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worf
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Cables - A myth?

As I was researching which cable to get for my new speakers, I came across this article, http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm quite interesting, have a read, it's a bit long but worth the effort, especially if you're bored at work, anyway, my conclusion - I'm sticking with the cables that came with my Swan Diva 6.2, here's his conclusion -

We have been told by advertising that the exotic speaker wires offer fabulous advantages over ordinary lamp cord. It would seem reasonable that using this same wire for lamps would also enhance their performance. In the same vein as wire literature, you can have your lamp reproduce light with the full spectrum color fidelity of natural daylight, finally allowing you see light the way it should be seen and bring out the natural performance of your lamp. It could offer greater warmth, detail, brilliance, definition and speed by providing wider bandwidth and reduced skin effect. It can provide a distortion free illumination that reduces eye strain, resulting in clearer vision and optimal color perception. It can allow you to work for longer periods of time with less visual distraction or fatigue. Just imagine what it might do for your electric razor or microwave, etc.!

Jan Vigne
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Re: Cables - A myth?

So you found someone who met your preconceptions. Good for you.

Why not actually try some cables and find out if you agree with Russell when you are listening and not reading?

Buddha
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Re: Cables - A myth?

All you need now is to find out just how over-engineered lamp cord is.

What if half as thick would work?

One quarter?

On strand?

At some point we would reach the minimum lamp cord.

Then we could save all those other idiots who spend too much for their lamp cord.

Why stick with the stock cables when you could get away with less?

mrlowry
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Re: Cables - A myth?

Please forgive us worf but this and similar "evidence" has been presented a million times here.

One of the things that I don't get about the strict objectivists is they deny anything that can't be measured as if it can't exist. Don't they realize that the first step to scientific understanding is many times anecdotal observation which is then followed to a new scientific understanding? Just because we can't measure something doesn't mean it is non-existant, it just means we don't yet have a method to quantify it. Newton didn't discover gravity he only found a way to quantify and describe it. Gravity existed long before him.

worf
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Re: Cables - A myth?

Hey Jon, I'm not stirring, just thought I'd put this link on, I've since realized many people have seen this link but hey I'm a newbie to this game. I had no preconceptions, in fact I was willing to blow quite a bit of money on cables, hence the research I did, which also included, by the way, actually getting off my arse and trying out some cables, but alas, I heard no difference. Maybe that was because I forgot to clear out the earwax from my ears. Ok I get your point about quantifying Newton etc, but the proof actually lies in the pudding. I couldn't hear any difference (I listened music through cheap cables right up to mega expensive cables) So if you want to justify spending heaps on cables, good for you, I'm not going to judge, but hey, if I want to save money then that

Buddha
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Re: Cables - A myth?


Quote:
Please forgive us worf but this and similar "evidence" has been presented a million times here.

One of the things that I don't get about the strict objectivists is they deny anything that can't be measured as if it can't exist. Don't they realize that the first step to scientific understanding is many times anecdotal observation which is then followed to a new scientific understanding? Just because we can't measure something doesn't mean it is non-existant, it just means we don't yet have a method to quantify it. Newton didn't discover gravity he only found a way to quantify and describe it. Gravity existed long before him.

We have yet to quantify Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, so according to rabid subjectivists, that doesn't mean that trio doesn't exist.

Sometimes, there is something to quantify, sometimes not.

Is cable sound gravity, or Easter Bunny?

Just because we can't measure something doesn't exactly go a long way to proving its existence, either.

We live in a grey world that is in between the positions of either end of the spectrum, and those at either extreme are wrong, and never in doubt.

ajschmidt
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Re: Cables - A myth?

I've long held that the larger the gauge of the wire, the lower the resistance, and the longer the run of wire the higher the resistance. The real problem is that people keep buying 16-20 gauge speaker cable, when 8-10 gauge would be more appropriate. Resistance forces a change in voltage, and that's just a bad idea. That, my friend, is about the only thing that is provable.

PS, Same topic, different approach. Our brains reward us with dopamine when we think we have found something. Improving any result in the process of testing. So, if having thousand dollar speaker cable is rewarding, then the music will sound better, because your happier. Even if no change has taken place. There is no way around it. It's a survival instinct to reward progress, even if that progress is negative.

Welshsox
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Re: Cables - A myth?

There is a lot of rubbish talked about cables and the differences between them. I do know that there are significant differences between speaker cables, these are clearly audible in decent quality system. I do think however that the reason for these differences is still in the black magic phase, i believe a $5 cable can sound as good as a $5000 cable i just dont know which version of each. Once you have settled on a system and are very familiar with its sound try some different speaker cables, i guarantee you will be amazed at the differences. Blind testing in a dealer with unfamiliar kit and surroundings will not prove anything.

