Alister I. M. Rae said "By the end of the nineteenth century it seemed that the basic fundimental principles governing the behavior of the physical universe were known." Other scientists claimed the study of physics were nealt completed: no big discoveries remained to be made, only details and finishing touches.
A funny thing happened not long after that, Roentgen discovered rays that passed right through flesh. Two months later, Henri Becquerel accidentally found that a piece of uranium ore emitted something that fogged photographic plates. Then the electron, the carrier of electricity was discovered in 1897.
This discovery, of course did nothing to dissuade scientists from the idea that what could be know was known. This was before the cellphone, television, or before people could cross the ocean at 2000mph, or even solid state amplifiers!
It's funny that we are just past another mile stone and we seem to have learned nothing from the scientists who were certain that what can be known was known. What is the make up of DNA? Does anyone really believe we have discovered the smallest building blocks, or the biggest aspects of the universe???
Measurements do little to explain what is heard in a listening room with a good system. We simply do not know all that is to be known. When Dup references websites that repeat the drivel he is so intent on propogating, it means nothing.
The measurement only crowd need to understand that they do not understand.
There were well known enigmas in fundamental physics at the end of the nineteenth century which led to modern physics and the people who resolved them were physicists. The claim that scientists continued to believe that all that was known is absurd, since it was scientists who, through precise calculation and measurement made the advances you are promoting. The people who made the claims that physics was almost done were a few less well known scientists and, mostly, philosophers. I'm not sure if they were of the armchair variety.
All of those discoveries came from or were confirmed by better, precision measurements before they were accepted, as they should have been. Many scientists were aware of these difficulties (Planck, Kirchoff, Thompson, Bohr, Rutherford, Einstein, etc.) and advanced the new discoveries through their research, it was the scope of these issues which much of the community was surprised by. Acoustics and AC signal propagation are not fundamentally incomplete physical theories with outstanding issues, like radiation was at the end of the nineteenth century or quantum gravity is now, even though practical calculations are often difficult to perform.
The website is flippantly dismissed as drivel, without a single real criticism, when all the guy is doing is measuring manufacturer's claims (he seems to be an engineer). If someone claims there is wire resonance, this is a measurable, well understood and fairly trivial statement. It is not equivalent to asking about the deep mysteries of the universe. It is a testable vanilla claim - which I don't know why a measurement friendly mag like stereophile didn't look into. If a car manufacturer claimed my car got 40 mpg and I saw that it got 20 mpg, I wouldn't respond that gas consumption is equivalent to the blackbody radiation problem in the 1890's, I'd assume the person who sold me the car was full of it...
I'm glad to see you have become interested in reading about cables. Maybe your interest will lead to experimentation in your system. Who knows, you might even hear differences if your system is up to snuff. Naturally, if your system is not resolving or your speakers are placed poorly in the room, you could be wasting your time.
What kind of gear are you currently using?
Sorry, forgot to login
This really sounds like a personal problem to me. I don't understand why any so called audiophiles, music lovers, whateva, get their panties all up their cracks over claims made by cable companies. I see no difference in their marketing approaches (claims) compared to those of pre-amplifiers, amplifiers, CD players or speakers. Although I am unfamiliar with Van Alstine claims I'm sure there are many, as with other manufactures. I believe it's called "marketing". DUH! If one needs validation for using great sounding cheap ass cable I suspect he's come to the wrong place.
I have just experienced a change from some highly favorably reviewed mid priced cables which I have used in numerous systems for the past ten years, which when paired with my new speakers sounded like crap. Switching cables has now made them sound ...well...like they are suppose to sound. The difference is not subtle, and this my friends...is all I care about.
If you cannot hear a difference in cables, assuming you have actually experimented with different cables, then why are you so obsessed with debunking them?
Not familiar with VanAlstine www.avahifi.com , then you are not aware that things don't need to cost absurd prices to be the best there is. sound design and electrical engineering is what makes it happen. Like wires, the article is asking for proof of the nonsensical claims of issues that really don't exist in a piece of wire at audio freqs. Do you lift your speaker wires off the floor, and hear the improvement. Cus' you know that carpet really distorts the signal........what are they like $100/pr for some mystical chunk of stone, somehow curing the problem of carpet distortion. Shouldn't that be investigated and measured, that claim is really out there. I've read people who hear teh difference between PVC and PTFE wire insulations.........man, that is the most incredible hearing abilty ever. then there is the Mapleshady thin is better routine.....with their cellophane wrapped AC line, that appear to have no UL listings or ETL. And throguh the thiness of this cellophane make magic. But some other wire wunderkind is telling me THICK is it, with 32 layers of insulation materials, each one stopping a bad electron. But they can't prove it, they sure can make nice colorful ads to describe these issues. ByBee electron snifers and hole catchers.....of course my system is just not revealing enough to let me hear these anomolys and cures...Let me know which I need to change to let me hear this, carpet distortion,strand jumping, unequal crystal distrtions. Have you had an audiologist hearing test lately? Make sure they use the correct wire in the system. Flat, square, oval, round, I'm all confused
Sir, you are a quart low , shall I fill it? Snake oil that is... http://www.audioholics.com/techtips/audioprinciples/interconnects/top10cablesnakeoil.php
Thank you for your usual informative and insightful "Reply B"
Note to self...remember to login immediatly upon arriving at this site so that all forum features are activated.
What kind of line cord do they use on the instrument used to measure the stuff that supposed to influence the sound. Does the AC line cord on the analyzer need to be "audiophile" grade, NEMA has no such designation, ya' know. If it ain't using some frozen connector, can the measured results be trusted, since the wires influnce it? http://www.audioprecision.com/index.php
As I have said before, few people would defend the absurd prices that some cables carry. The perceived value in 5 digit cables is something a very, very few minority of people can appreciate. The rest of us just roll our eyes and shake our heads.
The fact remains that many people can and do hear very real differences in cable. For those of us who can hear the differences, claims made by manufacturers of audio gear that denounce these audible differences as 'snake oil' are doing themselves and their company a diservice. Look at it this way, if you can hear differences in gear, would you trust a company that designs gear while claiming that there are no differences? For me, this translates into the manufacturer saying that they can't hear well enough to be trusted to voice their gear.
