" Another's opinion on a particular cable may not be valid unless they have a very similar system."
Stop it, that's just silly ....
Stop it, that's just silly ....
Only the R (resistance) matters at audio frequencies (20 hz - 20 kHz). Thinner wire has more R - thicker wire has less R. The L (inductance) and C (capacitance) of typical speaker wire are of too low a value to affect a music signal. Physics 101! The "golden ears" crowd will claim otherwise. Yet no one has been able to identity and prove the existence of Factor X . Which would account for the claimed difference in sound Q of wire A compared to wire B. All claimed differences are strictly ANECDOTAL!
Only the R (resistance) matters at audio frequencies (20 hz - 20 kHz). Thinner wire has more R - thicker wire has less R. The L (inductance) and C (capacitance) of typical speaker wire are of too low a value to affect a music signal. Physics 101!Physics 101? Inductive reactance of 10ft (20ft both ways) gauge 14 cable at 20kHz is about 1 ohm. Resistance of this cable is 0.05 ohm.
Ok, let’s do this! I’ve owned more than a considerable cross section of various cables and gear over the past 4 decades. In my experience, the only cabling that could consistently reproduce the full measure of my musical repertoire, have had networks on them. Without the “boxes”, the noise floor was higher, low level details were buried, dynamics were constricted, natural body and weight of instruments were reduced and tone, texture and timbre were less faithfully reproduced. Harmonic complexity and the acoustic envelope around the recording space was also glossed over without those “silly boxes” attached! Personally, I’ve never cared for following anyone’s personal audio-religion...I simply layed down my cash and listened. For me, the snake oil is in the non-network cable manufacturers offerings...different combinations of exotic metals, cryogenically treated connectors, geometries etc.. These differences do change what you hear, but they do not address the damage that is being done to the signal along the way. Like I said, if you truly love great performances of well recorded music and you wish to experience as much of the ethereal magic as is contained in your musical recordings, then what you actually do need is “snake oil”! Everything else is just wire
Roberjerman, you may not have noticed that Kijanki referred to the inductive reactance of a certain cable as being 1 ohm at 20 kHz, not to its inductance being 1 ohm. As you may realize, inductive reactance is the impedance presented by an inductance at a certain frequency, and it has a magnitude that is measured in ohms.
And of course 1 ohm will certainly not be insignificant relative to the impedance of some speakers at 20 kHz, especially many electrostatics. Some Martin-Logan models have impedances of 0.4 ohms at 20 kHz, which would cause a 1 ohm cable reactance to have dramatic consequences. On the other hand, though, low cable inductance doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
ieales 2-26-2017There is a significant degree of truth in this statement, especially given the use of the word "may." As many audiophiles recognize, cable behavior is often system dependent to a significant degree, and in particular may depend on the characteristics of what the cable is connecting. Some examples:
1)In the case of the speaker cable Kijanki referred to, a speaker having high impedance at high frequencies, such as many dynamic speakers, will be relatively insensitive to the inductive reactance he described. While other speakers, such as many electrostatics, will be very sensitive to it. That has no particular relation, by the way, to the sound quality or musical resolution of the speakers; it just relates to their sensitivity to cable differences.
2)If an interconnect having relatively high capacitance is compared with one having relatively low capacitance, and if everything else is equal, the higher capacitance cable will produce a duller and more sluggish response in the upper treble region if used as a line-level interconnect (especially if it is driven by a component having high output impedance), due to the interaction of cable capacitance and component output impedance; while the exact opposite result will occur if those same two cables are compared in a phono cable application and driven by a moving magnet cartridge, due to the interaction of cable capacitance and cartridge inductance.
3) It is easily possible for digital cable "A" to outperform digital cable "B" in a given system when both cables are of a certain length, and for cable "B" to outperform cable "A" even in that same system if both cables are of some other length. That may result from differences in the arrival time of signal reflections which occur at the RF frequency components that are present in digital audio signals as a result of less than perfect impedance matches, and cable-related differences in ground loop-related noise that may be riding on the signal, both of which can contribute to timing jitter at the point of D/A conversion. The happenstance of the relationships between cable length, signal risetimes and falltimes, cable propagation velocity, component susceptibility to ground loop-related noise, the happenstance of how closely the impedances of both components and the cable match, and the jitter rejection capability of the DAC, all figure into that.
In the end it boils down to the choice of components.
Are the components high fidelity or not?
Are the components designed to give accurate high fidelity that is independent of the cables used and their length or not?
A setup that sounds different with every slightly different piece of wire is obviously NOT high fidelity - the sound is all over the place and totally dependent on extraneous factors which can never be properly controlled or determined.