If someone could ever quantify the electrical chartacteristics of cables and how they affect sound they would be a rich person, of course it might be like the guy who invents the 100 MPG car he disappears mysteriously one night while at a Exxon Mobil conference !!

Alan

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Re: Cables - A myth?

Since most speaker enclosures contain crossover networks containing capacitors and inductors, and the output circuits of amplifiers vary all over the place, it is a bit off the mark to say that a given speaker cable "sounds better" than another one.

You really need to start with a given amplifier and speaker system and see which cables create no harm when used in that environment.

Those cables with the lowest possible resistance and capacitance are those that will be least likely to interact in a problematic way with almost anything (inductance is essentially a function of cable length, but seldom is sufficient in magnitude to be a practical issue).

The cables that work well with a particular combination might not work so well with other equipment. One problem with "lamp cord" is that the two wires are molded together next to each other, which results in enough capacitance to be undesirable sometimes.

On the other hand, however, the 12-foot cables that I make myself from #10 Alpha stranded wire have such low resistance and low capacitance that I have yet to find a situation where they do not work perfectly, and I have made quite a few sets for friends. It's hard to find any others that you can say that about.

The wire and connectors are not super-cheap (about $250 per bi-wire 12-foot set; 8 wires total; for materials only), but they DO seem to do a nice job.

I have yet to see a commercially manufactured set of cables with resistance so low...I am sure there are a few, but not many. As far as capacitance, I do not bundle the wires closely together, but allow them to lie separately, which minimizes capacitance between wires. It looks nice to have the wires all bundled up in a neat package, but it it does create a possible capacitance problem.

Welshsox
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Re: Cables - A myth?

Hi

I do agree about that no one speaker cable is necessarily better than another, its about synergy.

I disagree about resistance and capacitance being the critical factors, if that was the case you could run 6 AWG pure copper and it would sound fantastic. I did exactly that for grins once and it sounded awful !! the sound was thick and muddy. Now do not ask me to explain why !!

Alan

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Re: Cables - A myth?

I'm not sure how you were able to terminate the #6 wire satisfactorily and make the connections at either end. There could be real problems doing that satisfactorily. Neither speakers nor amplifiers normally can accommodate the correct connectors that would have to be used to terminate #6 wire properly.

I know that I chose #10 wire because that was the largest wire that could be soldered properly to the Audioquest gold-plated spade lugs that I needed to use.

A 12-foot length of #10 wire has .012 ohms of resistance, which is so low that there is no point in going larger anyway. Also, a lot of larger wire used for electrical wiring or automotive use is a relatively low-quality copper with significant impurities; not pure copper. I use #10 Alpha electronic hookup wire, which is pure copper.

The two problems that I observe with most commercially manufactured speakers cables are that they have too much resistance, and also too much capacitance between wires (for certain speakers that are sensitive to this).

They simply do not use large enough wire in most cases, and then they put the wires so close to each other in a jacket that they maximize capacitance between wires. The simple fact is that actually using large-diameter wire is expensive, and they would like you to believe that something exotic about their construction or their "Ultra-pure" wire is a substitute for low resistance; it isn't.

By the way; if you can't use spade lugs for some reason, another method that can work for terminating speaker wires is the "stub" method. In this method, for binding posts, tin the wire ends thoroughly with solder and then tin a short length of #12 solid wire (3 or 4 inches or so). Take the solid wire and wrap it 3 or 4 times around the speaker wire ends, then solder thoroughly, leaving a 1 to 3 inch stub to insert crossways through the binding post. Cover the excess exposed solder and wire with at least 2 coverings of heat-shrink tubing.

P.S. A 12-foot length of #16 wire has .048 ohms of resistance. Is this low enough? In most cases, it probably is low enough, but then again #10 really works great...lol. I certainly would not use anything smaller than #16, even for small speakers.

Welshsox
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Re: Cables - A myth?

I still dont concur that resistance has a direct effect on sound quality, by the same token why is low grade copper such an issue ? the difference in resistance between low gradde and pure copper on a 10 foot length of 10 gauge woudl be millionths of an ohm at best.

Xenophanes
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Re: Cables - A myth?


Quote:
As I was researching which cable to get for my new speakers, I came across this article, http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm quite interesting, have a read, it's a bit long but worth the effort, especially if you're bored at work, anyway, my conclusion - I'm sticking with the cables that came with my Swan Diva 6.2, here's his conclusion -

We have been told by advertising that the exotic speaker wires offer fabulous advantages over ordinary lamp cord. It would seem reasonable that using this same wire for lamps would also enhance their performance. In the same vein as wire literature, you can have your lamp reproduce light with the full spectrum color fidelity of natural daylight, finally allowing you see light the way it should be seen and bring out the natural performance of your lamp. It could offer greater warmth, detail, brilliance, definition and speed by providing wider bandwidth and reduced skin effect. It can provide a distortion free illumination that reduces eye strain, resulting in clearer vision and optimal color perception. It can allow you to work for longer periods of time with less visual distraction or fatigue. Just imagine what it might do for your electric razor or microwave, etc.!