So, while the Van Alstines of the World attempt to appeal to the skeptics and non believers, they shut out just as many other potential customers (if not more) by admitting that they either cannot hear or do not recognize important aspects of reproduction that the rest of us consider essential to high quality reproduction. This marketing strategy has a certain type of customer in mind. I can certainly understand how you became so fond of their gear.
I have been following the Cable Controversy for over 25 years, ever since Jean Hiraga's first articles in the French Hi Fi magazine "Revue du Son". Over these past 25 years there have been just a few people who have challenged manufacturers' and reviewers' explanations as to why cables should sound different. I am not talking here about the argument as to whether cables sound different from each other but the argument as to why cables Do sound different. I was pleased to read the two latest postings by anonymous and nychy.
To quote from Anonymous
"I also am not so sure about the whole cable thing - I have not done nearly enough listening or research to make any definite statement pro or con, but the manufacturers websites and "theory" discussions left me very suspicious. What I am somewhat thrown by is that many of these manufacturers make specific, often wacky, claims about why their cables are better: skin effect, tunneling, golden mean, etc.
And from nychy.
"Measurements do little to explain what is heard in a listening room with a good system. We simply do not know all that is to be known. The measurement only crowd need to understand that they do not understand."
I personally do not challenge people's observations that they can hear different cables change the sound - some cables giving an improvement in the sound. I know that different cables can give a different perception of the sound, and many times the differences can be an improvement. What I challenge are the explanations put forward for these changes in the sound, so I was pleased to see at least a few people beginning to raise questions.
If you can hear improvements in the sound, coming from your loudspeakers, after inserting a half metre (20 inches) of (say) exotic silver wire cable into the middle of the audio system, then this means that you are hearing additional information.
But, if you think about this carefully, it is not possible to get additional information coming out of the loudspeakers without EVERY INCH of EVERY METRE of all the REST of the NON exotic (probably normal standard copper wire) had not also handled that additional information equally as well. Logically, if you can hear better sound, you cannot have one piece of cable, in the middle of an audio system, handling the signal any better than the rest of the wiring.
I know of at least 25 different explanations put forward by manufacturers as to why their cables give improvements in the sound. To understand more of what I am trying to convey I would ask you to read my paper
"Cable Controversy" - Exploding some audio myths.
Published on our web page. http://www.belt.demon.co.uk/product/Cable_Controversy/Cable_Controversy.htm
Hi Monty, rg, etc.
There is a difference between claims made by cable manufacturers and those made by reputable speaker companies, etc. Namely, these manufacturers are using justifications for their breakthroughs that rely on questionable scientific claims. I have no gripe with anyone's listening experience. If you hear a difference with fancy wires, congratulations. The listening experince is a complicated one, and only you know what goes on between your ears and brain. I'm sure this process can also be influenced by expectations, design and marketing.
My issue is that these wire manufactures are making specific , scientific claims for why their wires sound better. Monty implied the same on another thread when he said that if one REALLY wanted to know how cables worked they should read these papers. Well those papers were suspiciious, to say the least. Claiming that things like quantum tunneling have an audible effect in wires that needs to be corrected. These are not claims about listening, there are dry, physical claims, that smell like bs.
Moreover, DUP, who people seem to dislike, posted a link in which an electrical engineer tested a cable which was reviewed in stereophile and claimed a that it eliminated a specific resonance in cable wire. No one thinks resonance is an important factor in audio cables and this guy seems to confirm that. He also tested for evidence of the skin effect, another problem claimed to be eliminated, and found it wasn't a problem in audible frequencies, and that, above audible frequencies, Belden wire did a better job than many of these fancy wires at eliminating it. So I ask you, if you think people shouldn't buy from a company, like Van Alstine (which I have zero experience with), why should I buy from a company that seems to engage in false advertising or lies about making their products in the US?
My main issue is why stereophile doesn't test wire manufacturers claims, like they do with amps, speakers, etc. I have not doubt they'd a great job and could aid this discussion.
Hey May, thanks for the link to your theories on audio reproduction and welcome to the forum. I'm not anywhere in step with your theories or conclusions, but not much surprises me these days.
You might want to consider that every piece of wire from the beginning of the chain to the end of the chain has a cumulative effect on the signal passing through it. Rather than assume that audible differences are improvements, I am suggesting they are only differences. This can be from retrieving more information or less information. Or, it can be a simple matter of altering the amount of distortion at a given frequency or frequencies.
My point is that your theory is based on information retrieval rather than simply alterations of frequency related distortions. Whether this alteration is considered an improvement to the listener would depend on so many factors that I doubt a consensus could be relied on.
Still, I respect the amount of thought you have obviously given the topic, even if I disagree with your conclusions.
I think you might be able to appreciate this piece by Markus Sauer.
Hi, Bengrbm. I don't know if anyone COULD test "wire manufacturer's claims," as you put it, because such testing would require a lab setup similar to the manufacturer's. However, I think the stereophile reviewers do a good job of listening, and it seems to me that they always mention the scientific (or pseudo-scientific) claims that come with the samples to be tested. Art Dudley liked the way the new Tara Labs sounded in his system, yet questioned the purported "science" behind the design.I suppose the claims are meant to convince potential buyers that some kind of scientific methodology is responsible for the sonic differences a given brand name claims for its latest model. I never believe this sort of advertising for the same reason I don't believe the claims of fat-eating diet pills or Ford's newest suspension design. If a reviewer writes about a positive listening session, I may give the cable a listen.
Back when I owned the Mirage M1-si speakers, I was having a lot of trouble getting the bass tamed. I was using a former top-of-the-line Tara model (quite expensive), and I ran into my old roomie, Bob Harley, at one of the shows. He told me to try the Audio Quest "Argent," opining that it was among the most neutral and transparent of ANY he had used, at any price. So I did. Sure enough, it helped with the bass, took some edge off the upper midrange (a change I welcomed), and seemed more revealing of the inner voices of the music (more transparent), especially on the quieter passages. Bob didn't give me any "science," telling me just to try them. So, I don't care if the scientific claims are bullshit, as long as the wires SOUND better than what I already have in my system. Advertising bullshit is always advertising bullshit. The proof is in the listening. I ALWAYS hear differences when I try new cables, but VERY rarely can identify an actual IMPROVEMENT. That is why I still use the Audio Quest "Argent" with my speakers and their "Lapis X3" interconnects -- nothing I have tried during the last 10 years has displayed a concrete improvement that I can identify consistently.