@mr_m - I'm a long time lurker. A post mentioning a fuse that has directionality and another about letting 'overburned' cables rest were the last straws. Directionality? On A/C? As far as lions, bring 'em on. I love skewering.
@dave_b - Spot on. For those who don't know, those networks are LRC. My current cables have them :-)
@almarg - Isn't science great!
I have a bin of cables in the garage. Silver, Litz, MultiGuage, OFC, Linear Crystal, PE, PEP, PET, PP. Everyone of them sounds different. More than 40 years ago I realized that they are not universal across all systems. I use 'video' cables with my sub because they SOUND BEST of all 6 foot lengths in the bin in that application.
When consulting for Monster Cable Pro, we took cables to many top LA studios. At ALL BUT ONE, the MCP made a difference. Some better, some not.
I ran a cable audibility workshop at AES in the mid 80's. It was run as A/B. For each pass, cables were removed and either swapped or replugged with a timed [30s?] interval. Participants were able to learn as we ran several passes identifying A and B. Participants included a wide range of engineers and audiophiles. During several tests Rod[?] from SOTA and I wrote C because it was not A or B. After a couple of days of standing and talking, I wrote "too tired to tell" Ditto Rod, unbeknownst to me.
Some achieved better than 80%. YHS 84% prior to 'too tired to tell.'
When the results were tabulated, overall it was a wash. For some, cables make a difference, some not.
Later we investigated 'C - neither' and determined multiple factors:
- Line voltage and noise
- 80's error correction sometimes got lost
- Thermal effects
Later, c. 1990, I was involved with modelling a well regarded analog mic pre for a digital console. IIRC, 24 bit ADC, 32bit DSP, 20 bit DAC. Only by getting the correct balance of frequency response, harmonic distortion and phase shift of the original transformer and circuit were we able to get very close, but only close. Technically, it was inferior.
In the mix, we could manipulate the 'sound stage' by adjusting the ratio of odd and even harmonics and phase. IIRC, more ODD made the image come forward of the speakers and narrow to a shallower triangle behind the speakers. More EVEN moved the image plane to between the speakers and extended directly and farther back, more like a stage. These levels were in the bottom few bits of 20bits, i.e. the bottom couple of bits of CD 16bit resolution. Phase adjustments could affect image height but were very speaker and amplifier dependent.
When we reintroduced the analog version of the mic pre, management wanted surface mount. While this would make sense from cost and reliability standpoints, I demurred. We needed the LRC from PTH parts, including iron leads on some components rather than tinned copper to replicate the sound. Or we'd spend years attempting.
EVERY recording has frequency and phase artifacts from microphones, cables, electronics. On any given system, choice of source material may enhance or detract interacting with playback system colorations. Unless one keeps a library of cables and components, changing per recording, the best one can hope is 'pretty good' across all programs. Sometimes one has to choose between the music and the sound.
When auditioning a new component, it must pass with a great multitude of cables and other components. Otherwise, one can build a superb system that could fall apart with the change of a single component.
A topic which receives little ink is thermal. I have a customized CD player that requires about 1 hour playing to sound its best. Not just on, playing. The best metaphor as it approaches thermal equilibrium is adjusting the focus on a camera whilst changing the illumination and color temperature with a dimmer.
It is instructive to log ambient and internal conditions along with perceptions. Not only electronics, but speakers and to a much lesser extent cables change with temperature. Like wine and whisky, people have preferences and some are better suited to summer and others winter. I love Burgundy and Islay's, the missus not so much. Vive la difference!
An instructive test is to play a particular favorite which has good dynamic range on a well warmed system. Make notes and sketches of the soundstage. Now put a low dynamic range selection on repeat, turn it up LOUD and leave for an hour or more. Come back and immediately replay the original at the original level [�±0.05 db max delta @ 1kHz measured at the pre-out]. Repeatedly play it and note the changes as the amp changes. If impatient, use a fan to cool rapidly. Dollars to donuts changes are evident. Class A amps not invited ;-)
As little as 3°C change in heat sink temperature on some amplifiers can subtly change its sonics. How many here note heat sink temperature, or anything for that matter, before prattling on?
Bottleheads are not thermally immune. I have thermally controlled fans just ticking over to maintain tube and transformer temperatures at what I consider the sweet spot. Citation II, multiple ARC, custom KT-88, PrimaLuna, etc. all benefit.
I did not say cables do not make a difference. I said cables have properties and those properties can have consequences. Only you can judge.
Oenophiles may relate: Jordan makes an excellent, well regarded cabernet. However, in Jordan cabs I always taste Dill, which I detest. Once a pal tried to fool me by putting Jordan in an another well regarded bottle. Nice try.
