AudioQuest Headquarters Tour

The Southern California headquarters of cable manufacturer AudioQuest, which includes their offices, a listening room, conference rooms, a very very large warehouse, assembly rooms, a graphic design room, a few kitchens and various and sundry other more mundane but just as important places, is within a few-minutes’ drive from T.H.E. Show at Newport Beach. Shane Buettner, AudioQuest's Director of Education who you will most likely recognize as the former Editor-In-Chief of Home Theater magazine, Joe Harley VP of AudioQuest (Joe Harley is also a recording engineer/producer responsible for among others the Blue Note 45rpm reissues from Music Matters and he's a musician), and Andrew Kissinger, Regional Sales Manager, gave a group of A/V journalists, including Tom Norton, Senior Editor and Video Technical Editor of Home Theater magazine, the full tour.

My comments on the tour/AudioQuest facility can be summed up by saying that this is one of the most organized, clean, neat and tidy places I've ever seen. And it's not the kind of organized, clean, neat and tidy you can fake for a tour. From the huge warehouse to the tiniest Ziplock baggy, everything had its place and label. Impressive.

We also partook of a few demonstrations that are meant to highlight the differences cables can make and I'll give you an overview of what we heard. I'm not going to get into describing sonic minutiae since a) it's my belief that you really need to experience this kind of thing for yourself, and b) those who believe cables do not and can not make a difference won't believe a word I have to say so I'm not going to waste my time gilding a dead lily. To get right down to it, the Emperor does in fact have clothes; you cable deniers just have dirty minds.

The first demo involved a simple setup and premise: one inexpensive micro-component system, different speaker cables—stock and AudioQuest—connected to each speaker and a balance control. As you listen you or someone else switches from one speaker/cable to the other using the balance control. And back again as many times as you'd like. It took one swap to hear a difference and few more to hear it again and again since it was not subtle—the AudioQuest speaker cable improved the presentation and the most obvious change can be described as lending the music a more natural voice. Or if you prefer, the micro system simply sounded better with the AudioQuest cable.

The next demo, and you'll notice that AudioQuest had cleverly setup these demos in order of least controversial on up, involved a B&W Zeppelin boombox and two power cords—stock and AudioQuest. Listen, swap, listen. You could also keep your eyes closed for this one, I didn't, but the improvement in sound quality was easily and readily apparent after the first swap. I'd characterize the most obvious improvement as a less constricted presentation—the sound was no longer tied so tightly to the box.

Next up was the new favorite bugaboo on the block—the HDMI audio cable. Yes, we're going there. One modest system, two HDMI cables—stock and AudioQuest. Listen, swap, listen. Blind or not your choice but I preferred to watch everyone's reaction, which was the same as mine—wow! The difference was not subtle and can be summed up as a lack of compression when the music was played using the AudioQuest HDMI cable as compared to the stock piece of crap. The change in the quality of the vocals stood out so much that it enhanced the emotional impact of the song.

Lastly, we moved to the big rig: Rockport Aquila loudspeakers, Ayre MX-R monoblocks, Ayre KX-R preamp, Ayre DX5 Universal A/V Engine, AudioQuest Oak speaker cables, Wild and William E. Low Signature interconnect and power cords. It's worth noting that the previous demos were intentionally set-up on moderate to damned-cheap gear to illustrate, in addition to the basic premise that cables do in fact make a difference, that you don't need to have fancy-assed audiophile stuff in order for cables to make a difference. This time we listened to HDMI audio cable's more popular cousin—the USB cable.

Listen, swap, listen. Shane swapped the USB cables from the external 2TB hard drive to the Mac mini and from that to the Ayre player from stock to AudioQuest and back again. He also introduced a few levels of AudioQuest USB cables—the Carbon, Cinnamon DBS, and the Diamond, as well as adding and taking away AudioQuest Q Feet isolation devices under the external hard drive and Mac mini. In each and every case, the improvement when moving up the USB cable line or adding isolation to things that spin was readily apparent to everyone. In fact swapping just one stock USB cable for an AudioQuest Carbon improved the sound quality to such an extent as to render the music more engrossing. More groovy, if you will, as if the band had just hired a better bass player or drummer or both and the lead singer had removed his scarf from covering the microphone.

(A Free AudioQuest Tip: If your external hard drive offers both Firewire and USB, you can improve the sound quality of your computer-based playback by using Firewire from your hard drive to your computer and USB from your computer to your DAC.)

Of course this wasn't a science experiment and I readily admit that all kinds of things could have influenced what I heard, especially the most obvious one which is that cables, even HDMI audio and USB, can make a difference in sound quality. If you remain skeptical, and some skeptics always do no matter what, I'd suggest that AudioQuest set up a series of demos for each and every cables-don't-matter skeptic. They could easily bus them in from nearby John Wayne Airport, let them listen for themselves and then put them back on the bus and drive them into the middle of the desert and leave them there to fend for themselves. At least that's what I'd do.

