Most Beneficial Cable Upgrade

All things being equal, which cable upgrade would have the greatest sonic impact/improvement on a high end audio (stereo) system?
1)Power cables
2)Speaker cables
I have heard that power cables have the greatest benefit due to their ability to reduce RFI (radio frequency interference).
Does anyone know the answer to this question?
No, because there is no answer, it depends on the perticular system in question.
AC power cords and most other power "conditioner" products. The sales claims sound logical: Noise and static can get into your gear through the power line and damage the sound. In severe cases it's possible for power-related clicks and buzzes to get into your system, but those are easily noticed. The suggestion that subtle changes in "clarity and presence" can occur is plain fraud. Indeed, every competent circuit designer knows how to filter out power line noise, and such protection is routinely added to all commercial audio products. Spending hundreds of dollars on a six-foot replacement power cord ignores the other hundred-odd feet of regular wire between the wall outlet and power pole.The real answer is? Use logic and really listen with someone else but you doing the switching and you might just see the silliness of it all.
Well yeah, a pecking order can be established.
1) source to preamp interconnect
___a) if have turntable, the table to phono is the most critical
___b) if DAC, CD transport to DAC, then DAC to Preamp
2) Preamp to Amp interconnect/or speaker wires
3) the other of preamp to amp/speaker wires
4) then a power cord, start with amp
5) then preamp power cord
6) then source power cords.
7) consider a power conditioner as an alternative to starting with power cords. However a conditioner is harder to impliment correctly. So I would do the power cords before the conditioner, but either power cords or a power conditioner can do a lot for a system
Others may argue, but this is a good system of adding wires.
Schipo: all well and good. i used to scoff at power cords etc. Then i tried one that really made a difference in my system. The complaints are ALWAYS theory, the positive claims are alway experiential. The one area that one can SEE is a video screen. it really makes a difference on a good screen, like my Plasma.
So some stuff does have an effect, from my own experience. All I can say is if you do not like them, then do not buy them.
I agree that most of the aftermarket tweaks are overpriced garbage. Much of the stuff can be made with ordinary (cheap) stuff.
So all I can do is agree with you on the main, but still have to say i have found that cords do make a difference... though I would personally never spend big bucks on a powercord. (more than a hundred) But i have spent a LOT for a power conditioner (the Furman I found here on the gon' for $1,400. a good deal)
don,t we discuss this once a month? haha i think,,,can,t prove,,, that when i swapped my moderately priced ac cords out of my cd player, pre and amp and replaced with the stock cords that the bass sq went south of he--. i have also done this with the ac cords one at a time with similar results. i gave them a day and it never got better. when i put the moderately priced ac cords back in and listened after playing for a few hours tight defined musical bass returned almost immediatly but got much better over the next day.. can,t prove it but i heard it.. so i have decided that all my cords, cables and wires are going to be the best i want to spend on and leave it at that for now. i also don,t do a/bs because i think i can hear and know what my system and good systems are capable of. i could be wrong.
My point was that when you speak of upgrading it depends on what your upgrading FROM. You can't tell what the weakest link is until you know what the links ARE. That said, anyone who can't hear the difference between power cords in either profoundly deaf or has a crappy system. I have tried substituting cheap cords for good ones many times and have always been disappointed. I wish this was not so as I am as cheap as the next one. I think the reason many systems sound bad is insufficient attention is paid to peripheral gear.
Preamp to amp interconnect, then Speaker cables in my system. I have good PCs but didn't notice a meaningful difference beyond not using the $1 stock cords especially after dedicated circuit.
the question of why does the last 3 feet matter when there are miles of the other stuff out there has not been answered yet
The last three feet are the most important because that is last section of cable that influences the signal right before it enters the power supplies in your components. Think of all the crap that can contaminate your water. A good filter at the tap will remove 99.999% of the impurities right before it touches your lips. Do you trust the water that flows through 60 miles of pipe that is 50 to 100 years old? I personally do not.

A properly designed cable "can" I did not say "will" (depending on the quality of your equipment and your ability to perceive changes), improve and enhance certain frequencies, lower the noise floor, increase resolution, etc, etc. I am not trying to convince you one way or the other.. Your own ears and experience is more valid than anyone on a forum.

