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Scrith
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Expensive Cable Examined...

Here's an interesting thread that sheds a little light on exactly what is inside at least one well known power cable.

Elk
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

I don't think anyone will claim that he got cheated after spending $20.00.

I like that the cat is in just about every photo.

andy_c
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


Quote:
I don't think anyone will claim that he got cheated after spending $20.00.

It's a $150 power cord. Apparently the cord the original poster got was part of some kind of promotion, a so-called "free cable giveaway". Notice also that another of the "winners" in the promotion declined when he found out they were going to charge him $90 to ship his "free" cable . For that amount, one could ship a good sized pair of speakers across the country.

dbowker
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

Yeah- I didn't think the retail was out of wack at all-- factor in labor, procurement, design time, inventory and they ain't making all that much on top. My time is worth more than what it would take me to buy all the parts and assemble them unless I did it purely for a learning exercise. Some stuff is fun to build or tweak, I don't know if power cords are one of them.

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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


Quote:
Yeah- I didn't think the retail was out of wack at all-- factor in labor, procurement, design time, inventory and they ain't making all that much on top. My time is worth more than what it would take me to buy all the parts and assemble them unless I did it purely for a learning exercise. Some stuff is fun to build or tweak, I don't know if power cords are one of them.

Really? If the factory cost was under $10 for parts, it seems to me that $150 retail is excessive mark-up....

Elk
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

The retail price of everything we buy appears unreasonable when one looks only at parts cost. This is only one of many costs.

Anyone one hear with R/D and manufacturing experience and knowledge that can intelligently comment on what would be reasonable?

bifcake
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

What is the R&D cost of repackaging a garden variety cable?

KBK
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

retail to cost in viable market, without excessive profiteering, can vary from 4x the costs, up to 10-15x the device costs. The costs involved can be all over the place. Ignorance in the consumer market can cause a given manufacturer grief, but that ignorance is also essential to the western and/or capitalist business model. Not due to manufacturer's trying to rip off the general public, but due to misconceptions on the public's part. Like screaming bloody painful ignorance from individuals on forums, for example.

If one does not think the retail price is justified by the product, one is encouraged to attempt to do so (attempt manufacturing a competitive device, etc) on one's own and that person or group....will soon run into the problems that the originally 'railed against' item or manufacturer had or has.

Each given pricing situation has to be examined on it's own, in most cases.

One then learns to stop giving manufacturers grief due to the overall public ignorance of the depth of the given situations.

Just like any other area in life where the pundit pontificates from a position of ignorance. The in-depth situation is seemingly always different from the surface (public) analysis.

What it many times comes down to, is that the person railing against pricing, would have no problem doing the same (if in the same position), if it is a seeming 'greedy profit level' situation they may be railing against. Which can be the hilarious part. Put them in the in-depth knowledge position of the given manufacturer, and suddenly they are on the same page..and support that 'high price'. And at that point, they then realize that they can't go spouting off about the true depth of the situation....to the general public. That's bad for business, for anyone, even the guys who manufacture and sell product - with the best of intentions.

ethanwiner
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


Quote:
Here's an interesting thread that sheds a little light on exactly what is inside at least one well known power cable.


Heh, what a surprise - it's got plain ol' wire inside!

--Ethan

KBK
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


Quote:
Here's an interesting thread that sheds a little light on exactly what is inside at least one well known power cable.

I just did a quick check on the power cable parts cost vs retail, and it is entirely fair, from what I can see. There are unknowns in that equation. I estimated about $45 costs associated with that cable, and at small levels of manufacturing, there are minimal price levels which need to be addressed that larger-scale (quantity) manufacturers don't have to deal with. In essence --the guys pricing is SOLID. Absolutely ZERO wrong with it.

Yet we will see this 'railing against pricing' over and over again. Once again, due to ignorance, IMHO.

Having a technical degree doesn't help either, it only makes the joe on the street believe one more, even though the economic railing and position can be at least as wrong as the uninformed opinion on such.

For example, I know a guy on another forum, who has 'PHd, physicist', on his signature on every post. Like that's supposed to make him a more credible human being or something. Right. All it indicates to me, is internal issues on the individual's part.

As for some guy making cables or whatever, attempting to start a company in the business he loves..and sacrifices family time, or time he could be off doing things he enjoys, or making wage as a wage slave somewhere...... for me? I'd DOUBLE that $$ number I'd charge you, for taking up my life. Without even blinking or suffering the slightest pang of conscience, as that is the true essence of the affair.

Which one finds out, as soon as they attempt such themselves.

For example, if the guy has an engineering degree and a decent cranial capacity ....he likely spent a minimum of months of his time and money coming up with that exact cable formula. Life spent on the endeavor.

Time he could have been out enjoying life in other ways, or making $30 an hour on a job somewhere. Hiding in a basement or lab space figuring this stuff out.

Making the cable takes about 2 hours of his time, I'd guess. People have to be paid for their effort. If the engineering dude is sacrificing his time, I expect to be paying him a minimum of $30 per hour for his time.

So the labour, life, and time loss on this for the manufacturer, is greater than the entire value of the cable that you wish to assign.

Another thing: One of my companies has one 'business-retail product production' liability insurance policy (among many) that is at $3000.00 a month. Ouch. Think about that for a while.

Are any of you getting this yet?

andy_c
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

The whole pricing issue is just a part - really a minor one - of what that thread was all about. The only reason I brought up $150 was that Elk's post might give one the impression that it was a $20 power cord. It's not.