I am always surprised that Roger Russell's article on speaker cables is dismissed out of hand by some.

I am quite surprised that the Audioholics site hasn't come up. Audioholics has a number of articles on speaker cables and have actually measured how various speaker cables perform. Here's the page where thy list them.

http://www.audioholics.com/education/cables/

http://www.audioholics.com/education/cables/allContents?b_start:int=30

You might look at the speaker cable face-off comparisons early on.

http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/cables/allContents?b_start:int=30

http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/cables/allContents?b_start:int=60

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Re: Cables - A myth?


Quote:

I know that I chose #10 wire because that was the largest wire that could be soldered properly to the Audioquest gold-plated spade lugs that I needed to use.

You seem to have forgotten about inductive reactance. Hopefully that is an aggregate size, not a single conductor size.

However, There is now a 10g PCOCC solid core wire out there for room AC wiring..and audiophiles who are not fools (that I am aware of) say that ---this solid core 10g PCOCC wire does not sound all that bad! Very Very good, in fact -they say.

Room for thought, there.

SAS Audio
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Re: Cables - A myth?

If I may suggest, try different terminations techniques with ICs (interconnect cables), same capacitance and same high impedances in components on a good system. Silver, lead, etc all "sound" different which demonstrates different materials do change the sound.

Cheers,

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Re: Cables - A myth?


Quote:
Those cables with the lowest possible resistance and capacitance are those that will be least likely to interact in a problematic way with almost anything (inductance is essentially a function of cable length, but seldom is sufficient in magnitude to be a practical issue).

All three parameters are a function of cable length of course.

For speaker runs, the inductive storage (and consequent signal lag) has more significance than the capacitive storage. This is simply because the characteristic impedance of a typical speaker wire pair is about an order of magnitude higher than the load, which means inductive storage dominates. For line level inputs, this is reversed, cable z being much lower than input z. This means capacitive storage dominates line level signal wires.

Cheers, John

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Re: Cables - A myth?


Quote:
I use #10 Alpha electronic hookup wire, which is pure copper.

Pure is relative of course.. Would you happen to know if it's 4 nines, or is it ETP?

Cheers, John

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Re: Cables - A myth?

BTW, the following is from the "News" section of Nordost's web site:
"But the star events look set to be Hi-Fi 2009 at Whittlebury hall in England, and the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver, where we will, in conjunction with project partners Vertex AQ, be unveiling and explaining a new approach to audio measurement

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Re: Cables - A myth?


Quote:
BTW, the following is from the "News" section of Nordost's web site:.........
Nordost and Vertex are working with a sonar/radar defense contractor, measurement specialist firm to measure and quantify what we hear when we do things like change a power cord and/or add an isolation base under a CD player.

A white paper is in the works for 2010 which discloses new measurement methods, using real music and simulations, that clearly and unambiguously measure difference that many of us have heard but have been unable to measure heretofore.

The presentation was via PowerPoint, with no handouts, but there'll be something to share here by sometime next year. Hopefully the Stereophile team spotted this and will put some good stuff in the mag and blog. If not, I'll add it over here as soon as I get something concrete to share.
Dave

It remains to be seen if they present content which is testable and verifiable.

I will certainly enjoy reading it, I'd love to know if they are being serious.

The radar/sonar people are actually the right way to go with respect to localization theory, the field equations are exactly the same for long baseline radar as human localization.

And I hope they actually present the electrical models for the IC and PC analysis', it would be interesting to see if they get it. If so, they should present equipment tests for ground loop coupling sensitivity.

Overall, it will be interesting to find out if they present the same content I have been posting for the last 7 years, or humbling if they do something I missed..honestly, I do not know which I'd prefer..

Cheers, John

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Re: Cables - A myth?


Quote:
..

It remains to be seen if they present content which is testable and verifiable.

I will certainly enjoy reading it, I'd love to know if they are being serious.

The radar/sonar people are actually the right way to go with respect to localization theory, the field equations are exactly the same for long baseline radar as human localization.

And I hope they actually present the electrical models for the IC and PC analysis', it would be interesting to see if they get it. If so, they should present equipment tests for ground loop coupling sensitivity.

Overall, it will be interesting to find out if they present the same content I have been posting for the last 7 years, or humbling if they do something I missed..honestly, I do not know which I'd prefer...

