have no effect. Between so-so systems, hearing problems, playing solely in the lower price brackets and similar constraints it's falling into place why people reach the wrong conclusions. Not to mention stubborn refusal to try based on distrust.

Now, I'll be very sincere. Musicnoise, I believe your home made box WILL work; it will make a discernible change in the sound. I do not think it is a foolish idea; however I do believe you should incorporate spikes with it for the ultimate isolation effect. I sincerely hope you will enjoy the difference, and I believe that you will hear it. Unless you will conduct actual blind tests, all you will have to show for it is the same anecdotal evidence persons like myself offer, which you have been mocking.

So, trust me, saying that cables make a difference isn't nearly as crazy as you think. Soon you may be joining us, albeit from the isolation device perspective.
Douglas schroeder: As to the reduction in vibration - I did not state that I was trying to improve the sound - you seem to have assumed that. What I did state was that I was seeking to reduce the transmission of energy caused by the floor - speaker interface. My reason was, not to change the quality of the sound, but to cut down on the inefficiency caused by loss of energy through that interface.

However, the arguments proposed for cable improvements do not rest in scientific theory, at least not scientific theory that has application at the frequencies and current levels present in home audio.

Seems like I have touched a nerve - do I detect one with a pecuniary interest in cables? And no, I won't be joining you on the cable adventure - I have heard the cable argument for going on 20 years and it is as meritless today as it was 20 years ago.


I never can get over that handle… Musicnoise… that’s super.

What is music to one is noise to another, huh? That’s a great pseudonym.

I want to personally thank you for enticing me to do my little AB test. I never have had the thought to do one outright, nor did I have the devices which could truly facilitate such an endeavor quickly enough for such a test. I had begun to doubt my previous thoughts on whether or not there truly were diffs, one to another with cabling.

Thanks to you I’ve finally determined unequivocally, that there are indeed differences. Better. Lesser. In regard to cables…. And I appreciate it very much.

So… putting the slide rule and specimen jar, aside now…

Everything has its place. Research. Testing. Practice. Application. Implementation. Revision… on the clinical side. All quite traditional methods for exploration of theorems, or theories, and ideas. I’ve absolutely no issue with science at all.

AS I’ve said previously, if the human element was not involved, perhaps then, and likely only then, things might become vastly different. There is a time and place for all of it.

So long as we humans are around, we’re going to say and do things which are contrary to a clinical approach.

For ex… when buying shoes… do you simply pick out the size style, and color you want, or do you slip them on first?

Or a gun… do you merely seek out the appropriate caliber for the task, without regard to fit and feel, or brand?

Ever order a new car or truck without driving it first?

How ‘bout that home of yours… Did ya take a peek inside before closing on it, or just look at the specs, location and square footage?

Ya know, science said those gaskets on the Challenger would be fine too… even without ever having been tested in those conditions…. Common sense observations said otherwise. We all know the result of that event.

Now I did try one scientific approach during my previous marriage… I bought my wife a table saw for her birthday. Figuring she wouldn’t use it and I could, but a present had been bought and a remembrance of the special occasion had been made.

She wasn’t terribly pleased with that approach, despite my assurances I’d use it till she could, and it would benefit us both!

She never did use that saw. In fact she sold it. Her justification was simple… when I asked her why she sold it she reminded me… “: well, it was mine, wasn’t it?”

I know that’s not a great analogy for this topic, but I felt compelled. The plan seemed solid enough… it was the outcome which threw me.

Mere science, even pure science, without consideration doesn’t always win out positively… for even science in its most pristine form is subject to the human condition, and consequent evaluation.

I feel the vast majority of audio & video enthusiast which spend severe amounts of time energy, and money, are intelligent, considerate, and thoughtful people… by and large.
Not every audio or video junkie is flush with funds either. Therefore, the litmus test for any application, integration, or use of higher end devices will always be the subjective consideration of the buyer…. And that’s no simple matter.

If such people are driven more by ego, or peer pressure, than by honest evaluation, then so be it! Let ‘em bleed. It’s their party.

The truly only appropriate equation for any audio or video nut is this… “If you hear or see a thing as being better, and can justify the expense for acquiring that level of betterment or difference, then by all means… BUY IT.”

Either way… if one chooses a clinical methodology or a simple plug it in methodology, I say “Have fun”… the last word always is a human one anyhow, huh?

The only justification I’ve ever had to make is the “Can I afford that degree of improvement, or differenced?” ….and sometimes I’ll ignore that answer if it doesn’t suit me. In the end or at least to this point, the ONLY poor choice has been a sideways step or two, and not one that undermined my system building efforts. It’s all been an ongoing upwardly moving sojourn.


