Music? Or Sound?

The demo seemed simple enough. A distributor proposed a session for the Bay Area Audiophile Society (BAAS) that would pit his relatively low-cost speaker cable against an ultra-expensive competing model named for a Norse god. We would listen to the music first with the high-priced spread, then with his cable, then discuss the differences. As far as the distributor was concerned, everyone would hear that the Nordic Emperor had no clothes.

When the first of two groups of BAAS members arrived, I played three complex selections that challenge a system far more than does the standard choice of female singer with small combo: the beginning of the first movement of Mahler's Symphony 2, from Iván Fischer's recording with the Budapest Festival Orchestra (SACD/CD, Channel Classics 23506; "R2D4," February 2007); mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's entire recording of Handel's "As with Rosy Steps the Morn Advancing," from her Handel Arias, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Harry Bicket (SACD/CD, Avie 30; "R2D4, February 2005; November 2004); and a few tracks from the Charles Lloyd Quartet's Mirror (CD, ECM 2176; December 2010). We listened to all three selections consecutively, then switched cables.

To my ears, the differences between how the cables interacted with the music and equipment were clear. Beyond the sound's being exceedingly airy and open with the expensive cable, with more refined highs, tighter bass, and exceptional transparency, it let me hear music more organically, in ways that touched me deeper. But when several BAAS members said they either couldn't hear a difference, or preferred the lower-priced cable, I realized that they were having a major problem in perceiving unfamiliar, complex music that contained multiple ideas, piquant harmonies, and emotional shifts.

So I prefaced the second listening session with some tips: "When I play orchestral music such as Mahler's, one thing I listen for is the balance between instruments. You may hear a lot of powerful low energy from timpani, bass drum, cellos, and basses, but is that energy in correct musical proportion to the midrange and treble instruments? Can you clearly discern the pitches of the lowest sounds? When you listen to Hunt Lieberson accompanied by period instruments, are the instruments in balance with each other, and are they in correct proportion to the sound of the singer's voice? Are the timbres of the instruments true? Are you hearing all the overtones and subtle dynamic shifts you might hope to hear?

"Beyond all those specifics, when you take a deep breath and let the music flow over you, does what you hear make musical sense or does it seem unbalanced? Does the music move you, conveying the emotion you sense the composer intended to communicate? How does it make you feel?"

Nice try. After we'd listened to the Handel and had been pummeled by out-of-control mush masquerading as two period-instrument cellos and a double bass—indistinct sounds that overwhelmed both the 11 violins behind Hunt Lieberson and the sound of her voice—two audiophiles claimed that the lower-priced cable transmitted more, hence "better," bass. After the Mahler, I was dismayed to find some people preferring the lower-priced cable's brasher, less-refined presentation of the horns and strings, and an overall more limited palette of colors for this music. While there's no reason some cable can't bring the Norse god to his silver-clad knees, this claimant of that throne was clearly a pretender.

I couldn't figure out why so many people were missing obvious giveaways of inferior sound. Certainly the expensive cable's I-could-buy-a-house-for-this cost has made it a sitting target and stirred up resentment. If I had $100 for every cable distributor who has claimed that their cable can trounce the false god and make the world a better place for audiophiles and their recalcitrant spouses, I'd be in Europe right now, listening to Handel in the halls for which his music was intended, and hopping from one jazz club to another. But was the resentment so great that it had led people to plug their ears?

No, something more than cable envy was going on. Instead of blaming the listeners, I began to wonder if we who review equipment have unintentionally helped create a community of audiophiles who lack the ability to listen deeply. Might it be the case that, because we often spend the bulk of a review discussing certain musical elements to the exclusion of others, we give short shrift to how the totality of the musical experience affects us, and have thus led our readers astray?

True, we reviewers sometimes speak of a bass line, a singer's voice, or the much-vaunted "presence region" as if they were somehow separate and distinct from the rest of the music we hear. Pointing out specific musical elements and how a component re-creates them can be quite useful. But if we fail to make the musical connections—to put the pieces together—are we misinforming listeners who are not always able to embrace the entire gestalt of the musical experience?

To test my theory, I began to scan reviews, both in print and online. While I was delighted to encounter reviews that spoke of music as an organic whole—check out Stephen Mejias's monthly column, "The Entry Level," for many examples—I also found numerous examples like the following, paraphrased from an actual review: "The music I picked included one piece to test the sound of acoustic and electric guitars, a very different one to test the ability to handle delicate sounds while still maintaining bass authority and slam . . . and three other selections to evaluate bass performance."

There's nothing wrong with the latter approach. Most reviewers have, or ought to have, favorite recordings that they use to evaluate such attributes. But when all we talk about is the sound of specific sonic elements, rather than how the entire musical experience makes us feel, I fear that we ultimately lead readers astray. We contribute to the schooling, not the education, of a generation of audiophiles who focus on individual fragments of the sonic experience instead of receiving music as an organic whole. Or, as the conductor Sir Thomas Beecham once described his countrymen, "The English may not like music—but they absolutely love the noise it makes."

The wonder of the audiophile experience is the ability of a sound system to communicate the entire musical gestalt: the sum total of a work's ideas, emotions, and spiritual truths as expressed by and embodied in tone, rhythm, pitch, and artistic inspiration. As reviewers, that's what we must strive to convey each time we critique a cable, a black box, a loudspeaker, or the like. Unless we discuss how what we hear moves us in ways that transcend the sum total of its parts, we do our readers a disservice, and fail to give the music we love its full due.


poopfeast420's picture

If anyone on the planet can blindly discern 16 gauge copper wire from "audiophile" wire, let him come forward.

eugovector's picture

...but only by price tag.

audioclassic's picture

What, I thought we settled this 35 years ago. Of course, I can hear the difference between high performance audio cable and zipcord. And I'll bet most of the guys reading this can, too.

ppgr's picture

stop wasting your time with infidels (missing obvious giveaways of inferior sound) and start your own idolaters society of Norse God.

eugovector's picture

So, you knew which was the expensive cable.  Those who didn't couldn't tell the difference.  Have you ever considered the the only constant in all your failed relationships is you?

Ajani's picture

I agree with some of what is said in the earlier posts. I'm not some diehard DBT fan, but I think you really should consider the possibility that it's not everyone else in the room who couldn't hear the obvious inferiority of the cheaper cable. Maybe, it really is just a case of your own bias in favour of the Nordic God's Cable.


I will however agree that there maybe a problem in reviewing products by focusing solely on specific aspects of the sound, rather than the whole musical presentation. Having deeper bass, clearer treble, etc does not guarantee that the overall experience is better.

kevon27's picture

Buy what ever cable you like and can afford. If you can afford $3000 per inch speaker cables to connect to your $300000 a pair speakers and you believe it will bring you closer to the music.. More power to YA.. Your purchase will keep certain peoples employed.
The cable argument is boring and tired. I believe print and E-zines constantly bring up this topic to get people charged up and increase readership of a moment.

