Audio Advice in North Carolina: July 23 & 24

Wednesday, July 23, and Thursday, July 24, 6–9pm: Hosted by North Carolina’s Audio Advice, Digital Living 2014 will take place on Wednesday, July 23, in Raleigh (8621 Glenwood Avenue), and again on Thursday, July 24, in Charlotte (11409 Carolina Place Parkway, near Carolina Place Mall). Representatives from Sony, Sonance, Savant, Lutron, Classé, Bowers & Wilkins, and AudioQuest will present their latest products, all with the goal of simplifying, improving, and creating a more enjoyable modern digital home. AudioQuest’s Steve Silberman and Jett Logan will share the significant impact high-quality cables can have upon the ubiquitous Apple TV media streamer.

John Atkinson took part in two evenings like this at the two Audio Advice stores in 2010 and had a great time. Food and refreshments will be served. RSVP to with your full name, number of guests, and the date you plan to attend. For more info, click here or call (919) 881-2005 (Raleigh), (704) 821-4510 (Charlotte).

deckeda's picture

... are what drive consumers crazy. The Cinnamon alone, even if only the 1 meter version, costs over half what that AppleTV it's plugged into does.

eugovector's picture

The 3 cables pictured easily exceed, almost double, the cost of the Apple TV. Stereophile, and their mysticism, elitism, and blind adulation of snakeoil like AudioQuest Cables, are doing their part to destroy adoption of better audio by the masses.

JoeinNC's picture

I think you hit the nail on the head with "elitism." I sometimes wonder if Stereophile indeed believes the cable snake oil, or just promotes it in an attempt to make sure hi-fi remains accessible only to those with fat bank books.

threewire's picture

Again the charge of elitism from the self-appointed saviors of audio for the masses. Explain again how having expensive cables "destroys adoption of better audio by the masses?" So the argument is: I am a consumer interested in getting into better audio, but after seeing the price on an AudioQuest USB cable, I become turned off to the whole idea and buy a one-box 5.1 system from Best Buy instead? And you think the argument for cables mattering rests upon flimsy logic?

eugovector's picture

A person is told they need $500 in cables to get good sound from an apple TV. They don't have $500. They don't get better sound.

A person is told they need $500 in cables to get good sound from an apple TV. They have $500. They buy expensive cables which produce the same sound as the cables they had previously. They don't get better sound. They believe they wasted $500, and that all similar claims of potentially better sound must also be false. They never spend another dime on anything advertised by Stereophile.

The fact is, Stereophile could have chosen to run this announcement with a picture from any of the participants. But they didn't choose speakers, amps, processors, or acoustic treatment. They chose cables. Why? Because the cable scam doesn't work without a trusted source nodding in agreement with the huckster. Stereophile is paid to be the hucksters' "yes man".

threewire's picture

No one at Stereophile has ever told anyone they "need $500 in cables to get good sound" from ANYTHING, least of all an Apple TV. In fact, irrespective of your suppositions from the image run above, Stereophile doesn't even rank cables by class in their Recommended Components. Further, many of the cables they do recommend are downright cheap (Radio Shack, anyone?) Anyone who drops $500 on cables on the assumption Stereophile has told them they must deserves to be out $500 if for no other reason than as a tax on lousy reading comprehension.

The anti-cable Mafia has really become insufferable. I'm not a fan of cigars, but you don't find me out trolling Cigar Aficionado's online comments section decrying the stupidity of wasting money on fine cigars because there is no provable difference in quality between various brands and demanding double-blind controlled tests before anyone recommend anything. We get it, you don't think cables matter. Now if you can just adopt the same understanding with respect to your opinions on them, we'll have made some real progress.

eugovector's picture


...Roy Orbison's "Crying" sounded one-dimensionally flat and a little bright on top via a generic Ethernet cable. When Stephen switched to the AQ Diamond Ethernet cable, voice and instruments suddenly and dramatically acquired depth, air, dimensionality, and subtlety.
"The sound is more rounded and full," I scribbled gleefully. "Sounds like a different track altogether."

This is one of the more recent of many.

I can't find any similar quotes for Radio Shack cables, but I did find this:

Cable haters will wince when I also give credit to Kimber Kable’s PK10 Gold and Palladium Powerkords, Bifocal XL speaker cable ($3420/pair), and SSSEUPB and KS1026 interconnects. Let them use wire from Radio Shack and Home Depot and pretend it sounds as good.

