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Using & comparing cables

 

Bronze Member
Username: Berniew

Perth, Western Aust... Australia

Post Number: 19
Registered: Oct-12
Hi,

Has anyone here ever changed or upgraded their inter-connect or speaker cables, or ever compared different models by way of listening or bench-tests? What did you find? (I'm phrasing it that way so we can consider any comparison you've had a chance to make.)

If so, could you tell me: what cables did you have before, what did you change to, and what did you notice? Was it obvious or subtle? Did you ever buy something that was supposed to be an upgrade, but was a disappointment? How about if you couldn't tell any difference at all?

I've long believed, and seen proven many times, that quality cables are critical to good performance from any sound system. I've heard an obvious difference between cheap & nasty type and quality cables many times, but in my case it's been in commercial applications, ie club/concert and studio settings. That includes things like guitar cables, mic to mixing desk and to effects units. I've got much less experience with home audio though. Recently I bought my first home system, and I'm trying for decent playback quality from digital sources. I use an external DAC, and my one analogue signal path is from that to the amp, then the speaker cables. I'll save digital signals for another topic.

For interconnects, I bought Tara Labs Prism 200a, 1m long. Then I made myself a pair with Canare GS-6 cable (mono, unbalanced, with a plastic conductor shield wrapping for no gaps, and a 2nd, woven copper shield) and Neutrik Pro-Fi RCA plugs, soldered. I can't actually hear a difference from the Tara's, but I can't just switch between them. In the time it takes to unplug 1 set and swap over, I can't retain an accurate enough assessment to compare properly. However, neither introduces any problems I can perceive.

I also bought 2x 2.5m speaker cables... MIT brand, not sure of the model but there's 18 and 14 gauge conductors in a twisted pair, and some sort of shielding (not connected to an earth so probably doing nothing). The hi-fi store assembled them with 4mm banana plugs for me. Then I made my own with 2 twisted pairs each of heavy, multi-strand AC power cable. It wasn't designed for speakers so it's not oxygen-free or anything special. Each conductor is about 5mm sq; there's a twisted pair each for +ve and -ve terminals, for 4 conductors per cable. Again, I can't hear the difference, for the same reason: I can't change them over quickly. One day I'll make a jig for quick switching for testing purposes.

I'm interested to hear, what have you found? Can you include an idea of your system (ie does a more up-market system benefit more from fancy cables?) Does anyone have any high-end stuff, like interconnects over about $350 or really high-tech speaker cables... in the context of your system, what do you think about these cables? Worth it, or not?

If you've got any experiences and opinions to share about audio cables, I'd be interested to know.

Also, does anyone else make their own cables? What are your preferred components? Ever done comparison tests? How'd they go? Do you solder, or crimp? (I've always preferred solder myself). Again, I know a lot more about studio and PA applications, so I hope to learn all I can about home audio/home theatre.

Thanks in advance
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17529
Registered: May-04
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Bernie, these are the type of threads which are not allowed on many forums. While many of the contributing members of this forum have recently departed for (I assume) higher ground, I would venture the guess you would see most of them saying they are cable believers. In another thread I suggested you might be more comfortable asking certain questions over at Hydrogen Audio's forum. They are the uber-objectivists who would quickly and repeatedly call you an "audiophool" for spending any more than bare minimums for any cable of any sort or even for entertaining the idea cables are anything more than perfect as they exist when they are included free with your purchase. Shield a speaker cable? Hypocrisy and sheer stupidity first and filthy, stinkin' audio idiots next - and forever.

And, thus, the cables wars begin again and again and again on every audio forum on the web. Some turn very nasty very quickly - which is why these threads are forever banned on certain forums - and some simply remain unresolved until all that can be said and all that can be shouted across the battle lines has been said and shouted and the thread eventually dies a very slow and typically ugly death. Most arguments on either side are, IMO, poorly informed and not very well argued. Emotions push out reason. Comporimise or understanding of another opinion is not the goal. The goal is to win and to humilate as many on the other side as possible. People tend to feel they are right and, just as we see in politics, any disagreement with their opinion is simply seen as incorrect if not the actual lunatic ravings of the heretic and the @narchist (you can't post that word on this forum). For the most part, as we see in politics, people tend to find, and cling to, self gratifying opinions to support their own thinking. There they will pitch their tent and prepare for battle against all comers. This keeps most in a bubble of supportive views which never look to the other side for even the most basic of answers or alternative questions.



It is now well over thirty years ago that the French audio writer Jean Higara first suggested that cables should be treated as a distinct component within a high quality home audio system. After thirty plus years, the arguments for and against cables have grown ever more strident rather than moving toward a consensus. In part this is, IMO, a matter of; A) a simple lack of standards found in home audio gear and, 2) the very obvious fact no two of us possess the same musical priorities and perceptions. As you have recognized, the time required to perform a proper A/B/X test of cables negates many of the basic requirements of a well designed A/B/X test. Even the presence of a switch in the signal path violates the most basic principles of accurate perceptual testing. While we can argue for days on end about whether a switch can be heard, the fact remains using a switch in the signal path is not how we actualy use audio cables in a high end home audio system. And that becomes the stumbling block for so many tests the objectivists devise to determine whether they are constantly and, in their view, logically right or whether the subjectivists are actually as deluded and neurotic as the objectivists insist they are.