I can bet you there is a group of audiophiles out there that hate pre-recorded music. They believe music must be live and played on acoustic instruments only. Any electronics, amplification, wiring is bad thing.

kevon27's picture

"To my ears, the differences between how the cables interacted with the music and equipment were clear. Beyond the sound's being exceedingly airy and open with the expensive cable, with more refined highs, tighter bass, and exceptional transparency, it let me hear music more organically, in ways that touched me deeper"


You use some fancy audiophile terms to describe what you are hearing. Please explain what these terms mean.

Airy: What is Airy ness? How does a cable manufacturer design a cable to be airy? Where in the audio spectrum does the airy ness takes place? Can someone measure Airy ness? 

Open: ? What does open sound sound like? what about Closed sound? 

Tighter bass?  I know one can affect bass with electronics and EQ but how does a cable able to make the bass response tighter? What if a manufacture of cables want there cables to have loose sounded bass how would they do that?

Organically: what the hell is that? 

Can any of the terms you use to describe the sound you are hearing be measured? If so then how? If not then how does a manufacture have quality control on their products?

MVBC's picture

"exceedingly airy and open"

Indeed: I understand what "airy and open" means, but what is "exceedingly airy and open'? It is like washing your T-shirt whiter than white for detergent commercials...

mauidj's picture

Brilliant response. This article completely spotlights the crazy direction that Stereophile and most other audiophile publications are headed. No wonder the industry is getting nowhere in regard to enticing the man or woman in the street to test the high end waters.

Jack_Mlynek's picture

No, something more than cable envy was going on. Instead of blaming the listeners, I began to wonder if we who review equipment have unintentionally helped create a community of audiophiles who lack the ability to listen deeply.

Are you seriously contending that reviewers shape the ability of people, audiophiles at that, to listen to music deeply? I've seen arrogance before, but this takes the cake. Who the hell to you think you are? If the music is worth it, then one can enjoy it at any level and as deeply as one wishes. I can assure you that cables, whether megabucks for megalomaniacs or zip cord for those that can only afford that, have zero to do with music. 

I remember a system Stereophile detailed recently that totalled well over six figures. When I added up the cost of the cables, they were over half the total! 

dalethorn's picture

It would seem that the argument is not whether they sound different (everything sounds different), it's whether anyone can hear the difference, and following that, evaluate the difference. It would be good if everyone clarified that. I don't doubt that very short cables made properly would have little effect on the sound, but get beyond short to medium length or long and strange things begin to happen. Maybe some more information about where the cables were deployed and how long they were....

The Federalist's picture

With all due respect Jason... You've really stepped in it here.

The "honest" audiophile should be able to admit to himself that he is at least as much in love with the pieces of kit and gears involved in the hobby as the music itself (if not more!) I tend to believe most fall into the latter. But understand that you guys are crafting an illusion in order to move product.

You review cool new stuff and say its better than last years stuff because they implemented whatever boutique upgrade so people who have a DAC want to get another DAC or people who have a great set of speakers want to get more expensive speakers. 

But the truth is that you can only listen so deeply into a recording... Recording equipment, studio mixing, final mastering and production media, will always limit the actual music file (be it digital, LP, CD or tape) to containing a finite amount of information to experience, hear or reproduce. Not to mention our own ears are limited in the amount of information they can take in.

It is not some cosmic ocean of sonic information that you can plunge yourself ever more deeply into with better equipment and a bigger spend.  

But this doesn't stop most review sites from portraying it that way... because it makes for good copy.... and it moves units for the manufacturers. Deeper bass, more air, timbral authority... our ears and the media the track was laid down on max these out somewhere well short of the highest end.... and cables just can't impact it that much. A little (yes, maybe) but not $5,000 worth.... Gold plated copper interconnects do not create a warm and lush tone... but it makes for enticing copy doesn't it? 

Example: 'The Gold Tune oil filled caps and gold plated copper interconnects yielded a lush, warm tone with rich tonal colors and vibrant timbral finesse yet its discretely constructed output gave it a lithe and supple feel through the upper register creating a immersive and intoxicating experience'.... Oh I gotta get that!

Don't start believing your own illusion too much Jason.... we mostly (who are honest) know how much is music and how much is just good old fashion consumerism. But you start getting self righteous and incredulous and the hard line objective types will storm the gates. I am good with the game as long as no one on either side starts taking themselves too seriously.... be forewarned... you sound like you are. 

Paul Luscusk's picture

 is better.I found this out when friends from Ixos gav me some ultra high end rca's to replace my stock rca's that came with my Tandberg 440A . Long story short The stock Tandbergs blew the Ixos away for making high end recordings, wasn't even close.

handler's picture

Oh the audio belief system:

If YOU can't hear the difference (read: superiority) of component A over component B, then your ears are bad or your system isn't resolving enough.

I'm not gunna say there's zero difference between cables, but why can't we be more scientific about audio? At least have the identity of the two cables hidden.

Can you imagine if sighted testing was the norm for new drugs coming to market!??

Come on, sighted testing isn't even used for high school chili cook-off judging.

The mind will believe what it wants to believe and is easily deceived and confused!  

untangle's picture

I attended both BAAS sessions that JVS describes. As is usual with 20 audiophiles in a room, unanimity of opinion was not to be had. That's cool. We all bring different experiences and expectations to the table. Jason goes on to analyze this behavior, musing on the reasons for the "outlier" conclusions.

That analysis is wrapped in an editorial style that abrades some (many) readers. I get that. But if we strip off some of the attitude from the writing, we are left with some pretty clear assertions:

  • At a BAAS event, the sonic differences of two cables were apparent, and one of them was "truer" to the source
  • That truth is embodied in both the macro ("musical whole") and micro ("musical elements") performance of the cable.
  • Many listeners may be spending too much time on the elements.
  • Professional reviewers may be fostering this behavior.

With the exception of the first point (DBTs, physics, etc.), the other three seem straightforward to me.

So while the tone of the piece was a bit off (pun intended), I took no offense to the thesis. And I was there. But then again, I preferred the nordic wire....  ;-)

Bob Walters   President, BAAS

Ariel Bitran's picture

this is exactly what i took from the piece as well. thanks for your comment Bob.

MVBC's picture

"But when several BAAS members said they either couldn't hear a difference, or preferred the lower-priced cable, I realized that they were having a major problem in perceiving unfamiliar, complex music that contained multiple ideas, piquant harmonies, and emotional shifts."

Wow, what a condescending tone! Perhaps, these members had attended multiple live concerts and were able to make the difference between the real experience and the artificially enhanced recreation that the author fanes about? It is always funny to host some audiophile esthete who claims listening to the real sound through speakers that even with 2,000wrms could not reproduce a single flute's dynamics and is suddenly surprised at that very dynamic range that even the most efficient drivers can barely reproduce.

So I prefaced the second listening session with some tips:

LOL Hilarious! So when the result is not what the good doctor prescribed, a dose of psychobabble is supposed to influence the audience to seek certain qualities deemed by the master of ceremony as truer to the reality, something that the listening session did not reveal at first.