It is possible that the reverse could also happen== bad sound. So much of what we do and experiment with in audio is system dependent and user dependent. We call that SYNERGY. That is one reason why we have forums here and elsewhere and 15,000 manufacturers. There is room at the bar for everyone! All opinions are valid to the owner of said opinion. Just because someone cannot detect a difference does not prove that it does not exist or is not valid to those who do. There are too many things in this world that cannot be proven or seen but we understand them to exist(ie God particle, string theory, anti-matter, miracles, faith).

The best part of all of this is>>>... Try as many of the cables and products as you can from vendors that will allow a 30 or 60 day trial. If you do not hear any differences or perceive any gains you can send them back. Put your stock cables back in and laugh all the way to the bank. Think of how much money you saved and how much time you can now devote to listening to your music and not worrying about making it sound better.

Not having "Golden Ears" can be a blessing, Can it not?
Some things I did not mention in my previous post.

IMO what I said above can apply to interconnects and speaker cables also.

AC treatment and proper grounding are very important.

Be practicle, treat one problem at a time and try to keep an open mind, remember your budget.

If and when you do try cables try to find something in the middle of a manufacturers line up. That is usually where the best bang for the buck can be found. (trickle-down).

Lastly, be careful. If you do find that you can detect differences between cables and components and things start to sound better, clearer, more musical, more like the real thing... then you are screwed! The Merry-go-round will have just begun and your conversion to the dark side is just one upgrade away:>) Good Luck with your journey!!!!
There is a lot of subjectivity here. But one cable that is extremely important and must be taken care of is the interconnect from source to preamp. It is true for every system.

However in my system it is the power cord to the source that does the most.
In my experience the most important have been the interconnect from the source, speaker cable, and the power cord to the source.
You know, the job of a power supply is to convert the AC to DC, and filter out whatever kind of noise might be prone to occurring on any of its outputs, including ground.

If a power supply successfully does this, there is no need for any power cord beyond that which can convey enough power.

If a power cord TRULY DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE, there's something wrong with the power supply its attached to.
In my system, it seems as though the preamp to amp interconnect makes a big difference.
at the very least step up the quality on every cable first.

I would recommend something like VH DIY PC and Morrow or Signal or Blue Jean ICs and speaker wire.

In other words do not get ICs and speaker wire but ignore the PCs, there is too much to be gained from good PCs.

There is a big step up with the initial move up from stock cables in every location.

fwiw in case you have not considered this...
Following are some factors which will affect the answer to your question:

1)Sensitivity of the system to interconnect cable differences will be increased if:

(a)The output impedance of the component driving the cable is high.
(b)The cable is unbalanced (rca) as opposed to balanced (xlr).
(c)Ground loop effects involving a particular pair of components are present, as indicated by low level hum, buzz, or noise that goes away if a cheater plug is placed on the power plug of one of the components.
(d)The cable is carrying a phono-level signal.
(e)The cable length is long.
(f)The existing cable has high capacitance.

2)Sensitivity of the system to speaker cable differences will be increased if:

(a)The speakers have low nominal impedance.
(b)Speaker impedance is low in the bass region.
(c)Speaker impedance is low in the upper treble region.
(d)Speaker impedance fluctuates widely as a function of frequency.
(e)The speaker requires tight woofer control and high damping factor from the amplifier.
(f)Cable length is long.
(g)The existing cable is marginal in gauge.
(h)The existing cable has high inductance and speaker impedance is low at upper treble frequencies.

3)Re power cords:

(a)Power amplifiers and components containing significant digital circuitry tend to generate high frequency noise, which can couple from their power cords into other system components, with unpredictable effects. Therefore using shielded power cords on power amplifiers and on components that contain significant digital circuitry can be important.
(b)Some power amplifiers are particularly sensitive to line voltage differences, and therefore to voltage drops that may occur if large amounts of current are flowing through their power cord. If there is reason to believe that the amplifier's power cord is marginal in gauge, or if the amplifier is specified as requiring large amounts of ac power, its cord should be particularly focused on.
(c)Keep in mind that rfi/emi effects can be affected by physical placement of the components, and the physical routing of their power cords and cables.

The bottom line: As Stan indicated in his first post above, there is no universal answer. But consideration of these factors can reduce the randomness of the process.

Keep in mind, also, that more expensive does not necessarily equal better. What can be expected to matter most is how the cable interacts with what it is connecting.