From my POV, the gist of that thread was the misleading nature of what the vendor is doing, specifically:

1) Putting a garden hose (or equivalent) inside the cable to "bulk up" the appearance, giving the false impression that the cable is large because of heavy-duty conductors or other items (such as shielding) that would make the cord bigger, would increase its cost and could benefit performance.

2) Misleading the customer about the nature of the conductors - specifically, referring to "LiniPur Conductors" when they are actually the stuff you can get at Home Depot or Lowe's. It's the same stuff that's inside the wall of your home.

There are concerns, such as from JGH, that high-end audio has lost credibility with the general public. These are the kinds of things that contribute to that loss of credibility. There are some folks who attempt to demonize people who expose such things - or agree with people who do - with such terms as "anti-hobby" and so forth. As I see it, the long-term success of the hobby depends in part on regaining this lost credibility by exposing dubious practices. There are plenty of manufacturers who have done a great job for many years, and their perception in the marketplace does not deserve to be sullied by a few bad apples.

Scrith
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

I'm in agreement with andyc. The point of the thread (and my link to it) was not to show that the price of the cable is unfair, it is to show the highly questionable claims of a well-known cable manufacturer in light of what parts the cable actually consists of.

That being said, this is a company that has other cables that sell for thousands of dollars. In light of what we've seen, I think many would now wonder exactly what parts are used for a cable that costs that much. Do their $1000+ cables use a garden hose to bulk up their appearance, for example?

Perhaps this should serve as a warning to cable manufacturers and the people that buy them. Make sure the price of the cable reflects the cost of the parts inside of it (and the labor required to built it, along with its build quality), and not just the hype surrounding it. I'd be very hesitant to buy an expensive cable at this point from a manufacturer that didn't provide comprehensive descriptions (with pictures) of the parts used for the construction of the cable that can justify the high price tag.

KBK
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

I would walk away from this thread without posting further, as one with common sense would understand that all valid points on all sides of this argument have been raised and noted. I'm a posting hair more, due to the 'original intent' of the thread linked to, being posted in the above two newer posts. I note what you are saying and now I have more information to work with...when attempting to come to my own understanding of the situation at hand. 'Nuff said. (at least for me) As stated-each situation on it's own, seems to be the overall rule.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


Quote:
Another thing: One of my companies has one 'business-retail product production' liability insurance policy (among many) that is at $3000.00 a month. Ouch. Think about that for a while

I have and it again brings to mind the Marantz advertisement from the 1980's where they pulled a 2270B from the ashes and rubble of a destroyed home, replaced the burnt power cable and the receiver miraculously "fired" right up - again! Any manufacturer takes on liability for their products which is never reflected in the cost of the item being disparaged.

I can't find whether the op in this situation found the cable an improvement in any way over the stock power cable it replaced. His cat obviously found it more attractive than the stock cable. It would appear, however, the op did decide to own this cable without coercion from the seller/manufacturer. Did the op perform due dilligence in researching this cable before parting with his cash? If not, the op can only blame his willingness to own a component he now claims is worthless. If he didn't feel it was of value, why didn't he return the cable? If he did his research and felt the cable was of benefit, it would appear the op has neglected to tell the entire story and accept responsibility for his part in this transaction. "Dumber than my cat" might be a more appropriate title to his thread.

How many people read the list of fats, sugars, sodium and chemical ingredients they ingest with every processed food product they stuff in their face and then blame the manufacturer for their obesity and high blood pressure? How many people buy the cheap product or service and then complain when it breaks or service is poor? None of that seems much different than complaining about snake oil salesmen and cables. It's just simpler to blame someone else for your own poor choices.

tom collins
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

jv and kbk make good points in regard to whether or not there was an improvement. so far, that is unknown. many important innovations have been created by taking known parts or very simple parts and combining them in different ways. i would suggest that if the price of the product was "x", you could compare its performance to other products at the same price, maybe it's better, maybe worse, but in this country, no one is going to force you to buy it. in this case, maybe the secret ingredient that made it sound better was cat nip?

tom

Jan Vigne
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

"Out of curiosity, what was your opinion on this cable before your cat got involved?"

"I just looked up the price on this cable and it's $152.50 without any middle-man mark-up. For some people it's worth it to not have to DIY it."

"But, that doesn't excuse lying and shoddy craftsmanship (see smashed wire in the Schurter connector as an example)."

"This thread makes me happy."

"What the OP has done is akin to opening the case on a CD player"

"The entire audiophile industry (with, of course, several exceptions, more smaller companies) is built on lies and deceit."

"I had the Power 3 plugged into my computer this week while I waited to do some testing (I don't have any decent gear right now)."

"Even still, this post further proved that...
1. These fancy power cables (probably the higher end interconnects as well) are really overpriced.
2. The stuff that goes into these is absolutely nothing special that a diy-er can't do for much less."

"About the conductors being smashed, yep, that's what we call strain-relief."

"The Schurter 10 amp plug used does not have strain relief for 3 14g wires, it has strain relief for the shielding/covering of a small overall diameter cable."

(It looks like a strain relief clamp to me.)