However, very few subjective listeners feel the great need for A/B/X testing of audio gear. The more ... uh, ... deluded and I would say, lazy, of that group will claim their ears are all the test equipment they require. More accurately I would say, A/B/X tests are more suited to a decision on whether a specific soda flavor is preferred but not so well suited to a decision of whether there is a difference in audio components. The generic argument for such a statement is the issue of what is being judged and how is it being judged when we make comparisons between audio components. For example, when we engage in the sort of "listening" used in audio comparisons, we are not using the same perceptual skills and clues we use when we listen for musical enjoyment. "Critical listening" is a different bird than is listening for enjoyment or listening for the intent of the artist/composer. This is more a function of "perception" than it is "listening" and perception is a highly individual and not commonly shared-with-the-crowd experience when we are discussing music. Perception is what occurs after our ear drum has been wiggled by the compression/rarefaction element of "sound". Perception of a musical event occurs in a distinctly different area of the human brain than does the type of listening we engage in when we are listening "critically". This has been proven to be consistently true by the cognitive sciences and the development of brain scans which indicate which areas of the brain are being used during specific activities. Many (if not all) of these results indicate music is a deeply seated ancestral "switch" for the most primitive portions of our brain. Thus we listen to music in a manner which is vastly dissimilar to how we "light up" our brains when we are choosing "A" vs "B".



While it shifts the focus of this argument a bit, you might want to go back to the article I linked to in the "Integrated amplifiers" section entitled "Are You a Sharpener or a Leveler?" As I mentioned this article comes not from the audio field but from the very quickly advancing field of cognitive sciences. These issues of perceptual evidences tend to support many of the more contentious debates between the subjectivists and the objectivists in audio. These recently discovered evidences do not, however, seem to move virtually anyone from an opinion they have previously held as indisputable fact.



I believe we (you and I) have also covered some of the territory which exists in the home audio market relating to the lack of conventional standards more or less common to commercial or "professional" audio. Connectors and cables, for example, do not always meet the very basic convention of a proper 75 Ohm termination in the home audio market. Input and output impedances are all over the field in home audio and comparisons then suffer due to a basic lack of consistent circumstances. Speakers have, in general, become highly reactive in the home audio market. Thus, any cable which deviates from a "good match" on tehcnical terms will certainly influence the sound - and the quality of the music - we perceive in our listening room. If we throw out the simplest of impedance matches required for good signal transfer in favor of a more aesthetically sellable cable/connector set, then we cannot expect a cable to not influence the signal - for good or bad. Does this then simply make high end audio cables just another form of tone control? That is, of course, the claim made by the uber-objectivists. In some, if not many cases, I would have to say that is true. But simply stating that opinion is far too simple and ignores many of the widely perceived conclusions made by a group of well educated listeners who have litle in common with each other than their shared interest in high quality music reproduction in the home. Once the variables have been satisfactorily minimized, then what are we to make of consistent results which suggest one or the other opinion? Here again we have the unfortunate circumstance of many who engage in the debate simply ingoring the basic requirements of a well designed test. And that occurs on both the audiophile and the "professional" side of the ledger. This comes back to the idea that if something measures one way but sounds another, the wrong value has been measured.

The high end of consumer audio has been acccused of many things by the uber-objectivists - most of them offensive and lacking any more than personal vitriol useful to promote one's self - due to the claims made by the cable manufacturers for their own products. Many of these claims for a superior cable fly in the face of what have long been accepted as fact based theory by the numbers-above-all-else crowd. Yet the congitive sciences are once again suggesting a few of these commonly accepted "facts" might be in need of some modern day adjustments in order to correlate more completely with what the various "brain-sciences" are now discovering. Unfortunately, this has led to many myths which are quickly picked as their own set of "facts" by the subjectivists. Nothing makes this more evident than a quick look at the proliferation of cable "manufacturers" in high end audio, many of whom are doing little more than repackaging someone else's thinking and, at times, someone else's products as their own.

Virtually any "discussion" of cables and their effects on a high quality audio system will include the clearly outrageous claim by the uber-objectvists that some unknown and unnamed (unname-able?) "$15,000" cable is pure snake oil being foisted upon an ignorant yet accepting audience by that most vile and despicable of charlatans - the cable purveyors. Indeed, it is! Just not as thought by the person who claims such a disservice is being performed by such a non-existent cable. Most of the claims of snake oil and charlatan-ism made by the objectivists are being made by people who; 1) have never used the product which they are claiming as a fraud or, B) have made up their mind about the outcome of any tests they might - but probably won't - engage in. Few, if any of the objectivists, will recognize or admit to being a possible victim of the now well known effect of the "no-cebo". If you have made up your mind something will or will not occur, then you are 99% of the way towards finding your thinking to be true. That's fine ... for them. The problem occurs when these believers/non-believers insist all others live by their opinions.



I could go on for several pages here and still never address your questions regarding cables themself. For many it is no longer about the possible affect/effects of cables but rather about them being right. Therefore, any discussion of cables is doomed to fail. Sorry, Bernie, but I see little value in engaging in yet another thread about cables. It's somewhat like intentionally sticking your head in the fan blades of your car.



