Speaker wire is it science or psychology

I have had the pleasure of working with several audio design engineers. Audio has been both a hobby and occupation for them. I know the engineer that taught Bob Carver how a transistor works. He keeps a file on silly HiFi fads. He like my other friends considers exotic speaker wire to be non-sense. What do you think? Does anyone have any nummeric or even theoretical information that defends the position that speaker wires sound different? I'm talking real science not just saying buzz words like dialectric, skin effect capacitance or inductance.
Steve, your posts have been popping up on this subject alot lately. Are you on a crusade? I am suspicious of anyone who only talks about one topic on these threads. Your ONLY topic seems to be wires and I'm guessing that you just want to exercise your debating skills. Well, whatever you think, I CAN hear a difference between power cables, speaker wires, and interconnects. Maybe you and your friends systems or ears just aren't as good as mine (and many others)?
Inductance and capacitance are not buzz words. They are real characteristics of conductors, and they can affect the signal enough to be audible. It is trivially easy to design a cable that is audibly distinguishable from generic copper wire. Whether one would want to do so is another matter, which may explain your friends' skepticism on the matter. I hope they're more informed than you, however.
Psychology *is* a science. It's all in your mind, Steven ;-)
Jim - LOL you are correct, of course. My neighbor is a shrink, however, and has expressed opinions to the contrary :-)
Cables are in series with any two components they connect. Any component in series with the music affects the music. Whether we choose to accept it or not. Cables vary in resistance, impedence, capacitance, inductance, etc. Would you say I was crazy if I said that a WonderCap sounded better in a preamp than a cheap electrolytic? I think not. Cables vary greatly in wire guage, composition, geometry, and whether the wire making it up is stranded, solid core, round, flat, oval, etc. I was once a person who thought that cables could not make as much difference as most people portray. Especially, power cords. I stand before you today saying that cables do sound different. That they do make a difference in whether a system sounds its best, or far from its best. I may also be the one person here who gets into the most arguments over whether expensive cables justify their prices. But, to say that all wire sounds the same suggests that one has not tried much in the way of wire.
In my experience, folks who do not believe there are different sound characteristics in both interconnect and speaker cable, do not have a system of enough quality to resolve the differences. Until they do, and hear for themselves, they won't believe!
Allow me to tell you a short story, my non-audiophile friend listens to my stereo all of the time and I do not tell him about upgrades because it is like talking to a roof shingle. Well I upgraded to silver cables and I of course did not tell him, well to make a short story even shorter he asked me if I had replaced drivers or amps or something major because he noticed a big improvement in sound, as did I.
The topic has to be a troll, but please consider the writer's perspective: he's looking for a Phase Linear 700! Man oh man - I sold off that junk about 20 years ago...
Bob - Have you noticed that no one, including you, has provided even the tiniest amount of verifiable evidence that the speaker wire phenomenon is anything but psychological.
Good post Metaphysics; I barely know a capacitor from a dipstick, but I can easily tell differences between wires just by listening, at least when differences exsist within the 20HZ to 20KHZ range. There is nothing unusual or exotic about my abilities either-- many audiophiles can readily do it. Learning critical listening skills is very helpful in being able to do this however. You should try it rather than spending your time debating it on-line. Cheers. Craig.
Mtrycraft, is that you hiding behind the moniker of Stevemj ??? : )

I find this type of post to be nothing more than a troll from some "pseudo-scientific spud". Someone that was truly interested in finding out if differences really do exist would simply conduct some A-B comparisons and decide for themselves. While using similar designs should result in similar results, the smart thing to do would be to try very different designs with measurably different electrical characteristics. This would then either confirm or deny that the source component was load sensitive and if the cables really did produce identical sonic performances.

If someone DOESN'T think that there is a difference, try using some standard 18 gauge "zip cord" and some 12 gauge "monster" type zip cord. Since the "wire blaspemers" claim that there is no difference and have been saying so for appr. 25 years now, you should not notice any difference in tonal balance, low frequency impact or definition, high frequency detail or definition or overall apparent volume level. This "test" should cost you well under $15 if you buy "generic" goods. Since "wire is wire", namebrands wouldn't matter anyhow. This is not to say that one is "better" than the other, simply that there ARE differences.