"If the Nite is encased in garden hose, its customized with VD's logo on it"

"But I don't see you jumping down the throat of the company who makes your shampoo. A $4.00 bottle of shampoo costs about 10 - 15 cents to make. Why aren't you upset at their markups? Or how about those bottles of water people like to carry around with them everywhere? It's bad enough they cost what they do, but most use municipal city water (and will be required to put that on the labels very soon). How come you don't have a beef with them?"

"Defend them to the end... Its a cheap-*** piece of housing wiring put in a garden hose to make it appear thicker then it is wrapped in some techflex to make it pretty and sold for $150. This is clearly a genius implementation. What the hell is wrong with you? The only thing you are hearing is "Virtual Dynamics" written on the cable and their marketing BS."

"Really what did you expect? Haven't been dissecting any ~$150 power cords lately have you..?

The power 3 give away was a gift, a story about how dynamic filtering can effect the sound.
BTW the fill is just sand blasting pelts."

"I'm not defending anyone, buddy. If you only knew the conversation I had with our VD rep today... But people like you dont care to praise the good when it's good. I, on the other hand, will praise a company for a product that is good but come down just as hard on them when there is a problem with it. If you've seen my posts lately you would know that. People like you just like finding fault with a product when you haven't even tried one or own one. You jump on the "cable skeptics" bandwagon and find any thread you can possibly join for the sole purpose of attacking a company and their products to make yourself appear "cool" to the cable-bashing in-crowd."

"I just got one of the Power 3 give aways as well and i am happy with it. Even if the build quality isn't anything impressive the difference it makes in my system is impressive. So what if it isn't using the best parts, sound is subjective and is down to the individual. Just cause a Ferrari is $200,000 doesn't mean a $65,000 corvette Z06 can't keep up with it. Just cause you go buy cost and cost of components used, and build quality doesn't mean anything in terms of sheer results. I think the cable sounds good and does its job so who cares if it is using $20 worth of supplies they figured out a way to make that sound good."

"Here we go again with the "measurable" difference. I don't care if the difference isn't measurable all i care about is an audible difference which i and many others have heard with interconnects, power cables, and speaker cables. I am one of the most skeptic people when it comes to cables and i wouldn't have been saying this years ago. But i have tried a few cables and they DO make an audible difference."

"Brilliant marketing strategy. Give away five or ten pigeon shot garden hoses to gullible folks in a chat room. If their delusions posted in the forum lead to a couple of sales at full retail, you've made a tidy profit on almost zero investment."

"This is unbelievable."

etc. That was to page 8 out of 30.

andy_c
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

That's what links are for.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

Links are snake oil.

Elk
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

Fact Question about the cable:

A point was raised about using a garden hose or the like to "bulk up" the appearance.

Wasn't there some sort of iron based powder that the OP lost in the process of opening the cable? Was the hose containing this substance?

Jan Vigne
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

Apparently so. The ferrous material is now covering his backyard.

bifcake
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

The ferrous material was used to keep the rubber hose from deflating.

BillB
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

I'll go back for one second to the side issue of the pricing -
Whether or not one knows details of the manufacturer's overhead, etc - as a consumer I do legitimately get to make judgments on value. If I think the retail price seems very inflated, based on what I know of the materials, etc., then I do get to choose accordingly - by not buying it - and by expressing my opinion, too!

I heard that there are mattresses on the market that cost over $20,000. I don't have to do "due diligence" to think that's probably an obscene profit. Is it ignorant to presume that? Not as ignorant as presuming that the maker has so much overhead and R&D that he needs to charge $20K for a bleepin mattress!

Jan Vigne
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


Quote:
I heard that there are mattresses on the market that cost over $20,000. I don't have to do "due diligence" to think that's probably an obscene profit.

Don't you think you should at least do sufficient dilligence to find out whether what you have heard is actually true before passing judgement? Why decide something is obscene before you even know whether it exists? If you don't know whether it exists, you can't possibly know how it is made. If you don't know how it is made, what would allow you to judge its value? If you've never considered the value of a $20k mattress against a $15k mattress, how do you know the worth of either to the potential buyer?

I know there are automobiles that sell for several million dollars. I know there are wines and artworks that sell for "obscene" prices. However, if the buyer has done their due dilligence and they feel they are buying a value, I have nothing more to say than, "You're kidding!" At the local stock show last month the prize winning steer (not a bull) sold for $180k!!! What is the value of a $180k steer?

You have made several assumptions and passed several judgements that don't seem reasonable on their face. Why don't we go back to what we know is true? The percentage of mark up on shampoo - which consists of approximately 90% water with a bit of sodium or ammonia sulfate and a few synthetic fragrances - is far more outrageous than a cable or a mattress. We all indulge in our fantasies when buying shampoo since the majority of the products on the market contain the exact same ingredients. We make our decision to purchase and repurchase based more often on the packaging - and price - than the results. Why do we spend more than the minimum when almost all shampoos are the same?

The mark up on a bottle of soda which is primarily water and a caramel coloring ingredient is obscene. And yet we pay the same amount for a bottle that lacks the caramel coloring. We are about to elect officials who promise to do things we know are impossible. We give our money to the government in the hope they will do something beneficial with our dollars. We have a president who did not veto a single spending bill in his first six years while running up more debt than all presidents in our two hundred year plus existence. That same president now wants to retire from office as a fiscal spendthrift while presenting the largest budget and largest/longest deficit in the history of the known universe. If tomorrow every person in the US would pay their share of the deficit, most of us wouldn't be buying a CD, let alone equipment, for several years.