The problem with this is of course that he was not at the recording session and is likely to impose his own bias -like hyper detailed high frequencies- that could very well be an addition from the gear. Unless the comparison had occurred with a live show, this whole affair lacked the live reference, the base line that no contest can proceed without and demonstrates a severe case of hubris from its author...

As for Ariel's comment, well after the Silence of the Lamm loving piece, what else would be expected if not unconditional agreement?

And you guys wonder why High End is in trouble?

mauidj's picture

Oh please. This is wrong on so many levels. You work with the guy so you are not likely to say anything negative are you. Hey mr editor you really think your writers should be commenting on their coworkers articles. Lame.

Ariel Bitran's picture


pwf2739's picture

I recently went to hear a local jazz group at a club where they regularly perform. I had never hear this group before and I enjoyed them so much I thought about their performance for several days. I can assure you that while there I was not thinking about bass response, openness and certainly not cables. The music touched me and I liked it. Simple as that. 

I think that is what recorded music should strive to accomplish. Leave the listener with a feeling of excitement. Leave them thinking about what they heard after the music stops. 

Just over a year ago, I had a very modest system. An inexpensive integrated amp, DAC and speakers. I streamed my music from my home computer. I think my original speaker cables cost about $200.00. And it sounded pretty good. But it didn't move me in any significant way. I wanted something better.

My current system has a power cord from the wall outlet to the conditioner and speaker cables that are of the extremely expensive Norse God variety. I can say without hesitation that after each of these two additions the quality of the music improved. Profoundly so. Just from a cable change.

I am not a reviewer and frankly, have a lot to learn about high end audio. I don't typically sit around and write myself a review after each song is played. I do, however, have a keen sense of what I like and what moves me. And I can say without reservation that my current system, which is yes quite expensive and has two (soon to be three) Odin cables, sounds closer to what I heard in that jazz club than anything I have ever had in my home. Regardless of what I was previously using. And I think about what I have heard long after the system has been turned off. Each time I listen to it. If that is the work of a cable then I'm in favor of that cable. 

I've been on both sides of this fence- the justification of an expensive system vs. an inexpensive system. Had my first system really had a lasting effect on me I would still be listening to it. But it did not and I wanted to make a change. An audio system should only be as nice or expensive as the listener wants it to be. At the point where one is happy and it moves them, then no more changes are really necessary. Should that occur for less than, say, $5000.00 then that is a wonderful thing. If it takes more than that, even substantially so, then to each their own. If they can afford it then so be it.  

In my view this article was not a debate about the cost of a cable. It is about which one sounded better and why the various participants chose the way they did. I'd like to believe that had I been there I'd have chosen the Norse cables myself. But who can say with certainty.

This much I can say without equivocation, in my system and in my home the better components with the Norse cables are without equal compared to any of the previous components I have owned. They make a difference, they move me, and they enable me to sit and enjoy the music. Just how it should be.  

noelberkowitz's picture

I think its also important to remember that there are no absolutes in our hobby. or at least not many. every review is an opinion-piece. every preference is that, a prefence. does one group like cable A? yaay for them. does another group like cable B: well yaay for them too. I really do not understand why people always have to make a bloodbath when someone simply has a different opinion or different taste. just chill out and enjoy the music. that would be the point of all of this.

deckeda's picture

JVS authors a piece that includes music listeners missing the forest for the trees only to have several commenters then miss the forest for the trees.

thecanman's picture

with this ridiculous post. How about...

1. The author displays breathtaking arrogance. "The unwashed masses didn't hear what I think I heard, so I tried imparting my exalted wisdom to no avail." Please.

2. The author knew which was the expensive cable. Hello! Does he have any concept whatsoever of the scientific method, the placebo effect, or expectation bias?

3. If the author wants to worship at the altar of consumerism and Norse gods, he is welcome to do so. If some of us are skeptical, that doesn't make us imperceptive dolts.

4. I would challenge the author to a test: have someone else set up 20 high-end, nearly identical systems in accoustically identical rooms, the only difference between the systems being that one system has a single inexpensive cable whereas all the rest of the cables in each system cost $1 million an inch. Then bet your house and one of your kidneys that you can instantly pick out the system with the less expensive cable, blindfolded, because it will be just so freakin' obvious. Have unbiased witnesses and post the results on this blog. This is too logistically difficult? Tough. You're a professional audio reviewer. Put your money where your mouth is and make it happen, or stop telling those of us who are cable skeptics that we're deaf and musically illiterate.

End of rant. Flame away.

Ladyfingers's picture

No scientific method was employed in this "test", so it's just nonsensical rambling.

If the writer is so convinced of his listening skills, there's a million dollar prize waiting for him at the Randi foundation.

James_Seeds's picture

Jason's piece certainly sounds a bit much to digest but I agree at times with his conclusions

I owned a modest system that is now 15 years old comprised of a solid state amp, preamp and floor standing speakers that cost then somewhere in the vicinity of 10k but now maybe if I'm lucky 1k never the less I replaced the tired 12 gauge cables with a set the cost $600.00 and I must say the difference was night and day, I should've done it sooner the boost in detail and clarity was a welcomed surprise.

Would I spend 5k on speaker cables, if I was made of money probably but for me $600.00 was money well spent 

eugovector's picture

Were the old speakers cables, presumedly copper, also 15 years old?  Did you try replacing them with new $20 cables (basic copper of an appropriate guage) to see if that also made a difference?

JL77's picture

"thecanman" gets it right: The author knew which was the expensive cable. Placebo effect and expectation bias are proven, objective effects. Any time a subtle listening test is non-blinded, it loses ALL objectivity.

Using trained audio listeners in a repeatable lab environment, we've learned about the diminishing ability to hear subtle audible differences over time. The only statistically-acceptable method to hear JNDs is via quickly switched A-B comparison. After a short period of time, discerning subtle audible differences (cable differences) becomes statistically improbable, and usually impossible.

VandyMan's picture

 began to wonder if we who review equipment have unintentionally helped create a community of audiophiles who lack the ability to listen deeply.

Wow, you are really full of yourself! To the vast majority of your readers, most audio writers, including you, are interchangable. Most of us skim your articles and simply not that deeply influenced by your writing. Get over yourself.

GeneZ's picture

What if some cable Z was technically perfect?  But speaker technology or amplifier capacity today is still lacking a certain factor in music reproduction yet to be discovered?  The perfect cable may sound not so good because of how speakers and amps are made, not the cable. 



IgAK's picture

What a lofty perch you survey peons from, Jason. But it seems you need it for such vauntedness. I do hope you can go back there again...

While I can't disagree with all your opinions - I listen to the whole of the music as a gestalt before analyzing the details - I can't disagree with those who pointed out the obvious problem of your price expectations, either. That disease does hit reviewers harder than most. Yes, I do this professionally as well. But I definitely have heard reasonable (but not, perhaps, cheap) cables outperform snobgear, too. I have not heard any two cables sound identical, though. The differences may be small or subtle, but they always exist. I don't expect everyone to hear the smaller differences, but most people don't have to if their living does not depend on it, so a certain amount of experiential training can't help but come into play. Unfortunately, the belief that a cable must be grossly expensive to be good seems to be most strongly entrenched among spoiled reviewers who generally never give a more reasonably priced cable half a chance.