It seems pretty clear what Stereophile's unsubstantiated stance on expensive cabling is.

As for your assertion:

Anyone who drops $500 on cables on the assumption Stereophile has told them they must deserves to be out $500 if for no other reason than as a tax on lousy reading comprehension.

That's exactly the aggressive, anti-consumer, fool-and-his-money approach that people often use to come to Stereophiles defense. I wonder if that how JA wants his magazine characterized.

Instead, anyone that calls for scientific examination is called a heretic, as though cable worship were a matter of religion or faith incapable of scientific exploration, or "mafia" as you so nicely used.

I was walking through London recently and came upon a group of people playing a variation on 3-card monte/the shell game with cups and balls. I was informed by my local companion that these gentlemen were members of the local mafia running a scam. Like the cable companies (audio cable, not Comcast), their game was presented with theatrical fourish and the promise of great reward...until I caught one of them palm the ball. Their scam wasn't working on me, and I could prove it to the fine folks around me being duped because they truly believed that the ball was under the cup and the game was winnable, not rigged. I could save them from being tricked.

It was broad daylight, I was surrounded by a crowd, and so I figured I was safe. I pointed to the right hand of the "dealer", and proclaimed that the ball was in his hand. I demanded he open both his hands and turn over the cups with his feet to prove that they weren't empty.

What a fool I just a few seconds, I was surrounded by 3 men, one attempting to push me into the street filled with on-coming traffic, injuring or killing me. All for speaking the truth that no one wanted to hear...and those with "lousy comprehension", as you put it, kept on gambling in a game that couldn't be won.

I'm not the mafia, and I'm not playing the martyr. I'm just asking AudioQuest to prove that the game is winnable. All they have to do, is show that their cables can be identified blind, which given Stereophiles clear, published description of the effects of their product, shouldn't be difficult.

ChrisS's picture

...also forced to sit in a comfy chair?

(You-Know-Who are back! Nudge, nudge, wink, wink)

threewire's picture

This is all very entertaining, but it really is counting angels on pinheads. You're not being pushed into the street by a gang of Brixton grifters. It's copper wire. If you don't hear any difference, don't buy it. But trying to save the audiophile community from itself is knee-deep in at least as much hubris as can be found in any Audioquest ad copy.

ChrisS's picture

If you think these cables represent snake oil, then the price is quite reasonable. Eugovector, have you ever tried these cables?

I have an Audioquest power cable (less than $100) on my integrated Jolida amp at my office and an interconnect from this company (less than $40) hooking up my iMac to a Monsoon speaker system at home. If you ever come out to the west coast, I can set up a single blind listening session for you (I'm not equipped to do a double blind) to see if you can hear the difference I heard when I tried these cables. Let see if you think I'm missing out on "better audio"...

eugovector's picture

I'm sure your equipment is very nice, but that has nothing to do with AQ cables; they claim that they can make even a boom box sound better:

Also, If you read my previous comment, you'll see a very thorough account of having heard these cables. Additionally, I've been to many audio shows, including one in New York years ago sponsored by Stereophile. It was there that I interviewed Michael Fremer, and discovered great speakers from the AudioEngine A5 to the Silverline Prelude. I also became better acquainted with Hi-Fi jewelry from AQ cables to Acoustic System resonators:

Limited exposure to products such as these is not a problem that I have.

I'm actually on the West Coast, Oregon in fact, but I don't need to come to your house. I'll be contacting AudioQuest directly.

And no, I don't think you're "missing out on 'better' audio", I think you're getting the same audio, along with a good story, for more money.

ChrisS's picture

That you don't like AudioQuest "hype"? I know folks who say that they would never buy a Ford product. At least one of these people has never even sat in a Ford. They lead nice, normal lives.

Who in the world (literally!) shops by blind testing? Which audio company compares their products to others by blind testing? What company doesn't "hype" their products?

You put a lot of "energy" into your posts, but I don't see the point in any of them.

Allen Fant's picture

I always drop by AA when I am on a business trip to NC.
My fave is the Raleigh store- ask for Mel.
These guys are easy to work with carry a quite a bit of the more upscale product(s). Highly suggested!

sharok's picture

I'm a Stereophile subscriber.
Does Stereophile get paid by the cable companies to write those stuff about cables? If they do, then we cannot pick on them. But that does not help Stereophile to gain more credibility either. Audioquest Diamond HDMI cable is $1100.00 per meter and I bet if you ask Stereophile staff about the cable, they'll say how great the cable is compared to the cheaper ones.
I looked for the commentator's name, but it says "Stereophile staff". At least the commentator is smart enough not to mention his or her name when making such smart and educated comment.

eugovector's picture

You don't have to bet, just take a look at any story, and there's some tall stories, where AudioQuest is mentioned. "Adulation" would be putting it mildly (second only to Synergystic Research). Ask them to do a simple blind test to back up their outrageous claims and you'll get nothing but silence.