I don't know about you, but I was shocked to see the size of the AudioQuest warehouse. Shocked to discover that so many people buy so many cables. I had never given this matter much thought. But with fan blades larger than any helicopter, even one former-Governor Arnold would use in his next action flick Predator III, the Housekeeper, hanging over your head and row after row after row of cables stacked up to the ceiling, you have to accept the fact that cables make a difference to a lot of people.

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COMMENTS
Markus Sauer's picture

Wahey, a debate betweeen JA and a former Stereophile writer!

http://www.stereophile.com/content/meridian-mcd-mcd-pro-cd-players-george-m-graves-ii-review

(where George appears to have heard differences between capacitors; one way of looking at cables is to see them as capacitors, of course)

http://www.stereophile.com/content/apogee-duetta-ii-loudspeaker-george-graves

(where George appears to have heard a difference between cables)

Double-blind testing is an excellent tool. Like all tools, however, it must be fit for the job. For a double-blind test to be credible, I would want to be convinced that it not only eliminates false positives but also false negatives. I.e., I'd like to see some evidence that the DBT set-up (including the participants) is sensitive enough that small differences that should be (just about) audible according to accepted audio wisdom will indeed be detected. Then and only then will I accept a specific DBT's null result for, say, cable testing as valid.

Btw, speaking to a designer of digital audio components recently, he found effects in the -140 dB region to be audible in the audio output.

michaelavorgna's picture

I'm having a difficult time reconciling these Georges.

From the Apogee review you linked to, George Graves states: "Conclusion: Apogee Duettas are capable of near-state-of-the-art performance, but are so sensitive to cables that without the right ones, you won't get the performance you paid for."

Clearly the George M. Graves II who wrote this review (and is also an electrical engineer and audiophile, btw) believed that cables make a difference. Yet we have Mr. Graves, aka 'gmgraves2' who is an electrical engineer and audiophile commenting here that "I can say with absolute certitude, that at audio frequencies, the standard lengths of wire commonly used in audio simply cannot have any effect whatsoever on the sound."

Puzzling.

I'd like to know from 'gmgraves2' if you are George M. Graves II and if you'd care to comment on the disparity between these two views.

gmgraves2's picture

See my other response about "capacitor sound", but I do want to clear-up some points that Mr. Sauer has brought up.

Yes, one way to look at cables is to see them as capacitors. They do have a capacitive component. But again, that capacitive component is negligible. RG6 and RG59, for instance (these are generally, speaking, pretty common values for coaxial cable used in audio and video) have about 20 Pf per foot. Now, that means that a 1 meter length would have about 60 Pf of total capacitance. If you do the math, you'll find that the dielectric absorption distortion introduced by a 1-meter length at 20 KHz is so miniscule that you're likely to get 1000 times more distortion from the diode effect of the mating of the RCA plug on the end of the cable with the RCA jack on the components that you're connecting and even that, on a clean connection, is so far below the threshold of human hearing that makes no difference (dirty connections, OTOH, CAN be something else entirely).

One misconception that a lot of audiophiles have is that ANY anomaly that can exist is audible. This is a myth that the audio press has (inadvertently) fostered over many years. The truth is that there are certain anomalies such as frequency response, speed instabilities, and noise modulation to which the ear can be very sensitive and there are others, such as THD in amplifiers, to which the ear is surprisingly insensitive (some of the best sounding tube amps had more than 1% distortion at levels much above 1 Watt. People didn't notice. I particularly recall a certain French-made tube amp a number of years ago that the redoubtable Harry Pearson proclaimed to be state of the art. It was found to have >2% THD at 10 watts.

This brings me to your "designer of digital audio components " friend. Next time you talk to him, ask him how he could hear audible effects in the -140 dB range when the noise floor on the finest D/A or A/D converters available is at best around -130 dB (MSB, I believe, specs the "Ladder DAC" in their eye-wateringly expensive Platinum DAC IV at -133 dB)? And that  -130 dB itself is about 10 or 15 dB below what is generally considered the threshold of human hearing? While you're at it, assuming that he has super hearing sensitivity, ask him where he found a ROOM quiet enough not to mask "effects" in the audio at -140 dB. If he tells you that he has an anechoic chamber at his disposal, ask him how that could possibly relate in any way to a real-world listening environment (assuming again, that humans can hear that dar down, which, of course, they can't).  All due respect, Mr. Sauer, but as elastic as my threshold of credibility may be, it doesn't stretch that far.  