I will close with the admission I fall on the subjectivist side of the argument and I do make my own cables in many cases. High quality cables do not need to be expensive, IMO, but that does not mean high priced cables are anything but what they claim to be. Cables do not suddenly become "snake oil" when they cross some mythological but unstated (unstate-able?) price point.

High quality cables either serve to affect the signal or they do not. If they do, then the price is relative to the system and its ability to be transparent to changes within the system.

Poorly designed cables are not the issue of whether a cable affects the signal despite the fact many cables, connectors and circuits in the home and commercial fields are less than high quality themself.

Whether or not cables affect the signal is for the individual to determine. What you perceive in music is not what I perceive and there can be room for many opinions. No one needs to be right or wrong other than for their own system and their own perceptions - what I have repeatedly called "priorities" on this forum. I have no interest in insisting you adopt my priorities and I hope no one insists I must adopt what they perceive as priorities that I now must "listen for". As long as we can accept that we all perceive music in different ways - which, IMO, should not be that difficult - we can all find value in what we own or would prefer to own. Peace will remain on the forums and no one will raise their blood pressure simply due to a disagreement from another listener.



I hestitate to even address some of the technical issues you raise regarding cables as, once they are addressed, the debates resume. And, having been through this more than once, I know that way lies a fan blade.



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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17530
Registered: May-04
.


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/opinion/sunday/why-listening-is-so-much-more-t han-hearing.html
 

Bronze Member
Username: Berniew

Perth, Western Aust... Australia

Post Number: 20
Registered: Oct-12
Hmmm. Most vexing.

Well, I hope that if we get any responses at all, they'll keep my original intent in mind, and just give us a sample of their own experiences, unaffected by such prejudices.

I certainly understand the problem as you describe it. I've seen that type of war erupt over things you'd never expect people to get so excited about, and thanks for the warning that this is a topic so prone to that.

All I'll try to do now is to say again, I'm hoping to get people's own experiences and perspectives. They're welcome to be as subjective or objective as you please. I HOPE someone might be able to say that they really do perceive some difference between two models, but I don't care if they think that way because they tested it with measurement equipment, or if it became obvious they'd concluded whatever they will solely due to bias. I'm just hoping to get any idea of just WHAT people think.

Anyway, I've got this to contribute. One of the models I make to order is designed for DJ's using 2 CD players. I use 4 channel microphone multicore, and arrange it into 2 stereo pairs with colour coding. I strip the outer plastic covering back far enough so that one end fans out enough to attach to 2 decks, mounted one each side of the DJ mixer and allowing for some slack. The other end has much shorter fans, intended for the mixer end as they'll be plugging in quite close to each other. Then there's coloured PVC tubing over each core, and I use adhesive-lined heat-shrink tubing from about 3 cm each side of the end of that sleeving I've cut away. One pair is covered in blue plastic, the other black so you can easily identify the lines for each deck. Then I use coloured RCA plugs, red and white for right and left.

It's mic cable so there are two conductors and a shield for each line. Since it's not a balanced connection, I solder 1 conductor to the tip terminal of the RCA, the other I twist together with the shield and solder to the shield terminal.

It makes for a good, heavyweight, solid cable. That suggests another reason to pay more for the cables you want to use: reliability and durability. These get used in the field, and a working mobile DJ might connect and disconnect these many times in a working week. This is one case where we judge a cable not just by its sheer audio performance; if anything that's secondary after practical concerns.

Performance-wise, there is certainly something to say here. Many DJ's use the cheapest, lowest-grade domestic-type RCA or "hi-fi" cables for this job. And they're the guys who make my heart sink when I've got to do work with them, as it's a pretty good sign they don't know much about their equipment or what they're doing with it.

Those cables are VERY bad... DJ mixers usually have a stereo LED ramp to monitor levels, usually just for the master output. It's commonplace with such crappy cables to observe around 6dB difference in levels from left to right. The side with lower levels must be losing a lot of voltage to be so far down; it says something about bad crimping and the lowest grade components for it to do that.

When you swap over to mine, or to any other improved grade of cable, suddenly both sides are even again on the stereo level meter... the losses are greatly reduced, and whatever loss there is is now much more even across Left and Right. And for what it's worth, most DJ's will say they think it sounds "better" with these cables. Under their usual working conditions, it's not easy to pick improvements gained by upgrading equipment (using the same type of gear, only better), but I'd agree; those $2 leads are SO bad, you really do notice an obvious difference when you switch to something more professional.

I sell a lot of these cables, because the DJ's like the design. They EXPECT an improvement in sound quality, and oddly enough I'd say almost everyone agrees they're getting it, however you wish to define that.

So that's one case where an "upgrade" really was obvious, measure on an instrument (a crappy DJ mixer LED ramp) and to everyone's ears. It's possible you need such a radical step up to notice it.

One more cable story... when I first started selling cables, I'd got tired of using old, unreliable cables. I was working in-house permanently at one venue (I kept that job until a few months ago, and had been there almost 12 years when I left). I asked for some new ones, and the sound hire company supplied me with a dozen brand new, but cheap and low-grade, made-in-China mic leads. The sound of them I simply couldn't judge against others, not in that environment with all the noise and a speaker system that just wasn't capable of delivering that much subtlety over that much noise.