It’s no wonder folks don’t do a whole system wireing AB test. The cost is too prohibitive. We’d all know the major result beforehand too…. It would be different. The question remaining would be, “Is it better?” and the issue would be, “Wonder what all them wires would do in my system?”

…but it would be interesting reading I suppose…. Or time well wasted. It’s one of the two I’m sure. Interesting, never the less.
Blindjim - the handle comes from the title of a book written fairly recently about 20th century 'classical' music "The Rest is Noise" which happened to be in front of me on the bookshelf when I selected my moniker for this forum.

Additionally - one thing I would like to point out - although not directed toward Blindjim but to the comments from another poster about reducing vibration - my goal with vibration reduction is not to improve sound quality - what prompted my interest, aside from inefficiencies, is I do not want to "feel" the music when I listen with my feet on the floor. If you look further down my post with regard to vibration damping you will see some reference to that effect, which occurs when at high volumes. To the extent that I can get rid of that effect, is the purpose for the damping system. I don't expect a change in quality of the sound from the damping of the floor-speaker effect.
"Seems like I have touched a nerve - do I detect one with a pecuniary interest in cables? And no, I won't be joining you on the cable adventure - I have heard the cable argument for going on 20 years and it is as meritless today as it was 20 years ago."

You're right, you touched a nerve; I think you've got a lot of nerve making pronouncements when you seemingly have done nothing to test it out. Then, in arrogance dismiss the reports of those who have done comparisons. You really think your logic is wonderful. I know, I used to be just like you.

I think in this post you reveal your true motivation: Mistrust

No, you do not detect, "one with a pecuniary interest in cables," as you are speaking with someone who conducted tests with suites of cables on his own dime - sometimes tying up $4-5K in extra cables for comparisons, then to sell them off -years before becoming a reviewer. Sorry, wrong assumption on your part, but it confirms the deep suspicion and mistrust that lies underneath your dismissal of cables.

I became convinced of my perspective on cables before I had any part in reviewing. In fact, it was all my informal comparisons of suites of cables which led me to conduct three reviews of cable groupings quickly after becoming a reviewer. I wanted to conduct more listening tests to confirm what I had found on my own. Reviewing has only strenghened the conclusions I already reached. I have had more access to cables from all levels of quality and different brands. My conclusion about the efficacy of cables is verified on a weekly basis, and witnessed by audiophiles whom I invite into my room. So, yes, it gets tiresome to hear someone with almost zero experience act like they know it all in regards to what cables can/can't do.

Why the suspicion simply because I mention that I review? You don't believe people when they're sharing experiences? You think there's always a fiscal (almost an evil audiophile) ulterior motive? Pretty sad. At least those who are not so jaded can learn something here.

I wish you well in your isolation device endeavor. :)
I thought I would take a second to correct some of the last poster's inaccuracies, for the benefit of the original poster, so that the original poster can evaluate the recommendations to the extent that future choices are made. As to experience and training, I built my first ham radio and put up my first tower decades ago as a teenage. In other words I have been connecting parts of electronic systems for a long time with great success. I learned more than a bit about electronics from years as an amateur radio operator, from repairing aviation weapons control systems and radar in the USN, from an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, from decades working as a biomedical engineer in research designs and clinical applications, decades as a member of the IEEE, and many years teaching electronics both in the classroom and in the laboratory at a technical college part time in the evenings.

Amplifiers are amplifiers, frequency response is frequency response, interconnects between equipment do not 'know' what the signal is - whether it represents music, a nerve conduction potential, or the output of a radar receiver, is immaterial to the interconnecting cable. What is important in determining selections in such interconnections is an understanding of the frequency and time domain characteristics of the signal and the electrical properties of the interconnected devices. In other words, there is nothing particularly special about moving signals around in a an audio system. So, I present my opinion in these matters from a considerable background pertinent to the topic. As to comparing cables by listening to them, I cannot say that I have extensively engaged in that practice, - however, there simply isn't a lot of value to be assigned to such subjective unquantifiable endeavors, if there were we would likely see a large number of studies of the results published in professional journals.

As a sidelight, a trademark of a weak argument is the ad hominem attack. A trademark of a weak argument in a scientific or technical area is the extent to which the opinion relies on subjectivity without objective findings, relies on other than logic, and is presented in emotional terms, as these are of no relevance to technical subjects. When the original poster decides what probative weight to assign to the various opinions, he or she may wish to take into consideration these factors.
Musicnoise, you said, "As to comparing cables by listening to them, I cannot say that I have extensively engaged in that practice..."

