An Open Letter from Bill Low of AudioQuest

An open letter from myself and AudioQuest to the community—to everyone who cherishes the truth, regardless of their opinions about audio and digital cables, regardless of their opinions about AudioQuest.

For good reason, there is growing internet “buzz” about the recently published findings of Mark Waldrep on his Real HD-AUDiO blog.

Mark’s findings are very relevant, and the implied malfeasance is extremely serious.

I was first made aware of Mark’s post this last Friday, January 22. I immediately wrote to everyone at AudioQuest who either is in contact with Home Entertainment by D-Tronics (the store in Texas which created and posted the video in question), or who manages that relationship, or is involved in any way with our communication with the world at large.

Home Entertainment was contacted immediately, and was informed that there were legitimate questions about the veracity of the video. We asked that the video be taken down, and that we learn everything possible about the production of the video, and that AudioQuest be given the opportunity to analyze the video ourselves.

The video was taken down—however, unfortunately, despite repeated and insistent communication from AudioQuest, neither the dealer nor the production house they used have provided us with the promised password and/or link to the video. Adan Garcia, the manager at Pollux Castor, the production house, told AudioQuest that he didn’t have time to look into our situation—so all we have is our memory of the video. If we ever are given access, we will no longer be certain that it was the same video as previously posted.

I have already waited too long to make a statement—I cannot wait any longer. I would much prefer to be reporting on AudioQuest’s investigation, reporting that either Mark’s results cannot be duplicated, or thanking Mark for having brought to light a serious misdeed. Unfortunately, without the video to diagnose, I can only openly speculate and describe my and AudioQuest’s operative assumptions.

Backing up about a year, to when the video was created—I saw and heard the video. I found the audio difference “unbelievable”. I asked for verification that that there had not been any enhancement or manipulation. The dealer was contacted, and AudioQuest was assured that the video was honest and included no alteration. Maybe I was an optimistic sucker, hoping too hard that the seemingly impossible was possible—after all, playing these cables into a flat-panel TV and listening through the TV’s pathetic built-in speakers does reveal obvious audible differences, but that this magnitude of real-world audible difference should be seemingly even more obvious in a compressed video was astonishing.

In any case, AudioQuest did not object to the video, though AudioQuest also did nothing to publicize the video—it was not done by us or for us, and AudioQuest did not itself consider this video as a promotional opportunity. It was not posted on the AudioQuest Facebook page or otherwise used by AudioQuest in any way.

Digressing for a moment: Back in the days when S-Video was king, it was delightfully easy to switch between cables and show profound differences in video quality, but as much as I wanted to be able to place ads showing this difference, it was impossible to take a photo which showed the difference. The problem was that the damage done by a lesser S-Video cable was dynamic, as is the viewing experience, so I accepted reality and gave up. I did not even try to show a representative simulation. Had it already been the internet age, I could have posted an authentic undoctored video which would have shown what so many clearly saw at CEDIA. At the dawn of the internet age, Component video cable differences were as obvious, but no YouTube and only dial-up—nah.

So here I am today, engaging in damage control. Until AudioQuest is given the opportunity to examine evidence which contradicts Mark’s findings, my operative assumption is that Mark has truly discovered a lie, and that Mark has to the best of his ability, broadcast the truth about this lie.

Whether AudioQuest will initiate legal proceedings against those responsible for the video in question, against those who have misrepresented AudioQuest, is yet to be determined. Until we learn more, and until proven otherwise, our operative assumption is that Mark is the good guy, that AudioQuest is the victim, and that the perpetrators need to be censored. Possibly well-meaning intentions to make the truth more evident don’t count. An exaggerated truth is in fact a lie.

Credibility is always a most precious phenomenon. That many audio products, that many products in general, deserve skepticism is a given. It is a shame for AudioQuest and for the whole audio industry to witness apparent evidence of such deceit and misinformation. However, an exception, even if there are also other exceptions, doesn’t disprove the honorability of the industry in general.

My personality is such that I’m always crying “foul” over unrealistic claims, about representations of video or photographic differences which are obviously false, impossible laundry detergent claims or whatever. I have to close with a mea culpa for damping down my own on-record skepticism about the Home Entertainment video. I’m sorry for all of us who care about our separate and collective credibility.—William E. Low

drblank's picture

as a hobbyist Audiophile, we come across various mfg of audio equipment that is priced anywhere from the affordable to the average person to the obscenely priced products that only people with unlimited funds can afford. We all want better sound quality and whatever we purchase, we want to be assured that the mfg has done proper testing to ensure that it does what is claimed and that it is worth looking into and possibly purchasing providing our budget allows such an expense.

The problem is that people argue back and forth about claims and what tests can be done to refute such claims, etc.

We all probably are aware that there isn't any standard tests, test equipment that is an industry standard on how to measure cables. After watching various interviews with cable mfg engineers, reading interviews, etc., there is some consensus that some test equipment can't be used, and that some test equipment can be used due to inherent noise floor, precision, etc.

I think the cable mfg should band together to conjure up a list of test equipment and test procedures that can be used to test and compare cables so we can see something that would make us think that there is a difference. While some of us are in the "trust your ears", the problem is that if there is a difference in a quality of sound, there should be some basic tests to prove this. Whether it's a MLSSA harmonic structure waterfall test of a variety of musical notes to see if there are in fact differences in harmonic structure when changing just a cable in the signal path, or noise level tests, etc. I think it would be in the best interest of the LEGITIMATE cable mfg or those that want to be viewed as legitimate to come up with proper test procedures, equipment list, etc. to show that there are valid measurements to prove that there is a difference. People don't hear things the same, nor do we all have the same rooms, the same equipment listening to the same source material at the same SPL and have the same level of experience in actually knowing what to listen for and how to tell the difference in two different cables.

From my reading, some of the research in cable design/testing has been done without any college university involvement and there are no books we can read on what some of the cable mfg are actually doing to measure their products before conducting listening tests. I find it hard to believe that Audioquest or any other legitimate company doesn't have test equipment in their benches and performing a battery of measurements before performing a listening test and putting a new product on the shelves. I already know that plenty of companies have invested in expensive network analyzers, high res impedance testers, latest generation scopes, FFT analyzers, etc. etc. So I know measurement tests are being conducted, but why is it so difficult for the average consumer to simply get copies of various measurements of different products to see for ourselves the difference? What's everyone afraid of? When I bought a pair of B&W 802 Matrix speakers back in the early 90's, each box had an actual frequency response print out of each speaker as they test the finished product right before it gets boxed up and shipped. Why can't we get some measurement tests on cables? Is it that difficult? We have the internet and it's pretty simple to take a measurement print out, create a pdf document and post it, and then discuss the equipment used and the test procedure.

I think that any consumer wanting to see such test results should be as easy as asking the mfg for sample test results on any product they sell and there shouldn't be any resistance to provide such test results, or better yet, just post the various results, discuss the test equipment used, and procedure so that the consumer can have some level of confidence that they aren't doctored and they can be repeated using the exact same equipment and procedures.

Why is it so difficult to provide real test results and procedures? I would think that cable mfg would be falling all over themselves with test data to prove their products to help validate the price tag.

Yes, I'm already aware that any product that's produced in limited quantity that are custom designed, etc. is going to have a tremendous amount of markup because the products aren't rattled off an assembly line at high rates. But the cable mfg should think about this from the consumer perspective. You want us to buy or consider your products? Well, provide us with some measurements that help us identify what the possible difference is between the various cables you make and other more generic cables on the market.

What are the possible justifications for a $1000 HDMI cable vs a $10 HDMI cable other than the materials, construction, etc. what are the legitimate differences? Jitter? Show us measurements. Lower noise? Show us measurements. Higher Bandwidth at various lengths, show us measurements. lower latency? Show us measurements. What type of scenario would justify buying a $1,000 HDMI cable vs a $10 one other than the amount of money someone has in their bank? Is it because very expensive equipment only works with certain cables for some reason? If so, explain and maybe show a video to show us that there are reasons why one should spend $1,000 on a cable. And are these really going to show us better video or are we going to hear better audio just because an ad says so? Come on, be realistic. I know you have to dumb everything down for the consumer, but there are people out there that have engineering degrees, experienced audio engineers, etc. and if there are no valid tests that can be replicated to prove there is a difference between a $10 product and a $1,000 or whatever differences between any product you offer. I am not saying to post those fake drawings that some graphics designer in marketing came up with, I'm talking about actual test measurements from test equipment that others can repeat.

All I can say is, consumers don't want to feel ripped off and the audio/video cable mfg have done a pretty darn good job at marketing and selling product because more high end cable companies seem to crawl out of the woodwork and obviously companies like Audioquest, MIT, Cardas, Wireworld, etc. have been able to stay in business for longer than a couple of years, but a lousy job in proving it from a measurement standpoint.

I know it would probably be impossible to have a standard that all cable mfg have to use when testing their cables, but there has to be SOME form of proof that one cable is better. I don't care what anyone says, there are measurements that can prove there are some differences between two different products, now whether or not you like the product in the system you use, that's another story, but at least give us something to go from in the form of tests that can be validated and repeated by individuals and other test labs.

So, bottom line, if Audioquest, or any other cable mfg wants to help themselves and the industry, start to release test procedures, test equipment and test results that we can see for ourselves that there is SOMETHING different that we might want to spend the extra $ for a better product.

deckeda's picture

"While some of us are in the "trust your ears", the problem is that if there is a difference in a quality of sound, there should be some basic tests to prove this."

And since they're aren't, take a breath and give it rest, okay? I grew up in the era when THD was marketed as sound quality and every cheap cassette deck had 20-to-almost-20k response and ... yawn. I even owned speakers that measured like the B&Ws you mention. Didn't help them sound as good. Wanna "hear" the specs from my turntable? They're great, too!

hifitommy's picture

there is a lot of puffery from some the manufacturers, others try to take an honest pathway and produce good value for a logical upgrade path.

whereas there are no measurement techniques for imaging and other qualities (that we hold dear) conventional and proper measurements are done by AQ to assure that the necessary quality is delivered at the appropriate prices charged.

when i put in a cable the obviously results in more accurate imaging that was fortunately captured on some recordings, and the otherwise interesting effects on studio and electronic music, that's the wire i will keep (providing i can justify the price).

i usually limit MY expenditures for interconnect wire is $100 per stereo pair. i do have a $1k silver Acooustic Zen cable that i won in a LAOCAS raffle (a nice wide open sounding wire) and my speaker wire is Kimber 8TC (20') set that i paid $50 for.

another Kimber is my PBJ that i bought when it first came out. for one reason or another, the music coming from the rotel cd player was much more engaging and organic sounding than any other in that location.

i also listened to a demo of three ascending quality/price aq wires in a digital application (at THE Show Newport 2014) that actually did ascend in quality and ended with the one that has the powered shield.

can any of THAT be measured? when the testing algorithm is developed, i will be happy to find out why some wire has better listening results. until then, i will trust my ears.

i will state that the better the system, the more obvious the differences are, and that includes power wires.

a sony or pioneer receiver system that was less than $500 list will not reveal the differences incurred by premium wiring. many of the barkers in the wire controversy have such systems. enough said on that subject.