But I'm not a reviewer, though I have in the past been invited to do that by one of the biggest names. It would have been a conflict, so I declined. But here's what I have noticed repeatedly about the "Norse God Cables" in many systems over many of their models. They are the darling of reviewers for being hyper-detailed. This does aid discerning differences so I can see why. But I can barely tolerate them for more than a half hour because they are gratingly hot on top, and unattractively amusical. I didn't say badly balanced, at least not in the last sentence ;>), though they tend to be hot at the top end. I said amusical. Spectacular, yes, but not soul soothingly satisfying.  They do not attract emotions without analysis. They are work to listen to, and I feel I should not have to work to enjoy the music. Of course, that's just my opinion...and that of many others whose ears I've found to be superior over years of comparison...that aren't reviewers.  So perhaps you have not taken into account that the viewpoint and desires of the non-professionals at this event may have been one of enjoyment and comfort, rather than the board-meeting hyper-stressfulness of these expensive Viking attack-dogs. Maybe a different expensive cable should have been compared?

Mind you, I'm not saying I expect I would have liked the cheap cables, either. Your description is voluble and says enough about the details that I probably would not have. But maybe you should have considered the overall feel and appeal of the different cables as they might be perceived by those preferring comfort over edginess. And been a bit more humble? This is a much bigger factor than you perhaps realize, being a reviewer. I deal with the customers and their rooms. No, I'm not a salesman, either, except reluctantly after I design the gear, which I prefer to do the selling for me. So I see how people react to what they are hearing while looking outward rather than inward.


Volti's picture

I couldn't pass this up. 

Recently I went to a customers home to do an upgrade to his speakers, and I brought my own basic 30' long copper cables that I use around my shop to replace the fancy, expensive cables that I knew he had hooked up.  My thought was that these fancy cables could be changing the sound enough that it would prevent me from hearing the speakers the way i'm used to hearing them. 

So after making the upgrades to the speakers, we sat down to listen to some music.  First with my cables, and then with his fancy cables.  We both looked at each other and agreed that his cables definately sounded better.  I was a little suprised I guess.  I wondered to myself, that the materials used in these cables must really be making a difference in the sound quality of the system. 

Then it dawned on me that there was something else that was probably the real difference maker here.  His cables were 23 feet shorter than mine!  Hmmmm. 


GeneZ's picture

Volti... You said..  "Then it dawned on me that there was something else that was probably the real difference maker here.  His cables were 23 feet shorter than mine!  Hmmmm.

Find out if it was a litz configuration he had. Its the one type of cable that will eliminate certain distortions that all other stranded wire will produce. Raw litz is not that expensive.  In its raw state it does not look like much. And, its a bear to solder.  You'll need a solder pot to tin with. 

Litz eliminates the skin effect that stranded-non-litz wire always produces. It causes that tizzy effect we hear in the high end... what makes us realize we are listening to amplified music. 

dalethorn's picture

There's a suggestion here in these comments that subtle differences must be detected in quick A-B switch comparisons. I think if a subtle difference were one-dimensional, so you knew what artefact to listen for and everything about its qualities, that might work. But it almost never works for me. Partly because every difference is different, and partly because my ears and brain just don't switch that quickly.

JL77's picture

Fast A-B testing works well in a design lab, when a product is being developed, but is admittedly harder in a home playback system.

The point is that academic psychoacoustic testing has proven the inability to reliably detect subltle audio differences over periods of time longer than a few seconds. Unless the differences are significant, our "audible memory" is poor.

The power of suggestion is alive and well in audio. Once I remember turning up some HF EQ for a client, and we both nodded and agreed that it really helped the overall mix. Later I realized that the EQ was bypassed.

Frank.hardly's picture

Jason Victor, you make some good comments about listening. I'm an uneducated audiophile, but after years of playing classical music both as a listener and musician, I intuitively listen for some of the things you describe. What drives me crazy in chamber or orchesteral music (concertos) in particular is the energy or volume of instruments being recorded in disproportion to what they could realistically present in a concert or live setting. I've had to adjust my volume to account for the sudden thundering of a piano in an orchesteral settting that is unbelievable. I believe these issues are more due to the misintentioned efforts of people occupying mixing boards to boost certain elements they wish to highlight rather than trying to create a believable re-enactment of a live recording. I have a hard time understanding how a cable can correct this basic engineering decision. I also value the voicing of individual instruments, rather than a monotone of sound. The whole audio chain from recording to through to speaker has a part in presenting this separation of instruments. Maybe a great cable could help the overall presentation, but I have a hard time quantifying how much this improves such separation relative to the other parts of the chain. Is it 5% improvement?Will this help a muddied recording? I think not. If I spend 40% of my audio budget on a 5% improvement is this $'s well spent or could I get more bang for my buck to spend more on my amplifier or speakers? This is the sort of thing I look for from educated audiophiles such as yourself who are being paid to advise the uneducated and less experienced. I don't think there's much value in saying such and such is a great cable relative to another cable if the context of the whole isn't being considered and some quantification of benefit is being discussed. Airiness and energy are hard to get my objective mind around.

dalethorn's picture

This could be a legitimate question when planning the initial purchase of a system, but after making the best purchase possible within whatever the budget limits are, any tweaking after that wouldn't fall into the same category, i.e. balancing tweaks or cable costs against the system costs. Now, with system in place and no desire or budget to replace the entire system, I can look at cable costs as a separate issue. Then I can consider - is a subtle improvement really a one percent, or five percent improvement? Maybe it's a 100 percent improvement. Those kinds of percentages don't usually scale linearly.

169glazier's picture

I have a Belles 150A Hot Rod amp in one of my systems. I loved the way it sounded but there was a veil in the midrange like a light sheet in front of the speakers. When I switched out the belles amp out with a McCormack DNA 125 the veil was gone and it had more transparency. But I lost the warm tube like midrange that I really liked about the Belles amp. I bought a pair of Von Gaylord Legend 2 speaker wire and WOW the veil was gone the midrange was lush smooth and the transparency was even beter than the McCormack with the old speaker cable. Having the right speaker cable in the system makes all the difference. I love the sound so much I dont want to change back to the McCormack DNA 125 or use any of my other amps that I own.

System configuration


Belles 21A with Aurua Cap Up Grade  Pre-amp

Jolida CD 100A Player

Dynaudio Audence 82 Speakers

Von Gaylord Legend 2 8' Speaker Cable 8' Pair

Synergistic Research Quad Speaker Cable 8’ Pair

Shunyata Research Diamondback 5’ Power Cord for Pre-amp

Shunyata Research Diamondback 5’ Power Cord for Amp

Shunyata Research Diamondback 5’ Power Cord for CD Player

Von Gaylord Chinchilla 1M interconnects for Pre-amp to Amp

Kimber Kable Hero WBT 1M Interconnects for CD Player

ajcrock's picture

What is the range of hearing of the listeners?  Many people cannot hear well enough to hear the full spectrum.  For those people a cheaper cable and system is just fine.  Same with wine and champagne.

