Yes they do matter.
In the context of the 1394 link carrying DSD from a dCS Verdi Encore transport to a dCS DAC I have found a major improvement by using the Esoteric 8N-6P-6PI cable (actually made by Acrolink in Japan). That improvement is compared to the cable supplied by dCS.
My estimate was that the stack was giving only 70% of its best performance prior to adding the 8N-6P-6PI.
Gtfour45, these are certain expensive Firewire cables. It looks like they are only available in 6 pins, and I need 9 pins Firewire 800 into my Mac. Did you get them from Japan?
Doubtful. Remember if it is call 'firewire' it must meet a standard spec. So, the issue is does it meet the spec or not. If it does not meet the spec, the cable is defective, quality has nothing to do with it. How would one know if it is meeting spec? Testing it. How do you test it? You really can't with mega bucks of test gear. However, the standard's organization, located in New Jersey does some testing/certification. Try them. Most pure differences in cables are always due to one not meeting the spec, not its pricing.
"...digital cables also matter"
Please explain to me how a cable that is only passing 0s and 1s, and has error correction on the devices connected at both ends (in the case of FireWire), can possibly affect the end result? Jitter (timing issues) are not cable dependant, so how else can you explain what you think that you hear? I'm not trying to be a jerk - the science just doesn't add up.
Seems to be a lot of relevant discussion here regards USB cables (of which there appear to be more audiophile permutations than firewire); there seems to be a quite a bit of consensus that there are audible differences.
I tend somewhat to cable skepticism (though considerably less so after Chris Hoff of BPT auditioned some of his excellent stuff in my system last night), but I thought I could detect a pretty significant difference between a "stock" usb cord and the entry level Locus Design.
Does your worry about the science not adding up extend to all cabling, or do you think there is special reason for skepticism in the case of the newer digital applications?
Putting the science aside for a minute, have you listened to different digital cables? Who knows why scientifically, but there is a difference, at least to me along with a lot of other people.
One key factor may be this, as explained to me by a manufacturer:
"A cable is much more than the wire. You can use the best wire in the world, but if the wire connection to the connectors is not done well, the cable won't be good. A cable starts where it connects to and receives the input signal. The connector, the connection, the wire and the shielding and grounding determine if the signal passed in is the same as the signal coming out and entering into the receiving component."
There is definitely science in that, so maybe it's that aspect that determines "the sound quality" more than whether the wire is cheap copper, better copper or silver.
Tbg has an extremely nice system, so the highest quality Firewire will be audible.
Krell man, well said. I was hoping to avoid the "bits are bits" discussion.
I understand your reluctance to avoid a "bits are bits" discussion. And I appreciate the fact that some of you claim that you can hear a difference between digital cables. I can't. Given a cable that can make a good connection to the FireWire (or Toslink, or coax digital) port there can only be a difference if something is terribly wrong with a given cable, or the cable is affecting the upstream or downstream processing.
One of my old physics professors used to say "If you can't explain it, you don't understand it. And if you don't understand it, you cannot be sure what it is that you are actually observing."
So surely one of you can explain to me or have a theory as to how a digital signal can be subject to subtle and random errors? Yes, I'm a differential digital cable non-believer. But I'm willing to be convinced if someone can make a convincing argument. That's all.
Br3098, I will also quote one of my physics professors, "If you think we fully understand nature, you will not make a good physicist. Always keep your eyes open for anomalies."
Pardon me if I respond no further. Life is too short.
I bought my 8N-6P-6PI cable locally in Australia.
The Cable Company lists them (look under Acrolink).
However, I'm pretty certain that they come only in combinations of 4 and 6 pins.
I do not know if firewire cables make a difference, but for peace of mind, I bought Granite digital firewire (800) cables from MacGurus.com for my computer based setup:
Thanks for this, Bryoncunningham, they look good and not too pricey. Interestingly I did not find them in a Google search.
Prior to me having the Siltech Firewire (3yrs ago), have always listened to my 6yrs old dCS stack in their up-sampled mode of 44.1->176.4/192 (via Siltech double AESBUs). Yes, better Firewire cables do make significant differences so much so that I found myself now preferring/listening in their 44.1->DSD up-sampled mode almost exclusively.