Panopoulos's picture

Endless is commentation on teh subjectification of cable privation!

hifitommy's picture
spacehound's picture

[flame deleted by John Atkinson - please make your points without personal abuse]

A cable is a passive device, it cannot 'improve' anything. All it can do is reduce losses to a minimum for the frequency range and other parameters specified. AND THE MANUFACTURERS OF THE ATTACHED EQUIPMENT WILL DESIGN TO THOSE SPECIFICATIONS. Thus ANY cable that meets the published specification for what it is, be it an HDMI, USB, 'analog' or whatever cable it is will perform perfectly. Even one for 5 dollars from Wal Mart. Your over-priced products are simply a rip-off aimed at those with zero relevant knowledge.

[flame deleted]

jporter's picture

I get improved performance with this cable by keeping it in my freezer before use.

NLCbw's picture

There´s nobody less relevant than a person who has´nt tried but still oppens there mouth to inform
you that youre wrong. Thank you life for the gift of being able to controll my wallet.

Habanero Monk's picture

MIT EXP2 and some Belden 5000UE.

I've got some AQ King Cobra XLR's and Mogami Gold XLR's.

I've got AQ Vodka RJE and BJC RJE

I've got AQ Carbon and Belkin USB Gold

I've got AQ Chocolate HDMI vs BJC HDMI

I've got $1K to put up against yours (and air fare), your DAC/AMP/Speakers/Material/Room, that says you can't hit any of the above 14/15 potential switches.

That's what I've got. What do you have?

Ayre conditioned's picture

all of us could go to Radio Shack and buy the el cheapo wire and call it good, but we can't. There's definitely an improvement in sound to be had buying high end cables. High end cable manufacturers have definitely discovered something because their cables sound better than regular wire. I have used and enjoyed MIT cables for years now. I don't get caught up in the hype or advertising mumbo jumbo. I just know that my system sounds better with the expensive wire in it.

spacehound's picture

MIT's Nobel Prize for physics. If they can't show it to you then you are suffering from 'expectation bias', most common, believe it or not, among fairly intelligent and successful people who "don't get caught up in the hype or advertising mumbo jumbo".

Don't believe me? Ask any car salesman.

NLCbw's picture

You know this for a fact therefore its true. Hence no different reality can exist.

spacehound's picture

We all hear differently. But not THAT differently. Humans, provided their hearing is not actually 'impaired' hear from about 30Hz to about 20KHz when young, to about 30Hz - 15 KHz or less as they age.

Totally demonstrable and tested for 100 years plus. And the response is not flat. To ACTUALLY hear a 20 KHz tone at the same volume you might find 'loud' at 10 KHz, a 20 KHz tone (assuming you are young and can hear 20KHz at all), will have to be at about 150 dB, which will cause near instant and total PERMANENT deafness and on occasions is lethal.

Look it up,

There are NO 'Golden Ears'.

michaelavorgna's picture

Here's just one reference to support this fact:

spacehound's picture

As training in ANY subject is likely to make you better at it. (Though it didn't make musicians better at distinguishing a Stradivarius from a ''regular' violin in another test.)

As you can see, we can ALL cherry pick our references.

But it has NOTHING to do with 'cables' as unless we have access to the MASTERS we have no standard of reference, unlike the musicians.

And with 'respect' we KNOW where you are coming from. You are PAID to keep "the HiFi pot boiling" and your employer accepts adverts from people such as AudioQuest.

That doesn't NECESSARILY make you or the outfit you work for dishonest but it DOES mean you have an agenda. We 'cable deniers' don't.

On that I noticed a couple of months ago your joyously producing a headline quoting ONE reference saying we can 'scientifically' distinguish between 44.1/16 and 192/24. While of course throwing your usual insults as tose who disagree and sometimes produce OTHER references that disagree with your ONE.

I don't MIND this. You provide value in other areas read and are as entitled to earn a living as anyone else.

michaelavorgna's picture

But I see we are in agreement regarding the fact that so called "Golden Ears" exist.

spacehound's picture

And by my equally (and of course deliberately) cherry picked 'Stradivarius' example Golden Ears DON'T exist so we DON'T agree. And by ignoring that you just cherry picked again, didn't you? :)

More to the point, it all depends on what you want to 'prove' with a reference. Nobody denies that 'trained ears' exist. They also exist EQUALLY among 'cable deniers' as among 'cable believers' of course.

But what does NOT exist are these human ears that go up to 23 KHz or whatever.

michaelavorgna's picture

...."training in ANY subject is likely to make you better at it."

and, "Nobody denies that 'trained ears' exist."

We are in agreement.

spacehound's picture


michaelavorgna's picture

You seem to know what my job is, what I'm paid to do, what my intentions are, what I've heard/seen...better than I do.

Now you are arguing with yourself. I think I'll leave you to it.

spacehound's picture

It is well known from your frequently insulting responses on Audiostream that you don't like being disagreed with.

Habanero Monk's picture

I take you at your word. Which perplexes me because at the end of the day when asked to perform any un-sighted evaluation of say Ethernet cables you suddenly go into a very aggressive self defense mode.

I would like for just once to see if you can meaningfully make the math line up with your opinions about your hearing.

Will you be at AXPONA in April? I can bring some cables and a client/router/server setup.

michaelavorgna's picture

Is that better? ;-)

I see no value in a "test" to determine listening enjoyment. I realize some people do, which is great. For them.

Habanero Monk's picture

You are certainly allowed to hold any opinion on any myriad of topics you want. Being wrong in this case is ok.

But you are working as a paid (whatever)and being wrong, or at the very best, un-vetted, un-validted, un-proven, and actually making suggestions that other people base purchase decisions on enters into the area of actually being harmful IMO.

I like getting advice from people whom are experts on the subject matter. The fact you think you can hear audible differences in Ethernet cabling despite all that is known about the matter just beggars credibility.

So I go onto the only other option I have: Seeing actually prove what you say. If you say you can flap your arms and go airborne vs what is known to the contrary then I have to ask to see you flap your arms.

michaelavorgna's picture

Where's the love, Habanero Monk?

If you'd like to continue this off-topic conversation, shoot me an email.

Habanero Monk's picture

willing to be wrong. I've even stated under what circumstances that I would be willing to admit to be wrong.

Where is your mental malleability in this? It's a prerequisite for growth.

You are the one speaking on the subject of Golden Ears/Trained listener. I'm simply responding on the reciprocal.

I can only trust the person that has 100% faith in their own ears. If you don't trust your own ears why should anyone else?

michaelavorgna's picture

My "mental malleability" has been shaped by many years of experience. The fact that you cannot re-shape my approach to hi-fi is something you are going to have to come to terms with. I think you'll be much happier when you do ;-)

Habanero Monk's picture

My goal isn't to re-shape your approach. My efforts are squarely aimed at seeing how honest you are willing to be. It's unfortunately not very much.

michaelavorgna's picture

I'm an honest person. The fact that I'm not interested in jumping through your hoops does not make me dishonest.

Farewell, Habanero Monk. If you'd like to delve into personal matters, send me an email.

spacehound's picture

If you think that trained ears and 'Golden Ears' are the same thing.

Come on Michael, you have heard/seen these personal vanity obsessed lunatics claiming they can hear up to 23KHz plus and thus they and their ears are "too good" for 44.1 as often as I have.

(As it happens, if you have JRiver you can do your own hearing test very simply. Using YOUR equipment in YOUR room, which is ideal. If you have a VERY powerful system and can't hear 17KHz or whatever, DON'T turn it up in the hope you will hear it as you won't and will kill yourself in the process of still not hearing it.)

dalethorn's picture

The argument against Golden Ears assumes that a person can work hard for decades evaluating and even designing gear, and yet somehow they know nothing and can teach us nothing. I think that argument is obviously wrong. The fact that we hear differently at a live venue says nothing about the fact that the goal of hi-fi is to reproduce the recorded music the same to you and I. If the recording and the gear are accurate, we will both hear what we heard live.

spacehound's picture

And the goal is to "reproduce the recorded music"

The closer you get to the so-called 'high end' the more the equipment should all sound the same. But it doesn't.

dalethorn's picture

That's true in principle. What I've found in equalizing 104 headphones to date is shy of that worthy goal in some interesting ways. I had always believed that if I could equalize a speaker or headphone to a flat response as closely as possible, I'd be approaching the best sound that that transducer was capable of. But that has turned out differently, and the answer, as best I know, is complicated. Keeping it simple, and assuming that the EQ doesn't inadvertently boost or cut some adjacent frequency, sometimes the transducer just doesn't want to be 'flat' where you think it should be. Sometimes the best thing is to just go after the worst problems and make them much less of a problem. Cabinet stuffing to reduce resonances etc. is part of that.

But with amps, the straight-wire-with-gain goal is a much different thing than building transducers. I think we are very, very close to perfect amps even down to $100 portables. But when you start digging into electronics design for audiophiles, it looks anything but close. Cables are even simpler than amps, but they too are a different matter. I'd like to see more specifics in these discussions, such as which kind of cables, what lengths, etc. Speaker cables are very different from interconnects.

spacehound's picture

Though other than a fairly low-priced pair bought out of curiousity I don't use headphones as they are so unrealistic.

The orchestra/band/performer in the real world doesn't move from right to left to stay in front of me visually as I turn my head. Nor do they perform deep in my skull between my ears.

As for speakers, not a thing that you buy often, I use reviews as a starting point and then audition likely ones. In the UK we have two 'always good' makes, Spendor and Tannoy. B&W are never anything special (though never 'bad') and Monitor Audio tend to give them all a rising frequency response to make them stand out in a showroom. Their top of the line 'Platinum' ones are particularly piercing :)

At home I have large Tannoys in one room and Martin Logan electromotions (one third the price) in another, being totally unable to make up my mind which I preferred. I chose the Electromotions PURELY because unlike other Martin Logans they are entirely passive. I did not want 'my' amplifier driving the panel and 'their' amplifier driving the bass unit as I think that is nuts.

Amplifiers - since a visit to their factory (only 15 miles away) where they are ALL hand built by real people earning real wages, and hearing a demo of their entire range in the early 1980s I have used only Naim. Often without even hearing them before purchase. I simply don't see the point in using anything else.

dalethorn's picture

Actually headphones, through 'binaural' recordings, give the most accurate sonic images. In the 1950's through 1970's at least, there was a general consensus that recordings were "made for speakers", but owing to the influence of binaural recordings, "direct disc" records, other audiophile recordings, and a belated recognition that many 1950's records were made with two-mic techniques and such, recording engineers learned to record and mix their tracks to accomodate headphones along with speakers, to a lesser or greater degree. Then the world changed. From Walkmans in the early 1980's (I sold thousands) to today's utter dominance of headphones over speakers for music playback, today's recordings are very accomodating to headphones. However, for users who have lived with loudspeaker sound for a long time, headphones will always sound odd, regardless of how accurate they may be with any specific recording.

spacehound's picture

Some $50 Sony ones which were better than I expected to use while in the garden, later replaced with some $150 Sennheiser ones but preferred to hear the singing of the wild birds.

A purely personal view but to me anyone who prefers phones to speakers while sat indoors is nuts.