As an electronics tech by trade, i can neither explain nor understand why cables might have the effects that they do on an audio system or individual component. In the RF regions that i work with, cable lengths and impedances make VERY MEASURABLE differences in most systems. While most disregard the "babble" about skin effect, dielectric absorption, velocity factors, etc.. and say that we are dealing with "audio frequencies" and not radio waves, that does NOT mean that their effects are not audible or that audible differences between various designs don't exist. My ears tell me that they do and under some conditions, the differences are EXTREMELY and BLATANTLY noticeable.

It is also quite noticeable to Nelson Pass, who wrote on this very subject back in the late 1970's. He published this info in an article on speaker cables and "snake oil" in a magazine that was available on any news stand. This can be found, along with a detailed explanation and electrical measurements and pictures taken from his oscilloscope, on the Pass Labs website under "articles".

Since i am not rich by any means, i would prefer that there were NO differences so that i could simply use the cheapest stuff available that would do the job. Unfortunately, that is not the case so i am left to find what SOUNDS the best in my specific systems. While i WILL NOT pay the insane prices that many companies ask, i am not against others doing that and then having them sell it to me for a fraction of what they paid : ) I am also a big fan of "DIY" ( Do It Yourself ) designs and have had pretty good luck with the designs of a few others on the net.

I'm sure that there are MANY Audiogon'ers that are in the same boat and would beg to differ with the stance that you seem to be taking. As such, all i can say is that if there were absolutely no differences between cables, you wouldn't have people on both sides of the fence. It would be cut and dried with nothing left to decide. Since there IS a large quantity ( even non "audiophiles" ) that have heard the differences simply tells me that our measurement techniques are not nearly as advanced as we think they are. Sean
They sound different because my "ears" tell me they do. Have any better measurements than that? Chuck
They sound different because my "ears" tell me they do. Have any better measurements than that? Excellent Post Garfish. Chuck
I am going to need scientific proof that you can hear.
sean - Thank you for your post. I have a story to tell you. I once had a well know audio engineering friend that was designing an RIAA stage for his new preamp. The man is a very smart designer and dedicated audiophile. He is also skeptical of all that cannot be measured.

The quality of an RIAA stage requires that the response cruve be very exact. One's ear is highly sensitive to frequency response because of the large amount of energy involved. So my friend cloistered himself in his lab with test gear and favorite records for a few days.

He added resistors, added capacitor, removed resistors, removed capacitor and so on for many hours. With each change, which is instantaneously available for evaluation, he decided good, better, worse and so on. Finally, he arrived at the perfect sound. He took what was now a geodetic structure and gave it to a tech to boil down to the essential circuit.

Much to the tech's surprise somewhere early in the testing, the growing pile of parts had become disconnect from the primary circuit. The hours of evaluation were entirely imaginary. All those many many times that he was sure that this or that change had made the sound better or worse were all fantasy.

There is nothing wrong with this designer. It is just that he is human. It is human nature that if we think we may hear a change we will.
Stevemj, I am interested to know, what is your system?
You know, I once paid a little visit to a well known and highly regarded speaker manufacturer (shall be nameless) who swore that all cables with similar inductance and cappacitance had to sound the same...and did! And, that if there was no messurable differences, then indeed there was no differnces (audibly or othewise) period. "God himself couldn't hear the differnces in cables!" he claimed!! So, ofcorse, he used all generic wires and various "stuff" to wire his display and demo systems up around the factory.
Needless to say, I think you can all immagine how good his systems sounded!...
...Should I tell ya?....Come on...You know...I don't have to even say it!....Right!!!!...They sounded like Crap!!!
12 Gauge generic wire all around and zip cord for interconnects! God the sound was really awfull...Brings back nightmares when I think about the display's they had set up there for demo's and what not. I mean down right imbarrasing! I couldn't believe they could even allow people over to hear there speakers set up like they did.
And this company produces some very highly noted class A speakers.
I mean, it was a shame because the speakers were pretty good and all. But there "systems" really sounded poor...and with just cause in my oppinion.
Need I go on to say that that same manufacturer also believes that amps and digital gear(with same sample rates and bit rates, etc) all sound the same as well!
Interesting post....but not intended to discover whether there are any differences in speaker cable, merely to discover how defensive the commentary would be. Perhaps the poster is a marketer of cables....your comments provide some of the buzz words that are useful for ad copy. The supposed features and benefits advertised will attract you, and you will tend to defend your purchase, using the reasoning in this thread, regardless of the qualities of the cable.
This thread reminds me of the debates (turned ugly) from years ago on the defunct Daja News Opinion

Good note! Agree that there are differences, though they may
be hard to quantify. I'm of the "diminishing returns" school about wires, just as everything else in audio. Are there differences? Yes. Am I willing to pay some preposterous prices to own the esoteric? Nope, can't afford it. But that doesn't mean I can't hear them, and I certainly don't begrudge anyone who has the wherewithal to avail himself of it. I've assembled a very nice system without spending the GNP of a small nation. Do I call it SOTA? No. But it will not embarrass me, and it will extract just about everything on vinyl or other sources that is there to be extracted.