-- Al
I think your expalantion is logical, it makes perfect sense. How could the last 6 feet of cable attached to the electrical outlet make such a difference when there a several hundred feet of standard wiring in the walls and out to the street that are not specially designed to improve conductance or filter out RFI.
There is a lot of marketing hype about how the expensive after market power cables improve sound by improving condutance and rejecting/filtering out RFI. Have there been any objective (scientific)studies that proove these claims? Have there been any BLIND listening tests which where listeners can consistently identify a power cable change and describe how it improves the sound? Many of the high end power cables can cost thousands of dollars! For that kind of money, it better make an obvious sonic improvement.
My dealer is going to loan my some power cables to try out (Kimber, Krell, possibly others). I plan to use them in the R/L power amps, pre-amp, CD/SACD player.I don't believe I will be able to detect an improvement.

I suspect you are correct.

High end audio manufacturers like Krell, for example, are in a very small, competitive, nitch market. Krell started marketing their own power cables only wihin the past few months. I know Krell is very concerned about how their products (as sold) compare to their competitor's products. If these high end audio companies felt expensive high end power cables significantly improved the sound of their products, they would be selling their products with high end cables to give their products a competitve edge. Only a few years ago Krell made all of their amps with non-removable power cables, they didn't want people tampering with after market cables because they felt it could compromise the performance of their products. Krell proudly stated that their power supplies were superb and would adequately filter out noise. After market cables would not improve sound of their amps, and could be harmful.

Krell power supplies are still superb. But, they now sell great amps, pre-amps, etc. with removable power cables. And, they sell power cables. What has changed? Unfortunately the high end audio business environment is now extremely tough due to social economic issues (poor economy, rampant use of Low-Fi products like I-Pods, lack of interest in high end audio by a large portion of our society). Closing of many high fi audio shops has made high end retail marketing tougher than ever. Companies like Krell (and don't get me wrong, I love and own Krell products) need to tap every potential source of income. They are riding the cable market hype, created out of necessity by the cable companies, in my opinion. The margin on high end cables must be enormous. It is inexpensive and low risk to add power cables to their product line-up. If people will buy it, they will sell it; it's a matter of survival.

I have not seen any objective power cable reviews with blind comparison. Any cable review that is done without blind comparison is useless. The audio differences (if any) are simply too subtle. Placeb effect is too influential.

I challenge anyone with a great high end audio system to consistently, blindly identify a power cable change and describe how it changed/improved the sound(stock cable to any high end cable, both in excellent condition). In ten trials how many times do you think the change could be correctly identified by anyone of us? Would you be guessing or would you honestly know the difference without looking? I predict if a hundred experienced audio nuts (like me) did this test, the average would be 50% correct, which is meaningless. Unless you can detect an improvement with a blind test, what difference does it make? The answer; none whatsoever. That is why reviewers don't do objective, scientific, blind testing with cable (or anything for that matter). It would interfere with their ability to promote their advertisers.

As stated earlier, I am a non-believer in power cable upggrade. I do have several dedicated power lines with a dedicated elctrical power box for my audio system. Dedicated lines are extremely helpful. But I think the power cable upgrade issue is nothing more than market hype. I will try some high end power cables soon just for kicks. I don't think I will detect a difference. I will report back.
Matjet: thanks for the kind words.Here is a price list of what usually goes into most very high priced esoteric power cords..I wish they really did work magic. But alas only in fairy tales.

1. 1 Schurter 10 amp IEC - $5
2. 1 Hubbell 15a 3 prong plug - $5
3. 6 feet of Black, Green and White 14g THHN 600v Building Wire - ~$0.30 /foot = $1.80
4. 6 feet of clear braided garden hose - ~$0.50/foot = $3
5. ~1 pound of ferrous metal powder - can't find a price, I'm sure it's dirt cheap
6. a stick of hot glue - the Hubbell connector had a hole drilled in it and was filled with hot glue, the female end was just glued to the hose.
7. Approx. 6 inches of electrical tape
8. Large size heatshrink
9. Techflex

now does this look like high end science to any of
Stanwall: "...anyone who can't hear the difference between power cords in (sic) either profoundly deaf or has a crappy system." THERE is an unintelligent statement. Because you can hear a difference, those of us who can't are deaf or have lo-rez systems? I have to work hard at hearing some of the things my golden-eared friends can hear quite quickly and easily. Give us break, Stan; we're not all as golden-eared as you.
FWIW, Joe Harley, Audioquest's long-time #2 man, says he can hear more and larger differences among powercords than among ICs.
If power cables do not make an audible difference, will it affect the sound if I cut mine in half? ;)

To All:

Let's use the power of Audiogon and conduct our own objective test right here.