But for SOME things even a pair of speakers is nuts too. Watching a 15 inch tall Pavarotti walk two feet across a TV screen while his voice starts four feet behind him and ends up four feet in front of him is nuts too.

dalethorn's picture

I will admit one thing, and I think most headphone enthusiasts would agree - living in an area where a full-up audiophile speaker system at realistic volume levels isn't feasible, I miss the drama of those systems - which I've enjoyed in the past to a limited extent. If I wanted to live more remotely, and build a room for speaker playback, I'd get a pair of Klipschorns and spend a few days equalizing them to perfection (or nearly so), and enjoy my symphonies like being there in person. The point of building the room is one, that the length and width would be greater than the resonance nodes at the lowest frequencies I'd be targeting - probably 27.5 hz, or less. Point 2 would ensure that the room would support the low frequencies without 'losing' them through thin walls or large openings. I fought those battles years ago, until I learned....

NLCbw's picture

As matter of FACT according to you and all your like therefore etc etc. Get this i love science and technology but remember this things come from the same people who used to claim that a bumblebee could not fly.

You dont know what youre talking about if you start talking about the human hearing capacity.

spacehound's picture

Though bear in mind that they likely 'bought it in' for 5 dollars or less.

spacehound's picture

Are not an amorphous group.

And I doubt the people who are SAID to have talked about bumblebees 150 years ago are the same guys who are talking about cables today.

Anyway it's an urban myth. There is no record of it ever being said.

And your expertise on human hearing is what?

NLCbw's picture

Did you know that a person whos if proficient in the kitchen can discern 3000 diffrent tastes where a person who is not only 200?

I once met a guy who worked with paper manufacturing, he could discern alot of variants of white i tell you.

Sometimes stuff work sometimes not, i love systemintergration and optimazation. I choose experiment in a controlled replicable manner and reflect on the outcome as to not miss anything or add value where there is not.

There are very few things in a system that dont change when experimenting in a system.

The ears and the brain have to register the change.

If you look out the window searching for your cat and there is big hedge in froint how do you know if there is a cat there or not?
In a hifisystem how do you know if there a hedge in the way?

Ayre conditioned's picture

over the years that people who say they can't hear the difference in off the shelf wire and high end cables are in denial (I'm not talking about the river in Egypt). They don't want to believe there's a difference because they can't justify the expense. Is that you?

spacehound's picture

Define a 'high end' cable for us all.

"Justify the expense".

What kind of expense do YOU consider justifiable?

Personally I find up to $30,000 MIGHT be justifiable for a DAC PROVIDED it does NOT use a 10 dollar 'off the shelf' DAC chip such as the popular ESS 'Sabre' series as its heart. Those that do are just 'box stuffer' manufacturers implementing another outfits ideas as best they can, likely off the chip datasheet.

For anything greater than about $500-1000 dollars it MUST have the manufacturers OWN DAC, which will be either one or more FPGA chips holding firmware written by them, or a large number of simple processor chips programmed by them. My two are a Chord Mojo for mobile use and a dCS Vivaldi at home. The design of the dCS exclusive 'ring' DAC is from their considerable medical/military/space experience.

Amplifier - up to about $7,000. Ampfifiers are SO superior to speakers that it is not worth spending more.
My main speakers are $12,000 Tannoy Kensington 'Dual Concentrics'. Tannoy have been making excellent speakers for 60 years plus.
Cables - I MIGHT go to $100 dollars for an interconnect. But only one, out of curiousity. As a qualified physicist I would not expect it to be in any way superior to a $20 interconnect.

An example - a typical 'top of the line' Nordost interconnect uses a commonly available high quality Molex cable costing about $5 a yard 'off the reel' from any industrial/aerospace component supplier, uses two yards of it (being a stereo interconnect) and charges $1000 for the result. I could even find you the part number of the Molex cable Nordost use if you insist.

Ayre conditioned's picture

put $20 cables in your system then that's fine with me. I can't see it from my house. Believe me when I tell you that I'm not criticizing you at all. To each his own. You're happy with your wire and I'm happy with mine. We'll just agree to disagree.

spacehound's picture

It's not as if we are killing babies or anything.

My reply was mainly because of your "can't justify" comment.

I, now being a bit old for fast motorbikes, have turned to 'performance' cars. But unlike cables their performance is measurable.

Knowing the ACTUAL cable Nordost use in their $1000 or so interconnect I thought remarking on it here might be enlightening. After all, no sane person can actually believe ANY interconnect, plugs included, can cost more than a few dollars to make. Even pure silver cable is not expensive.

And at audio frequencies,unless you buy from the 99 cent store there is no such thing as a BAD cable. Even then the 'badness' will be in the connectors and a cheap plastic connector with not too much metal in it is in theory better than a fancy connector containing lots of metal.

Ayre conditioned's picture

that you're banging on the high cost of cables when you dropped 12 grand on your Tannoy's that probably have about $500 worth of parts in them, not to mention your dCS. You also mention that you could justify a $30,000 dac. I've heard seashells that make more sense than what you're making.

spacehound's picture

The cable "manufacturers" (most of it is 'bought in' at low cost) are actively ANTI-science.

And furthermore, there is clear evidence available that at least one 'high-end' cable producer (Nordost) doesn't even understand the specification of the cable he is buying for 10 dollars and reselling for $1000

NLCbw's picture

what you can recomend or not, Your recommendation about something you dont know about should be " i dont know" and maybe try some. That has worked for me. I might be something or not.

100 dollar

william.meredith's picture

AudioQuest and Bill Low were aware of the video when it first came out and knew then that the claims were not true. They could have investigated the video at the time but they decided to let it continue because the claims were exactly the message cable companies want the public to believe. I suspect many audio magazine writers also saw the video and were also glad to see the claims which supported their own claims.

cgh's picture

A driver gets nailed when they really weren't speeding and feels the urge to complain loudly to anyone that will listen. At this point the licensed world of drivers bifurcates into two types: those that feel rage at the injustice and those that feel calm. The latter are able to rationalize that they weren't ticketed the other hundreds and thousands of times they were speeding and go about their day.

I have a hard science and math background. I listen to manufactures of audio equipment make all kinds of claims about their products that are easily verifiable, or make claims that are utterly $h!t, but using the word "Fourier" makes it sound grounded in more than tinkering, copying others, and nice packaging. I am not talking about the murky intersection of psychoacoustics and measurable metrics that Mr Atkinson wrestles with. If I were the manufactures I'd have white papers demonstrating these claims on my website. These should be "off the shelf" since I presumably did the work prior to putting the packaging around the product.

So Mr. Low and team got hoodwinked. I certainly sympathize with what this could imply for their profitability and the unethical nature of the situation. Conversely, he's the boss. I run a large organization that deals with just about the most complex stuff on earth. If I screw up I will lose my job. Mr Low should take responsibility for all aspects of his company and recognize that this industry has a bunch of used car salespeople in it will few ethical qualms lying and misrepresenting. My response to this would be to play my game harder and better and ensure that the guys with the bad suits and worn shoes have a totally biased impact to my bottom line: they can only drive it up or keep it flat, but never drive it down via reputational risk.

The psychology of this is that now Mr. Low is in need of "dyadic completion" so as not to feel victimized; in other words the hurtee needs to hurt the hurter. This may only be possible through civil proceedings. Great. The other bit of psychology at play here is what's called Narrative Psychology: this is the well studied human tendency to agree with a compelling *false* story over a dry, albeit accurate, quantitative explanation. So I would challenge Mr Low who deals in an industry rife and dependent on good narratives to blaze a trail in the other direction. The benefit will be that one blatant lie in a sea of narrative BS will not sink your ship.

Edit: I have fairly expensive cables in my system. They sound audibly better.

BillK's picture

I've always told people to buy the most inexpensive cable that provides the sound/video quality you like.

If you hear no difference between Radio Shack cables, don't buy anything more expensive, it would be a waste of your time and money.

I myself have a number of Monoprice HDMI cables that perform very well indeed.

If you hear or see a difference between AudioQuest's cables, choose accordingly.

What I find fascinating is the innate need of so many on the Internet to stomp their feet and insist there is no way that anyone could actually be hearing/seeing a difference, that it's all psychological bias and/or if it can't be measured, it can''t be heard.

I can see maintaining those things, but their demands that differences can't be detected are almost always accompanied by insults made against cable companies, listeners and the like. Yes, those of us who detect differences are obviously moronic rubes who just read ads and don't use our ears/eyes and are "too stupid" to know there can't be a difference.

Perhaps it's just the divisive nature of the Internet, or a need for those who feel we're idiots to be "proven right."

Regardless, as I said, fascinating.

Shike's picture

No one will usually call someone an idiot because they believe they hear a difference. The impact of placebo and bias is extremely high. What gets people drug through the mud is the insistence of differences with lack of proper testing, then when asked to validate claims the stubborn mule approach demanding skeptics need to prove non-existence.

I myself have fallen for perceived differences that fell apart in DBT before.

As for calling out and insulting companies: I believe it to be perfectly acceptable. They know they have no evidence to backup claims which they purposely make vague so they can't be held accountable. You have companies out there that go insane with technobabble that usually fall apart when put to scrutiny. Ask them to make a definitive claim on what's being measured and changing and what it means specifically with proper citing of studies proving audibility. You won't get them.

spacehound's picture

But as there is no known science that can explain audible differences it has got EVERYTHING to do with be best sounding cables NOT needing to be more expensive than the worst sounding ones.

Thus a 5 dollar Wal Mart cable might well be as good or better sounding that a 1000 dollar AudioQuest one.

"like". It got NOTHING to do with whether you LIKE it or not either. When we purchase HiFi equipment we are paying for ACCURACY as that is the DEFINITION of High Fidelity. And there is no such thing as 'good quality inaccuracy' or 'poor quality inaccuracy'. If you don't like the noise it makes sell it and buy a 200 dollar complete system. Or different records. Messing with it by purchasing expensive wire in the hope it will sound 'nice' is crazy - you have never heard the master tape so you don't know what it is SUPPOSED to sound like.

Insults against cable companies? Anyone who sells short lengths of wire for 1000's of dollars deserves a lot more than just insults. IN FACT I AM SURPRISED that a reputable editor just as JA was willing to print AudioQuest's stuff at all.

NLCbw's picture

You are considered crazy for putting the amount money you put in your stereo. What makes your definition of apropriate/crazy the wright one for every one.

spacehound's picture

In the UK (my country) and the USA, for example.

threewire's picture

I appreciate what Low and Stereophile did in addressing this video's specious results head on, but I wrote to say that I've simply grown weary if the seemingly endless supply of badgering cranks who deign to speak for objectivity by deciding on behalf of mankind that audio cables don't matter. I hear a difference. I don't need a set of test results to tell me. Hear's something else I don't need objectively measured to tell me it's true: that all of the people denying the audible value of cables here and elsewhere on the Internet are sanctimonious, condescending, self-important, often bitter, always insufferable, and frequently ill-informed. So far as I know, you can't objectively confirm sanctimony or bitterness from a writing sample. But I hear it. If you guys were cables, I'd unplug you and send you back.

cgh's picture

The nature of this thread is that an audio company sat on their thumbs for a year while somebody in the supply chain manufactured quantitative data suggestive of better sound to produce a sales result. A quantitatively-minded person took the time and the initiative to demonstrate (quantitatively) that the graphical depictions used to sell the product were engineered. Only at this point has the company reacted. Seems the two of you are turning this into a discussion about the merits of audio cables.

threewire's picture

The "cable merit" posts appeared well before mine in this thread and I'm sure will go on long into the night. You may impugn Bill's motives to your heart's content; I was simply registering my exasperation at having to wade through more virtual thrusts and parries in the ongoing cable wars. Whether it took Low too long to respond to the manufactured data is at issue (and I appreciate your analysis of same), but I am not trying to skirt that issue by discussing the value of cable. Rather, I am registering my annoyance that no discussion touching on cables is ever able to avoid the the "cable merit" rabbit hole.