 

  

fricc's picture

It is also interesting to note that phono cartridges (which sound oh sooo good), regardless of their price, exhibit an incredible amount of distortion (2% to 15% in different parts of the audio band – HIFI News publishes measurements on line that everybody can verify).

Nobody ever complained about that, nor about the mechanical couplings inherent in the cartridge technology (where everything wiggles) and dah, it sounds pretty good to most people.

These are very measurables sources of distortion, right at the beginning of the signal path, I cannot believe that any reasonable person can say that a piece of cable can introduce any more distortion than that.

Besides, don't even get me started on the distortion levels introduced the speakers, of the time smearing effect of moving diafragms, of the phase rotations in cross-over filters, in the different response times of tweeters and woofers, of the energy stored in a coil oscillating in a powerful magnet, etc., etc.

There are (large) differences between components, but they usually boil down to good old physics and common sense, and can be measured.

 - Fabio

gmgraves2's picture

When I wrote that review well over 20 years ago, I was a "true believer" in cable sound. At the time I was convinced that in spite of what the science (and my own experience with that science) told me, cable differences in audio were easily heard. When the late Jason Bloom (of Apogee) sent me that Symo cable to replace the Monster M1 that I had been using, he told me that the Symo was the only speaker wire to use with the Duettas. I replaced the M1 with the Symo and I "heard" the differences that Jason Bloom told me I'd hear. I was familiar, of course, with the concept of expectational or sighted bias, but naturally, that didn't apply to me!

Alas, I don't have the Apogees to retest the cables on but I do still have the Symo around someplace and I have "contributed" it to a number of speaker cable DBT tests to which I've been privy, over the ensuing years. It sounded (in DBT test after DBT test) exactly like every other speaker cable it's been tested against. In short I was a victim of my own bias and preconceived notions. IOW, I was wrong. This is why, although I agree that audio magazines are great for audiophile entertainment and for keeping audio enthusiasts abreast of the passing parade (and that Stereophile is MUCH better than TAS at both thanks to John Atkinson's leadership) I wouldn't, myself, put a lot of faith in the subjective sonic revelations of any audio writer. Without a DBT to verify their findings, there's no way to know whether the differences they heard were real or a case of expectational bias. Many are entertaining to read though, and can peak reader interest in products, and that's useful.

I have no problem admitting that my my views on the subject of cable sound have changed diametrically over the years. After all, life is SUPPOSED to be a growth process. I'd be a lot more worried about myself if, after all the evidence I've heard and seen, I still believed that wire has a "sound".  

As for the capacitor business, while I don't pretend to understand how it is relevant to the current debate, I stand behind my assertion that non-polarized polypropylene capacitors sound better in the signal path than do electrolytics. This is based on sound principles of the dielectric absorption phenomenon as put forth by Walt Jung some 30 years ago.

earwaxer's picture

I have been a cap "roller" for some years now. I was also not a believer in the concept of the "bypass" cap making a positive difference. It made no sense. I tried it today for the first time. I will be damned! Added a small value Mundorf silver/oil to my AmpOhm paper in oils. We all eat crow.

fricc's picture

large (electrolitic) capacitors have also a large inductance, thereby acting as a low-pass filter. A small capacitor in parallel to the big one shunts the inductance (it provides an alternative path for high frequency signals) and linearizes the high frequency response of the large capacitor. That is electronics 101, not mumbo jumbo...

 - Fabio

michaelavorgna's picture

I appreciate the explanation George. But in spite of what you said yesterday:

Physics and all electrical theory literally scream the impossibility of this supposition, and if these sciences are wrong, then, were I you, I'd stay off airplanes, out of cars and we aren't having this conversation on the Internet, because computers can't work."

I still bet 'well over 20 years ago' George - the true believer in cable sound, electrical engineer, audiophile and audio reviewer - was driving a car, getting on airplanes and probably even using a computer.

Let’s touch base and compare notes in another 20 years.

gmgraves2's picture

Uh, I think you misunderstand my bit of whimsy in the above quote. What I was saying is that if the physics and electrical theory behind cables is wrong, and the differences between different ones ARE audible, then what other assumptions in physics and engineering might also be wrong? Extrapolating that thought might suggest that the assumptions used to design cars, airplanes, and even computers could likewise be wrong, and that would leave us planes and cars that are unsafe, and computers that don't work. It was just an attempt at speculative irony, or some such, and was written with tongue planted firmly in my cheek. 

michaelavorgna's picture

I completely got your whimsy but you appear to have missed mine – I took yours and used it on your younger self.

The point being, you have come to certain conclusions about audio cables based on a series of steps involving your education and personal experiences that unfolded over the course of years. Your education in and of itself did not suffice to get you where you are today as you readily admit. It was only after you’d experienced DBTs that you came to believe what you believe. Which is all well and good.