My point exactly. Thank you for clarifying.
Seems like the original poster has already gone down the path of depending on someone else's subjective listening experience - the result is reflected in the subject line of the thread "interconnect cable upgrade dissapointment" - I doubt that he or she will make that same mistake twice.
Musicnoise, much depends on your confidence about how accurate someone else's hearing. I don't trust any reviewer. I certainly would not trust any objective standard.


Your background is similar to my own, yet quite more accomplished, and it accounts for the reasoning or perspectives you espouse. I too, agreed with it for an exceptional period of time. In fact I thought it a big laugh when the subject came around.

Personally however, a whole bunch of experience in one area doesn't always relate to another very well. Subjectivity isn't a bad word... you can say it in front of mixed company and children without severe reprocussions.

i think much of the opinionated controversy on who's who, and what's best or better here, can and does enable other’s to glean both different perspectives and increases in system performance. However, it is not a thing which accounts for empirical measurements. always

There are exceptions to rules sometimes, as I recall from my math classes.

The impact of a rainbow simply has no measure, save for that which is attached to it by the viewer himself. Albeit, that phenomenon can be accounted for as to its origins.

I feel these, sometimes singularly so, accounts of change by introducing new cabling or for that matter tubes, into one’s system is akin to that same rainbow scenario. The impact the noted change delivers is assigned value solely by that person.

Wether I or anyone else submit some notion of our experience (s) and another takes it, in this case ‘Papajoe’, for some simple truth, doesn’t matter quite so much as does the experience the receiver encounters.

In sales, one gets far more “No thanks” than they do, “I’ll take it”. Not every I’ll take it statement I’ve made has been my best solution, nor even THE best overall.

If varying opinions, ongoing efforts to improve an audio system through the path of changing this or that now and then, or simple trial and error, weren’t the norm, it wouldn’t be considered a hobby. No one here has a crystal ball, calculator, or existential powers sufficient enough to proclaim any item as an exact right move for another as the variables in recreating a particular sound are to great. Unlike rooms, gear types, accouterments, ears, and yep, even O scopes, etc.

Slide rules and opinions both point towards a prescribed goal with equal merit. For quite a few around here and elsewhere, their ‘fun’ is in the doing… and not entirely in the end result, or the ‘being’. I tend to differ in that one respect though. I’m more an, “Are we there yet?” sort. Therefore my consternation level runs a mite higher at times and I’m more stayed and conservative with the moves I make to alter my rig.

So ya knock and no one answers…. Knock on another door. It’s only when one stops knocking which prevents knowledge and new experiences to be gained. The sum of our knowledgeable experiences does constitute the level of our wisdom.

I’ve found so far in the whole of my experiences in life, contempt prior to investigation is a definite bar to achieving gain…. And not everything makes sense at every turn. I’ve become reasonably suited to the notion that “Sometimes, it just bee’s that way.” Too.
Very nice, Blindjim.

Your background is similar to my own, yet quite more accomplished, and it accounts for the reasoning or perspectives you espouse. I too, agreed with it for an exceptional period of time. In fact I thought it a big laugh when the subject came around.

Great stuff blindjim. I would add however that it is possible to reconcile the math/physics with observations if one is prepared to accept that the system behaves as a whole.

If you change an IC and it sounds different then it does not automatically mean that the expensive materials in the special IC caused that change. It may have more to do with shield resistance and/or equipment problems ( ground loops ) than the quantity of silver or gold or oxygen free copper or cryogenic treatment in the IC wires.

So an engineer might still agree that an IC can make a difference but would disagree about why.

I would tend to blame the equipment ( a leaky or poor quality power supply or an imbalance in the signal wiring with respect to ground or poorly matched output and input impedances - ground imbalances from different house wall sockets etc. ). So a "brainwashed" engineer can still laugh in disbelief about crazy witch doctor cable treatments but still accept that differences can and certainly do occur. The key difference boils down to the WHY....simply put an audiophile may refuse to believe that the $5K pride and joy component is actually performing so poorly with another pride and joy $5K component that a mere interconnect change makes an audible difference (for example a twisted pair with no shield may perform better than a shielded IC and vice versa). Nevertheless the overwhelming desire is to attribute magical "audible" properties to the IC, which is, absent active components, just a piece of wire - an this is where I would laugh.
There was a joke about a man who answered an add for music teacher. He couldn't play any instrument, didn't like music and was partially deaf but he called them just to say that they shouldn't count on him.