I'm pretty laid-back when it comes to advertising claims -- I never get angry or feel duped. Hyperbole comes with the American character, as Twain so well understood ("...a gold mine is a hole in the ground with a liar standing next to it..."). We are a culture that appreciates a good lie, now and then, just so long as it's obviously an advertising claim, and so much the better if it's an amusing story. Cardas' claim to have tapped into some "golden ratio" that exists in "nature" (whatever THAT means) makes me snicker, but his cables sound decent enough. Hell, American politics have elevated lying to an art form. So, if you want to get my attention by claiming some scientific breakthrough, it's okay -- even if it's a lie. I'll just listen, and if it helps my system I'll buy it. If not, I won't. Cheers, Clifton
Thanks for that extremely reasonable response that didn't ask how big my "system" was or invoke religion or the history of physics. I have no doubt that a well made cable may sound better and that things like shielding, balance or strength of a connection can have a listenable effect in certain situations, but in order to justify these prices, manufacturers make claims that are often ridiculous, as you agree, and that makes me wonder if one can't get the same performance for 1/20th of the price. I'm not talking about spending no money on cables, or buying "cheap ass" cables as one person derisively put it, but if the only reason a cable costs $5000 as opposed to $200 is the golden mean, and we both acknowledge that that's probably not a good reason (particularly in a power cord!), then these prices seem very suspicious and I would guess there's a $200 no bs cable out there without the hype that sounds as good given the cost of materials. I'm willing to acknowledge that I may possibly be wrong though, but I'm starting to doubt it.
My other, main point is that some claims ARE testable. The skin effect and the cable resonance claims, unlike the completely ridiculous tunneling and golden mean claims are of that variety and this guy who DUP linked tested them. Instead of debating the merits of this test, every one just bashed DUP. So it seems like either some claims are testable or this guy on the other site, who's an engineer, runs poor, meaningless tests. He seemed to have a long back and forth with some manufacturers after these tests, and no one claimed his methods were completely flawed. So if he can test them why can't we? I think stereophile would do a good job personally, since it seems to have better resources at its disposal than that site and it would inform this discussion with some nice facts rather than the quasi-mystical speculation that currently colors it. - Ben
About the only time I get worked up about cable is when I get my catalogs from Audio Advisor or Music Direct and get reminded that there are 4,000 dollar per meter pair cables out there being "touted."
Then I perk up for a week or two and notice people saying things like, "Hey, what would you use if you owned a 350,000 dollar Wavac amp?"
That cracks me up.
I love the "Well, I spent so much money on other componenets, it makes fiscal sense to buy into the high end cable debate, based on relative cost compared to the rest of my system."
It makes me want to open a gasoline boutique and sell 45 dollar per gallon gas to people with really expensive cars.
Now, not all cable claims are crap, but cable is the division of hi-fi that I think has the highest crap to value quotients.
It's definitely time to explore cable measurements, blind long-term listening, and comparisons to many of the cool and affordable pieces of cable.
There is also far too little editorial scepticism (IMHO) with regard to the claims made by manufacturers of 6,000 dollar power cords.
I figure that readers must really like reading about this stuff, hence the relative ease of acceptance among the watchdogs of the industry.
No offense to anybody intended.
First of all thank you for the welcome to the Stereophile forum. It is much appreciated.
Secondly, I know exactly what you mean about considering that every piece of wire could have a cumulative effect on the signal passing through it. We also went down that particular (conventional thinking) path for a couple of years, some 25 years ago.
In the early days of the cable controversy (early 1980s) Peter decided to investigate by listening to different metals used as a conductor, and found that different metals sounded different - some of them gave an improvement in the sound, some of them made the sound worse. He listened to copper in all it's configurations i.e. Solid core, stranded, multi fine stranded, bunched, twisted, plaited etc, then listened to the metal silver, then to brass, then to steel baling wire and finally the best sounding metal was pure Lead. This subsequently resulted in the small Lead Tubes which Martin Colloms wrote about in his short article "The Mysterious P.W.B. Lead Tubes" in Hi Fi News in the early 1980s. Martin had heard our 3 and a half inch Lead Tubes, when inserted at the end of metres and metres of normal, standard, copper speaker wire give him a surprise improvement in the sound. I have described this story more fully in my article "There is more to it all" in our latest Number Two, Vol Six P.W.B. Newsletter and in the talks I have given.
Back in the early 1980s, because of Peter's RAF training as a radio engineer and looking for some sort of explanation, he began thinking along the lines that the Lead tubes might be acting as a wave guide - (somehow) straightening out a jumbled audio signal at the end of the audio chain ! What you might refer to as 'retrieving more information' or 'altering the amount of distortion at a given frequency or frequencies'. But, the more experiments one does, the less this explanation holds water. And, when an explanation no longer holds water, then one cannot continue to use it. So, one is left with an observation (that the sound has improved) but with no reliable explanation - which means that if you are a 'professional in audio' (which Peter is) then you have to do some serious investigating !!
My paper "Cable Controversy" was written after observing years and years of manufacturers putting forward explanations that their metre (or half a metre) of exotic cable, improving the sound after it is inserted into the middle of an audio system, is improving the sound because it is "handling the signal better" and, when reviewing such a cable, the reviewer repeats that explanation put forward by the manufacturer.
You say "I might want to consider that every piece of wire from the beginning of the chain to the end of the chain has a cumulative effect on the signal passing through it".
Again, I ask you to think about it carefully. To use my simplistic approach.
Say you have a disc with information ABC + DEF + GHI + JKL encoded on it. You have a audio system with normal, standard copper wiring throughout. For years you have presumed that you had been hearing most of the information encoded on the disc but, after inserting a half metre cable made of 99.999 per cent purity copper in the position between preamplifier and amplifier, you hear an improvement in the sound. This should make you realise that you had probably, previously, only been 'hearing' ABC + DEF and the new cable had allowed you to now hear information GHI.