I challenge you; try this very simple objective test. Set up an honest blind test with a friend (minimum of 10 repetitions, preferrably 20):

Compare stock power cable provided with the audio equipment VS high end power cable.
With each test write down the type of cable you believe was used and how it changed the sound.
Your helper will need to secretly write down the actual cable used for each test.

How often did you get it right?
I predict we get 50% correct +/- 10%. If I am correct it means we are guessing and influenced by placebo effect. If this is the case, power cable upgrade would be meaningless for the high end audio market (unless you are a retailor or manufacturer).

Based on your position regarding power cable affect on high end audio, it appears from your original post that you are trolling. Why ask the question if you already know the answer?

Good luck with your power cable test. I trust it will be a blind test as you have claimed to be the only valid comparison.

er,,,??? why does the bass sound quality improve with better ac cords? placebo effect? ha lol! i.ll stick with my better ac cords but i am a victim of hype and advertising. wow
You might also want to consider installing dedicated circuits to your system where the ground is isolated. A qualified electrician can do this for you at a fairly reasonable cost. At greater cost you can put in full-on wall system that covers your entire panel, like this one from Equi=tech. Isolating your system's power from the noise generated by devices that share the circuits in the rest of your house could render significant benefits. All of this stuff really will depend on how resolving your system is in the first place, and how much it makes sense to invest in it.

As far as power cords...I agree, try it yourself and see if it works for you. If not you too can join the crusade and pepper the forums with self-righteous pleas to all the victims who are bled dry by the criminals selling cables. If you like the difference they make you can alternatively endure threads like this, some of which aren't far from a discussion on abortion or the existence of god. Or, perhaps you can just enjoy whatever works for you.
I do not know the answer, I have never compared power cables. My goal is two fold:

1) Determine if I can detect the difference between stock cables and expensive high end cables. I have an excellent high end audio system, but have never bothered to upgrade my power cables. I plan to test some high end cables very soon. I doubt I will detect a significant improvement. If I do, I will buy them. I will have the answer to this question soon, and I will report back (as mentioned previously).

2) What is the consensus among high end audio owners who have made the effort to do an objective evaluation of high end power cables through blind testing. I suspect we (high end audio consumers)are being manipulated by cable manufacturers and audiomagazine reviewers. The reviews on this subject are a joke. They are not objective, and I find that annoying. We can easily do our own objective test here on audiogon. As I said, I think the test will prove that the average high end consumer cannot consistently tell one cable from the other in blind listening tests. If enough members participate it will either prove me right or wrong. Either way, I don't care, I just want the answer.
If you use passive preamp them preamp to amp cable is more critical than CD-p to preamp. Low resistance and short cable is advisable in this case.
Matjet: "Either way, I don't care, I just want the answer."

A consensus simply doesn't matter. What does matter is whether YOU can hear improvements in back-and-forth replacements. Find a dealer who will loan you PCs or at least offer a satisfaction gaurantee and try them. Even after all this 'dialog', it's YOUR system and they're YOUR ears.
I would volunteer the following principles

(a) all engineering is a compromise ( I can do this for $10K but with $20K more I could reduce distortion another 0.001%)
(b) specs only measure the state of our knowledge, not what we are capable of hearing

This discussion is interesting to me because its the direction I need to go next. Being physics trained, when dealing with unknown equations, one tries to start with the most important variables first (1st order), establish the parameters, then move on to the next subtler variables (2nd order) establish those and so on.

All electrical equipment depends on power which makes it a first order variable... any imperfection in power will feed instability in all attached equipment. And you can easily demonstrate the interaction between devices attached to power in your own home.... flip on a heater or vacumm cleaner and you will see lights on the same circuit react during the initial power surge. And thats just what you can see, not the complexity induced by flourescent lights, refrigerators, air conditioners, and hair dryers.

So I believe it sound judgement to start first with a high quality power filter/voltage clamp. Interconnects on the other hand have differences but those differences become a complex hard to predict interplay connecting two dissimiliar electonic devices.. they can change the sound but how is as hard to predict as finding a comfortable shoe.