John, most of the errors were in the time domain, if that helps you. The magnitude of the variances grew as the slope of the waveform increased, speaking very generally. I haven't read your postings on the subject, so I can only offer that.

They do hope to develop testing protocols and software so that others can duplicate their results and expand the use of the protocols to other subjects within audio.

Evidently the defense contractor is expensive and, even as a joint project between two audio companies, funding is an issue. At the very least, I'm hoping that we get the white paper, which could encourages other to pick up the ball if it gets dropped by Nordost and Vertex.

Dave

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Re: Cables - A myth?

This thread provided one interesting read.
(And thanks for the links to Audioholics.)

Many years ago, when a plethora of cables for interconnection and speakers turned up. I was amazed over how little difference I could hear.
There sure was a reason to upgrade from 'standard' cables for high end electronics and the ones for the speakers when you have a more powerful system.

But beside from that, I couldn't say I would hear a difference between a standard Supra cable or the super expensive one, and for some with really huge diameter of conductor I would even hear a small, very small, decrease in sound quality.
To this day I have no explanation for that fact, but a speculation of mine is that the electricity might take slightly alternative paths and that this cause a small degradation of detail of the sound.

So basically I agree, there are no reason to buy super expensive cables. Your money is better served on other improvements. (In passing I have found a simple and relatively inexpensive filter for the AC to be adequate for my needs.)
But one upgrade from whatever 'comes in the box' or from lamp cables is reasonable IMO.

jneutron
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Re: Cables - A myth?


Quote:
John, most of the errors were in the time domain, if that helps you. The magnitude of the variances grew as the slope of the waveform increased, speaking very generally.


It is consistent with expectations, thank you.

The current technology for content provision is inconsistent with human localization capability. All standard content is panned right to left using amplitude only, whereas humans use differential timing information as well. The confusion stems from the use of amplitude only panning for DBT without regard to the human response to the inaccurate stimulus. We adapt to the erroneous soundfield, but so called "testing" does not take this into account. (we live in a world of timing information as well as amplitude, but yet we ignore timing in the big "cable debate".)

Quote:
I haven't read your postings on the subject, so I can only offer that.


Thanks again. Don't worry, you haven't missed much..most of my postings are boring geek-garbage. I also believe that much from 2002 is inaccessible now anyway.

Quote:
They do hope to develop testing protocols and software so that others can duplicate their results and expand the use of the protocols to other subjects within audio.


Without seeing their work, I cannot predict the success of their project. They do need to do the following:

1. Develop a model which details the time and amplitude characteristics of the soundfield which arrives at the ears. (note: their best bet is to use spherical wavefronts, as line and planar sources reduce the effect)
2. Determine the differentials for both which result in a "class" of reproduction, ie: what level of IID and ITD is required to stabilize an image to within say, 10 cm. (note: they will eventually arrive at about 2 uSec and .05dB.)
3. Determine the transfer function between what humans perceive as the source location, and how far off target the ITD and IID can be without us detecting the shift. This will present a softening, or degradation, of the 2 uSec and .05dB numbers, and that softening will be frequency, intensity, and time history dependent.(note:this is what will take the most effort. Also, this has quite a few confounders that they must eventually understand and compensate for. It will involve a third speaker mounted to a curved slide rail hidden behind the same curtain as the right and left speaker and a two channel amplitude and timing modulation "box" which has .01dB and 100 nSec resolution)

Once they understand this, then they can start down the path of modelling the electronics.

Quote:
Evidently the defense contractor is expensive and, even as a joint project between two audio companies, funding is an issue. At the very least, I'm hoping that we get the white paper, which could encourages other to pick up the ball if it gets dropped by Nordost and Vertex.
Dave

And in the end, will this money have been a good investment for the audio companies? That is the big concern for Nordost and Vertex.

I have provided all this to the public domain at no cost, but I do not earn a living in audio. They have to.

Cheers, John

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Re: Cables - A myth?


Quote:

And in the end, will this money have been a good investment for the audio companies? That is the big concern for Nordost and Vertex.

I have provided all this to the public domain at no cost, but I do not earn a living in audio. They have to.

Cheers, John

Yes, I think that's the crux of the matter. Will the studies support their product development. An exploratory project like this and long-term, in-depth research funding are two very different matters. The later will require many more sign offs and approvals up the line.

We'll see. I'm hopeful that at least the white paper will come out and that, even if Nordost and Vertex abandon the project, it can serve as a starting point for those that might pick up the research.

Dave

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Re: Cables - A myth?


Quote:
Will the studies support their product development.