ChrisS's picture

Do you know any Brazilians who were displaced by a $500 cable?

dalethorn's picture

When a company issues their very best cable for whatever price, and maybe also a budget cable that the less-wealthy can afford, I might allow that if there's a good explanation of the build qualities. But when a company has 17 flavors at ascending prices to $1000/ft, I just can't believe that the designers of those cables certified a corresponding increase in sonic quality for each price level. Something just isn't right there.

Stephen Mejias's picture

Hi everyone.
Thank you for your comments. It's true that the Apple TV costs $99, while the combined cost of the AudioQuest cables is significantly more: $54 for the NRG-X2 power cable (0.9m), $69 for the Cinnamon HDMI (1.0m), and $75 for the RJ/E Cinnamon (0.75m). However, we never want anyone to think that they have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to achieve high-quality performance. Our Ethernet and HDMI lines begin with Pearl: $25/0.75m and $29/1m, respectively. All of our cables share a very specific design philosophy and incorporate many of the same design elements and materials: As you go up the line, you do get better materials and, consequently, better performance.

While we would never attempt to dictate how anyone should spend their money, we do want to provide high-value options for everyone. If you’re currently using an Apple TV with generic cables, or with no cables at all, we believe you can get significantly better performance out of it, for a much more enjoyable experience. But that, of course, is up to you. How far one chooses to enhance that experience is a personal matter. You may be perfectly happy with what you currently have, which is great! We just want you to know that there are other options, starting at modest prices.

If you happen to be in North Carolina for the Audio Advice event, we'd love to continue the discussion, answer any questions, and listen to some music with you.

Stephen Mejias
AudioQuest, VP Communications

eugovector's picture

Next time you are anywhere near the Portland area, I'll be sure to join in. As a matter of fact, I attended a demonstration at Encore AV many months back. Here's my take:

I tried my best to be open and unbiased. I also want to acknowledge that unexpected construction in a building intended for the demo forced Audioquest into a less than ideal space and system, but they claim to work wonders with a simple boombox, so I need not make excuses for them.

Regardless, this demo wasn't an eye opener. Firstly, we would not be demoing speaker cables, analog interconnects, or even HDMI. We were demoing Ethernet.

If you've never been to a cable demo before, this is how it works. The loose science behind these products is paraded out like it's fact. You are told what will happen (cables will be switched out from worst to best), and what you will hear. A 30-60 second clip of a song is played, the facilitator spends time last the end of each clip to ask what differences were heard (implying that there is a difference when there probably isn't), offers their own impression of what was heard (usually in terms like "more relaxed" or "more alive"), and after the most expensive cable is heard, we the return to the least desirable, 1st cable. However, at the end of this, reactions aren't solicited. Instead, the facilitator will say something like "wow, that's a bit rough" making you feel like the prize idiot if you didn't hear a difference and shaming you into keeping that opinion to yourself.

Assertions from this presentation: cables are directional and the sound different depending on the direction they're plugged in.

OK, I'll bite. Let's say they do. Audioquest must have some advanced measurement system for determining which end is which. Wanna know what it is, according to the demonstrator? With each spool of copper they cut off one foot and take it into a lab...where a guy listens to it. The same harmonica track over and over, we were told. No measurements, just one prized set of golden ears. I hope he didn't have a head cold, or tie one on the night before, or do anything else to compromise the science.

Assertion 2: The insulation around the conductors absorbs the energy of the signal resulting in an audible difference. The solution? To attach a battery powered doodad on the end of the cable to "saturate" the insulation. "With what", I asked. "Electricity, it fills it up like a hose." I'd wager that if you disassembled these doodads you'd find a circuit that lights up the little light and not much else, but I'm not willing to blow $600 to find out.