In particular, the old mic cables were making noise. They'd crackle and pop if they were disturbed (and all that took was for the players to walk around on the stage), and I dreaded to use phantom power... BANG! Most annoying of all though, and all too common, was leads simply ceasing to work. THat's usually because the connector becomes work, damaged or bent, and same goes for the sockets they plug into.

I decided to make an entirely new set, so for the first time I bought a bulk real of cable, and enough connectors to get a trade discount. (I started the business with the leftovers). I wanted at least 16, as we had a 16 channel mixer. While I was at it, I took the opportunity to make leads for certain tasks, especially short ones for specific instruments. I knew, for example, the bass player always set up in the same corner, so I made a lead 3m long... enough to run down to the floor from the stage box, across the ground then up to a head on 2 cabinets. Especially, I wanted a set of short ones the right length to do a drum kit. And for the kick drum and snare, it suited me to have a right-angle plug at the mic end. I made my ideal set of mic cables for my purposes at the time, and it was pretty expensive.

So I made them all in one batch and took them to the gig. That way, I replaced all the old ones in one go & didn't have to worry about any old leads at all; the entire set was brand new. I didn't have Immediately, and I really mead from the 1st note, I was in for a big, pleasant surprise about sound quality: it really sounded... we all agreed on that.

That came as a big shock. I never intended these cables to upgrade overall sound quality, but they did. I just made them so they wouldn't click, pop and hiss, or break down in the middle of the set and force me to crawl around replacing it, never fun on a crowded stage while the band's still trying to play and the audience is all around. Nobody expected to notice a change in the mix. I DIDN't change the mix at all, but it sounded quite different. Everyone in the band noticed.

So here's where we could get into the problems Jan was talking about... who perceives what. Even then before "audio ethics" concerned me at all (which it still doesn't much), I knew this wasn't something I could expect people to agree about. SOMETHING was much better, but what?

But nobody was expecting a difference, yet we all stil noticed it independently, so to me at least that's some sort of proof that it really happened. If I'd gone around and told everyone in the band, "hey listen out for the better sound now I've got new cables", then a placebo effect would probably apply and people would hear what I told them they'd hear... probably because they weren't that confident, and wanted to agree with the guy they think knows what he's talking about (the sound man, talking about his own field). This was cool because nobody *expected* to hear it; I never said anything about new cables until I came raving and babbling about how good it was, after the 1st set. (The drummer knew, because he spotted my funky new right-angle mic lead on his snare while setting up).

But I also told another sound engineer friend. At the time I made all my cables with Canare L4ES-6 cable, or "star-quad" 4-conductor balanced mic cable. He told me his opinion before the gig... he doesn't like star-quad, and the L2T2 models "sounded much better", in his own words. At the end of the gig, there he was shaking his head looking disappointed. "Shouldn't have used star-quad", he told me. He was sorry for me, wasting so much time and effort on the wrong stuff. But I and all the band were talking about how surprised we were that a mere set of mic cables made all the difference.

So yes, indeed Jan, I do agree that people have fixed, pre-conceived prejudices about much equipment, and cables are one of the thorniest prickle patches to cross.

BUT!!!... I could certainly hear a difference. And I could say this about the upgrade:
- it was proven that we could all tell the difference before and after I brought the new leads in, because they all heard a difference without being told there'd be one
- all the pops, bangs and noise did vanish, as I hoped. THAT is an upgrade in itself. So was the fact that they stopped failing during the show
- it was worth it also to have the right length and type of cables for each job. For example, there's a funky product for vocal mic cables: a plug for the mic with an on-off switch built in. This is great for backing vocals, if they only sing certain songs. Best of all for drummers, as their mic usually just sits there picking up noise. If they get used to having a switch, you solve that problem (the mics we use don't have switches). Great also to have that right angle cable, and every one being the right length eliminates coils of excess length lying around. As I expanded the set, I included more long ones for when they're needed.

More contentiously:
A group of people (the band and the venue management) with an interest in improving the gig all noticed the difference, and agreed it was an improvement. All this without telling them beforehand, and that seems pretty reliable.

I believe the actual difference was just lower noise and distortion, but that was mostly because the old ones were just old and in poor condition. THat's a lesson too; they were mostly good brands of parts, and quite well made, but made too long ago given the abuse and rough treatment they'd had for so long. THAT'S a case for an upgrade... surely nobody would say that's not a reasonable situation to expect an improvement from.

OK but as to my friend saying 2 core just sounds better than star-quad, I don't agree, but even at the time I wasn't about to take that particular bait. I think he was hoping for one of those esoteric debates over something subtle, loaded with personal opinion and complete with name-dropping and ego-stroking. I can imagine a lot of THAT going on, in those forums you mentioned.

So that's the type of story I was hoping people could tell me with their home audio equipment... "I used to use brand X, model Y, but when I shifted to Z I really noticed the improvement" . Or, "I wasn't satisfied that my new type B's were any better than the old A's". Opinionated, subjective and prejudiced as they may be, I'm hoping people might have some anecdotes to relate.

But thanks Jan for pointing out the pitfalls. I've read a few sample topics over at Hydrogen and I think I'll keep my distance, for all the reasons you stated. Those guys are what I would call over-opinionated... In fact only a minority seemed that way, but they're the vocal ones and that's who's voice you're likely to hear first.