The manufacturer claims that any improvement in the sound is because the 99.999 purity of the copper is 'handling' the signal better than normal, standard NONE purity copper wiring. The further presumption is therefore made that NONE purity copper must be 'garbage' and this presumption is usually compounded by the reviewer who goes on to state that he can no longer go back to using his previous half a metre NONE purity copper cable.
But, think about it. For the 99.999 purity copper cable to 'handle' the information GHI better than NONE purity copper this information GHI MUST HAVE already reached the output of the preamplifier - which means that every inch of the NONE purity copper wiring prior to the output of the preamplifier HAD been 'handling' information GHI perfectly adequately. Which means that NONE purity copper can 'handle' information GHI equally as well as 99.999 purity copper. Which means that NONE purity copper wire is NOT as 'garbage' as had been presumed !!!! And, furthermore, if the information GHI is now heard coming out of the loudspeakers, this means that every inch of NONE purity copper, throughout the rest of the audio system has 'handled' information GHI equally as well as the (half a metre) 99.999 purity copper cable !!
You can substitute the example of 99.999 per cent purity copper cable for any other cables claimed to be improving the sound. Say, hypothetically, substituting for an exotic silver wire cable which the manufacturer claims 'handles' high frequencies better than copper wire. But, for a metre (or half metre) of exotic silver wire to 'handle' high frequency information (say information XYZ) better when inserted in the position (say) between the output of the preamplifier and the input of the amplifier, this means that the high frequency information XYZ MUST HAVE already reached the output of the preamplifier - which means that the normal, standard copper wire up to the output of the preamplifier MUST HAVE already handled the high frequency information XYZ perfectly adequately or it would not be in the correct position for the exotic silver wire to deal with it !! Every experiment one wishes to do arrives at the same position. That there is something else going on which is affecting the sound and the perception of sound - which cannot be explained by conventional electronic or acoustic theories !!
That is why I responded to the postings by Anonymous and nychy who appear to be prepared to question the explanations put forward by manufacturers of different cables.
I repeat what I say every time. I am not challenging people's observations when they claim to hear differences in the sound of cables. What I am challenging are the numerous explanations put by the manufacturers for why the cables change the sound.
Yes, exposing price-gouging would certainly be a good reason to develop reliable testing procedures for all wire.
What a labyrinth this is! We went through all this in the 1970's and 1980's with the advent of solid-state amplifiers. The attempts to somehow quantify measurable schema for testing amplifiers still haven't been successful, as even today, some 30 years later, many folks claim that tubes sound better while measuring worse. This thing about translating abstract measurements into aural phenomena has always been tricky, at best, for those of us who just want to get closer to the music. Being a techno-idiot, I still mentally image cables as hoses: the ones that let the most water through are the best. If there is distortion in that water, then I suppose it has to be dealt with at other points in the overall system design. I wish there was some scientifically verifiable truth-system out there (for amps AND cables) that could reinforce my own subjective observations, but I have gotten used to the relativity of my own ears and must always fall back on my experiences of going back and forth from the concert hall to my own room.
I can remember one of Sam Tellig's reviews awhile back. He opined that a sub-$50 set of Acoustic Research (the old speaker manufacturer) interconnects sounded as good as some of the expensive wire he had used, an observation he repeated later when using some $10 Radio Shack models. Personally, I can't imagine spending 10 to 20 grand to wire a system, which the new Tara models certainly require. I have to think I'm paying for somebody's advertising budget, rather than for equipment. I just wonder if some of the reviewers don't get trapped inside the electronics-compared-to-other-electronics syndrome, forgetting whether they want to get closer to live music or want some sort of "super-electronic" sound that is bigger than life. Now, that would be okay...don't get me wrong. We all have different sonic ideals, and mine aren't superior or inferior to anybody else's. Just tell me that in the review. I still think, once your system is set up the way you like it, the BIGGEST SINGLE DIFFERENCE-MAKER, in terms of sonic quality, will be the CD or LP you spin.
May, I too would like to welcome you to the forum. Happy tunes, Clifton
Welcome and very interesting post. I visited your site but my eyes began to cross after a few minutes. Thanks for summing up in your post what I believe you may have been trying to convey at your site.
One question? How does your scenario change when we talk only of the cable inserted at the end of the chain, ie speaker cable?
I understand your observations and resulting conclusions...at least I think I do. In fact, I can somewhat relate to the extent that I have bought albums and upon the first few listens, I didn't enjoy them. However, some have later become favorites. Clearly, nothing has changed in the music (absent any component changes) which leaves the only other factor...me. Another example would be my preference for listening to music in near darkness...I think it sounds better. Does it sound better or am I more relaxed and less subject to other sensory annoyances? You get my drift...
Using your explanation of the abc+def+ghi, I would draw this analogy to consider: If you took a pool of water and attached several sections of hose to the pool and attempted to empty the pool with a 2 inch diameter hose connected to a 1 inch hose and then connected to another 2 inch hose, you can see where altering the size of the various hoses would impact the flow of water.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not an apologist for the cable guys and am only advocating that cables do have sonic signatures. I have tried many that impressed me in one way or another, some expensive and some cheap. In fact, my favorite speaker cable is a very inexpensive run of Audioquest Type 4. If my system or room were different, I may very well prefer how another cable interacted...or not.
I'm not quite sure how you would go about measuring some aspects of reproduction. Frequency response and the like are clearly measurable, but how do you measure focus, pinpoint imaging, bloom, decay and so on?
I don't need stereophile to tell me what to do. I've bought equipment which was I was directed to via a stereophile review (my speakers) and some that I was not (my CD player and, not surprisingly, my cables).
First, there is a big difference to me between a vague, comic advertising assertion about the golden mean and a company stating that wires resonate at a specific frequency, which I think should be explored further. If the resonance was there, then wouldn't it be a problem in speaker reviews, for instance? Perhaps a brightness in the treble range a reviewer noticed is not due to a speaker itself but rather it is due to cable resonace. Shouldn't this then be posted before every speaker review and taken into account then?
