The Science of Cables


It seems to me that there is too little scientific, objective evidence for why cables sound the way they do. When I see discussions on cables, physical attributes are discussed; things like shielding, gauge, material, geometry, etc. and rarely are things like resistance, impedance, inductance, capacitance, etc. Why is this? Why aren’t cables discussed in terms of physical measurements very often?

Seems to me like that would increase the customer base. I know several “objectivist” that won’t accept any of your claims unless you have measurements and blind tests. If there were measurements that correlated to what you hear, I think more people would be interested in cables. 

I know cables are often system dependent but there are still many generalizations that can be made.
mkgus
“I ask this question......how sophisticated must a system be to truly hear the difference in sound from a modestly priced cable and the super expensive ones? Is it just a matter of money?”

I’ll play devil’s advocate. In order to obtain a “sophisticated system,” one must not overlook cables. I often hear people say, “don’t spend money on cables, save it and put it where you’ll get better bang for your buck, like speakers.” I’m not sure I agree with this completely. Yes, get good speakers, but then go on to bring the rest of your system up to spec and that includes good cables. Even if you have the best speakers, you’ll never realize their full potential until you give the rest of your system the attention it deserves. Based on comments from others, when they have swapped a decent pair of bookshelves into their “sophisticated system,” they were blown away by just how good a mediocre pair of speakers can sound.

“I have noticed the members with the most technical knowledge here seem to have less expensive wires than the ones with less knowledge.”

I like to believe I have technical knowledge - two engineering degrees and an engineering license. A funny twist on your quote is that while I do have very inexpensive cables, I have put a significant amount of time and effort into DIY cable efforts. When I say “good” cables I don’t necessarily mean expensive - just good in the sense that they compliment your system and that one has put in the necessary amount of time and trial and error to get a lot out of their system. My latest escapade was changing some tweeter speaker cables from small gauge, solid core with a poor dielectric to the same wire with an air dielectric. Wow, the improvement it made!! Harsh treble that makes you want to turn down the music is no more. 

So while I don’t currently spend a ton on cables, I recognize their importance and go to great effort to pick the right ones. Sometimes you do have to spend a little bit - pure silver is expensive - no way around it. 😃
Like I posted earlier, and what mrdon considers funny, ears are the best instrument for evaluating sound. Just like some people can see better than others, some people can hear better than others. Simple, yes. Funny, maybe (just like vision and hearing, a persons sense of humor varies just as much). The physical shape of a persons ears affect how they hear. If that were not the case, everyone would agree that "this sounds great" or that "this sucks" and, well, that ain't how it is. Can you hear me now?
And those dark energy boys can just keep playing in the dark; I will stick with my nine foot universe.....it encompasses the things I can embrace, reject, or control. No need to call NASA
All I can say is some people get hung up on measurement and are too quick to say don't waste your money because all wire sounds the same...snake oil. I agree with those that say trust your ears...all I really care about (with-in reason) is what I hear.
Just listen to the music and enjoy.  Everything is subjective, it is what sounds best to the listener.  You'll drive yourself insane or broke going for that perfect sound.  Just get good equipment, and budget a percentage of budget to speaker wires, interconnects, amps, speakers, sources.  Then spend the rest of your life enjoying what you have.  Once you get a system you like to spend time with, buy and stream music to your hearts content.  Have fun.........