I find little merit in the discussion about power cords. I suspect the actual issue here is the end interface... loose connectivity or poor choice of metal contact at plug and equipment end. You could probably do better taking a stock copper cable at a home supply store and soldering a high quality temination at both ends. The power cord has the simplest task of all... feed 60hz at 120 volts with no capactive or inductive interference to a transformer. A power cord that addresses this at around $50 is a convenience factor but spending more on a passive device I find hard to justify.
why doesn't somebody record, using a high quality mic, their system where the only thing that changes are the cables.
Then produce say a cd so that one can quickly AB the same music tracks and hopefully hear the difference. Wouldn't this be an easy way to prove if cables make an audible difference or not. Or am I missing something?
kimber, ps audio, mit,cardias, murrow, shunyta, pangea, and 50 others are just selling snake oil power cables????please! get a grip. and they show up at industry conventions and keep straight faces while they scam an entire industry?? please!!!
The usual "does he or doesn't he" contest. The same old argument: listening experience VS double blind 'scientific'..
Who cares?
And I agree the Op was trolling. If he already HAS his mind made up, the way the question was posed is just trolling. IF he asked it a different way, where he asked WHY folks use aftermarket cords.. well.
And I am CERTAIN the Op can use the cheapest functioning wires and be happy, after all, it seems clear he believes all wires are the same.
Here is great info on the topic. google>

Roger Russell

Speaker Wire "A History"
Jeez... i am a convert. After reading one guys take on wire, (who happens to be pushing wire is wire, pretty hard) I realize I have been mistaken! I will throw out all that 'smoke and mirror' wire I own and go directly to Radio Shack and buy the cheapest stuff, and go to Menards and buy some zip cord.. after all, if that dude who is a real live 'guru' says it is all crap.. who am I to doubt?
No kidding.. or am I kidding? I am kidding. No.. I am NOT kidding about not kidding.. I am, am not kidding about kidding about kidding. Got it?
Who to believe?? I am sooooo nervous.. One GURU says this, the other says the OPPOSITE!.. Jeez I'm sweating.. maybe i should just rest a bit... Trust my own ears.. yeah.. my own ears!
Whoo Hoo!!!
You seem to be very angry and agitated. No one is critcizing you. No one is attacking wires. This happens to be a controversial and interesting topic. I intend to do my own power cable evaluation within the next couple of weeks. I may or may not notice a difference. If I feel they help improve the sound of my system, of course I will buy them. I don't know what you mean by trolling. I am just trying to share some of my thoughts with other high end audio enthusiasts and wondering how they feel about these issues. If I was absolutely certain about any of these topics, I wouldn't waste my time discussing them here and I wouldn't bother with auditioning high end power cables. Your opinion is loud and clear, and I appreciate that.
Angry and agitated.. Nope, more like ROFLMAO.
Sorry if I confused you. I have a bizarre sense of humour.
And Your position is OK. I have to say trying stuff for oneself is really the answer. i did not believe in power cords (and would still NEVER spend a lot on one cord) but trying a Pangea when they came out, i WAS able to immediately hear a difference between the Pangea and my Asylum design cord.
So good luck on experimenting with some cords. Either way.. good luck.
Every now and then the placebo effect pops up and is used to decry and denounce any perceived improvement in whatever it is one is trying out. But what of the double blind test and the effect it has on one's reputation which is now the focus of the tester? That is a lot of pressure to overcome and can certainly cloud perception and judgement. To say it doesn't exist is nonsense.

Having said that, a really good power cord is probably the best and first thing to try. I recently went the whole Zu route and the biggest improvement came with the insertion of the PC. And I wasn't even looking for that much improvement. The PC came with a 60 day return policy with postage paid so there was no need to justify its purchase.
in the late 70s i was a rep for some very high end companies and the company i worked for was the first monster cable reps in the midwest. sorry. ha. after using different speaker wires, cables , ac cords for 30 plus years i am simply amazed that there are audiophiles who think that this is a placebo effect. just shaking my here realizing i wasted all that money when i could have used lamp cord ......
I, too, was around when Monster Cable came upon the scene and remember going into some very High End stores and walking away wondering what all the fuss was about. Those systems I heard, though expensive, weren't as resolving as the simple one I now have so it doesn't make me wonder why I hear what I do now compare to then.