But your bit of whimsy, as well as your attitude regarding audio cables in general, suggests that everyone and anyone with an interest in audio cables must be on the exact same page as you or they are essentially nitwits who could very well go on to assume all kinds of stupid things. Regardless of their education and/or experiences. You allowed yourself to bump along and experience things, yet you appear to want to move every single person with any interest in audio cables directly to the page you happen to be on now. Do not pass go, do not experience anything for yourself. Why? The answer for those without the requisite education and/or experience boils to – because George said so.

This, imo, is where you appear to be pompous. And let me clarify it’s the appearance of self-importance – it’s my way or your an idiot approach – that rankles. If you want to suggest that everyone believe exactly as you do, you’d have to present a very compelling argument. As it stands, you have based your argument/beliefs on personal experience, which isn’t very compelling for the rest of us.

gmgraves2's picture

You couldn't be more wrong. As I said earlier, everyone has the right to believe whatever they want to believe. You want to believe that the earth is flat? You certainly have a right to believe that. You even have the right, as an individual, to preach that the earth is flat, and even to have a cult following. None of that is anyone's business but yours and your followers/fellow travelers.

 I too have rights and one of those is to tell you, in an open, public forum, that you are wrong, more than wrong, that you are, in fact deluded because all of the hard evidence points to the inescapable fact that the world is not flat. It can be proven scientifically that this is so. Likewise, the proposition that cables have no sound can be proven by both mathematics and many peer-reviewed AES, JAES, and EAES papers presented over the years that report the statistical results of carefully set-up and executed DBTs. You have the right to accept that assertion of fact, or not, as you see fit. I stated what I know. It is neither my intent or interest to change your (or anybody else's) mind on the subject. If you consider a short background explanation to establish my Bona Fides, followed by an assertion of known facts to be pompous, then our definitions of the term are wildly different.

Before we leave the subject, let me ask you to do this tiny bit of introspection: Would you have been so quick to call me "pompous" had my post had exactly the same tenure but had been in favor of your belief rather than opposed to it? I might be wrong, here, but I'd hazard a guess that the answer would be no. 

Now, as to the post in question, the one you consider so "pompous". Can you counter, with any fact (not opinion) that gives lie to anything I said? If so, let's have it and enough of the personal rancor. OK? 

michaelavorgna's picture

 

Let's suppose for the sake of discussion, that cables actually DO sound different. How would anybody know which is best? Is "different" better or worse? It's all mental masturbation and if the differences are not clearly evident in a series of DBTs (one DBT demonstration is not statistically significant) and REPEATABLE, then, well, we all know that humans are very susceptible to suggestion and expectational bias.

I believe “suggestion and expectational bias” can also account for your inability to hear differences in cables and you’ve provided no reason for me to believe otherwise. I also have to reiterate that you George, even with your Bona Fides, believed at one time that cables do sound different and you even went so far as to write about it professionally - in your own words giving voice to “mental masturbation”.

And your references to “numerous carefully set-up DBTs to which I've been party as well as the number of similar ones that I have read about in AES and JAES journals” require elucidation and substantiation to be convincing and frankly George, I’m not interested in digging into this matter from your perspective.

Finally, if our options regarding the efficacy of audio cables are to participate in numerous DBTs, take your word for it, or continue to believe what we choose about what amounts to enjoying listening to music on a hi-fi, I’m in favor of whatever approach people find most pleasant.

gmgraves2's picture

Aren't you sort of saying: "My mind is made up. Please don't confuse me with facts"? If so, that's OK, it's your prerogative and I respect it. Many people hold religious beliefs about something. Cable sound is probably as good of a belief system as anything else, and probably better then many. At least it's harmless (except, perhaps, to the pocketbook) 8^)

But there's no sense continuing to go around and around on this. you have made your decision with regard to this subject and as I have said previously, I have no problem with it, nor do I have any desire to change that decision. And the fact that you aren't interested in digging into the matter "from (my) perspective" doesn't bother me either (but you must admit that does say something about you). The only criticism (and it's small one) that I had with your attitude was what I (and apparently several other readers) found to be an unwarranted ad hominem attack, in what should be a fun and interesting debate.

Let's face it, forums like this thrive on controversy. If everyone who posted here blindly accepted your or Stereophile's views on these subjects, this would be a pretty barren landscape, wouldn't you agree?  

So, let's just agree to disagree on this matter, shake hands and get on with it, OK? 

michaelavorgna's picture

The only thing my mind is made up about is to never make my mind up about anything. I remain curious. I will also note my views on this subject as expressed in my write-up, “it's my belief that you really need to experience this kind of thing for yourself”.