And you wish to use an assumed mattress as a model for fiscal irresponsibility? Really?! I am certainly not trying to inject politics into this forum but there are things that matter more than whether someone buys a cable or a mattress you cannot afford. How about the receiver manufacturers who have for the last forty years built largely throw away products with features that are mostly useless and become outdated in short time? This portion of the electronics industry has been bilking the public with disposable products of dubious value for decades. Their net profit is considerably higher than all the cable manufacturers combined and the refuse of their efforts pollutes our planet with toxic chemicals and heavy metals which cost us billions to clean up and yet more billions to cure the diseases they cause. And not everyone gets cured of the diseases they cause. What is the cost of that bit of the market place? We pay billions to the pharmaceutical, insurance and medical industries to solve the problems other industries create.

When we go after the cable industry we seem to be aiming at a simple target that is tied down and drugged in order to make it a sure kill for those merely seeking a trophy.

cyclebrain
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

How many companies actually manufacture wire?
My point being, how many cable companies are just repackaging wire produced by just a few manufacturers?
I don't know the answer, just a question.

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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


Quote:
How many companies actually manufacture wire?
My point being, how many cable companies are just repackaging wire produced by just a few manufacturers?
I don't know the answer, just a question.

I'd estimate there's likely 1000+ places (not individual companies) that make copper wire in the US alone. I might be wrong, but not by much. In either direction. (higher or lower #)

Jan Vigne
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


Quote:
How many companies actually manufacture wire?

You could ask the same question about far too many commodities that are sold as either generic or boutique products. How many companies make shampoo? Cereal? TV's? Sausage?

In the current market place, who "makes" the product is not as important as who creates, designs and backs the product. How many chip and transport manufacturers are used in high end CD players? Capacitor manufacturers? Connectors?

Is a Lincoln not another Ford? Or is an Acura not another Honda in the rest of the the world?

bifcake
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


Quote:

And you wish to use an assumed mattress as a model for fiscal irresponsibility? Really?! I am certainly not trying to inject politics into this forum but there are things that matter more than whether someone buys a cable or a mattress you cannot afford. How about the receiver manufacturers who have for the last forty years built largely throw away products with features that are mostly useless and become outdated in short time? This portion of the electronics industry has been bilking the public with disposable products of dubious value for decades. Their net profit is considerably higher than all the cable manufacturers combined and the refuse of their efforts pollutes our planet with toxic chemicals and heavy metals which cost us billions to clean up and yet more billions to cure the diseases they cause. And not everyone gets cured of the diseases they cause. What is the cost of that bit of the market place? We pay billions to the pharmaceutical, insurance and medical industries to solve the problems other industries create.

When we go after the cable industry we seem to be aiming at a simple target that is tied down and drugged in order to make it a sure kill for those merely seeking a trophy.

This is probably the first intelligent post I've ever seen you make. I completely agree with your sentiment here. However, I would like to retort:

Whereas you are completely correct in all the points you make, given that this is a stereophile forum, it serves as a microcosm. 99.9999999% of things out there are by far more important than audio cables or anything to do with audio, but not in this universe. In this microcosm, THIS is a pressing issue.

Yes, the shampoo industry rapes us as does the food industry, pharmaceutical industry and others. However, they are not so blatant about raping us. A can of soda costs approx 1/4 of a penny when accounting for scale, yet we pay over a dollar for it in a store. Highway robbery indeed. Yet, since there are no sodas that sell for a quarter, we all assume that dollar fifty is a fair price for a can of soda. The same goes for most other products.

Cables on the other hand are readily available for a few dollars, thus providing a baseline for comparison. Therefore, the following thought process occurs:

If it's possible and profitable to sell a cable for $5, what would be in a cable that would justify a $5,000 price tag? Is this cable better? Perhaps. What makes it better? Hmmm... (insert a manufacturer's claim here). Ok, so let's test the claim - test either fails or manufacturer backs out. Ok, curious... let's take the cable apart to see what's inside... what do you know? It's a cable. It looks like the same cable as a $5 cable with better insulation. Ok... how much would such insulation add to the cost of the cable? Let's say another $5, so that makes this a $10 cable. Ok... seems reasonable... Let's add some money for limited production run, and a limited market... so, let's quintuple the price. That makes it a $50 cable. What justifies the extra $4450? The only thing that comes to mind is profiteering and lies about some magical formula that can't be measured or reproduced by others. That type of a thing makes everyone angry. The difference between a million dollar car and a $5000 cable is that the million dollar car's performance can be measured, its luxury can be readily seen or it serves as a penile extension. No value can be placed on penile extensions in the form of cars, collectibles, jewelry or other status symbols.

So, if you're telling me that a $5,000 cable is a status symbol, I will readily accept that and that will be the end of the argument. However, if you're telling me that there's something magical about this cable because of the secret ingredients assembled in an immeasurable way, then that's when points of contention arise.

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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


Quote:

Quote:
I heard that there are mattresses on the market that cost over $20,000. I don't have to do "due diligence" to think that's probably an obscene profit.

Don't you think you should at least do sufficient dilligence to find out whether what you have heard is actually true before passing judgement? Why decide something is obscene before you even know whether it exists? If you don't know whether it exists, you can't possibly know how it is made. (etc etc)

Your presumption is wrong; it does exist; when I say I "heard" about it, that is a colloquial way of saying I know about it. Read an article, saw photos. Real product, I'm not making it up.
Yes, I make an initial presumption that $25,000 is way way way too much for a mattress. Not incumbent on me to investigate it further, since I'm not remotely in the market for such a thing.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

I see you are merely trying to butter me up with your lead sentence since what you post makes no sense what so ever.