This would be a nice feature for stereophile to explore, and I am posting this since this is their message board and, while I am a fan of the pairing of listening and measurement done in their reviews of amps and speakers, I am wondering why cables are only listened to and are not also measured especially when specific claims are made. People still have to listen and decide for themselves, at the end of the day, but it would enrich the discussion, IMO. We could then at least know if some suspicious manufacturers are honest in their claims that are measureable, like we learn about amps and speakers.
You're certainly right, though, that what really bothers me are the loony, non-testable but sciencey sounding claims about the golden mean and quantum tunneling, etc, which, as someone with a science and science education background, just rub me the wrong way. I think people like DUP are right to poke fun at them, even if his manner may tire some people. Its funny if a company charges $10000 for a cable that supposedly eliminates quantum effects or some other odd thing. I personally don't like that these companies misapply specific, well know physical principles in vague "cable theory" papers for how their products are engineered, but, when someone points out a fallacy with their application of the principle, don't offer any evidence of its existence or how they've overcome it, even though this was presumably done at some point in their research. It makes me wonder if some of these companies actually are trying to con people into buying what may well be a good product at an inflated price. But, as you also correctly state, there's really nothing I can do about this - people will buy stuff based on wacky, pseudo-science advertising claims and it is, of course, a free country, etc.
So, if my post appeared confusing it really has two parts. First, a desire to see cables measured along with speakers, especially when the manufacturers make measurable claims. Second, I have a general bad taste from the nonsense claims which I just have to deal with. Though they certainly exist in all forms advertising, these cable companies, to me at least, seem to be particularly bad offenders.
Now this stuff always stuns and baffles me....of course since this is previous "military" use, it's still highly classified...hahaha, how convienent. Yet this magican can sell it at the consumer level. DUH, I just got off the banana boat. How many "bad" electrons have you caught today? http://www.bybeetech.com/ourtech.asp
Monty. I have done quite a lengthy response to your reply to my earlier posting. Is one allowed to do a lengthy reply on the Stereophile Forum ?
Is one allowed to do a lengthy reply on the Stereophile Forum ?
Is one allowed to do a lengthy reply on the Stereophile Forum ?
I'd have gone with, "Yup," but Stephen is known to wax grandiloquent.
The funny thing is that I was suprised that they ONLY charged $990 for a pair of these things. Perhaps that's because they use teflon as their dielectric, which, I understand, is dark and harms inner detail. Now if they used an air suspension system and charged $9900 then I could get behind this product...
I've read in expert papers PTFE is superior insulation, oopps, excuse meeee, DIELECTRIC, that allows teh extra pricing, sounds mo' impotent. PVC is supposed to be teh evil one. How do they hold a vacuum in these cables. On teh systems I work on, we need to keep either a Turbo pump/roughing pump going, or just a roughing pump on teh XRF. These wire experts have managed to also create teh perfect vacuum seal to, AND on a flexible item. DAMN, these guys are so advanced. Leybold, Alcatel,Edwards can't do that, and they have been in the vacuum business for decades. Leave it up to audio guys to change the science as needed. What kind of vacuum do they pull on these vac insulated wires 10-7 10-6 Pa.? Inquiring minds need to know, it's a breakthrough, even HV cable guys can't do that, they need touse other means.
How do they hold a vacuum, or does it? Pretty impressive, the perfect vacuum. Beyond anything I've ever heard of. Check out www.taralabs.com The ZERO. Made in U.S.A. Well that's what the ad says....
I would like to answer both you Monty and you rqibran (and thank you rqibran also for your welcome) in the one following answer.
I would like to state, at the very beginning, that I know that different metals give different sound, that different cables give different sound, that the different insulation materials used on cables give different sound and that different colours of the SAME insulation materials give different sounds. It was to answer the question WHY, which sent Peter on a particular investigation path over 25 years ago.
I will try to answer the question you posed Monty using the example of the water pipes. But it is not as simple as just plain water, I will have to add some ingredients to the water as I have to bring in the human being and the human sense of taste. I will also tell the story using an example of a reviewer (as the human being).
The reviewer has a water tank in the attic and there are narrow bore pipes carrying the water through Room 1, through Room 2, through Room 3, through Room 4, to Room 5 where the water drinking taps are. The reviewer is used to tasting the ingredients of salt and vinegar each time he has a drink and he is presuming that salt and vinegar are the only two ingredients in the water supply.
There appears on the scene a manufacturer of water pipes who claims to have a wide bore water pipe which, he claims, if a metre of it is used in the water piping system allows more ingredients to be tasted - his explanation being because the wide bore pipe is 'handling' the water better and allowing the water through faster therefore not allowing it to stagnate - and alter the taste !
As the reviewer writes articles for a food magazine, the food magazine editor asks the reviewer to do a review on this metre of wide bore pipe.
Before installing the wide bore pipe in part of the piping system, the reviewer tastes the water again, just to confirm what he tastes now, before making any changes. He confirms that he can taste salt and vinegar as usual. He replaces one metre of the narrow bore pipe in Room 3 with the metre of the new wide bore pipe and tastes the water again. This time, to his surprise, he can, in addition, now taste sugar and aniseed. He is amazed and he describes fully his reaction and what he can now taste in his review article, and that previously he had never tasted the sugar and aniseed and he repeats, for the reader, the explanation given by the manufacturer. Furthermore, he adds that he is so delighted with these new tastes he is experiencing that he does not want to return the metre of wide bore pipe to the manufacturer after the review - he wants to keep the wide bore pipe. This implies (without actually saying the words) that the previous metre of narrow bore pipe cannot possibly have been 'handling' the water correctly !
But, think about it. For the wide bore pipe in Room 3 to be 'handling' the water better (as claimed by the manufacturer) this means that the ingredients of sugar and aniseed MUST HAVE been 'handled' perfectly adequately by all rest of the narrow bore piping all the way from the water tank, through Room 1, through Room 2, and into Room 3, and then, after Room 3, through Room 4 to the water taps in Room 5 !! Which means that the narrow bore piping was not as bad as had been implied - EVERY INCH of the narrow bore piping had 'handled' the ingredients sugar and aniseed perfectly well, or the reviewer would not have been able to taste them coming out of the tap. That only leaves the previous metre of narrow bore pipe which had been removed in Room 3 remaining under suspicion.