I submit that a post extolling the importance of ABX testing in this thread is almost a certainty at some point. Let's draft a new corollary to Goodwin's Law: as an online discussion of audio gear grows longer, the probability of a post demanding ABX testing approaches 1. If that thread discusses cables, thread length is halved. We needn't discuss the probability that any discussion of audio cables will result in a barbed refutation of their value: that's usually is the first post, as indeed it was here.

It ain't me, brother....

cgh's picture

I couldn't agree more. I'll either be asleep, playing music, or listening to music late tonight.

spacehound's picture

NO ONE here has said cables can't make a difference.

What they HAVE said is that because there is no known science behind 'cable sound' there is no reason why good sounding cables should be more expensive than poor sounding ones.

NLCbw's picture

i do like your stuff do:)

Squid Cap's picture

Nope, not accepting that apology. You just admitted AQ knew about the video for a year and did nothing. I am an audio engineer and if needed, i can organize a panel of experts that can demonstratively show that the effect in the video are not possible. So your acceptance of the video can be exmplained by either:

Your company does no tests what so ever, have no idea what you are doing.

You know that your product does not work as you advertize and figured that this is a gamble you can take. Someone will be fooled and since it is not your video per se, you have only allowed it to exist without endorsing it directly and that is enough to cover your tracks.

No, it isn't. You knew perfectly well that those effects are fake in the video. Unless of course we are talking about simple ineptitude, lack of knowledge. Either you can say you are stupid or evil. We know we can't sue you on ground of this and you know customer protection does not want to poke this issue with 6 foot pole.

Synergistic research and the rest: we are coming for you next. The video will resurface.. Internet does not forget ;)

crenca's picture

Mr. Low is to be commended for directly addressing this, what in the end is an all too common marketing/advertising scam.

han72's picture

hmm, I think you're comments - though strong - aren't entirely wrong.

Yet, I want to emphasize AQ cables (or similar) are NOT something like a financial investment that appears safe & sound at the beginning but once you want your money back it turns out a scam.

When compared to el cheapo cables, AQ cables (and similar) are unusually expensive products. Therefore and especially within the realms of enthusiasts HIFI (throughout of ridiculous prices and extra-normal price/return ratios), it seems (?) safe to assume that everybody (here) would LISTEN FIRST and THEN JUDGE on personally perceived price-worthiness before pulling the credit card.

Well, at least that is what I do.

So, admittedly, somebody crossed a line here with that video, but our hobby has one fundamental principle: you must judge component quality for YOURSELF in YOUR system or a very similar one, or you might be disappointed with your purchase - and eventually return the component and get your money back.

So, where is the big damage here?

24bitbob's picture

Misrepresentation; lying; fraud; deceit; collusion, .... is that not damaging? This, in an industry with an ageing demographic wondering why more people can't see the interest in the hobby we share.

AQ and Stereophile would be delighted if they thought that most people would passively accept this matter as you seem willing to do.

It's not okay. Whether there'll big damage I'm not sure. There will be people in the HiFi/publishing industry already plotting their response, and working out how to minimise the damage and belittle those who challenge their interests. "Of course you can't get objective evidence of anything, trust us"

I hope this is a Lance Armstrong moment for the cable industry, but like that man did, my guess is they'll face down their critics and try get back to business as usual, as soon as possible. If people don't care, and express their anger, that's exactly what will happen.

I'm sorry you're okay with that. I'm not.

han72's picture

are you appalled because you would allow such videos to influence your decision?

I am somewhat disappointed by AQ having used or not prevented others from using such 'cheating' material, but I do not feel mislead in an artful/insidious way or anything like that, because my hifi decisions are normally not lead by a youtube video, but lead only by my ears listening the original equipment, and the resulting price / genuine joy ratio. Nothing else.

I thought that is normal for expensive hifi stuff??

I guess I would agree more with you if it was a different product category, the value of which cannot be assessed by listening or similar.

Osgood Crinkly III's picture

Cable "quality" doesn't exist for digital information. The cable either works or it doesn't; it either transmits the information or it doesn't.

Cables are defined by their speed and amount of information they can handle, purely technical specs which are irrelevant for the vast majority of home audio/video applications. Cables with equivalent specs are all the same. Durability and manufacturing quality, of course, matter, but do not affect audio/video quality.

No special or boutique cables are used in digital medical devices such MRI, CT, US, PACS or digital imaging, where detail and quality are critical. Manufacturers of this equipment are heavy-weight major corporations, like GE, Seimens and Phillips. There is no discussion of cables in radiology physics, which you can believe is quite rigorous, much more rigorous and complicated than the physics of consumer entertainment audio/video.

When I needed a HDMI cable, I bought the cheapest I could find on eBay. It's working fine. Anyone who pays extra is being ripped off.

One would be better occupied if one would concern oneself with the abysmal quality of digital audio, which has gone from bad to worse with the MP3 family.

PS. Have been using Audioquest interconnects in less-than-critical, analog connections in my audio chain for years. They are a moderately-priced, sensible alternative for signal from FM tuners, cassette decks, etc. Their quality is noticeably better than Monster.

BillK's picture

As I said before, if you believe there is no difference between HDMI cables, use whatever you like, but why spend so much effort telling others that do that they can't possibly see or hear what they do?

NLCbw's picture

If i cant hear it your opinion is irrelevant, if i can hear it your opinion is irrelevant.

24bitbob's picture

Whether you hear a difference or not between cables has little relevance for me in this article.

Someone representing Audioquest lied and cheated, deliberately misrepresenting the performance of cables, and did so for financial gain. Audioquest knew about it, and chose to ignore it until someone challenged the video and proved the lie.

In my book, that makes Audioquest as culpable as the original cheat. Trust has gone.

I also question the probity of Stereophile. Will they give equal space to Mark Waldrep to counter this open letter? Do they condemn the lies and cheating that have been proven? Can they comment whether the lies and sharp practices revealed in this matter are the tip of an iceberg? Or are they beholden to a major advertiser? Where is the outrage, Stereophile?

Never mind Audioquest, the credibility of an industry has been rocked. Those that throw their hat in, in support of the dreadful misdeeds done by these cheats, are indeed Audiofools.

Osgood Crinkly III's picture

The audio industry has been riddled with all kinds of charlatans and dubious products for years. Like any other products, if one isn't skeptical about advertisers' claims, one is a fool. Unfortunately, audio magazines today are merely shills for manufacturers and can no longer by relied upon for fair, independent analyses. Luckily, the latter are no longer critical, in that digital signal requires no special, "hi-end" equipment. One can easily trust one's own ears and follow one's pocketbook. One doesn't need an "expert."

BillK's picture

One should always audition anything you are going to purchase.

I have purchased many AudioQuest cables… and not purchased others because the improvement wasn't worth the price charged, at least not in my system.

One should look at Stereophile and other reviews as a tool, telling you which products you should concentrate on auditioning - but one should never not listen to unreviewed products nor purchase based just on reviews.

I don't think people expect customers to buy cars based solely on what Car and Driver or some other magazine has to say without taking a test drive, so why would anyone purchase cables or anything else without doing so? Any reputable audio dealer will happily provide loaners or offer a return policy.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

My initial comment, which I've now edited, confused drblank, the very first person to post a comment above, with DrAix. The latter is Mark Waldrep's handle. My apologies.

The reason that this story appeared in the first place is that William Low sent his statement out to the entire audiophile press via email. Recipients included Mark Waldrep. Within hours of receipt, Low's statement was posted on this site with Low's permission. It has been posted without judgment, affording you, Mark Waldrep, and anyone else all the space in the world to declare what you will. At this point in time, Waldrep has not distributed a statement of his own.

BTW, Wireworld manufacturers a cable comparator. See I have not tried it, and cannot comment on its efficacy.

spacehound's picture

Is caused SIMPLY by the fact that the ONLY people who say expensive cables improve things are the people who manufacture expensive cables and a few people who having purchased them give ANECDOTAL so-called 'evidence' in magazines and on forums.

ALL TV manufacturers, ALL AV manufacturers, and 99% of HiFi manufacturers say ANY cable that complies with the relevant specification will give perfect results.

Take USB cables. The USB specification is VERY tight. It even goes down to the type, material, gauge, and plating of the wire, and screening.

99% of 'high end' usb cables are NOT USB CABLES AT ALL as they don't comply with that specification. Just any old sort of wire with a USB connector at each end.

And credit we engineers, scientists, etc. with having SOME clue. Far more so than the average doctor, accountant, or banker, all technically ignorant buyers of hi-priced HiFi.

Then there is the EXTREMELY well-known placebo effect. I am 'off duty' at the moment recovering from flu and subsequent bronchitis. Having purchased three different 'patent medicines' (there being no real cure for either other than 'nature', time, and warmth), I started to feel better after buying them though we all know they don't really work. The placebo effect is VERY strong and applies to cables too.

corrective_unconscious's picture

There is no such thing which could be guaranteed. This is utterly basic.

There is no denial that "David Ellington" is or was an AudioQuest employee and no denial that he appeared in the video.

If a company knew of fake claims being made, particularly if a company employee were involved, you'd think the company would have done the damage control well before others started making claims of fakery.

The ruminations on legal action don't scan - the purported video does not impugn AudioQuest or its products, it extolls those products. Any legal action would be a class action suit on behalf of consumers against AudioQuest or any perpetrators of the video.

I smell disingenuousness.

Littrell's picture

Hi end cables do make a difference in sound, but you need to ask yourself if the sound is superior or better. The high end cable industry has a marketing machine that wants you to believe their products and the sound they produce are better than generic stuff. They will go to great lengths to get you excited to buy their expensive products. Most of the products are just eye candy or audio jewelry.

In this case it does seem like Audioquest got caught with their pants down and they are doing damage control on an outlet where the audience believes in high end cables. Got to soothe the base market!

Now, if you like the sound and build quality of the high end cable and you choose to buy it, more power to you. The biggest problem I believe most cable skeptics have is the price asked for the products and I can see their point. Is a $5,000 2.5 meter pair of speaker cables going to transform your listening experience from being enjoyable to holy crap this is the holy grail of sound reproduction? No, but cable manufacturers want you to believe that it will. But what the heck, slap a new name, color, and connector on essentially the same cable every few years to drive those sales!

Osgood Crinkly III's picture

YouTube is the Wild West, one of the last vestiges of what the internet used to be. Anyone, anywhere can post anything, almost, as long as it's not openly obscene.