Some cables are better than others.
I am not saying that a perception of improved sonics with high end cables is due to placebo. I am saying placebo effect may have an influence on sonic perception. For example, I recently purchased an Esoteric K01 CD/SACD player. This is the best single box CD player I have ever heard. I auditioned the Esoteric G-Orb master clock for 2 weeks with my new player. The G-Orb is a very cool piece of equipment with amazing technology. I read several reviews and did extensive research on master clock use with two box and single box CD/SACD players (it was fun). I really wanted the G-Orb to make a significant improvement in sound, and initially I thought it did make an improvement. But after careful evaluation of all aspects of sound reproduction (dynamics, 3-d sound staging, instrument separation, bass, transients, midrange/voice, high frequency, low level detail, etc.) in all honesty, I could not detect any improvement whatsoever. My listening sessions were both lengthy and short A-B comparison using all types of music. The Esoteric K01 sounded exactly the same with and without the G-Orb (it sounds great). I think the G-orb will make a significant improvement with 2 box players (where it synchronizes the transport clock with the DAC clock), but I don't think it does a thing to improve the sound of a singal box player unless that player has a lousy clock to begin with. For me, this was a fun experiment, not a chore. My point is, subtle (not major) audio canges can easily be influenced by psychology. If we know that we are comparing a geogeous, highly regarded, expensive piece of equipment (a power cable or G-Orb master clock, for example) to an average stock power cable, I believe most of us will be subconsciously influenced to think the more beautifully crafted, expensive cable will sound better. I think this is very tough (not impossible, but tough)to fully avoid consistently. By subtle audio changes, I am referring to changes that would be difficult to notice witout very careful A-B evaluation. I am not saying that different power cables do not make a difference in sound, I am still uncertain on this topic. From the type of response we are getting in this thread, so far, it looks like the opinion on this topic among Audiogon members is about split 50/50. Psycho-acoustic influence does exist.
My take on that 50/50. It is NOT because of experience. Some have tried and do it, the rest (mostly) refuse to try it for theory sake, but then the ones who HAVE tried and say "See, I told you they don't make a difference" maybe THEY are the ones with a placebo effect. They refuse to accept what they hear?
So when the going gets tough.. all you can do is try for yourself and decide, for yourself. Listening to idiots arguing etenally is NOT gonna get YOU an answer. ONLY doing it FOR YOURSELF will get you an answer.
The premise of this notion can be refuted: such as: Do you HAVE to jump off a cliff to KNOW it is a bad idea?
So your dilemma is YOUR dilemma: jump or swim?
I think almost everyone who bothers to get involved in the Audiogon forum is an experienced hi end audio lover. Why else would they be here? Most of us in this forum are at least fairly experiemced in hi end audio. We are all here because it is fun. I completely agree, you must make up your own mind, you must please yourself. Above all else, in hi end audio, this concept is most important. But, there are a lot of tricks amd lots to learn in this great hobby. I have been buying hi end audio equipment for over 30 years. I love the music, I love great sound, I love great equipment. The learning never stops. For me, the upgrades have been gradual and continuous. We can learn from each other. If I can pick up one or two ideas to help improve my system through these forums, that would be great. If I can help others, that would be nice as well. Most importantly, this is fun. This is my hobby, I do not make a living with high end audio. I feel fortunate that I am able to buy what I want when I want it. That wasn't always the case. When I started out, every penny counted. So I know what it is like to squueeze every cent for the best sound reproduction possible. Like everyone else in this forum, I am looking for ways to improve the sound of my system, and maybe share my knowledge and ideas with others as well.
Regarding Placebo, we all need to know that it exists, it is real; that ia all. Psycho-acoustics is a strange thing. Your mind can play tricks on you, especially with subtle audio 'changes'. This is real and it is never discussed in any of the audio magazines. If you need to strain to hear a change, it may not be a change (or a significantly improved change) after all. Very interesting.
Thank you for your opinions/advice!
some very well made arguments here. i once went 100 mph in a vega automobile and later went 100 in a porsche. psychologiclly the vega ride scared the hell out of me and the porsche seemed like i was going 42mph. maybe my analogy isn,t perfect but better stuff seems to just work better. ha
(to twist this thread sideways): yeah, that 'strain to hear a change' is why I dispise the claims of 'break in'. Yeah break in occurs. It just should not be listening to crap for 300 hours or so. I am 100% if it does not sound good straight up, forget it. The improvement with break in should only be like icing on a cake, and not like some marvelous change from crap to wonderful.
I would NEVER put up with the bad sound some folks say stuff has when new. My rant is that the process may just as well be getting used to the bad and hypnotizing oneself into accepting it.
I usually therefor make an opinion immediately on hearing something, and then see if it changes over a (relatively) short time.
(I did break my own rule about the 7 meter Hero balancedcable i use now. At first it was bad. But I trusted i could return it if it did not improve in a few days.. it did. so much for my sticking to my guns..hey)
Anyway, enough off topic!
Hi Elizabeth,
You just touched on another major controversial topic in our great hobby. 'Break in'. Breakin of cable, amps, pre-amps, CD palyers, etc., is it real, placebo, or is it a miyth? My Esoteric K01 sounded great, brand nes, cold, right out of the box. I have been told that the K01 will benefit form 500 hours of break-in. I have been using the IsoTek/Esoteric break-in disc for 4 weeks. I have used the Purist audio break-in disc for many years off and on. Does it make a difference? In all honesty I am not sure that I can detect a difference. As a rule of thumb, when I say that I am uncertain if it makes a difference, it is minimally consequential and possibly unconsequential. If it helps it is extremely subtle and gradual. Is it placebo or is it real? I am uncertain. I feel warm up for 30 to 60 minutes helps a lot, especially with amps/pre-amps (I have a lot of Krell equipment), I am not sure if break-in (500 hours)truly improves sound significantly (to my ears therefore it is inconsequential). I know Isotek, Purist audio, Esoteric, many other companies and many reviewers feel break-in makes a significant improvement. Although I have tried very hard to understand and detect a difference with extended break-in, in all honesty, don't know if I can detect an improvement. This issue is a controversial, subjective and very difficult to prove. It would be an interesting thread topic. Personally, I don;t worry about it. I do use break-in discs but I am uncertain if they help to improve sound significanbtly.
P.S. Elizabeth,
I agree with you, if it doen't sound to your liking right away (or within a few hours), it will never sound good; get rid of it.
last week i took my morrow sp3s out and put my kimber 8tcs in. for the next 2-3 hours it was pretty rough to say the least. i let the system play all night and the next day it was nice and smooth and musical. so for those keeping score,,,ha!!! the murrows sound great too btw.
1. i am certain i can hear a difference between cables
2. i have experienced sound getting better when they "settle in".
3. i too have experienced placeabo effect and other psychoacoustic phemonena
4. my stereo sounds better when i am in a good relaxed mood.
5. my stereo sounds better at 3am.
this may turn into one of those long threads. peace
Your porch reponded better (better steering, better shocks, better tires, better acceleration, better transmission, better shift, better seats, etc); it performed better at 100 MPH than the Vega(and an any other velocity) than the Vega. So, of course you liked it better.
Your stereo will sound better with the lights dimmed or with the lights out (more musical, better 3d sound staging, better base, smoother and sweeter treble, better low level detail).Try it out tonight. Isn't that amazing! Is it real or is it placebo? It is a psycho-acoustic effect, and it affects all of us. Reviewers/magazines never discuss these issues.
i totally agree. but the bass gets better with upgraded ac cords!
If you haven't tested the cable change blindly, how do you know for sure?