As an aside to "Tireguy"... loved that simile of "like talking to a roof shingle". Gave me a good laugh.

Anyone who wants to plumb the science might want to take a look at Harmonic Tech's web page and read their arguments.

Finally, why do these debates invariably end in the ad hominem attacks? Guys, just agree to disagree. ( Saw on another post someone who took a shot at Bryston. I could fire back and tell him this or that. Pointless. If he hears "bright" so be it. There are a whole lot of other people who disagree, all of whom have perfectly functioning hearing.) Why argue perceptions? I find Krell to be "tipped up", but also understand that for many it's musical Nirvana. It's not my place to criticize that, merely to state my opinion and move on. Krell is excellent gear. I just don't care for it. That's opinion and perception, nothing more. Seems to me ICs and speaker cables fall into the same category.
I am always cynical. But 10 years ago I changed cables,
I was impressed, tighter bass, a layer or two of transparency, and the highs a little less grainy. Now whether $10,000 cables/interconnects vs $1000 are better, I
don't know but I think I would whether spend the difference
on something else. That is about 700 CDs. I could buy
every Schubert, Brahms, and Webern CD produced.
Steve, I recently initiated a post on blind listening tests and received a number of negative posts. In the end, it is difficult to argue with people whose only response is "there must be a difference because I hear a difference". I would bet large somes of $$ that the majority of audiophiles could not hear a difference between cables in a blind testing scenario. I also believe a similar result would occur if you put say Rotel type electronics in a Mark Levinson box. I find it easier to believe in the tooth fairy than to believe that most audiophiles can hear what they claim to hear!!
For a long time I considered that all wire was the same. My Dad who has been an electrical engineer for a long time would say that for speaker cable, as long as the gauge was large enough for the length, that was all that mattered. For interconnects, if you had a problem with noise, then a cable with shielding may help, but other than that, no differences.

Several times I've been curious about these types of debates and tried some experimenting to see if I could tell a difference. I compared the free $0.25 interconnects that come with stuff to Kimber PBJ and some AudioQuest stuff, but I didn't want to spend a lot for this experiment. I couldn't really tell a difference with the equpiment I had. I was using a Sony ES preamp with lots of digital gizmos built in, a decent amp, and Definitive Technology speakers. I was pretty convinced that there was no difference.

In the last year, I got a separate preamp for music and B&W Natuilas 802's. The dealer was asking what kind of cables I was using and I told him about the $8 balanced cables that I brought at the electronics supply store. He claimed that was choking my system. So he set up a demo at the store and I brought my cables. We tried my cables, some $240 cables, some $900, and some $2000, and there were clear changes at each step of the way. The most obvious of course was the difference between the $8 and $240. A cable with no specific engineering towards sound quality vs a cable that is trying to preserve the sound and minimizing distortion makes a big difference. The bass was not muddy anymore, instruments that kinda blended together could now be heard as distinctly separate instruments. Its really difficult to tell the difference unless you listen to a system that can reveal the differences and you do the A-B-A-B tests.

I would suggest going to a dealer and getting the chance to compare cables in several price ranges.]

Its really hard to get through to the truth about cables because there is a lot of snake oil sales out there and tons of buzz words floating about. While I was looking around for information, I found that there were some measurable differences in resistances, capacitance, inductance etc. Some of the measurements were suspect because they do them way beyond the audible range - so I don't know if those really have any effect. On one site, they showed oscilloscope traces at the amp end and speaker end of a cable, and you could see how different cables add distortion.

Its also difficult to swallow because the companies making the cables have some huge profit margins built in especially on their top of the line cables. If you look at the difference in construction between one line and the next, they make slight changes, trading one dielectric for another, or a slightly different copper purity, or adding air tube insulation instead of foamed insulation - and those kind of changes may not cost them any more to manufacture, or perhaps a few cents per foot but yet they charge hundreds per foot difference but that all comes down to the free market, supply and demand. They have to make certain models stand out as high end, and stand up to their competition etc. Its hard to get above the noise level with so many companies and different cable designs.