All these mental midgets getting huffy, puffy and self-righteous about some lies on YouTube about SBC cables are jerks. There's much worse on YouTube, vile racist, politically correct, malicious lies.

Man, "audiophiles" are old maids.

corrective_unconscious's picture

Are you referring to him as one of the mental midgets getting huffy, puffy and self righteous about some lies (your word) on youtube?

timc166293's picture

Us audiophiles do not care if some members of our group think cables enhance the enjoyment of their music collection. I would never criticize an art lover over their tastes either. Heck - I even think these high priced cables look rugged and cool too!! I would easily take them if given to me. That being said.....

The issue is a major manufacturer along with their employee has "endorsed" this video. Where was the outrage a year ago? In most companies you need approval from the PR department to speak in public. How did this slip through is the question. I bet the video did great for their sales team though.

People already buy these cables already, why stretch the truth?

TheAnalogkid's picture

For those who say that imaging devices and digital cables make no difference waste our time by posting. Having tested and calibrated many, many devices (I'm not going to try to count, but since 1996) I can categorically tell you that cables matter.
Audioquest's approach that cables only do harm to the signal is the best representation of what occurs.
Anyone that says that a cheap HDMI cable works fine hasn't enjoyed 4k HDR with HDCP and/or any of the many devices that send high-end audio.
Digital cables are all the same/make no difference? You have lost credibility before typing another word.

jimtavegia's picture

What is the truth? It doesn't much matter whether with is in audio; amps, speakers, DACs, cable ( and I do believe that some are better than others), or whether it is a car company who knowing does nothing knowing of a defect or knowingly does something dishonest to deceive to gain a marketing all is exposed one way or another and the fallout can be very bad to nothing at all happening. Where this falls I don't know, but it does our hobby little good. Of course, what is just "my hobby" is someone else's big business. When people I trust with excellent engineering backgrounds hear improvements, but can't put their finger on the what the "measurement" is that made it, I don't get that upset, as I know the motives are pure. That is all any customer can ask.

dalethorn's picture

I don't remember reading where any customers of high-end cables are complaining that they got ripped off. Are there customer complaints here?

jimtavegia's picture

People who are oblivious to the truth and have plenty of money and are unconcerned about "value" of something is not what this is about. Their equipment is making sound so it must be OK! Of course once you find out, this is the beginning of "paranoia" isn't it. Do I have to start worrying about everyone's motives that I deal with now? Does anyone have MY best interests at heart? Do I have to start worrying about whether marketing claims or what anyone tells me is the truth or not? I do now. Sadly the world has become an "X-files" no one. Sadly JA cannot test every piece of audio gear or cable, so do I just buy the equipment or cable that he tests that makes the Stereophile "graded list" and disregard the rest as the manufacturers can't be trusted? You really missed the point of this big time.

Ayre conditioned's picture

demonstrations in "audio salons " where mc cartridges were being demonstrated with a load of 47K to boost high frequency response for unsuspecting customers. Not to mention hidden power line conditioners and the use of megabuck cables for new prospective customers that didn't know what they were listening to, being duped into believing the sound quality they heard in the store was what they were going to get at home. I'm afraid that as long as the accumulation of wealth is the driving force behind all we do, we'll just have to put up with dishonesty.

Sal1950's picture

I may have fallen off the turnip truck but it wasn't just last night. All this finger pointing is ridiculous, AQ got caught with their hands in the snake-oil cookie jar and can't think fast enough of a good direction out.

GiddyUp's picture

It's been a rough go for Audioquest public relations of late. First Stephen's laughable defense of Robert Bairds Eagles article and now this.

Backing up about a year, to when the video was created—I saw and heard the video. I found the audio difference “unbelievable”. I asked for verification that that there had not been any enhancement or manipulation. The dealer was contacted, and AudioQuest was assured that the video was honest and included no alteration. Maybe I was an optimistic sucker, hoping too hard that the seemingly impossible was possible

This cracks me up! Even the CEO of the company can't believe his own stuff sounds that good. Then someone tells him it does and he goes OK. There is irony to be found in there somewhere I'm sure.

Venere 2's picture

Your remark about AQ having a bad week, by mentioning Stephen Mejias' defence of Baird's Eagles article; is remarkably silly! Do you hate AQ that much, that you will next blame them for any thing that happens?

Stephen gave his personal opinion on Baird's article. Yes, he is an employee of AQ. That doesn't mean that everything he does, says and thinks is done on behalf of AQ.

GiddyUp's picture

"Your remark about AQ having a bad week, by mentioning Stephen Mejias' defence of Baird's Eagles article; is remarkably silly! Do you hate AQ that much, that you will next blame them for any thing that happens?"

Next on my list to blame AQ for is Climate Change, ISIS and my slowing metabolism. Actually that last sentence was me being remarkably silly. Not sure where in my post I mentioned they had a bad week or where I actually blamed them for anything.

"Stephen gave his personal opinion on Baird's article."

Yes he mentioned he really enjoyed it, called it art and said he was inspired by it. If you're buying that, I hear there is a video that exists about HDMI cables that you might also enjoy.

"Yes, he is an employee of AQ."

you almost forgot he knows Mr Baird personally, is a former Employee of Stereophile and now buys advertising space on Stereophile. However, I'm sure that would never have factored in to his response.

"That doesn't mean that everything he does, says and thinks is done on behalf of AQ."

I sure hope not. But ending all of his posts with "Audioquest" certainly doesn't help.

Martern Aller Arten's picture

"Do my cables sound better that yours" is and will aways be debatable. I gave up that headache long time ago and started spending my time attempting to make my own cables. Granted I don't have the tooling required to produce digital cables. Let me be specific, I buy what I believe is high quality bulk wire and attach the connections myself, why? Because I enjoy doing it! In some weird fashion, it's enjoyable for me to spend an hour with a soldering iron and various hand tools building a cable. But I also pride my work in not only what it sounds like but appearance. That is a topic I fail to hear in these discussions. In my humble opinion, if a cable or connection looks horrible, it probably is going to sound the same, or at least subconsciously we can agree that could be a determining factor. My point is, spending more money on cables has as much to do with how it sounds as the quality of the appearance. So do high priced cables really sound better? Maybe or maybe not. A dirty car drives no different than a clean one, but it sure feels better when I take to the highway in a clean car.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

torture is the name of your game? The best handle I've seen in a long, long time. But why a picture of Wagner for the title of an aria by Mozart?


Martern Aller Arten's picture

Hopefully others won't translate it sadistically. My opinion of the overall translation taken from Wolfie's Aria is, "withstanding by all means". No particular reason for picking Wilhelm's picture over Wolfgang. I give you 5 gold stars for recognizing the lexicality!

spacehound's picture

I thought it was Mark Twain.....

corrective_unconscious's picture

The point under discussion is whether an AudioQuest employee appeared in a bogus video - a video that the principal of AudioQuest is now apparently doing damage control regarding.

cgh's picture
spacehound's picture

I remember two:

1) A thing called the "Electronic Zeep" claimed to improve mileage and top speed. It was a metal plate with a hole in it you put between the carburettor and inlet manifold. Across the hole was a Y-shape of coiled wire. No power went to it.

2) A small plexiglass 'wing' shaped like the bow of a speedboat. You attached it to the front of the bonnet just above the grille with a couple of rubber suckers. It was claimed to 'smooth the aerodynamics' and thus improve both the mileage and the speed (again).

The young people who bought those are now old and buy expensive audio cables.

Ayre conditioned's picture

You must learn to control your emotions. They will be your undoing.

spacehound's picture

More to do with 'common sense' and a knowledge of the laws of physics, which apply in both cars and audio even if some enthusiasts of either don't know what those laws are.

Come on, you don't REALLY think these 'snake oil' cable merchants have made some basic scientific discovery and kept it quiet do you?

And once again I refer you to my Nordost example of ripping off suckers. In fact, if you look at the Nordost 'specification' it is quite clear that Nordost do not even understand the published specification of the cable they are buying.

Osgood Crinkly III's picture

Look, they goofed up. They owned up to it. Which of us hasn't goofed up? Politicians, for example, do much worse and never admit a thing. This is a tempest in a teapot.

Venere 2's picture

But is it AQ that goofed? People are making a lot of assumptions. Yes there is an AQ employee in the video participating in the demo. There is nothing wrong with that.

What is of concern, is that the audio of the video demonstration was modified AFTER the demonstration was filmed. Was the AQ employee part of this manipulation after the filming of the demo? That remains unanswered as of now. Blaming the AQ employee in question is ASSUMING he had a part in the subsequent manipulation of the demo.

corrective_unconscious's picture

AudioQuest owned up to nothing, except perhaps to not addressing this video'd demo publicly at the time.

AudioQuest's public letter didn't even acknowledge that an AudioQuest employee appeared in the video.

If AudioQuest thinks there were two videos in the wild then exactly what are the differences in claims made in the two videos? Some claims are apparently okay while other claims are apparently not okay with the company, the company must be saying now. (And actually I thought AudioQuest in its letter is saying it wants the video to examine to make sure it was not doctored in some way. That's different from claiming there were two separate videos.)

spacehound's picture

But it IS a "tempest in a teapot" as 99% of Music/HiFi enthusiasts don't fall for snake oil no matter who makes it.

The POINT is that the AudioQuest guy knew about this from DAY ONE (and actually admits that in his 'open letter') but said NOTHING about it until Mark Waldrep drew it to everyone's attention.

Osgood Crinkly III's picture

Bottom line: Chatter on, but this won't have any influence on whether or not I buy an another Audioquest product.

I find Monster, a much larger cable company, to be ridiculously dishonest in their claims, and, as far as I know, nobody ever got their panties up in a bundle about this. (And Monster terminations are crap.)

Of course, to put things in perspective, Audioquest's supposedly "shameful" behavior is nothing compared to the blizzard of lies of the presidential race.

skikirkwood's picture

David Ellington, the AudioQuest employee in the video, has a LinkedIn profile that shows he is a Regional Sales Manager with AQ. More interesting, from 1992 - 2000 he was the Store Manager of Home Entertainment Inc. in Houston, which is the shop that produced the video.

AJ's picture

"Your mind makes it real"

ishis's picture

This is not a cable flame/Golden Ears thread! Your opinions on high and low priced cables are irrelevant, off-topic and tiresome.
This thread is about a fraudulent video that was posted about AQ cables by an AQ dealer, using increasing volume levels to fool/trick ALL listeners into thinking the "better quality" cables obviously sounded better. Stick to the subject!!

WELquest's picture

Thank you ishis! -- Yes, THE issue is fraudulent advertising. The question is who committed the fraud.

I am operating under the assumption that fraud was committed. Mark Waldrep has recently reached out to me, offering to make available his copy of the offending video so that AudioQuest can confirm the audio manipulation. I am looking forward to cooperating with Mark in order to corroborate his findings regarding the (presumed lack of) authenticity of the video.

As some have correctly noted, AudioQuest employee David Ellington is shown in the video, and neither David nor AudioQuest had any part in the decision to make a video, or in the production of the video, or in the (very limited) distribution of the video through D-Tronics website, though made available through YouTube (I wish I could have seen how many views it ever had). AudioQuest never posted a link or used the video in any way.