As for myself I have a group of people that include those who have known the difference in good equipment and cheap equipment and those who have not.  In all cases when I have replaced copper with .999 silver, not that plated crap, they have all said the music sounds brighter and more open what did you do, this was unprompted.   I have also used 24k gold and they thought the music sounded richer.  Again they did know a change had occurred.  I do have Nordost cables.  They are plated not .999 silver.

Half Full's picture


Firstly, I appreciate your willingness to stick out your neck with some pretty damning opinions. To accuse virtualy the entire BAAS of being effectively tone deaf requires some big kahonas.  Secondly, to have enough confidence in your own ability to discern subtle differences that they could not and then taking credit for making them that way borders on arrogance.  But still, I love it!  Do we listen to it, or do we listen for it?  I've been chasing this gold ring since the 70's and frankly my enthusiasm for my audio habit had waned since we moved on the lake.  But awhile back, after digesting Jim Smith's book and spending a day checking plug polarity and wearing out a tape measure, I arrived at a level of satisfaction with my system that I never before enjoyed.  Know what?  I immediately sold the speakers, bought new amps, cabling, Oppo 95, bunches of Dupont 304, and completely changed my stuff.  I am now as happy, several thousands of dollars later, as I was before. Only now there is an Oppo 105 (damn!) and my 3.6's have been kicked to the curb by 3.7's. Just like cars, it will never end.  Back to the point, I appreciate your having found a way to derive an income by feeding my habit.  I only wish you were less abrasive toward those of us that feed you (literally).  I value your experience and expertise but you should be carefull when you choose to belittle mine.  It is quite possible possible the BAAS members were finely attuned to facets of that particular experience that you completely missed.  Can you see through a keyhole with both eyes at the same time?

Free cables's picture

I have inherited some of the best Nordost cables and I have spent lots of time evaluating them with the following observations. 

Firstly, these cables do sound good and highly resolved. I have had friends who are skeptical engineers and do not give a damn how much they cost, the prestige, nor what t hey are supposed to do, but they eagerly borrowed the cables for long term loans because they sounded clearly superior.  There are techical artifacts that might explain these differences that include "low dielectric absorption".  

They may make a system that is already too "defined and cold" sound worse.

In the case of interconnects, it is not about the transmission of sound, but more about how the cable loads your preamp output. I have done experiments blinded that strongly supports this assertion. Speaker cables are about amplifier loading and damping factor/series resistance and power transmission. 

The most expensive cables are only suited to someone who loves to burn cash, or who has already spent all they can on the rest of there equipment; that is to say exceeding $5000 for amps $5000 for preamps $5000 for dac and then say $20000 for speakers. Then go spend  $10000 to $30000 on cables.  Otherwise it is crazy to spend as much on cables as a new pair of speakers cost, because improving all non cable components will almost always result in a substantial improvement.  If your budget for a system is $20k, spend half on speakers, half on electronics, and several hundred to $1000 on wiring.  These are just suggestions.

Now, I have always wondered why so many audiophiles seem to spend more money on cables and wombley pucks that all electronics and speakers combined!  I finally have guessed what drives this phenomena.  It is called the "wife tolerance factor."  

It goes like this.  Some dude convinces his wife to agree to his purchasing the system he read about or auditioned at the audio store.  He sets it up and realizes at some point that it is not as good or satisfying as he hoped.  Well now he realizes that she will never agree to replacing it all, or some of it with really good equipment that cost more.  Further even if he can change the amp or speakers from his hidden cash cache, she will notice.  The solution, keep changing the cables.  Even if she notices, she will never suspect how much of the retirement fund had been dumped into power cords.


i will never make fun of a reviewer who touts a great cable, nor will I mock someone on a budget for discovering that bed springs and coat hangers sound better than Trojans after a 2 year breakin period.  But my advice, do not upgrade via cables, buy real equipment.  The best stuff will still sound better with budget cables such as dh labs or even, gods forbid, monster cable from a spool.

Free cables's picture

Very few people have hearing that cannot distinguish between the real thing and reproduced sound. Old men with 3khz of hearing still manage to hear the effects of 20khz brick wall filters because the effects on phase are audible at 1/10 the frequency.  It is not about people's hearing,but how much they are into and interested in the music.  Also a really basic system may not resolve the fine differences between cables. 

Ronzu's picture

Let's assume that all of the listeners in the "test" group agreed that the expensive cables sounded better than the cheaper ones. Should we then assume that these same cables will sound better than cheaper cables in other systems, where the amplification and speakers are different? Maybe it just means that the more expensive cables work well with the particular electronics and speakers of the test system. A different system may sound better with the cheaper cables. I want to know what cables sound best with MY amplifiers and speakers. I don't need to know what tires perform best on a Ferrari, if I'm driving a Volkswagen.

Danny Fondren's picture

The article was very interesting as I've long wondered about the usefulness of high end cable(ing). If one went by the theoris of circuit design it would seem obvious that higer quality/ shorter cables would achieve a better sound. Its my personal opinion that that idea may have a lot to do with people thimking they can hear differances from thier speakers cause by cables (aside from outright faulty cables or connections). I have two arguments against any general recognizable ability to hear quantitive differances. "A" Related to physics- If one were to expect an audible improvement in sound reproduction quality being achieved by high grade cables, to know you had achieved the improvment ; elimination of other (spurious) efects need to be eliminated. ie examp. The qualit of conectors seems to be of extreme importance, as even very small diferances in cintact can make readibly measurable differances in current , load ect. likely larger differances to the signal integrity than cabling. In many electrial situation the basic remedy is solder all contacts (brings on the questin is one type solder beter accousically thn anotherwhich is marginally a silly idea). "B"  The psychological angle: to whit , there has been some discusion that in your listening test , "was blind testing utilised adequately" ? It does not sound - no pun intended HA- as if it were , and here is my strongest argument... While one can measure AV equipment quite well nowdays it is very much a dificult task to measure ones own hearing quality from day to day, possibly minute to minute even. Think of the environmental effects that may influance the quality of our hearing , many of these effects can be controled to a degree. More importantly are the often (very) subtle effects of physiology and pshycology (which interact with each other). Our senses qualityies are suseptible to a great many influances ; blood pressure , health , diet, stress , blood/brain chemistry at a given moment. I contend that these efects are as important as , or may be more important to a listeners ability to decern sound(s). Even people with perfect pitch ect. are very suceptable to physiological influences , and that does not even get into the relm of human suggestability which in itself has some varibles due to physology.    My point/arguement here is that " Many (thousands no doubt) of studies have proven , when it comes to critical and casual comparisons made by human beings using their perseptual judgements based on thier 5 senses , to be accurate as possible ; strengent use of "BLIND Testing " , and "SCIENTIFIC METHODE" must be used . Or we may find we didn't hear, smell taste ,feel ,what we thought we did.   Oh yeah,    Danny Fondren   Aspen/Twin Lakes , Coolorado

acuvox's picture

Hearing is highly adaptive and comparative on time scales from microseconds to a lifetime.  This means there are things we can hear that are beyond the ability of machines to measure, and things that are trivial to measure but nearly impossible to hear.  It also means that perception between individuals will vary widely, and even the perception of one individual will vary with recent auditory experience and state of mind.

