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What you should know before buying Audio Cables

 

This interview / article has been moved here:
http://www.ecoustics.com/articles/audio-cables-fact-fiction-revealed/

The archived discussion thread remains below.
 

Berny
Great article GDS! I tried to tell people that but we have a lot of folks who pray to their cables!
I've been deemed a heretic for saying so...careful now!
cheers
 

Anonymous
On the subject of burn in: I made many cables and I know cables sounds different after it has been burn in. I don't know why and I don't really care. The way I see it is that many people (including vendor) does not know why cables needs to be burn in. What makes it worst is those people try to explain it. You know they do not have the answer and that made it easy for Gene to make a fool out of him.

Perhaps Gene can explain why I hear a difference. Should I get my ears check? Maybe that is the problem?

For those who want to do a test, make a DIY power cord (e.g. http://www.venhaus1.com/diymains.html ) or purchase a new power cord. Replace your source with the new power cord. I usually find that it has a harsh sound to it. Write down what you hear with this new power cord. Is it harsh? How is the sound stage? ... Remove the power cord and plug it into something else that draws a lot of power. I build myself a IEC inlet that attached to a outlet. I plug my power cord to this IEC inlet and plug my dehumidifier and a fan into the outlet. I let the power burn in for 4 days or more. After you burn in for 4 days, replace your source with the burn in power cord, compare notes from 4 days ago. In my case, I do hear differences.

just my 2 cents....
 

NoFaith
How about doing a controlled DBT to see if the cable really does sound different? Better yet how about measure an alleged burned in and non burned in cable. Maybe you think you hear a difference when none exists. How come only the audio industry makes these claims? I never hear of this claim anywhere else. Go figure.
 

Jay Rohrssen
I guess I need some explanation as to how a conductor, made of whatever material you like, needs burn in. Do the electrons transfer from atom to atom more quickly after time? Does a copper (silver, gold, etc.) atoms valence shell lose or gain electrons more efficiently somehow after time? Please. It is utter nonsense to believe that the physics change over time, if the material has not changed. Which of course brings up the question: does the conductor of a wire change physically through the conduction of electrons? I have not seen any published study or article that claims that this is so. If anyone else has, I would like to read that. I think that anyone who pays thousands of dollars for cables is wasting their money.
 

All;

Thanks for your comments about this article. Cable "break in" is one of the most frequently touted cable myths known only to the audio industry as others here have pointed out. We did an interview with Audioquest about this and you may find it an interesting read.

Audioquest FAQ

Some of our readership discussed the physiological effects of cable "break in" as well that may interest you.

Audio Cable "Break In" Science or Physiological?

Thank you for your participation in this forum thread.

Best Regards;

Gene DellaSala (GDS)
President of Audioholics.com
 

Anonymous
Gene, did you mean to use the word "Psychological" instead of "Physiological?" I don't think "science" and "physiological" are mutually exclusive, and for that matter neither is "science" and "psychological," but at least the latter connotes something objective versus something subjective.

Dsmith
 

Gene DellaSala
DSmith;

Thanks for the correction. Hey I am an engineer not a linquist :) I will update.
 

G-Man
Gene--

You state some basic scientific truths and honorably debunk some of the cable and wire myths--but then for some weird reason you backtrack a bit and say--"One should spend 5% to 7% of your system budget on wires and cables". Heck, you should spend no more than 50 to 75 cents a foot for 12 gauge speaker wire (and that is expensive). The most expensive thing to get is probably an optical interconnect (from $20-$40).


I don't know what the percentage should be or if that is even a proper question. The answer should be--"Buy the least expensive wires and cables that don't audibly alter the signal and are coated well enough to maintain the wire and cable integrity and that reject any potential RF interference" Good quality Radio Shack or the cheapest Monster Cable (which would be the most expensive variety I would buy)or some other trustworthy brand that is less expensive.


You write--Can cables make an audible difference?

Only cables that are made by charlatans or incompetent people can make a difference. Basically, cables and wires that don't follow the most basic laws of physics. It is easy to make an inexpensive cable that is audibly indistinguishable from a very expensive one and it is even easier to make very cheap speaker wire that is audibly indistinguishable (and measurably indistinguishable)from expensive speaker wires.

McIntosh electronics (one of our best quality engineered consumer electronics firms)showed this years ago, as have many others. They showed scientifically and through ABX tests that wire can be solid, stranded, copper, oxygen free copper, silver, etc.---as long as the resistance is kept to be less than 5% of the speaker impedance. There is no listening difference as long as the wire is of adequate size (gauge). It is so easy to adhere to these rules that it becomes disingenuous to say that wires have audible differences. You have to be a cheat, a charlatan, and or incompetent to make wires that have audible differences.


Any company can make a wire or cable that alters the signal--some expensive ones seem to do this on purpose. But I agree with you--the purpose of a wire, cable, or amp is not to alter a signal or to make a signal sound "good"---but to pass the signal with inaudible or no significant change.

Any wire or cable manufacturer worth their salt ( can and do make wonderful cables and wires inexpensively. Heck, most audio/video wire "manufacturers" buy their cables and wires from respected industrial manufacturers that supply electronics and semi-conductor companies with these products for years. Many of those wire and cable companies we see in audio salons and elsewhere are simply re-labelled and re-packaged wires and cables from these basic manufacturers, which are then marked up astronomically by both the re-packers and the retailers, until you fork over $100 to $500 and more for $10-$30 worth of premium quality product.

I do appreciate your understanding of why McIntosh and other electronic and speaker manufacturers keep their mouths shut. As you say--"I suspect they aren't publicly vocal about it because they don't want to undercut their dealerships." Sure--their dealers make a lot of money on wire and cable---they don't want to anger them by telling the truth.

I credit the "tweako" wire and cable manufacturers, re-packers, and retailers for this sad and dishonest state of affairs. Look at the so-called high end magazines that perpetuate this BS. And you can tell why--look at all the wire and cable ad pages. As was said as far back as Watergate to ferret out dishonest behavior--"Follow the money".

When I read their articles on wires and cables saying--"It is amazing--it wonderfully resolves the details and focusses the bass" My eyes glaze over and it makes me want to wretch.

Of course, if it makes someone feel better to buy beautiful fire and they can afford it, that is fine. Nothing wrong with buying "jewelry" for your system--just as long as you are aware that it is nothing more than jewelry.
 

Gene DellaSala
WOW G-Man, excellent feedback! I agree with many of your points. Ok here are two things I may not have conveyed clearly enough in this article, and perhaps my others:

1) Cables can and do sound different.
2) I never discourage people to buy expensive cables so long as they know what they are getting.

I believe my suggestion of 5-7% is a maximum. If I didn't explicitly state that, I surely meant it. I agree, spend as little as you can to satisfy your needs.

However, there is nothing wrong with spending a little more for cosmetics so long as the more costly cables measure and perform at least as well as the generics.

If you just plopped down $100K on a HT System, wouldn't you want to dress it nicely?

I really don't have a problem with expensive cables that are cosmetically more pleasing and perform well. The problem I do have is when exotic cable vendors misrepresent engineering principles and their implications to justify the existance of their products.

With that I will update our statement to "should spend no more than 5-7% on cables....". It does make more sense and to the point.

After all once you get to a certain point it becomes cosmetic - like adding neon to your car... doesn't make it go faster :)


FYI here is a Speaker Cable Face Off article I wrote that puts common zip cord against some of the exotics.

Thanks again.
 

Anonymous
Isn't the signal from the amp to the speaker AC? If so, how can break-in or directional cables even be considered as viable?
 

Thanks to GDS, G-Man and others for debunking the hype on speaker cables. Does anyone want to take a crack at line conditioners and power cords? Are purveyors of $1,000 line conditioners and $300 power cords selling us snake oil, too?
 

Anonymous
I spent years in the studios making recordings. A large percentage of the studios I ever worked in were wired with Beldfoil cables like 8451 and 9451 - the cheapest, foil shielded stuff management could buy.

These wires carried the highest quality signals between pieces of the best gear made by companies around the world. These wires carried the studio signal to the tape machines or HD recorders), and from the recorders through the mix, and then to mastering and from final tweak to CD master.

It always amuses me that some people claim to 'improve' on the results of this wiring by putting short bits of "audiophile" cable between their bits of gear at home.
 

Gene DellaSala
Wire is NOT Directional and yes audio is AC at least until the amp starts clipping, then watch out :)

Cables however can be directional if the vendor chooses to only tie one end of the shield to ground (I have usually seen this done in Coax cables). This does provide a good degree of protection from capacitive pickup, but at the risk of noise voltage production if current flows through the shield. Since the shield is part of the signal path, the noise voltage appears as noise in series with the input signal.

Line conditions can sometimes help reduce system noise. They certainly are convenient as a switcher and demarcation point for connecting your system.

I did write a brief subjective review on one awhile back and felt it was a fair value.

Monster Power HTS-3500


However, if you are handy with a screw driver, I highly recommend reading this article and trying Dans suggestion.

BulletProofing Your System From Interference
 

Devon Slater
All this controversy over cables, power cords ,power conditioners etc. improving sound gets very frustrating and almost ( I said almost)
discourages people from enjoying one of lifes greatest pleasures....MUSIC.
I was once caught up in all this,constantly switching cables, heaping piles of expensive 'AUDIOPHILE"
quality cables by my system so I could run my blood pressure ,sky high, while attempting to create AUDIO NIRVANA.
I have my wife to thank for putting a "reality check" on all this......she once commented that I was spending more time behind my system than in front.She was so very right.
From that day forward I have not strayed behind my system and I started to enjoy music again.
There are optical illusions and I know ,if you want something to sound better..it will....its called AUDIO ILLUSION.

For what its worth....
 

I've just finished reading all the posts, and I must say that some are valid and some are not. It's true that there is too much snake oil in this business, and it goes beyond just cables and speaker wire. However, I strongly feel that subjective listening tests that conclude with the reviewer claiming improvement in sound without test measurements to back him or her up doesn't mean that an improvement hasn't taken place.

Maybe, just maybe it means that the ears recognize what test equipment cannot at this point in its technology. And for the record, I am not referring to the "Tone Control" analogy that if wire is affecting the sound, that absolutely means that it's causing humps and dips in the frequency spectrum. I know for a fact with the help of my trusty and accurate spectrum analyzer that I, and some of my friends who could care less about audio, heard differences between some cables that had NO EFFECT on the measured frequency response of my room and the equipment I use in it. In other words, the room measured the same from my listening chair, and there where subtle, but audible differences we all clearly heard that the spectrum analyzer did not, simply put.

The claim by an anonymous poster that he finds it ammusing that people think that interconnects in a home audio system can't possibly make a difference because the recording studio he or she worked for didn't use high quality wire is without merit when you take the time to think about it. The point of using good value/ high quality wire in your system is to MAXIMIZE its performance. What the recording studio used for wire has no influence on an individual making the most of his system. If using better wire results in better sound on my system,and I hear that difference, then it exists and it happened. If the master recording from a studio sounds like crap, then no amount spent on wire will change that. If anything, it will only serve to illuminate more clearly why that recording IS AWFUL. After all, you can only polish a turd so much.

It's important to educate those who want the best sound their money can buy. However, let's not be blinded by a willingness to enlighten by creating suspicion among consumers without taking the time to test for ourselves why something sounds "Better", but doesn't measure correspondingly, if at all. I for one don't want to see folks returning to the neanderthal days brought to us by the Julian Hirsch school of amplifier tests. Do you remember him? He was the guy who suggested that ALL AMPLIFIERS SOUND THE SAME when they're not clipping. And he claimed he had the "Test Measurements" to back up his theory.

My advice to anyone who reads these posts is to take what Mr. DeSala and myself are saying with a grain of salt. Listen for yourself, and if you like what you hear, then get the best deal you can on that wire you prefer and use it. You'll only be sorry if you're easily influenced by what those who claim to be authorities may say.
 

www.bryston.ca/cablememo.html

My 2 Cents - James Tanner V/P Bryston
 

Paul F
Patrick;

It is highly doubtful you had two different cables with exactly the same measurements that sounded different. Did you measure these cables? It is more likely the difference you heard was psychological or real if the cables measured differently. The cables, if they did measure the same were probably identical but wrapped in different packaging. Sounds like eye candy may have fooled ya.
 

Anonymous
In some quarters cables have not gotten the respect they deserve. They can make a mid fi system behave like a high end system. They can make a high end system behave like a mediocre one, and they can also make a high end system enter uncharted arenas of sonic bliss. If all that was involved in cable design was down to a simple calculation based solely on capacitance, resistance and induction, then perfect cables would have already been developed, there'd be only one brand with one sound and no one would bother looking any further.

Don't let a so called expert decide for you in advance what will work for you in your system. Don't build your system based on a formula or someone else's say so. Listen to as much equipment as you can get your hands on. Educate your ears. If spending half your budget on cables gets you to where you want to go, why should you listen to someone who tells you otherwise. If an inexpensive cable floats your boat, go for it because you believe that it gives you either the best bang you can get for your buck or because you truly believe its performance is superior - not because it fits some predetermined budget point.

Guys that spend big bucks for high end cables are not idiots or dupes. This is a myth. They are sophisticated intelligent people who happen to own highly resolving systems that are capable of revealing the most subtle differences in components. They are value oriented and base their purchasing decisions on what gives them the greatest pleasure.

We don't say the people who purchase Ferarris are being mislead when, after all, a Corolla will get you from point a to point b.

This topic comes around again and again in discussion groups. The guys who believe that all expensive cables are a rip off proclaim to the world that a scandal has been uncovered, and encourage others to parrot their ideas.

Rule number one in audio: Trust your own ears.
Rule number two: Test that trust in as many ways as you can, and if, in the end, you are convinced, see rule number one.
 

Sorry Paul F. If one cable reveals details in the upper registers of the music we listened to and another cable did not, that does not necessarily effect the frequency response. Neither does frequency response measurements indicate the effects on imaging, soundstaging etc, that a cable may have on a system.

Also, I've been doing this a long time and was sure to have folks with no vested interests involved with my experiments. Please.....don't give me the old psychological tap dance. I'm no newbie and at one time was as narrow minded about this as others who have posted here.
 

Gene,

I want to thank you for this interview, I have been telling my customers this for years. My Dad was one of the original engineers at Harmon-Kardon in the 60's and according to him and Mr. Harmon a perfect Amp is a straight piece of wire, any piece, not a coaxal, stranded, braided, uni-directional piece. In my own experience, I have tested many of the "super" cables only to see that they are no better or worse than the "cheap" stuff.

In my opinion any dealer that makes the type of margins you discussed on the cables without educating thier customers is doing thier customers and the industry a grave disservice.

Thanks agian for your thoughts...
 

Zip Cord
I'm always amazed by those who profess to be wise, and then believe their test equipment over their own ears. Amazing!

What's disturbing is you imply that people are too stupid to hear with their ears, what you can not measure with your equipment.

What's more disturbing, is that you seem to be on a very focused quest to disparage Audioquest in particular, while accepting advertising from at least one other company selling snake oil (an advertisment for Bettercables appears on this very page). Why are you attacking Audioquest, without even mentioning brands like MIT or Transpanent, who sell the ultimate in snake oils?
 

Gene DellaSala
Everyone;

It's nice to see a civilized discussion fostering from all viewpoints and opinions. However, my objective is to focus on facts. Since we all seem to have limited the discussion to speaker cables, I will address this topic specifically.

Assumptions:
1) I think we call can agree that the best cable is no cable at all and thus R=L=C=0
2) As any of these parameters deviate from zero, our ideal cable also deviates from ideal.
3) Cable cost often has no correlation with R,L,C parameters of the cables.

Engineering Facts:
1) A cable at audio frequencies can do one or all of three things in a system:
A) Alter Frequency Response
B) Change Group Delay
C) Cause RF ingress

Frequency response and Group delay alteration are interrelated. You can't have one without the other. RF ingress is rare but can occur with high capacitance cables connected to a high impedance load driven by an amp with a high unity gain crossing. Usually a Zobel network of the correct R,C values terminated at the speaker side can minimize this. I will be writing a paper on this shortly.

Aside from these three issues, there in nothing else that can affect the sonic signature of the speaker cable. Cables do not exhibit non linear distortion. Competently designed speaker cables do not suffer from Skin Effect, Diode Rectification, Moons gravitational field strength, etc. There are no mysteries to cable science. Unlike brain surgery nd astrophysics, it is a well understood field from DC to GHz, well documented, measured, and peer reviewed. To claim otherwise, and to claim you can't always measure what you can hear in a cable imposes one or all of the following scenarios:
1) lack of understanding of basic electronics
2) promotion of marketing literature for increased cable sales

AGAIN: There is nothing in a speaker cable that can be heard that CANNOT be measured. Magnetic Analyzers and Distortion Analyzers are far more precise and consistent than the human ear by a factor of over 1000 times!

Dr. Floyd Tool has already proven that the human in biased from perception and visual stimulus. If you see the product before listening, your mind already has received sensory input, which can and will affect your judgement. This is why the only credible way to quantify sonic differences in cables is to conduct a Double Blind Listening Test (DBT). Though you will find many exotic cable vendors and cable forum cult hobbyists objectionable to this testing. In fact, there is even one cable forum, which I will not name, that has banned this sort of discussion on their forum. However it is the only way to truly determine sonic differences in cables. Let's also not forget that just because one measures differences in cables, doesn't necessarily follow that they will hear a difference.


For the record, some of our articles are centered around Audioquest for one single reason. They were the only exotic vendor cordial enough to respond to our inquiries. While their claims and marketing literature appear to be misguided, some of their products do look nice and may actually perform well. This however cannot be confirmed since they don't publically post their cable specifications and to my knowledge, no independent review source has ever measured them.
 

WOW !!! I didn't realise that such a common thing as a speaker cable could gender such a response.
I have and still am a working musician,and have seen the growth of sound systems from the 60s to to-day.Cables have been something I have not even thought about till now.
What you guys are saying is in principle correct."Cheap gear cheap sound"
I have always found that by using the "middle of the road" priced cables I get the best response.
I have several rigs that I use, from 50 Mtr heavy cables to standard 20 mtr rigs. I am of course talking about live performance,and not sitting back looking for defects. There are some good points in this discussion,and also some bad.
I do not understand all this talk about capacitance and resistance. But I do understand good sound.I have always found that to aim for consistency don't buy cheap cables.Only a working musicians outlook on the situation.
 

Come on!!!!!! If I have two amps with DC to light frequency response and they sound different from each other, you're telling me that either me or one of the amps is malfunctioning? Please.....I've been doing this for too long.

You're right about group delay and frequency response. They are interrelated insofar as that we're talking about sound and sound is measured in frequencies. But Group delay? If a full bandwidth signal is sent through a pair of speakers and I add audible delay to that signal, that means I won't measure full response? Of course I will. But the numbers aren't telling me anything about fidelity, are they?

If it all has to do with frequency response, then why does one full range speaker sound different than another full range speaker? Based on what you're telling me, all I have to do is add an equalizer with excellent signal to noise ratio and low distortion to my full range JC Penny speakers to make them sound like a pair of full range B&W Nautilus 801's because with an equalizer I can make them both measure flat. Because they both measure flat, they have to sound the same according to you.

You claim there is nothing that can be heard that can't be measured. I disagree. The quality or fidelity of a component cannot be measured, and that is why audio enthusiasts are willing to spend the money they spend on the components they buy.
 

Gene DellaSala
Patrick;

I appreciate your enthusiasm. Speakers and amplifiers are far more complicated than cables. Please lets stick to the topic of cables and refrain from adding further red herrings.

My discussion of measurements apply only to cables as I have EXPLICITLY stated. It's important to put aside amplifier and component differences to avoid taking this discussion into an area it isn't attempting to go.

With regards to cables, measurements tell much more than the human ear. And is it perfectly acceptable to assume a position that the best cable is absence of resistance, inductance, and capacitance, alas a superconductor.

If we assume this, then it is also perfectly acceptable to measure to see what cables best exemplify what we consider to be the perfect transmission medium.

To deny this implies that cables are somehow supposed to enhance sound from point A to point B

Red herrings aside, there really is no other way we can look at this - though we're open to discussing other opinions.
 

Gene DellaSala
Patrick;

One other point from your post I forgot to address is on phase.

When you referred to adding a phase delay to one speaker vs the other, yet get the same frequency sweeps out of both, you were referring to absolute phase, not group delay. All you did was delay the signal of one source, not change the phase vs frequency relationship of that delayed source. Absolute phase is NOT audible if both sources are delayed by the same amount.

I encourage you to read this article that explains some of this.

http://sound.westhost.com/ptd.htm

While we are at it, you may also wish to read a different perspective about cables from another author at:
http://sound.westhost.com/cables.htm
 

I agree and would whole heartedly say that the best cables do the least damage to the outgoing signal. Just as you said...a superconductor. I would never suggest that speaker cable has the ability to enhance sound.....unless you could say that if you go from bad cable/bad sound to good cable/good sound an enhancement.

And in fact, I think that's what's precisely happening to folks who do just that and then go on to tell others that their systems sound a lot better since adding new wire.

Gene, what I'm curious to know is what cable construction/design do you find to be the best for speaker-amp connections. Also, could you include the materials you would use if you could design speaker cable you feel represents the best the technology has to offer. Knowing that instead of just what characteristics a speaker cable exhibits would be very helpful.

I look forward to your response, as I'm sure do the others who've read and or posted here.
 

By the way Gene, thanks for sending me the links. They were informative, as was James Tanner's Bryston link.
 

I've given this forum a lot of thought, and decided to conduct another experiment in my home with my own equipment. To maintain honesty, I have no choice but to name "Names" and clearly spell out what equipment I've used. I don't see any other choice, since without identifying the equipment I'm using, what I'm writing here could be interpreted as pure BS.

I used a Kenwood KA-907 Integrated amplifier, Perpetual Technologies Digital to Digital converter and separate Digital to Analog converter and Wadia Model 8 transport. Speakers are B&W Nautilus 802's. All interconnects are Tributaries best, most expensive models for analog and digital connections with the exception of a proprietary DIN type cable that connects the two convertors together. Please know that Tributaries "Most Expensive" doesn't mean hideously expensive like Nordost or NBS. It means roughly in the $200 range per 1 meter pair. Not cheap, but not ridiculous.

Before I continue, I would like to explain the use of the Kenwood amp. It was built back in 1980, weighs 50 pounds, is built like a tank and kept up to spec by an excellent technician I've known for years.It is not only the best Integrated Amp I own, but the best I've heard in the under $2000.00 price range. In fact, there's no doubt were it to be duplicated exactly by another manufacturer today, it would easily fetch that amount if the brand name said.... (Fill in the blank with your favorite amp company)I also used it because it has a speaker A/B switch. My Electrocompaniet gear, simply put does not.

I wired from the "A" speaker position of the KA-907 to the B&W's, a pair of Goertz Alpha Core model AG2 Veracity Silver speaker cables. From the speaker "B" position, I used my old reliable Mark Levinson LTD-HF10 speaker cables. Older cables for sure, but certainly good construction using sound construction methods. Also, these cables are copper.

I let the system run for one hour using Bach's Tocatta and Fugue in D minor performed by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. About as full scale as I thought I needed to be for break-in. After that, I sat down and asked my wife to switch the speaker selector on the Kenwood when I asked her to. I have a great wife, she's very understanding and I am indebted to her for the craziness I put her through.

I put on the excellent sounding Rebecca Pidgeon recording of "Spanish Harlem". I asked my wife to switch back and forth bewteen A and B numerous times so that I wouldn't know which side was playing. I instructed her NOT to engage A+B. She's a smart girl and didn't. Point is, I didn't know or care what side she switched to. I only cared that she switched when I asked. The results?

There was clearly a difference. There is a percussionist on that recording using a shaker or maraccas (did I spell that right?) and it was more pronounced on one speaker setting than the other. Were there other differences? Not to my ears. Did my wife hear it too? Yes. She said it seemed louder, plain and simple when I switched from one setting to the other. Did I try to influence her? No. I pointed out what I heard and asked her to listen and tell me if she heard it too. She did.

Were there differences in volume when I switched between settings? According to my ears, no. According to my Radio Shack SPL meter, there was no doubt. 2 DB between the two. Very interesting, but not perceptible to me. Were there any other differences? No, not to these ears.

Which one "seemed" to exact more info off the recording? The Goertz cable. Did it work with other recordings? Most of the time, no. But occasionally it did. Pete Townshends acoustic guitar on "Behind Blue Eyes" had more resonance or sustain with the Goertz than it did with the Levinson cable. Also, the acoustic guitar was more audible throughout the entirety of the cut than it was with the Levinson wire. And so I decided to play Christopher Parkening's "In The Spanish Style" CD thinking I would hear clear differences between the two again. Guess what? I didn't. Not even once.

Frankly, I don't get it and perhaps I never will. But this was the best test I could come up with. Can someone REALLY tell me what's going on? Is one of these cables acting like a tone control at times, and times it isn't? I'm open to opinions, but would rather not be ridiculed for having the guts to name "Names" and share my findings.
 

G-Man
Gene--

You are correct. Most of the people here need to go to the Harman Kardon site and read the various papers written by Floyd Toole. Sidney Harman was a wise man to "steal" him from the National Research Council of Canada---the birthplace of Energy, Paradigm, PSB, etc.

Cables are simple things with few variables of any import. How come the same audiophiles will believe in video measurements to determine what monitor is the best( and that is far more complicated than audio), but when it comes to cables, wires, and amps they become flat-earthers and say these things that distinguish sound can't be measured, you have to trust your ears?

I am glad NASA doesn't have that viewpoint or car manufacturers.

James Taylor--I respect the engineering at Bryston incredibly, but I think that while I would have great pride in owning a Bryston amp, I also know that the output from the Bryston amp is audibly indistinguishable from many others. But it is built better and for that I would be willing to buy it.

Similarly while you are correct in basic interconnect and speaker wire theory, do you think you could pass an ABX test set up by Floyd Toole, David Ranada, Tom Nouisanne, and maybe Tom Pohlmann (names I would think you have great respect for) and differentiate Bryston wires and interconnects from those that are a fraction of the cost?

I am sure your products are excellent and they certainly aren't outrageously priced as many I have seen in the various high end magazines and pushed in audio salons. I might even buy them, even though I am aware I wouldn't be able to distinguish them accurately in a well run ABX test. But I might buy them for the same reason I might buy a Rolex over a Timex. Pride of ownership due to the knowledge that they perform as well as reasonably possible and the primatur of Bryston stands behind them. But I would buy them with my eyes open and I wouldn't tell other people that they couldn't get indistinguishable performance from product considerably less expensive. Just get product that measures the same or measures infinitessimally different.

Afterall, all effects have a cause. If not, then we are experiencing magic.
 

G-Man
Patrick--

"If it all has to do with frequency response, then why does one full range speaker sound different than another full range speaker? Based on what you're telling me, all I have to do is add an equalizer with excellent signal to noise ratio and low distortion to my full range JC Penny speakers to make them sound like a pair of full range B&W Nautilus 801's because with an equalizer I can make them both measure flat. Because they both measure flat, they have to sound the same according to you. "

While this is off-base from cables and wires let's go--let us say that we have identical rooms with 2 pairs of speakers--they both are full range speakers that go from from 20Hz to 20Khz and have identical distortion curves at identical db's and can play at identical loudnesses with identical distortion.