And by all means George I am happy to agree to disagree on this matter - although we do appear to agree that personal experience can and often does inform belief systems - shake virtual hands and get on with more important things like what to have for breakfast.

Cheers.

gmgraves2's picture

Good. I agree completely - and about the breakfast too. Keeping an open mind is always a good idea whether in engineering or in life in general. I'm all for examining new theories, accepting new findings and re-examining my own thought process and belief system. When the day comes that someone puts forth a credible theory on cable sound being a reality, I shall be happy to examine it and if it turns out that my stand on cable sound was based upon incomplete or incorrect information, then I shall gleefully recant my position on the subject. Ciao for now!

earwaxer's picture

I got my Granet speaker cables through Audio Advisor many years ago. I have not replaced them. Everything else is different. I'm sure they are not the "greatest" speaker cable available. Just dont think I can do that much better without major cash outlay.

Catch22's picture

To discuss the audible effects of cable settling?

Strictly from an enthusiasts point of view, I've done many cable and equipments swaps under somewhat limited scientific evaluation parameters and most certainly have heard differences in cables used, including the settling effects as the cables stabilized over a period of time. I don't have an ounce of desire to argue that with anyone and  could care less whether anyone else shares my fascination with audio.

However, where I agree with the skeptics in large part is in the value equation. What constitutes value is such a personal thing when it  comes to passionate pursuits that it's a fool's errand to engage. I have often found that I prefered the less expensive cable in my system and perhaps have a personal taste for audio aspects that aren't shared by a majority of listeners, though I can certainly appreciate the sonic signatures of various cables and can understand the appeal they would have for others who do not share my sonic heirarchy.

earwaxer's picture

Ayyiie mateies! - Havent seen the new "Pirates" yet. Looking forward to that.

xrandom's picture

My compliments !

This simply states that the topic is HOT.

I've not time enough to read it now but I'll have to do absolutely ASAP !

Thank you everyone for the contribution !

Audiogeek's picture

I am a recent Stereophile digital subscriber and a long-time lurker on this web site. I have found the preceding discussion to be extremely interesting, but I found two responses – one by Mr. Atkinson and one by Mr. Lavorgna – to be so off-putting and lacking in good taste that I was compelled to register and make my first post. First was Mr. Atkinson's insinuation that the commenter, Mr. Graves, fits into a category of "joyless, small people who deplore what they can't understand." Shortly after, Mr. Lavorgna described Mr. Graves as "pompous", a point that Mr. Graves immediately contested but has yet to be retracted.

Up to the time of these posts, I had found nothing pompous or small-minded in what Mr. Graves had written. On the contrary, his explanations seemed reasonably proffered and largely objectively argued, as they have continued to be throughout the thread. Perhaps most apparent in Mr. Graves' posts is that the subject is hardly something he "can't understand." The responses by Mr. Atkinson and Mr. Lavorgna, on the other hand, immediately suggested an argumentative breakdown whereby they had met their match.

Mr. Graves certainly seems capable enough of defending himself, and some may dismiss my criticism as trivial, but I think it is important. For a Stereophile editor and writer to engage in what seemed – at least to this impartial observer –to be unwarranted ad hominem attacks on a commenter on the magazine's web site (a subscriber?), is unbecoming to put it mildly. I can only assume there is more to this story than meets the eye, a history, perhaps, of which I am unaware. But if not, apologies to Mr. Graves would seem past due.

gmgraves2's picture

Thank you Mr. Audiogeek. for your kind words. You are very perceptive. Although I have never met (to my recollection), Mr. Lavorgna, I do have an unfortunate history with Mr. Atkinson. However, it's neither proper nor fitting to air this dirty laundry in a public forum, but I would love the opportunity to discuss it directly with Mr. Atkinson. 

ctbarker32's picture

First off, I would like to praise Mr. Graves in his tenacity to continue, in a civil manner, to respond to what I believe are attacks by John Atkinson and michaelavorgna. Obviously, I agree with Mr. Graves viewpoint and the evidence he has presented. Others on this thread have also pointed out the rather un-civil comments directed at Mr. Graves and myself. I like, Mr. Graves do not expect an apology and do not need to "win" this debate. I feel I did predict the tone of this discussion with my reference to religion, etc. There are aspects to this discussion that continue to bother me that I do think bare scrutiny.

Why are Mr. Atkinson and michaelavorgna so passionately invested in the fact that audiophile cables make any audible difference (not necessarily better) being true? Why do they not simply say, I have heard differences but it is subtle at best and far below differences in amplifiers, cartridges, speakers, etc. And, that they recognize that others see no validity in audiophile cable and that is a valid view to hold. Instead, Mr. Atkinson appears to actively lobby and dare I say proselytize the view that audiophile cables matter and should be seriously considered and pursued by "open minded" "fellow travellers" ;-) audiophiles. 