Complicating this are the ubiquitous background din of the post-industrial world, the outlandish distortions of consumer audio and bad acoustics which have so buffeted the richest sensory pathway that it has been subsumed by inferior vision in society.

Audiologists like King and von Bekeszy working before the advent of radio obtained quite different results.  Everything from Fletcher-Munson forwards used subjects who learned to hear music from phonographs and dynamic loudspeakers, which is contaminated and therefore suspect.

To attempt the most basic "controlled experiment" in human hearing, one should start with test subjects who were raised acoustically, away from the synthetic sounds of motors, speakers, metal and glass; or at least, had acoustic sounds dominate their developmental auditioning like conservatory trained musicians.  

Scorpio69er's picture

Using only the highest grade ore mined from our private copper, gold and silver mine in Chile's Atacama Desert, then refining that ore in a proprietary process handed down through four generations and sheathing nature's purest metals in theta-rejecting baby llama skin, we have fashioned the ultimate in speaker cables and interconnects: The Scorpio Line.

Death Stalker: At only $2000/meter, this special 1000:1 blend of our purest copper and silver will yield the highest possible SPL when listening to heavy metal music, while maintaining a warm yet neutral character with your favorite bagpipe piece. The sonic equivalent of Angus Young in a kilt.


Black Spitting Thicktail: This 1111:11:1 blend of our purest copper, silver and gold has been hailed by reviewers as "a revelation". At $10000/meter, it will transport you to another sonic realm. Whether listening to powerful symphonic music or the soothing strains of Slim Whitman, your hair will turn white as you encounter the mystical. As they say, "you can't take it with you", so why worry about the cost?


Asian Forest: Specially designed to reproduce the whole range of natural sounds from an ant fight to an exploding supernova with equal realism, this 1313:13:3 blend of our purest copper, silver and gold throws a soundstage as big as all creation. At $50000/meter, like Yahweh himself, you can have the whole world in your hands. Just remember to put it back when you're finished.


MVBC's picture

But don't you worry that at $50,000 a meter it might seem a bit cheap for such a great cable? But if it was per foot, then...surprise

Scorpio69er's picture

$50,000/meter might seem a bit cheap for such a great cable, but we also want to bring outstanding value to our customers. laugh

MVBC's picture


Scorpio69er's picture

Unless and until double-blind ABX testing proves that there is an actual sonic difference between lamp zip cord and ridiculously priced pieces of wire, we must assume that any differences reported by any reviewer are figments of the reviewer's imagination.

Trust me, the electrons don't know the difference.

ChrisS's picture

If listener A hears a difference, but not listerner B, then what? If 49 listeners hear a difference, but 51 don't... And if I buy the cheap wire anyways, but then it makes my stereo sound awful, can I still get a full refund?

acuvox's picture

I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Serinus, but I can surmise from his selections that he knows what music sounds like and what it FEELS like.  

I had a similar experience to this the first time I heard SACD in direct comparison to the Redbook layer.  My reaction was "I thought it was going to be subtle", while the roomful of audio aficianados mostly had difficulty discerning any difference.  I found that the other enthusiastic listeners also attended live acoustic concerts as do I.

If you only listen to speakers, you forget what music sounds like, the more so depending on how far from reality your daily system and recording choices diverge.  I listen to acoustic music MORE than I listen to speakers, and I work with conservatory trained players who listened to acoustic music more than audio reproduction each day of their lives - and we hear differently than speaker people.

After you spend as much on concert tickets as you did on your speakers, you may start to hear the differences between cables - and you will have a human connection with musicians.

HammerSandwich's picture

"Trust your own ears") seems to apply here.  Too bad that the author doesn't show much respect for the other opinions he heard.


dalethorn wrote:

It would seem that the argument is not whether they sound different (everything sounds different), it's whether anyone can hear the difference, and following that, evaluate the difference.

I'd say that the bigger issue was raised by Ronzu:

Maybe it just means that the more expensive cables work well with the particular electronics and speakers of the test system. A different system may sound better with the cheaper cables.

Exactly right, Ronzu.  Cable performance is ALL about the interaction between the specific components & cables used.  It's folly to claim that a particular cable has an intrinsic sound that will be apparent in any setting.

IgAK's picture

Well, Scorpio, it's true the electrons don't know the difference, since they don't think or hear. They just go where the conductors route them, and do it as the cabling dictates.

We, OTOH, do think and those of us that can hear can tell the difference.

There are two emphatically insistent sides to self-induced audio phenomena, and a more open minded middle. One side may hear what is not there but price tells them should be. The other won't hear what is there because the price and/or their convictions, engineering limits or physical limitations tell them can't be. And there are those in the middle who will simply hear or not what is there or not because that's what's there without prejudice, price, or intellectual consideration, if their ears are good enough. No shame if the ears aren't up to it, but, then, that person should not insist it isn't there.

All these parties have been represented in this thread. I prefer to be open-minded, just not so open minded that my brains fall out. "Baby llama skin" dielectrics are amusing, but perhaps best used on babies. Anyway, everybody knows that Vicuna results in far smoother and more dulcet trombone transients.



Scorpio69er's picture


re: "those of us that can hear can tell the difference."


Prove it in double blind ABX testing. But you can't, so you won't. I can claim to hear all sorts of things you can't, but unless such claims can be verified under controlled conditions, they must be rejected. 


Furthermore, such claims of superior hearing by anyone should be accompanied by the results of their latest hearing test. Since it is a fact that in any given group of audiophiles the quality of their own listening instruments naturally varies, this parameter must be included in any testing matrix. Do people with claimed "super hearing" actually have better hearing? Do they actually prefer lamp zip cord in blind testing? Can they tell any difference at all? 


None of this has anything to do with being "open minded". If Stereophile is going to constantly gush over ridiculously priced pieces of wire, then it should be a simple matter with your eyes closed, so to speak, to differentiate between them. If you can't do that under controlled conditions -- which, to date, no one has -- then this is simply the biggest con job ever.

ChrisS's picture

So Scorpio69er,

Let's say in a "controlled" DBT comparing a $8000 set of speaker cables and a $7500 set,  listener #1 Wanda a 21 year concert pianist can hear a difference but prefers the $7500 set and in another "controlled" DBT, listener #2 Jake a 54 year old construction worker can't tell the difference between a $5000 and a $3000 set of speaker cables.

Which cable should I buy?

arve's picture

The point of an ABX is to test a hypothesis.   The hypothesis that needs to be tested is  "Is there an audible difference between two different  cables?"