I've found this forum, as you say, to not have a heck of a lot of contributors. A lot of people come here looking for advice, but there's only so many people able to give it. I'd LIKE to see more of them come back and add their experiences to the forum, and tell us how their purchase, installation or whatever worked out for them, what they'd do different, and basically whatever they reckon about audio.

I've tried asking to get people into it, but there's not a lot of people no matter how you look at it.

A pity.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17532
Registered: May-04
.

It's interesting having you on the forum, Bernie. It reminds me of the time I spent in live sound reinforcement and recording studios. That reminds me just how far apart the high end consumer audio world and the "professional" audio market remain. While a roadie is concerned about durability, the high end audio enthusiast is concerned about RCA plugs which at one point became so over built they had a tendency to pull RCA jacks out of the back panel of components.

For the most part home users are not thinking about pulling their cables every evening or even every few months. In fact, too many home users don't even bother to do basic housekeeping on their system and cables can sit in the same location for years without being disturbed. So high end cable manufactutrers began using gold plating on their connectors for its benefit of very slow oxidation. The cables for the lazy*sses is how they should be marketed since gold is relatively low on the conductivity scale. Bad for sound quality unless you don't touch your cables for ten years.

Very few people in high end audio even understand the connector itself is still a brass body with a nickle and tin plating underneath that shiny gold coating. By far the majority of "high end" cables have what has derisively become known as "audio jewelry" for their connectors rather than materials and construction which will result in a proper impedance termination. You will never see an impedance spec on a high end RCA cable sold in the consumer market. All of us are crows to a certain extent and many of these crows on any side of the audio market will look at a component or a cable and assume, "That looks like it will sound good".

I know of sooooo few high end audio salespeople or buyers who could even begin to explain what might make for a good cable design other than to spout out some marketing slogan they've read from some cable manufacturer's advertisements. And that is typically gobbledy-gook that is far less important than simple impedance correct terminations. That's also true on the pro side. Since time is money in pro audio, a cable that works is far more valuable than a cable that is operationally correct. In a way, I would have liked to know why your one guy thought two conductor was superior to four conductor. Higher capacitance? I doubt it.


I came to the "pro" side of the market after years spent in the high end market - the opposite of what you are doing. And I was astounded by the attitudes and opinions of most techies I ran into on the pro side. I met a few who, like me, had begun on the home audio, high end side but then began selling to the "how many channels does it have?" rack ears crowd. And I ran into more than a few of the roadies/techies who had fairly modest home gear but approached it as if it was intended to be disassembled each night and packed up for the trip to the next city.

Of course, "pro" sound covers a lot more territory than does "high end". While a $249 NAD integrated amp is considered entry level into high end consumer audio due to its attention to musical values important to most audiophiles, Peavey is considered entry level into "pro" sound because it can withstand a good deal of abuse and continue to work - not well, but it will work. "Pro" sound loves buttons and knobs, sliders, pots and switches with LED banks while "high end" eschews anything with tone controls and believes LED's affect the sound quality.

I sold Tascam to the pros because they could knock it down - literally - box it up, kick it down the stairs and to the loading ramp then have the loading truck run over the case because they were using it as a wheel chuck and it would still perform at the next gig. When I sold an audiophile a tape deck we would take it into the shop and set the tape path, head alignment and record bias for a specific tape type and then carefully box it up for the trip home on the backseat (wrapped in a towel) where it would be placed on a shelf with care and not disturbed for a year when it was due for a regular check up - save the box for the return trip. Switchcraft, Neutrix, Canare and Belden are familiar names to the sound reinforcement market while they are never mentioned by most on the home side. "Snakes" are common on a stage while in the home we'll run Litz cables or multi-conductor ribbon type cables to one component.

Overall, I can't think of many places where the two markets overlap in attitude. And that, of course, is a point of contention with audiophiles because we are using the recordings made mostly by the "time is money" folks. Any recording that has used less than twelve mics on a single drum set is considered "minimalist" to most audiophiles.





You say you sell cables which you've made up yourself. Not to sell you short but, aren't "your cables" just made from some other company's products and you strip off the outer dielecric to replace it with shrink wrap and colored tape?




You post, "It makes for a good, heavyweight, solid cable." What in your opinion makes a "heavyweight, solid" cable a "good" cable? Ignore the fact you might be using a cable from, say, Canare or Belden. I'm more interested in your atttitudes toward "solid" and "heavyweight". What makes those two values desireable in a cable for you?


I was selling high end audio back in the late 1970's when Monster Cable first showed up as an "audiophile" speaker cable. Interconnects and other lines of cables soon followed. So I've been around "high end" cables for decades and I have experimented with numerous brands and construction types. I've seen many cable companies come and go. I've formed my own opinions regarding cables and how they should be constructed and so, as Ihave mentioned, I've made up my own for many of my uses. And I have been aware of the "pro" side of the ledger since 1980 when I became the sound supervisor/master electrician at a local regional theatre with an active recording studio and a touring company. So I was rather amused about three years ago when I was attending a local guitar show and saw a booth for a "high end" cable retailer. The gentleman manning the booth was selling the cables simply on the idea they sounded "better". He had no idea why they should sound better, no clue as to how they were built or what materials were being used. Just, they sound "better". And they did. It took just the first two bars of "Stormy Monday" on his Telecaster with one cable and then his cable to notice a distinct difference in sound values. But, still, I had to laugh as I explained to him my background and history of selling high end cables for the last thirty years. He responded as if he had no idea the audiophile market was selling better cables or that it was a function of materials and construction which contributed most of what he was selling as "better". My local Guitar Center sells Monster Cables with a lifetime guarantee of replacement as the selling point, not that they will sound better or even different than the half the price cables hanging right next to the Monsters.