I'm confident it could. The problem is publishing. If they convince all as to what is relevant in a testable and verifiable way, then they will lose their market/cost advantage. I placed online years ago the technology to create any combination of L, C, and R for a speaker cable for example, so it is trivial to make a cable given the optimum parametrics. Anybody can simply contract with a wire house to make tens of thousands of feet of the cable desired, trashing any cost constraints.(note that L and C are dependent, L in nH times C in pF cannot go below 1034, as that would violate the speed of light...

""the speed of light is not just a good idea, it's the LAW"".)

Quote:
We'll see. I'm hopeful that at least the white paper will come out and that, even if Nordost and Vertex abandon the project, it can serve as a starting point for those that might pick up the research.
Dave


I approached two human hearing/neurological researchers about 5 years ago detailing the ITD/IID vs cabling/amp issues, and they were not interested. Such is the stigma of the cable controversy.

Publishing good research may change or remove that stigma, as the researchers do indeed have far to go. Some of their concepts are simply flailing in the dark as well.

Cheers, John

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The entire industry is a sham

> One of the things that I don't get about the strict objectivists is they deny anything that can't be measured as if it can't exist.

Well, maybe these unspecified people - the strict objectivists - do. But that's certainly not required to rule out any chance that there might be something to the so-called "art" of audio cables. It is a hoax. And we *know* this to be true. 

I am never quite sure if I should laugh or cry, and end up doing both, when I meet with a mindset that boils down to personal experience being held up as "proof". It demonstrates an astonishing ignorance with respect to just how fallible our perceptions are. People are, in most areas, extremely susceptible to suggestion, and more so if what's suggested happens to be something the target wishes to be true. Head to Amazon and buy a couple of books on topics like perception, or the placebo effect, and you'll not only be better prepared to protect yourself from those who prey on us, but also learn some very fascinating aspects of yourself and everyone else around you. 

However, no such effort is required to settle the issue. All it takes is proper listening tests. Whether cables transmit a signal "more perfectly" is irrelevant - the question is if anyone, and specifically *you*, can actually hear a difference. And while it's perfectly possible to create a cable that so greatly distorts the signal that it would be easily audible, it would take a deliberate effort to do so! Every audiophile and cable designer has for many years had the chance to take James Randi's open challenge and win 1 million dollars by managing to distinguish the "high-end" cable of their choice from his cheap Monster cable. Oddly, very few of the cock-sure cable reviewers even want to try! Could it be because half the pages in their glossy magazines are ads paid by the charlatans who sell this stuff? Some very few people were honest and brave enough to actually give it a go, though most of them choose to retain their delusion when it turns out they can only hear the difference when they know what cable they are listening to!

It is not actually very difficult to test *subjective* listening experience IN AN OBJECTIVE manner. In other words, we *can* measure if things "sound good" even without stating precisely what that means. We *can* establish by testing whether or not a given individual can hear any difference between different alternatives. If you rate stuff "as if you just did it at random" (an easy statistical test) then in what sense exactly is it unfair to say that you ARE doing it at random? If you quite inconsistently rate the same clip of audio played on the same device as anything from bad to average to outstanding and you do this across the board (across many devices), how can you escape the conclusion that there cannot be any meaningful differences in perceived "sound quality"?

The truth of the matter is that for the most part hi-fi isn't about audio. It's about belonging to a club. I've heard people go on about the wonders of the mechanical movement of their $10K watch, and they remind me of audiophiles. A mechanical watch movement, for those who didn't know, is an incredibly inelegant and inaccurate approach to making a device that measures time. A quartz-based movement is far simpler, much cheaper, and results in very superior performance. Even the most hard-core watch enthusiast would however, if pressed, admit this - it deviates more from an atomic clock than does a quartz movement, and given that time is defined in terms of radioactive decay there's nowhere to hide for them, and they have to invoke "craftsmanship" and similar things. No such honesty among most audiophiles - where transistor amps vs bulb amps provide a good analogy. There are still morons out there who continue to claim not simply that they happen to like the distortion of bulbs, but that they "are better". If "high fidelity" has *anything* to do with fidelity, they are provably much worse.

I used to be somewhat interested in hi-fi. But as I learned more about the nature of reality and even more so the nature of our perception, I began to get sceptical. It was however the way people responded to sceptical questioning that really made me lose all interest in "the hi-fi community". Not ONE magazine out there tries to test properly (i.e. double-blind). Several supplement their tiresome praise (of nearly every product reviewed!) with some measurements, but always with the express or implied understanding that it's the personal opinion of the reviewer that "really counts". Read for instance the Monitor Audio RS 6 review here on stereophile, and try to make sense of the obvious contradictions between measurements and what the reviewer states in the text (off the top of my head I just remember one of them, namely the "completely flat" frequency response which turned out to have several rather marked deviations, though one was so high in the treble that the "golden ears" reviewing the speaker probably couldn't detect them). 