That's pretty much the same when people who believe that cables make no difference post on CABLES forum.

I remember SS amps from late 60s or early 70s - very harsh sounding with excellent parameters. THD and IMD were so low that it was difficult to count zeros after decimal point but sound was horrible. They just did not know about TIM and effect of deep global negative feedback on sound. They called people who prefered sound of tubes "brainwashed" and "old fashioned".

Modesty! my fellow "scientists" and "engineers".
Modesty! my fellow "scientists" and "engineers".

I quite agree but didn't you mean to say "Honesty" ;-)

If one engineer said to another that one copper wire is pretty much as good as another at analog audio frequencies then surely the other would not think them arrogant, conceited or presumptuous?

If one audiophile said to another that his $5K audio cable is significantly better than another $200 cable then...
Shadorne - I try to be modest (and honest) and don't post any definitive opinions about analog gear since I don't have much experience there. I have problem with people who have zero cable experience but can tell for certain that there is no sonic difference.

There is a measurable difference between cables - but if we imagine that all parameters, that we know of, measure exactly same I still wouldn't claim that they cannot sound different.

Nobody said that $5k audio cable is significantly better than $200 cable but it is usually better. Is it worth to spend insane $5k? For some people it is the only way, they know of, to improve already near-perfect system. For others subtle sonic difference will be lost in less then perfect gear. I tend to overinvest in cables treating them as non-perishable goods.

Majority of people with cable experience will tell you that silver cables sound fast and bright compare to copper cables but "scientists" will educate us that metal cannot make difference. And that I call lack of modesty.
Is it worth to spend insane $5k? For some people it is the only way, they know of, to improve already near-perfect system. For others subtle sonic difference will be lost in less then perfect gear. I tend to overinvest in cables...

I see that now - it really is the only way.

I try to be modest (and honest) and don't post any definitive opinions

I see that too.

"scientists" will educate us that metal cannot make difference. And that I call lack of modesty.

Quite right. I find myself agreeing with you and feel I owe you an apology for being so presumptuous. At least I can now go back to my modest and less than perfect gear knowing why subtle cable differencs will be lost on me.
Apology accepted with a small request - if you quote me please quote whole sentences or people might think that you do this on purpose. Example:

"Shadorne - I try to be modest (and honest) and don't post any definitive opinions about analog gear since I don't have much experience there."

"I try to be modest (and honest) and don't post any definitive opinions"

I do have definitive opinions - the issue was having them without any experience with cables.

Irony is not in the best taste and doesn't help in discussion - at least in my book - example:

"Quite right. I find myself agreeing with you and feel I owe you an apology for being so presumptuous. At least I can now go back to my modest and less than perfect gear knowing why subtle cable differencs will be lost on me."

Wouldn't be simpler to say "I cannot hear differences"? Nobody will blame you - believe me.
Wouldn't be simpler to say "I cannot hear differences"? Nobody will blame you - believe me.

Well I'll not be so conceited as to deny that last point - you are probably right again - although I enjoy audio immensely, I make no claims to have "golden ears" if that is what you meant.
Shadorne - you make me feel better. I have never suspected I had "golden ears" especially having very hard time to learn music.

I cannot explain why Audioquest Viper delivers taut short bass while Audioqest Ruby's bass is full and round. Both of them are within $200 that you mentioned. From engineering point of view it doesn't make any sense. You should try both of them - it might be eye oppening experience.

I cannot understand why power cables make difference, but having zero experience with them I don't question they do. Going by "science" and specification is good in engineering but not in Audio (too complex) and if I had to choose very expensive SS amp without listening I would pick one with worse specs.

Open mind instead of calling other people brainwashed (as some do) is always better approach.
My pleasure. Thanks much

Thanks very much.

My degree of disappointment hinges upon my expectation level.

“Why?” and perhaps “Why not?” are both quite formidable precepts.

These questions get me into more trouble than any other. I try not to use it until I can’t escape it and there is a real and tangible need for it’s use.

One thing I’ve found out about me over the years is this, “I don’t know everything.” It follows that I should not presume to know everything either. Nor, will I dispute other’s claims unless I’ve found out for myself they aren’t valid or not quite valid enough.

Further, until all the mysteries of the cosmos are revealed I’ll continue on with as open a mind as I am able in regards to life and other things, in general.

In fact I’ve never even stayed at a Holiday Inn Express… Gee. Maybe I should have!