So reading your post I see you arguing mostly against cheap, throw away cables and for a somewhat "better" quality of physical construction. I am, therefore, interested in your idea of "better". I'll accept for the moment your claims of better sound. I would have you note that what musicians and techies often think of as "better" has little to no relation to what "audiophiles" consider to be "better". Tell me then what makes a cable design better for you. Heavyweight? Why? What's wrong with lighweight?


Do you concern yourself with cable materials? You keep mentioning the "plastic" dielectric. "Plastic" is a very generic term. Do you think about the potential affects of various dieletric materials? Do you consider the circuit effects of a twisted pair and not a parallel legs cable? Is capacitance and inductance of importance to you when you think about a "good", "better", "best" cable for a job?


High end cable design in the consumer market is a studied mix of electrical engineering along with an understanding of metalurgy, plastics, antenna and transmission theory and a few lesser values tossed in. In a digital coax cable length can be of significance if an incorrect distance results in reflected signals back into the source compnent.


"SOMETHING was much better, but what?"


Tell me what you believe was "better" beyond the fact you got rid of some cheap and probably defective cables. I can think of no high end consumer cable which would tolerate a six dB variation between channels.




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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17533
Registered: May-04
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http://www.stereophile.com/cables/audience_au24e_cables/


http://www.stereophile.com/content/2012-recommended-components-cables


http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/analysis-plus-big-silver-oval-speaker-c able-tas-215/


http://www.ultraaudio.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=244:syner gistic-research-element-copper-tungsten-and-copper-tungsten-silver-interconnects -and-speaker-cables&catid=37:full-length-reviews&Itemid=2



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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17534
Registered: May-04
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Several years ago The Absolute Sound magazine performed a cable comparison which resulted in more than a few (mis)conceptions regarding high end audio cables being knocked for a loop. Among the ten "speaker cables" being compared, one of the overall "best sounding" cables happened to be a Black and Decker outdoor extension cord. At 100' @ $39 it was certainly the least costly cable in the comparison and one of the least expensive cables ever reviewed by TAS. It was included in the comparison after a TAS staff member saw the cable being used at an audio show in the Quad (electrostatic speaker and components) room.

What was even more interesting is the B&D cable was not the one being used that first day by the Quad rep. His cables had been misplaced in transit and he needed a quick replacement for the opening day of the show. He went to a near by Home Depot and picked up their version of an orange and black outdoor extension cord. Now the cables cost $25 @ 100'. According to the Quad rep as interpreted by the TAS staff member, most copper cables of even the lowest cost are now being produced with significantly higher grades of materials than were common just a few years ago. According to the write up, most copper will be near oxygen free (though there are different levels of contamination*) down into the most basic cable lines. The dielectric of the B&D and the HD cables was a decent quality poly material. The cables were a twisted conductor set with three legs, one of which was simply snipped off for termination to a loudspeaker. 14 AWG and stranded for flexibility. Bare wire was used for connections at both ends.

And while TAS suggested the cheapo cables were possibly not quite as smooth or as detailed as were the cables costing 10 to 40 times as much, they were, none the less, quite acceptable for most listener's needs.


Well, certainly there were more than a few TAS advertisers who were not entirely pleased with the results of that comparison. TAS did, however, print and stand by their conclusions. This began a somewhat short lived rush to find the least expensive cable which would provide "acceptable" results.

http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/whitelightning/moonshine.html


I will advise you though, Bernie, if you try this experiment, beware of certain things. First, these articles are now several years old and, since neither B&D, HD nor WM are in the business of selling decent quality audio cables, there is no certainty they have not switched their suppplier for one with lower cost materials. Second, not all extension cords will provide "acceptable" audio quality. "Acceptable" being even more loosely defined than is "better", I have no idea what you might find to be "acceptable". However, after several tries with different extension cords, I can say the HD cables provided the best results, by a rather significant margin, over many other company's products. You should also note that the 16AWG Yardmaster cable is a bit of a booger to solder up to a Switchcraft RCA.


Also, while I am using the HD cable as my speaker cable in the HT room, virtually everything said about the quality of materials and construction in the extension cords goes against my basic beliefs in how a high quality cable should be constructed.


http://mapleshadestore.com/feedback_ultrathinanalogdigitalic.php

http://www.tnt-audio.com/accessories/bullet_vs_nextgen_e.html

http://www.tnt-audio.com/accessories/anti_cables_e.html

http://kimber.com/reference/basicelectronics/tablecont.htm




* I have a copy of a (now defunct) "Listening" magazine published in the mid 1990's which details the variations in copper purity used in interconnect and speaker cables. The article's author is someone I respect for their knowledge of both home and commercial audio. His background was as a EE and he had an audiophile's ear.