My answer to this question is that Stereophile and its staff directly profit from promoting the idea that cables matter and that Stereohile's bottom line would be directly impacted by deciding to become more circumpect (John disdains people that use the word skeptic) of audiophile cable. I did a brief survey of past issues of Stereophile and it would seem that almost every issue has at least one full page ad by an audiophile cable on the inside back cover. It is my understanding that the back cover and inside cover pages are the most expensive ad purchases in a typical magazine. John will no doubt correct me if I am in error. Also, each issue of Stereophile has a healthy selection of audiophile cable ads both by the manufacturer and featured prominently by their distributors. Based on these observations, I could imagine some economic fallout if Stereophile chose to take the contrary view and say that audiophile cables are simply the Emperor's New Clothes and their importance should be demoted. I will also observe that Stereophile is not alone in this situation as I have observed this trend in other magazines.

John also makes mention in his tirade against skeptics that they seek to rob others of pleasure. Am I really to believe that John and his staff really think that swapping audiophile cables is an exciting and pleasureable activity that is pursued by the enlightend audiophile?

As Mr. Graves stated, he doesn't particularly care if a person has come down on one side or the other of the audiohile cable debate. He has stated why he believes this to be delusional but it makes no difference to him personally. I feel exactly the same way as Mr. Graves. 

What I do object to, and what my original post stated, is the active promotion that audiophile cables matter by magazines such as Stereophile. Stereophile has a bully pulpit from which to make all sorts of statements and pronouncements. Just because a statement appears in Stereophile does not make something more true but it does carry influence and is also open to scrutiny and circumspection (again avoiding the skeptic word to avoid John's ire). Apparently, according to John, a questioning circumspect attitude at least when it comes to audiophile cables is not welcome in the pages of Stereophile. Apparently, according to John, the "Science is in" and a "Consenus" has agreed that audiophile cables do matter. Case closed. Slam dunk. Hmm, reminds me of another controversial topic in vogue these days?

Another point I would like to review is that neither John Atkinson and michaelavorgna acknowledge or directly address the well known psychological effects that occur when trying to test these audiophile cable theories. DBT, may or may not be flawed in a given specific test, but it would seem until we have better testing methdology we need to pusue it as best as science can. I have to wonder why DBT is pretty much standard and relied upon in the field of medical trials where actual life altering effects are at stake yet somehow in the audiophile cable debate they are flawed and suspect?

I would conclude by suggesting that Mr. Atkinson solicit an article from Mr. Graves to be published in Stereophile for the benefit of its readers and the audiophile community at large. The publishing of such an article would restore my faith that Stereophile is interested in truly trying to understand an issue and not just trying to promote an agenda for its financial benefit and its adverstisers.

I am certain that Mr. Atkinson is a phenomenal wordsmith and will be able to quickly eviserate my humble words with wit and withering criticism that will delight readers and believers in his point of view. I stand by my statements however inadequately and poorly conveyed.

Intelligence guided by experience.

John Atkinson's picture

Quote:
Why are Mr. Atkinson and michaelavorgna so passionately invested in the fact that audiophile cables make any audible difference (not necessarily better) being true?

The word "passionately" is yours, sir.

Quote:
Why do they not simply say, I have heard differences but it is subtle at best and far below differences in amplifiers, cartridges, speakers, etc.

Perhaps you don't read the magazine or are confusing me with someone else. This is very close to what I believe and to what I have written on many occasions.

Quote:
Stereophile and its staff directly profit from promoting the idea that cables matter and that Stereohile's bottom line would be directly impacted by deciding to become more circumspect. . . of audiophile cable. . . . Based on these observations, I could imagine some economic fallout if Stereophile chose to take the contrary view and say that audiophile cables are simply the Emperor's New Clothes and their importance should be demoted.

Once someone states that my beliefs and editorial policies are affected by the magazine's financial performance, the conversation is over as far as I am concerned. If you really believe that to be the case, then I see no reason why you should either read the magazine or frequent this website.

And people complain about _me_ supposedly making ad hominem attacks!

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

ctbarker32's picture

John,

It would be great if you are going to take the time to address my comments that you address all of them rather than cherry pick the ones you want to.

Regarding, supposed ad hominem attacks, I feel you doth protest too much. I haven't called you "pompous" or "joyless, small people". I have made comments about Stereophile and it's staff in totatality but have not directed personal and abrasive comments at either you or anyone else. I have raised questions about the Stereophile stance and provided evidence for my viewpoint. The strongest word I used in my original post was "credulous" -  Having or showing too great a readiness to believe things. I think many would agree that it hardly rises to the level of ad hominem? I even praised your abilities pretty directly. Also, my original comments were inclusive of the entire press - not just Stereophile. But, Stereophile is king of the hill so I chose to comment on this Audioquest article that could have easily been written by the the Audioquest PR department. My synopsis of the article would be: Industry insiders take a day off from yet another audio show and visit yet another cable manufacturer and everyone agrees yet again that cables make a difference because they "render the music more engrossing. More groovy." Why, as a crack editor of some 25 years, you felt this was newsworthy is beyond me but there you have it?