For years after the LA Auto Show, we'd all go out to a fine dinner. Everyone brought a favorite wine. The others paid for the meal of bringer of the wine judged best. One year I took a chard that cost $2.99. Against wines up to $200, it was judged best by a mile. I got my meal for free, but had to buy the cognac. The point? $$$$ does not always equate to better and there is no free lunch.
Of course cables make a difference. Sometimes audible, sometimes not. Sometimes preferable, sometime not.
Whether a difference is an improvement is system, program, ambient condition and most of all, LISTENER dependent.
Two of my favorite audio acronyms:
YMMV - Your Mileage May Vary
YOYO - You're On Your Own - no one else is wearing your ears!
Jim (Jea48) and Shadorne, thank you kindly!
And thanks very much to Ian as well. Your lengthy second post makes many excellent points IMO, some of which indeed point out variables whose potential influence on cable and component comparisons is commonly under-recognized.
Your reference to Rod, btw, I assume is to Rodney Herman, co-designer of the original SOTA turntable. The one I purchased in 1983 still functions as well as ever, by the way!
Another thing your post does, when juxtaposed with the responses by some others earlier in the thread, is to reinforce a perception I’ve had for some time that some here are much too quick to hurl accusations of trolling. Which can often turn what might have been a constructive and informative thread into a series of pointless exchanges of insults and ugliness. The "believers" and the "non-believers" are often equally culpable in such exchanges, IMO.
Thanks again. Best regards,
It depends on the meaning of “high fidelity”. I interprete that to mean “faithful to the source recording” which means that “more twitchy it can be to the subtlest changes in the audio chain” is NOT high fidelity but “highly finicky”.
I understand that “high fidelity” can mean different things to different folks - a highly euphonic (distorting) tube amp may be marketed as “high fidelity” when it is really adding a great sound of its own circuitry to the recording...far from faithful to the original but a sound that is nevertheless highly desirable to those who enjoy it.
One of the world’s top mastering engineers (Doug Sax) used his brothers proprietary tube designs to master countless pop and rock - giving it just that touch of tube warmth that made his services in highest demand for decades. A high fidelity setup will allow you to hear what the mastering engineer intended.
If the audio chain consisted of one box connected to the master feed via lossless transfer on the input and your brain connected directly to the output via cyber/lossless transfer then perhaps you would have a bit of a point. As it is, everything matters and does alter the sound to varying degrees on all equipment.
“faithful to the source recording”Ain't no such thing. Sound suffers the death of a thousand cuts. I once missed out on a Grammy nomination because the record company head ordered Bernie to add 3db of compression overriding the producer and I. The disk you get is often not the music recorded. A pal on the nominating committee said we were a shoo-in but for the compression.
I recently did a bit analysis of Fagan's Nightfly. Pals and I have pre & post IMEI versions covering multiple decades. The post version I have is markedly inferior. It has been eq'd and compressed. Happens all the time that marketing types order changes and 'engineers' who've never been in a studio make arbitrary changes because "Anything I do will make this .... better"
I recently purchased a replacement Moby Grape CD. It sounds like it was made from MP3. Record companies can be butchers!
Speaking of MP3, either it is turned off or I leave. Here's why:
A high fidelity setup will allow you to hear what the mastering engineer intended.The mastering engineer is just another colorist in the chain. Depending on the project, Doug and his setup could work wonders. On another, not so much. His 'Direct to Disk' work was incredible.
If the budget would support it, we'd master at Doug's, Bernie's, Steve's, etc. The monitor system itself alters the sound. It could expose or mask, turning a feature into a flaw or vice versa. Sometimes, we'd cut multiple lacquers [refs], each from a different manufacturer, at the same place. The lacquer itself added coloration. As did the tape deck, desk, EQ, cables and cutting head.
Once the refs were cut, they were checked in the studio for fidelity to the mix and also on multiple home systems. On cheap systems to make sure they would play and mega systems to make sure they had as close to studio quality sound as possible. On one project, Side 1 was cut at one lab and Side 2 at another.
If the artist had enough clout, we'd request the pressing be done at a specific plant and limit the number of impressions per stamper.
All of the above added far more coloration than decent cables.
Sadly today, too much "music" is done on a laptop and for a phone.
@people - please be civil.
I agree with you 100% that the various recordings and masterings issued and manufactured may not be faithful to the original sound of the band. However a system’s degree of fidelity can be quantified in how faithful it is to the actual recording it is presented - no more no less. So there is such a thing as high fidelity and the higher the fidelity the less altered the sound should be!
Do you know of a good recording of Moby Grape - love that band?
Are you an engineer? You talk of L R and C but do you understand the relative impact that these factors play and do you understand how important component design is and component matching is in order to minimize any artefact from bits of wire....