The intent of the article was explicity to detail the affects of copper purity at a time when "six 9's" was a commonly used descriptive phrase bandied about in high end audio cable intended for the audiophile. While the article briefly covered the effects perceived when various dielectrics, the size of each individual "grain" of copper and basic cable construction techniques were somehow altered, the focus was on the copper's purity above all else. Identical cables were constructed with the only (known) variation being the purity of the copper itself. The writer then detailed the improvements perceived when fewer and fewer impurities were allowed into the extrusion and drawing processes of the raw copper.

Naturally, the cost difference was expotential to the purity of the materials. The "best" cable was far above the price of the "acceptable" cable. This very high level of purity is well beyond what you would expect from an outdoor extension cord, yet the article was an enlightening read. The conclusion was a certain need for a minimum amount of copper purity if the cable was to meet audiophile standards.



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Bronze Member
Username: Berniew

Perth, Western Aust... Australia

Post Number: 21
Registered: Oct-12
"Good, better, bad, worse" here, as I'm using them, must imply something to do with application... it's a short-hand for something like, with regards to what concerns you the most in that context. Straight performance does, in my mind, also define a "better" cable; it's just that in different applications, the "best" choice emphasises different criteria. You know that full well, of course; here's a little essay about some of those differences in my application. (By the way, starting this thread, I acknowledge I have only rudimentary knowledge about the criteria applicable to home audio cables).

"You say you sell cables which you've made up yourself. Not to sell you short but, aren't "your cables" just made from some other company's products and you strip off the outer dielecric to replace it with shrink wrap and colored tape?"

Essentially, that's about right. For example, guitar leads are a staple for me. So, I buy reels of the stuff, and quantities of different models of jack plugs etc. I'll cut lengths, strip the outer layer off, de-braid the shielding, do my prep, solder and assemble. I don't like tape, and I do put insulation over the joints. For that I prefer that silicon rubber tubing, because if the cable gets badly treated, say yanked out of a socket repeatedly over time, it might just help hold it together. Heat shrink, yes, mostly for making labels. "Gig" cables in some places I've worked have to endure, literally, drinks spilled in them, kicking, treading on and all kinds of disasters, as you'd know. So as primitive as it sounds, that sort of construction is valued.

If I wanted to actually manufacture cable and connectors, I'd need qualified engineers in on the design. Indeed, I'm an assembler, not a manufacturer and definitely not a designer. What I have is cottage industry level self-employment as a supplement to my living. It's fun, too, if you're into that sort of thing.

I've also made and sold snakes with stage/wall boxes including the metalwork, and a bit of Cat 5 stuff including a couple of big-ish patch bays. Not my speciality, but I can assemble that type of thing. To my own surprise, I had a bit of a hit with all-XLR patch bays for local studios. I had a few customers who loved them; one guy bought 7. Not the way I'd go myself if I had a studio, but he loved that chunky, industrial, bulky feel. And I charged a lot of hours to make them; each was 4U high with 40 points, as opposed to a 1U bay with up to 96 bantam jacks, but it's what he wanted. I did a fussy job. Each had 10x 4-way tails made of expensive Canare braided multicore hanging out the back to go to the racks. The last one had a 54-pin LK multipin to accept the snake from his recording room, and others for return lines and all kinds of stuff. Truly a one-off, and the guy keeps calling me up to make new things. He likes that type of gear, and his studio is productive. He bought every cable he uses from me, and spent more than I make in a year.

But yes, other firms' products, other people's designs. I just stick 'em together. I do it well, too.

I've never earned a degree. What I have done, though, is a little testing. When starting out, I bought different types of connectors and cable and made plenty of samples. I chose certain of the musicians I knew and gave away cables to test and try. Together we auditioned/tested many combinations of parts, and that's how I decided on the products I sell. I still check with those people to see how those same cables are doing now. Some are 10 years old and in constant use.

I did some testing; I wrapped cables around CRT TV's and motorized things, added gain and measured noise. I used some basic test equipment and made measurements & notes and observed things I did and didn't fully understand. I set up listening tests and invited people I wanted input from... I included myself, too. And I noticed certain traits in common with the cables that the testers said they preferred. That way, I finalised my products. I read articles and wrote emails, and tried to learn what I should be testing for... but if someone liked a cable and wanted to buy it, that was more important than its measurements. It was all years ago and I've forgotten enough of it that I'm reluctant to enter into discussions of all the details I covered at the time... I accept my limitations.

For me, my goal was to give the customers what they wanted, not what I thought they should be using, although there is an element of that, as some of them didn't know. These "less educated" guys are trying to advance their careers (as players) as rapidly as possible, and don't have 30 years of experience behind them (neither do I) in which to decide their preferences in so much detail that they look for certain materials in a jack plug, for example. But they still need to shop with confidence... they want to know that they can spend their money on a product, and it's going to do the job satisfactorily. So some of them don't know *exactly* what they want, and need to trust someone like me or a retailer to supply something suitable, in lieu of their own knowledge. That means I've got to use my own judgement on their behalf, and basically sell them my experience in spec'ing those cables.

One of my testers was a gun bass player called Roy, one of the best around. I really wanted him using my stuff, so I gave him a full set, free. Maybe a $1000 worth in sales. And it was worth it; I had a few customers who wanted what Roy uses. A good sale for me might be 3 guitar leads, 2 more for FX loop, half a dozen pedal patches, speaker leads etc... $700 plus. I got several like that because certain players already used my products, so I'm well aware that not only tech spec's sell equipment.