In the same room the will sound the same, as long as all the reflections are identical. So if one is a JC Penney and one is an expensive B&W speaker--yes--they will sound identical.

But do you have any idea how expensive a quality equalizer is and how many frequencies have to be balanced to achieve this scenario? You are talking about an $8,000 to $10,000 equalizer. Do you think it is easy to find an inexpensive woofer, midrange, and tweeter that can play as loud--even with all these adjustments--without breaking up?

I will logically say this--I bet Floyd Toole could make a $1,000/pr speaker sound to you like an $8,000/pr B&W's with the instruments and cabinetrywork and inner bracing at his disposal at HK's Infinity speaker lab. Heck--he may make it sound far more accurate. I am not saying you will like a more accurate speaker. You may like accentuated mid-ranges and toned down tweeters. But that is another issue.

I want to hear the signal as close as possible as it was when it left the amplifier. Whether that sounds bad or good is indifferent to me. I blame that on the recording engineer--not the speaker. If a speaker makes a bad recording sound good--odds are it is alterring the frequency response. Same is true of wires and cables.

Even read the begrudging review of Infinity's Prelude MTS online in Stereophile. The reviewer irritatingly agrees with Dr. Toole, but still looks for wiggle room. Of course, Stereophile is somewhat relieved to find that all the research and technology that Dr. Toole employed made a pair of these speakers list for $8,000. But that same technology is working its way down the Infinity line--but you still need good quality drivers, as it would be too expensive to include full range accurate equalizers with every speaker sold.

Infinity does this on their RABOS subwoofers--but this equalizes a small frequency range.
 

G-Man
Patrick Mattucci-

A 2 db difference to most people is very audible. When I used to work at a stereo store in my late teens (back in 1970 on Long Island)the sales manager used to perform a "trick" to sell speakers that made the store (and the sales person) more "points"-- money. They would "goose" the output of the speakers he wanted to sell by 2-3 db's, with everything else basically the same. The customer would always prefer the "goosed" speaker, saying that they could hear greater detail and various other positive attributes.

The only reason a similar experience could happen with speaker wire is if it alterred the signal output coming into the same speaker. Every effect has a cause. Believe it or not, most expensive wires that truly have a different sound that is recognizable through ABX tests invariably are shown to alter the signal making it less accurate than what it received. Many audiophiles have interpretted this as improving the sound.

James Tanner--

I presume you take the scientific approach that wires and interconnects will perform exactly according to expectations derived from the laws of physics. I am confident you would say that other brands of wires and interconnects that measured similarly would perform exactly the same, as long as they are coated sufficiently to reject any RF. Well made wire and interconnects need not be at all expensive. Then again, I admit that I would be proud to own the Bryston wires and interconnects and find nothing wrong with paying extra for that peace of mind and pride of ownership. Particularly since there are so many wires and interconnects that are tens to hundreds of times more expensive than your product(which are not cheap by any means).


Some of these issues remind me of the old Wadia 2000 cd player that got rave reviews in Stereophile many years ago. Funny thing, it lopped off about 3 db's of frequency response at the top end. The reviewer thought that cd player had remarkable playback ability for a couple of thousand dollars.

This has led me to the assumption that many reviewers who claim to have "golden ears" basically enjoy a number of components that have less accurate playback ability. Maybe they think this compensates for bad recording engineers--and maybe it does occassionally. But how can one predict which ways a recording engineer makes mistakes that will be improved by the errors these components put in the mix? Weird, huh?
 

Anonymous
G-MAN and PATRICK - Speakers are off topic, but an I think Patrick's comments and G-Man's response beg for some additional comment. This shouldn't be controversial, so I don't think it will lead to further off topic discussion.

Partrick asked if it was all frequency response with speakers, etc. and G-Man seems to have responded that it IS all about frequency response. I'm not sure if that's what he meant to say, but with loudspeakers we see differences in transient characteristics, and other critical performance parameters. A speaker with poor transient characteristics will not sound like one with superior transient performance, no matter how equal all the other parameters might be. And no amount of equalization will fix the problem.

There is more to audio than just frequency response, and transducers are always the weakest link in the chain.

Anon
 

Someone mentioned short cables. I would suggest that the shorter the cable, the better. If it cannot be a perfect conductor, as unfortunately nothing to this date is, then at least let it be as short and consequently as least damaging as possible.

Audiophiles who stick to this basic rule are, in my view, quite right. My own CD to amp cables are just 0.5 m (app. 1.3 feet) long, as short as I could make them without exerting mechanical stress on them (van den Hul's D102 Mk.3, hybrid make, mix of OFC copper and carbon fibre).

That cables can influence sound is beyond dispute to my ears. I have heard quite a few rather expensive cables which to my ears produced sound much changed from my usual cables, mostly in the direction opposing reality. As reality, I take my absolute reference, which a live performance, something I frequent whenever I have the time.

Ultimately, one should not discount the effects of psychology. It is not at all easy to be bombarded day in, day out, with glossy ads explaining why product X is THE cable, and wondering how anything else even plays any music. After 10-12 years of such (mis)treatment, the late German WW2 spin doctor's idea that if a lie is repeated often enough, it will become the truth comes into play.

Gene makes some VERY valid points, and some of the mails sent in response put forth good ideas. We could argue Gene's assessment of 5-7% on cables, but I think he simply tried to quantify something that is well neigh impossible to quantify because it is in good part subjective. I took it as Gene's thoughts, becase in my system, cabling accounts for say 2-3% of the total cost.

Cheers,
Dejan V. Veselinovic
(a.k.a. DVV)
 

Gene DellaSala
I suppose I need to put my foot in my mouth with the 5-7% recommendation ;) I really meant that as a maximum and will update my Cable Budget Guideline accordingly. In fact, will do after this post ;)

Nobody addressed Patricks last post about the Goertz cables sounding louder or perhaps more sibilant. I have those exact cables Patrick referenced and using them in Speaker Cable Face Off II (forthcoming). This cable is one of the lowest inductance, but highest capacitance cables on the market. It is likely the cable is causing what is know as frequency peaking in your amplifier and thus stressing the high end response of your system. Again, this is in a way acting like a tone control. I discuss this in Speaker Cable Face Off I and you may wish to review it at: Audioholics.com Speaker Cable Face-off

As for your questions about the ideal cable/materials/dielectric, I will have to address this questions in a future post, perhaps a part II article ;)

I will tell you a few things that I don't recommend:
1) Speaker Cables with separated conductors. Allowing the + and - cables to dangle loosely on the floor increases inductance and thus acts like a tone control again. See the Stealth Audio cables in my review.
2) Flat cables for long runs that sandwich the + and - conductors on top of each other. The capacitance is too high for most amplifiers to cope with. A zobel at the far end can help reduce frequency peaking and potential for RF ingress of a high Z load when mated with an amp with a high unity gain crossing, but it rarely stops an amp from going into parasitic oscillation.
3) Speaker cables that have a battery attached to them. Come on, it's just too silly and potentially dangerous if the battery rests against a hot amplfier. Imagine the explosive effects of a hot battery and what the acid can do to your electronics and/or furniture. Manufacturers shouldn't get away with this.
 

G-Man
Gene--

I am glad you brought up this subject, which certainly needed to be intelligently addressed, and I feel that generally you have done an excellent job.

As you further have explained yourself I have found myself understanding your viewpoint to a much greater extent and also concurring with it to a large extent.

When you said the following I errupted in great applause: "With regards to cables, measurements tell much more than the human ear. And is it perfectly acceptable to assume a position that the best cable is absence of resistance, inductance, and capacitance, alas a superconductor.

If we assume this, then it is also perfectly acceptable to measure to see what cables best exemplify what we consider to be the perfect transmission medium.

To deny this implies that cables are somehow supposed to enhance sound from point A to point B"

Gee--they must hate you at Stereophile and other magazines of that ilk. Because, what you say about cables can certainly be said of cd players, dvd players, receivers, amps, etc.

Scientifically, you could point to aberrant cable/wire measurements and explain why you think the sound is good or bad. Same is true of measurements of amps and cd players. Now mostly the differences are so miniscule as to be inaudible. But if Stereophile or someone else says they think XYZ amp or ABC cd player sound much better I believe they are obligated to point out the measurements that make them sound and perform better.Otherwise, why take them seriously?
 

WmAx
G-Mand and Anonymous: I feel that it is importnat to clarify the important measurement paraters of a speaker: I will state that the chacteristic of a speaker is dependant on a key few, seperate, measurable characteristics. (1) Impulse respone(from which phase, amplitude, cumaltive decay plots can be calculated) (2)Axial/Polar response of the impulse response. (3) Distortion(THD and IMD).

(1) The main factors contributing to audible chracteristic in a normal reflective room will be cumalative specral decay(energy storage behaviour) and amplitude response. The latter, is merely a way to quantify the specific resonances that exist in the driver(s) and/or enclosure(s) at question that may(and usually will) exihibit audible levels. Phase response is more relevant to individual analysis of design, during engineering in order to integrate crossovers, driver spacing, etc. properly. In a normally reverbant room, it(final minimum phase response) is not a factor that I am aware of. It is very tough to identify a signal that has the degree of shift a standard 4th order L-R crossover would impose vs. an unadultarated signal even on accurate studio monitor headphones(equivalent of anechoic chamber for all intents/purposes here). Enter reflections into the equation: Final minimum phase response is not a signficant factor IMO.

(2) This is simply a correlation of the above. Speakers do not produce symmetrical radiation at different planes of measurment. I.E.; impulse plot from 0 degrees horizontally vs. impulse respnose at 60 degrees horiztonal will be signficantly differnt on converntinal speakers, etc. Since the final product is one that is a sum of the direct and reflected sound, this varible must be addressed.

(3) Ideally, distortions should be at such low levels in the main passband with excellent designs, that this is not a signficant factor. Of course, we do not live in an ideal world, and in many cases audible levels of distortion will exist.

-WmAx
 

Great message board this. I have a question - but first read on. I have owned and/or demoed probably more than 20 interconnects in my mid-range (£4000) system. I have learnt to trust my ears and believe my sometimes instinctive perceptions of different cables. This has meant dismissing some (but not all) quite expensive cables - such faults as flattened sound-staging, glare, lack of weight or "gravitas" etc.
My question? - I have recently bought a secondhand VDH 0.6 Thunderline and I would find it hard to find fault. BUT, not so long ago, I had a new VDH 0.8 Thunderline on loan and rejected it because it had such an lush, oversized bass - fine with the simple acoustic stuff, but disastrous with just about everything else. What is this about? - is this the difference in length? burning in? or can the same cable type sound different from one to another?
 

Anonymous
"Patrick--If using better wire results in better sound on my system,and I hear that difference, then it exists and it happened."

So if that is the case was Jack Black really dating Gwyneth Paltrow in Shallow Hal!!! :)
 

Bort Thompson
Mr. DellaSala;

How bout you just come out and say "the only cables that sound different are the poorly designed ones". It would do consumers a whole lot of good and save us all a lot of time. Those who worship their cables are a lost cause but you can save those that are just getting into this hobby and are falling victim to the cable cults and snake oil vendors.

Respectfully;

Bort Thompson
 

I'm going to answer my own question here. My VDH Thunderline now sounds totally different and closer to the one I had on loan. Why? because I have reversed them, I now have the text on the cable running from amp to source ie: the opposite to the received wisdom. Anybody have any comments about directionality with VDHs?
I have to say that people who doubt that interconnects can sound different/better are only deceiving themselves, flat-earthers of the most basic kind. I have a friend here in dear old blighty who has a super system wired with solid copper cable cadged from a building site - does it sound superb? no... it sounds harsh, metallic and has more glare than a lighthouse! Just because something doesn't measure doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Excuse my humour, but Kiri de Kanawa "measures" better than Bob Dylan but I know who I prefer listening to!
 

Hi Bort;
My experience with exotic designer cables has been the following. In general; the more expensive they are the worse they perform.
All audiophiles need to recognize the following: exotic designer cables don't really make up for bad room acoustics, and they only mask ( at best ) poorly designed loudspeakers.
Dan Banquer
R.E. Designs
 

G-Man
"Patrick--If using better wire results in better sound on my system,and I hear that difference, then it exists and it happened."

Many people see and hear all sorts of things that aren't real. Religious visions, God telling them to blow themselves up and others, etc.


There are beliefs and then there are facts that can be checked by the scientific method. When there are wires and interconnects that pass the scientific method of an ABX test that differentiates them audibly from other--I will pay attention. I will then see what measurements make them sound different.

When it is individuals and Stereophile reviewers that say they hear a dramatic difference in wires and interconnects---I glaze over.

Most people are well aware of "the placebo effect. If someone thinks a wire sounds better to them or a pill with non-active ingredients has cured them--then they think it works--the placebo effect. But I side with science--if it can't be measured and quantified, then I am unlikely to believe in the claims that are made.

Just as drug companies have to perform tests against controls--so should wire companies, at least if they want the skeptical scientific community to believe them. So far they don't use science--they use marketting and friendly reviews from people who don't rely on science, but opt out by saying--"I know what I hear, but don't test me on it."

They do this because most people aren't scientific and are gullible. And often many things that are untrue can seem logical.
 

I've been a professional audio engineer for TV & film in the UK for over 30 years. The debate over exotic interconnects is a constant source of amusement to those of us who make a living from plugging things together.

I would guess that over those 30 years I've pushed high quality audio at all kinds of levels through enough cable to reach to the Moon.

After some recent discussion on a professional UK bulletin board about the same subject of loudspeaker cables, I posted the following spoof review. Allow me to share it with you all:

Lawnmower cable is definitely the latest fashion in this area.

Very affordable, easily picked out from other signal cables by it's orange colour, and plenty of copper in it too!

True audiophiles always install USED lawnmower cable, but the finest results come from households where the lawn has been mown continually in an East-West direction.

This has allowed the cable to cross as much of the Earth's magnetic field as possible, while carrying a fairly high AC current, producing a better molecular alignment within the cable structure.

The continual contact with damp ground also results in any damaging static being drained away from the plastic insulation, long before the cable's installation in top-end rigs.

Fanatics who have the luxury of a dedicated listening room may wish to preserve the organic integrity of the cable, by running a line of planters or window-boxes around the skirting board as cable supports, filling them with naturally derived compost, and planting a mix of high quality grass seed. Naturally the boxes should be bonded to Earth, through a grounding spike.

For systems running less than 25 watts per channel, a seed mix suitable for croquet lawns would be ideal, using a varied mix of around 95% fescue varieties, with the remainder being Highland Browntop Bent. Owners of higher power systems should substitute the finer fescues with Perennial Ryegrass, in a ratio of 1% per watt, up to a maximum of 45%. This approximates to playing-field quality turf, necessary to withstand the higher wear incurred by the current flowing in the cable. High-frequency phasing errors can be eliminated by a regular light application of "Weed & Feed", and immediate action should be taken if moss appears in the more shaded corners, a primary cause of damping factor anomalies.

Much debate is taking place as to which type of mini-lawnmower should be used to keep the turf at the recommended 20mm height. Traditionalists favour the Class A double triode cylinder, with heavy roller, while the modern digital brigade would only ever contemplate the switched-mode Class D rotary, with laser height control. Users should decide for themselves.

Enjoy!
 

Thank you Richard Merrick, you have a wonderful sense of humor. I would like to be able to save your post in it's entirety and post it when needed. Do I have permission?
Dan Banquer
R.E. Designs
 

Thanks Dan :)

You're more than welcome to save and post.

An acknowledgment would be appreciated, but hey...I'm not proud!

Regards,

Richard Merrick
 

G-Man
Props to a Brit---or two:


after trying many things to improve my audio life it gradually sunk in that lawnmower cable is "mulch ado" about nothing.
 

Wow,

Did this stir up a hornet's nest or what. All I want to add is that I have a mix of cables accumulated over the years and that includes VDH, Audioquest and good old Rat Shack Gold Patch, between all of them, none of them improved or detiorated teh sound of my system, suffice to say I find the Radio Shack cables pretty well built and quite neutral and are priced the best with no hype surrounding them.
 

I think all this debate goes to prove something I have suspected for a long time - a good percentage of HiFi enthusiasts are deaf. Of course interconnects can improve the sound of your system, but you have to be able to hear it, and that is where these guys fall down. I have heard many quality and high end systems installed in peoples home that sound quite dreadful. Why? Because often their owners have bought components based on nothing more than marque snobbery and their ability to actually create a great sounding system is zilch. I have heard 5 figure set-ups that sound as if a mattress is covering the speakers, conversely I have heard systems so harsh that it makes your ears hurt - nearly always the owner is convinced that it sounds great. I seriously doubt whether some enthusiasts have any real idea about such ideas as soundstaging, low-end resolution, air, grain - all aspects that an interconnect can profoundly alter. To all you flat-earthers, for goodness sake open your minds/ears and unlock your system's potential. If my 75 year old music-loving mother can tell the difference between 2 different VDHs why can't you? PS: it's no coincidence that many of these same doubters often have tiny music collections and dreadful crap at that - ie: DEAF
 

PaulF
Hey Rupert;

Just wondering if you also replaced all of the cables internal to your electronics and loudspeakers? After all, if the cables make such a difference, why stop externally to the equipment? Better yet, I suggest changing out the internal wiring of your house. Perhaps call the power company and have them run strand jumping free cables from the power plant to your home. Don't forget to elevate your cables :)

Seriously; one wonders if you have any background in electronics at all.
 

Patrick Mattucci
I was away from this post for a week, came back and read the entries since my last perusal. Boy, it seems that too many of the so-called "Scientific Approach" advocates are much more passionate than those who tried some cable from another company besides Radio Shack and merely posted their findings. And God-Forbid, to make matters worse, some of those "Suckers" even have the audacity to admit in public they like it.

Placebo effects, Shallow Hal, messages from God and asking the electric company to run stranded wire from the power plant to ones home??? Why such extremes guys? Who, that has posted here that they heard improvements, or even just a "Difference" in their systems with some speaker wire or interconnect deserves such sophmoric rebuttals? At this point I'm doubting some posters ability to read differences of opinion, let alone hear differences in any audio equipment. Mr. DeSala himself explains why speaker wire and interconnects MAY alter an audio signal, so what is your problem?

When I was a kid and started falling in love with all things audio, I would work hard, save my money and trade up to better equipment. Why? Because I walked around in love with the idea that my new integrated amp has the coolest VU meters in town? Hell, if I wanted lights I would have put a Christmas Tree next to my system and been done with it.

I traded up because when I did, the newer and better equipment rendered detail previously unheard. Can ya tell Paul McCartney switched from his Hohner Bass to a Rickenbacher Bass back in 1966 on a 16 watt per channel Technics Receiver, Hitachi Turntable and Technics Thruster speakers? Probably not. Now, ask yourself the same question with a Kenwood KA-9100 Integrated amp, Dual CS-5000 Turntable with an ADC XLM cartridge and a sweet pair of Dahlquist DQ-10's and the answer is HELL YES!!

So a speaker wire alters the signal and I clearly hear an acoustic guitar significantly and more prominently than with another cable, and I have to be imagining it because some of you never experienced something like that on your systems? And now you expect folks who did hear some detail, some difference with their systems to just ignore their findings because it doesn't fit in with your belief system. Now, I'm not saying that if a difference is made by a cable or interconnect, that that difference is good. I'm not saying its bad either. But why should I doubt, NO, make that dismiss that a difference was heard?

You say flat playback is good......theoretically I concur. But I think of my parents old stereo, and when I was a kid, and I remember the tone controls. You could always tell my Mom was using it last whenever you found the treble turned almost all the way down and bass in the middle. My Dad? Treble was at 1:00 o'clock-so was bass. My sister? Bass and treble maxed out! I suppose badly recorded Motown can do that to a girl. By the way, this was a tubed Motorolla Console. Eveyone of the above mentioned family members LOATHED my 1st previously described system. And for me, this is where it all gets very interesting. They used terms for why they liked the ole console better than my rig that one finds in many audio publications today. My Dad said he liked the "Warm Tone" of the console and my system didn't have "That". My Mom literally put her hands to her ears and said "HARSH"! when I played Trini Lopez for her on my rig. Man she hated that system! And my sister? She said it didn't make her want to dance to the music when Sly and the Family Stone pleaded otherwise.

Now, there's three folks who never picked up an audio magazine except to swat at a bug. Three different folks with three different tone control settings. Three different tastes in music. And yet they all loved the same system. It was simply more musical to them than my rig.

I'll be seeing them next week for Thanksgiving dinner. I wonder what they'll say when I tell them that what they really liked was high amounts of even order harmonic distortion, excessive frequency dips and phase shifts caused by the cartridge scratching vinyl.

On second thought, I think I'll just enjoy the company and the meal.

Maybe some of you should too.
 

Wonderer
Just wondering if we can get some esoteric cable vendors here to offer their comments to this thread and original article authored by Gene from Audioholics.com.
 

G-Man
Patrick--

Few argue the fact that different prople prefer more bass, less bass, more treble, less treble, etc.

My statement is that all audio equipment (outside of the sound alterring DSP's, tone controls, and equalizers on some pre-amps, receivers, or outboards) should pass the original recorded signal exactly as it was recorded. That should be the goal. The goal in buying a pre-amp should be the same, except it should have controls to alter the sound to any preference you may have. Or you can always buy a high quality parametric equalizer from a quality company such as Audio Control---but good ones are expensive.

But you should always have the option of having the "base line" with your equipment of obtaining the original signal ---if at all possible.

If you want to make a change later--be my guest. You, me, and everyone else is entitled to their preferences.

And you are also entitled to buy wire or interconnects that you feel change the signal. In my opinion, and I imagine all audio and acoustic engineers opinions, wire is not the way to go to alter sound. They want wire and interconnects to be invisible. They feel that the less invisible wire is--the worse it is--even if one thinks it makes some music sound better. If it actually makes the signal sound better, they would much prefer replicating those measurements that accomplished that in the pre-amp or equalizer. If it is unmeasureable--they (and myself) believe it doesn't exist---placebo effect or pride of ownership effect.
 

Patrick Mattucci
And what you don't seem willing to admit is that folks spend the bucks they do to get cables that do exactly what you just described. If they go from lousy cables to good, transparent cables, and this improves the sound of their system, then why the contempt from some of you?

They maximized the performance of their system and are now enjoying it even more than before. I have no problem admitting to myself or others that you don't have to spend a fortune on cables to accomplish this. But, maximizing the performance of a system should be anyones' goal who cares about their system. Don't confuse folks by insisting that Home Depot lamp cord is as effective towards that goal as a well constructed, well shielded and well terminated cable from a company that specializes in it. That's just a flat out false-hood.

When a fledgling audio enthusiast reads the negative posts like some of those here, in my opinion it is no less damaging than if they are lead to believe that cables perform miracles.

Also Mr. DeSala, as much as I may agree with some of what you say regarding what a cable should do and not do, I feel that you must bare some of the responsibility for the continued animosity and mistrust some consumers have towards those who work in the Audio Video business. The discussion of profit margins being my main focus here.

Your figures are grossly exaggerated. No dealer is dependant on cable and speaker wire sales that I know of, and I work in the A/V business in the Metropolitan Philadelphia market, and have been doing so for some time. There's a lot of competition, and no one is dependant on cable to keep the lights on. You make your bones and maintain business by providing the most sought-after product with the best advice and service you can provide. In exchange for that, you make a FAIR PROFIT. VCR's and DVD players have horrible profit margins. Speakers and interconnects and some speciality products offer a better profit margin. So what? I'm a bad guy because I can make a good profit on some of the items I sell? What am I when my profit margins stink on other items? Please tell your readers about that. It could also be construed that an individual who takes it upon himself to publically disparage a product, the dealers who sell those products, etc., and then goes on to hint that they themselves may enter the market as a cable manufacturer may have a conflict of interest. Maybe because I work in the business, I have a different perspective on this whole topic and see things a little different than those who do not.

Some folks think nothing of spending hundreds of dollars on a bottle of wine when they go out to dinner. Others find it perfectly acceptable to spare no expense on Granite Counter Tops and water fixtures in a tertiary bathroom in their home. But God Help the Audio Video dealer who makes a profit.
 

Black Math
I think differences in cables can be best seen in Video. This is because you can (visually) be measured with test bars and filters.

I was using a Monster Lever 2 S-VHS cable between my DVD player and my TV. I calibrated with a Video Essentials setup disc. Aboout two months later, I got a good deal on a Straightwire S-VHS cable. It has double strands of silver coated copper. Once the new S-VHS cable was hooked up, my color balance changed. I switched cables back to make sure it was not my TV and it wasn't. Does this say which one was better?...no. It does say that different cables can cary signals differently. It may be the silver, it may be the connectors, I don't know. I do know that it was no "placebo" effect.

Will the above hold true for Audio? I think so. Different cables will have different resistance, inductance, and capacitance. Is this because of the connectors, I don't know. I just know what I have heard which are slight changes...nothing drastic. Different equipment manufacturers will use different parts in their output stages. This may contribute to different signals. The problem is that we cannot test like we do video to prove or disprove anything. I do know that more expensive isn't always better.

I use Nordost cables and I am very happy with them. Will they work as well for person B? I don't care. I demoed Straightwire and Nordost to come up with my decision and I am very happy.
 

Paul F
Actually, that is exactly what some enthusiasts of the "golden-eared" variety ARE doing. See Ken Kessler's system in HiFi News earlier this year. It started with people buying new mains cables for their CD players, now people are rewiring their houses! Here in the UK our overstretched national grid has caused some enthusiasts to claim that their systems sound soso at 7pm and wonderful at 1am - I can hear this too - is this possible?
You're quite right, I have no background in electronics at all - maybe my system would sound better if I did - or maybe it's because of that ignorance that I have learnt to trust my ears. At the risk of sounding arrogant there have been more than a few occasions when my "instincts" about a component have been initially poopooed by the dealer trying to sell me the product, but then later confirmed by more experienced ears than mine.
 

Gene DellaSala
Pat, for the record my last name is "DellaSala" not "DeSala".

"Don't confuse folks by insisting that Home Depot lamp cord is as effective towards that goal as a well constructed, well shielded and well terminated cable from a company that specializes in it. That's just a flat out false-hood."

You confuse me here. Why do you feel you need shielded speaker cables? Certainly 12AWG Home Depot lamp cord isn't as pretty as many exotic and more expensive speaker cables, but it measures better than many exotics and therefore is more transparent.

Remember our objective with a speaker cable is to be as transparent as possible, ideally a super conductor. I seem to remember you concurred on this point.

One cannot deny the measurements that were conducted on a $30K Magnetics Analyzer with over 1000 times more sensitivity than the human ear, and infinitely more consistency and repeatability.

Audioholics.com Speaker Cable Face-off

Now that being said, if someone is truly after transparent, accurate sound reproduction, certainly they would choose the cable that causes the least amount of harm. In this comparison ordinary 10AWG Zip Cord (wrapped in nice packaging) was the clear winner.

"Your figures are grossly exaggerated. No dealer is dependant on cable and speaker wire sales that I know of, and I work in the A/V business in the Metropolitan Philadelphia market, and have been doing so for some time. There's a lot of competition, and no one is dependent on cable to keep the lights on."