I think the easiest way to determine if better cables are worthwhile is to have a demo yourself - and go in with your current views and make someone prove to you that they make a difference. I would have never beleived it. My old system was so muddy by itself that cables didn't make any difference, but once I cleaned it up the difference was obvious - its not subtle so it wasn't hard to convince me even though I expected that I'd have to strain to hear anything and then convince myself somehow that I could tell a difference. It wasn't like that at all.
I have tried several different cables and used my wife as a guinea pig. She has definitely noticed differences between the three I tried. I tried some old 12 gauge stranded zip cord, some Kimber 4TC and Analysis plus oval. All were matched using a Rat Shack SPL meter that I had calibrated vs my B&K meter that we use at work for accoustic measurements (truck drive by testing). To match levels I used the 1000 Hz test tone on Stereophile's test disc 3.

Components used:
Lexicon DC2 pre/proc
Adcom 7400 amp
Dynaudio Contour 1.8 MKII
Line length is aout 16ft per side as I had to run the cables through floor and out under speaker to make the room "look nice" The Dyn cherry veneer has a very nice acceptance factor however.

I really liked the Kimber 4TC at first, it seemed to greatly improve imagingand I heard more detail in the music, but after a while it sounded a little bright. I had set up my speakers and a little light room treatment (plants, wall hangings, and big honking pillows) using the Bass/Midrange and Treble decade signals on the stereophile disc using my zip cord. After listening to the 4TC for a while I got suspicious. I remeasured the response and found a +2 to 3 db increase at around 1.5 to 4.5 kHz and a lesser increase out to 10k where the Rat Shack meter rolls off. I concluded that that is why the cable sounded different and better for a while.

I later tried the Analysis Plus oval, and it had a slightly less "etched" sound than the kimber and was not as fatiguing, but it had good imaging and I heard very good detail. On checking the spectrum, it was much flatter in the 1.5 to 4.5kHz range, and flattened the lower midrange a smidge.

I am very happy with these cables, and I still am happy with the Kimbers for my surround speakers, as my system does double duty for HT occasionally.

I would like to see more measurements using a Network analyzer, such as HP makes. I have used one in the past while building capacitive clearance probes, and it sweeps a network and displays a Bode plot of the LRC network attached. Insulators and wire configuration made a difference, but back then I was a poor junior engineer and couldn't afford speaker cable.

To conclude after a regrettably long winded response. Yes it is in our heads, but yes there is a measurable difference.

As we say in test and measurement, "Your results may vary"
It takes time to acclimate ones' self with the sonic attributes of a system. Some differences are very subtle at best while others can be quite noticeable. Sticking someone into a room with an unknown quantity and then asking them to identify which is which is not a very accurate way to decipher if there is a subtle difference. It would be like asking someone to identify identical twins. While someone that was not familiar with them might not have a clue, those that are FAMILIAR with them would probably be able to identify them without a problem. It is the same with a well tuned and familiar audio system and specific passages of music. There are subtle "hints" that would and will give things away. IF the listener pays attention.

As to blind testing and ABX'ing, you guys keep forgetting about Moncrieff from IAR. He was able to verify whether there was or wasn't an "approved" ABX switchbox installed in the system, let alone wire or component changes. He did this with outside witnesses and had a 100% accuracy rate. While i'm not saying that i or anyone else could duplicate those listening feats, it obviously shows that it can be done.

By the way, the guy that built and designed the first ABX test box and started all of the hoopla is the guy that built and designed some of my preamps. His name is David Spiegel for the record. He now designs safety and security systems for monitoring Nuclear Power Plants.

I found the story about the RIAA circuit quite amusing. It sounds like gibberish, but it was quite amusing. I don't know of any design engineer that would work like that and keep his job in ANY field. Designing a component and then voicing it are different things. Trying to do both at the same time would typically result in an utter mess or take far too long to make the results worthwhile.