I am not saying cable changes have no effect on the sound, I have never tested cables, so I am still uncertain. But, there is a significant psychological component which can be eliminated only with blind testing.

Let's focus on power cables for now to simplify the discussion. We all have to purchase interconnects and speaker cable since these items do not come with the audio gear. I think anyone who buys high end equipment (probably everyone on Audiogon) will purchase brand name well regarded interconnects and speaker cable. No one is going to buy fine expensive electronics and install lamp cord. Whether or not we are certain of how the cable effects the sound, I believe most of us, probably all of us, including myself, will purchase decent brand name cable with our valued gear (just in case it makes a difference). However, all electronic gear comes with power cable. Buying an expensive after market power cable is elective and not required. Some of these beautiful brand name power cables cost thousands of dollars (Esoteric Mexcel, Krell for example).

Question: Which of the two changes imporoves the sound of your system more:

1)Changing your stock power cables to an expensive high end after market power cable

2)Using the stock power cable and turning out the lights

I bet turning out the lights improves the sound just as much if not more than changing the power cables. Turning out the lights does nothing to the performance of your system, it is a psycho-acoustic effect.

How do you know that the improved sound that you perceive by installing the beautifully crafted, expensive, highly regarded after market brand name power cable is not psychological (placebo) unless you can identify it blindly?

I find testing/comparing speaker cable a pain in the neck. Lots of disconnecting, reconnecting, moving things, it is an effort. Testing power cables is less work, much easier to switch. I will do some testing within the next couple of weeks.

Just food for thought.