Alex, if you honestly believe all things in this world can be discerned by a casual examination with the naked eye, then we have nothing to discuss regarding cables or most other things. And I am not at all interested in a repeat of your absurd calculations of value. There is no way to discuss value with someone who cannot see the value of possessing ethics. If you go through life believing everyone you meet is trying to take advantage of you, you will never find the value in anything or anyone. If you cannot think to listen to an audio product, we have nothing in common and will never meet in the middle on anything about this hobby. If you assign only a common value to all things, you will never have more than a common product. If you cannot see there are more things to consider than the cost of parts, you will never possess anything of real value. It is impossible to discuss the value of a dollar with anyone who only sees it as 100 pennies.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


Quote:
Your presumption is wrong; it does exist; when I say I "heard" about it, that is a colloquial way of saying I know about it. Read an article, saw photos. Real product, I'm not making it up.
Yes, I make an initial presumption that $25,000 is way way way too much for a mattress. Not incumbent on me to investigate it further, since I'm not remotely in the market for such a thing.

But that's not what you said in your intial post. Disregarding your misleading statement, you had made a decision the manufacturer was making an "obscene" profit. Now the price is simply "too much" for a mattress. I think if you are going to make an assessment of how much is too much, then it is incumbent upon you to determine what value the item might hold for a buyer. Like Alex, if you are only adding up raw material cost, you have missed the point of this product and possibly many others. If you are not interested in the product merely due to its cost, then you have no real right to assess value for anyone else. How much value would you believe accrues to the bed this mattress fits? If it is a one of a kind item, hand made by an artisan, how do you then decide it is worth "X" amount? Anyone who looks at a product, adds up the cost of materials and believes they could do the same should do so and not sit around criticizing those who have.

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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


Quote:

Quote:
Your presumption is wrong; it does exist; when I say I "heard" about it, that is a colloquial way of saying I know about it. Read an article, saw photos. Real product, I'm not making it up.
Yes, I make an initial presumption that $25,000 is way way way too much for a mattress. Not incumbent on me to investigate it further, since I'm not remotely in the market for such a thing.

But that's not what you said in your intial post. Disregarding your misleading statement, you had made a decision the manufacturer was making an "obscene" profit. Now the price is simply "too much" for a mattress. I think if you are going to make an assessment of how much is too much, then it is incumbent upon you to determine what value the item might hold for a buyer. Like Alex, if you are only adding up raw material cost, you have missed the point of this product and possibly many others. If you are not interested in the product merely due to its cost, then you have no real right to assess value for anyone else. How much value would you believe accrues to the bed this mattress fits? If it is a one of a kind item, hand made by an artisan, how do you then decide it is worth "X" amount? Anyone who looks at a product, adds up the cost of materials and believes they could do the same should do so and not sit around criticizing those who have.

Goodness gracious, you're being needlessly argumentative. My response would be to repeat exactly what I said above. Done.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


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Goodness gracious, you're being needlessly argumentative.

Well, I would say bringing a $20k mattress into the discussion of a $159 cable is needlessly argumentative. What was it meant to prove? Just as Alex's non-existent, I'll make it sound the way I want it to sound, $5k cable has nothing to do with the value of this particular cable neither did this mattress. That, however, is how any anti-cable thread goes. Those who simply insist all cables are rip offs and all sellers are charlatans quickly get down to the point of making things up to "prove" their point. The debate is highly partisan, marred by soaring flights of fancy and no one has ever come away convinced they are wrong.

Elk
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

Back to the topic:

It appears that this particular cord was stuffed with a ferrite of some sort. Does anyone know how effective this is and how common the practice?

Does Shunyata use its FeSi compound in a similar fashion?

I am, of course, familiar with ferrite chokes, but in this circumstance they appear to be using the substance as a shield.

One thing that occurs to me is that the use of such a compound to surround all of the wiring could affect electrical conduction as electron energy transfer actually occurs akin to waves on the surface/immediate outside of the conductor. Then again, as we are dealing with very small distances, this is probably occurring in the dielectric of the wires themselves - comments?

Jan Vigne
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

The material was a sandblasting pellet so it's probably not ferrous and this was another incorrect assumption the op made along with the garden hose theory. I don't do sandblasting though I could ask my neighbor for more information if someone just must know the make up of these pellets. I would guess the pellet was a sort of silica/glass material and there is no indication it was used for EMI/RFI shielding. I would assume it was used as an anti-vibration/damping material from what I read on the Virtual Dynamics web page; http://www.virtualdynamics.ca/Dynamic-Filtering-4-0/ This whole idea that a "garden hose" was used to make the conductors appear larger is apparently missing the whole approach VD takes toward their cables.

cyclebrain
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

I'm going to report you guys to PETA. Stuffing cables with cute furry ferrets and doing ferret chokes.