To test that hypothesis, you aren't going to pit a $8000 against a  $7500 cable.  You are going to pit an $8000 cable against an $18 one. The only requirement for the cables is that they are both properly suited for the application, and are used similarily.  

This means that you can't use 50 ft of 24 AWG lamp cord hooked up to a 4 ohm pair of speakers, and 3 ft of the expensive cable - you simply use the same length for both, and settle on a gauge that doesn't have significant losses - 14 or 12 AWG should be sufficient for almost any setup ( as per suggested by the table at )

ChrisS's picture

What point? Why not any two pieces of stereo equipment? What if there's a huge difference between the $8000 speaker cable and the $7500 set? How about a speaker cable that costs $299.99 a foot against one that costs $59.99?

In any case, what if one listener heard a difference, but another didn't? What if twelve guys between the ages of 38 and 54 years old who like 70's rock-and-roll couldn't tell the difference between the $8000 speaker cables and the $18 set, but the 21 year old young lady who's a concert pianist can?

arve's picture

The point - in clear text, this time - since you ignored or missed it:

To date, in about 40 years of cable history, there hasn't been one scientifically rigorous experiment published that has established that there are audible differences between two different cables.  

Hence, the hypothesis that needs to be tested first is "Is there an audible difference between two speaker wires?".    In order to maximize the chances of a positive result, you take two extremes from the "normal speaker wire" spectrum: A cheap wire with sufficient wire gauge for the application it is being used, and a high-end wire of some sort.

You then need to perform this experiment in such a way that the test subject (listener) is not affected by the experimenter. A good way to accomplish this is to perform what is called ABX testing.  In an ABX testing, you create a test run of a number of trials, where the test subject/listener can switch, as he pleases, between A (the cheap wire), B (the expensive wire) and X, which is randomly chosen for that test run.  This needs to be done in such a way that neither the examiner or the test subject knows what X is.

The objective for each test run is to determine whether "X" is the same as "A" or "B".   Now, since you can this completely by guessing, you need to run a sufficient number of trials to, as far as possible, eliminate guessing.  Typically, this means that for a test, you need to have ten or more test runs.   In a test of 10 runs, you would need to have identified X correctly in 9 of the runs.  In a test of 20 runs, you must identify the X correctly 15 out of 20 times.

If all you want from an ABX test is to establish that there is an audible difference, all it takes is one listener that can pass the test. It doesn't matter whether it's the world's most golden-eared audiophile or someone who barely has any hearing left.  

A final note, ABX testing can be performed over any period of time you wish - you can have a friend come to your house, and switch your cables to "A", "B" or "X" as you wish, and spend a minute, day, week, or a month with each.  The point is that you must never learn what "X" is.

Also note that ABX testing will say nothing in itself about which you prefer - it is merely a tool to establish whether there is a difference.  Only once you have passed the ABX test for the gear does any subjective description of it make any sense at all.

ChrisS's picture

Why do you think such a study has never been done? Please tell me how this hypothesis is proven valid, or not. In other words, what constitutes proof for this hypothesis?

Hmmm, what if a person hears no difference when first tested, but hears a difference when tested a year later? What if you have a friend who can hear a difference only 30% of the time and then there's your uncle who can hear a difference 70% of the time?

Really, one listener? That's all it takes?

Please take a course in research methodology. Offered at most colleges and all universities.

arve's picture

Why do you think such a study has never been done?

Because if it had, and it had the results the cable companies wanted, every cable company would endlessly refer to the study, and they don't.

ChrisS's picture


Did you just say... a study like this has never been done before because a study like this has never been done before?

Please take that course on Research Methodology and another on Logic.

arve's picture

You need to read what I wrote again, and if you still fail to get it, you probably should take that class on basic logic you are trying to use as some lame ad hominem attack.  Again, here is what I said:

Such a study hasn't been done with an outcome the cable industry wants to see.  Had said study existed, then it would have been endlessly referenced by the cable companies as proof they aren't snake oil peddlers.

ChrisS's picture

We're talking properly done studies right? Not a bunch of guys in someone's basement fiddling behind bed sheets...  You still haven't said that a study of this has ever been done before. John Atkinson has written about tests he's participated in.

Arve, hint... Go back to your hypothesis.

John Atkinson's picture

it's true the electrons don't know the difference, since they don't think or hear. They just go where the conductors route them, and do it as the cabling dictates.

Please note that the electrons in a cable don't carry the audio signal. Instead the signal is an alternating electrical field that travels close to the speed of light outside the conductor in the dielectric. The electrons actually travel at few cm/s.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

eugovector's picture

I knew it was in here somewhere...

Scorpio69er's picture

Let's settle this nonsense once and for all. You and the rest of the Stereophile staff show, in double-blind ABX testing under controlled conditions, that you can consistently pick out cables X, Y and Z vs. lamp zip cord. Or, vs. the nicely made and very cheap cables/interconnects I get from Monoprice that sound perfectly fine.

Unless and until you can show that without knowing the cables under test you can actually discern any difference, we must assume this whole business of esoteric cables is really just a lesson in marketing. 

P.S. Also publish the results of hearing tests administered to each of you. 

ChrisS's picture

Know anyone who shops for stereo components by doing double-blind ABX testing? Do you know of anyone at all who does double-blind testing for the purpose of reviewing any products?

Been coerced into buying a Ford truck lately?

Scorpio69er's picture

If someone is trying to tell me that a piece of esoteric wire costing hundreds of dollars ± per foot is in some magical way better than standard cable from Monoprice, he should easily be able to discern the differences while blindfolded and do so consistently in a controlled setting. If he cannot, that settles it. This isn't that difficult. When I go shopping for stereo equipment, I do not take cabling into account at all, since no one has ever shown that there is any actual difference by passing this simple test.

Now, if you are convinced that wire A is worth 100x the price of wire B, knock yourself out. 

ChrisS's picture

You don't shop and compare?

I have a 1998 Pathfinder that I'd like to sell. It only has 350,000 miles and just a spot or two of rust, but it runs great! Interested?

ChrisS's picture

My son shops like you Scorpio69er.... He buys two pairs of Sears brand jeans for the price of one pair of Levi's. He can't tell the difference either.

John Atkinson's picture

scorpio69er wrote:
You and the rest of the Stereophile staff show, in double-blind ABX testing under controlled conditions, that you can consistently pick out cables X, Y and Z vs. lamp zip cord.

Michael Fremer and I have done so, in a single-blind test administered by a mainstream reporter at a CES a few years back. In addition, Michael Fremer accepted the Amazing Randi's "Million Dollar" challenge regarding his ability to identify cables, but under the condition that the testing not be administered by Randi's associates but by independent experts from, IIRC, Scientific American magazine. Randi backed out.

Unless and until you can show that without knowing the cables under test you can actually discern any difference, we must assume this whole business of esoteric cables is really just a lesson in marketing.