Do the test that i gave you with 18 gauge zip cord and 12 gauge zip. Put two speakers next to each other and place the system into mono mode using a reference quality recording for the source material. This will feed identical signals to the two speakers. Then swing your balance between the two speakers and tell me that there are NO sonic differences. A better method is to use an a-b switchbox so that you don't have the volume change as you rotate the balance, but not everyone has this capability. Don't bother wasting our time if YOU are not willing to back up your assertions. Why should we go out of our way to respond to your "troll" when you won't even investigate something with an open mind to begin with? If you think that your response is "psychologically tainted" because you know which wire is where, hide them as best as possible and ask your wife or one of your buddies that does not have a clue if they hear a difference. Tell them to be as specific as they can in terms of describing the differences IF there are any. Since you are the skeptic, i don't think that we have to worry about your placing preconcieved notions in their heads. Report back with the results and we can go from there.... Sean
Jeez, just find a way to listen to some different cables, decide what pulls your chain and enjoy the music! Who cares about the 'science'?
Jpharris's post raises an interesting question: If you can measure a difference in frequency response (hard to imagine how wire could impart such a large boost to any part of the frequency range) but you can't tell the difference in listening double blind like stevem (or is it Arnold or mtry??) says, which is right?

I take no position on this matter. I believe all you wires is wires guys when you tell me there is no reason why any 2 wires should sound different and I take it on faith that I am delusional when I hear differences. I am especially mad (i.e., loony) because the differences I hear have almost no correlation with price. I like some cheaper stuff better than some expensive stuff.

But the differences I hear are not so much in tonality, except at the extremes (w/re frequency and design), but in midrange clarity, imaging and sibilance.

This thread hasnt become abusive yet, but I hope it doesnt go the way of the cable forum on Audioreview.com or the cable talk threads on rec.audio.opinion (not defunct, just useless).
I think you neglected to read my post, if you think there has been no evidence to prove to you that different cables sound different. If you do not take my word for it, I will provide you with the "scientific proof" you so desire. I have an article where about 10 cables were tested. The test consisted of a musical signal being passed through a meter(ocsilloscope? - it's been a while since I read the article, but you best believe I can dig it up). The signal was plotted at various points in the audio spectrum. The signal was passed through using each cable involved in the test. THERE WERE MAJOR DIFFERENCES IN THE SIGNAL WITH EVERY CABLE INVOLVED. None of them did as well as we would hope. But, if that isn't scientific proof that wire is fact, not psychology, then it is a good thing you are not a scientist.
I hear noteable, often stunning differences between cables and interconnects, as I did between stereo receivers in the mid-70s when the dealers told me there were no such differences (that's how I got into this hobby in the first place). I do very little blind testing myself (it's difficult to do casually), but intellectually I believe it is compelling. This is because I know that I bring to any evaluation of any product a strong set of perceptions and preconceptions about the product, a function of how it looks, what it costs, what its name is, what its logo looks like, what reputation it has, and so on. In my line of work, this is called "brand perception."

Although what I hear often is very different from what I expect to hear, I freely acknowledge that I bring these preconceptions to the party when I evaluate products, and they play some role--maybe small, maybe large--in my final evaluation of a product. Unless you are from some other planet, you are the same, try as you might otherwise.

This is why, it seems to me, blind listening tests are important. They let us separate true differences from those we hear as a result of not only what we hear but of all the other factors we bring to the listening experience It isn't about the science or lack thereof of cable differences. It is about using a scientific method (or even just a little common sense discipline) to do SUBJECTIVE listening. And I will add, the blind listening method itself deserves careful scrutiny. My experiece is that rapid A-B switching hides real differences in a big way.

In the end, the goal isn't to weed out brand perceptions from our component choices. We choose what we choose becaue we like it and it makes us happy. Pride of ownership is part and parcel of being an audiophile The goal is to separate true audible differences from the other things that influence our choices, so that we have this knowledge when we make our choices. -Dan

Paulwp: A wire really can affect frequency response. In fact, the scientists would tell you that's about the only thing it can affect--although a RatShak SPL meter is not an appropriate test tool here. Sean's right about 18 vs 12 gauge (although his side-by-side mono test is not the right way to find out)--assuming the cables are long enough the difference will be audible. (18-gauge has pretty high resistance.) As for the effects you say you hear, sibilance is plausible--high-frequency roll-off is a common effect. Imaging is dominated by source material and speaker-room interaction (which is frequency-dependent, so who knows?) Clarity is in the ear of the beholder.
Trelja: I've seen similar measurements, but they don't, by themselves, prove what you think they prove. Just because a difference is measurable (and every cable will measure differently) doesn't mean it's audible. Whether we can hear a frequency response anomaly depends on how big it is, how braod a band it covers, and whether it's a dip or a peak. That said, some cables do affect frequency response enough to be audible. Most of those roll off the high end, which some audiophiles seem to like even though they insist they're looking for something that sounds like "real music." Go figure.
See what I mean? Jostler, there was no need. I said I hear differences, but it's "hard to imagine how wire could impart SUCH A LARGE BOOST to any part of the frequency range." As opposed to a smaller boost (although that I still dont understand) or a cut (which I do think happens). My impression of the Kimber cable jph was talking about is the same as he reported measuring. It sounds a little bright and forward, because, I think, the highest frequencies are attenuated compared to the upper midrange low treble and presence region. But that's just my guess. I have no proof of anything, including whether or not I can hear at all.