Ferrite is not used for RF/EMI shielding, but for RF/EMI suppression. Often used as a band aid to fix poorly designed circuits. Only affects frequencies well above the audio range.

gkc
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

Alex, your last paragraph caught my eye. Now, really, who goes around bragging about having purchased $5000 cables. In my 2 systems (obviously, more than one pair of cables), I have about $15,000 worth of wire. All of it was chosen over a period of about 8 years, piece by piece, after careful listening. Since I have 17 pairs of cables (two systems), the cost per pair averages out to slightly less than a grand per pair. This, however, is deceiving -- "averages" always are. One set of speaker cables cost about $1200, while the other cost about $4000. I have a $1200 digital wire running between one of my DAC's and its brother transport. It was worth every dime. The $70 one it replaced sounded okay -- this one sounded splendid. Trust me -- I really wanted the cheap one to sound adequate by comparison, since the difference would buy me half a case of a particularly fine Islay Scotch, but, alas, it was not to be. As much as I love Scotch, the music is more important.

There was nothing "magical" about any of it. The cables I chose sounded better in my systems than the ones I didn't choose. My comparison points were mental images of live concert experiences: the cables that got me closer to those images won out. In some cases, lower priced cables took the day, but all were a bit pricey against your implied and overt value scales. Sometimes, it does cost more money (parts, labor, and throwaways) to build a better product.

Do your own due diligence, as they say in the world of securities and commodities speculation. But do not do mine for me. I KNOW what I want. I seek an image. Anything that gets me closer gets the nod. And I shop carefully. To attach adjectives like "status" and "prestige" to these kinds of purchases is begging the point. A classical rhetorical fallacy.

Words mean nothing in this argument. If you can hear the difference, and the difference gets you closer to your own image of a live acoustic performance, then buy it. If you can't, don't.

I display neither my mattresses nor my audio cables in public. This is, apparently, a private fantasy that pleases you when you indulge. Again, all this is merely begging the point.

I gave at the office. You shall have no alms from me.

Just listen. There is nothing to prove. If you wish to protect me from myself (such a noble motive!), and expose my folly, you will get nowhere without inhabiting my seat at Disney Hall, or my favorite listening chair. The former? Buy a ticket. The latter. I got dibs.

Happy tunes.

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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

Hi Clifton,

I wanted to make this point very clear: I never questioned the validity of various cables on the sound reproduction of a system. Different cables do sound different. What I question is whether cables actually cost this kind of money to research and develop and whether the claims by the manufacturers are really valid. I believe you when you say that you heard the differences in cables and that you did careful matching to bring the system closer to where you want it to be. I just went through a similar process with a friend of mine who looking to get more feeling out of his system.

What I do question is whether it takes $4,000 to do it. Whether that $4,000 should really cost that much. I wouldn't be surprised if that $4,000 cable can still be profitable at $50.

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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

Clifton, your posts always delight; delicious language and images inspired by careful thought, sprinkled with humor.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


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I wouldn't be surprised if that $4,000 cable can still be profitable at $50.

I would be. Alex, I don't believe you understand how an industry that appeals to a very small portion of the public operates. Nor do I think your imagined visual examination of the component parts of a non-existent $5k cable bear any weight in determining how much any real cable should cost.

You can buy all the parts and put together a decent DIY cable for under $50, no one denies that. Some people choose not to DIY it and they are willing to pay the price for someone else to provide the parts and labor. But for you to build a DIY cable you're probably working from a design perfected by someone else who placed that DIY cable on the internet. Do you suppose the designer of that cable tried just one design and called it a success? Not on any web site I've seen. They've all done a fair share of trial and error which means a good deal of success and failure and consideration of both. They've probably thrown away a dozen cables for every one they've kept. After all their work, and with all the designs available, they will get a small portion of the public to try their design. A portion of their overall cost is for research and development and is not accounted for in your assessment of final parts cost for a completed cable. The other more valuable portion of that design is culled from their talent, experience and knowledge which is not accounted for on a simple parts count of the final tally sheet. How do you assess a price to talent and knowledge? Isn't the idea to reward talent and innovation? Then why stifle it with complaints that the profit for talent, knowledge, innovation and determination should only allow "X" amount of profit? These are typically the type of compliants that come from someone not engaged in the design and innovation of anything. That includes the majority of the public since it requires a desire and commitment to benefit from one's talents that drives anyone to start their own business knowing there will always be someone who feels they are making too much profit for what it costs to simply put the bits together.

As the thread on the op's forum rightly states, it's not that this $159 cable is using common parts that matters (though the idea these are all just common parts seems to be overstated) but the value amounts to the fact the designer got better performance out of a combination of fairly common parts. It is the designer's innovation in assembling those parts the is being rewarded. There are sufficient numbers of users who feel the cable was beneficial. Furthermore, the manufacturer provides a return policy should you decide the cable is not as good as the claims made for it would suggest. I don't see any cable manufacturer selling a bottle of snake oil and then riding out of town with their profit. Cables are not forced upon any buyer and are generally treated with a more fair minded deal than many other pieces of audio coming from the mass market manufacturers. However, you want to eliminate the value the designer places on their talent, knowledge, perserverance and dedication. You want the final product only to reflect what common parts you could buy after the work of collecting specific parts has been done. While in keeping with your general approach to pricing, that simply isn't fair and it's not how the game is played. Why do the talented people get paid for their natural ability? Because they have an ability to bring more profit to the final product and they expect to be rewarded for their individual work and talent. Therefore, arguing on the basis of profit based on raw materials alone is frivilous and displays a lack of concern for the designer, performer, athlete, artist, etc. If you believe you can do the same or better, then do it; otherwise, your complaint of too much profit is merely a voice crying that someone is once again unfairly taking advantage of you by way of their own initiative and skills.