Sorry Pat but I feel you are grossly mistaken. We have looked at the dealer costs of many exotic cables and they are typically > 60 point lines. We have spoken to many leading manufacturers that feel as we do about cables, but choose not to be vocal about it to avoid dealer conflicts. One of the saving graces of high end audio is the extremely high profit margins of high dollar products and the cable accessories that go along with them. Any high end dealer who keeps up on their accounting knows this to be the case.

We have no problem with cable companies and high end dealers making a large profit. The problem I have (especially because of my engineering mindset) is when a cable vendor promotes falsehoods to justify their products and offer no measurable or quantifiable facts to support there products. It always amazes me that many consumers demand measurements and specs for the electronics they purchase, but NOT the cables they use to connect them.

If you wish to ignore the facts and buy an expensive cable based on faith then that is certainly your right and prerogative. My objective here is to discuss the true and proven principles that govern cable performance. It seems many people here are more interested in adding Red Herrings to the argument to throw it into infinite tangential directions.

With that, I believe this is a good stopping point for my involvement in this discussion since I really have nothing further to add and I see the discussion is becoming somewhat counterproductive. I would again like to thank everyone for their feedback and wish you well on your cabling pursuits.

I hope information contained herein has helped shed some light on the topic of cables for everyone. Stay tuned for continuing cable articles on Audioholics.com.

Best Regards;

Gene DellaSala (GDS)
President of Audioholics.com
 

Patrick Mattucci
One: My comparison of lamp cord to well constructed interconnects was point of extremes. I thought that was clear.

Two: You have not specifically outlined what an exotic cable is, so you're leaving your less experienced readers guessing.

Three: Tributaries Products are certainly not as expensive as many others, are cables built using scientifically proven methods and yield excellent results. That's what my company uses. I can assure you, your estimated profit margins are wrong and do not account for the percentage of overall profit you claim. We sell far more speakers than speaker wire, far more electronics than component interconnects. I'm sorry Gene, but you're wrong and you're misleading folks when you claim you know what constitutes ANY DEALERS business model. You can't know that information because dealers don't share that info. It's intellectual property.

Four: You claim manufacturers think the whole cable business is essentially BS. Really? Why is it at every C.E.S, CEDIA and Home Electronics show I've been to, every manufacturer is using after market cables and wire? That is in direct opposition with your claims, and I invite everyone who reads these posts to visit any of the shows I mentioned and just look for yourself. Sorry Gene, but you can't substantiate your claims anymore than the snakeoil vendor selling magic smoke. You are taking the truth and mixing it with personal opinions to what ends, I'm not sure.
 

John Batty
Pat;

Ever stop to ponder that maybe the manufacturers are dressing up their systems with the nice looking cables for the show? BTW, I goto those shows every year also, and often more the case than not the cable vendors solicit the manufacturers to use their products for the demo.

I do see your point, however. What is an exotic cable vendor? How do we differentiate an exotic one from dare I say a legitimate one? I say, it should be based on price and claims. Though far be it for me to dispute the claims.

As an employee of a High End Audio saloon, I will tell you, that we sell a lot of cables/month. In fact, we love to sell cables from MIT, Audioquest, Analysis Plus. They do have much higher profit margins then most speaker lines for example. I personally don't endorse the products, but I don't discourage people from buying them if they think its better. Hey it pays my bills and it makes them happy, as well as my boss, so its a win win situation. And more importantly, the customer is always right :-)

While we may only sell a few very expensive cables/month, we sell tons of mass market, lower priced and lower profit margin cables from Monster and Acoustic Research. I don't personally consider these brands, or Tributaries for that matter as exotics. Note that these cables also don't push the psuedo sciences like the super high dollar ones often do.

I am no engineer, nor am I a techie, but I know enough to understand that a $10K cable will not sonically outshine standard thick Monster Cable of reasonable length. There is no need for cables to cost that much other then for cosmetic purposes. Personally, I put my money into something more tangible, but thats just me. Peace.
 

Patrick Mattucci
John:

Well said! Your words are mine. At my company, we usually discount our products, and that includes cable, so in the end, the profit margins really are only slightly higher than say, speakers. If the truth be known, if it weren't for speakers, we'd be out of business as would most dealers. The fact is that the profit margins on just about everything else are pretty pathetic, especially in the day and age of unauthorized internet e-tailers, so there you have it from the horses mouth.

Your point about the consumer shows should be reconsidered. Imagine you're a manufacturer, and you've just invested a great deal of capital into an amp,preamp, source component and speakers, ala Krell. Why on earth would you cable up your system with bogus, snake-oil wire that can only ruin the the performance of your demo? How does that benefit you, the manuafcturer? So you can accept a momentary pay-off in exchange for the future of a line of components you poured your companys' heart and soul into?

Read James Tanners post and follow his link. His credentials are pretty impressive, everyone respects Bryston, their warranty speaks for itself and so I think anyone should feel pretty comfy in their search for good cable after reading what Bryston has to say. And no, my company doesn't carry Bryston, so I'm not gettin' a quarter every time I mention their name.
 

G-Man
I spoke years ago to Dave Belles, an engineer of some reknown that designed amps and pre-amps for OCM and his own brand). This conversation was over 10 years ago when I bought some of his equipment from a friends audio salon establishment in Wisconsin --who now owns 2 salons. Before that we had been friends strictly from phone conversations that went on for many years.

Anyway, we got to talking many things audio, when the topic of speaker wires arose. Mr. Belles rolled his eyes and gave me a simple explanation:

Greg, originally I told the truth on this issue. It did me no good--actually it damaged me. I'll tell you why. I rely on audio salons to sell my product. They make huge mark-ups on wire and interconnects. It didn'take me long to realize that if I wanted them to "push" my products and make me money, it did me a great disservice to tell potential customers of theirs (who happen to be potential and actual customers of mine) that spending big bucks on wires and interconnects did them no good, except to enhance the wallets of salons and wire distributers/manufacturers.

Hence, there was absolutely no benefit for me or other engineers/designers selling premium brands of electronics to tell customers/dealers or anyone else they were likely wasting money. Afterall, we all wanted "our" dealers to do well and wires are highly profitable and often keep some of them afloat, as the mark-up on other electronics, particularly the name popular brands can be rather tight in comparison.

And the high-priced wire and interconnect manufacturers/distributors would invariably give us their expensive wires/interconnects for free to hook up our equipment at various consumer electronic high end audio shows.

So you could say it was a synergistic relationship. We got free and handsome wire, they got cheap and good advertisement--as did the dealers--and all were happy. The only thing that got trampled was the truth.

But few manufacturers, if any, had the "balls" to buck the way business was done. What amp manufacturer would risk his sales because of wires?"

And now we see many electronics manufacturers marketting their own wires. They know how profitable it is. Of course that mostly only works for companies like Bryston and a Krell--consumers expect them because of the great reviews of their product that their wires must be great. Not likely to work for Pioneer or Onkyo--you'd have to be a high end electronics company that generally got kudos from Stereophile and The Absolute Sound.

But even most of them are loathe to market their own wires. Their dealers still want to sell those expensive Kimber, MIT's, and other brands that carry lines of wires--from pretty expensive to astronomical. So must of the high end electronics firms still go along and stay out of the wire biz and get their free cables to exhibit at shows and keep everyone happy---and the consumer mostly in the dark.
 

Jeb Ryan
I would just like to add that I also work in a high end audio shop (small salary, high commisions). Cables really do keep us a float. Our most expensive cables from Nordost are actually quite good, though way over priced IMO.

Since the advent of multi channel, anyone selling just stereo only, goes the way of the dodo. We adapted to the multi channel market demand. Fine for me, we sell more speakers and amps (though I am a two channel nut, no desire for surround sound).

Since we deal primarily in high end equipment, high profit margins, low sales volumes, if we didn't make up for it on cables and power conditioners, we probably wouldn't stay in business too long and I would soon find myself working for $7/hr at Best Buy or Circuit City selling Bose clock radios for $499.

Please keep buying the expensive cables people, I enjoy my job at the hifi shop. They pay well and the work atmosphere is nice.
 

As a manufacturer I would like to add that good wire and connectors are inexpensive. Labor is not a major factor either. The mark up that I see today defys all logic except to keep people like Jeb in a steady job.
I guess I remember the good old days when speaker cable was sold on a spool and you would purchase the length you needed, take it home and get out a wire cutter to cut it and strip it. No fancy terminations, no audio jewelry, and no problems.
The thought occurs to me that dealers might change their course and offer their customers a proper installation, using local electricians if needed and using acoustic foam and panels to treat a room. If this is done correctly, the customer would be better off in the long run, and high end dealers would start to have a better reputation than used car salesman.
Dan Banquer
R.E. Designs
 

Black Math
The Bryston interconnect is $150.00 which isn't cheap. Not that it is expensive when compared to ones that are $1,000.00+, but you can get Kimber, Audioquest, Straightwire, Nordost, etc. cables for the same price. Is Bryston overcharging?

I do not understand why there is a perception that independent audio dealers attempt to rip consumers off with overpriced cables. This has never been the case with any of my purchases. I tell the dealer what I want to spend and he tells me what he has that will best work with my set up.

The most marketed cables in the world are Monster and they sell more than anybody else. Are they better? Does anybody think that mass-market retailers like Best Buy and Circuit City have Monster product display walls in convienent places by the home theater equipment because their products are better? Most likely, Monster is paying to have their products displayed in prime store locations. It is also likely that sales associates are encouraged to reccomend Monster products instead of the other cables (A/R, RCA, etc) at the back of the store at half the price. I would think that more injustice is being done to the millions of customers who are persuaded to by Monster products at these stores. If you go to an independent store you might find that you can by Audioquest, Straightwire, Tributaries, and other interconnects and video cables in the same price range as the Monsters. Who would you rather give your money to?

I do not work in the hi-fi business, but I enjoy the products. As consumers it is our duty to educate ourselve before making a purchase. Are their con-men out there? yes. Can some of those con-men be Mass Market retailers? yes.

As far as cable advertisements and reviews in Stereophile and Absolute sound, who cares? They are niche publications with relatively small subscription bases. If you don't like these mags, don't read or buy them. Most people don't. I am more concerned about Monster Cable and Best Buy ads in more mainstream publications like Rolling Stone, FHM, Maxim, and SI.
 

G-Man
"I do not understand why there is a perception that independent audio dealers attempt to rip consumers off with overpriced cables. This has never been the case with any of my purchases. I tell the dealer what I want to spend and he tells me what he has that will best work with my set up. "

What if you said you wanted to spend up to $300 on cables. What if the $5 cables performed just as well as the $300 cables. I bet most dealers would sell you the $300 cables--maybe they'd be real nice and give you a 10%-20% discount--giving them a huge financial gain anyway and making you feel that you got a great deal.

Wire and interconnects have become the big mark-up items that phono cartridges used to be. I am sure many in the audio video retail industry pray every day for Noel Lee who created Monster Cable and began the "elite" wire craze many years ago.

He was and still is a brilliant marketter and recognized that this was an area where "mucho dinero" could be made. Other companies took Monster Cables marketting to the next level of absurdity, which make even the most expensive of his products seem ludicrously inexpensive by comparison.

But Noel Lee uncovered a basic truth--most audiophiles are insecure about their systems and are always chasing the ever elusive sonic nirvana, most audio video consumers (most people) are scientifically ignorant and succomb to pseudo-science mumbo-jumbo---Magic, if you will. How did green magic markers on cd's or the amazing Tice Clock ever pass the sniff test?

Most elite wire companies are careful not to mention the electrical measurements between their various wires, from the cheapest to the most expensive, as the differences are neglible to non existent. Rather than speak science, most elite wire manufacturers and their dealers speak of the magical qualities of the wires and interconnects--how it resolved the music--opened it up--improved the bass-tightened the sound--gave it an airy tube-like sound-etc. Of course, they never use real science and measurements to say how this is accomplished. It just is done--it is magic.
Ocassionally they use pseudo-science that any second year electrical engineering student would find hilarious.

But at least Mr. Lee sells some fine inexpensive wire too. Some of his later copycats are totally shameless and prey upon the unaware consumer and the insecure audiophile as a televangelist preys upon the needy and those fearful of death.

Most of the so-called wire manufacturers just relabel wire from major industrial manufacturers.

Anyway, I believe our friend Jeb who works in a high-end store when he stated--

"Since we deal primarily in high end equipment, high profit margins, low sales volumes, if we didn't make up for it on cables and power conditioners, we probably wouldn't stay in business too long"
 

Patrick Mattucci
G-Man:
I e-mailed Dave Belles regarding your last post. He e-mailed back to tell me that he doesn't know who you are, nor does he recall your conversation. However, he did say that using good cables is an integral part of any good system. Considering the exceptional detail you posted of your conversation with the man, I have to wonder if it took place at all. And again, what's with the "Huge Mark-Ups"? What do you consider to be a huge mark-up? What do you do for a living? What is the level of mark-up with the product or services you offer that sustain you? Pizza has a 100% mark-up. So does ice cream. Are you going to start making these products at home, along with D.I.Y interconnects because you're sick and tired of being ripped off by 31 Flavors and Dominoes?

Jeb:
I feel sorry for the folks who come into your place of business. It is obvious that your contempt for the products you sell and those who purchase them from you will only serve to weaken the hard work and dedication that most manufacturers and dealers put into our careers, our reputations and the relationships we build with our clients. I personally would appreciate it if you went to work for Best Buy or Circut City. It would only serve to show more clearly why folks should turn to professionals when they invest their hard earned bucks into their Home Entertainment systems.

Dan:
I visited your web-site. I see that you too, also offer your own line of cables and speaker wire. I appreciate your honesty and wish you the best of luck in your business. I sincerely hope that, as your business grows and you prosper, that you will control your product lines with regard to distribution and fair mark-ups. I wonder if you would consider not placing your product in a showroom where the dealer is selling the very products you find distasteful.
 

Hi Patrick;
Just one correction here; I am a Direct Mail Company and plan on staying that way. We should note that the wire that I do sell is all Belden. I just cut them to length and add the terminations.
 

IBorg
PAtrick

It seems very apparant to me that you are going out of your way to defend cable companies. Your vested interest here is clear and obvious. If you really don't think the mark up on a $10K speaker cable isn't high, then I would love to smoke what you are smoking. You paint such a lovely and friendly picture of high end audio. Isn't is so magical?

G-Man;

I agree Monstercables are overpriced, but doubtfully marked up as much as the very high dollar cables. How much does a cable vendor who charges $50K for speaker cables invest in material costs and labor?

Jeb;

Its people like you that leave a bad taste in my mouth about high end audio. Say what you do and do what you say. I personally couldn't sell something I didn't believe it. Perhaps that is why I aint in sales.
 

Patrick Mattucci
IBorg:

No where did I state my support for a $10,000.00 cable. However, my vested interest in any manufacturer of a solid and reliable A/V product that is fairly priced shouldn't be misinterpreted. Nor should the fact that I'm using my real name, whereas some do not.

You're right about one thing. I have a vested interest in seeing to it that folks don't end up discouraged because of negative attitudes and ignorant opinions. So-called High End Audio is like any business, really. Most people who engage in it are good caring folks. Unfortunately, there are those who are not.

I don't know what you're smoking either, but its effecting your ability to read. My advice: Don't smoke anything. It seems to effect judgement.
 

Confused
Why has this discussion taken a path away from the topic and into a slugging match?
 

Black Math
If your choice is to pay $29.95 for a pair of Monster interconnects at Circuit City or $30.00-40.00 for a comparable pair from a smaller manufacturer at an independant hi-fi dealer which would you rather do? I know what I did.

How happy is everybody going to be if we have to buy packaged KLH/Yamaha systems from Best Buy?
 

John Batty
Patrick;

Pizza and Ice cream don't cost thousands like many high end cables do. Why spend thousands on cables when you can achieve the same performance levels for dollars?
 

Patrick Mattucci
John:

You're preaching to the choir.
 

Patrick Mattucci
John:

As an aside.

I'm 39 years old, have two children and I'm half Italian. I Have spent thousands on pizza, not to mention ice cream.

Ya see Confused.....I'm capable of a little levity.
 

G-Man
Patrick-

This is what I wrote-"I spoke years ago to Dave Belles, an engineer of some reknown that designed amps and pre-amps for OCM and his own brand). This conversation was over 10 years ago when I bought some of his equipment from a friends audio salon establishment in Wisconsin"

As you are so interested in playing "Gotcha"--call Roger Kahn (800-826-0520), the owner of The Sound Seller that sold me the Belles equipment.

What is truly bizarre is that you e-mailed Dave Belles about a conversation he had with a customer of his over a decade ago--like he should remember it.

I am certainly not suprised Dave Belles doesn't remember me--why would he? It was many years ago (he lived in Buffalo, I believe) and I was just a customer returning an amp of his for repair. If memory serves me, he must have been operating a solo business as he answered his own phone and offered to fix my problem for free and gave me a free upgrade too.

But I guarantee he knows Roger Kahn (as Roger represented and sold his equipment) and if Dave keeps records he knows I have owned his equipment --as Roger certainly knows it--and that in order to arrange the help he gave me he MUST HAVE talked to me, as he not only fixed my amp-he upgraded it for free too.


But the truly bizarre part is you e-mailing him about a conversation I had with him over a decade ago and expecting him to remember it and then expecting him to comment negatively on the wire industy that gives him wires and cables for displaying his wares at shows.

As I said--it is a rare manufacturer that is going to openly denigrate wires and cables--what is in it for them, as I mentioned earlier. Only if you end up in a long phone conversation do these things often arise.

By the way, why don't you ask James Tanner at Bryston if there are cables that cost more than the $150 ones he sells that sonically deliver a more accurate signal. If he says there are more expensive better ones that deliver a more accurate signal, ask him by what criteria does he he make that assessment--and why doesn't Bryston sell the best cable and wire available for its wonderful electronics?

And let's cut the BS--what measurements do wire companies offer that differentiate them from each other? Speaker companies print many of them. Amplifier companies print many of them. Why not speaker wire companies? Why do they mainly (or only) print marketting performance shlock and not scientific measurements that one could rate them on? Or is there magic that takes place that isn't measureable or quantifiable?
 

Black Math
Are we saying that $150.00 is a reasonable price to pay for interconnects?

I can say that Nordost publishes measurments on each of their cables (www.nordost.com). Does this make them better? Probably not. Are they a good value, I don't know...if $150 is our pricepoint, yes. Nobody else that I know of builds cables like them. They are well built and have a lifetime warranty.

I don't understand all of the unwarranted generalizations slammed on independent hi-fi dealers and manufacturers. We should be championing them as survivalists in a generic corporate-owned world. I imagine that most of these people do not make as much (or even close to) the CEO of Sony, Best Buy, or Monster.

Long live independent music, film, equipment manufacturers, equipment dealers, record stores, and theaters. You are my last hope!
 

Patrick Mattucci
Ge-Man

Why are you asking me why a manufacturer doesn't print specs? I don't know.

Why are you asking me what James Tanner charges for cable? Go to his web-site for that info, or e-mail the man himself. He seems receptive enough to provide you with the info you seek. His criteria is Brystons criteria for proper cables. Read the info on the above posted link and it clearly explains why.

What's bizarre is someone who seems to remember a conversation almost verbatum, but is not remembered by the person who supposedly spoke to them. What isn't bizarre is verifying facts, and yours came up light. What is more important, his attitude regarding cables is in direct conflict with what you posted. Why shouldn't I ask him if your recollections are true? What is most interesting to me is you seem to have no problem making statements you can't prove, and then expecting the reader to place his or her faith in you. Not exactly scientific is it? And all I ask for is proof. Bring a prominent and respected manufacturer to this forum and have him admit that he uses cables he has no financial stake in, that he doesn't believe in but feels he has to use because no one will take him seriously if he doesn't. An individual like that in my opinion has no intestinal fortitude and deserves to be out of business. You don't see Bob Carver sucking up to cable manufacturers, do you? And there's others besides him who clearly don't. But I'm not here to do your homework for you. You make claims, you back them up.

And let's do cut the BS. I feel the same way regarding cost and purpose as the person who was interviewed about interconnects and cables. Where I disagree is when the info is not true.

Where you do not hesitate to agree is with every lousy comment made by a poster regarding the A/V profession. You're obviously working with an agenda, and that is not good for novices who read these posts. Anytime anyone attacks a group of individuals who work hard in this field to maintain integrity, and I am party to it, I will not hesitate to straighten them out.

And one more time, I do not support exotic, over priced cables and interconnects UNLESS..........................there is a demand for them. If a customer feels that they do make a difference, is aware of all the facts and still wants them, that is their business, and it is their right to spend their money as they see fit. My company sells no such devices, I don't personally use them, I have friends who do, who love them and would accept nothing else.

One more thing. Stop making Audiophiles out to be uneducated dupes. They may be gullable at times, but they're not really stupid. ALL of the ones I know do their homework and then make their decisions. Who are you to negatively criticize anyone for spending their money in the way in which they see fit?
 

Confused
Most cable vendors don't publish specs since they don't even know their meaning, let alone how to measure the cables they sell.

Most audiophiles, or I refer to as audiophools wouldn't know better anyways.
 

Patrick Mattucci
Confused:

You have a wonderful economy with words.

I look forward to your next syllable with great eagerness.
 

Viruskb
I think some of the main problems are being missed here.

Part of the problem is most of our audio egos (let the denial set in please) are to big to admit that it is possible that our ears suck. When revel was beginning they put together some benchmarks for there double blind test. One of the benchmarks was that if you could not tell a 3db difference at specific frequencies you could not be part of the test. 90% of the "audiophiles" failed this test. So all of these guys that had great ears in fact didn't. For those who don't know revel has one of the most impressive double blind test setups in the world. Once revel had all of there standards in place they put the salon against most of the other mega bucks speakers. They tweaked the salon until the salon won all of the dbts against other speakers. So is it the best speaker in the world?? It just depends who you ask, kinda like cables.

Most anti cable guys I have met fall into 3 camps 1. They have Weak setups that are not in the least bit revealing 2. They buy axiom, svs, swans and other mail order brands that they have never heard, so why would they care about cables 3. They use science as a justification for owning sub par gear that small differences are very difficult to pick up on. Most pro cable guys are made up of 3 camps also 1. They have huge massive systems that cost more than most peoples houses but are quite revealing 2. They only buy things that cost tons of cash, sure they like to audition the speakers but they do so based on price. 3 they use audio quality as a justification for everything from buying there homes to buying buggy gear that sounds good (yes pdmt I am talking about you). What do both groups have in common?? 1. Closed mindedness
All the readers who are currently saying to themselves "I am not closed minded" you just proved to yourself how closed minded you are. Personally I support the pro cable group as in my opinion I can and do perceive differences in cables. I used to run a studio which helps feed into my ego of believing I can tell differences but I still think I can. Kinda like Gene, who's I write for a magazine ego has lead him to write a very misleading article on cables. I don't mean to pick at you Gene but you are guilty of all of the grips you put against the pro cable group. Your science is snake oil to us who can hear a difference.

As for science....
First off science is a like a pro or a con it has on opposite mind of thought. It can never see truth or involve truth since it is limited to being one sided. It doesn't encompass everything so it can explain everything. It is like a yin without a yang.
Science can't prove that a god exist but many people say they can feel god's presence, so are they wrong because a meter says so? No. Science can't prove that the after life exist but yet it can't prove that it does not exist. Science can't find the human soul with all the money, meters and tech that exist. Wasn't it science that said that an atom was the smallest piece of matter?? What about the earth being flat? Science is nothing more than pseudo facts that have yet to be proven incorrect. I have met quite a few people in the know who say global warming is a myth and can give pseudo facts to prove it. I have also read other pseudo facts that say it's real. The bible says Jesus had no children. The Dead Sea scrolls say he did. Cables are crap. Cable are not crap. Most scientist use facts created by other scientist to verify there facts. The problem is a philosophical problem not a scientific problem. I can see that many people in this discussion are angered by others closed mindedness on this issue. Yet they are being just as closed minded. Why?? The cables don't really matter we are all just acknowledgement fishing. We want to state are opinions and have others agree and give credit for them. We are not looking to be enlightened we are looking to enlighten without knowing if we are truly enlightened.

As for DBT
What if you have a guy who goes into a DBT thinking, I will hear no difference? He has a preconceived notion that cables don't make a difference so they never will in his mind even if proven otherwise. Gene you little DBT rant is silly as lack of sensory input could tip the scales the other direction. There is no truth and that is the only truth. Cables do and don't make a difference. It just depends on the person and situation. It is not ever possible to prove if cables do or do not make a difference regardless of what they are made of, how they are made, or who makes them. Anyone who tries to tell you different is truly misleading you.
 

Confused
There we go again, another cable zealot mixing cable antics with religion. It is so difficult for cable nuts to stay on topic. They have to swerve off course since they cannot debate on a technical level.

BTW, if you think Revel is the epitome of high performance loudspeakers, then I suspect you fall under the category of not being able to hear differences of 3dB.
 

viruskb
Confused why are you so angry and closed minded?? Is your poor ego hurt. Awe do you need a hug? I am not a Cable zealot i use madrigal audio labs cable at 2 bucks a foot. I have tried a few other products and honestly think they sound better. Also if you have no point to make then why even type? You are just trying to knock me because i dont agree with you. Why dont you read what i said again. I never said that in my opinion i think the salon is the best speaker. I said that via blind testing it was tweaked until all of the test subjects agreed that it was the best. I have never heard most of the mega bucks speakers so why would i think the revel is the best?? I don't you are fishing for anything to say to knock me down but yet have nothing to say. It seems to be more difficult for you to stay on topic but then again you are confused.
Ps making silly remarks like "i bet you cant hear the difference" Is very umm little kid, next are you going to beat me up. You dont know me but yet you are so closed minded that
 

Rob
HAHA this if funny guys. Call each other out. Ladies and Gents, place ur bets :)

You know what the real problem is here? Too many guys arguing. Let's here from some womens perspectives please.
 

Black Math
When I think of major issues in hi-fi I do not place cables as one of them. I am more concerned about large manufacturers not supporting each other's hi-rez formats. Or record lables (some owned by major equipment manufacturers) charging $18.99 for a CD, putting out "Newly Remastered" versions of the same album every few years, or promoting crap and dumping talented artists. I don't want to pay for cable stations that I don't watch. I despise being raped by Ticketmaster. The list goes on and on...and then maybe cables.

Buy and believe what you want. If you like your setup, then you win!
 

Patrick Mattucci
You're right Blackmath, but those issues are not THE issue being addressed here in this thread.

The issues are:

Justification in spending considerable amounts of money on cables.

Cable manufacturers making claims about their product and whether those claims have/have not BOTH scientific merit as well as subjective merit regarding perceivable improvements.

The integrity of those who manufacture them, those who sell them and those who use them.

Again, and for the record, I concern myself strictly with statements both pro and con regarding these issues, and the proof to back up any statements made regarding these issues.

I would very much like to see a return to a mature dialogue by those who really care about these issues I've stated. Regardless of how one may feel about this topic, it is clear that most of the folks who have posted here share core truths:

An appreciation for the best quality audio equipment their hard earned money can buy.

Each of us maximizing our systems performance.

It is how we do it, (influenced or VS.) by how a manufacturer, audio publication/ audio web-site and dealer would HAVE US do it that is of consequence here.