Still, I approached the demo itself with an open mind. I wanted to believe. So as the demo progressed, I closed my eyes, set my jaw, and listened as hard as I could for a difference, any difference. It was hard to keep my acoustic memory sharp as the time in between listenings was a minute or more, and the volume seemed to creep up with each successive cable (another trick because loudest tends to sound best), but I tried really hard. By the final 3 listens, I was feeling pretty comfortable with the unfamiliar track and had latched onto a couple key elements that I thought could serve as touch stones, and by the final comparison, the Best Diamond Ethernet cable, properly saturated, versus wireless to an airport express, I can say with reasonable certainty that, unlike the AudioQuest facilitator, I could assert no difference.

Psycho-acoustic ploys (turning up the volume between cables), powers of suggestions and shame (telling what would be heard, using dismissive comments when switching back to generic and wireless cables), and Pseudo-science (directional wire determined by golden ears), are all tricks that are easily identified in an AQ demo. Perhaps AQ will come up with some new tactics in NC?

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

My assignment, as someone who covers shows, is to relay information and experiences as they come to me. When I hear differences between cables, I state what I hear.

Thanks to John Atkinson, one thing that Stereophile absolutely supports and endorses is free speech. We writers are free to share our experiences and opinions in reviews, columns, show reports, editorials, and the like. Readers, in turn, are free to comment on what we write as they wish. The line is only drawn when it comes to ad hominem personal attacks, or to slander against individuals, retailers, and companies.

Bravo free speech. And bravo to those who insistently and incessantly post that we ought to be condemned for practicing same.

jason victor serinus

eugovector's picture

My mistake. I thought Stereophile was a Hi-Fi magazine held to a certain standard of substantive journalistic review complete with editorial oversight. It turns out that it's just another venue for free-speech, like YouTube comments and 24 hour news channels.

Now that it's clear there is nothing more than unsubstantiated personal opinion offered, with no interest in backing up that opinion with a simple display of scientific inquiry, and that's okay with the editors, we long-time readers can accept this new reality and mourn the passing of hi-fi journalism.

ChrisS's picture

Stereophile's standards for the way they review and write haven't changed since Holt first started this magazine. You are mistaking this magazine for something else.

Scorpio69er's picture

"Audio as a hobby is dying, largely by its own hand. As far as the real world is concerned, high-end audio lost its credibility during the 1980s, when it flatly refused to submit to the kind of basic honesty controls (double-blind testing, for example) that had legitimized every other serious scientific endeavor since Pascal. [This refusal] is a source of endless derisive amusement among rational people and of perpetual embarrassment for me, because I am associated by so many people with the mess my disciples made of spreading my gospel."
--J.Gordon Holt

ChrisS's picture

So did "audio" die a quick and horrible death in the 80's? And after JGH made the above statement in 2007, did anyone pick the ball and start DBTing anything?

"I believe Stereophile still hews true to the goals he established in 1962: to review audio components by doing exactly what its purchasers will do—listen to them—and to publish the truth about what its writers hear and think. Gordon called 'em as he heard 'em: we still do and always will."
- John Atkinson (from same article)

Scorpio69er's picture

re: "So did "audio" die a quick and horrible death in the 80's?"

Try re-reading. "high-end audio lost its credibility during the 1980s, when it flatly refused to submit to the kind of basic honesty controls (double-blind testing, for example) that had legitimized every other serious scientific endeavor since Pascal"

So it's not dead -- it's just not credible. But, then, it has also become, apparently, a hobby only for mega-rich Wall Street crooks, who care nothing for trivialities like credibility. I mean, reviewing amps that cost in excess of $166000??? (SEE: darTZeel NHB-458 monoblock: 151,000 CHF/pair). This isn't a "hobby" item! This is not just insane, it's obscene!

re: "did anyone pick the ball and start DBTing anything?"

Nope. And Stereophile today refuses to do so. Why? Simple. When DBT shows the latest esoteric DAC, cable, whatever to be indistinguishable from stuff that cost 10x to 100x less -- POOF! There goes all the ad revenue!

re: JA quote -- he obviously is mistaken. JGH called for DBT. JA will have none of it. But, then, JGH wasn't afraid to be wrong, because he was honest.

BTW, I can see through metal. But, hey, don't ask me to prove it with all that "science" stuff. Just take my word for it!

ChrisS's picture


So those of you who can't afford to spend less than $100 on the AudioQuest cables pictured in this article, let alone $150000+ amps, want a hobby that's been flourishing for many decades to be more "credible" by doing DBT's on everything....

Any takers?

Anyone? (echo, echo, echo...)