Those items with too much ‘can’taffordium’ or ‘unobtainium’ within their build are quite simple matters for me… I just ignore them altogether. I won’t however, ignore what their influence might be., or their worth to another.

As was noted, cables may or may not be the answer to improve a system., more fundamentally existing issues contribute. Some positively, some negatively. Even dirty volume controls can be compensated for with more capacitive cables, yet at the loss of leading edge definition. This compensation does not provide true improvement, but improvement never the less, as the scratchy and graininess are ameliorated.

Again, as was also stated, cable geometry, and dielectric materials make for changes, or differences in sound as well. Super! Yayy. More fuel for the fire, what?

No. it really isn’t. I’ve neither the time, funds, nor inclination to set out on another wire hunt as I did a few years ago while searching out a main IC for that (now past) system.

In the end, just what would the result be in fact? It would only be applicable to the ‘now’ system most likely, and that's a rather myopic viewpoint in truth. ‘Course that depends on the subject-o-meter I was given when all this “Gee, Wanna go bowling?” “Nope. Let’s put together a really nice stereo rig instead!”, discourse began.

Armed with my brandy new ‘subjectometer’, no working knowledge of present day audio gear, some predetermined closed minded reservations, and a budget I’ve long since over shot, I began. The first build cost me dearly as I took advice from those who really neither knew, or cared about my concerns. I further hamstrung myself by ignoring the peripherals and accessories required for it to attain a greater level of synergy.

Then one day I was pointed to Audiogone during a speaker demo I was doing, knowing full well it had to be the speakers causing my sonic issues. And ain’t that always the ticket? Just buy better speakers! That’ll fix everything! lol

A ton of advice, knowledge bases, and some newly met sincere folks later, I’ve gone through two completely different rigs, and presently am satisfied with this current one. Of course NOW I need better speakers! But only due to their color, as room esthetics are vastly altered now.

The sole main ingredient that provided me the most substantial gain, was simply setting aside my own ideas and ideologies,

Isolation? We don't need no stinking isolation! ... sorry that was my best Eli Wallach impression too.

On par with that facet, was some hands on trial and error… well, I was accompanied through it all with a forlorn and woefully ignored budget, and of course my trusty ‘subject-o-meter’.

How could I have known eight years ago I was better served by the auspices of vacuum tube power? Trust me here, I had no idea and absolutely was a major component of the “lots of watts” camp… and a fully vested card carrying member.

Now, as weird as this may sound given the last note… I’m exploring a PC only based entertainment senter and beginning with it’s audio aspects. I'm also being regularly surprised by it... in a good way.

As the result of my personal investigations, and surely my willingness to do so, things around Jim’s ‘House of Sunburn and Sound’, are getting better…. Well, that and more littered. … looks like I’m gonna need a third rack soon! …or smaller components. Sheesssh!

The bottom line here? See for yourself. Try a this or that in your own rig. That’s the only truly applicable litmus test for the ‘audio afflicted’… oh yeah and there’s this too, Be honest… as there is a distinction between ‘different’ and ‘improved’. Albeit, the former can and does supplant the latter now and then.

AS this process continues a funny thing happens… your ‘subject-o-meter’ becomes better calibrated and your system will sound better… usually. RWV..
I think Audiogon is a great resource and conflicting views are welcome. May the great debates continue, forever!

Nobody has a monopoly on the best sound!
The more I learn about hi end audio cables the more I realize that price and promotion are the two worst indicators of sonic performance. having said that, I usually break in new cables by playing digital music from my sat receiver through them when I'm gone during the day. That way I'm not putting wear on any of my source gear. You can do the same thing with an old fm receiver, but digital covers a wider spectrum of the audio frequency and there aren't as many commercials so you get more burn in time per hour.
>>there aren't as many commercials so you get more burn in time per hour.<<

That's hilarious.
I usually break in new cables by playing digital music from my sat receiver through them when I'm gone during the day.

This is an excellent idea. If you want your cables to burn in and sound energetic then you simply set it to a sports channel. If you want your cables to sound smooth, romantic and liquid then you set it to the Soap Opera channel. For a more laid back sound then you could simply switch to
yeah, that is kind of silly in hindsight. You get the idea though. Let disposable equipment do the lifting, use the your good gear for listening, and go to shadornes house to listen to the soap opera channel.

What sort of sound might cables then provide if one sets the box to the western channel featuring Gene Autry & Roy rogers serials most of the time?

A raw outlaw wire that is heroicly corraled by a lilting crooner, or just an IC on the warpath?