I think we can all agree that no one here is using the complimentary cables that come in the box of the components we may purchase. And doesn't anyone here besides myself notice that or find it inherently interesting?

Even the most ardent scientific approach audio enthusiasts among us here have decided to cast away those spare tire cables and use something of, shall we say, a little more substance?

Perhaps someone here who doesn't subscribe to the idea of spending more than say, 3% of their system investment can tell me:

Why they made the effort to use
something/anything better than that?

Did they honestly HEAR any kind of improvement?

Do they just feel good/ assured that they're making the most of their system even if they don't know if it's REALLY better.


Understanding this, in my opinion could go further in resolving any differences any of us may have than either scientific or subjective tests may ever reveal.


I sincerely look forward to your responses.
 

Patrick Mattucci
One more wrinkle, if I may:

Consider the flip side of this entire discussion. How do you folks feel about proven scientific advancements/differences in sound that are never perceived by most individuals? A cable or speaker wire that REALLY does measure audibly as good OR worse than our reference "super conductor", and no one seems to notice the difference?


Food for thought.
 

Black Math
Now Patrick,

I agree with what you are saying, but you need to look at your posts. Wine, granite counters, Dominoes, Ice Cream...what do these have to do with cables? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Sounds like the pot is calling the kettle black. Please think about that.

I have seen differences when I have switched video cables. I feel the same should hold true for audio.

I have said I use Nordost cables. I like them. I wasn't foolish in trying to apply 3%+ of my system cost on cabeling. I looked at what my dealer used, did research, set my price point, and asked for reccomendations. What does it mean? Nothing other than I am happy with my system. I win!
 

IBorg
Patrick;

Your last point is one of interest. Many of these very expensive cables probably do spec better than most common ones. However, for reasonable lengths, will this be audible in a DBT? Probably not, especially when you consider how much more of a profound effect turning your head can have on sound then changing out a cable.
 

"Consider the flip side of this entire discussion. How do you folks feel about proven scientific advancements/differences in sound that are never perceived by most individuals? A cable or speaker wire that REALLY does measure audibly as good OR worse than our reference "super conductor", and no one seems to notice the difference?"
Therein lies the problem. The whole established engineering basis for good cable is that it adds as little as possible or subtracts as little as possible. The basics are low resistance, inductance, capacitance and shielding. High end cables have espoused that the cable is now a tone control ( only applicable to in certain situations) or cable as a magnetic field enhancer,( this really pisses off us designers because many of us do everything possible to suppress magnetic field). What much of the cable controversy is really all about is the near total lack of attention audiophiles pay to room treatment. Also loudspeakers with poorly designed metal dome tweeters drive many audiophiles to cables that will roll of the frequency response so the metal dome tweeter ringing will not be as objectionable.
In conclusion; expensive cables only mask the initial problem, if at all.
Maybe now Patrick my initial recommendation in an earlier post about dealers assisting audiophiles with room treatment will start to sink in.
Loudspeaker and room is the real issue.
 

G-Man
Patrick--Read what I wrote--

I said do you think Mr. Tanner of Bryston believes that there are better performing cables than his $150 cables. Lord knows there are cables that cost astronomically more.

The Bryston site says:

"Bryston does not think cables should be 'voiced' to sound a specific way. The best cable is NO cable at all so we contend that the best cable is the cable that changes the signal the least."

"For instance, a cable should not restrict the frequency range of the signal. Likewise, it should not add distortion to the music. What a cable should do is nothing, except conduct a signal."

"The above may seem quite simple and obvious, but in fact, we know of no other RCA interconnect which fulfills all these criteria for the theoretically ideal cable except the new Bryston interconnect. "

So Bryston says they know of no cable at any price that's a better pair of cables than the $150/Meter pair that they market. Not even $1,000 or $5,000 ones.


As I am quite sure Bryston doesn't make their own wire, they either have it made to spec. or buy already existing cable that they deem is the best. And knowing the engineering prowess of Bryston, I would imagine they measured it. Whether they make those measurements public or not--I do not know.

Hence, --realistically there can only be one best cable if you believe in Bryston's philosophy. Or many that tie for first. I do believe in that philosophy which states the best wire/cable is the one that does the least to the signal. It doesn't make it sound "better" or "worse"--ideally it does nothing.


Now there appears to be many of the belief that the accuracy of the signal is less important than how good it sounds to them. All I am saying is that science can measure these aspects that may distinguish one wire from another and can tell you which will pass the "truer" signal. The human ear cannot do this.
__________________________

Regarding Dave Belles--why do you find it suprising that I would remember something he said and he doesn't remember it or me from over a decade ago? I was just a customer. Quite logical that I would be impressed talking to the builder and engineer of the product I bought and that he would be totally unimpressed talking to one of countless customers. Particularly one who sent an amp back to be fixed to his place in Buffalo. At least it was Buffalo then.

Regarding wires, it is quite possible that he has changed his opinion on wires (lord knows we all change our opinions over time)or just felt like saying whatever he said. Who knows? But I did call my friend yesterday-Roger Kahn that owns the Sound Seller in Wisconsin (800-826-0520), and who sold me the Belles equipment from over a decade ago. He found it all very humorous and just said that he doesn't know or really care if wire or interconnects are different, not different, or whatever. He did agree that it makes percentage-wise, more money than anything else he sells. He was not suprised that wire manufacturers don't list specifications. He knows that marketting has done for wires what reality couldn't. Then again, he's mainly happy to sell product and hopes people are happy with their purchase.

Viruskb--

"Science can't prove that a god exist but many people say they can feel god's presence, so are they wrong because a meter says so? No."

They aren't right either. That is a feeling and a belief.

The onus of whether something exists is on those that make the claim. Not on those that don't. People feel and believe all sorts of things. Much of it isn't real and much of it doesn't apply to anyone else. Of course they are entitled to feel and believe whatever they want. But if you cannot prove something to anyone else, than as far as human knowledge is concerned it is meaningless.

Saying this wire sounds better and this receiver sounds better is an opinion. Saying with measurements why it performs the way it does and why it is better--is knowledge.

To relate this to wires and cables then--to make a claim that this wire and that cable is better--the onus is on the manufacturer to prove why and how. So far it seems to be strictly marketting on many, if not all of the manufacturers.

"Science can't prove that the after life exist but yet it can't prove that it does not exist."

The burden of proof is again on those that make the claim of an afterlife--not on those that don't.

"Wasn't it science that said that an atom was the smallest piece of matter??"

Before scientific knowledge was advanced enough, no one knew atoms even existed. At least when science found smaller particles it said so. Science always admits when it is wrong--and this is done by other scientists. It wasn't the Pope that said the earth wasn't flat and that the earth revolved around the sun.


Jeez--if the human race remained as anti-scientific as you we would still be scratching our butts in caves. We wouldn't be going to the moon, flying jets, building computers, or having this discussion in this format.

We rely on science. You just deny it when it makes you uncomfortable and messes with your belief systems.

Opinions are fine--but knowledge is better.
 

Cable Guy
Just because things can't be measured in cables (IE. distortion, smearing, etc) doesn't mean they can't be heard. Where is your proof?
 

G-Man
Cable Guy--

Who says they can't be measured? If they couldn't be measured, how could a manufacturer when buying new ingots of copper repeat the process and get the same result? If he can't measurte distinctions that make his wire sound or not sound a particular way--how can he repeat the process? Is it a crapshoot? Does he just rely on marketting? :-)

Anyway, Bryston, Outlaw Audio, and myself believe they can be measured. If they couldn't be measured--by what method and standard would a cable manufacturer make them? And then after making them--successfully repeat the process obtaining the same result. If he can't measure the chasracteristics which make his wire perform a particular way, or not sound like anything--how can he repeat the process reliably without having measurements?

I'm glad you aren't building airplanes.
 

Anonymous
G-Man

"They aren't right either. That is a feeling and a belief."
In your opinion it is a feeling and a belief in many others it is not. Can science prove it is a feeling and a belief and not a truth?? Nope... So just like cables there is no right answer just people with egos who need to think they have the right answer.

"The burden of proof is again on those that make the claim of an afterlife--not on those that don't. "
Why?? Because it works for you points? If science says it does not exist then why can't science prove that?? Scientist work to disprove other theories you said so yourself. That is a serious copout.

"Science always admits when it is wrong--and this is done by other scientists"
That is part of my point, science can be wrong so it is not fact. It is a pseudo fact that has yet to be proven wrong.

You are not right but neither am I just like with the cables. Do you think some how I am going to say I can't hear something I can? You seem to love science but yet you have no logic? It is not logical to think that you at any point are going to make one person on this board or on this planet not hear changes that in there mind they can hear. It is like trying to convince a crazy person that thinks he is sane, that they are crazy. What you really are doing is acknowledgement fishing because you are insecure about your belief in cables and you need people to agree with you to prove yourself right. The more people that agree the more you feel right. Even if Science is 100% fact it does not prove things right or wrong, popular opinion proves things wrong or right.
 

Confused
"Popular opinion proves this wrong or right"

What a sad mentality, you deserve your ignorance.

Many people here, I note the ones with no background in science or logic, attempt to complicate the subject of cables because they don't understand it.

Its funny how this cable confusion only occurs in the consumer audio world. I wonder if RF engineers designing satellite defense systems find cables to be so mysterious when they design transmitters and antennas operating in the GHz frequency spectrum.

I wonder how the audio cable vendors know so much about the cables they sell when they don't rely of repeatable testing methods or science to indentify and resolve the problems they feel exist in cables. Sounds like blind faith, or to the zealots, religion.
 

G-Man
Confused--

Thank you for shining some light before I had an opportunity to respond.
__________________________

"Can science prove it is a feeling and a belief and not a truth?? Nope... :

This is silly. Science has not made the claim that God exists or doesn't exist. Scientists are aware they currently don't have the ability to answer that (and may never have the ability to)

The burden of proof is again on those that make the claim of an afterlife--not on those that don't.

"Why?? Because it works for you points? If science says it does not exist then why can't science prove that?? Scientist work to disprove other theories you said so yourself. That is a serious copout."

I never said science had the current capability to answer all theories and certainly all beliefs. If science were maybe that advanced we would be flying to other galaxies. But pretend this is 1750--look what science has done and proved since.

Science has not addressed the afterlife issue, other than stating that there is zero proof of an afterlife. Science can work to prove or disprove theories or beliefs on those issues that they have the tools and equations.

I never said, nor do scientists, that science is currently capable of answering all questions or beliefs.

If I say there are fairies at the bottom of my well, the burden of proof is on me if I want skeptical and intelligent people to concur with me.


" Do you think some how I am going to say I can't hear something I can?"

Sure--people hear and see things that don't exist all the time. And they hear things that do exist. But WE CAN TEST THIS!! This is not a belief, unless you choose to not have it tested.

Science can set up a blind ABX test to see if you and others can differentiate between various wires and cables. This has been done numerous times with no evidence of people picking the "right" wires or cables more than a normal statistical variance-like dice rolling.

But using a test like this one can scientifically prove whether you actually hear a difference. And if you do, what percentage of the time. We could also measure the wires on various parameters that wire manufacturers use and be able to discern why you heard a difference--or why you didn't.

That is how people learn and obtain knowledge.

"Even if Science is 100% fact it does not prove things right or wrong, popular opinion proves things wrong or right."

That is a frightening thought. I am fearful it is all to common though.
 

Anonymous
When they ABX test interconnects, do they have a CD player with two sets of outputs and run that through a preamp, reciever, or headphone amp and switch back and forth? Do they use two cd players and adjust signals going into the preamp to make sure the output is the same? Do they test throughout every decible level?
 

Anonymous
Confused you are not even attempting to make points at all. You are just agreeing with other people who are making points. Please if I am ignorant tell my why, give reasons and back them up with something, anything please.

"I wonder if RF engineers designing satellite defense systems find cables to be so mysterious when they design transmitters and antennas operating in the GHz frequency spectrum."
That's great I will keep that in mind next time I am listening to my TV antenna! I don't see how that ties in since we are talk about sound quality! What is your audio setup at home confused? Can you send pics please?? When you where auditioning the salons in you own home what other speakers did you compare them with to come to your conclusion that they are not the best? Which pair did you buy?

G-man
"This is silly. Science (science does not speak for itself and that is part of the problem) has not made the claim that God exists or doesn't exist (Scientist have and I have links if you want). Scientists are aware they currently don't have the ability to answer that (and may never have the ability to)"
Evolution states that humans evolved from apes, religion states otherwise. Science states that the big bang created everything, religion states that god created everything. I watched a special on the discovery channel about science and the afterlife a month or so ago and a few of the scientist stated (not all) that an after life is nothing more than your brain dying and it can be proven as a fact. When did science say they thought god was real??

"I never said science had the current capability to answer all theories and certainly all beliefs." So tell me how can it be undisputed fact?? If you could please answer question it would be nice. You seem to be dancing around this issue. I talked about science being pseudo facts above but yet you (and the guy with no points) did not comment on this???
Tell me is science fact or not. If it is then why do scientist the practioners of science call there facts THEORIES!

"But if you cannot prove something to anyone else, than as far as human knowledge is concerned it is meaningless." This is the same thing I was saying about popular opinion but yet you gave me crap about it. Science is meaningless compared to popular opinion. Prove to me science is 100% correct fact.

"Sure--people hear and see things that don't exist all the time. And they hear things that do exist. But WE CAN TEST THIS!! This is not a belief, unless you choose to not have it tested." How do you know the test are correct?? The whole reason I brought up religion is to point out that science can not account for everything is this world. You said so yourself. Is it at all possible that cables could be one of these things?? You say that science can be wrong but yet it is not possible that cables are one of those things?? Are you that much of a hippocrit? Can science prove what pre amp or amp sounds the best?? No, it is something that only your ear can tell same with cables. You are looking at this whole situation as man these poor mislead cable lovers are getting screwed and are to stupid to see it. Where as I am looking at it as these poor science guys have too many pre conceived notions and theories to stop and listen to an obvious difference that even my girlfriend can hear. Why can't you guys see that there is no right or wrong answer only a perceived write or wrong answer? Even in science there are conflicting answers for many different theories. I would think that since you guys are so smart you would have at least had time to take a beginners philosophy class.

"That is a frightening thought. I am fearful it is all to common though. " I am not saying this is right or that I agree with it but it is true.

Science is not fact, this you said yourself "answer all theories"
Here is the definition of theory

1 : the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another
2 : abstract thought : SPECULATION
3 : the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art
4 a : a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action b : an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances -- often used in the phrase in theory
5 : a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena
6 a : a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation b : an unproved assumption : CONJECTURE c : a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject

I am so ignorant but at least I am smart enough to know what scientific theory means.
Here are a couple of good science quotes

"Technology is not in any way related to the web of idiotic scientific theory." Did you know that when the Wright brothers where building the first working airplane they had to give up on scientific theory to get it to work??

"Science, on the other hand, is generally built upon a premise that nothing can be "proved" only disproved"

I ask you g-man to prove to me that science is not built on pseudo facts. That is the only way your science vs. hearing argument will gain any weight with me.
 

Confused
I suspect Anonymous poster is either a cable vendor or obsessive compulsive cable cult leader. This is of course an hypothesis :)
 

G-Man
Let's make it easy. Have two different sets of speaker wires running from the same amp outputs to the same speakers. Have a 3rd party keep track of which wires are playing and when. In this case the wire is the only variable when playing the same music from a cd player--you could even loop a 30 second piece to keep playing so that the music and tones are never altered from the source.

With interconnects you use the same outputs on the cd player. If there aren't two identical outputs that you can measure as identical, Use a y-splitter from the outputs and measure that the split is equal and then play the same piece of music through the identical system. In either case the interconnects are the only variables.


Did you ever hear of the term "cognitive dissonance"? It basically means you can prove something, but people will go on acting in denial of what you proved anyway.

Let's try and explain the difference between beliefs, hypotheses, opinions, and facts:

Beliefs:
An untested, (and in some cases) untestable opinion which may perhaps be based on speculations about, but certainly not observations of or testing and experimentation with Nature. No matter how hard it is believed in and no matter how many people believe in it, such opinions can never even be legitimately considered (by those doing Science anyway), let alone accepted, without testing and experimentation. Furthermore, it will never become real and actual by the power of the multitudes believing in it. It either is or is not real and actual already. Our opinions about it will always remain naturally and scientifically baseless unless and until we observe it and test it and experiment with, in, on, around, or about it.

Hypothesis:
An untested (sometimes maybe even untestable) opinion based on observations of and/or speculations about Nature. With regard to Nature and Science, a hypothesis is not completely baseless since it is part of the Scientific Process. However, since it has not yet gone through the rest of the stages, it can not yet be considered a theory.

Theory:
A tested (or at least testable) opinion based not only on observations of and/or speculations about Nature, but also on the factual findings of testing and experimentation. It is not a fact since opinions are still involved. However, since those opinions have been tested and do in fact seem to adequately explain something which is observed in Nature, it is accepted as a theory.

Fact:
Something that is real and actual. Something which may or may not be universally known to be real and actual or may not even have been discovered yet, but about which opinions are irrelevant. Since being known about or believed in is not that which makes something be real and actual, a fact would still be real and actual without being universally known (or known at all for that matter) or accepted as such. There can be opinions about facts (such as hypotheses, theories and beliefs), but these opinions do not and can not and therefore should not ever be considered as bringing about any kind of absolute certainty of fact in any sense. Hypotheses, theories and beliefs are just what they are. They are not facts. They are ideas about facts and/or ideas about that which we have not facts about as of yet. We call them opinions because they are ideas about which we can not yet be certain of. Facts are those things which no one in their right mind argues about anymore... such as Earth revolving around the Sun, Earth being rather round and approximately 4.6 billion years old.

And there are theories that border on being facts ad for all practical purposes arev facts. Take evolution for instance.


"Can science prove what pre amp or amp sounds the best?? No, it is something that only your ear can tell same with cables."

Science can tell which pre-amp passes the "truest" signal--same as it can for cables. If you prefer a less accurate pre-amp or cable that is your entitlement. Science can also test if people can through a blind ABX test tell the difference between these items.

"Science is not fact, this you said yourself"

Of course not--science is a method to determine facts from fiction, what is from what isn't, what works from what doesn't work, etc.

Ever hear of the scientific method? That is what scientists do to determine the above paragraph. Can it answer everything? Of course not. But it answers a lot and is the best we have to get at what is Accurate and true. Science admits its mistakes--that is how we advanced in knowledge and abilities.

The more one believes, the less accurate one gets. Now being right and feeling good in a belief is more important to many people than being accurate.

As Aristotle once said--"Is it better to be a happy pig or a sad Socrates?"

Of course I don't think knowledge has to make you sad. It can be beautiful--and often is.
 

anonymous
A letter from John Dunlavy, engineer and speaker designer and owner of Dunlavy Speakers:

From: 102365.2026@compuserve.com (Dunlavy Audio Labs)
To: bass@mcfeeley.cc.utexas.edu (bass group)
Subject: Cable Nonsense (Long)

Having read some of the recent comments on several of the Internet audio groups, concerning audible differences between interconnect and loudspeaker cables, I could not resist adding some thoughts about the subject as a concerned engineer possessing credible credentials.

To begin, several companies design and manufacture loudspeaker and interconnect cables which they proudly claim possess optimized electrical properties for the audiophile applications intended. However, accurate measurements of several popularly selling cables reveal significant differences that call into question the technical goals of their designer. These differences also question the capability of the companies to perform accurate measurements of important cable performance properties. For example, any company not possessing a precision C-L-R bridge, a Vector Impedance Meter, a Network Analyzer, a precision waveform and impulse generator, wideband precision oscilloscopes, etc., probably needs to purchase them if they are truly serious about designing audio cables that provide premium performance.

The measurable properties of loudspeaker cables that are important to their performance include characteristic impedance (series inductance and parallel capacitance per unit length), loss resistance (including additional resistance due to skin-effect losses versus frequency), dielectric losses versus frequency (loss tangent, etc.), velocity-of-propagation factor, overall loss versus frequency into different impedance loads, etc.

Measurable properties of interconnect cables include all of the above, with the addition of those properties of the dielectric material that contribute to microphonic noise in the presence of ambient vibration, noise, etc. (in combination with a D.C. off-set created by a pre-amp output circuit, etc.).

While competent cable manufacturers should be aware of these measurements and the need to make them during the design of their cables, the raw truth is that most do not! Proof of this can be found in the absurd buzzard-salve, snake-oil and meaningless advertising claims found in almost all magazine ads and product literature for audiophile cables. Perhaps worse, very few of the expensive, high-tech appearing cables we have measured appear to have been designed in accordance with the well-known laws and principles taught by proper physics and engineering disciplines. (Where are the costly Government Consumer Protection people who are supposed to protect innocent members of the public by identifying and policing questionable performance claims, misleading specifications, etc.?) --- Caveat Emptor!

For example, claiming that copper wire is directional , that slow-moving electrons create distortion as they haphazardly carry the signal along a wire, that cables store and release energy as signals propagate along them, that a final energy component (improperly labeled as Joules ) is the measure of the tonality of cables, ad nauseum, are but a few of the non-entities used in advertisements to describe cable performance .

Another pet peeve of mine is the concept of a special configuration included with a loudspeaker cable which is advertised as being able to terminate the cable in a matter intended to deliver more accurate tonality, better imaging, lower noise , etc. The real truth is that this special configuration contains nothing more than a simple, inexpensive network intended to prevent poorly-designed amplifiers, with a too-high slew-rate (obtained at the expense of instability caused by too much inverse-feedback) from oscillating when connected to a loudspeaker through a low-loss, low-impedance cable. When this box appears at the loudspeaker-end of a cable, it seldom contains nothing more than a Zobel network , which is usually a series resistor-capacitor network, connector in parallel with the wires of the cable. If it is at the amplifier-end of the cable, it is probably either a parallel resistor-inductor network, connected in series with the cable conductors (or a simple cylindrical ferrite sleeve covering both conductors). But the proper place for such a network, if it is needed to insure amplifier stability and prevent high-frequency oscillations , is within the amplifier - not along the loudspeaker cable. Hmmm!

Having said all this, are there really any significant audible differences between most cables that can be consistently identified by experienced listeners? The answer is simple: very seldom! Those who claim otherwise do not fully grasp the power of the old Placebo-Effect - which is very alive and well among even the most well-intentioned listeners. The placebo-effect renders audible signatures easy to detect and describe - if the listener knows which cable is being heard. But, take away this knowledge during blind or double-blind listening comparisons and the differences either disappear completely or hover close to the level of random guessing. Speaking as a competent professional engineer, designer and manufacturer, nothing would please me and my company's staff more than being able to design a cable which consistently yielded a positive score during blind listening comparisons against other cables. But it only rarely happens - if we wish to be honest!

Oh yes, we have heard of golden-eared audiophiles who claim to be able to consistently identify huge, audible differences between cables. But when these experts have visited our facility and were put to the test under carefully-controlled conditions, they invariably failed to yield a score any better than chance . For example, when led to believe that three popular cables were being compared, varying in size from a high-quality 12 AWG ZIP-CORD to a high-tech looking cable with a diameter exceeding an inch, the largest and sexiest looking cable always scored best - even though the CABLES WERE NEVER CHANGED and they listened to the ZIP Cord the entire time.

Sorry, but I do not buy the claims of those who say they can always audibly identify differences between cables, even when the comparisons are properly controlled to ensure that the identity of the cable being heard is not known by the listener. We have accomplished too many true blind comparisons with listeners possessing the right credentials, including impeccable hearing attributes, to know that real, audible differences seldom exist - if the comparisons are properly implemented to eliminate other causes such as system interactions with cables, etc.

Indeed, during these comparisons (without changing cables), some listeners were able to describe in great detail the big differences they thought they heard in bass, high-end detail, etc. (Of course, the participants were never told the NAUGHTY TRUTH , lest they become an enemy for life!)

So why does a reputable company like DAL engage in the design and manufacture of audiophile cables? The answer is simple: since significant measurable differences do exist and because well-known and understood transmission line theory defines optimum relationships between such parameters as cable impedance and the impedance of the load (loudspeaker), the capacitance of an interconnect and the input impedance of the following stage, why not design cables that at least satisfy what theory has to teach? And, since transmission line theory is universally applied, quite successfully, in the design of cables intended for TV, microwave, telephone, and other critical applications requiring peak performance, etc., why not use it in designing cables intended for critical audiophile applications? Hmmm! To say, as some do, that there are factors involved that competent engineers and scientists have yet to identify is utter nonsense and a cover-up for what should be called pure snake oil and buzzard salve - in short, pure fraud . If any cable manufacturer, writer, technician, etc. can identify such an audible design parameter that cannot be measured using available lab equipment or be described by known theory, I can guarantee a nomination for a Nobel Prize .

Anyway, I just had to share some of my favorite Hmmm's, regarding cable myths and seemingly fraudulent claims, with audiophiles on the net who may lack the technical expertise to separate fact from fiction with regard to cable performance. I also welcome comments from those who may have other opinions or who may know of something I might have missed or misunderstood regarding cable design, theory or secret criteria used by competitors to achieve performance that cannot be measured or identified by conventional means. Lets all try to get to the bottom of this mess by open, informed and objective inquiry.

I sincerely believe the time has come for concerned audiophiles, true engineers, competent physicists, academics, mag editors, etc. to take a firm stand regarding much of this disturbing new trend in the blatantly false claims frequently found in cable advertising. If we fail to do so, reputable designers, engineers, manufacturers, magazine editors and product reviewers may find their reputation tarnished beyond repair among those of the audiophile community we are supposed to serve.

Best regards,
John Dunlavy
 

Black Math
Dunlavy Audio is out of business...FYI.
 

Patrick Mattucci
I'm all for the snake oil vendors being put out of business. Making BS claims that can't possibly hold up under strict, non-biased scientific scrutiny to dupe people out of their hard earned money is absolutely vulgar. I agree with Mr. Dunlavy that at least one of our government funded consumer protection agencies should come to the rescue of audio enthusiasts everywhere. After all, what the hell am I paying taxes for anyway? Surely the "cable problem" in our country is right up there with the toughest problems our society faces.

Now, this is just a theory, but I'd be willing to bet that there are at least two scientific approach posters here who continue to state their case. It is not only my wish, but my sincerest hope that those who know better than the gullable cable dupes who keep perpetuating these myths will step up and save us from ourselves.

And what I mean when I write the following is explicit and specifically this:

(1) Tell us exactly what manufacturers are selling snake-oil.

(2) Scientifically refute any claim by those "snake-oil" manufacturers you name, that is found to be in error of "proven scientific methods", and pass your judgement with as much passion and candor as you've demonstrated thus far.

(3) Tell us exactly what cables YOU'RE using, how they measure and why YOU chose them.

(4) Tell us exactly what cables you tried that you didn't use, if any.

Surely these requests aren't out of line. If people are REALLY going to be educated, then specifially point out who is to be avoided at all costs and who should be embraced.

Any attempt to avoid providing the proof that is really sought after by most of us who really want to know these answers should be seen for what it is-cowardice. The attempt to answer the above stated challenges within the reasonable guidelines set forth should be seen as an honest response from an individual with intestinal fortitude.