Oh yeah, what color underwear am I wearing?

eugovector's picture

This has to be my favorite image for summing up the approach of high-end cable manufacturers:

dalethorn's picture

There is truth there, insofar as we'd call those "elephant sales" when I was selling computer systems, i.e. bulk up the sale with accessories as much as possible.

But in spite of my incredulity at 17 flavors of cables, I am a believer in getting the best affordable quality and shortest leads, since anomalous electrical issues are still very present in modern hi-fi systems, and you will suffer from buying cheap, unless your cables are very, very short and you clean the contacts often.

ChrisS's picture

I don't know anyone who decides what to buy by doing blind testing... I just go to my local brick and mortar stereo shop with the friendly staff and ask to borrow whatever I'm interested in purchasing (if it's wires or cables, I'm often able to take home other models of different price points of the same brand or the equivalent of another brand) to try for the weekend.
Listening on my own system to music I enjoy with no pressure...To achieve a huge gain in sound quality, I often find I don't need to spend more than what I had in mind. What's more fun than that?

Your comments are puzzling... If you guys can't afford to spend less than $100 on any of the cables pictured above, why is it Audioquest's fault?

ChrisS's picture

According to eugovector, credibility ends when a cable costs $500...

Then what's happened to Radio Shack? Do they need to do DBT's to show that nobody can tell the difference between their products and everybody else's?

Once again, if DBT is the "gold standard" for scientific credibility, why does no one do it in the audio industry?

Scorpio69er's picture

re: "if DBT is the "gold standard" for scientific credibility, why does no one do it in the audio industry?"

If the audio industry did it, it would become a much smaller, more concentrated industry. Hard to sell something like these ludicrous pieces of wire

when DBT would reveal that no one could tell any difference between it and standard stuff (that of course meets the specs for the job at hand).

Here's a better question: When the con artists at Nordost want to try to sell you a "Valhalla 2 power cord [which] costs $5,999.99 for 2 meters and is $1,000 each additional meter", why don't you insist that they prove it is sonically superior with DBT?

All of this nonsense is a lesson in marketing. These con artists know there are suckers who have $ to burn and want to feel they are getting some kind of exclusive sonic nirvana not available to the hoi polloi.

"If you nail two things together that have never been nailed together before, some schmuck will buy it from you." - George Carlin

ChrisS's picture

In other words, nobody in the entire industry of audio retail and reviewing does DBT.

By the way, a sentence that starts with "Why" and ends with "?" is a question.

threewire's picture

....the first fires and misses wide right, the second wide left. The third jumps up and down and yells "I hit it!"

DBT ABX testing usually shows a null result and yet countless people claim to hear differences in audio equipment. That likely means either the test is inadequate, or that all audiophiles are deluded, or lying, or both. Or, perhaps, it means the test did exactly what it was designed to do: show that people engaging in rigorous scientific testing of audio gear are unable to discern difference they easily discern in other situations. Someone with a genuine interest in science would be far more given to analyzing the third possibility, especially given that the first two are essentially dead ends.

What's obvious from audio testing is that we are looking to isolate and understand very small variations in listener experiences using methods that simply cannot measure with the precision necessary to produce usable results. Given what we are really trying to understand here is the human response to audible sound -- as much a psychological phenomena as much as a physical one -- is it any wonder we've come up short? I know from some friends in the business that two identical drug efficacy studies only ever correlate to a maximum of 20%. We're wielding blunt instruments here and all I'm suggesting is that it is entirely possible that the margin of error in any human study, no matter how well-executed or carefully designed, is simply greater than the measurable differences sought by such audio testing.

Now, if that destroys the credibility of audiophiles among the great American consumer public; a public that will happily purchase goods and services they know to a certainty will harm them; a public that made the Kardashians and Justin Beiber obscenely rich; a public that is famously and often proudly scientifically illiterate, well somehow I doubt that rigorous DBT will bring them back into the fold. If there is a failure here, it is of marketing alone. Even people who can barely tell the difference between 480p and 720p all bought HDTVs. And presumably all will buy them again when 4K becomes standard. And yet they'll all still sit in front of the same standard-def QVC show for hours on end. Science? Or marketing?

It is not the responsibility of audio gear users, purveyors, reviewers, or producers to sit and wait for a scientific test with sufficient accuracy to measure the desired results before they go about their business. Testing can confirm the existence of a phenomena, but that does not mean that phenomena cease to exist until they can be tested.


ChrisS's picture

That's about it... Good rant!