I added the 2 x Siltech FW-6 classic mkII replacing the standards much later as I too was initially skeptical for same reason some mentioned above, but listening is believing. My only regret is that I should have done it sooner.
The physics professor was wrong. I am a scientist as well. If I understood everything that I reliably observed to have occured, I'd never learn anything new.
By definition you do not know the mechanisms/explanations behind every solid observation. It may just be 0's and 1's but different digital rigs, CD players, DAC's sound differently on the same source material.
One problem that scientsit have is if their modesl or measurements don't explain it, they don't believe it. I posit that we do not measure important aspects of sound reproduction that our brains can differentiate. Just recently I sat and listened to speakers with Jim Salk. He made the point that he had speaker protoypes that measured esactly the same yet did not sound the same.
yes, there is snake oil and exaggeration where cableing is concerend. However, the key is to sort out the real dela from the BS.
By the way what are the recommendations for firewire cabling? I am going to need to get some for my new server/dac set-up.
Jaymark, there are countless examples of scientists missing regularities in data because of their paradigm. I love the self-declared scientists who don't listen because their paradigm says differences are impossible.
I sought advice from the top people I know in digital. Most seem to have little experience with Firewire or hesitate to make recommendations as they are manufacturers. I have made no real comparisons. I did buy Granite Digital Firewire cables and did compare them with Firewire cables I got with my Western Digital 2 TB HDD. I can hear that the Granite cables are slightly better. But I never really broke-in the Westerns the way I have the Granites.
There are a number of cable manufacturers whose Firewire cables I would like to try, but apparently it is expensive to get a license for using Firewire.
I am confident, however, that Firewire connections are the way to go. Again, however, it is just the results I am getting with the Mac/Amarra/Firewire/Minerva setup. I have multiple dacs but none afford me the opportunity to compare Firewire with USB, S/P DIFd, or AES/EBU. I do have much experience to suggest that ripping to HDD or SSD excels over optical readers, including new blu-rays.
I did not bring my reading glasses today so pardon the typos in my prior response.
Tbg thanks for your response. I will look into the Granite firewire cables...........Apple makes firewire cable. Anyone have experience with Apple or any other brands......
I am hoping to revive this thread. See if anyone has more input on Firewire cables. I have a dCS Scarlatti stack and recently tried a Audioquest Diamond firewire, it's definitely better than stock. But wondering if something better is out there.
I have tried 3 separate clock cables now (stock, Cardas Lightning 15 and Purist Audio Designs Proteous Provectus Praesto)...all are clearly audible...the Purist being best (it's not subtle....)
I am guessing firewires might be the same outcome...
Jfrech, I was surprised to see a new posting on this thread. Coincidentally, I just got a Synergistic Research charged Firewire cable. I put in place of my exceptional Entreq cable and was rewarded with much cleaner and detailed sound. I have always found charge shielded cables sound better, and this was no exception.
It runs between my Empirical Audio Legacy music server's Mac Mini 800 output and my Weiss DAC202 dac 400 input.
tbg, thanks, i am floored by the differences on digital cables, i don't understand why (digits are digits stuff) but I can sure hear it. The surprising thing is that I've compared Cardas to Purist interconnect before and the same thing in hear on RCA interconnects (dac to pre) I hear in clock cables...go figure
I did not know synergistic research had a firewire cable out...I will see if I can try one out...
Jfrech, I am shocked that some hear no differences.
TBG, which sr cable vs which entre firewire cable, i currently have entre setup
Mikie, the Entreq is the Konstantin but mine uses a white cable not a black one. I have had it for some time, so perhaps they have changed the color of the cable. The SR cable may not be available. Ted Denny said to me, "If others can make a firewire cable, I can make a charged firewire cable. Shortly thereafter he sent me one.
Few days ago I've got a 2nd hand Siltech Golden Fire on Ebay. Till now I've used an Oyaide Neo+, which is no slouch. But once the Siltech was connected, a BIG improvement was audible. I'm not a master of hifi-poetry, but much more detailed, transparent and complete is the least I can say. I use it between AudioPC (Dual PC Setup, JRiver Media Center 20 through JPLAY) and a Weiss DAC202. If you got the chance to get one, don't miss it!