Thanks for the responses so far. I'm not trying to stir the pot if you mean start a fight. I really want to know if the naysayers believe that cables/wire make no difference. In my early audio years, I firmly believed it was just hype or snake oil, another way for the companies to make even more money off of us. And if you've limited yourself to experiencing the bottom rung like Radio Shack or Phoenix Gold, then surely the notion that cables can have a significant effect on sound would seem delusional. Of course, I'm sure that Geoffkait is right in that some naysayers are just trying to get a rise from those of us who know what a profound role cables play in sound quality. I can say, without a hint of doubt, that my musical enjoyment (from my system) is largely due to the addition of high quality cables. I'd never have heard all that subtle but important inner detail that makes the music so alive if I were still using stock cables and cords. That just my 2cents.
The scientist in me then asks first, have you equalized levels to within 0.2 dB (you need a volt meter for that), and second, did you do the listening double blind? If not, your experiences are just that: impressions rather than facts. And I have to insist on serious listening test methodology because the physics that is supposed to underpin many claims that cables matter a lot would be a real breakthough worth a Nobel Prize. Why not publish that in Nature etc?
Or maybe like opening a can of worms from the bottom.😂
@lcherepkai - i didn't mean to imply that you're just stirring the pot but that the responses you'll get will be of the garden variety polemics that have yet to hold up to scrutiny.
Trust in your own ears and most assuredly, trust that naysayers will never believe you.
All the best,
Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion and sometimes when I hear people talking about measurements with test equipment, I wonder if the ear may actually be superior to that test equipment. The ear is more sensitive than some people realize.
That's the science part that never enters into the naysayers argument.
An article I read stated that human hearing is 10X more sensitive than previously thought and that was discovered about 8 years ago. It had something to do with fourier transform and how we mere humans can tell if something is off to a degree that is basically unmeasurable.
Thank you evolution,
Then there is the issue of not all ears being equal. Just as in all other human endeavors, training and experience matter. As Michael Fremer has reported, when the results of blind tests come in, the very top and bottom performers in a group are "thrown out", the former being cited as an aberration. In a group of 10 listeners, 8 of them may score in the middle----half correct answers (or guesses ;-), half incorrect---one below that, and one above. If one listener identifies 10 out of 10 correctly, it’s a pretty good bet he really does hear a difference, yet his result is dismissed. Even if it weren’t, in the field of scientific study, 10 out of 10 is not considered statistically significant. Who cares?!
+1 on not all ears being equal.
Consider something from a different domain: smell.
There have been scientific studies of people coming into a test room and either smelling something unpleasant or not smelling anything at all. It runs at about a 50/50 split.
The human nose is capable of detecting a certain bacteria in "corked" wine at a level of about 3 parts per billion. I don't think this is instrument measurable yet. That's a pretty sensitive instrument.
A good sense of smell can detect up to about 10,000 unique smells. Most people are in the 4000 to 6000 range.
In my view, these differences in one sense raise lots of questions about other senses, including hearing. I've gone back and forth on this topic with cables, sometimes convinced there's clear difference in cables, sometimes not. Recently I compared some DH Labs Q10 to some Monoprice Nimbus 14 AWG cable, and after a number of close listening tests, decided that they sounded the same to me. But there's no way that I can conclude what any other cable does or doesn't sound like based on these results, nor what anyone else would think after doing the same comparison.
Most definitely, YMMV.
Actually the science shows that cables should sound different. At its simplest a cable has resistance, capacitance and inductance. These values are different for various cables. Introduce these different characteristics between two pieces of equipment and you will get differences in sound. I have consistently passed double blind tests with cables. By the way DB tests in audio have many problems which the literature shows
Simply put, all speaker wires can sound different when either resistance, capacitance, or inductance is changed. However there's no secret sauce to obtain whatever signature sound any cable allows which justifies exotic prices.
Yeah, if the naysayers believe the earth is flat, you're not going to convince them otherwise. They've been told a million times to just listen and they'll hear the difference. If they won't, well, why waste your time? You're just upsetting yourself and them. I must admit that, while I don't form opinions about things I don't know about or about which I haven't investigated or educated myself, I was very skeptical, until I LISTENED. I recently bought demo KEF X300A wireless speakers, and slightly upgraded the two standard USB cables, and even I, Mr. "I'm not spending a ton of money on something so stupid" heard the difference. I'm convinced, and I'm now spending about $1,300.00 retail (not exactly a "ton" of money" on "hi-end" cables for my new NAD M32/Focal Aria 936 speakers system. :-)
Paul, what are naysayers universally saying?
Are they saying that *all* cables will work the *exactly* same? That's not generally how the argument goes, but more of one critical of exotic and boutique, high-priced cables justifying their premium price point.
Also, if I use cables which are $5 radio shack blister pack, and plug in $1300 plugs and prefer the $1300 plugs, should I immediately assume I HAVE to pay $1300 to receive that benefit?