It has been publicly noted that David was the store manager of a company then known as Home Entertainment from July 1992 – April 2000. This business was bought by Tweeter, a New England based chain, which subsequently declared bankruptcy a few years ago. I believe that the 20 year old company D-Tronics bought or simply gained access to the Home Entertainment name sometime after Tweeter went out of business. That's my speculation, but I do know that there was no direct relationship between Home Entertainment circa 2000 and D-Tronics. The appearance of such a connection is just more bad luck for totally-honest everybody's-friend David, a fellow victim, along with AudioQuest and whoever did see the video.

Sincerely, Bill Low/AudioQuest

timc166293's picture

1. Did you see and listen to the video a year ago?

2. If yes, did the results surprise you on how well the cables performed?

3. If you were surprised why did you do nothing for a year to protect the AQ brand?

4. Did anyone listen to video at AQ a year ago, including David?

Thanks again for your interaction!

WELquest's picture

Hi timc166293 -- thanks for your questions.

1) In my "open letter" above, I wrote << Backing up about a year, to when the video was created—I saw and heard the video. I found the audio difference “unbelievable”. I asked for verification that there had not been any enhancement or manipulation. The dealer was contacted, and AudioQuest was assured that the video was honest and included no alteration. >>

2) see above -- and, because in person, the cable differences are subjectively obvious, the very surprising video, while seeming dubious, did not seem completely implausible. Hindsight now makes me look naive. Hindsight is informative and important, but also not always a fair perspective.

3) After the authenticity of the video was confirmed (though that now appears to have been a fraudulent confirmation), I and all of AQ had no further interest in the video. AudioQuest did not initiate the video, was not involved in the videoing or in the post production, and AudioQuest was in no way involved in the posting of the video. We did not post a link on our Facebook page or in way make reference to the video. It wasn't ours -- it was out of sight and out of mind -- until Mark Waldrep's reporting of apparent fraud.

4) Again, #1 above -- and David and myself and a few others saw and heard the video. We shared the process as described in my open letter.

Sincerely, Bill Low/AudioQuest

corrective_unconscious's picture

Now the dealer who employed an AudioQuest employee is supposedly "reaching out" to you to get to the bottom of this mysterious, misleading video. And the story is that whatever is misleading about the video had nothing to do with the AudioQuest employee who was in the video and was also an employee of the dealer, but who had no involvement in the making of the video...?

What was this video showing, in your scenario, before something "happened to it" to make it misleading? Did the video before it was supposedly changed without anyone noticing say that AudioQuest cables make no difference? Or what exactly? Or were the changes supposedly wrought by AudioQuest cables more subtle than the "doctored" video showed?

WELquest's picture

I don't have any more words than in my previous comments with which to clarify that David Ellington worked 16 years ago for a dealer with a similar name. This previous dealer was in business prior to the existence of D-Tronics, and was bought and had it's name changed, before going out of business, years ago.

The dealer currently in question, Home Entertainment by D-Tronics, isn't reaching out to anyone -- they are unavailable and not commenting, not defending themselves, not blaming the production company, or otherwise explaining. Until proven otherwise, I have no reason to believe that even if this video proves to be fraudulent, that it represents any version of standard operating procedure for the dealer -- though I hope they will come forward and prove me correct. They might have forgotten that Nixon left office not because of a burglary, but because of a coverup.

I'm certain that if it were made audible through a different YouTube video, that the real/true sonic differences between HDMI cables would be considerably more subtle than in the apparently fraudulent video. No one at AQ ever heard any previous version of the video -- all we know is what I've described in my open letter and in the replies above.

Sincerely, Bill Low/AudioQuest

Panopoulos's picture

To wit the video is a revelation of the under-lie. The hand-washing is fast and it is furious, the dirt must be buried!

It is the clarity that blinds, and the responsibility that binds. Think!

spacehound's picture

What AudioQuest (or its rivals) say or do simply does not matter as sane people don't fall for this high-priced cable garbage anyway.

I GENUINELY believe that those who purchase high priced cables are not as clever as they like to think. Sorry.

Why do I think this? Because good HiFi is quite expensive and expensive cables are, by definition, expensive.

So possession of such things means that many owners will have reached a fairly 'high position' in life and thus have a tendency to think they know everything - the old "You can't teach how to run a business" fallacy brought on by vanity. Whereas the cable 'deniers' tend to be technically qualified people who have SOME experience, not the near zero that most of the 'other side' have. And their ears work just as well too.

As I said, ASK ANY CAR DEALER. A long term friend, now retired, was the official (and only) UK Lamborghini importer from when they started in 1959 until a few years ago. He says people who think they are 'intelligent and disciminating' are the softest touch in the world as they tend to think they know more than anyone else.

Ayre conditioned's picture

you are absolutely amazing. You are hell bent on proving that all of us who buy expensive cables are lunatics, incapable of rational thinking ability. Stop posting and go down to your local lighting store and buy a roll of lamp cord. And when you get home you can be secure in the fact that you are the smartest person in the world.

spacehound's picture

But I do have a clue about the laws of physics. And I know a little about human biology and psychology too.

Don't need any lamp cord, my systm is fully wired already. And it's only useful as speaker wire anyway, though most of it is a bit thin for that.

Once more - resistance, capacitance and inductance is ALL that matters. It was in our school physics book and anyway EVERY engineer and physicist in the world knows it's true. Do you REALLY think they are ALL wrong and a few American hucksters are right? (High-priced cables are mostly an American phenomenon due to US weak consumer protection laws.)

BTW: I told you about Nordost buying in cable at about 5 dollars a metre ans re-selling it at about 1000 dollars for two metres. Do you want to know about Synergystics "Quantum" cables? Don't bother - ask your dog, he know every bit as much about quantum effects as Synergistic Research do, I assure you. Yet the mugs fall for it.

Panopoulos's picture

It is fraught by a divine sense of amazement, I have all and without exception, lamps that are already provided inclusively with a cable.

Ayre conditioned's picture

but everything that could be said has already been said. This is a he said she said until more is known. We'll just have to sit back and watch it unfold.

ishis's picture

Imagine my surprise when I received a 'DO NOT REPLY' email from STEREOPHILE telling me that someone had responded to my comment!

I have not posted is using my user name to post comments I never made.

Perhaps STEREOPHILE can look into this for me.



24bitbob's picture

Mr Low,

The cables that Audioquest sell are subject to design and development. Whilst that may involve listening tests, much as a car manufacturer will road test its cars, the design of your cables will first and foremost be based on established mechanical and electrical design principles. If cable X is better than cable Y, it is because you have designed it to be. That means Audioquest has considered: material selection; form of construction; manufacturing methods; material quality; sources for supply (the supply chain); testing, inspection, and of course, listening. There will be other things too (e.g. customer feedback). It has to involve all of the above; how else can you justify a $1,000 cable against a $100 cable?

The narrative that is constantly being replayed, that objective considerations do not matter, is not acceptable. If one cable is better than another, then it is so because of its design. Ipso facto, the design criteria should be verifiable. To expect people to buy on trust, as the subjectivists require, when trust is in such short supply, is simply not tenable.

I challenge Audioquest to have its design, engineering, manufacturing and testing processes subjected to independent review and verification by an accredited, competent body. There are plenty such organisations, and verification by such an organisation would be worth so much more than a glowing review from a fawning reviewer. There is no need to fear about loss of IP or proprietary information; every one of these organisations is professional, and carry out such reviews for the largest enterprises in the world. Doing so for Audioquest should be straightforward.

I can think of no better way to restore the reputation od Audioquest. It would do wonders to establish your company as a trustworthy and dependable enterprise. It could also establish a new benchmark from which people like myself who are consumers, can buy with confidence. I see this as a clear win-win, and of course, the greater the rigour of the independent review, the greater the win. The subjectivists should be happy too, because if your better designed, better made cable sounds better, as it should do, then they can wax lyrical until their hearts are content. Heck, call it a win-win-win.

The real challenge though, is that you don't simply get some sort of attestation that you follow a generic model of a management system (e.g. ISO 9001). You should aim to have some independent body verify that better is indeed better, i.e. that you operate a rigorous, consistently good and verifiable design process.



dalethorn's picture

That would sure open up a can of worms. I said to my boss in Irvine Calif. a few years ago during a fire drill: "What if a competitor got one of their guys onto the fire squad, and now with the offices cleared before anyone could shut off the computers, our competitor is walking around looking at our work...?"

Think that's overly paranoid? Business is ruthless and sometimes vicious.

spacehound's picture

They DON'T do it the way you say.

EVERTHING you need to know about the audio performance of ANY cable can be found out from three low-cost instruments. Plus, if you are really keen, a signal generator for about $100 and an oscilloscope for $500 - $1000.

That will tell you all there IS to know about a cable - there ISN'T anything else to know.

The frequency response will be FLAT from DC to 100 KHz or more (often a LOT more in practice). THAT'S IT. DONE. The rest, from these high-priced cable people, is pure, unadulterated BS. (Which we know already, of course.)

Habanero Monk's picture

This happened with their Ethernet cables. The $350 Vodka Ethernet cable was marginal at CAT6 where as my $12 BJC was at it's worst measurement 200% better than the margin.

Here is what I propose:

1. In regards to Ethernet they fly me out to AQ HQ. I'll provide a layer 3 switch, two computers (client and server), dual port NIC's, JRiver Media Player.

Everything after the USB port on the client computer will be of AQ's choosing. Cables, Amps, Electronics, Speakers, Room, listener, source material edited into a 60 second long track with a 10 second interlude track where a possible change of the Vodka or BJC cable will take place.

In this arrangement there would be no interruption in playback.

Need to hit 14/15 guesses. You need to state not only that a change took place but if it was the AQ or BJC.

Loser donates $2000 to a charity of the winners choosing.

John Atkinson's picture
Habanero Monk wrote:
Need to hit 14/15 guesses.

Your use of the semantically loaded word "guesses" unmasks your agenda. If someone can detect a sonic difference, it is not a "guess."

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Habanero Monk's picture

Up and until they hit a point that is mathematically significant it is guessing. When we have a large enough of a population of N get it right then we can move into the area of significance and move onto what that person/persons are hearing and figure out the measurement/s that are going to show that.

What I have to ask you John is what other than your opinion do you have to use as a metric? Opinions are just as easily dismissed with other opinions. Data on the other hand....

Are you going to be at Axpona? Do you believe yourself in a position to tear apart a proposed play back rig for Ethernet cable?

I'm willing to tell you under what circumstances I'll reconsider what I know about networking and audio. What are yours? It's called intellectual humility.

How about this:

Instead of 15 coin flips lets do two rounds of 12 evaluations each.

There will only be one change in each round. All anyone need do is state which of the 12 in each round was different.

A coin flip would determine what cable would start the round. So not only would the participant have to state 1-12 when there was a change but go onto state if it was cable A or B.

This way any 'pressure' of potential constant swapping is taken away and replaced with a solid one change only option.

John Atkinson's picture
Habanero Monk wrote:
What I have to ask you John is what other than your opinion do you have to use as a metric?