Quote:

Once someone states that my beliefs and editorial policies are affected by the magazine's financial performance, the conversation is over as far as I am concerned.

Regarding whether ecomonics have any affect on editorial policy or vice versa,  I provide this quote attributed to you:

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The last MartinLogan speaker we reviewed was the Montage -- seewww.stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/505ml -- in May 2005. The review was overall positive, but pointed out some problems. MartinLogan were sufficiently upset by the review that they decided no longer to cooperate with Stereophile by sending us further samples for review.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

John, please feel free to correct the record if this is an inaccurate quote. If it is correct, then I feel vindicated in saying a negative stance on a company's product can result in lost ad dollars and lack of products to review. It is my observation that there have been no Martin Logan reviews or Martin Logan ads in Stereophile since 2005. Again, if I have gotten this all wrong - please correct me.

We audiophiles, like elephants, have long memories. ;-)

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I see no reason why you should either read the magazine or frequent this website.

Sorry, John that would be too easy. I'm not going to let you off that easily. ;-) Of course, you will allow me to continue to subscribe?

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Perhaps you don't read the magazine or are confusing me with someone else. This is very close to what I believe and to what I have written on many occasions.

 

I have subscribed for decades - even before you took the helm. And I read Hi-Fi News when you were there. I read pretty much every english language audiophile magazine. I don't recall you making this direct a statement on the relative importance on audiophile cable but I am sure you will provide direct quotes? Even still, I don't recall any less than positive reviews of audiophile cables in Stereophile. I think it was just last month or so that Mr. Fremer waxed enthusiastically about audiophile cables. And, of course, there is this current article. Again, you will of course set me straight?

John Atkinson's picture

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Regarding, supposed ad hominem attacks, I feel you doth protest too much. I haven't called you "pompous" or "joyless, small people". I have made comments about Stereophile and it's staff in totatality but have not directed personal and abrasive comments at either you or anyone else.

You categorized my behavior as editor as corrupt, that I put my advertisers' interests ahead of those of my readers. I fail to grasp why you don't feel that to be "personal or abrasive."

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Regarding whether ecomonics have any affect on editorial policy or vice versa,  I provide this quote attributed to you:

The last MartinLogan speaker we reviewed was the Montage -- seewww.stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/505ml -- in May 2005. The review was overall positive, but pointed out some problems. MartinLogan were sufficiently upset by the review that they decided no longer to cooperate with Stereophile by sending us further samples for review.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

John, please feel free to correct the record if this is an inaccurate quote. If it is correct, then I feel vindicated in saying a negative stance on a company's product can result in lost ad dollars and lack of products to review.

No-one has said otherwise, Mr. Barker. And with respect, why is an  accurate quote explaining why Stereophile could not get MartinLogan samples for review relevant? (For the record, we do have a review underway of one of MartinLogan's new speakers.)

You were discussing the fact that AudioQuest is an advertiser. What matters or not whether those ad dollars affect what editorial decisions are made. Every year my decisions as editor result in many ad dollars being left on the table. While that occasionally sours my relationship with the magazine's ad staff, that does not affect what I do as editor. A company being an advertiser does not affect whether or not their products get reviewed in Stereophile, whether or not those reviews are positive, whether or not their products are featured on our cover, and whether or not we will publish news items about their activities. See Footnote 2 at http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/307awsi/index.html for some relevant statistics.

And regarding your repeated request that I answer your questions about wire, as I said in my earlier response, once someone states that my beliefs and editorial policies are affected by the magazine's financial performance, I don't any reason why that conversation should continue.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

gmgraves2's picture

"...as I said in my earlier response, once someone states that my beliefs and editorial policies are affected by the magazine's financial performance, I don't any reason why that conversation should continue."

I'm somewhat surprised by that remark. First of all, from Mr. Barker's tenor, it's easy to tell, that his remarks were aimed at all magazines that criticize products while taking the manufacturer's advertising dollars, and not at you personally. Secondly, I don't think that there's a magazine reader on this planet who hasn't entertained that suspicion at one time or another.

I know that Stereophile doesn't do what Mr. Barker suspects. When I wrote for the magazine, nobody ever pressured me to "slant" my reviews in any way, nor were they edited in any way that would affect either my opinions or the content in any way except what one would expect (spelling, grammar, clarification of clumsy explanations, etc.). The same is true for my current (for the last 16+ years) gig. In fact, I've never heard any of the reviewers that I know (and I know lots of them) ever say that their published opinions weren't their real opinions and conclusions. Of course, I can't speak for every audiophile magazine in the world....   