Now, the manufacturer has made a further claim. He claims that his metre of wide bore pipe can be installed anywhere in the piping system and will give the same good results wherever it is placed.
So, the reviewer decides to check out this claim. He removes the metre of wide bore pipe from it's position in Room 3, puts back the original metre of narrow bore pipe and now installs the metre of wide bore pipe in a later room in the chain - Room 4. The reviewer tastes the water again and yes, he is still tasting the ingredients sugar and aniseed and writes this result in his article, confirming the additional claim made by the manufacturer.
But, think about this again. The ingredients sugar and aniseed, to reach the wide bore pipe now installed in Room 4. MUST HAVE been 'handled' perfectly adequately by the replaced metre of narrow bore pipe in Room 3 !! The results of those two experiments are actually showing that every single inch of the narrow bore piping had been perfectly capable of 'handling' the ingredients sugar and aniseed as well as the salt and vinegar. So, the question left is "In that case, why had the reviewer not been able to taste the sugar and aniseed before ?" But, the reviewer ends his review without asking that question. Whereas he should have been ending his review with the sentence "Wait a minute, wait a minute, there is something strange going here, I must investigate further. Have the ingredients sugar and aniseed been there, in the water, all the time and have they been able to reach the end drinking tap in exactly the same way as the salt and vinegar ? If so, why was I not able to taste them before installing the metre of wide bore pipe ?"
What I have described is a parallel what usually happens when a reviewer is asked to review a metre (or half a metre) of specialist audio cable.
It was questions such as those described which sent Peter down the path of discovery he has been down these past 25 years. Because, to now answer your question rqibran regarding speaker wires and the end of the audio chain - this was exactly the problem we faced after fitting the three and a half inch pure Lead (Pb) tubes at the end of metres and metres of standard speaker wire and hearing an improvement in the sound. If, as we had initially thought, that the pure Lead tubes might have been 'straightening out' an audio signal which had got 'jumbled up' going along all the standard copper cabling, we realised that this supposedly 'straightened out' audio signal had to still travel along the remaining thin copper wire inside the loudspeaker cabinet. To know what I mean - just look inside a loudspeaker cabinet and see the thin, copper wiring going from the terminals at the rear of the loudspeaker cabinet to the crossover network and from the crossover network to the drive unit terminals. If all the previous copper wire in the audio system had been 'jumbling up' the signal, then the audio signal would be 'jumbled up' again after leaving the pure Lead tubes !!! So, the original explanation we had thought of for the reason why the Lead tubes were improving the sound could no longer hold water. There had to be something else going on !!
The same thing applies with whatever exotic speaker leads are claimed to be doing, the audio signal still has to go back along the (usual) non exotic thin, standard wiring inside loudspeaker cabinets. I have seen metres and metres of speaker cable the size of hose piping used in Hi Fi Show demonstration rooms by manufacturers of Hi Fi equipment and they seem oblivious to the fact that the audio signal has to then go from this hose pipe size cabling back through thin, standard, wiring inside the loudspeaker cabinets !!
I am so pleased Monty that you made reference to the actual signal not having specific, recognisable functions for addressing such things as focus, pinpoint imaging, bloom, etc.
In a recent posting I did on the Critic's Choice section of Audio Asylum under the heading 'The Hearing process' I referred to what a journalist (John Crabbe) has been known to say. To quote "John Crabbe who has written articles for Hi Fi News for more years than I care to remember has, on more than one occasion, taken some reviewer to task for, when reviewing an item of equipment, describing his sound as 'gaining height'. John has pointed out that nowhere in the signal is there specific information that equals 'height'. In my opinion, John's is too simplistic an outlook. We (human beings) construct the height of the sound from the information we receive. We can describe the sound from the information received as 'enclosed, boxy sound' (even from electrostatic loudspeakers), or we can describe the sound from the information we receive as 'open, airy, filling the room with sound'. If you have NEVER experienced doing something in the room and suddenly getting open, airy sound, then you will go along with John Crabbe's sentence 'that there is no specific information contained within the audio signal which equals height'. If you HAVE experienced doing something (and not necessarily with the audio equipment) and getting open, airy sound, which has more height and fills the room, then you will understand immediately what the reviewer was meaning and what the reviewer had experienced !!
Also Monty, you refer to buying albums but initially didn't enjoy them but some have later become favourites. If the 'measurers' had taken measurements (from the output of the loudspeakers) when you first bought the albums and then taken measurements later when they had become favourites (with no changes in components), the measurements would be exactly the same.
What has changed is you - the human being. You are correct when you bring into the equation the question "Does it sound better or am I more relaxed and less subject to other sensory annoyances?"
My answer to that question is "Yes, it sounds better BECAUSE you are more relaxed. The information your ears are receiving has been there, available, in the room, all the time, but because of all the adverse things happening in the modern environment you have just not been able to perceive the information correctly - until you did something !!
The chance event which happened to Peter and I (chance events are so loved in stories of discoveries) is described in my reply to Greg Weaver when he was contemplating writing about one of our devices and treatments. Greg reprinted the majority of my letter to him in his article "Itty-Bitty UK Foil" which was published in Soundstage April 1999.
Our story may match some of your own experiences !!
I'm curious about a system that is so "extreme" that listeners can differentiate an air filled dielectric from a vacuum, let alone air from teflon. That 4th decimal place in the dielectric constant must be destorying people's listening experiences with the air cables.
Kind of wonder what keeps the wire from collapsing as they seem to bend. Maybe the outer shield has dark energy in it? You'd think that in such an extremely revealing system, they'd use balanced interconnects, which I'd imagine might actually have a prayer of doing something...
What are they going to do to top this? Antimatter?
We aren't as far apart as I first suspected we might be. The variable in the equation is clearly a matter of personal preference for the audible changes introduced by the different cables.