However a system’s degree of fidelity can be quantified in how faithful it is to the actual recording it is presentedWho's on first?
The instant the sound wave hits the microphone diaphragm, absolute HiFidelity is gone.
Alan Turing [of The Imitation Game] devised a test for computers: the machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.
There isn't a studio in the world where the sound is the same on both sides of the glass. By the time it gets to the consumer, it is all Lo-Fi by Turing Test standards.
The true test of any playback system is does it involve the listener in the music of their choosing. That is all that matters. Arguing about relative merits with the ill-educated is pointless.
I was a recording and electronic design engineer and invented the Vocal Splicer. I quit recording in the late 80's with the rise of drum machines and computers. I had a business installing recording studios and manufacturing electronics for the recording industry. We also modified recording electronics. Later I worked for a recording console manufacture as head of Analog R&D.
I'm pretty certain that a great many audiophile products could be shown to have no or even negative effects in terms of absolute amplitude and phase coherence. Those that do affect phase and amplitude may improve some systems, have no effect in others and be down right negative in still others. It astounds me that there is so little proof and so much hyperbole.
As far as understanding LRC and "minimize any artefact from bits of wire", yes I understand LRC. And yes, it is possible to design to minimize wire effects. However, that may be counter productive. If I design an amplifier or loudspeaker that sounds better and better with every better and better designed cable, I'd say mission accomplished. An amplifier or loudspeaker that showed no improvement with better cable, I'd class as mediocre. When I say better cables I mean better in terms of design to maintain phase and amplitude so that the signal is the same on both ends with a wide range of driver and load topologies.
You clearly didn’t read what I said. I said faithful to the recorded music and NOT to the singers voice or sound BEFORE it reaches the studio microphone and is modified by said microphone. Nobody but nobody expects recorded music to reproduce the live event perfectly.
Sorry but you aren’t making any sense and your reading comprehension is poor. An appropriate plain cable or wire is not going to change amplitude or phase in any meaningful way. You have lost all credibility despite an appeal to your expertise as a designer.
”Involving the listener” is a meaningless concept and a bunch of hand waving - it can’t be measured and it most certainly isn’t high fidelity or faithfulness to the recording.
ieales thank you for your insight. I really appreciate it. I am sure Shadorne meant to say thanks to. I agree with most of what both of you have said. I do think you both are agreeing on a lot but shadorne is getting caught up on a few particulars. But like ieales said everything has an interaction with another thing. Hope I get this right .Shadorne likes to say that a good engineered component will not vary as much as others say their systems change with a seemingly small tweek. To me any component will change with associated components weather it is inside of the piece i.e capacitors, resistors, diodes fast or slow, or it is on the outside i.e. speakers, cables, digital and it’s parameters. It all matters. I do agree that well designed equipment can be more consistent with changes and from component to component. Now if someone has a system dialed in that it doesn’t get effected much by changes and they like that that sounds good for that person. If a person has the opportunity to improve their sound with some changes and they like I want to hear about that and I wouldnt call that junk. Just my opinionated opinion.
I’m sorry if I’m not making my self clear.
Seriously, please explain how one judges "faithful to the recorded music."
I am truly interested because countless engineers have busted their asses for more than a century to bring playback ever closer to being in the room with the artist.
An appropriate plain cable or wire is not going to change amplitude or phase in any meaningful way.
This link shows Phase and Impedance for 3 speaker wires:
Bob Carver’s Music Ribbon, Rega Duet and a development prototype.
Every component, be it tube, transistor, transformer, resistor, capacitor, connector, wire affects the signal passing through it. Surface mount parts sound different because they have vastly different inductance.
I once replaced 3 inches of wire in a recording console main mix buss module with a better one. I did not tell anyone. I was in my shop next to the studio and the engineer came in and said "What did you do?" Why? "It’s effin’ amazing. The bottom is tighter, there’s more punch, the mids are cleaner and the pain is gone, highs airier." I showed him what I’d replaced "You’re sh.....n’ me! It maybe the most significant improvement you’ve ever made."
What exactly is a plain cable?
I think I’m falling back on letting the chips fall where they may. No amount of good intentioned sharing of experience can go without the ground and pound crowd, without the self appointed saviors of those who don’t need saving. They have an axe to grind and they keep it sharp but seem to strike the same blows, over and over and over, and yet nothing falls.
Welcome to the jungle. 👍
All the best,
I think there is engineering protocol and it has mostly definite parameters. And then there is the real world. They both effect each other but are not exactly the same because engineering cannot conceive of every complexity although it does extremely well thankfully. A reason why we have some nice systems.