In short, the entire industry is in a state similar to that of homeopathy. Everyone from the gullible users who shell out for products to the manufacturers (with a small universe of various other parties in between) insist on looking the other way when someone who actually knows something about the nature of reality. They say we can't measure everything, when what is relevant (did the patient survive his cancer? does the music sound better?) is ridiculously easy to measure. It's just a strawman. And in both fields, when measuring is done, the claimed effects simply vanish. Last, they claim various unknown phenomena which they propose could explain things. If there is any aspect of the phyiscal phenomena involved in using an audio cable to transfer a music signal to a speaker that is not presently *fully* understood... then it would be a huge breakthrough in physics to discover and understand them. There would be intense competition and loads of experiments that could shed light on this, and a good chance of a Nobel prize for anyone who managed to detect these unknown phenomena. And yet that isn't what we see. All we see is supposed "laboratories" owned and run by manufacturers and absolutely no peer-reviewed science at all. While this doesn't *prove* there simply isn't anything here to be studied in the first place, it does give you a pretty good idea about what the world's leading physicists consider to be likely. 

I am fully aware that noone who's wasted a huge amount on money, and perhaps even derive a lot of their social status and feelings of worth, on a shiny stack of "homeopathic hardware" will be able to take any of this in. But I do hope that the occasional fence-sitter might drop by, read this and be encouraged to do a little fact-checking for themselves. Maybe learn about perception. And thereby free up a boatload of money that can be put to better use (I recommend kiva.org, but look around). 

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Pretender

> The problem is publishing. If they convince all as to what is relevant in a testable and verifiable way, then they will lose their market/cost advantage.

How come this doesn't apply to computer science? Or nanotech? Or biotech? Or pharma? Or nutrition? Or ANY other field where legitimate science actually IS undertaken, often financed in part or in totality by for-profit corporations?

The answer is of course because it's not true. I recommend all readers head to wikipedia (or any other encyclopedic source if you are paranoid enough to think I could distort the content there because it is a wiki!) and read just a little bit about patents. The very reason patents were invented in the first place was to put an end to the practice of trying to keep discoveries secret - hampering human progress but potentially enriching the discoverer. Contrary to what many people think, patents are NOT there "to protect inventors" - they are there to ensure discoveries enter the public domain as quickly as possible, so others can start building upon them. Patent protection is the *price* we have to pay to get this - by making it MORE attractive to tell the world about your discovery, in detail, than to keep things secret.

Of course, patents are quite crude and maybe there could be discoveries that were so valuable that you'd still be overcome by greed and try to protect your secrets rather than gain patent protection (so you can sue anyone who copies your invention for 20 years, after which the invention will be free-for-all). But does ANYONE think this might be the case for hi-fi versus, say, nanotech? You'd have to be an audiophile to believe it!

geoffkait
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Excellent presentation

It would appear that Naysayer arguments have evolved quite a bit in thirty five years of debating cables.  You almost had me going.  Carefully constructed meticulous overwrought and fallacious arguments of the Skeptic zealot.  

 

Geoff Kait

Machina Dynamica

ChrisS
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Just Listen

Wow, "old" thread, same discussion....

For nearly 30 years, I have been purchasing "stereo" components from a local brick-and-mortar shop where the staff allows me to take home components to try out in my home system for the weekend or even longer. These components have ranged from one end of my system to the other, from power cables to speakers and they have varied in price range from budget to what I consider "expensive" (but what I might be able to afford for my means at the time). I simply listen to the component in my music system for several days and compare it to the other samples that I may have brought home and to what I already own. If I can hear a difference (I know that the high end of my hearing range has diminished with age), I enjoy what I hear, and it's within my means, then I make the purchase. If it's "no" on all accounts, then it all goes back to the shop. Simple. Quite often it's the "mid-priced" component that sounds best to me, but sometimes what I already have is just as good, if not better, than the most expensive component that I've borrowed. I don't understand measurements, but I don't buy into the hype of advertising or "mythology", scientific or otherwise, either.

By the way, animals and children (ie. those who don't understand hype or measurement) can respond brilliantly to homeopathic remedies! Next time you run across a dog or cat with an infection or a colicky baby, have a properly trained homeopathic practitioner prescribe a remedy for you and see what happens.

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Enjoy

I rather like the look and feel of hand-made pottery that I've purchased from local artisans over the years and I don't mind having to adjust the time on my "vintage" Bulova wristwatch. If you like shopping at the Pottery Barn and like your dependable Timex, that's fine. Enjoy!