The chemical in corked wine is TCA and it is absolutely measurable by scientific methods. Some people like my wife are very sensitive to it.
As to cables of course they sound different the question is does the material and technology substantiate some of the absurd prices being asked?
if the routinely found "hot deals" section of Audiogon is any indication the answer is no! No other type of equipment is so routinely and frequently discounted at such rates.
Sure cablex sound different for very good reasons as already stated but the sale of them is pure snake oil!
If blind tests routinely dismiss the top and bottom performers, then those conclusions might apply to the general population, but not to us. Because we probably hear better than the general population.
This is a real problem when interpreting scientific results - unless a reviewer understands the statistics and the methodology, he might not understand the study.
And, bdp, you are absolutely right when you say that someone who identifies 10 out of 10 is unlikely to be doing it by random selection. In fact, it is highly significant - at the 0.001 level (it’s a binomial distribution with 1 way to be dead right, and 1023 ways to be right less often).
Ok, here is the deal. At a certain price range cables do sound different. They are designed to be "different" but different does not translate into better or worse sound. The trick is finding a set that sounds good to you. Since every set of ears, every audio system, and every room is unique, there is a good chance that six audiophiles will have three opinions regarding your cable selection. Find something you like and enjoy.
The snake oil comments, in general, start when prices climb to the absurd levels we see in this hobby. Remember, expensive may not be better to your ears, system, room, etc.
Glad to see all the positive responses. I feel the same as what I've read here but I posted this to offer a forum to speak out against the "supposed" benefits of upgrading cables. Seems like in every post I've read lately someone has to chime in that cables don't make a difference, outlets don't make a difference, fuses..... Please, would any of you naysayers offer your insights as to why you believe so. Speak up! Your unwelcome comments compromise many an otherwise interesting and helpful post asking for genuine advice.
I hear differences, but don’t spend on wires more than $50/m/pair. My good knowledge of math blocks me from taking silly decision to spend more on just wires.Discussions of cables often omit two of the most important factors, imo, and those are the quality of the connectors and the quality of the terminations. In my experience, good connectors alone cost more than $50 for a set of four.
The point about where to spend on audio is interesting.
Most of us have limited budgets for these things, so what has the biggest ROI when spending for audio improvements? It is sometimes said the top 3 things affecting sound quality are: source material, speakers, and room. Suppose you have great source material, excellent speakers and an appropriately treated room. Where should money go next for best ROI? My choice (in order) was:
- AVR / processor + amp with whatever room correction software it brings to the party.
- Source electronics (blue ray players, streamers, even TVs if they use the audio return channel)
While cables came in last place, it doesn't mean they aren't important. But for me, they don't "move the needle" as much as other audio investments, and they got a lot less of the budget.
your experience perhaps not matching mine.
I stand for the math terms 'Necessary And Sufficient' when it comes to hook-up.
Check out Mogami Gold 2m hook-up wires $43/pr so you can check your math on that one including connectors. Amphenol gold/rhodium plugs can be purchased separately at around $2...3 per piece and they seem to be premium quality ones and very easy to work with when replacement or upgrade needed to stock RCA plugs of let's say 70's...80's vintage turntable. Other plugs designed more for fasion than for performance and you'll be mostly paying for brand around 80...90% similar to Prada wear and shoes.
Just remember, recording engineers at the best studios use lamp zip.
As always, don't change the art. Use the gear which changes it the least. It shouldn't cost an exorbitant premium to achieve this.
Understand that any speaker cable can be made to sound different from the others, but if there's a secret sauce to justify cables costing hundreds or thousands of dollars, I'm all ears. Just remember, it'd need to also justify the fact that the recording engineer uses drop cord and commercial balanced cables bought by the metric ton.
Once Doug Sax heard what good cabling did for his monitor system, he rewired his entire studio
...so audiophiles can justify their NordOst or Alpha Core or Siltech wires purchases??
Lemme tellya @bdp24 , He used the same approach as I do and wires he used isn't any NordOst or even AudioQuest, bcoz if you wire your studio with this home-audio junk, you'll spend more money on these than on the entire mastering studio.
I know that audiophiles normally either refuse or lack to apply math skills to evaluate certain magnitudes and therefore most of them are so silly and happy to be robbed by industry(ies).
According to my math, if you hook up your home-sterio-stereo with these, you will spend less than I did on Mogami.
100' hook-up reel of Alpha wire will cost around $150. Think of how many studio REFERENCE quality hook-up cables you can make out of this one having in mind that great quality connectors run around $2...3 per piece and twice as less if purchased in bulk.