Read my recent essay touching on blind testing at

Habanero Monk wrote:
Are you going to be at Axpona? Do you believe yourself in a position to tear apart a proposed play back rig for Ethernet cable?

In that essay, I wrote, as the result of the experience of almost 40 years of organizing, proctoring, and taking part in blind tests, that "rigorous blind testing, if it is to produce valid results, thus becomes a lengthy and time-consuming affair using listeners who are experienced and comfortable with the test procedure. Otherwise, the results of the test become randomized, hence meaningless."

The test you describe illustrates my point: you're proposing running a blind test that is guaranteed to produce randomized, meaningless results. Which is presumably your intent, given the statements about cables you have made in this thread.

I wrote a while back that blind testing is "the last refuge of the agenda-driven scoundrel" (see Even if you are not such a scoundrel, I have no intention of taking part in your test, so please put your agenda back in your pocket.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

AJ's picture

John, next time you attend a symphony, please make sure to let them know that their use of blind audio testing, to eliminate chauvinist bigotry, that has resulted in far more female members, makes them "scoundrels".

John Atkinson's picture
AJ wrote:
next time you attend a symphony, please make sure to let them know that their use of blind audio testing, to eliminate chauvinist bigotry, that has resulted in far more female members, makes them "scoundrels".

Thank you for illustrating the point I made in the January issue's "As We See It," AJ: that those who know nothing about blind testing for small but possibly audible phenomena believe it simple.

And blind auditions, where the differences are neither small nor in doubt, has zero relevance to this subject.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

AJ's picture

Thank you for illustrating the point I made in the January issue's "As We See It," AJ: that those who know nothing about blind testing for small but possibly audible phenomena believe it simple.

The quote function is excellent for illustrating who may have stated blind tests are "simple", thus identifying exactly who the "know nothings" are.
A real scoundrel might hide behind the charade of "complexity" of blind tests, to avoid their outcomes at all costs.


And blind auditions, where the differences are neither small nor in doubt, has zero relevance to this subject.

Blind audio testing is done for the same reason - elimination of biases, be it chauvinist bigotry or expectations and beliefs, etc.
whether the differences are large or small, real or imagined.

The cable "audio" as purported by this now removed video obviously needs no blind testing.

spacehound's picture

Forget 'listening panels' or whatever.

Just sit in your room, have a friend bring three amplifiers along, (say cost of $5,000, $20,000, and $100,000) and switch them over out of your sight and see if you can hear any difference.

If you CAN they are ALL a con trick.

Why? Becuase at those prices they are ALL well above what you might call "high street products for the masses" and are reaching for an unattaibable 'perfection'.

Therefore they should all sound very similar or NONE of them are worth the money.

Habanero Monk's picture

I'm testing claims.

I'm dubious if your op-ed covers such quotes:

"Again, these changes are not subtle or slight
Read more at"


"All I had to do was sit and listen and the changes I've described were readily apparent. As plain as day, as the saying goes.
Read more at"

I'm not proposing anything more or anything less. This is what I actually base the testing setup upon.

dalethorn's picture

I once lost 20 coin tosses in a row (odds or evens) with another person, odds of which were 1048576 to one against. This article explains so much...

Panopoulos's picture

This is the lucky man, and his home is assured to be in the Las Vegas of the great USA, but it is within repeatability that the true victor reaps the greatness,and so I say the lucky man must live the life that fate is involved (for the id is epiphonic) and blessedly providence therein sparks the creation of wonderment.

spacehound's picture

When these bankers, accountants, CEOs, surgeons etc, the common buyers of expensive HiFi systems (which of course may include fancy cables) tell ME how to do MY job when I say this 'high-priced cable' stuff is pure BS. (My background is in 'applied' physics with 35 years plus of working on VERY advanced computers.)

I wonder what they would say if I told them how to do THEIR jobs?

Osgood Crinkly III's picture

Do you schmucks get as upset when your baby pukes or has a fever? I smell the nauseous smell of anally constricted phonies.

Panopoulos's picture

There is a stereo type here.

WELquest's picture

I'm sure many who have followed this "conversation" have been frustrated by those who insisted on changing the subject -- take out all the same-as-always cable-bashing and the thread becomes readable and relevant.

However, I will take a moment to reiterate what I have said personally and in advertising, starting long before founding AudioQuest in 1980: If any particular product, cable or otherwise, doesn't make the most difference for the least money, don't buy it. And, if you can't hear the difference yourself, don't buy it.

Of course sometimes the opportunity to listen isn't available, and one must act on some basket of others' comments and reviews. I'm simply suggesting that there is no "should" in audio, no valid "should sound better" or "shouldn't make a difference" that should ever override one's personal experience.

Music is arguably the world's most popular recreational drug (music absolutely alters brain chemistry). If the whole process isn't fun, do something else -- climb a mountain, read a book, ride a bike, watch sports. The wonder of immersing oneself in music doesn't require a good hi-fi any more than following a football game and having intense opinions as to the competency of the players requires a big-screen.

If you're one of the possibly majority who got a wet face watching "The Notebook," you would do so whether watching on a smartphone or in a movie theater. One could in this regard "prove" that all TVs are the same -- I don't think this useful perspective is any threat to the TV manufacturers.

Mark Twain is credited with a statement to the effect that at age 14 or 18 or whatever, his father seemed to know so little, but some years later, he was amazed to discover how much his father knew. The term "sophomoric" has been around for a very long time because the phenomenon of thinking one knows a higher percentage of what there is to know than is true is a common human foible.

The trope that runs rife through anti-good-hi-fi threads is that someone knows so much within a certain area, that anything they don't know can't exist. As with sickle-cell anemia and other complex phenomena, this attitude is a strength when the enemy is malaria, or when designing a bridge that must be a sure-thing -- and this attitude is a disease when it causes anemia or prevents acknowledging the 99% of how-things-work that is either unknown by the individual, or even by all of civilization.

As humans, we all think we know more than we do, we all think we're better-than-average drivers (actually, it's 'only' 90% that think this) -- I believe that we should all be careful about when it's appropriate to tell others what their reality should be, and if we really think that they need our help, be sensitive to the recipient's world and worldview. Railing against the pastimes or products that give pleasure to others isn't a service to anyone, just noise to have to wade through.

May the music move you -- on free earbuds, or a state-of-the-art rig, either with lamp cord or with good cables!

Sincerely, Bill Low/AudioQuest

cgh's picture

"... who got a wet face watching "The Notebook,..." Wow; it's going to take a while to get over that line.

"As humans, we all think we know more than we do, we all think we're better..." Dunning-Krueger effect.

This is off-topic, but what is your preferred "rig"? What format? Genre? Idiom? I am guessing you don't have Kimber Select or lamp cord in in your two-way (assuming you listen to two-way).


WELquest's picture

The Dunning-Krueger effect seems to mostly be about those such as some of the fans of certain aspiring political candidates, or maybe more appropriately, some of the candidates themselves -- I was referring to a related effect whereby the most educated, true experts, can fall victim to a certain sort of hubris. It's always an uplifting indulgence for me to attend the Camden Conference (sorry to miss it this year because it overlaps the TED Conference in Vancouver), where I can immerse in a world of experts-with-wisdom on every side of whatever the chosen serious diplomatic issue. The cream of the crop experts know how little they know.

I appreciate that you asked about "preferred rig" rather than "reference" -- that's the question I get most often, to which I reply that if the question is a form of "what equipment do you use that is so perfect that you can tell others what they will hear?" I reply that there is no such equipment, that it's evaluation methodology which does or does not make possible a generalizable opinion.

So, my best system, in the bedroom where I'm guaranteed to use it every night, includes an Aesthetix Romulus CD/DAC, Octave V80 integrated amp, and Vandersteen 7s -- and yes, AQ cables and AQ Niagara 7000 AC filter, also lots of AQ SorboFeet. Most often the music is Cowboy Junkies, Leonard Cohen, Po' Girl, Chip Taylor, Passenger, Mark Knopfler, Rosanne Cash, Ray LaMontagne, Muddy Waters, Otis Redding, Tom Russell, Tom Rush (seeing him in NH is a few weeks), Dave Alvin, Jesse Winchester, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Van Morrison, etc. The late night shared context is reflected in the above. A future living room system will play a more representative sampling of my 4,000 LPs, 3,000 CDs, and the infinite world of Tidal, etc.

Habanero Monk's picture

"If any particular product, cable or otherwise, doesn't make the most difference for the least money, don't buy it. And, if you can't hear the difference yourself, don't buy it."

Here is the rub:

I'm willing to bet money YOU can't hear the difference blinded. Especially when someone else is running the evaluation.

Vodka RJE vs BJC, setup in a LAG or Windows SMB 3.0 Multi-channel, NIC Team.

All at your HQ, your DAC/AMP/Speakers/Material and pick a listener.

I'll supply the computers (server/client),switch, non AQ Ethernet cables.

dalethorn's picture

I can't tell anything when someone else is holding the switch I need to use on my own timing. The test controller should have control of only one thing - the knowledge of which is which that's hidden from the test listener. As long as I don't know which system I'm switching to and from, I should have total control of everything else. Anything less is dishonest on the part of the test controller.

Habanero Monk's picture

That's not true. I'm sure that if we introduced a control track of say 128kbps MP3 you would readily tell the difference if someone else is at the switch.

Now the internal conversation you need to honestly have with yourself is if you CAN'T tell the difference.

At that point you really do need to re-evaluate what you believe you know about your discrimination abilities.

If Dr. Olive and Dr. Toole believe in the efficacy of bias controlled testing, well their opinion, education, experience, far exceed Mr. Atkinson.

dalethorn's picture

You have no idea about testing for subtle differences. Dr. Olive can't be compared to John Atkinson, because he lacks Atkinson's experience and associates. Check out reviews of Olive's products. But all of that aside, if you insist on taking control unnecessarily from the testee, then you're fabricating right from the beginning. The only thing the tester should control is knowing which system is which, and making sure the testee doesn't know. Seems to me you're afraid of something.

John Atkinson's picture
dalethorn wrote:
Dr. Olive can't be compared to John Atkinson, because he lacks Atkinson's experience and associates.

As much as I'd like to accept the compliment, Sean Olive does have extensive experience in blind testing for small differences.

dalethorn wrote:
if you insist on taking control unnecessarily from the testee, then you're fabricating right from the beginning.

Exactly so. The test then becomes a shell game, and an unscrupulous proctor - a scoundrel - can make the results of the test come out any way he wishes.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Habanero Monk's picture

Exactly so. The test then becomes a shell game, and an unscrupulous proctor - a scoundrel - can make the results of the test come out any way he wishes.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Here is a YouTube video on what I propose:

I welcome all comment, critique, feedback, constructive criticism. Prove me the scoundrel.

That's an opinion and you are certainly welcome to it.

When someone says the differences as you go up the $$ chain with some AQ Ethernet cables is "Readily Apparent"...

1. I think they are bald face lying. My opinion. I'm allowed one

2. I think that their claim is easily testable.

3. I think that they would be worried, rightfully so, to submit to
any test where the answer key isn't already prepped and in their
hand before evaluation.

You can not have your cake and eat it too:

Echoic memory. You can't argue that you can hear subtle differences between cables and remember long enough to actually write about them with out also admitting that blinding the process has zero effect on your Echoic memory. You can't have your cake and eat it to.