If you are so skeptical about what this magazine's writers say, then I have to ask why you subscribe to Stereophile in the first place?

Also publish the results of hearing tests administered to each of you.

Kalman Rubinson and I have both done so in the past.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

arve's picture

If you are so skeptical about what this magazine's writers say, then I have to ask why you subscribe to Stereophile in the first place?

As opposed to most of the subjective audio press, you provide measurements for, which is usually what I click right through to in a review.  This is also the chief reason why I visit your SORC sibling Innerfidelity.   I don't come here for the subjective descriptions or anything else.

(On that note - have you considered publishing power cubes for amplifiers?  It's a pretty telling means of evaluating how an amplifier will behave in the real world)

Scorpio69er's picture

re: "in a single-blind test adminstered by a mainstream reporter at a CES a few years back..."

This, of course, hardly constitutes scientific proof of anything, as you well know.

What I am skeptical of, sir, are your claims regarding pieces of wire and the magical musical properties you assign to them. Now, it should be a simple matter to set up a scientifically controlled test of the type everyone here would like to see performed, taking into account all of the variables I and others have pointed out. Forget Randi and have an independent entity set up the tests with those whom you chose: "independent experts from, IIRC, Scientific American magazine". Just because Randi "backed out" doesn't mean you should or that this is somehow "proof" of your assertions regarding wires. 

I have been reading Stereophile since the glory days of JGH, long before esoteric wire became a religion. Somehow, JGH was yet able to make meaningful judgements about, particularly, loudspeakers (Bob Carver kinda fried you guys on amps), and somehow all of us were able to enjoy our stereos and the music. This wonderful hobby of ours must be taken with some sense of humor, as I recall Sam Tellig many years back urging us to Armor All our records, claiming sonic nirvana would result (which many also attested they heard), only to later retract his recommendation. Oops.

I enjoy learning about what's out there in stereoland, since I cannot attend CES or have manufacturers send me their wares for my own evaluation, but the fact is 99% of us who love music cannot afford such gear. I have no doubt your reference system sounds superb, but when you and others venture off into la-la-land about cables, I call bullshit, because that's what it is. 

ChrisS's picture

Just because you believe it so?

Paul Luscusk's picture

Just keeping the record stright.

Scorpio69er's picture

Yes, you are correct. Not nearly half as crazy as putting Armor All on vinyl. laugh

John Atkinson's picture

Scorpio69er wrote:
John Atkinson wrote:
in a single-blind test adminstered by a mainstream reporter at a CES a few years back...

This, of course, hardly constitutes scientific proof of anything, as you well know.

I am not impressed by your claim to be able to read my mind. I was offering that this test was performed and had a positive result in response to the claims that there had _never_ been any blind tests of cables that produced positive results and that Stsreophile's writers had never taken part in such tests. That you don't believe the result doesn't mean the Gomes test wasn't valid.

Forget Randi and have an independent entity set up the tests with those whom you chose: "independent experts from, IIRC, Scientific American magazine". Just because Randi "backed out" doesn't mean you should or that this is somehow "proof" of your assertions regarding wires.

I mentioned this in response to the poster who said we could win Randi's Million Dollar challenge if we believed cables sounded different. When the opportunity did arise to take the challenge, it was Randi that backed out.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

audioclassic's picture

What? Didn't we settle this 35 years ago? OF COURSE, I CAN HEAR THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN JUST ABOUT EVERY CABLE IN THE WORLD AND I'll bet most of the guys reading this can, too.

Bill Leebens's picture

...and welcome to the world of the forums!

Any of y'all with Jason's level of musical knowledge and skills as a listener, feel free to comment on his writing. Most of what I see here, however, is the same old tired "anything beyond zipcord is a waste of money and only DBT tells the truth" bullshit.

If you really believe that, why are you here? Did mom banish you to the basement again?

Man. Good luck, my friend. You are far more patient than I !

Scorpio69er's picture

What is "bullshit", sir, is spending more than a few cents/ft for any piece of wire for dubious results. Of course, those who believe in magic want to believe in magic. If spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on wire makes you happy, feel free. For the rest of us who do not have money to burn, it makes a big difference as to whether spending more actually gets you more. Oh, the esoteric cables are certainly pretty, but the question is what spending more than a few bucks at Monoprice actually gets you. For someone to claim some musical magic from a cable is all well and good, but if I blindfold them and suddenly they cannot tell any difference between a $500 interconnect and a $5 one, there's a real problem.

ChrisS's picture

If you don't want to spend the money, don't. If you can't hear a difference, too bad.

Scorpio69er's picture


re: "If you can't hear a difference, too bad."


Don't feel bad for me! You're the one apparently willing to drop ridiculous amounts of $ on a product that no one on God's earth can prove sounds any different than the fine, inexpensive wire from Monoprice. Just because you believe you hear something doesn't make it real. But, hey, if it makes you feel better, go for it. 

ChrisS's picture

I have a great bricks and mortar stereo shop that I've been shopping at since my university days, and that was decades and decades ago.... This shop allows me and other customers to borrow various pieces of equipment to try out at home for several days at a time. The last "major" purchase I made was for a power cord- I tried out 3 different models of WireWorld power cords and settled on the mid-priced one for a whopping $160!

As I've asked in another post here, what constitutes proof for you? And why do you not trust yourself and your own ears?

When was the last time someone made you buy a Ford F-150 just because that person felt that it's the BEST TRUCK in the world? Would you do a DBT to know if it's true or not?

Scorpio69er's picture

re: "why do you not trust yourself and your own ears?"

Oh, but I do. It is precisely because I do that I know that, when blindfolded, nobody, including moican differentiate wires in a controlled setting. So when someone claims that they can, but refuses to "trust their own ears" by submitting to such a test, I call bullshit.

I'll spend 100x more on a piece of wire when it can be shown scientifically that it yields even a 10x improvement in sound quality. Until then, spending hundreds of $ on cables that would be much better spent on a better pair of loudspeakers is foolish.

ChrisS's picture

How do you know that?

You believe...therefore it must be so?

Scorpio69er's picture

Show me the tests that prove me wrong. They do not exist. Try it yourself, if you really want to prove it. Of course, that would take a bit of doing, since I am talking about controlled listening tests. But perhaps for your own amusement, have a friend randomly swap in some cheap cables into your own system over a period of a month (no peeking allowed!) and you keep a journal detailing what you think you hear on any given day. See if you can actually discern any differences with any degree of statistical significance in your own system.

In the mean time, check out this piece:

Still not scientifically conclusive due to the lack of control, but interesting nonetheless.

ChrisS's picture

You're right- 3 different "tests" with 3 different listeners wtih 3 different systems does not constitute "science". Nor does opinion.

Scorpio69er's picture

You have shown nothing in any of your posts, except a dogged belief in magic. Good luck to you, sir, and may I recommend to you a few meters of my fabulous Asian Forest™ cable. It is a true bargain at only $50000/meter, as attested to by my dog, who actually has super hearing and impeccable taste in music.


ChrisS's picture

You've shown us how you shop.