If a person were to prefer a different blend of sugar, vinegar, salt and aniseed then that would not be a point of contention. I might like more salt and less sugar, you might like more sugar and less vinegar. If a particular cable altered the taste and gave me more salt, I might declare that it is a fine cable. You, on the other hand, might declare that the cable was way too salty and totally screwed up the hint of sweetness that your reference cable provided. This is entirely a matter of personal preference that I wouldn't attempt to argue.
It doesn't take much to realize that this boils down to the common debate between musicality and accuracy and what aspects of reproduction each individual considers to be essential to their enjoyment of recorded music.
Electrons in a conductor do not operate liek WATER in a pipe. why not use an analogy with natural GAS in a pipe versus electrons in a conductor. Since anything flowing in something is the same. WOW. You also didn't give all teh specs , what kind of water? D-I, distilled, reverse osmosis, since different water reacts differently in a vessel...Let's see, DI water is acidic and free of ions, so what it doesn't have it leachs from the pipe, which is why DI water is corrosive, and it do brass in. see teh analogy, depending on what kind of water matters. Depending on the FREQUENCY of teh electrons, will mean wire matters, at AUDIO frequencys it don't, RF, Microwave, HV (above 600V) determines teh insulation type used. In audio land, teh freq and voltages are LOW, there is no skin effect, there is no other things going on. What's going on is an amazing but of NONSENSE, and that's a scientific fact.
Thanks for the reply, interesting and informative. For my sanity, I could have done without the part about differences in COLOR of insulations...LOL I'm just going to assume it has been agreed that red and black are the two best sounding with white running a close third.
Doesn't seem to be politically correct to say your using the "clear" these days!
Is there a link to the article you referenced at the end of your post, or do we have to buy the book so to speak?
Actually, the less pigment, the better. But, we don't really want to open up that can of worms.
Post deleted by Stephen_Mejias
I thought you would enjoy that. No need to thank me, I'm a giver.
I began a post this afternoon regarding the colour of the pigment, but, a friend came to visit and my cookie expired before I could submit. It doesn't surprise me that the colour of the insulation might have a bearing on the sound; years ago, I used to play darts competitively (leagues & tournaments) and used flights made with an injection mold process. I used clear flights because they were the most durable and gave me the truest trajectory. Ones made with other pigments tore more easily and the blacks ones actually caused my darts to land in the board tail end down... I suspect the black pigment was heavier and caused more drag. The minutest of differences can have effects on things that seem incredibly unlikely.
I sort of see the point of the water analogy, but, it is my contention that a cable that smears or masks, or even filters some of the signal does not mean all the information is coming through at the end and that it "MUST HAVE been 'handled' perfectly adequately".
Now you compare physical weight to somehow this will affect electrons at some atomic level. How does it have anything to do with the other? Extrapulating out to the absurd, is that what audio nudniks are all about. So now we have carpet causing sound changes when it touches teh wires, the color of teh wires, how many strands there are in the wires, how teh strands are twisted....what else? all this at audio frequencys, not RF, not microwave. You forgot the clouds above, moisture content in the atmosphere, affects the wood in teh speaker cabinets, how come that never comes up, I think Stereophile needs an investigation into HUMIDITY and it's audio effects. Looks like JA has bailed on doing WHISPER measurements here. No response, no replys, nutin'. ?
The article by Greg Weaver you refer to is
but all internet articles about us are available to read and can be accessed via our web page
Looks like JA has bailed on doing WHISPER measurements here. No response, no replys, nutin'. ?
Sorry DUP, this past week has been so hectic. I am looking at one evening next week, perhaps Wednesday 5/17. Does that work for you (and for you Jeff)? -- John
You're kidding about the pigment right? I mean, I guess the black paint on the darts could have been heavier but the color of a wire's insulation jacket?
Its impossible for me to tell sarcasm from people's actual comments anymore, the truth is stranger than fiction when it comes to cables...
Yes, I was just pulling Dup's chain a bit.
There are theories regarding pigmentation having a negative effect on the wire from a standpoint of the chemical used in the dye. I don't know anyone, nor have I even read about anyone, claiming to hear differences based on color. But, the cable guys that live and breathe the stuff leave few stones unturned. I'm sure there are those who are just looking for reasons to justify reinventing the wheel and others who are genuinely passionate about understanding as much about signal transfer as possible.
Jeff, your opinion on the smearing observations is one that I share as well. The Type 4 cable that I am currently using has had literally thousands of hours of current passing through them and can be as image specific as any cable I have ever tried, including some 'spensive stuff with minimum dialectric. This makes me think that even less than optimal dialectric can be overcome to a certain degree, although the amount of time needed to settle is probably far longer than most of the better cables would require by using less absorptive material.
Ok - thanks for letting me in. Looking into this whole thing has left my head spinning at times...
Looks like JA has bailed on doing WHISPER measurements here. No response, no replys, nutin'. ?
Sorry DUP, this past week has been so hectic. I am looking at one evening next week, perhaps Wednesday 5/17. Does that work for you (and for you Jeff)? -- John
John - Wednesday might be tough for me, but, not impossible. I have to take my Mom to an eye doctor appointment in the early afternoon (I also need to make sure she takes her meds after dinner) and my weekly table tennis game is on Wednesday around 9:30PM (I need my catharsis.) If I could get to downtown Manhattan by 10:00PM, the table tennis part would be fine.
DUP - I was more making the point that things you don't normally consider sometimes change things in a way you don't expect. The purer, clear polymer flights were more tear resistant. Something about the pigments or dyes compromised the structural integrity. The dark blue flights tore easily and didn't last long. The o-rings that facilitated twirling didn't spin as freely on several of the colours. You'd think all the coloured flights would be the same, but, the black ones must've had a different weight. I'm just saying it's not surprising that something subtle could alter performance.
Ben - As far as the darts and pigment, I'm not kidding. While it could be a stretch with wire insulation, I'm open to the possibility, only because different colours might have different properties that could affect the dielectric. Suppose carbon black is used for black, or some kind of iron or ferrous oxide for another colour. It wouldn't surprise me if there was some measurable difference if you knew where to look.
I agree with Monty. Less pigment probably is better. Fortunately, most of my connections have clear insulation, but, I do wonder about the red and black markers for + & -...