The DIY design which you choose to copy is based upon simple over the counter ingredients that do not reflect the cost of tooling and short run processes which will be found in commercial products. Taking a Belden cable and wrapping it in a certain fashion or attaching it to specified connectors is not the same as designing an entirely new cable. It shouldn't be a surprise that most cable manufacturers do not produce their own cables. That is often used as an excuse for why their cables should cost less. But those arguments ignore the cost of having a large cable producer shut down production of a profitable portion of their plant to run a one off of a proposed design for a high end audio cable designer. And they ignore the continued cost to have the next and the next and the next version of that cable produced in small quantities. If you can look at a Nordost cable and see Belden coaxial, then you need to reassess your thinking. But your allowable profit margins don't allow for any of this. Your allowable profit margins don't allow for a small manufacturer to make a decent living running a small plant that employs a few workers who all wish to make a decent living with benefits and the prospect of a bit of a better life than a migrant worker picking lettuce. Your allowable profi margins don't allow for the designer to want that for his employees. High end audio cables are not a head of iceberg. There are no subsidies for high end cable manufacturers. They have taken the intiative to accept the responsibility for their own life and that of their employees. How many $5k cables or $12k amplifiers do you suppose each manufacturer must sell each year in order to maintain a decent living for him/herself and their employees? How many Ferraris are sold each year? Why are they similar? Because neither is a head of iceberg. These are not commoditites assembled and processed in large quantities for a mass market and the pricing of such products reflects their rarity and the designer's/manufacturer's dedication to producing such products. I do believe most talented high end audio designers could make a better living with fewer headaches, uncertainties and concerns if they went to work for a large industry such as TI who takes their intellectual property and talent and absorbs it into the amalgom of big business. Therefore, if you don't wish to pay for someone's talent and innovation, don't do it. Stand aside and let those who do wish to reward talent and innovation pay for what they feel is valuable. And don't complain that they do so since it doesn't come out of your pocket. Without such individuals on both ends of the profit scale, there would be less talent and far less innovation in this industry and throughout history.

However, you prefer only to look at the cost of parts that you, in an imagined cursory visual inspection of an imaginary product which you get to "create", feel are similar to over the counter pieces you price and you determine that all cables should cost no more than what you are willing to spend and all cable manufacturers should make the profit you are willing to allow on a head of lettuce. Then you wish to complain when that doesn't happen. You stated, "The difference between a million dollar car and a $5000 cable is that the million dollar car's performance can be measured, its luxury can be readily seen ... " Well, luxury is in the eye of the buyer and if you allow it for a car then you should allow it for an audio product. No one denies that owning a real $5k cable is a bit of a luxury. And not every million dollar car performs at a higher level than a $30k vehicle. A Subaru subcompact performs on most levels with measurably better performance than a 1930's Duesenberg J. But the J sells for and is valued more highly than the Subaru. Why? Because not all on paper measurements are of value when determining the price of any boutique product. Value is assessed by intangibles and even in an exotic automobile it is made up from the bits and pieces that do not resemble the mass market item and the price paid awards the talent, innovation and dedication it requires to design, produce and assemble the final product. Your assessment of allowable profit ignores all of that and focusses on nothing more than common parts.

I don't expect you to agree with me or even cede a portion of what I say to be factual. Firstly, you don't believe a thing I say and you will resist considering anything I suggest. Secondly, I've yet to see an anti-cable thread where anyone left the field believing the opposing position proved them wrong in even the slightest degree. Thirdly, allowing anyone a realistic profit is simply not what you do. With that mind set you are simply unable to consider a cable that costs more than $50 to be of value no matter how many other listeners tell you that, for them, the cable was worth what they paid based on their assessment of value.

Why not just allow that they are the final decider when it comes to their money and their opinions? If they have the means and desire to provide a continued reward for those who strive for innovation, why deny their right to do so? If they feel they benefit from doing so, why argue the fact? To reduce the value of the product to its component parts not only misses the entire point of the product but cheapens the effort of the buyer and the manufacturer. Is this merely just class envy at work? It would seem so. If not then there would appear to be little to argue about. But all anti-cable threads eventually stoop to exposing imaginary cables of extreme cost and just how much the parts would be worth to someone who doesn't expect to pay for talent or product.

Elk
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

Jan, you forget that in Alex's world everything is readily available for free. This includes research, labor, distribution, components.

I just wish he would start actually producing something of value that we could all purchase inexpensively, rather than to keep arguing that it can be done.

I suggest gasoline at 29 cents a gallon. I am certain Alex could do it. He is just holding out on us.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

Courtesy of January 2008 TAS, page 16:

"However, just because the explanation is absurd doesn't mean the device doesn't improve the sound. We have much to learn about audio, and many important phenomena wouldn't have been discovered if high end designers were forced to conform to existing viewpoints.

I'm reminded of the quote from the great audio thinker Richard Heyser: 'One of the most belittling experiences is to deride the black art of a craftsman who gets consitent results by a certain ritual which he cannot explain and then discover that his actions in fact held a deeper technical significance than we understood from our simplified model'."

http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/572/

http://www.synaudcon.com/site/enewsletters/Summer07/nl073_heyseraward.pdf

Some people just don't get the concept of feeling belittled. Some people think effort is free.

tom collins
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

hi cliff: do you drink the deadly "frog juice" (laphroaig) of islay also? i had to get my bottle out just to spell it right. oops, some spilled into my glass.
cheers.

tom

Elk
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

I wonderful whiskey with plenty of personality (to put it mildly).