Right or wrong, at least the so-called gullable have been honest regarding what they use and the results they claim they found. It should not be too much to ask for the same from those who feel differently about this subject.

For once and for all, it is time to put up or shut up.
 

G-Man
BlackMath--

Too bad for Mr. Dunlavy. The high-end speaker business is a tough area. Even all the good reviews he had over the years were obviously not enough. He had a fairly long run though.

Many engineers have been in and out of their own businesses and worked for others too. Dave Belles for one. Being a good engineer and a good businessperson and marketter are very different abilities.
______________________

Patrick--

I would just like the cable and wire industry on their own to set up guidelines. How about major measurements like capacitance, resistance, etc.

I won't hold my breath. The high end of the business has no desire to let the cat out of the bag. The like the status quo---make marketting claims with no back up and have the magazines that you pay big ad money to mostly give you rave reviews, which somehow seem to corespond on the wires cost.

I can't remember seeing a cable or wire review in a Sound and Vision--but in the tweako magazines like Stereophile, etc they are fairly frequent--and that is where you find the big ads.

Now I have seen cable and wire articles in scientific society journals, such as AES--and they give out the straight deal as best they can--scientific measurements accompanied by blind ABX tests. On wires with the same diameter I have yet to see statistical differences arise in peoples ability to tell the differences between what wires are playing.

As Dunlavy said--he only wished he could make a wire that is audibly more neutral than any other and provable by measurements and ABX testing. He'd be wealthier than Noel Lee of Monster Cable.

We might have to wait until we have have superconducting wires and interconnects that operate at room temperature. It would be interesting to test if better measurements result in people being able to differentiate them from other wires that pass a less true signal. Might come down to how sensitive is most peoples hearing.
 

Patrick Mattucci
G-Man:

Once again you give us conjecture but no substance. I'm not asking for the "High End" to do a damn thing for me or my peers. I'm not waiting for them to let the cat out of the bag. They aren't claiming they've put one there. YOU'RE claiming they did.

Simply PROVE IT by giving us the info requested on my previous post.

I'm asking you and the others, who have posted here that there is snake-oil in the cable biz, to point out the charlatans and explain why they are lying.

Here is YOUR opportunity to be a real "High End Hero" and give us the info we're waiting for. The info that COUNTS THE MOST. Why be so unscientific by maintaining your generalizations?

Here's a perfect opportunity to show us all what you know. What cables you're using. What cables you tried but didn't keep in favor of the ones you did. How your cables measure, etc. This is not the first time I've requested this info, and it's not the first time you avoided it with more of that good old fashioned "The Sky is Falling" schtick.

Where are all my scientists now? It seems that when some of them are discussing technical issues that they KNOW ONLY FEW understand, they're right in their element and can go on for days making their points.

But in the face of a truth that anyone can logically follow and agree with, they're no where to be found. If you can't provide the proof which we can all agree is the crux of this discussion, then just go away and get a life. You've been exposed, but hey, at least you didn't use your real name.

If you CAN provide the pertinent info, but won't, then by all means PLEASE GO AWAY.

Some of you have been trying to define science. That's easy. Science is the search for the truth. The truth doesn't necessarily have to comprise complex formulas to unlock. It just takes guts and acceptance.
 

Black Math
Maybe Mr Dunlavy fell into the trap that some cable manufacturers are being accused of...charging too much for a product that does not clearly out perform lower-priced competition...

There are companies that are still in business and have different beliefs about cables. Spectral manufacturers their electronics to be used with MIT cables and Avalon speakers. I have listened to a Spectral/MIT/Avalon system and would rank it amongst the best I have heard (some others are are: Conrad Johnson/Linn/Snell, Levinson/MBL, Krell/Wilson, Naim, and the Grateful Dead PA system). Now granted, the Spectral system is not cheap, but not expensive when compared to some of the other high-end competition. If I were to by their components, I would also to spring for the MIT cables and Avalon speakers. Why? Because when paired together it all worked. Does that mean potential buyers are being duped into owning expensive cables, maybe. Does it mean that potential buyere are going to get an incredible system, YES, YES, YES.
 

IBorg
Um, Patrick;

*******************************
"I'm asking you and the others, who have posted here that there is snake-oil in the cable biz, to point out the charlatans and explain why they are lying.

Here is YOUR opportunity to be a real "High End Hero" and give us the info we're waiting for. The info that COUNTS THE MOST. Why be so unscientific by maintaining your generalizations? "

*******************************
Isn't this what Audioholics.com was doing in this article and others they authored and you chastised them for painting a misleading picture of cable vendor markups and dealer profit incentives?
 

Patrick Mattucci
IBorg:

The answer is NO. That is not what they were doing. And I chastised them because the profit margins and business models they discussed were incorrect and misleading.

The questions I'm asking shouldn't be hard to understand, and the proof I'm asking for shouldn't be hard to provide. If you can't, why continue posting? Instead of fencing with me, just answer the questions.
 

Anonymous
g-man
"Let's make it easy. Have two different sets of speaker wires running from the same amp outputs to the same speakers. Have a 3rd party keep track of which wires are playing and when. In this case the wire is the only variable when playing the same music from a cd player--you could even loop a 30 second piece to keep playing so that the music and tones are never altered from the source." Hmm strange that is more or less how I came to the conclusion that cables do make a difference.

"Did you ever hear of the term "cognitive dissonance"? It basically means you can prove something, but people will go on acting in denial of what you proved anyway." Yes I have and I am a strong believer in it. That is why I asked you above if it is logical to think that you are going to make someone not hear things they do think they hear. Cognitive dissonance and popular opinion are why you have this idea that cables don't make a difference. You seem to be a reasonable guy g-man, can you at least admit that it is possible that you could be suffering from cognitive dissonance in regards to the sound of cables.

"Something that is real and actual." What parameters do we use to determine what is real?? how do you test those parameters to make sure they accurate. Perception is what you are using. You must be able to see, hear, taste or touch something to think it is real. You believe cables don't make a difference because a meter shows you they don't make a difference. Little did you realize that the meter is taking your attention off of the most important factor, the sound. Your points are good and very well put but you are missing the fact that you base reality on what you perceive. Maybe the earth doesn't revolve around the sun maybe it and this post are a paranoid delusion of yours. Tell me how would you know either way?? So now tell me how to prove that reality is in fact real??? If you can't prove reality is real you can't truly prove anything in that reality is real. There is no fact on perceived fact. Now let the cognitive dissonance kicks in.

"Science can tell which pre-amp passes the "truest" signal--same as it can for cables." So which is the truest?? Mark levinson??? Krell??? Are we talking Solid state or tube??? Hmm why do they have different kinds of amps if it is obvious to science that there is one right way to make an amp???

"The more one believes, the less accurate one gets."
Makes sense but so does "the more you learn the less you know" and "All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusion is called a philosopher." And my personal favorite when talking about science "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."

Patrick

That was beautifully put.

I will tell my opposite side of the story
I started off using monster cable 10 gauge wire and monster interconnects. The system I did testing on was as follows. An anthem avm 20 v2.08 (version as of the time I did my testing) lexicon rt-10, speakers where revel Performa f30, m20, c30 and b15(b15 was only used on movies). The f30s where biamped with anthem mca 20s and everything else ran off of a mca 30. power management came form a rgpc 400 (which for the guy above who said power management should be outed next, you can unplug this bad boy and hear and see the difference clear as day) The room was setup with cara pro. I tried nordost blue heaven interconnects and cables and was able to instantly tell a difference in the sound quality. To do the test we made it so the mca 20s where no longer biamped. We then hooked up one set of speaker cables to each amp so we could switch them on the fly. One amp had the monster interconnects and monster speaker cable the other the nordost stuff. Even the girlfriend had to step back and say okay maybe I can see why they cost so much. Next I tried madrigal audio labs speaker cable vs the nordost and was again able to tell a difference as were others. In the end I bought the madrigal cable as it was good for the price and made my imaging open up. If I had the cash would I get the blue heaven interconnects and speaker cable?? Oh yeah I would but first I would like to try some other brands.
 

IBorg
Pat;

I have another idea, why don't cable vendors start proving their claims rather than others debunking them. It saves all of us a lot of time. Don't you agree?
 

Black Math
Now Patrick,

The idea that a Government agency should regulate the audio cable industry is just plain silly. I have never seen an ad for anything, audio or otherwise that does not attempt to shine a positive light on their products. Do we hold all speaker ads and measurements as true? Is this: "Klipsch Reference Series loudspeakers are the world's most sought after home entertainment products" an accurate claim? It is from their website. Can they substantiate that?

My point is that we all have a choice to make when buying cables or any other audio component. If you want to go to Radio Shack, good for you. Nobody is putting a gun to your head making you do otherwise. If you want Kimber's best, enjoy them.
 

Anonymous
black math that is a good point!!!!! Bose comes to mind.
 

Patrick Mattucci
Black Math:

I thought it was clear that I was being facetious.

IBorg:

The cable vendors DO CLAIM they can prove their findings. So, now I'm asking the braintrust here to point out who the BS artists are, why they are BS artists, etc.

We have at least 3 posters who can't do it. Forget designing airplanes,........ it's a good thing you're not lawyers.
 

IBorg
Ok Patrick;

Lets see cable vendors prove "Strand Jumping" and "dielectric biasing". All they make are claims which are unsubstantiated by proven science. Their mechanism (Skin Effect) for "Strand Jumping" has already been disproved since skin effect has no impact at audio frequencies.

Perhaps you haven't seen this article:
http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~www_pa/Scots_Guide/audio/skineffect/page1.html
 

Patrick Mattucci
Tsk Tsk IBorg,

Still don't want to answer simple questions I see.

It is clear that you're intentionally misinterpreting my words. I've made no claims in support of what a specific cable manufacturer states about their product. Where did I support "Strand Jumping", "Dielectric Biasing" or "Skin Effect?" Please tell me where I supported or refuted these claims?

Why can't you just tell us who these imposters are? Why can't you identify a list of manufacturers for us, tell us what they're claims to fame are and why YOU KNOW they're full of it? Surely, based on your previous posts, you feel this is a wide-spread problem in the industry. There must be tons of manufacturers you can readily point out to us all who fall into the snake-oil camp.

Why won't you share with the rest of us what cables and wire you're using and WHY YOU selected the ones you purchased over the other? Do you even own an audio system? Are you embarrassed to tell everyone here what cables and speaker wire you chose?

How hard can that be? Why don't you want to help others avoid the problems you're commenting on my telling the good folks here WHO to avoid when purchasing cables and speaker wire?

Just answer that question, and then perhaps we'll learn something more from you than clicking on a link to find out what SOMEBODY ELSE thinks.
 

IBorg
Ok I will bite.

List of cable vendors I feel are promoting nonsense:
Audioquest
Analysis Plus
Acoustic Zen
JPS Labs
Nordost
Transparent Cables

Yes I do own audio gear and rather than mentioning it and getting into a pissing contest with you, I will just tell you that my gear is very well regarded in the industry and revealing enough to discern cable differences.

For cables, I use a DIY Star Quad configuration which has lower resistance than most of the more costlier brands and lower inductance than standard 12AWG Zip Cord.
 

Black Math
Iborg,

Do you feel that the vendors listed promote nonsense with speaker cables? What about video, digital, RCA, XLR? Did you make your own interconnects?
 

IBorg
Black Math;

It seems that most of the bogus claims surrounding cables are in audio not video. Why is that? Because audio is based more on perception then video.

For video, I use cables from Blue Jeans. very cheap, good stuff IMO.
 

Patrick Mattucci
IBorg:

Ya see? That wasn't so hard, was it? I respect your answers and don't doubt you have great gear. It's also important to note that you think cables make a difference, your handy enough to make them yourself, and you care about maximizing those areas of your system you feel you can influence for the better.

That's just the sort of answer I was hoping someone would provide. Sorry about pressing so hard, but now I think we an all start getting somewhere.

Again, thanks. I hope there's no hard feelings.
 

Black Math
You can visually measure color, sharpness, contrast, black level, etc if you have test patterns and color filters. None of the great engineering minds in Audio have been able formulate and adopt similar standards.
 

Patrick Mattucci
Black Math:

That's not true.

Total Harmonic Distortion
Inter-Modulation Distortion
Even-Order Harmonic Distortion
Odd-Order Harmonic Ditortion
Signal to Noise Ration
Dynamic Range
Slew Rate
Rise Time
Compression
Rumble
Wow and Flutter

The list goes on and on. The point that some folks are trying to make about cable manufacturers is: Where are their specs?
 

IBorg
Pat;

No hard feels either. Gosh do we all get too serious about our hobbies sometimes?

I am just a solder tech, no brain child, but it affords me at least to make a reliable cable that also performs better than the OWM junk shipped with electronics.
 

Black Math
Now Patrick,

You are wrong about Audio measurements. Those won't tell you if thinks like tonality and timbre are correct to standards like color and sharpness are in video. What you are giving me are mechanical and electrical measurements, not ones for sound. There are no scales to adjust our sound to, like we can in video. Why do you think people are arguing here?
 

IBorg
Um Black Math,

With cables there are measurements as DellaSalas article points out [R,L,C]. Those measurements directly affect frequency response which in turn "Changes" tonality as you describe it.
 

Patrick Mattucci
Black Math:

You are correct that there are no measurements for "Fidelity" insofar as how we define it. Fidelity in sound is subjective, although most agree that good dynamics, lots of reserve power, DC to Light frequency response, low distortion and a low noise floor CAN indicate fidelity. Personally, spec's are important to me, but ultimately I listen and then make my final decision.

Speaking purely from experience as a consumer, installer and systems designer, I can tell you that what measures as "Ideal" is not always preferrable to a surprising(?) number of clients. For instance, and again, this is my experience as well as my co-workers and employers, that a Home Theater system that is calibrated to measure "Flat" in a room often times "sounds" bright. Some of the top tier Pioneer Elite and Yamaha receivers also offer the ability to calibrate themselves with the help of a properly placed mic and "actual people" sitting in those areas the family members will sit in. Again, most of the time the sound is considered bright, almost strident if the levels are at a volume that I would consider to be healthy, but realistic.

In video, there are similarities that cannot be ignored. We will occasionally use an outside serviceman to go into a clients home to tweak his or her video display in accordance with Imaging Science Foundation Standards set by the industry and I believe, Joe Kane. The result? All to often the sets don't appear bright enough, and color can also look subdued as a result. When does this happen? When the client decides after the tune up that they don't want to watch their TV displays in the dark. That's ummm....like 99and 9 10ths % of the time.

If folks want to get really P.Oed about BS in cables, check out the THX Certified Monster Subwoofer cable. It's construction is no different than the cheapest composite video cable they offer, and coincidentally, so is their top RCA digital cable. three different prices on the same cable. Most interesting, don't you think?

To answer why people are arguing here, most of the posts speak for themselves. Again, I personally feel that outright identification of the culprits is best. If, like IBorg, we decide to do that, this thrad can actually start going somewhere.

If I don't see anymore responses before Thursday, I wish you all a great Thanksgiving. Stay safe out there.
 

IBorg
IBorg;

DC to light frequency response is definitely not a good idea for an amp if you are concerned about noise and stability. Any competent amp manufacturer intentionally rolls of the high frequency response a decade or so past 20kHz.

Yes I agree, most people do not prefer a flat frequency response at the listening position. I know I don't. But what do I know, I am a bass nut :)
 

Black Math
Monster has a Sigma Retro line of speaker cable and interconnects ($1,000.00 for 3ft ic's and $2,500.00 for 10ft sc's). They pawn overpriced low-end cables at superstores and try to push their fancy ones at high-end boutiques.
 

G-Man
An interesting site:

http://web.archive.org/web/20011121010815/www.oakland.edu/~djcarlst/abx_wire.htm

An article about McIntosh's experience with wires

In the early 1980's, special speaker wires were beginning to appear on the market. Some of the claims were totally unbelievable and had prices to match. Realizing that wire resistance was the critical factor in speaker wire, Gordon Gow, President of McIntosh Laboratory, used a speaker cable demonstration to show there was no listening difference between these wires and plain line cord. He delivered his presentation about the truth in speaker wire using a reel of Monster cable to stand on. Fifty-foot lengths of wire were used in the comparison. The setup consisted of a master control relay box and two slave relay boxes. A three-position switch was used to select one of three different speaker wires of equal length. One was line cord. The other two wires were from popular manufacturers. 8-ohm speakers were selected to be used in the test. The two other brand name wires were heavier than the line cord.

A slave box was positioned at each speaker. Power to drive the relays in each slave box was provided with separate cables. The speaker wires were switched at both the power amplifier and the speaker so that only one kind of wire was connected at a time. Short pieces of heavy wire were run from the speakers and amplifier to the relay boxes. No other devices were used in the speaker line. The relay contact resistance was measured to be less than 0.1 ohms.

The test proved his point. When I took the test, I was unable to hear any differences using several different 8-ohm speaker systems. BUT, when I deliberately played one particular 4-ohm speaker and I switched to the line cord position, I could hear differences. I knew this system dipped down to 2.6 ohms in one frequency range, and 3 ohms in another. It verified that differences could be heard if the wire was too light for a lower impedance system. A system this low in impedance required heavier wire. After replacing the line cord with a heavier line cord of equal length, differences could no longer be heard.

Normally, a system can run as low as 20% below rated impedance. Although many speaker systems stay within this limit, or higher, a few systems can have impedance values much lower, depending on the manufacturer. If you have doubts, it's best to ask the manufacturer about the lowest impedance of the system that you plan to use and select a connecting wire based on the lowest impedance value.

The lowest impedance limit for McIntosh speaker designs was 6.4 ohms, for a nominal 8-ohm system. The wire selection table was calculated with this in mind. Another reason was that the 8-ohm tap on McIntosh amplifiers could safely drive impedance as low as 6.4 ohms without requiring connection to the 4-ohm tap. Direct-coupled amplifiers, of course, did not have this restriction.

THE KIND OF WIRE MADE NO DIFFERENCE

It can be solid, stranded, copper, oxygen free copper, silver, etc.--or even "magic" wire--as long as the resistance is kept to be less than 5% of the speaker impedance. There is no listening difference as long as the wire is of adequate size.

Of course, we are not personally able to establish the truth of everything for ourselves and it's not easy to set up a similar wire listening test. Very few people are able to make speaker impedance measurements or wire resistance measurements down to 0.1 ohms. Like many other things in life, we rely on indirect sources of information, such as sales literature, reviews and opinions. This is called Authority Belief, which is part of our belief system. An interesting article about the belief system is described in ETC: A Review Of General Semantics Sept. 1964 titled Images Of the Consumer's Mind by Milton Rokeach.

Gordon Gow's cable demonstration provided a personal experience for customers that could replace the Authority Beliefs they had relied on earlier. The demonstration was controlled. It was an instant comparison and the listeners did not know the wire identification. Gordon held many such demonstrations in dealer showrooms and at shows.


The Truth About Speaker Wire

Despite the effectiveness of Gordon's cable demonstration and the truth about speaker wire, people visiting the McIntosh room at the shows, who had not experienced the cable demonstration, were disturbed that we were using ordinary heavy zip cord instead of one of the popular brands of speaker wire. Instead of listening to the McIntosh speakers and electronics, they recalled "bad" things they had been told about "common" speaker wire and this promoted questions about the "inferior" wire being used. When we changed the wire to a popular brand of wire, customers were happy with the setup, and directed their attention to the McIntosh equipment.

The demand for high quality speaker wire was increasing and appeared to be a new marketing area for several companies. McIntosh did not make or sell speaker wire. The solution seemed very obvious--rather than spend time and effort to create negative sales for McIntosh dealers who were beginning to sell speaker wire, it seemed best to encourage the speaker owner/customer to consult with the dealer about what speaker wire to use. Consequently, I no longer recommended the kind of wire or wire sizes in the speaker manuals.

By 1988, McIntosh no longer supplied audio interconnects with the electronics. Again, many kinds of special audio cables were available to the customer/owner. The dealer could also be consulted about what cables to use.

I credit the success of the speaker wire industry to their expert sales and marketing ability. However, it is my experience that ordinary copper wire, as long as it's heavy enough, is just as good as name brands.
 

G-Man
An article about the marketting of wire and interconnects from Forbes magazine:

Selling sizzle with sizzle
Robert La Franco, Forbes Magazine ,12.28.98

NEW YORK - TO ENCOURAGE audio salesmen to push its costly stereo cables, 12 times a year Monster Cable flies a dozen or so top producers from stores around the country to all-expenses-paid weekends at places like the Napa Valley, Hawaii and Germany.

Founder, chairman and sole owner Noel Lee even lets the star salespeople zoom around in his 13 sports cars, including a $200,000 Ferrari.

Lee needs good salespeople because his product requires lots and lots of selling. Buy a $400 stereo from the Good Guys in California and chances are you'll also walk out with $50 worth of Monster cables. Buy a $1,000 Marantz amplifier from Ken Crane's Home Entertainment in California and you'll get sold on a $100 connecting cable.

Do you really need that fancy wiring? That depends on how well you hear. Some say heavy-gauge, rubber-coated lamp wire at 25 cents per foot affords nearly as much fidelity for audio signals as the gold-tipped, electromagnetically shielded cable Lee sells for between $3 and $125 per foot. Chances are most will never tell the difference. In short, it is a product where most of the value is in the mind of the buyer. Thus, Lee lavishes attention on the people who move his goods.

Unlike Kimber Kable and Straight Wire, which do minimal sales staff training and rely almost exclusively on print advertising, Monster Cable puts $13 million a year, 15% of sales, into training and incentive programs. These are aimed at convincing store owners and appliance salesmen that it pays them to push Lee's products.

Salespeople get fancy trips. Store owners get fancy markups. Most of the customers, after all, come to the store armed with competing price quots on the CD changers and the amplifiers. The wires, in contrast, are an afterthought and don't have to be competitively priced. Monster's cables typically yield a 45% gross margin, while the more visible audio and video components hover around 30%.

Cables are to a stereo store what undercoating is to a car dealer. At Ken Crane's, a chain of eight stores based in Hawthorne, Calif., Monster accounts for 2% of retail sales volume but 30% of gross profit.

Lee, a short, crisp 50-year-old with a mechanical engineering degree from California Polytechnic State University, started this firm in 1977.

He's since built it to expected sales of $90 million for 1998, more volume than almost all of Monster's competitors combined. Lee probably nets 10% pretax.

The huge sales and training budget covers more than junkets for the retailers. Sales personnel are taught things like this: Cheap cables pick up electronic noise from telephones, televisions, hair dryers or the audio equipment itself. Premium cables deliver more signal. What they don't say is that you can solve some of the interference problem by draping your wires away from sources of interference.

After Lee gets through training a store's staff, no customer can leave the store without becoming cable-conscious. In a Good Guys shop near San Francisco, Monster cables visibly hook up every active product display. The Monster name is printed on canopies above the sales racks, and its packages are lined up like invading army troops on the shelves.

Every month Lee sends out the numbers to each store that agrees to his aggressive sales strategy, tracking the performance of each salesman and a store's overall performance rank among competing retailers. The rankings are based not on dollar volume but on the percentage of customers who go out of the store with a Monster product. It's from this list Lee selects the winners of his all-expenses-paid weekends.

Early in the program, one Midwest salesman almost totaled a Ferrari by driving it off a cliff, but was saved from the Pacific Ocean by construction netting. For Lee, it was just another cost of doing business.

It takes sizzle to sell sizzle.
 

Black Math
I will have to disagree won Iborg's calling out of Audioquest and Nordost.

Why?

1. He appears to only be talking about speaker cable. Both companies manufacture more than that.

2. I have listened to Audioquest and Nordost and they make nice cables. You have to remember they both have cables starting at well below $100.00. Now, some of their more exotic models may not yield results worthy of their price, but that is a different argument than accusing either company of promoting nonsense. In fact a lot of equipment and speaker manufacturers do the same thing.

3. Nordost does publish specifications.

4. If he is only talking about power cables, then forget 1,2, and 3. I don't buy into upgrading your system with a $150.00+ power cord.

5. Audioquest sells a nice record brush and tonearm.
 

Black Math
Basically, Monster takes advantage of customers who may not know any better. They dupe customers at Good Guys who, most likely, have no clue about audio and video.

On the other hand, companies like Kimber and StraightWire are targeting audio video enthusiasts who are already in the know.

Which is worse?
 

G-Man
Patrick--


The fact that some people believe they hear a difference in uncontrolled listening tests borders on meaningless--imagine if Drug companies tested drugs that way--lots of people report a cure through placebos. Unless an audio test is conducted through a blind ABX test in listening--it borders on meaningless. Tom Noussaine conducted this at an AES conference and it yielded the results he predicted--people couldn't tell the difference. Measurements just help explain why you don't or do hear a difference--that is another purpose of science.

"That is why I asked you above if it is logical to think that you are going to make someone not hear things they do think they hear."

If I can prove to them through an ABX test and they can't tell the difference maybe they will acknowledge it, but often belief systems are too ingrained and people are married to them and they will still insist afterwards that they hear a difference when the test is over--that is cognitive dissonance.

I truly have no dog in this fight--If someone gives me an ABX test and I pick the correct cable or wires a significant majority of the time I have no problem saying I was wrong. Of course, I am talking about properly made product--not garbage or wire that is meant to impart an alterred signal. I am talking about wires and cables that state they pass the cleanest signals.These are the majority of wires and interconnects.


That is all I am saying. I am just looking for testable truth. I don't care which way it falls--except everything I have read from people I respect and my own experience (which has not been under ABX tests--so I discredit that).

"You believe cables don't make a difference because a meter shows you they don't make a difference. Little did you realize that the meter is taking your attention off of the most important factor, the sound."

Mot so. I have only read meter readings off of sheets. I have seen reprints of ABX tests--that is why i believe there is either no audible difference--or it is so nominal as to be unimportant. I have nothing against anyone buying the most expensive cables or wire. But at least Rolex doesn't say they tell time better than Timex or Seiko. Rolex sells itself as fine jewelry. I could respect that with wire and cable manufacturers--buy this stuff because it is as good as anything else and is beautiful.

Patrick-

"Simply PROVE IT by giving us the info requested on my previous post.

I'm asking you and the others, who have posted here that there is snake-oil in the cable biz, to point out the charlatans and explain why they are lying. "

Pat--follow the money.

Okay--here is a big one------Polk Audio, a large and well respected manufacturer of loudspeakers in Baltimore, no longer makes cables but declined an invitation to set up a listening test in its laboratories. One reason it gave was that the test could affect relationships with audio stores. "We would be hearing from every retailer in the country," said Paul Dicomo, communications director for Polk Audio.

Now what about those tests could possibly negatively effect Polk's relationships with his retailers? If his wire and cables showed a difference--he and they could make even more money. If his wires and cables were worse, his communications director would have said something like---We have just decided to concentrate on what we do best--speakers. Why do you think he said a test would alienate all his retailers?

Here's your opportunity to be honest and tell everyone reading here why that happened. Give it your best shot--you strike me as a bright guy.


"Here is YOUR opportunity to be a real "High End Hero" and give us the info we're waiting for. The info that COUNTS THE MOST. Why be so unscientific by maintaining your generalizations?"

Great---All the cable and wire companies are going to lend me their wires to run extensive ABX tests--or more likely--they will sell them to me. I don't have that kind of loose change--as I am sure you know. I run a chemical business and don't have that time either.