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Spaghetti

I wonder if the spaghetti that my mother made and the stuff that comes out of a tin "measures" the same?

 

Oh oh, somebody better stop me before I go on about "double blind studies" again....

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Cables and Research

  May we offer a different approach to understading cables and their design.

  Few manufactures actually use exotic test equipment in designing their cables.

  Most cable manufactures stay at the low-end of testing their cables, looking only

  at the L,C,R [and other simple tests] of cables.

   The only useful testing they do is their in-house 'hearing-tests'.

  Un fornately several decades of cable manufacturing has yet come to a level

  of knowing when a cable will sound different and why.

   Our decade and half of research has been able to predict the changes, but has

   derived why the cables will sound different.

   But, the biggest defect in the audio listening world is the ongoing-agonizing use of

  cross-over circuits. If new cables do, mostly by chance, make a significant

  changes these changes will be 'destroyed' by the cross-over circuits.

   The audio world will progress and be farther ahead in cables, speaker and power

  cords designing;  when cross-overs are removed from 'modern-speaker-systems'.

 

  Curtis Larson

    RosVeta Audio

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How about Power Cords?

Good day to all,

I am happy to participate to this forum, since this is my first post. I've been a very long time subscriber to Stereophile and, although I participate to many audio-video fora(*), I had never the chance to do it in this forum. After having read a lot of Readers' Letters in the magazine, I decided that I should not be absent from this forum.

Discussion about cables is going on and on, endlessly in all Audio (and Video) fora, since the beginning of the universe. From my side, I would like to express my opinion on the most aggressive - by my opinion - controversy for cables in the AV world: the power cords.

There are people believing that their system will take off if they change the power cord of the amplifier or the preamplifier or the CD player etc., leaving everything else untouchable. People that have no idea what is the structure of their house electrical installation, whether or not their local power supplier can supply a stable voltage and frequency, with an adequate current flow. People, that they never pay attention to what receptacle (socket) is their system plugged-in or what kind of plugs are being used for their equipment.

Having all above in mind (and many more), I have to highlight the following:

1) Local power supplier. The electric company MUST be responsible for a stable voltage, stable frequency and adequate current electric power. If it fails, there is little or nothing to do to remedy the situation. Perhaps a quality AVR (or Line Conditioner, as they say it alternatively) can make things better, but not always. The best way to overcome such a problem is to contact the electric company and demand from them to keep their contract obligations.

2) Electromagnetic and Radio Frequency Interference (EMI/RFI). This is a common problem, depending on various factors of the surroundings. Usually, a good Line Conditioner can correct this problem, since these devices incorporate circuits that block the EMI/RFI, which becomes really desturbing and harmfull sometimes. As an alternative, the user can replace the factory supplied power cord(s) with a custom  power cord, made of armoured power cable of adequate gauge, connected with well made plugs (Oiyade, for example, makes really hi-end plugs P-037 and C-037, that cost around 10 dollars each or less. Ebay is full of them). This requires some simple skills and the maker has to connect the armouring to the earth at one end of the cable (usually the starting end of the electric plug), leaving it "floating" at the other end (the one to the equipment). This technique is effective and can send all or most of the EMI/RFI to the earth, "cleaning" the electric power supplied to the equipment. In addition - or alternatively - the use of ferrites is a good practice, but not having always the same results with an armoured cable. A combination of both is perhaps overexaggeration, but it does not harm. A prerequisite is the existence of a good earthing system.

3) House electrical installation. This is a really important matter, especially for those who start to build a house from scratch. It is recommended to provide armoured cables from the very beginning, i.e. from the point that the electric company connects its supply. Then it is recommended to continue with armoured cables in the house, but not everywhere. Because armoured cables are certainly more expensive than non-armoured ones, only the sockets that are dedicated to power your system should be provided with armoured cable(s), leaving the rest of the installation to common cables (lighting, heating, etc.). In addition to this, it is advisable to provide melting (blow) type fuses (cartridges), especially of low-blow type, for the sockets of your system, instead of the auto type ones. In an existing house, it is a good practice - wherever possible - to replace the existing auto type fuses with cartridges of the same rate. I disagree with those that spent big money for "exotic" cartridges (like gold or silver, etc.). The primary purpose of a fuse is to protect the cables from melting and the house from possible fire. Therefore, a common, low-blow cartridge is more than adequate to let the electric current flow freely to your system. Anything else is just a waste of money.

4) Earthing system. Your house MUST have a good earthing system. The earthing electrodes must be checked during installation with a special instrument and, if they don't meet the earthing requirements, to be replaced or repositioned. This will provide safety above all and will also make your electrical installation audio/video friendly.