John Atkinson's picture

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For a Stereophile editor and writer to engage in what seemed – at least to this impartial observer –to be unwarranted ad hominem attacks on a commenter on the magazine's web site (a subscriber?), is unbecoming to put it mildly.

I wasn't making an ad hominem attack on Mr. Graves. Instead, as I thought was clear from my posting, I was offering my opinion of the state of mind of skeptics in general, in response to a direct question from a reader.  My opinion of skeptics has been formed from many years subscribing to "The Skepical Inquirer" magazine and from personal interactions with many self-proclaimed skeptics, such as the Amazing James Randi.

Regarding Mr. Graves' comments, they fall into the category of "I can't think of an explanation for the phenomenon thus the phenonemon cannot exist." The logical fallacy in this line of thinking is that it presupposes that the person making the statement is in possession of _all_ relevant knowledge, which is impossible. From what he has written n this thread, I believe that this was the background to Mr. Lavorgna's characterization of Mr. Graves' comments.

I have been privileged to have met some extraordinarily smart people in my career as a magazine editor and one thing they have had in common is that they will both admit the limits of their own knowledge and the possibility, admittedly and possibly faint, that there is something happening that falls outside of what they know.

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apologies to Mr. Graves would seem past due.

I don't believe so. YMMV.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

gmgraves2's picture

Once again, Mr. Atkinson mischaracterizes someone's position by putting words in their mouths in order to "win". My comments are just the opposite of what you state above.  I can (and did) give several reasons why cables cannot have a sound. The maths say no, and many well considered, well set-up and executed DBTs with impeccable statistical analysis and critical peer review say no. IOW, the science gives reasons why cables have no sound, and the controlled experimentation backs the science up. You know, it's called the scientific method?  

Logically, one cannot prove a negative, so, no, I cannot prove that some "unknown" phenomenon isn't at work here that causes cables to sound different, but there is no evidence at all that would leave any engineer, scientist or physicist worth his or her salt to support that view. And while I certainly cannot prove categorically that cables don't have a sound, as a logical person, I cannot ignore the fact that despite the marketing mumbo-jumbo "white paper" explanations that show up on cable maker's websites from time to time, NO scientifically valid theories have ever been put forward that would explain or support that proposition, including Mr. Hawksworth's.

Now, I'll repeat what I asserted earlier and without the sarcasm. The properties of wire under any and all conditions and at any frequency or set of frequencies that you can name have been well understood and well characterized for almost 3/4 of a century. To assert that there are yet unknown properties to account for the delusion that wire doesn't behave exactly as predicted when carrying an audio signal is incredibly naive and astronomically unlikely. The cable sound faithful act as if there is something intrinsically "special" about an audio waveform that is not present in other forms of AC signals used in other disciplines. And that's pretty ludicrous, if you think about it, because none of these "audiophile" anomalies have ever been noticed in any form in any of them.  

BTW, Mr. Atkinson, just to be clear, you have nothing to apologize to me about and I don't either demand or expect any apologies from you. 

JimAustin's picture

>>many well considered, well set-up and executed DBTs with impeccable statistical analysis and critical peer review say no.<<

Would you kindly provide citations? No need to provide "many" -- just half a dozen or so will do.

Thanks,

Jim Austin

Audiogeek's picture

"I wasn't making an ad hominem attack on Mr. Graves."

Not to belabor the point, but yes, I believe you were.

Look, I don't have a dog in this fight, as they say, but I just found your and Mr. Lavorgna's comments to be a bit out of line. After Mr. Graves disclosed that there is, in fact, some personal history here of which the rest of us are unaware, it opens up the possibility that your hostile words may very well be justified. But that doesn't mean it's appropriate to post them here, especially when it appears to the rest of us that Mr. Graves is making a sound argument, and doing so in a way that doesn't seem small or pompous (can one be both?). It would be best to save those words for an offline discussion, in my opinion, because to the uninformed observer like me those types of words only weaken your position.

Without knowing more of your history with Mr. Graves, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt as to whether an apology is in order. But I've read everything you've written here, and the link to Mr. Hawksford's piece as well, and nothing seems to refute Mr. Graves' point about what occurs within the realm of audible frequencies. I'm not an engineer, so I'm probably missing something, but that's the way it seems to me. I don't have enough experience blind-testing various cables to say there is an empirical difference between a decent cable and a multi-thousand-dollar cable, but I would say that I come into the discussion a skeptic who's open to being proved wrong. Maybe one day I'll have that opportunity.

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