Now the D-Tronic / AQ YouTube video was so egregious that I could tell the manipulation was plain as day and could also do so blinded.

What are your thoughts on the Harman training software and the Phillips Golden Ear challenge (which is totally 100% blinded).

Now we have both Harman and Phillips that are in disagreement with you Mr. Atkinson.

John Atkinson's picture
Habanero Monk wrote:
John Atkinson wrote:
The test then becomes a shell game, and an unscrupulous proctor - a scoundrel - can make the results of the test come out any way he wishes.

I welcome all comment, critique, feedback, constructive criticism. Prove me the scoundrel.

There are many ways for an incompetent, naive, or dishonest tester to arrange for null results to be produced by a blind test, even when a small but real audible difference exists. (Remember, any tendency to randomize the listeners' scoring will reduce the statistical significance of the result.) Here are all the ways an apparently blind test can be rigged, all of which I have observed from my experience taking part as a subject in tests organized by others.

First, do not allow the listeners sufficient (or any) time to become familiar with the room and system. Second, do not subject the listeners to any training. Third, do not test the proposed test methodology's sensitivity to real but small differences. And fourth, and probably most importantly in an ABX test, withhold the switch from the test subjects. If the tester then switches between A and B far too quickly, allowing only very brief exposures to X, he can produce a null result between components that actually sound very different.

Here are some other tricks I have witnessed being practiced by "agenda-driven scoundrel" testers to achieve a false null result:

Misidentify what the listeners are hearing so that they start to question what they are hearing.

Introduce arbitrary and unexpected delays in auditioning A and B.

Stop the tests after a couple of presentations, ostensibly to "check" something but actually to change something else when the tests resume. Or merely to introduce a long enough delay to confuse the listeners.

Make noises whenever X is being auditioned. For example, in one infamous AES test that has since been quoted as "proving" cables sound the same, the sound of the test speakers was being picked up by the presenter's podium mike. The PA sound was louder than the test sound for many of the subjects. See for more details.

Arrange for there to be interfering noise from adjacent rooms or even, as in the late 1990s SDMI tests in London on watermarking, use a PC with a hard drive and fan louder than some of the passages of music,.

Humiliate or confuse the test subjects. Or tell them that their individual results will be made public.

Insist on continuing the test long past the point where listener fatigue has set in. (AES papers have shown that good listeners have a window of only about 45 minutes where they can produce reliable results.)

Use inappropriate source material. For example, if there exists a real difference in the DUTs' low-frequency performance, use piccolo recordings.

These will all randomize the test subjects' responses even if a readily audible difference exists between the devices under test really exists.

And if the test still produces identification result, you can discard the positive scores or do some other data cooking in the subsequent analysis. For example, at some 1990 AES tests on surround-sound decoders, the highest and lowest-scoring devices, with statistically significant identification, were two Dolby Pro-Logic decoders. The tester rejected the identification in the final analysis, and combined the scores for these two devices. He ended up with null results overall, which were presented as showing that Dolby Pro-Logic did not produce an improvement in surround reproduction.

Or you limit the trials to a small enough number so that even if a listener achieves a perfect score, that is still insufficient to reach the level of statistical significance deemed necessary. This was done in the 1988 AES tests on amplifiers and cables, where each listener was limited to 5 trials. As 5 correct out of 5 does not reach the 95% confidence level, the tester felt justified in proclaiming that the listeners who did score 5 out of 5 were still "guessing."

Or, even when the results in incontrovertible, continue to claim for years, even decades, after the event that the opposite was the case. This happened with some ABX tests I performed in 1984 where I could identify an inversion absolute phase to a very high degree of statistical significance (<1% that the result was due to chance). 20 years later, one "objectivist" was still claiming the opposite in on-line forums.

So don't tell me your test is valid simply because it is blind.

Habanero Monk wrote:
I think that their claim is easily testable.

Thus proving the point I made in my January issue: that to the simple, everything appears simple.

And why are you issuing your listening test challenge to me? I have never written about HDMI cables and regarding Ethernet cables, while I have conjectured in print why there might be audible differences, I have never written that there are such differences.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

dpudvay's picture

To say that blind testing can be flawed is not the same as saying all blind testing is flawed.

Those that oppose blind, ABX or other forms of testing do so on worries about methodology. Can't this be agreed on prior to the testing? And once the testing methodology is agreed upon, perform some sort of gauge R&R on the complete tests, to confirm it is capable of repeatedly resolving the differences between cables? Unfortunately, to remove tester bias, it will have be blinded in some way.

han72's picture

= easily the best posting in the entire thread!

spacehound's picture

With all this 'cable' stuff is:

I am now retired but was in the 'big' computer industry for 35 years. Like it or not they run the world and unless we want to revert to the 1940s or whenever we are stuck with them. The ONLY record of the money you have OR HAVE EVER HAD is little swirls on a computer disk. Taken further, without them there would be no banks, no credit cards, no spare 'findable' parts for the farmers combine harvester, no gasoline, no gas, no electricity, no telephones, no ANYTHING.

Sure, we could 'revert' to the pre computer age eventually, but we would be all dead long before it happened.

And the world's first programmable, digital, electronic, computers appeared in 1943 (in the UK, as it happens). AND ALL THE 'problems' with 'computer audio' (though these amateur HiFi lunatics think computer audio is something 'special') were KNOWN then and were fixed before the first computer was powered on. Or they would NEVER have worked and still wouldn't be working now.

And it ALL depends on scientists, engineers, technicians, maintenance men, and your local electrician. NOT the CEOs, accountants, etc. who are basically just 'clerks'. And it's not just computers, it is ALL aspects of HiFi. We developed the WHOLE THING.

Yet these audio enthusiasts, often CEOs, accountants, real estate people, bankers, whatever, who buy crazy expensive pieces of wire, DARE to tell us we don't know what we are talking about.

It's total arrant nonsense. Like getting out of your seat on a 747 and going to tell the pilot he doesn't know how to fly his airplane.

If there is any world shattering discovery in basic physics it's going to come from US. Certainly not from some real estate guy, HiFi reviewer, or postman listening to his HiFi with his entirely imaginary 'Golden Ears', and not from the likes of AudoQuest or Nordost either.

han72's picture

"AND ALL THE 'problems' with 'computer audio' (though these amateur HiFi lunatics think computer audio is something 'special') were KNOWN then .."

they have solved USB audio issues back in the days when USB was not even developed?

I really have an opposite view on computer audio: CA is an alternative use of PCs, for which PCs have not been developed, initially.
For example it requires to combine things that tend to be contradicting, e.g. the need for zero timing errors in a music signal, and the method of streaming (a data stream of very reduced redundancy checks, e.g. as opposed to those used when copying a .wav file [btw: introduced in 1991] via USB from drive A to B where lots of time is available to make use of a wealth of redundancy data that is checked, and if necessary re-read and corrected in case of lost or corrupted data packages, until all checks are finally ok and not a single bit has flipped).

spacehound's picture

USB. It's just a data port. It's not 'special' in any way. New ones get thought up all the time. Intel Thunderbolt is one, but only Apple seem to think it's worthwhile.

"Not developed for music". So what - they can work on ANY data that can be put into binary form. They were ORIGINALLY used to crack the German "Lorenz" teleprinter code (note NOT the well known Enigma machine as that was already fairly easily cracked). That single purpose didn't stop them from being used shortly after for the accounts at the Lyons chain of UK tea houses and would not have stopped them being used for music either.

Timing. There is NO timing data in a WAV (or any other) file. So it can't be 'wrong'. Thus 'jitter' doesn't exist. Sure, the clock in a computer is not notably accurate and may 'wobble about' somewhat. It doesn't need to be accurate as it is applied 'everywhere' so the 'wobbling' causes everything to move together. I hear (not from you) nonsense about "the leading edge of the pulse" as another ignorant amateur example. Doesn't matter, the "is it a zero or a one?" detector operates where it expects the MIDDLE of the pulse to be, and as it all uses the same clock it gets it correct. Same with "Accuracy of the reference voltage". The zero is (say) 1-2 volts, the one is (say) 3-4 volts so there is a hell of a difference and if the noise level ever reached the lower 'one volt' point the whole thing would have stopped working anyway as the power supply has a pretty severe fault and would have shut down.

And USB uses NRZI coding anyway so statistically half the pulses won't have 'leading edges' anyway.

Error correction? Of course, the thing wouldn't have worked at all otherwise.

You actually think they didn't work all this stuff out in 1943 or before? Of COURSE they did. They weren't a load of hobbyists, you know.

Yes, the final USB output is not checked. But you will HEAR a flipped bit VERY clearly. And as you don't very often it is EXTREMELY rare.

How IS timing done? The file header says "Play me at speed XXX". That's how. It arrives at the DAC, somewhat inaccurately timed. It goes into a buffer, a quite big one. It is extracted at the 'other end of the buffer' by the accurate clock of the DAC. Thr computer's ragged timing doesn't come into it at all, it just makes the buffer fill and empty somewhat, It's never totally empty or totally full because the DAC manufacturers, (unlike most HiFi enthusiasts) KNOW this.Then there is the famous 'asyncronous'. Gordon of Wavelength didn't INVENT it - it's in the USB specification. It's main advantage is money saving, you 'pull' the data rather than wait for it to arrive so you can save money on the size of the buffer. (Which of course matters less and less at time moves on.)

I'm NOT getting at you, but why do these HiFi people speculate when they could buy "The five year olds guide to computers" for ten dollars?

BTW - WAV was a joint development by IBM and Microsoft to store SOUND files, not specifically MUSIC. Which of course is only a subset of 'sound'. They too know how it works. And again, you get garbage fron HiFi people saying "you can't tag WAV". Of COURSE you can, they surely don't think IBM and Microsoft forgot that people might want to label the files, do they? Wanting flexibility to cover EVERYTHING they did NOT say "You MUST label it this way...etc". And that has resulted (for music) in people doing it in several different ways which don't understand each other. But I HAVE noticed that JRiver, Apple, Cambridge Audio, and Naim products (the only relevant ones I own) seem to have all used the same standard so do understand each other.

It's not just the computer, it's other things. Half of the DACS on the market, though accepting 192, only have an OUTPUT frequency response on the analog circuit going up to 20KHz. So there is NO WAY that on those DACs you are going to hear any difference between 44.1 (max 'perfect filter' output 22.05 KHz) and 192 (max 'perfect filter' output 96KHz). And Nyquist/Shannon DOES work - it's a theorEM not a theorY. It gathers the data PERFECTLY provided the highest incoming frequency is half the sample rate or less. There are NO "gaps between the samples" as the RATE OF CHANGE in a 22.05KHz input sampled at 44.1K samples per second CANNOT be so quick that it is missed. If anyone doesn't agree perhaps they should go argue with Pythagoras about his triangles too.

Panopoulos's picture

My mouth, it is agape. Not for the unsurprise of the cable untruth, but of the Stereophile in response. It is the beggar of the query, of what solidity does the foundation rest that it is in need of obfuscation and the scent of arrogance? There is a clarity, for the foundation it possesses the deep crack of incredibility.