By the way--do you make considerable money selling wire and cables?

I have listed some links at the bottom--they all have proved my point. I have reprinted articles that are as simple as "follow the money" why this industry attracts charlatans and people that refuse ABX tests. I've shown from McIntosh, Polk, and Dunlavy why these people are loathe to confront the wire industry and the retailers.

Maybe that article Dunlavy wrote is very responsible for his business going under. What retailer wants to sell a speaker whose manufacturer denies them the biggest part of their profit? Like the FBI agent that pointed out the failure of her bosses to listen to her about the Saudi's at flight school. She then became an ex-FBI agent.

How come the wire and cable companies that have considerable assets don't run these ABX tests by independent companies? You'd think the one that had the best cables would love that kind of advertisement.


Now maybe I will do everyone here a big service and see if Consumer Reports will run this test--on measurements and a blind ABX test. They have the money, the staff, and the time--I don''t. And you know that. Also Consumer Reports has no dog in this fight.

That is why I trust professional journals far more and not marketting magazines for the business that act as if they are doing honorable reviews. At least scientific journals and the articles are up for peer review. And you could bet a zillion dollars if some scientist actually found a wire or cable demonstrably better than others it would make front page of all the scientific journals in physics and electricity--and a possible Nobel Prize.



Try these two sites:

http://www.pcavtech.com/abx/abx_wire.htm

http://svconline.com/ar/avinstall_designer_cables_critical/index.htm
 

Black Math
First of all, does anyboy really think that Audioquest sells millions their top-of-the-line cables? I imagine it is their entry level offerings that keep them in business.

Polk did alienate his dealers. Can anybody say Circuit City and Crutchfield? He is fortunate is hasn't put him out of business like it did Carver.

I believe manuacturers generally don't endorse cables or speakers because they want their products to be viewed as universal...perfoming admiraly regardless of the wires and components connected. Why do you think Harman/Kardon doesn't reccomend their receivers be used with JBL or Infinity speakers? They are all the same company. Maybe they don't want to deter a potential buyer who may have Axiom.

Maybe Dulnavy is out of business because he was arrogant in charging too much for his speakers, or requiring dealers to display his whole line instead of selected models. We do not even know if that e-mail is authentic.

I have never seen an ABX test with video cables hooked up to uncalibrated systems. Are there any? Will it show that wires can carry signals differently and disprove many ABX theories?
 

Patrick Mattucci
G-Man:

The fact that people feel they hear differences in uncontrolled listening tests obviously doesn't border on meaningless because folks who do feel that way DO SOMETHING about it by buying cables they feel improves the sound of their system. The only thing beginning to border on meaninglessness are your points.

Regarding ABX DB tests; I'm all for them, but they are not as conclusive as you would have everyone believe. It happens that a minority of people who do participate in them hear differences. The problem is that they are subjected to the same tests over and over again until they get another result the testers may prefer. Not sure of the validity of being bludgeoned this way? Here's a test you can try at home:

8 oz. Glass of your favorite Root Beer
8oz Glass of your favorite 7UP type drink
8oz Glass of Coca Cola

Blindfold yourself and have someone hand you a cup of each beverage in any combination THEY choose. Consume a sample 4 times from each cup and see how succesful you are in identifying them. By the 4th try, chances are you won't be.

All of our senses can be fooled. I have no doubt about that, but don't tell me that some folks can't hear differences because some folks do, and that has been demonstrated.

You say you have no dog in this fight. You're barking more often than almost any poster here, which again illustrates your agenda. Again and again with the money. My God, NOT EVERY COMPANY THAT MANUFACTURES CABLES AND EVERY DEALER WHO SELLS THEM IS OUT TO SCREW PEOPLE OUT OF THEIR MONEY. MOST OF US OFFER A MORE SUBSTANTIAL CABLE BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT SOME CLIENTS WANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And because, that's what it takes sometimes to maximize a systems performance.

You ask how much I make off of cable. Well, I'm not giving you exact numbers because I'm not going to state my income on the frickin' internet. I can assure you, no one is getting rich at my company, least of all on cables.

But I will tell you that it is a very small figure compared to what I make on everything else. And that holds true for every designer in my company, and it holds true for MY COMPETITION. You are so influenced by web-site opinions that its really, really sad. I can't possibly describe how frustrating it is to read BS like this.

I go out to clients homes. I interview them because they called me, not the other way around. I find out what it is that they think they want. I educate them. I take their thoughts and I interpret them into a system that I design. I promote feedback from them. WE DESIGN THE SYSTEM. I create a proposal. I submit it. I answer more questions. I guarantee my workmanship and materials WITHOUT REGARD TO TIME LIMITS. If a product fails during its particilar manufacturers warranty, I repair it and re-install it at NO CHARGE TO MY CLIENT!!!!!

I don't ram extended service contracts down my clients throats. I let them know they are available, and I leave it at that. The systems I install range anywhere from $6000.00 on up, and buddy, I do mean up. I discount my products, but never my installation costs. Why? Because they are not for negotiation. I spend far too much time cleaning up trunk-slammers messes as it is. I'm a professional, and I have to prove it EVERY DAY I GO TO WORK.

How dare you assume that all of the folks, my company and my competition included, rely on speaker wire amd cables to drive our business? Wr stay in business today for the same reason we were in business 25 years ago. Because we kick A$$ and we don't take a back seat to anybody when it comes to product/installaton knowledge and taking care of our clients one client at a time. You have no idea what you're talking about when it comes to the A/V business, and it shows everytime you post more of the same BS.

Is selling someone better cable to connect between their boom box and the speakers that came with their boom box a fraud? OF COURSE IT IS. Do you think you have to educate anyone who reads these posts about that? Dude, you are really suffering from delusions of grandeur.

The best part about your last post is your statement that you can't possibly prove a word your saying because you haven't tried the products your lambasting. My, that's so convenient.

How about you just tell us what products you did try? Tell us what results YOU FOUND that you liked and didn't like. Tell us all what you're using and who you think specifically is full of crap? Why can't you just do that? IBorg did, and that's why anyone who reads this thread should.

Any scientist, no, make that anyone with common sense and a little experiecne could tell you that Dunlavy's tests were BS right after reading his article because he admitted himself to being deceptive. He OUTRIGHT LIED to his listeners regarding what they were listening to. Regardless of the comments they MAY HAVE MADE by his test subjects(we really don't know what happened in his, ahem, lab) he was deceptive in his testing. If he told his listeners he was conducting a psycological test, that would be different, and only if his area of expertise was in that field. That's not his area of expertise and, he didn't do that, did he? And you call his tests honest?

A little advice....don't bring a knife to a gunfight. If you can prove that the "problems" you're parroting are such an epidemic, then be honest and tell us what you're OWN EXPERIENCES ARE.
 

G-Man
Patrick--

"The fact that people feel they hear differences in uncontrolled listening tests obviously doesn't border on meaningless because folks who do feel that way DO SOMETHING about it by buying cables they feel improves the sound of their system. The only thing beginning to border on meaninglessness are your points."

So if I believe in G-d and both tithe and attend church, does that make G-d exist? I may think it improves my happiness to believe in G-d and an afterlife. But it proves nothing. It just means I FEEL or BELIEVE he exists. Just like Those Islamic terrorists paid with their lives for martyrdom (instead of cables). Does that mean they were right and they get 72 v-rgins and many of us Americans are wrong and suffering from cognitive dissonance?

If someone FEELS a wire sounds better and buys it--does it prove anything--other than there can be many reasons from thinking it sounds better, being told it is better, to looking better, etc.


Just wondering--as people often say receivers and cd player sound different and we know that speakers sound different--if cables and wires are different and we all own different stuff--how could anyone recommend which cable or wire to use? Look at all the parts it is connecting to. When you multiply the various components being connected the differences must be Malthusian if there really are audible differences in wire and cable. You'd probably need individually made wire for your system.


If wire manufacturers couldn't measure the distinctions/parameters of the wire that makes it sound as neutral as possible--they couldn't reliably reproduce it.

Same as drugs, computers, any mechanical thing.

Can't this just be reduced to one point? Do you believe the sonic performance of wire and interconnects (as far as passing the truest signal) is measureable? Or do you think there are aspects that effect cable and wire sonics that science and the manufacturers are ignorant of?

That is really what this comes down to.

And If there are aspects that science is ignorant of in wire sound--How do the manufacturers make the same wire time after time to perform the same? On what basis do they determine the wire performance? I'm in the metals and chemicals business. Every ingot of 99.9999% Copper is slightly different as far as metallic impurities--and certainly in crystalline structure. So I have to ask myself--by what method can they predict performance other than scientific measurements?

The only logical reason I can arrive at is the metallic impurities are so insignificant as to be inaudible--even if they are measureable.

By the way, my friend Roger that owns the Sound Seller and the Happy Medium (both online) had Polk pulled from his representation years ago--and it was his biggest line then. Why? Because Polk was practicing price fixing and protecting local dealers-and eventually Polk decided they would sell even more through Circuit City and Crutchfield. As I am confident they are in the top 5 speaker manufacturers (in just speakers sold)-they have done well--even if I don't like their biz practices. Roger Kahn (at Sound Seller) sold Polk's at 10-20% off on the internet. I know this because he asked me--and I did--write a letter to his lawyer and Polk years ago when the line got pulled about fair marketting practices. Sadly my letters were to no avail.Not that I expected anything different. David against Goliath
.


Do you think these people hear these differences without reading magazines and getting prompting from dealers? I've been to numerous dealers---they almost always say stuff like--"Can't you hear the more defined bass, the better resolution, greater accuracy, etc"---making the consumer feel like they must be an idiot if they don't hear it. But they excel at making the customer actually think they hear it. The power of suggestion is enormous, as most people know. Often the salesmen do it with an air of presumed fact--as if all the cognescenti know that Mr. Kimber Wire (who is 6' tall) is taller than Mr. TARA Wire (who is 6' tall)--I mean it is just common knowledge.

This is enough for me. I trust science more than my senses on wire/cable issues and some others here don't. So be it. I am happy to leave it at that. I have posted some scientific ABX test links and engineers opinions and tests from McIntosh, Polk, Dunlavy, Nousainne, etc.

I think everyone has had enough and I won't bother posting on this topic as I presume that I and a couple of others have made their points and you have made your decisions.

I am satisfied others trust they have bought wires and cables that improve their sound.
 

Confused
I agree, Patricks relentless wire cultism is nothing more than counterproductive for everyone. He enjoys adding fancy stories and annecodatal nonsense to divert the discussion from the topics at hand. Rather than cable talk, he speaks about soda pop. The very fact he is a dealer and custom installer should raise everyones eyebrows.
 

Anonymous
I don't think that confused can comprehend what he reads very well.
 

Mark Ran
Fascinating thread...

I entered the thread with a pretty open mind. I didn't really have much on an opinion whether a $100 speaker cable was audibly worse than a $1000 speaker cable. I've never heard any difference but I've never thought I had "golden" ears. After reading it all through and doing some more research elsewhere on the internet, my opinion now is that there is no audible quality difference.

Patrick,

I feel for you. I think you're stuck in a bit of an ethical conundrum. You are an honest person who does excellent work and you are justifiably proud of it but I suspect that this area of high-priced cables is a tough one for you to resolve. Like most good people, you want to feel that what you are selling your customers is a fair dollar-for-dollar value (meaning each further dollar spent delivers a corresponding increase in actual performance). I think that it's pretty unlikely to remain true above a certain (fairly low) price point in speaker cables.

The problem is that you have customers who believe there's a difference and some who probably *want* there to be a difference. There's nothing wrong with selling someone a product that they want to buy at the fair market price for that product. The manufacturers set the prices, not you. So there's nothing wrong with selling those cables to those that ask for them. I suspect the problem arises when you have customers who ask *your* opinion on the matter. After all, they are looking to you as their expert. I have no reason to doubt the Forbes article about the high margins on cables and I know for a personal fact the kind of margins required for retailers like BB and CC to set aside the kind of space they do for Monster products. Thus there is a potential for a profit/ethics conflict which can be uncomfortable (I've been in sales too).

This conflict would go away if there really was a difference in the cables, so I sense that you would really prefer to personally believe that there is an actual difference. If there is then you can continue to be a good upstanding person with your clients AND maximize revenues. If there is no difference then there's a problem.

I recall an analogous situation. I was once in a position to have a behind the scenes business relationship with several different storefront psychics (yes the kind with the neon hand in the window, often named "Madame" something). Most of the psychics were low-level con artists. They clearly knew (and admitted to me when no customers were around) that it was all a load of hooey. However, there were a few who actually believed all (or most all) of the stuff they said. They were fooling themselves along with their customers.

Both groups were taking people's money for juju beads, charms and voodoo trinkets that were uniformly bunk (they had the same suppliers so it was the same stuff). In both cases the customers wanted the stuff and were thrilled to pay. However, the psychics that were conning themselves along with the customers were generally happier (and more successful) practitioners in this strange business. The ones that knew inside that it was all a scam were unethical, shady people. The ones who bought into their own scams were incredibly naive (perhaps willfully so), and in some ways not "all there" if you know what I mean. However, they could maintain a pretty consistent set of morals since they remained blissfully ignorant of what they were actually doing to their customers.

If confronted with scientific facts and double blind tests the ones that knew they were con artists wouldn't argue, they would just move on to greener (and more gullible) pastures. On the other hand, the ones that really believed their own hooey, would argue tooth and nail to defend the metaphysical value of these charms, potions and trinkets. They really had no choice because if they were to abandon their belief in these things, they would have to stop selling them.

--- Mark
 

Anonymous
Just for the record, Would all those involved in the speaker wire discussion publish their real ages?
 

G-Man
G-Man is 50. Not exactly sure the significance of my age, except some may imply I am deaf at this age. But I have thought this way (scientifically) for many years on this issue and have no income derived from either side of the debate. Replying to this makes me want to say--all those named anonymous create a name and give us your name and age. No reason--just like levelling the playing field.
 

IBorg
Mark;

You bring up very valid points. However, it is sickening to see companies such as Transparent Audio sell $10K speaker cables, and their claims are flat out lies. They really are deceiving the public and audiophools believe it because of a shameless endorsement in hifi magazines such as Stereophile. I note that Stereophile does objective measurements for all electronics tested except cables. Hmm seems kinda strange doesn't it?

Pat; you do seem a man of good spirits and one that wants to do the right thing, I also have no grievance if you sell the consumers what they want, but at least be educated for yourself to know most exotic cables are a scam and their claims are bogus.
 

DC
Just to throw a little twist to this, what do people think about bi-wiring? Does it help or is this a myth as well?
 

G-Man
Unless you are using inadequately thin wire---bi-wiring accomplishes nothing. Because no receivers are built for bi-amping, which successful bi-wiring requires. Otherwise the same amp channel is going to the same speaker, bi-wired or not. Makes zero difference electrically. 100 watts going to a bi-wired speakers is identical to 100 watts going to a non bi-wired speaker. The speaker gets 100 watts no matter what,

Now if you remove the crossovers in your speakers and use active crossovers through bi-amping --then YES--there can be a benefit. But this is bi-amping, not bi-wiring.

In order to bi-amp the "right way", an external crossover between the preamplifier and each amplifier channel will be needed (so that only the high-frequency or the low-frequency parts of the signal will be amplified), and the internal crossovers inside the speakers will need to be disconnected (so that each amplifier will go directly to the corresponding speaker driver, i.e. the woofer for low frequency and the tweeter for high-frequency).
 

Black Math
If you replace the jumper that separates the two terminals on the back of your speakers and replace it with something better, you shouldn't have to bi-wire. Bi-wiring will accomplish the same objective...removing the jumper.

I wouldn't reccomend bi-amping, unless your speaker requires it.
 

Anonymous
I am not an audiophile but just an audio enthusiast. My understanding is that you really only get the benefit of bi-wiring when you use one type of cable for the high frequencies (example: solid silver or silver-plated cable) and another type of cable for the mid and low frequencies. I'm not an engineer but it makes sense to me that if certain frequencies travel better (less signal loss) over one type of cable than another, that there would be a benefit to bi-wiring.
 

I am quoting from a message posted by

Confused
Saturday, November 22, 2003 - 11:54 pm
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Its funny how this cable confusion only occurs in the consumer audio world. I wonder if RF engineers designing satellite defense systems find cables to be so mysterious when they design transmitters and antennas operating in the GHz frequency spectrum.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have been an RF Engineer working in the wireless industry for over 10 years and prior to that in defense as a high power tube engineer. That said, I have always been very critical regarding the specifications, parts, materials and installation techniques in antenna subsystems. The specifications are the first and most important consideration when considering which cable/connector or antenna to purchase. Often times though the better the specification subsystems are not always the best for procurement due to additional problems presented in installation techniques. Also 900 mHz systems are less prone to Return Loss(VSWR) issues than that of the 2 gHz systems plus are less lossy and this is well governed in the specs. Return Loss and Insertion Loss are well documented concepts and each and every part I purchase for the implementation is scrutinized down to the very last specification including phase velocity. Long story short, "Confused", is that there is not much confusion on the RF Engineering side of the house.

"Now let the confusion begin ;>)"

I consider myself a rookie/hobbiest in the audiophile community and hope not to offend any persons by my comments here but what I find most disrespectfull from the audio cable manufactures are the continued subjective claims regarding their cables without any test measure and diagnostics in support of the claims. It would be nice to review the R, L and C of each cable prior to purchase so I could establish a baseline. Since I am very ignorant in the world of music and have the vocabulary and stunted writing skills of an engineer it would be nice to put some numbers to terms such as harsh, bright, warm or open. If specifications are plenty for speakers and power amps then why is this not extended to the cables? Are they not an integral part of our systems? I think that consumers would be better served if fact with conjecture were provided so that when we buy a certain product we know what were getting when we hear certain things. With the money we are talking about on some cable types perhaps the FTC should become involved but this is for a different topic.

BTW, I am in the same camp as Mr Mattucci regarding Pizza and Ice Cream but I'll also add Beer to that catagory. :>)

Great dialog here guys and thanks to the Polk Audio Forum for bringing it forward. Many flames there regarding cable also.

Regards
HBombToo
 

All I will (and need) to ad, is after 2 years of transmission line theory pounded into my head, a carreer sound is in telecomm and a love for all that is electronic including HT, the whole notion of speaker wires being better or worse is simple, and cost does not mean better. As stated, and cable/wire that alters the sound is bad, and if you can hear the difference.....you're loosing.
I use CSA approved 16qawg in-wall speaker wire. Sounds great. While working for Sony and putting myself through school, I did use all esoteric stuff. Now I spend the money where it does good.

Everybody like to feel good about what they buy, and anyone dumping huge cake on esoteric cabling will not like hearing they wasted money, aas most grow up with the idea of you get what you pay for....to a certain extent. Sorry you had to hear it....but science and fact do not lie.

PS. I will still pay a bit more for some "fat" looking cable with "pretty" gold connectors, just 'cuz i can......but a few bucks more, like $20 instead of 15.
 

Martin Winsemius
Name; Martin. Age; 47. Occupation; electronics engineer, currently returned to independent audio service. Hobbies; skiing (back to what is real and natural) & playing acoustic and electric guitar. Industry biases; none in particular as an independent. Personal equipment preferences; 60's tube amps, 70's transistor amps, older bass reflex (preferably JBL or Altec) speakers with gentle slope 3-way crossovers. I must admit preferences toward push-pull class AB 6BQ5/EL84 creamy distortion tube character for guitar amps and old school class B silicon transistor audio amps with moderate negative feedback and not too much extended high frequency response. My own systems are modest in price. I can hear many differences in sonic qualities but do not place audiophile proportional values on the equipment I buy.
Why all the background info? Not so much to reinforce any opinion expressed below, but to provide full disclosure for the readers to make a better informed judgement of any technical commentary combined with any unintended musical listening biases (which we all have whether admitted or not).
It is not surprising that cable manufacturers refuse to publish any conventional RLC electrical parameters. Any real differences in these basic specifications would:
a. Identify the outliers (a statistical-- not truthfullness term) which would either prompt copycats of popular brands or spark even more hype of why their specs are the "right" parameters to use. We already went through that with amplifier specsmanship with no better discrimination or understanding of how specs affect sound.
b. Demonstrate how little basic electrical differences there really are. ... Nothing for sales types to brag about.
On to listening tests. Much has been said in this thread about ABX and DBT--
Now, I understand what an A/B test is-- comparing two different test subjects, such as a speaker cable, through the same test apparatus. This is usually implemented via a switch which must be calibrated for any A/B channel discrepancies. Is the "X" portion of the test you are describing a physical reversal of the test subjects from one channel to the other to rule out test apparatus anomalies? This would be the best test apparatus methodology to be most thorough. Got to be fast, though! Any delay in the test sample progression introduces listener fatigue, distraction and impatience. Or is your "X" factor a placebo-- where you are telling the listener you changed channels when in fact you did not (some would say lied) in order to rule out erroneous judgements?
Double Blind Testing has been discussed as a given test methodology but never actually defined. Test methodology will determine the acceptance of the results. The more interested parties included in the test definition the more it ought to be regarded as credible. Interested parties could/should include manufacturers, engineers, and music listeners from pedestrian boomboxers to audiophiles. DBT obviously includes A/B testing and can include either/both "X" factors suggested above and more. So how to do actually define and administer evaluative testing???
The competitive market nature of the business does not allow any one dealer to represent all brands. Otherwise they would be the ideal promoters of a fair test. As it is they will have the most brand bias and the least incentive to perform tests which could alienate suppliers. Magazine publishers would understandably suffer from the same business pressures with respect to advertising clientele.
I like the suggestion of having Consumer Reports devise and administer a standard for cable listening tests on the face of things. They are independent with no major axes to grind. They have much experience comparing similar but different products through a well developed objective and subjective process. The only problem I foresee with this approach is that CR selects ordinary users as subjective judges for such comparisons. It is likely that proponents of high end cables will denegrate the study by downplaying the quality of such a broad listener spectrum as being pedestrian when it comes to musical listening criticality.
It could be said that the only "fair" DBT methodology is created by a committee composed of competitive representatives each striving to make their product perform best in some way or another and settle on a majority decision. In this case, I doubt such a committee would ever agree to one set of test apparatus, source music, criteria, or judges. This should not obviate a good comparative study-- although committee breakdown would be very possible. Let's assume each rep was allowed to specify their own choices of apparatus, music and judges. What could they argue with about that? They would still be comparing their product against the other contestants under what they each believe to be either the fairest or best to their advantage conditions. Judging criteria could be the most generally accepted audiophile factors of low/mid/high emphasis (frequency spectrum), soundstage (image), dynamics (transient response), clarity (pitch resolution), and even the poorly defined criteria of warm/harsh (typically frequency dips/humps) or texture (typically distortion) and whatever else the committee majority deems relevant. Such an open-ended participatory forum would tend to weed out purveyors who know they are selling snake oil. Unfortunately, many reputable manufacturers would expectedly opt out for reasons of having little to gain as long as they are comfortable with their product niche and market share.
A few words about the "X" factor in subjective testing--
Patrick-- a test defined and judged by you (even if your wife administered & concurred) is highly unscientific. I have performed Double Blind tests where I defined a test, certified the results and presented the physical test samples to a customer for their testing so the OBJECTIVE PARAMETRIC results could be Statistically compared. Your test methodology means NOTHING because there was entirely subjective with no independent, competitive or peer review in place. There was not even any "X" factor included to weed out your inherent errors, biases or limitations.
Why must their be an "X" factor? And what placebos, subtle deceit or challenges must be employed to extract the best data?
a. To cancel out or quantify honest listener judgement errors. People can hear the same thing two different ways for a variety of reasons. Audiologists who test people for hearing aids always repeat a few tones/amplitudes to judge the listener's accuracy component.
b. To characterize listener hearing qualities. You must ask them to listen for some kind of particular defined aspects. You don't want to let them know how you are actually performing the test. e.g. if you ask them to assess frequency differences when only the amplitude was changed, you find out what parameters they can really discern. Analogous to the easy questions polygraphers use to establish and confirm baseline readings.
c. To assess listeners' perceptual biases. An effective way to evaluate this aspect is to conduct half of the testing with music familiar to the listener and half unfamiliar. Listeners tend to develop a limited mindset of how a familiar piece of music "should" sound based on accumulated component/system selections. This syndrome allows listeners to overlook qualitative differences because they are concentrating on one aspect at the expense of others. Presenting them with unfamiliar sounds forces their full auditory faculties to come into play.
I hope I have not made any undefendable opinions to be argued in such a forum. Don't bother trying-- "I am not allowed to argue with you any more." as Monty put so well. The purpose is to stimulate meaningful discussion of an effective process by which to evaluate the true sonic qualities of these not terribly unique combinations of metal and plastic formed into wires. My English teacher would shudder from such prepositional phrase overload. ... In other words-- prove a point by developing a scientifically acceptable testing means and administering it with qualified judging panel which satisfies a peer group.
\ M. Winsemius
Wizard Labs
 

Black Math
If a $200 dollar pair of mini monitors has the same frequency range as a $3,000 pair, I am assuming that everybody is just as outraged as a cable manufacturer charging $1,000 for speaker cables. I guess you can argue that, at least you are getting measurements with speakers, but are they the right measurements? Should we have the FTC go after speaker manufacturers and make them print measurements that tell us how they sound?

What about amplifier (or any other) manufacturers that publish specs that don't hold up to bench tests? Should the FTC go after tham as well?

Since Monster sells $20 cables at Best Buy without measurements, it is okay that they also sell $50 ones without measurements at the same store? Is it okay that Monster also sells interconnects for $100 to $1000 at other retailers without measurements? Should we only buy from manufacturers that publish measurements?

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to break the bank on interconnects, but I will do reserach, listen, ask questions, and compare before I buy any. The same holds true for speaker cables and power conditioners. I don't buy into upgrading my power cables, but compaines have every right to market and sell them. I don't see any high-end conspiracy happening here.
 

Patrick Mattucci
And the hits just keep on coming.........

Confused:

You picked an appropriate name. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest to the readers that you're probably out of your element in this forum, audio is probably not a hobby of yours, and all you're interested in is stirring up a bunch of audio geeks in an effort to keep the ball rolling. Don't worry bro, this ball will roll whether you're here or not.

G-Man:

I think you're intentionally missing my point. You strike me as intelligent, so I really can't figure out the tangents you go off on. You and other posters here keep on bringing up God. Personally, I think it's inappropriate to do that. When speakerwire manufacturers try to tell me that buying their speakerwire will save my soul, then I'll understand your comparisons. Until then, why don't we agree to leave the Creator out of this? I would appreciate it.

For the last time, because it's really getting boring now, I don't advocate the use of multi-thousand dollar interconnects and wire. I don't sell them. The owners of my company REFUSE to sell them. We carry Tributaries cables and speaker wire, and not coincidentally, that is what I personally use with my own systems. Anyone who cares to visit their web-site will see there is no hocus pocus going on with those guys and the cost of their products is quite reasonable. And once more, no one in my company is relying on such items to keep the lights on. The same can be said for MY competition, which would be other custom audio/video installation companies.