I like that reviewers publish their reference system and draw comparative distinctions between that and the item reviewed. What I'd be even more interested in is an occasional audiology exam, including a tympanogram. While it won't tell the whole story of hearing capacity, it at least provides a measure of frequency thresholds. I'd settle for the results of a simple pure tone test. It'd be helpful to have a little information about the "tools" available whether it's a cable, fuse, spike, cone screw, room treatment or major component being considered.
czarivey, no one said Doug Sax rewired his studio with NordOst, Alpha Core, Siltech, Audioquest, or any other specific brand, audiophile-approved or otherwise. I certainly didn’t say it, and that’s because I had no idea what wired he installed. What WAS said was that his studio used to be wired with lamp cord, and that it is now wired with what Sax found to sound better. You’re quote from Sax proves the truth of that statement. Sheesh, what is with people these days?---so argumentative, confrontational, and downright antagonistic. The Trump effect?
I have been playing with cables for years and have come to a few [probably wrong] conclusions.
1 The real difference in cable sound quality didn't come from the speaker cables but from the interconnects.
I have a somewhat medium priced speaker cable and a standard 12 g wire set. When I hook them to my speakers [one speaker with 12g and one with the name brand] I can tell no difference between them. I have asked my visiting friends to stand in front of each speaker and tell me which sounds better and they can't tell any difference between them either.
Now when I hook up the factory supplied interconnects that came with my amp-pre-or other devices They sound very flat with little musical sound. they sound OK but not good.
I then hook my medium priced interconnects and it is like listening to a whole different system.
I am sure that high end speaker cables make a difference but not on any system I have ever owned, but I don't use zip cord either.
Although double-blind is a pain and I've found single-blind (level-matched and without tells) to work just as well for informal tests and be quick and easy. Having been a participant in blind tests myself, I now totally ignore all subjective views, except on speakers by people with proven similar tastes. Thank goodness for those blind tests early in my hobby, otherwise I may have spent a ton of money unnecessarily forever chasing the silver bullet.
OP, I’ll give it a go. I use stock power cords and Blue Jeans cable interconnects and speaker wire. I hear amazing imaging, separation between notes of individuals (voice or instrument), highly resolved sounds, dynamics and very low noise floor. I’ve never tried upgraded cables (yet), so I can’t compare. I’ll be interested to note what I hear when I try them. My first experiment will be with power cords at a price of approximately $220 each.
I generally stay out of cable discussions because they typically go nowhere, but since the world may come to an end today, I’ll fan the flames...
Even the naysayers believe somewhat in the effect of cables, or they’d suggest the use of the throwaway interconnects that come with the cheap CD players from the 80’s rather than $30 or $40 interconnects of “sufficient quality”. The real question is, “Do expensive cables sound *better* (not different, but better) than cables of “sufficient quality”?”
The answer, I believe, can be found in a quote from one of my favorite movies, Bull Durham: “If you believe you're playing well because you're getting laid, or because you're not getting laid, or because you wear women's underwear, then you *are*! And you should know that!”
The scientist in me then asks first, have you equalized levels to within 0.2 dB (you need a volt meter for that), and second, did you do the listening double blind? If not, your experiences are just that: impressions rather than facts.
Although double-blind is a pain and I’ve found single-blind (level-matched and without tells) to work just as well for informal tests and be quick and easy. Having been a participant in blind tests myself, I now totally ignore all subjective views, except on speakers by people with proven similar tastes. Thank goodness for those blind tests early in my hobby, otherwise I may have spent a ton of money unnecessarily forever chasing the silver bullet.
>>>>What happens when there’s no noticeable difference between two things? What do you do then? Punt?
Although double-blind is a pain and I've found single-blind (level-matched and without tells) to work just as well for informal tests and be quick and easy. Having been a participant in blind tests myself, I now totally ignore all subjective views, except on speakers by people with proven similar tastes. Thank goodness for those blind tests early in my hobby, otherwise I may have spent a ton of money unnecessarily forever chasing the silver bullet.You need a new system if can't differences between cables or have your hearing check.
A lot of the difficulty in obtaining audible differences in cables can be placed right at the door of wire directionality. A cable or interconnect in the wrong direction just won’t sound right. I’m referring to unshielded cables. But even shielded cables would sound better if they were manufactured with wire directionality in mind. Also cable comparisons must be performed slowly. It takes a day or two for the mechanical electrical interface of the cable connector to be reestablished. Ditto the power cord plug.
Cables (PC, SC and interconnects) absolutley make a difference and those who take issue with that statement haven't tried cables at the right level, don't have gear where it will really makes much difference or don't have the ear for this hobby. I have tried and upgraded various cables over the years with, as one would expect, varying results but always some measure of improvement. Most recently, I upgraded Acoustic Zen SC to Synergistic Research Atmoshphere Level 4. Wow - what an improvement - across all comparison criteria. That caused me to switch out all my Shunyata Anaconda IC's to SR Atmosphere Level 4's. Again; the improvement was undeniably discernable, even by sceptical listeners (wider, deeper, clearer, more "real"). At that point, I honestly didn't think I could wring out any further improvements to my system by cable upgrades until I tried the new Synergistic Galileo UEF interconnects. I was the sceptic then when someone suggested they were palpably better than the level 4's in, again. a very obvious way. They clearly were (no pun intended). I have upgraded to the Galileo UEF Interconnects and they are the absolute bomb.