Oh, and trust me, if I say I can hear a difference in imaging, the room, equipment and music are the same. Just the wires are changed. But you know, the differences are subtle and may well be imaginary. I have no interest in arguing with anyone about this subject.
Paulwp: I agree that a boost is implausible, but I've seen frequency response plots for cables with HF rolloffs down several dB at 20kHz. Also, I think you're talking about someone's measurement with a consumer-grade SPL meter, which is not a tool designed for frequency response tests. That seems the most likely explanation for the "boost," to me at least.

The rest of my post was meant to try to square what you thought you heard with what cables might actually be doing to the signal (though we're talking hypotheticals here). My point was that cable measurements might very well correlate with at least some of what you think you hear, which would be solid evidence that you were not simply imagining it. That's a good thing.
Jostler, the cable length for the 12 gauge vs 18 gauge need only be 8' - 10' or so. Nothing "fancy" or "trick" going on. It's simple math. The 12 gauge will offer lower resistance with relatively high inducatance. On the other hand, 18 gauge has a higher series resistance but much lower inductance. In plain English, the 12 gauge will sound darker ( far less glaring with digital sources ), have somewhat "pinched" mids, display a rolled off treble response while sounding very strongly biased towards "fullness" or "bottom end". On the other hand, the 18 gauge will produce a far more open and natural midrange with greater air and extension in the treble regions. Bottom end would be quite lean sounding while lacking impact. I did the above test to a salesperson and a couple of customers at a Best Buy ( NO, I DON'T WORK THERE ). All of them could easily identify the differences in cables even though they didn't know which wire was which. For the record, i used the A-B switch on a receiver and not the "rotating balance" method. Sean
Well, stating that psychology is science was such a reach I almost went right past this discussion.
But I like the subject so.
For the past 5 months I have lived with 3 cables. An 8 foot pair of Harmonic Tech Pro-11 Plus, an 8 foot pair of Alpha-core MI 3 Divinity, and a 2 meter pair of Nordost Red Dawn.
Up front there are very noticeable differences with these cables but any kind of blind testing will not answer which cable is best or what are the specific differences. The only way that I could really tell the differences was to listen to music day after day with the different cables in for 2 weeks at a time. ( All cables were broken in before this test ). My equipment is a set of Dynaudio 1.3 SE's with a Krell 250a and a NAD Silverline pre amp ( Al my interconnects are Harmonic Tech Pro Silway ). Not the most refined or the best matches but good enough to easily tell the signature of each cable. I used my "non-audiophile" wife to check for the real obvious differences which were obviously easy to hear.
But only after continuous listening real differences become definable. Each cable had it’s plusses and minuses. Non did everything well and none did everything bad. In fact, there were all very good cables.
But only one was the best overall for my particular system ( It was the Harmonic Tech which was probably due in part to having the rest of the system wired with the same wire ). Musical instruments sounded different. The bass was better, tighter. Or the highs were more silky or defined. The highs and the mids were blending better. I think that one of the real issues is Synergy. ( Which test would an Electro-Eng use to identify or define that scale? ). In case that description didn’t wave at you. Gapping a non-resistor AC spark plug to .030 instead of the recommended .035 gave my 351 Cleveland Mach I a noticeable power gain in the 3500 to 4000 RPM range. It didn’t show on the scope. It just did. And so did I .
Well, I don’t give a rat’s fart if you hear the difference or not. I wish that I could not tell a difference. It would have saved me lots of money. Heck, imagine how much money we all could have saved if a Sound Design all in one system sounded the same as our current equipment. That would be great! But even little children can tell the difference. And so we must do the obvious.
If and am psychin’ myself and everyone else who hears my system. Then I really have some awesome powers and I am going to try to find a way to charge for them. The bottom line is, you hear the difference, buy them. You don’t hear the difference, don’t buy them. Just enjoy your system
As far as spending $10,000 on a set of speaker cables, I don’t see that ever happening. No matter how much money I make. There are just too many cables out there that will get you to 90% to 95% of the way. If you have spent $100,000 on your system, then by all means, get the very last ounce of resolution. That is your deal. I respect that. But I will not. The diminishing returns are not enough for me. Every time I looked at my $10,000 speaker cables, I would be able to hear the manufacture sitting on his yacht laughing at me. And then I will need to spend some real money on some Psych to convince me that I can’t hear that.