I've read your points, and I don't mind telling you that I've been dealing with them for years. You THINK that what is best is to be able to buy the goods you're interested in as cheaply as possible. You don't see the big picture. A manufacturer has the right to safe guard their product lines and see to it that they employ dealers who will maintain the integrity of their products. The expense that goes into training those who would make a career in this field is not insignificant. Manufacturers are learning the hard way that letting just "anyone" sell their products, especially in this day and age is not good. That is why, when you go to most manufacturers web-sites, you will now see a message that purchasing their products from unauthorized E-Tailers or retailers will result in no warranty recourse in the event of product failure.

That's one thing when you're spending just a couple hundred bucks on a DVD player. It's quite another when you're shelling out $4000.00 or more on a plasma TV that's going to be dropped shipped by an unauthorized dealer. You mentioned you wrote a letter and then likened yourself to "David and Goliath". You don't like certain business practices. Hmmmm.......I wonder how you would feel if you were a dealer in this business and you had to spend time educating an individual
about a certain product. An individual who wants to extract as much information as he can from you, wants to test the product, decides he likes it and then buys it from an internet prostitute who can't possibly offer the services that you can, the brick and mortar dealer.

It seems that, after having read your posts, you know the price of everything and the value of nothing. It is in this respect that I take offense to your attitude. You have contempt, not to mention distrust for those who are in this business and doing the best they can to serve their clients caringly and intelligently. You mention no offenders. Why is that? I couldn't imagine being a police officer and filling out a report with you as the plaintive.

I don't doubt for one minute that their are people who buy ALL TYPES of goods based on what they read or heard from others. They are impresssionable, and that can be dangerous. I have been a victim of my own inability at times to trust my own senses, and not what someone else said or wrote. But I learned, and learned well. I have no doubt that most people do. Your visions of sweet little ol' white haired women going into the big, bad electronics stores and being gouged by audio charlatans is ridiculous. My advice would be to pick a new mission in the consumer wars. One where you could actually offer proof of good upstanding folks who went to the poor house because they were taken advantage of.

It isn't lost on me that you still won't share what equipment you use, what cables and speaker wire you use too. I wonder why a man who claims to know so much, won't tell folks what he uses. After all, your system is the ultimate statement about the lessons you've learned and the conclusions you've reached.

Mark Ran:

Thank you for your thoughful words. You no doubt write truthfully, and I appreciate your opened mindedness. Let me assure you that the conundrum you wrote of in fact does not exist at my place of business. It's real simple. Let me explain.

Plasma Television has greatly driven custom home theater installations of late. They are expensive, and chew up quite a bit of any given clients budget. Add in the wife acceptance factor, the subsequent need to go "Stealth" with all of the gear including speakers, the added costs of installing a system of this type and design, the cost of remote control function and the programming thereof, and there really is no room to beat folks up about cables and particularly speaker wire. Most of the time, we use Belden 18 or 16 gauge two conductor and four conductor for all speakers and volume controls. If you're starting to get the picture, you can imagine the dillema a designer could introduce to a proposal by stressing the need for esoteric speaker wire.

In other words, why would I want to scare off a client who is going to typically spend no less that $12,000.00 on a proposed system involving a plasma tv for a few extra bucks on cables? That just doesn't make any sense, and I'm sure my peers would agree with me. I think you could agree too.

Martin:

I made no claims that my testing was strictly within the accepted scientific realm. However, it shouldn't be discounted. Why? Because I did what most folks are really only capable of doing for themselves. That is, put the two or more wires to the test in their own system and listen for any differences. Who is going to bring in a panel of scientists to verify if any differences were heard? I think you're going a little over the edge, although I do understand your points and respect them. Regarding my own test, however flawed you may think it is, if you read the post by Mr. Della Sala after I posted my own findings, you will read that he in fact tested the Goertz Cable and found that it causes frequency peaking which causes some amps to "Stress the High End" of the system they are connected to. Is this desirable? Of course not. But, that doesn't change the similarity of his test findings and my own. Because of that, perhaps you should re-think an end users ability to judge for themselves.
 

Patrick Mattucci
Martin:

After reading your post again, I realized a fundamental conflict with your approach.

Your criteria for ascertaining the merit of interconnects and speaker wire should be applicable to any component, active or passive. Production, or reproduction.

You wrote in your post that you chose equipment for the production of music based on your own criteria of what sounds "Good" to you. Nowhere do you mention "X Factors" in your choice of sound production. Nowhere do you state merit nor agreement in your choice of musical instrument or amplification by a group of panelists comprising peers and scientists.

In the production of music, which I think most would find to be as important, if not more important than the re-production of music, the equipment you chose is entirely subjective, is it not? You prefer tube amplification to solid state amplification in the production of music.

And yet, oddly enough, you get "scientific" and prefer scientific verification by a group of true peers when choosing the equipment that ultimately reproduces the fruits of your labor, and the labor of your peers.

Why is that? I mean, why just end your pursuit for truth in music on the re-production side? Why not take it to the next level? How come you don't strive to gather a quorum of worthy musicians who play the guitar you play to find out if your instrument of choice can be clearly identified by those who would bother to listen to it, and then certified acceptable or even preferable?

There's some great guitarists out there. Jimmy Page prefers his Les Paul. Ritchie Blackmore prefers a Stratoaster. George Harrison loved Fender amps. Jimi Hendrix loved Marshalls.

Segovia and Parkening had/have their nylon string acoustic guitars custom made. Others prefer steel strings. Still, others don't care because they have processors that can make their guitars sound like any of the above mentioned instruments and then some.

Perhaps I should buy horn speakers if I play the saxophone? Tube amps if I listen to any music recorded before 1967? Electrostatic speakers if all I care about is any frequency in the "midrange" of music? Or, if all I care about is Rap, I should surround myself with subwoofers and loads of digital amplification so I can pressurize my listening room to the point of nausea?

Like it or not folks, the reproduction of music IS SUBJECTIVE. And to a great many. If someone wants to spend $10,000.00 on a pair of NBS speaker wires because his Burmeister components and speakers sound "better" to him with them, what the hell are you gonna do? After all, these are the culprits you're really pissed with. And these are the targeted consumers you're concerned with. And guess what? They won't be swayed.

A consumer that would spend that kind of money is obviously into a different trip than you or I. They're not even remotely interested in knowing that a digital equalizer/ room DSP unit will result in even better results than the hit or miss adventure that is trying out different cables and interconnects that alter frequency response. They don't care!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You and I. We sweat things like the prime, mortgage interest rates, food bills, college tuitions, medical bills and what to get our wives for our wedding anniversaries.

The folks who are shelling out mega-bucks for cables and speaker wire neither want or need your help. For God's sake as well as your own, leave em' alone. These folk want to spend big dollars on power cords. They feel better when an expensive piece of brick lays atop their CD Transports. They get a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing their tone arms were re-wired with silver wire that connects to their $3,000.00 phono cartridges (Talk about mark-ups). They wouldn't have it any other way if their amps weren't resting on stands that cost more than my coffee table. THESE FOLKS NEED TO DEMAGNETIZE THEIR CD'S. They want their green magic markers.

Leave em' alone. They neither want nor need your saving advice. You don't think they've heard it before? Of course they have! And still they hear a difference when employing all of the above and more. You guys can't change that. You never will.

It should be enough that you feel you know better.
 

Ron Thorne
So, would most here agree that I would probably be just as pleased with the sonic results of 1-meter pairs of Phoenix Gold ARX-600 cables at $12.50/pair as with Ultralink Matrix Series cables at $28.99/pair, for instance? I could offer many other comparisons, but those two were fresh in my mind.

While having enjoyed and learned from the debate, this is more the kind of information I feel many (novices) who wander into a BBS such as this would appreciate.
 

Killemall
Unregistered guest
Gene,

I look at your testing and articals, and it inspires me to think, are there holes in your arguments.
To really test the manufacturers claims, you really need to test the output of some excellent speakers, running at a reasonable power level (say 50w). Compare different cables for frequencey response, and THD by comparing input, to output as heard by a microphone.

I am a little rusty with my theory, but why are you so concerned with RLC change with frequency, when reactance is what counts, and has a huge change with frequency. The change in inductance and capacitance is insignificant.
Also, Inductive reactance = 2pi x fL
so in your Cobalt 10AWG at 10kHz, you have 11mohms / foot, which is much more significant than your 2mohms resistance, and double that at 20kHz.

The capacitance is insignificant when running at power at audio frequencies.

There are many arguments by audophiles that your speaker cable should have cutoff freq in excess of 100kHz. Somethimg to do with sound staging. That is, you are not listening to fundamental frequencies, but the overlapping of many different frequencies. It makes sense that the summing of these frequencies may be in excess of 20kHz at points, and that you may hear the difference in cutoff frequencies above 20kHz.

So without proper testing at power, how can you prove the "myths" false??

Just some points for discussion. Any comments????
 

Anonymous
 
Quote Gene :

"They often go one step further and claim it can take weeks for the consumer to hear the benefits of their cables since they require a break in period. In reality cable break in is another misnomer, which I suspect is used to convince the customer to keep the cables beyond the retailers return policy. In addition, statistically, the longer the customer keeps a product the less likely they are to return it."

THIS IS REALLY GOOD!!!
^_-

 

CableReptile
Unregistered guest
Alpha Core claims that their flat Goertz MI Speaker Cable has the lowest inductance in the business and therefore is better than conventional cables.
http://www.totallywired.co.nz/slinkylinks3.htm
http://www.slinkylinks.net/index_flash.html


 

Irwin D.
Unregistered guest
My own years of listening and research have uncovered several additional and little-known facts about cables and wires.
1. Cables sound better if aligned east-west rather than north-south. This has to do with the "rotational earth effect"--the spinning of the earth helps to throw the electrons forward through the signal and reduce the delay time from send to receive. This effect is more pronounced at the equator of course. Alternativly, the same effect causes lateral shift of the electrons in a north-south facing cable which may have the effect of unbalancing the signal.
2. Cable colour is an important factor. Carefully controlled hearing tests have shown that darker colours tend to absorb low frequencies from the cable thereby weakening bass response. Lighter colours prevent this problem.
3. Whatever you do, keep your cables out of direct sunlight. Sunligh and in particular UV rays penetrate the surface and causes electron breakdown--thus creating a curiously thin sound at the other end of the cable.
4. Never coil a cable--this creates "cable memory" and the electrons will encounter a "corkscrew effect," spinning wildly due to the aural disturbances created by this memory.

I hope you find these points helpful!

 

Outsourced
Unregistered guest
To Irwub D.

Your post is one of the most hilarious pieces that I've ever seen on cables!

Nice job!
 

kspv
Unregistered guest
Did any one think about gold-plating the electric sub-station for improving audio quality?
 

Unregistered guest
I am jumping in late and have really enjoyed the exchange going on since November on the cable debate. I find myself wanting to side with Patrick because I recently invested $300 on some Cardas cables recommended by my local HiFi store, however, there seems to be a few predominant themes that seem to keep resurfacing that I tend to believe. Regardless of proving to what extreme, it is obvious that there is an obnoxious relative profit in cables and a poor overall value per dollar spent. This is in respect to what seems to be that the technical truth in the matter is that cables serve at best as a "tone control". Moreover, your best bet is to buy a reasonably priced "quality" cable that is well sheilded and terminated. To that end, perceived audible differences don't seem to hold alot of water in the sceintific analysis of what cables are capable of doing. That is just my take, unfortunately like I said, I just walked out of my local HiFi store with $300 worth of speaker cable. My dilema was that I have some M&K speakers that worked great in home theater but sounded a little bright with music, I was contemplating chalking the M&K purchase up as a loss and buying new speakers but my salesperson recommended a cable like Cardas, he seduced me with all the vebiage like "they will open up the soundstage, tame the harshness" etc. I was an easy sell because the alternative was new speakers. To make a long story short, I can either side with Patrick or admit to being a victim of the Placebo effect because for whatever reason, I noticed an improvement. If I had to choose one side, I'd have to say that I am a sucker and just pissed away $300 but on the other hand, I swear everything sounds a tad better. I was upgrading from Kimber Kable which I thought was the most I would ever spend for speaker cable. All and all, I firmly believe that spending big bucks on exotic cables is foolish but I can't see anything wrong with spending the recommended 3-5% of your systems value on something well made and perhaps a little prettier. You got to admit, we all wouldn't be wasting our time reading this forum and adding our 2 cents if we weren't into our music and spending decent money on our equipment. It may be impractical but I don't want zip cord or Radio Shack cables on my Rotel and Arcam pieces. After all, many of us have an insatiable desire to get better and better sound from our stuff but it is costly to keep upgrading equipment. The nice thing about bumping up the interconnects (to a reasonable extent) is that I find it gratifying to come home from the HiFi store (you know on the day that you really would like to buy something new but know you shouldn't) and walk away with a purchase such as cables that holds the promise of improvement. You come home and replace what you thought were good quality cables with these better made fancier cables and sit back and start to pick out the differences in your old CD's. Whats so wrong with that, it may be the placebo effect but there is always the possibility that there is better chemistry taking place somewhere along the line, is small as it may be. There is no winner in a debate like this, the scientific arguement is more compelling against spending big dollars on cables but there is also all kinds of counter manipulation of science from the sales and manufacturing end that gives those of us in search of "the little upgrade solutions along the way" hope. In most debates of extremes, the answer is often in the middle.
Thanks.
 

New member
Username: 514329

Post Number: 7
Registered: Jun-04
I agree w/ u Andy. Since I can spend that much on the system, I rather go on a good quality cables and ask a 15-25% discount.
 

AB
Unregistered guest
Read many (not all, sorry) of these postings with interest. As a psychologist myself, however, I'd recommend being careful about dismissing differences or perceived changes over time as "psychological" just because you don't have an electrical theory to explain them or instrumentation that should supposedly detect them. Perceived similarities can also result from bias -- guess what happens if you have a theory or expectation that you WON'T hear a difference?

Either way your thoughts run, since most of us aren't set up to do true double blind testing, the next best thing to do is listen for specific, well-defined sounds or passages in music that will allow you to say something both limited and definitive about what you hear with different cables. For instance: "the cymbal takes longer to die away," or "that wood block sounds more natural," or "those strings sound less shrieky," or "there's more detail in that bass note." And then do it many times with many different cables (an audio store that lets you borrow things is incredibly helpful) so you have significant experience and are both sensitized to hear differences and not biased by the order that the sounds are presented to you. Works well both in comparing different cables and in deciding whether you hear a difference when a new cable has been in your system for a period of time.

Best regards,
Al
 

QBC
Unregistered guest
Once heard someone from HP's sales department saying, "Some Psychologists are the best salesmen in the world!" :-)
 

cyber5
Unregistered guest
After this thread, I'm just going to start buying my girlfriend lots of thick gold chains, and when she's not looking Im going to solder all the links together and coat them in neodymium-impregnated latex stolen from her fet-ish outfits and some old microphones I have lying around and put platinum earrings on the ends to stick thru my binding posts. This should give me excellent conductivity, the chain should provide some type of almost infinite phase circularity (which the magnets will help to reverse when needed) - and the latex will provide insulation and great conversation piece when her girlfriends stop by.

Seriously - I've worked in pro audio for 10+ years, have seen every audiphile setup you can imagine, and did some really high-end club installations for quite awhile.

My system at home is in a small room, so its very rudimentary (Im never at home) Just an Onkyo Receiver, a Nakamichi Dragon, JVC DVD, and YES a Pioneer Laserdisc. My inputs are digi-optical ('cept for the laserdisc which is pre-ac3 I'm sad to announce) and my speaks are run of the mill Yamaha 5.1 who-cares-what-model? All of my equip was bought with a discerning eye and ear - and I like it. My friends like it. My parents are scared of it. My wallet thanked me. What more do you really want from an AV system? My music/movie tastes run from RomeoJuliet to Lethal Weapon and Bach to Zeppelin with plenty of Linkin Park and Priest thrown in.

My point? Home depot cables are great. Nice heavy copper, clear so I can see if they turn green (they haven't) and some nice Radio Shack Silver Solder on the tips to keep the ends from fraying after insertion into the banana plugs. Esoteric cables? Been there. Do that too. Snake oil? Plenty. But am I firm believer in Time Offset Correction? Yes. Monster has impressed me a couple of times. In certain scenarios. Belden makes some great stuff too. Next time you goto a concert - ask the soundman if his 36-channel snake (thats 3 wires per channel) is made by monster and plated in gold - um NO. Did the sound kick axe?...probably, if its a top name act. See the guy standing behind all the knobs? (Soundman mentioned earlier). See all the knobs? See the pretty flashing lights on his right hand side? THAT is science my friends. The soundman, well he's the artist/scientist that knows what they all do and how to set them. His cable? He doesnt touch it. A tech does, or more likely a union laborer does. They roll it, stomp it, throw up on it, cut it, drop it, fly it, stretch it - you name it, and yet it makes 50,000+ people a night, every night really happy. Loan me your esoteric cables for a week and Ill redesign my room. Maybe I'll go in-wall, maybe undercarpet, maybe behind the molding (oops sorry about that staple), maybe just draped over the curtain rod, or thrown down the middle of the walk path. Are you getting a whole new picture of skin effect? Do any of you even own a bend radius gauge? Whats the tensile strength of your phoenix gold? Shear strength at the interconnect? You want measurements? Cmon - youre limiting your thinking. 1watt at 1 metre? How can you guys justify arguing about cost per foot for wire when you've probably never held a $5,000 microphone in one hand and a $99 one in the other and asked a drummer if he was POSITIVE he wouldnt hit the first one if you used it? You talk about imaging and soundstages. Whens the last time you made a roadie move a grand piano farther away from the Trace Elliot Bass Amp because of bleed over? And where was/were your mic(s) on the piano and where did you place them and why? What were the rolloffs you used on your crossover in your quad-amped configuration? Do you know what a parametric equalizer is, or are you just using your presets or perhaps a graphic eq not based on ISO centers? What is an ISO center?

You guys wanna prattle on about skin effect and other stuff -Im all for it - glad I found this place. Patrick wants to wax on about tone controls of his mom n dad - hey cool. I know that feeling. Someone mentioned Carver and Polk in almost disgusted tones - then I must ask what the hell are you doing in this forum? Those guys are some of the brightest and best engineers ever. Ever hear of Thiele and Small Parameters? Theres a reason. Wanna talk magnetic fields? Talk to Carver. Same with resistance. Silver seven anyone? Polk? Crutchfield or not - he's got some great sh*t out there.

Once again - avoid crappy zip cord. Avoid cables that cost almost as much as your cheapest component. Invest in a good EQ (and place it near your seating position - not in your rack) and USE IT. (Sorry audiophiles - flat mixes are for the studio we live in REALITY and like some action)...my apologies to Tomlinson Holman here on REEQing his REEQ. And home depot is your friend. Wire, molding, brackets of all kinds. Place it right, hide it well. Nobody will know. I promise.

Cyber5
 

Unregistered guest
Hi all

I only bumped into this discussion very recently and decided I'd like to add my piece as well. Firstly, it seems we need to give some background on ourselves. No problem with that.

I'm 29 years old, Chemical Engineer by profession, avid music lover (did some on-air and club DJ'ing while studying, part-time sound engineer and also an accoustic guitar and bass player) and proud hi-fi owner. My sound system is most certainly on the lower end of the scale. NAD C541 CD player, NAD C370 stereo integrated amp and Mission M74i speakers. I actually bought the system second-hand (pre-owned is the nice new term used nowadays) equipped with Vandenhul CS122 Hybrid speaker cables, but real scooby-doo interconnects (somewhere between 2 and 3mm thick, insulation included).

Next step was to get something better to connect my CD player and amp. After some shopping around, I bought a pair of Monster M350i's. We don't have much of a selection where I live, but I was quite happy with the improvement in sound quality and seeing that I paid the equivalent of about $40 for it, it wasn't a biggie. There most certainly was an improvement, but it is not surprising since there is significantly more conducting material in the Monster.

Now you're probably wondering where this is leading. Well, one of my colleagues at work is quite a serious audiophile with a fairly high-end system (Mark Levinson transport, DAC, pre and power amps connected to B&W Nautilus 802's). He is also one of those people who believe that cabling can and does make a difference to your system. However, his cabling (meaning interconnects, power cables and speaker cables) only cost him slightly more than 1% of his system's total value. And he's happy with it.

As with all things there is something called the Law of Diminishing Returns. He has tried out different cables and liked what he heard with his current ones. He also tried out cabling that sounded "better", but he wasn't willing to pay the price. Paying 2X for other cables didn't yield a comparative "increase" in "quality". I'm using these inverted commas to indicate loosely used terms.

Anyway, to get back to my story. He had some spare cables lying around and told me to test drive some of them to see if I hear anything different (or not) compared to my current cables. I tried out a set of Cardas interconnects for a couple of days and they do sound different from my current Monsters. I did pick up quite early on already that with these cables in my system there are huge amounts of bass present. Since I have some DJ'ing background, I like my sound a bit more bassy. However, the top ends sounded a bit muffled and I finally decided to switch back to my Monsters on Pink Floyd's Coming Back To Life. The change was quite audible. Little less bass, but better highs. All in all the Monsters yielded a much more neutral sound on my system. By the way, I'm not in the market for anything audio at this stage; it was purely lets-see-if. My system is too low budget to justify spending more on cabling anyway. There is still some Madrigal CZ Gel interconnects he's got that I want to try out.

As with all things audio these things are subjective to a large degree and psychological as well. Yes, there is most likely quite a lot of "placebo effect" involved. But most of the times it is what works for YOU on YOUR system with the music you like.

I've read a review where two reviewers reviewed a selection of cables (both reviewed the same cables) in the $129 to $250 (per 2m) price range. They chose different cables as their favourites and they also had different reviews on some of those cables. One of the main reasons: they had different sound systems. What worked nicely on one system didn't work as nicely on another.

Even though spectrum analysers and various other measuring instruments are undeniably more accurate than the human ear, they measure without feeling. They measure without the enjoyment that comes from listening to music, especially music you love. They also don't necessarily detect that "magic" that comes from certain synergies between components. As with all things you get people who would rather believe a machine and you would get people who don't. Being an engineer, and if I had serious measuring data available, I would most likely pick the cables that measure the best and test them on the system that I want to buy and decide if I like what I hear or not.

Some people have good ears (mine are quite good and I have the mandatory annual listening tests to prove it) and they can detect sounds and differences in sounds that a lot of other people can't. But some people have not-so-good ears that can also detect things that normal people can't.

It is what sounds good to YOU.

On a slightly different note. Some cable manufacturers do include at least some C-L-R info on their products/websites. Cardas and Van Den Hul do. Go check their websites. Regarding Monster. Apart from their Sigma Retro Gold range, their cables are pitched toward the lower and middle range of the market. They are also priced very decently over here in South Africa. Even though they hype a lot, you will never get a bad product from them. The build quality of their interconnects (and the way they are connected to the cable) is among the best that I've seen.

As was mentioned in earlier posts, choose cables that are durable, built well and contain a lot of conducting material while providing solid mechanical connections (terminations) with your hardware. You can't go wrong with that. They will last longer and they WILL sound better than the Scooby-doo crap you normally get packaged with components. Especially if you let your system work hard from time to time. Of course, if you can't hear distortion on your system when it does distort (I know people like that), then go for the cheap stuff. Just don't insult people who have ears that actually work.

In the end, it boils down to YOU having a system that YOU like. If you want to pay $15000 for a CD transport and $1000 for the digital interconnect, go for it. As long as it makes you happy and you don't insult people who can't understand your passion. If you're happy with a $20 portable radio, just as well. Don't insult someone paying the equivalent of a car's price for cabling. Let them. It's their money. As the saying goes: choose your poison.

Getting off my soapbox now. Enjoy the weekend.
 

pook
Unregistered guest
Do all speaker wires have to be the same length for a HT system ???

Please Advise,

B.
 

Anonymous
 
Great article! Finally someone who understands that a cable is a cable. I stumbled across this after seeing someone pay $150 for a 3 ft cable on ebay!!!! It was a "KIMBER KABLE Hero's" I couldn't believe anyone would pay that for a 3ft rca!



http://members.tripod.com/~tsc/cables.htm
 

Mikeman400
Unregistered guest
QUOTE from Patrick Mattucci~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I asked my wife to switch back and forth bewteen A and B numerous times so that I wouldn't know which side was playing. I instructed her NOT to engage A+B. She's a smart girl and didn't."

There was clearly a difference. Were there differences in volume when I switched between settings? According to my ears, no. According to my Radio Shack SPL meter, there was no doubt. 2 DB between the two. Very interesting, but not perceptible to me."

End QUOTE`~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The differenc you heard was probably from your A and B on your Stereo. Switch A might use a different amplifier in your stereo than setting B. Or the resistance in the switches might be different... I doubt the cable was what made the difference, but it is possible.

 

Unregistered guest
The range of responses here is truely amazing. Let me tell it to you straight:

Background: I have been an avid classical (violin, piano) musician for 50 years. I played rock live in Canada for a decade. I live physically inside a 48 track analog/digital hybrid studio worth 7 figures. I am a BSEE, BSEET, and hold additional dual Physics and P-Chem degrees. I have literally tons of vintage and new state of the art musical equipment, from state of the art Hughes and Kettners, to Sequential Circuits Prophet 5's, to Hammond B-3's, to a 9 foot Steinway grand, I own 14 guitars, 7 violins, blah blah blah blah.

I have 100 grand of exotic test gear. I have mastered many albums. Blah blah blah. You want to talk to me about 14 pole butterworth filters? Nuff said.

Now: the main error made in many of these posts is summed up in the following sentence: "... blah blah... trust your ears". Wrong folks. Do not trust your ears. Nor should you trust your expensive TDR's etc.

The basic problem is: you hear what you think you paid for. The psychology of the human audio perception is absolutely staggering. I have had clients standing next to my Neve console. I say, "Listen, the high end is a little overpowering, don't you think?" Then I turn down the high end on a non-active channel. Then I say, "Better?", and they say, "Definately." I have seen it over and over and over. They didn't have a clue. Neither do you.

Don't trust your own ears. Never trust your own ears. You have been psychologically biased. You CANNOT be subjective. Period.

Perform a blind test, preferably double-blind. Set your gear up, plug your cheap-crap cables in, call your buddies in, tell them nothing. Play them whatever you want, Jazz, rock, Strauss, Clair Delune, whatever. Ask them to write down their feelings. Don't lead them. Don't say something stupid like "Didn't that sound like it had too much treble?" Don't say a damn thing.

Then, make them leave the room. Swap the cables for the snakeoil stuff, for your B.S bend and spread 90 bucks a foot single-grain extruded 99.9999% silver with the nano-whoopty smiley face laser etched between each and every silver atom. Bring your audience back in. Play the same selections. Tell them nothing. Don't even tell them that you did or didn't switch anything. Certainly don't tell them that you mucked with the cabling. Let them think you changed speakers, or channels on your board. I know, put a different colored lightbulb over your console.

Now, ask them again to write down their feelings.

Now, repeat the experiment a dozen times with different people. Get experts, your wife, your kids, your other society music buffs, invite homeless people off the street, invite rap artists, girl bands, Bach afficianados... blah blah.

Plug all the data into your computer. Crunch the numbers, do some bell-shaped curves, throw some charts up on the wall and compare them.

Do you know what you are going to find? The answer will amaze you. It amazed me when I first started doing this 25 years ago.