These are simple requirements, but fundamental for a decent A/V system. If they are met, then you surely have a good start. Then and only then, you can start searching for exotic power cords, provided that you have the money for them. Otherwise, see my proposal in § 2, for replacing the factory cable with an armoured cable with well-made plugs

P.S: (*) "fora" is the correct plural for "forum". The word is latin and it carries the latin form in English.

geoffkait
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Of all the things you

Couple thoughts: (1) power conditioners frequently do more harm than good sound-wise, (2) entry level high end power cords tend to outperform those you can make yourself for a variety of reasons, 

 

Cheers,

 

geoff kait

machina dynamica

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I think both sides of the

I think both sides of the fence on this topic have points and are valid. 

 I for one have been down this road more times then I care to. I'm also in the industry and have learned quite a few things about all cables.

Here is the botom line.

You have a job to do , you have to get a signal from the source to the pre or receiver. Whatever means do it right. Pass the entire signal without losing or picking up anything on the way.

 Then you have to get that signal out converted or in the analog domain to a amp , do this right with the same standards.

 From there you have to travel a bit more distance depending on your setup from the amp to the speakers. Again do the job right. The factors are the Ohm load , distance and how much power the amp has. Factor all these considerations into buying the correct conductor that fully supports this load.

 Now after you are able to get this job done correctly from source to speaker , your done. Nothing on this planet earth can improve the signal. Your goal here is to get it from start to finish the best you can. You should be able to do this perfectly. Now the arguement about this process is how do you get this done correctly?

 Many cable companies have wild theroies on how this should be done. Not many of us have the means to test all possiblites as cables can get very expensive especially for trying to find the right conductor. So how can one get these jobs done without the deep pocket? Easy , try and learn as much as possible about the task at hand . Then talk to some professionals who have figured out how to get this done. I know this might be a pain in the rear but the quest is only as far as one cares about the overall performance of ones system.

 So cables make a difference , there is no question about that. Reason? They have a job to do and have to do it correctly. Not all cables made today have that ability. Cheaper cables use low quality materials to try and get this job done. Some pass , some fail. On the other side of that fence you have these cables that cost more then most peoples cars. My question has always been "What does it take to get the job done in ones system?" Answer that question and find the right cables you will.

 Personally I don't believe it takes 30 grand to pass a signal out of a Amp and to a Speaker 6 feet no matter how much power the amp has , no matter the ohm load. I don't see any reason to own such a cable unless it's proven that thats what it takes to get that job done.maybe it does but who actually knows? It's a fustrating adventure when you really care about the overall performance of your system you so carefully built uncluding the room it lives in.

 So my question to all of you reading is if one builds a system , lets keep it simple a 2 channel stereo system , how does one figure out the correct cables to use? Money is no object but no reason to overspend. I want to really know and I could care less about brand what does it take to pass a signal correctly as designed? What does it take people?

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Shiny

If you like the vanity of your collection, go for the designer products. Audiophiles don't need to hear a Cd or Lp, we

want something hi-end, sound & look!

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back to speaker cables

I had a friend who had some cheapish Pioneer speakers which sounded like rubbish.

No wonder, they were hooked up with thin cables. I changed the cables to something around 4x the cross-section and voila, suddenly the speakers sound better. I stuffed the boxes with cushions and they sound as good as they were going to be.

 

The point is that most speakers sound better with wire of at least 2mm cross section - reduce the resistance and they sound fuller etc.

 

After that, any further cable tweaks affecting for instance the capacitance of the cable/speaker combo depends mightily on how sensitive your ears are and how trained your hearing is.

 

One things I have discovered is that cables have to be matched to loudspeakers and amplifier - it has to do with capacitance I think. This is a trial and error process. I once had a pair of homebuilt speakers. I hooked a small capacitor across the speaker terminals and instantly the treble response became more lively. It shouldn't have as I was shorting high frequencies out of the signal path before they got into the speakers, but there must have been an interaction between the existing crossover, in the box, the cable capacitance and the output circuit of the amp.

 

Then there could also be the back EMF effect. Some amplifier outputs are more sensitive to this than others.

 

How many dealers are able to measure these four factors? My guess is none do. They punt their favourite cables (usually the high markup ones) based on trial and error and placebo effect. Not that cables don't make a difference but as I pointed out, the biggest impact is from reduction of cable resistance and in some cases, dependent on speakers and amplifiers, secondarliy from capacitance and probably lastly from inductance. Skin effect is seriously too miniscule to be really noticeable.

 

So I would say the universally good speaker cable does not exist - it has to be matched to the system and without experimentation with cables of different capacitance and inductance (assuming resistance is negligible), one cannot simply hook up best Brand X cable to best Brand Y amp to best Brand Z speakers and expect the best sound possible.

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