Frankly, the scientists have failed this hobby badly. Why do we listen to them at all? Amplifiers started out as single-ended triode, driving high impedence efficient speakers. But scientific theory said push-pull would cancel distortion, that transistors would have less distortion, that CDs would be perfect because the maths said so. So now we are headed back to where we started - single-ended triode valves, high impedence efficient speakers. I suspect we will ditch digital at some point and use lasers to read analogue wave forms off disks again. So just where do you get your faith that some very basic prep school science theory can tell us all cables sound the same?
Redkiwi: Your ignorance is astounding. Scientific theory never said digital was perfect. Marketing guys said digital was perfect. Nor does science claim that all cables sound the same--quite the opposite (despite what the equally ignorant original poster here believes). Science does say that transistors have lower distortion than SETs. I'd love to see your evidence to the contrary. (And, no, the fact that you like their sound better does not make them lower in distortion.) Get your facts straight.
Jostler - I keep asking for science. If you know of some physical laws that say cables of the same size should sound different, apply the laws and show some numbers. I am all ears.
Dirty pool, Steve, you've changed the question. Go back and read your original post. You asked for evidence that "speaker wires sound different." Now you've added the "same size" qualifier. That makes all the difference, and you know it, you troll.
I am an audioenthusiast and also in the field of medicine. There is a lot bad science out there and as far as I know there are NO Double Blinded, Placebo-Controlled studies comparing different cables. I am certainly not aware of any studies ( I do not mean scientific lab measurements; I mean studies involving a good sample size of listeners/audio enthusiasts). Ultimately what matters in the REAL world is how clables sound to the human ear and not what it's inductance or gauge size is. So If there are any Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Studies out there, I would love to know. Having said that, I use Cardas Golden Cross Interconnects. But I once had my wife help me decide on whether the Tara Labs Air 3 sounds different than the Radio Shack Gold Series ICs. She would switch the cables without me seeing or hearing what she was doing (I would go to another room)and then she would play me the same music....We did this over and over for about 1.5 hours, listening to Recent 20-bit CD recordings from Dave Brubeck and the Magnolia Soundtrack(not 20 bit if it matters to you). I would take notes each time I listened. But you know what at the end my notes proved that i liked the Radio Shack brand about 55% of the time and the Tara Labs 45% of the time. I had initially done the A/B comparison between these two cables myself (the worst possible study design: Study size=1 with Investigator Bias=Enormous). During my own A/Bing I had decided that the Tara Labs was FAR superior to the Radio Shack brand until me and my wife decided to make the design better if not ideal. So why did I choose the Cardas?.....It sounded better (whether I wanted it to sound better is another story, I probably did) I was never able to do a comparison between the Taras and the Cardas GC in this Single Blinded fashion....In order to really find out one needs at least a few hundred subjects of different ages from both sexes with different hearing abilities using the same revealing audio set up and then make the study at least a single blind study run by examiners who have no financial stake in the audio or cable industry. No one will fund it!
Interesting you mention the Radio Shack cables. I have tried and used the thicker RS gold series a/v cables (yellow and white rings on the ends instead of red and white) because of a dimmer switch problem and I think they're fine. No frequency anomalies, good three dimensional palpable images. Depth, spread, isolation. No problems. Now, if anything, I have a bias in favor of the underdog, so I dont want the more expensive stuff to sound better. But Im also honest with myself. I actually prefer the Radio Shack cables to some cables, and cannot say for sure that I can detect a difference between the RS cables and, for example, Kimber PBJ. (I love the looks of the PBJ and want to like them more than anything.) In addition to the RS GOld A/V cable, I use Kimber Silver Streak and I think its more open and lets some more detail through, and I also use some $40/pair silver plated copper center coax with locking RCA's made by a local pro gear maker that I like the best. Now I know silver plated copper is not suppose to be good, but Nordost is doing it (didnt know that til later).