I was told to pronounce it as "lafroyg". Is it actually more "frog"-like than this?

bifcake
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


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Jan, you forget that in Alex's world everything is readily available for free. This includes research, labor, distribution, components.

Not free, but reasonably priced based on mass market pricing and the technologies involved. $5,000 for a cable is not reasonable in my book, neither is $150.


Quote:

I just wish he would start actually producing something of value that we could all purchase inexpensively, rather than to keep arguing that it can be done.

I've made my own cables. I know what's involved. The cables I made were as good if not better than $150 cables that I compared them to. And this is me, someone without engineering knowledge, just researching and pulling information off the internet. Furthermore, this is me making my own cables without any mass production tools or even the skills one acquires from making something all the time.


Quote:

I suggest gasoline at 29 cents a gallon. I am certain Alex could do it. He is just holding out on us.

Give me the power and an opportunity to do it and it will be done. If not for 29 cents, then certainly for a dollar.

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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


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hi cliff: do you drink the deadly "frog juice" (laphroaig) of islay also? i had to get my bottle out just to spell it right. oops, some spilled into my glass.
cheers.

tom

I've got a bottle of Talisker here. Not my favorite. Tastes like Peat Moss dipped in sheep urine. Ugh. I like my scotch to lay down and taste like.... nothing..instead of this punching me in the buds every time I take a sip. Getting drunk is supposed to be fun.

Time to switch to the triple distilled 100% agave.....

Jan Vigne
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


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I've made my own cables. I know what's involved.

ROTFL

Do you seriously believe putting together pieces on your kitchen table gives you an insight into being a manufacturer?

Sorry, Alex, that's just too good to pass up. I guess you've fried some eggs and that gives you the insight required to run a restaurant.

I assume you totally ignored my post and all the other posts about costs beyond the basic pieces. I assume you've ignored anything that doesn't agree with your fixed opinion. That's fine, in fact it's what I expect. Right now the most I hope for when you and I enter a thread together is that in a month's time you don't post that we all agreed. 'Cause you and I don't agree on anything and we never will. But thanks for the laugh, that was a good one.

cyclebrain
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

Has anyone read the Shunyata "Special Report" ad in the Feb issue page 80?
So someone explain to me what I am not understanding.
Raising cables to manage static fields and vibrations.
Conventional cable risers insulate cables and allow static fields to develop.
Just put them back on the floor. Problem solved.
Vibration management? If it even matters, wouldn't suspending a wire between two points create a resonant frequency based on the distance between the two supports and the cable? Just put it on the floor. problem solved.

tom collins
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...

elk, you are right on the pronounciation and kbk, you are right on the taste. i refer to it as frog juice because if you put a frog in a blender, it would probably taste like that stuff. however, i always keep a bottle around for once in a while. when they say that something is an "aquired taste", they were talking about that brand. most of my scotch drinking involves MacAllen's or Glenlivet, in fact i named my airedale dog Duncan Glenlivet.
probably as many opinions about that drink as there are about wires. next, should we start on cigars?

tom

Jan Vigne
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


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Just put it on the floor. problem solved.

I don't believe anyone has arrived at the point where we are defending any claims made by any real manufacturer, we've been too busy discussing non-existent cables and mattresses we can't afford to put on beds that aren't there because someone might make a profit we consider "obscene". The function of the market place to sort out which concepts work best and which don't work as well others. If you suspend a damped cable I would have to assume the resonance then shifts to a different frequency than that of a suspended undamped cable. It's not that far fetched to think a different frequency will alter the results of the system. It's also not beyond reason to conclude that a damped cable laying on the floor wouldn't have the same problems as an undamped acable in the same situation. But I'm not entirely certain damping is the only concept behind the cables in question. I made the assumption the sand blasting pellets were for damping based upon a quick read of the manufactruer's web page. Have you read the site well enough to understand this is the only idea behind these cables?

Elk
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Single Malts

I was fortunate to speak with the distiller of Laphroaig. He told me that his whiskey should always be enjoyed with some added water, preferably from the burn from which the whiskey is made, and suggested starting at 1/3 water and experimenting from there.

He asserts that this benefits all whiskey - the varying amounts of water brings out different flavors in each whiskey.

I find that he is correct.

And yes, Riedel's single malt glasses do bring out the flavor better than a tumbler or other glass (because the shape of the glass places the whiskey in the tip of your tongue where the sugar receptors are, and the placement changes how the aromas are passed on to one's olfactory nerves.)

Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Elk
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Re: Expensive Cable Examined...


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Not free, but reasonably priced based on mass market pricing and the technologies involved. $5,000 for a cable is not reasonable in my book, neither is $150.


Quote:
I've made my own cables. I know what's involved. The cables I made were as good if not better than $150 cables that I compared them to. And this is me, someone without engineering knowledge, just researching and pulling information off the internet. Furthermore, this is me making my own cables without any mass production tools or even the skills one acquires from making something all the time.


Then get at it and offer these high quality, inexpensive cables available for sale. Does $50.00 seem about right?

Don't forget to include free shipping, a 100% guarantee, full refund within 30 days, and full value trade-in as well.

I'm sure you will enjoy your resulting near effortless seven figure income.

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