The red light over the console made people say that the music sounded warmer, with more bass. The green light made them say the music had more high end, was crisper. The blue light made it harder for them to enjoy the music.

It didn't matter what I did to the cables. It didn't matter in the seventies, and it doesn't matter now.

I am not making this up. Your own "perception" is totally unreliable. Any studio engineer will tell you that. It is what the producer, money man, or artist wants/thinks etc, that is all that matters. And they want either the red light or the green light.

You can laugh all you want. I have more gear than any of you, and a great deal more experience. I play more instruments, have pressed more CD's, blah blah blah. Most of you simply are out of your league, and are at the mercy of the cheap hucksters who make a living off of the sheep.

I run 12 guage stranded or solid core speaker cables from HOME DEPOT. I buy 20/22 guage RCA cords WITHOUT gold ends from Radio Shack. Period.

Incidentally, I have found that what you ate for breakfast influences your listening perception far more profoundly than what you paid for your cables. Anything with a lot of salt (like bacon) will affect you. Again, this is not a joke.

Human audio perception is influenced by concentrations of Na+ ions in your system as low as one millionth of a gram. Meaning, you have one piece of bacon, and you will hear more high end. Amazing. Against an audio system as delicate (and fragile) as your own human perceptive/cognitive hearing system, NO ONE CAN MAKE ANY CLAIMS WHATSOEVER about the differences in cabling. It is all crap. All of it. Every single last teeny tiny bit.

You wanna hear more base? Eat yoghurt. You want crisp? Drink coffee or a cafeine cola. Screw the cable companies. They are definately screwing you.

Harry Nyquist, Tomlinson Holman, and Mark Levinson would lose bladder control if they listened to my system. And they wouldn't be able to tell the difference between my Home Depot cables and the ripoff stuff either.

Neither would you.


Sign me Norzilla
 

Silver Member
Username: Arnold_layne

MadridSpain

Post Number: 264
Registered: Jun-04
Actually, some of us argue that a blind test should be performed by listeners who know what to listen for. Here's an example:

http://www.pcabx.com/#ten_req

Cheers
AL
 

Bronze Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 26
Registered: Nov-04
ok.....i have no knowledge of audio stuff so dont get me involved in this. all i want to know is what is a brand name that i can be safe with when making cable purchases? after reading all 169 posts it seems that no one has even tried to mention this. i have a list of things to avoid, but that doesnt help much if there is this large pool of snake oil. this was a very interesting read. spent about 2 hrs reading this whole thread.
 

GW
Unregistered guest
Well said Norzilla!
 

GW
Unregistered guest
I'd just like to clarify my "well said Norzilla" comment. I recently got a notable increase in the detail and top end response of my system through a change in speaker wire. However, I was changing FROM a relatively expensive thin bi-wire cable TO a 2.5mm2 2-wire configuration that cost about one-quarter per metre (£2/m) compared to the more "esoteric" stuff.

Just get decent quality, reasonably think wire, and forget bi-wiring.
 

Norzilla
Unregistered guest
Hey yall, for a real good laugh, go check out
http://www.monstercable.com/productPage.asp?pin=17


They are selling a pair of 10 foot cables for $2500.00. You heard right. Two thousand, five hundred dollars for 20 feet of wire. It's only copper wire to boot. We're talking 8 cents worth of raw materials going out the door at a 31250 percent markup. HAHAHAHAHAHA fleece the sheep. Bring your own broom handle, make sure it's well splintered, bend over, cuz you're going to take it where the sun don't shine.

This is perhaps the most extreme rippoff I have heard of to date. My jaw is hanging open as I type this.

Simply unbelievable. There must be a lot of really stupid rich people out there. Really stupid. Really rich.

JZ Keerist on a bun with mustard and slaw. We're all going to h*ll.

Hey? Why do they hate us?



Here is their blurb. Notice the blatant name dropping?
Sigma Retro Gold: A Modern Classic Audio Cable
Monster's Sigma Retro Gold cables may very well be the best cables ever made. Some things are extraordinary because of their simplicity, like the Golden Gate Bridge or Rockefeller Center. They are as ageless and timeless today as when they were conceived. It is with this sense of the classic that Monster created Sigma Retro Gold speaker and interconnect cables.


Gotta go barf now.

Norzilla
 

Bronze Member
Username: Touche6784

Post Number: 39
Registered: Nov-04
norzilla, u seem to be pretty knowledgeable. i agree that those wires r pretty outrageous and i wouldnt buy them either. but them wut would you buy that gives the best quality for price...and im not interested in going to home depot for wire. it is outrageous to buy interconnects for like $500 a piece but what about lets say $50? or what about monster's line of xphp speaker wire? not terribly expensive but seem good quality. again....how bout something that us noobs could use to make PURCHASES rather than exclusions. it does me more good to know what is safe than to constantly rave about all the crap in the world.
 

Unregistered guest
Wow, what an amazing thread/just completed reading the lot and its 4am. I'm a retired RF engineer with reasonable grasp of transmission lines, noise figures and wideband RF systems. A good friend has recently acquired some expensive audio gear and asked me for guidance on speaker cables. Indeed, he pointed me to this forum, and so I hereby make my first post.

Hello All....I want to throw my two cents worth in at this late stage of the discussion on my findings and opinions. My audio friend is keen to make some decent cables and with his musical background and my technical side, we should be able to hopefully make some good stuff. I'm keen to see what the forum thinks.

The first bit of research I did was on skin effect. My gut feel was it would be a non-event at audio, even at 20KHz, yet the maths showed me wrong. Skin effect was worth considering in cable design. I looked into Litzwire (briefly) and concluded that Litz was too much effort for the returns. I then looked at hollow, thinwall cable designs, and that geometry was great at minimising the skin effect. I made a roughie cable out of coax - wound two coaxes together (used the braids only) and these are now driving my friends nautilus 800s.

But before I handed the cables over, I did a comparison test against some very thin zip cord, suitably corroded - I was really looking forward to some obvious differences. I measured the DC specs- thin zip was 0.5 ohm loop resistance, cf 0.2 ohm for the coax ( just the braids used, no inner conductors). The audio test was short, left speaker thin zip, right speaker coax. Music was definitely brighter on the right side, I was relieved I could at least pick that much. Then I swapped the speakers, with their cables, left to right. Expecting the brightness to swap to the left.....no, now there was no difference left to right. Put them back, right was brighter. Confusion.

After a few minutes i abandoned the test, having played the music too loud and desensitising my ears. So what happened? It turned out my right ear was better above 5KHz than my left ear. A hearing test back in 2002 had the left ear rolling off faster than the right - by a few dB.

A few conclusions from the rough test. I'm losing my hearing...I could barely pick the difference between the crappiest little cable and a robust cable with negligible skin effect by design. Sad. Also, that there must be some other parameter in addition to flat frequency response that is very detectable. Actually, I'm starting to believe that you need to make significant deviations (>3dB) to the frequency curve to be detectable by most average folk, certainly to my 45 year old untrained ears.

Is it phase that is critical? When i stand in my backyard, typically I hear urban noise, birds, dogs etc and with my eyes closed, I can accurately pick the direction of the sources, front, back, overhead, especially birds chirping in flight. Could phase accuracy and the imaging it represents be the thing that cables are more likely to modify? I won't guess here, but will offer that maybe the reactive component (series L, parallel C) of the cable can pull the phase of the higher octaves over enough to be audible. Dunno - need to do the maths.

Its after 5am, and I'm normally asleep by 11pm. I've still got plenty of researching to do for my audio friend, my next digging will be on dielectrics. Fingers crossed they aren't critical.

Regards from Oz. Mark

 

Silver Member
Username: Arnold_layne

MadridSpain

Post Number: 280
Registered: Jun-04
Great post Mark. Welcome to the forum.
Cheers
AL
 

New member
Username: Mkrs_australia

Adelaide, South Australia Australia

Post Number: 1
Registered: Jan-05
Thanks AL for the welcome, its a bit earlier tonight, and I wish to add a little more to my previous post before I nod off in front of the keyboard, like last night.

Back to phase and our ability to use it to good effect with our ears. This is hypothetical. Lets say I'm standing in the backyard again, listening to the birds chirping as they fly past, noting with my eyes closed where they are. I then put a little cotton wool in each ear to soften the top end hearing. What will be the effect on the accuracy of spatial perception? I haven't done this yet, but admit I am sitting here with cotton wool in my ears, doing a little experiment. My wife thinks i have sore ears as she heads off to bed. Funny. Its pretty obvious how much of the good accuracy in direction finding is lost by 'turning down the treble'. There's still spatial perception, but now the noises I hear are much more ambiguously positioned. Cotton removed - accuracy returns. So is there any point in this nonsense experiment? Maybe.

I have a question for the gurus. Frequency/phase relationships in the electrical domain are a known quantity for any filter. Indeed, adjust one, and the other moves by law. But what happens in the acoustic domain? I can visualise easily the phase relationship for say a simple first order LPF, but what about my silly cotton wool in ear acoustic analogy? There's no capacitors or inductors (equivalents that is) hiding in the cotton wool, certainly resistors, but no energy storage. Yet it rolls off top end like an LPF. So what happens to phase here? I can't decide - anyone know? Is it just like the electrical equivalent circuit's response or are we able to fiddle with frequeny response in the acoustic domain and leave phase relationships alone? I don't have the test gear to find out at home, now that I'm retired.

Anyway, this is all i wanted to bring up tonight. I hope I'm not fixating on phase too much. It's just that some of my most vivid memories of listening to great hifi gear back in the late 70's (not mine sadly) was the imaging. Ah, one day i might get back into it.

Cheers again, Mark
 

Silver Member
Username: Arnold_layne

MadridSpain

Post Number: 286
Registered: Jun-04
If you're into hi-rez audio, here's a couple of SACD recommendations:

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Texas Flood: Very good stereo image.

Derek and the Dominos - Layla: Fantastic surround mix.

Hasta pronto
AL
 

E. Ramsey
Unregistered guest
With your respectable credentials, I direct this question to you Mr. Gene Della Sala. As a trained and degreed industrial electronics technician, I am full aware of skin effect in a solid conductor with a high frequency ac signal, so it baffles me how any one could maintain that a solid wire is acceptable for use as a speaker wire,since this is an ac signal often at high frequencies. Also how can an interconnect or speaker wire exhibit a discearnable amount of inductance, any more than quite negligible, since the resistivity of copper is exceedingly low and copper is very reluctant to be magnatized. When I was in school we never calculated wire resistance values in circuit or system parameters because even collectively this amount is so negligible often equating to a very small fractional percentage of far less than one ohm! E. Ramsey AAS industrial electronics
 

E. Ramsey
Unregistered guest
I would also like to add that I read your Audioholics web site on various aspects of wire and cable and found them to be very informative. I would also like to ask also that since inductance obviously is possible in a stranded wire,and that the amount of such is vanishingly small on the order of micro henrys per foot of wire; is this amount which is only detectible by sophisticated instruments , large enough to be a concearn for the average home theater with say 150' of wire or less. E. Ramsey AAS industrial electronics
 

guest121
Unregistered guest
There is an article about cable design (among others) in the lower third of the following page:
http://www.tele-data.hu/aliscaorange/gdeng.html
It seems it has been an long-term academic research behind it on materials physics and acoustic testing methods. I found it interesting.

Several years back I went to Budapest and used the occasion to compare my Nordost reference against their cables. The Nordost was considered by many DIYers as the best bass-performance cable. Much to my surprise, the biggest difference was in bass: the Alisca cable sounded more extended, more powerful, and more defined in the bass. Perhaps the Nordost (+amp+speaker) was acting as a high-pass filter, I don't know, but the difference was evident.

I surmise your average solid core copper power cable would sound better than many high-end cables. Anyway, the biggest difference in sound is made by the speakers. And did you consider what wire is used in your speakers' crossover (especially series inductors)?

I would say R,L,C give a reasonable model to hide micro-level material physics and electromagnetic properties, and it would be nice if everybody would do technically correct cabling. On the other hand, there could still be undiscovered effects which affect acoustics, but don't affect electronic measurements. At least these Alisca guys say so, and they introduced "acoustic information permeability" and claim to have developed a testing method to "acoustically measure" it.

Be skeptic and open minded in the same time :-)
 

E. Ramsey
Unregistered guest
Speaker crossover components are actually composed of a great deal of dc components and circuits,as well as ac, so a solid conductor in this area would be ideal. However, I appreciate your input but I feel that you missed my point that a solid wire, sometimes used in interconnect cables, is rather unsuitable for speaker wire given the skin effect of a high frequency ac signal through a solid conductor. I will also add that I have read the Audioholics websight on the skin effect through through various conductors, solid, stranded,Bifillar, etc and that they stated that this is for the most part negligible at least in the 20Hz to 20KHz range. So at this point who is to say what is the real truth about solid wire. E. Ramsey AAS industrial electronics
 

GPS
Unregistered guest
WOW I can't believe that Mark Koesters question has been passed over. Is there not anyone on this site that is smart enough to have a go?
 

guest121
Unregistered guest
I think Mark's post made a point about acoustical domain differing in some sense from electrical domain, when we speak about perceived acoustic information.

Again I'm telling what I have found on the Alisca's webpage above: they think "acoustic information" is different than "electrical information", even if they overlap. The electromagnetic field can degrade the acoustic information, if it's not uniform "enough". If it is homogene, than it's the materials and the information encoding/decoding principle at the source which affect acoustic information, even if they don't make a clear difference in electrical information (measurements).
They claim they have developed an "objective" test system, which can measure the acoustic information permeability, as they call it. Obviously this test system is an acoustic one, which means the measurement instrument is the human, but properly trained ear. Which is subjective in my opinion, and we are back to philosophy. I personally don't adhere to their view at full extent, but there has been some academic research on the field conducted by the Materials Physics Reasearch Department of the Hungarian Academy of Science, so there might be still something true about it.
Of course, this is just theory and hypothesis. In practice, a "good enough" cable was born, together with "good-enough" speakers and amplifiers. These were developed and tested not only in the electrical domain, but also from the point of view of "acoustic information permeability".
(I myself only own Alisca speaker cables and interconnects, these are mature enough. The speakers and electronics are also good, but I would wait until these guys can forge something which has been entirely factored in-house following their pronciples, with no off-the-shelf components). They are looking for chip manufacturers who would be willing to design chips according to their specs and recommended materials.
 

seth k
Unregistered guest
I doubt anyone will read this far but I am really interested in how resistance can affect the sound. Resistance is passive, sound is active; resistance should do nothing more than decrease the signal strength in a linear fasion and in no way affect the sound except to reduce the volume an inperceptible amount.

This is based entirely on my education and no experience, so i must be right :-)
 

Bronze Member
Username: Jbecvar

Post Number: 17
Registered: Mar-05
The best cables are the ones that make your system work so you can enjoy it.
 

Anonymous
 
I concur with Josh Becvar, above, and, further, I rest easy with my lack of confidence in those who maintain that if you can't measure what you hear, you're not hearing it. After many, many years of listening to audio and watching video, I can confidentally state that I can, indeed, hear and see the difference between stranded and solid wire. Further, I hear and see a great variety of very distinct differences between various components that measure "alike". No, I don't believe that burning-in a wire changes any of its molecules (pure fantasy), but I do know that wire looks or sounds differently after several days of use. Can't measure any of this? Maybe not. There are those who can hear and see the difference, measure or no measure (This has nothing to do with price; I am using some fairly cheap wires that work really well). I do have a father-in-law who can't hear the difference between his $70 boom box and my $6,000 stereo, even though their differences can clearly be measured. I contend that measurement freaks are tone deaf and color blind to begin with; and further contend that even if they COULD find a way to put real numbers on the differences that others sense but which seem to elude the senses of the measurers, that in the end the measurers with their numbers would say that not only are there no real differences, but also that the numbers prove the differences aren't discernible. The fallacy of the measurers is, "If I can't measure it, it doesn't exist." Rather unscientific, really. Perhaps the measuring techniques are insufficient and need further development.
 

Unregistered guest
Anonymous:

There is a difference between saying that 'every audible difference is necessarily (casually) related to some quantifiable electrical difference in the products' and saying that 'every quantifiable difference has been measured'.
 

Unregistered guest
Question: I am installing a sound system in our cultural center hall. I was wondering if anyone reading this forum could recommend a good website that gives some layouts on how to properly set ceiling mounted speakers for optimum sound quality. The speakers will be flush with the ceiling tiles.

Thanks,

Fred
 

New member
Username: Triplex

Post Number: 1
Registered: Oct-05
http://cygnus.ipal.org/mirror/www.passlabs.com/spkrcabl.htm
 

New member
Username: Johnoas

Sydney, NSW Australia

Post Number: 1
Registered: Nov-05
Wow, what a monster™ read!

First the obligatory background stuff. I'm a 34 year old engineer for an applied R&D organisation based in Sydney, Australia. I have a physics and electronics background, and a love of science, technology, and the debunking of pseudoscientific nonsense. I can't resist throwing in my 11 cents (including GST) worth.

Firstly, if you can't measure it, or at least demonstrate it in a reproducible fashion, then, for all intents and purposes, it doesn't exist as fact. (It may exist, but you can neither prove or disprove it). If this discussion is to have any sensible result, we have to admit that arguments based entirely on faith aren't really of merit, or at least don't really contribute much toe the progression of knowledge. Lets say Person A has faith that product X is the best, person B has faith that product Y is the best. If product X and Y are either mutually exclusive, or allow no discriminatory measurements, then either one of the two people is wrong, or you admit that the argument can't be settled.

If the discussion is to go anywhere, I believe a key factor is in defining what "better" means with respect to speaker cable performance. A number of posters seem to be going down the scientific path, requiring "better" to be definable in empirical, reproducible numbers. This is fine, and, in my opinion, the way to go. Some people prefer a subjective approach. This may be acceptable, if presented in semi-scientific manner. In other words, if you want to put forward the case that brand X cable makes the sound "warmer", you need to provide a definition of "warmer" that is more than qualitative. "Warmer" on it's own, provides no real information in the realm of the physics of sound.

I also agree with people those purporting that the "best" speaker cable is the most "transparent", specifically, that which makes the least discernable change to the signal delivered from the amplifier to the speaker. A cable that imposes some sort of deliberate signal transformation, be it a high end roll off or something more complex, might result in a sound that is more pleasing to you, but I don't think it's sensible to argue that it's better than one which does nothing to the signal. A cable exposes a flaw in some other components is better than one that hides the flaws, at least in absolute terms. A cable which modifies the signal may be a good cover up or match for a specific system, but certainly won't be a better match for every system, unless you are suggesting that every system has a particular fault that your cable hides/removes.

Science has no problem admitting that some (many) theories are only approximations. They are, however approximations that work well in the universe we seem to be inhabiting. Does anyone want to fly on a jumbo designed by an iridologist? "I know carbon composites are stronger, but your aura tells me that a wing constructed of spaghetti would be better because of the conflict I'm sensing in your central meridian." I think I'll take the bus, thanks.

I don't have a problem with companies making money selling over-priced items, so long as they don't outright lie in order to do so. Regulations can only go so far in protecting people from their own gullibility. The fact is, placebo's work. Just don't try to sell me your placebo as the next thing since sliced bread.

I'm glad there's boards like this for these sorts of discussions. This thread has prompted me to start another, on annoying audio terms. It's on the audioholics site though, as I forgot which browser tab I was in :-)

http://forums.audioholics.com/forums/showthread.php?p=114506#post114506
 

Silver Member
Username: Eramsey

South carolina United States

Post Number: 345
Registered: Feb-05
John: Thank you for your insightfullness. I myself have an electronics background, I am an industrial electrician. The amount of outright lies, deceptions, and distorted propositions based on half truths I find irritating and quite disturbing. I strip copper wire nearly every day and I can assure anyone there is nothing magical about the substance. It is a wonderful element in that is an excellent conductor and quite inexpensive since it is very abundant. It is amazing how easily the misinformed public falls, hook, line and sinker for such a lie as "cable burn in" when an engineer for an esoteric cable manufacturer tells them it is necessary and to buy X brand device, which of course is quite expensive, to hasten the process. This same engineer probably knows the truth in his/her heart but due to being on the company bankroll must promote the scientifically false views of the company. This is truly a sad affair. An ABX test,which is accepted by the scientific community the world over, will summarily trump any notion of audible differences between cables and speaker wire. When I wire an industrial motor the wire is at it's peak condition when fresh cut and unoxidized, it goes downhill from there. I imagine and laugh thinking what if I told my boss an engineer or my coworker technicians that when a motor is wired it will need a few days for the wire to burn in to reach optimum conditions. I would be the laughing stock of the company and they would run me out of there. People like you and me know much better I just wish the masses were also more skeptical. I'm like you I don't have a problem with expensive cables per se as long as their construction is not based on pseudo science and things contrary to established cable and wire engineering principles. I suppose if I had a $10k tube amp and same speakers I may buy a $1500 set of cables to have the "jewelry" effect for my system, similarly it would be unreasonable to expect Queen Elizabeth to present herself in cubic zirconia.
 

New member
Username: Overdoze

Post Number: 4
Registered: Oct-05
Very interesting, that is, all the bits I had time to read were.
Lots of facts debunking pseudo-science.
Anyhow, Im hoping that changing my 'kettle' power cords, will improve sound somehow when replaced with more substantial shielded cables (DIY).
I dont know many people who live in a quiet enough environment to fully appreciate the 'near perfect' sound quality of a high end (v.expensive) system.
 

AJB
Unregistered guest
Great stuff, glad to see the discussion has continued since my last post (as AB). Most of the people who posted about listener bias have thoroughly established the point that it is possible to deliberately bias a listener. No quarrel there. As Norzilla noted, you can even get people to hear differences in an audio system illuminated by different color lights! More to the point, though, is the question of whether or not you can train someone to overcome bias and hear differences that may actually exist. Admittedly, this can only go so far; there will be physiological limits to detecting small differences in loudness, for instance. But my own experience has been very positive with a self-training program such as the one I recommended earlier (listen repeatedly to specific, well-defined sounds or passages in music that will allow you to say something both limited and definitive about how they sound with many different cables). This isn't easy to do, but there really are differences that you can hear reliably once you're trained to overcome bias. Ear training plays a role in the professional development of audio engineers (check out Parsons Audio at http://www.paudio.com/Pages/home.html), so why not with audiophiles evaluating cables and other gear?
 

New member
Username: Johnoas

Sydney, NSW Australia

Post Number: 10
Registered: Nov-05
guest121 said:

Again I'm telling what I have found on the Alisca's webpage above: they think "acoustic information" is different than "electrical information", even if they overlap. The electromagnetic field can degrade the acoustic information, if it's not uniform "enough". If it is homogene, than it's the materials and the information encoding/decoding principle at the source which affect acoustic information, even if they don't make a clear difference in electrical information (measurements).

Acoustic information is different from electrical information. However, until the speaker drivers do their job of wobbling back and forth and convincing some of the atmosphere in the room to go along with them, it's all electrical information in the speaker wires. Anyone who says different is either misinformed or deliberately lying. As to the electrical field "degrading" the acoustic field, what on earth does that mean? If you're going to argue that you can have different outputs from a speaker with identical electrical inputs, then you're denying the principles of physics. You can argue that the electrical differences are not easily measured (dubious, but at least possible), but if you're insinuating that some other, non-electrical process is going on which changes the sound but not the electrical signal, then you've wandered into the world of non-science, and might as well argue that these non-electrical processes are just working on the brain of the listener directly. Maybe it's some chemical in the jacket of the cable designed to effect the human nervous system in such a way as to improve sound perception. It's no less wacky an idea than some of the stuff I've seen here.

Anonymous said:

I can confidentally state that I can, indeed, hear and see the difference between stranded and solid wire. Further, I hear and see a great variety of very distinct differences between various components that measure "alike"

I would like to know whether or not that "confidence" would extend to a scientific double blind testing arrangement. Things that sound "different" but measure "alike" simply means you'r emeasuring the wrong thing! Your ears are also just a measuring device. When you listen to music, you're just measuring very localised changes in atmospheric pressure. If there is a truly perceptible difference from the instrument operating in the audio realm (the ear), then there has to be a difference in the electrical realm responsible for it. You can argue that we aren't measuring the right thing, or that we don't have electrical instruments sensisitive enough, but claiming no difference electrically is demonstrating some pretty woolly thinking.

We (referring to those who believe in the methodology and results of the scientific method, not myself specifically or some special club) know a lot about sound, how the human ear works, and electrical signals in general. The human sense organs are pretty impressive, but when it comes to building instruments to measure specific, targeted signals of any type, science has done a pretty good job. Sound simply isn't that complex a phenomenon. The nose has a much tougher job as there are potentially a far wider range of stimuli it has to deal with. The ear responds to vibrations in the medium in which it ocupies, normally "air".

I agree that most people certainly can't hear differences that trained, experienced people in the audio field can, but that doesn't justify the "I claim I can hear it, so there" stance many take. That's just a claim, much like a statement of faith. Back it up with some data or reproducible results (it might be a double blind test of some sort, but not necessarily) and you're far more likely to elicit a positive response from the scientific/engineering community.
 

New member
Username: Overdoze

Post Number: 10
Registered: Oct-05
I've just finished a back to back, blind speaker wire test with a few other friends.

The results were suprising to all and upsetting to one person in particular.

On test were my Gale XL160-2 and my friends kit:- Cable talk 3.1, cheap speaker wire from a car boot sale(24AWG), some standard uk lamp flex and Nordost SPM bi-wire.

The test came about after a heated discussion regarding this thread and after a while we decided on a blind test of our kit. The test system:-
Sugden Masterclass AA,Ayre CX-7 and Rega R9s.
How we convinced our mate to let us loose on his beloved system with lamp flex, I'll never know!
Anyway, without any flowery write up the results were this.........

3 audio speaker cables AND the lamp flex sounded the same, the thin and cheap speaker cable sounded 'distant'.
The cables were all cut to the length of the NORDOST (No trimming was allowed on these for some reason) connections cleaned with terminal solvent.

Draw your own conclusions folks, but needless to say there are now a set of NORDOST SPMs going 'cheap' on e-bay.;)
 

Unregistered guest
Black Math

"I have seen differences when I have switched video cables. I feel the same should hold true for audio."

This feeling is quite logical, but totally misses reality. Video and audio occupy two quite different frequency ranges with different physics in play. the results of changing something in one frequency domain dosn't apply to the other. Audio is much closer to DC is it's effects, and video is a whole different world. Apples and oranges, pick your analogy to fit.

This is a good example of the how easily intelligent, thoughtful buyers can be misled.

Me, I buy a 100ft. spool of 12ga or 16ga transparent speakerwire and cut to length. Works great, and costs under $20. I intend to put my money where I can make the most difference, which for me is first into speakers.

(My recent expereince in a high-end stereo store as the salesman was showing me some very expensive amplifiers to go with a particular speaker. He said, with a slight shudder, "You really wouldn't want to drive *these* speakers with a $500 amplifier.")

Trommlertak
 

New member
Username: Yomomma

Post Number: 1
Registered: Jul-06
I use Bryston XLR interconnect straight from a Bryston preamp to the inputs of a PMC active speaker. No amp or speaker cable needed, sounds awesome, takes up less space and less to agonize over.
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