As suggested by another thread around here, and the designer of my favorite speakers, I'd rather leave well enough alone and enjoy the music through the equipment I have. I know it isnt state of the art, but its enjoyable. If you aren't unhappy with the wires you have then who cares if they sound different from other wires? If you have no wires at all, buy something inexpensive and dont obsess.
Stevemj- "I am all ears". It appears that you are anything but that. Your need to have validation from someone else on such a personal, subjective experience as audio is quite revealing. It is unfortunate that you don't trust your own ability to perceive differences in your experiences. Worse, you haven't bothered to really investigate this issue yourself. You've relied upon the limited knowledge or experience of those around you who you deem to be qualified to give you their interpretation or understanding without earning it yourself. You wish to put the effort of proof on someone else to change your unearned opinion rather than taking the responsibility upon yourself to become informed through the most basic scientific process- controlled, repeatable personal experience and observation. You haven't offered any example of personal experimentation to back your claim. Why should anyone on this forum, particularly those of us that have expended time and energy (and yes, money) into experiencing different cables, take you seriously on this issue? Please, go perform your own listening tests with a highly resolving audio system, even double-blind tests if you think they are more valid, and then come back here an inform us of your results. At that point, I would at least respect your opinion and seriously consider it, even if I didn't agree with it. In my mind, you haven't earned that respect to be taken seriously yet. Nothing personal, just my opinion.
Jostler3, perhaps if you read my post with a little care you would appreciate that I made none of the claims you protest about. Before you call me ignorant, perhaps you should get checked out for Alzheimers, because there were indeed scientists (not marketers) at the time that proclaimed that Nyquist's theory was proof that there was nothing wrong with the digital standard (my reference to the maths), and of course they were wrong. Furthermore, if you were not so anal you might have realised that I am a scientist and was complaining that it is the application of prep school scientific theory that mars this debate, and that this was in direct rebuttal of the original posters ludicrous suggestion that all cables sound the same (something you manage to accuse me of despite me making no such statement in my post) - or are you British and suffering from foot in mouth right now.
Kasboot: I believe Stereo Review did just such a test many years ago. Don't have the issue date, but if you check the ABX page (see the address in teh Blind Listening Test thread), it'll be listed on the publications page. No, as a true believer, you will certainly be able to find a zillion things "wrong" with that little experiment, and I'll grant you it's not definitive. But ask yourself this: Why don't the peddlers of cables do such tests, in order to demonstrate that their products are indeed distinguishable from plain old 12 gauge copper? (Surely, some of them are.) Reason: 'cause many of them aren't.
Redkiwi: For my own edification, would you explain what is wrong with the digital standard, and how Nyquist's theory falls short?
trelja - I would love to see your article. It must be very difficult these days to design HiFi amps and preamps when the very wire you use in them screws up the sound. Just think of all that wire in the voice coils and crossovers, its a wonder any recognizable sounds make it into the room.

It must be especially discouraging to realize that after spending hundreds of dollars on 8 feet of really cool line cord that it is connected on one end to hundreds of feet of ordinary wire that goes round and round the transformer core and on the other end to hundreds of miles of ordinary copper wire that goes eventually to the power source.
Steve, your beating a dead horse here, you will not convince the believers of cable and they aren't going to change your mind either. If you just like the debate then have at it, but it is just the same words typed over and over. As far as Stero Review, c'mon, there's a name known for their coverage of high def. systems. Why not let the guy at Best Buy help you out?
Both! Some people ask, "It's just wire how could it make a difference?". Well... A magnifying glass is just glass isn't it?

As for the internal wiring of components being cheap, that is true. We all pay for the signal that comes OUT of the component. HOW the signal gets the sonic qualities we love is irrelevant.

Cable "science" in the purist form, is designed to preserve signal quality between components. Unfortunately that is nearly impossible. Therfore each cable type/design will add or subtract sonic qualities to your music. To get the best sound, one must have the right cable... Not necessarily the best cable.

The psychology comes when you try to find the RIGHT cable for your system... I think I'm going crazy!
Jostler - Come on, I started out giving people here credit for understanding that it is not fair to compare differnt size wires. Then I realised I couldn't do that and included that the wire had to be the same size for a fair comparision. I will grant that large exotic wire will be better than small cheap wire. And there is science to back it up. Small wire reduces the amps damping factor which results in changes in frequency response. This, as I'm sure you know, is because speaker impedance varies.