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
The eye is capable of discerning a single photon of light. This is a known thing.

This just in about the ear: The ear is capable of detecting sound where the motion of the cilia in the ear is....

>>less than the width of an atom.<<

https://phys.org/news/2019-01-mechanism-ear-exquisite-sensitivity.html

Unlike the science of measurement, the ear hears those minuscule motions at the top of the waveform, and does not relegate then to being a percentage thereof,and therefore...unimportant.

The ear hears the sum peak of a waveform, and the micro disturbances are part of the peak as well, a very small nano level disturbance. We do indeed her those micro differences in the realm of timing of peaks and micro peaks, all in level and in temporal relation with one another. All at once.

Less than the width of an atom? wow.

And that’s not the complex harmonics and timing in such added in, which we can discern. The ’all at once’ part. The ’all interrelated’ part.

When viewed as a complex FFT analysis device, the ear and brain are not exceeded by any hardware in existence at this time. This part we do know.

So, measurement can relate. Relate is the key word. But it cannot define and ’interview’ the scenario as well as the ear.

In such things, we slam head on into the brick wall of the fundamental disconnect between what the measurements are and how this specifically relates to hearing.

Then, to complicate matters to the nth...the differences between ears, individually, and brains, individually, is as great as the spectrum of intelligence on an IQ chart.

Added in to square the nth as issue.. is... we each learn to discern things, with our ears, individually, in our given growth environment. Where the package we end up with at birth, is ’informed’ of what sound is..individually, via the learning process we inherently individually possess...and growth situations we individually encounter.

As you can hopefully begin to understand, disturbing this very complex and very individual system...via ignorance in testing for function - such a thing can trip up this incredibly sensitive and self built individual system.

Back on point: To then conclude via interference and masking in testing/measuring and ignorance in understanding of the entire package, in multiple directions (via very poorly and ignorantly thought out testing regimen and protocols) that people are fooling themselves......well..., this cannot, in any form of logic and scientific method, ever equate to explaining away what people hear in cables.

The part about the Ear Q spread, like an IQ chart. This is critical.

This is the part where someone says, "if I can’t hear it then it does not exist. And I’ll explain it away with the hammers I know, the hammers I understand."

That’s a problem. A HUGE problem, and the person has to possess the wherewithal to understand that, well, maybe they simply can’t and never will. And if that is the case, then one should not bring that to the doorstep of the people who can hear the differences and find those differences important.

Stay out of an argument one can’t understand. It really is that simple.  But not unexpected as problems go, as many don't uhm, er, understand the incredible skill set of the ear, the difference between individual ears/brains, and the incompleteness and lack of capacity of the measurements and methodology -in comparison to said ear.
It's very simple. Sources have LCR properties. Destinations have LCR properties. Cables interpose an LCR filter between them. Add in recording, source, speaker and room colorations and all bets are off on how a particular cable 'sounds'.

Cable sonics are entirely system dependent. See http://ielogical.com/Audio/CableSnakeOil.php

The great problem is there are many charlatans selling to the ignorant and insecure, aided and abetted by an audio press enamored with bling listening on systems that constantly change. 
A quick meta-study of all those blind tests in the link above suggests the following:
1. It seems like a marginally dispositive group of people could distinguish and prefer lamp wire (and jumper cables!) from purpose-built audio cable.
2. in A/B tests, you get a smaller, but consistently rank-ordered preference between purpose-built cables. Unfortunately, they don't release the subject-level data, which would be the only way to know if there is significance.  In one study there was an interesting coincidence between the rank preference ordering and an instrument measurement (was it 'transform function'?)

3. A/B/X tests tend not to support the idea that individuals can distinguish between cables or amplifiers (even cheapos), but, unsurprisingly,support the idea that speakers are distinguishable.
4. It was interesting to see a study that actually suggested the power cables were more distinguishable than interconnects and speaker cables.  That was  a surprise, and I'd like to see someone replicate it.
5. All the studies have small numbers, and should be treated skeptically (see 2)
There was also a reference to a blind test run by a studio that resulted in rewiring with Kimber Cable.  No details provided.
I think we all have to acknowledge this has been done, and what it suggests for our alleged impressions of our lovely and expensive hardware.
@ieales 

There is simple and there is simplistic, you may want to acquaint yourself with the difference.


Taras, I do appreciate your posts. I was making a joke about cable elevators proving gravity. It is funny that NASA nor any Cosmologists can't explain gravity. Basically If something is lighter than air it floats, heavier it falls. I believe NASA will have a lot of explaining to do soon!