Monty - I suspect you're like me and keep your system fired up 24/7 so that you always have signal running through everything and keep the charge going through the dielectric. That might help, but, I have my reservations. I had an Audioquest AES/EBU cable that I ran constantly for hundreds of hours, and it always sounded smeared and phasey. It was easily bested by the budget Apogee Wyde-Eye and expensive Illuminati Orchid.
Hey JA, I sent you a private message, please let me know you got it. Next week Thursday or Friday..is cool, Wednesday I'll be in your neighborhood!! Small world!! See my message where, you should come by for the competition starts around 6PM as they sign in and setup, and the guitar wailing begins!!! My friend is going onto win #4 !! He smoked teh other 10 contestants afew weeks ago, it was GREAT!! Come on by, send me a message...
During the past 50 years in the world of audio I have followed various controversies trying to understand WHY they were a controversy. I absolutely agree with you that we will all interpret information in a different way. We (human beings) construct a 'sound picture' from the information we receive but that 'sound picture' also depends on what information and standards are already in our working memory - and, as you say, we will all have different information and different standards stored there.
Which brings me to something else along those lines.
On occasion I have seen an audio equipment reviewer state that a particular (XYZ) speaker they are reviewing "prefers classical music" and they would not recommend that (XYZ) speaker for listening to rock music !! Another time a reviewer will state that a particular (ABC) speaker "prefers rock music" but that he does not like the sound of the (ABC) speaker when playing classical music. I know what the reviewers are trying to convey but it is illogical to say that speakers have a 'preference' for one type of music against another !! Speakers don't 'prefer' particular types of music. But, from such a review, a potential customer with a love of classical music will search out to audition the XYZ loudspeaker system, because of the impression given by the review - that that loudspeaker model will be good for classical music. But, far from the XYZ loudspeaker being best for classical music, lovers of classical music might find it the very opposite !
Let me explain why I say that.
Because of the review, the potential customer will try to seek out and audition the XYZ speaker system. After a demonstration, he cringes and walks away from the retailer shaking his head, wondering what the reviewer had been thinking about - recommending the XYZ speaker for classical music, when the customer has just heard it sounding poor when playing classical music.
To explain such a contradiction you have consider it from a different viewpoint.
The potential customer has loved and listened to classical music throughout his life and will therefore have a high standard of classical music in his working memory, will be expecting the XYZ speaker system to reach that standard and could find that the particular XYZ speaker system does not come anywhere near that standard.
However, if the reviewer has loved and listened mainly to rock music and not as much to classical music, then the reviewer will have a high standard for rock music in his working memory and a lesser standard for classical music. On listening to rock music using the XYZ speaker system, the reviewer finds that rock music through the XYZ speaker system does not reach the high standard when compared to what is already in his working memory but when listening to classical music through the XYZ speaker system he accepts the standard of the sound because it is not challenged by any higher standard for classical music in his working memory. That is why his review can state that he does not recommend the XYZ speaker system for playing rock music but it is perfectly acceptable for classical music. But, when a lover of classical music listens to the same speaker he can reject it as not good enough !! Exactly the same speaker system but two different reactions.
It is not as simple as just measuring the frequency output from the speakers or relying solely on conventional electronic or acoustic theories - there is a huge amount going on which needs explaining !! There are so many anomalies which have to be explained.
I know what the general responses are to what I am saying. They are usually along the lines of "we don't disagree with what you are saying May regarding perception but what you are referring to must only be about 5 or 10 per cent of the problem whereas we (engineers and technicians) are concentrating on what we consider to be 90 per cent of the problem i.e. assisting the audio signal through equipment and wiring because if we cannot get the necessary information through the speakers and out into the room, it will not be there for the human being to be able to hear it." This sentence is a truism and anyone would be a fool to argue against a truism. It stands as a true statement.
I would, however, far from arguing against a truism, suggest a different concept and a different percentage. That audio equipment and wiring has been excellent and quite capable of presenting a wealth of information into the room for quite a number of years now but that we (human beings) because of the very presence of the equipment and cabling in the modern environment are not able to correctly interpet that wealth of information !! That the percentage ratio is far more on the side of problems for the human being than on the side of problems with the equipment and cabling. That is why so many people can describe changes in the sound from altering the most unusual things - things which should not have any effect at all on the 'sound' !! I know which are the people who have experienced such things by the sentences they use. When you know something different, something new, you cannot then continue to use the old sentences you used previously. You have to use sentences such as Anonymous and nrchy used "I do hear differences between cables, but I have always been skeptical that the reasons given by a manufacturer's explanation are necessarily the true reasons for the audible differences." And "We simply do not know all that is to be known. The measurement only crowd need to understand that they do not understand."
When engineers and technicians who, as I do, know conventional electronic and acoustic theories (to be blunt - forwards, backwards, sideways and upside down) but when some of us have also experienced different insulation materials sounding different and different colours of the same material sounding different, then we are no longer able to continue using sentences such as DUP used - "in audio land, the frequency and voltages are low, there is no skin effect, there are no other things going on.". We know the theories in the text books but we also know what we have heard and we know that there are other things going on !!
The only wire to use in my system is radiation proof to 200megarads. anything else will not sound right. 40 year service life, numerous certifications to many industry standards. as opposed to non existent certs on magic wire by "audiophile" wirenuts". http://www.generalcable.com/NR/rdonlyres/6B6CEE78-9F14-4DA6-B578-8A09350CF9D0/0/SPEC325.pdf
What other things are going on? If you didn't know there where magic cables on your stuff, you would hear everything as the same. TT cables capaictance effects cartridge sound, but that is a documented electrical thing going on. Hearing speaker wire INSULATION between PTFE and PVC a some bat eared genius have claimed is nonsense. If you didn't know which had which you couldn't tell the difference. Speaker AWG, effects damoing facture after about 20 feet or so...12Ga solves that with 4 Ohm speakers. Problem solved....Inductance and capacitance at audio frequencys in wire are irrelevant. That comes right from a speaker mfgs instructions, i use. 4 OHM speakers need copper, that's it. Current and damping factor. Control teh woofers so they don't get sloppy.