As noted, the important criteria in this market are all different. Durability and reliability are top of the list, usually; they hate having to interrupt a set to fish out a spare and locate and replace a cable that's gone bad, and that's certainly common enough. It sells cables for me. Part of my spiel is that if you buy cheap to average stuff, and you're gigging and rehearsing several times a week, the life-span of a guitar lead is maybe 6 months. Buy one like mine, and it will last years, and though they're more costly to buy, in fact they work out cheaper over time because you only have to buy them once. I sit down to assemble them by hand and have to pay myself adequately for that time, so my products aren't cheap. I cannot be cheaper than a mass-production line in China at their sort of volumes, and I don't want to be. No margin. I tell them I compete on quality, not price. And qualit-IES, as in being suited to the task. I can make up whatever they ask for; silent switching plugs, or any length with any combination of connectors, a choice of colours, their name and phone number heat-shrunk onto the plug's case... a loom to connect multiple specific devices at each end, or whatever. I've contracted to wire up entire recording studios and I can only think of a couple of other individuals in my city who'd offer that, although a couple of small firms can too.

When I say "heavyweight", it's another shorthand. It implies a difference over fragile, thin cables with moulded plastic connectors you can't disassemble and a few measly strands of wire. They usually are actually lighter as a side consequence. My customers like to see thick cables with more strands of copper inside (if they ever even see inside). Mass is good; it suggests robustness, to survive accidents & wear & tear. I've had a few people approach me to repair Planet Waves cables, a mid-level retail brand of instrument cable. After inspecting a couple I decided I didn't want to do that. There's not much wire in them and they're weak; the leads fail because with flexing they break the wires. You can buy them with switches (to mute them before plugging to a DI box), but the switches fail. "Better" wouldn't do that, especially as they market them for reliability.
Those 4-way DJ cables look and feel robust; there's fibre filler in there that helps it survive pulling, and that pleases them. They're about 10mm OD and they're difficult to kink; my construction can handle flexing and the buyers like what they see. I haven't seen them break their wires under normal use, unlike some frail off-the-shelf models.

"Better" in this market means these things before it means electrical performance. That's the context. I do know that to design a high performance audio cable, you consider the factors you mention: I wouldn't like to market myself that way without at least consulting with an electrical engineer. And other professionals too; absolutely, dielectric type has a bearing. Cables act like filters, like antennae and they do other things most people don't consider. I know they're not just a piece of wire. Some of the customers suspect that, and they want it taken into account for them. I, in turn, can only do that by buying reputable components myself, and testing the result, in the limited way I described. But I also believe, it's enough for me and my buyers. And I WOULD advise someone to shop elsewhere, if they really did need to know about electrical characteristics I couldn't describe to them or understand myself. But that hasn't happened yet. (I once was asked to make video cables for professional use. I could assemble them, but I had to get help from someone more knowledgeable to select the parts to buy, to meet their technical spec).

I suppose, at my volumes, I'd develop "real" high performance cables still by selecting other firms' products and assembling them (as is probably done by most brands anyway), but I'd have to consult with an expert. My side of it would be to think about manufacturing, production, quality and sales, but design must be under the advisement of a specialist. I sell to a market successfully to particular criteria which I do have enough expertise in; I haven't got that for audiophile criteria.

But you can do it my way safely enough in my own market. Belden, Canare and the like have done the R&D work already. They sell cable that was designed to meet criteria suited to my market, and they have those engineers. I am, in part, a reseller of that work.

If I tried to sell on the basis that my products gave advanced performance because they're expert designs, I'd have a problem. They're not, and I know it. But I'm not trying to do that.

(But you know what? I'm starting to think I actually prefer the interconnects I made myself, in my system. Is that my expertise? No, it's coincidence. But a happy one, for me. It's not prejudice either; I'd rather sell that pair than keep them myself.)

So "better" cables are only "better" or otherwise in the proper context. A new guitar cable is not better for its intended use than the one you had before, if it gives preferred electrical and tonal performance, but falls apart in the middle of the first gig.

An example of how well my method works for me: many times so far, a guitarist might swap his old, cheap cable for one I made, and it's obvious there's a difference in sound, and all I've asked agree they prefer the one I sold them, for its tone in their rig. Are mine "the best" sonically? No way. And what technical factors made it "better?" I'm not going to attempt to rattle off a list of criteria; I know some of those but not with confidence. Subjectively, I don't think it's relevant for me to try and say, because it's my customers' opinion that counts and I assume that varies. But, it DOES count that they're popular, and that whatever they hear, they want to buy them.

I'd probably buy interconnects if, say, 70% of people preferred one model over another; that's where I was going with this thread (IF anyone had answered!). If I could also discover that a type always had measurably lower distortion than another, I'd take that on board too. But lists of data beyond that in themselves don't help me much with cables. Am I contradicting myself when I said I was interested in these for speakers? I don't think so; I don't understand raw numbers for a cable's electrical properties as well as speaker performance tests. It's a matter of what knowledge I'm able to apply.

For my products, do I completely ignore electrical engineering design then, and just go for what works? Not at all... I just have to be a bit basic about it, because that's my limitation. I originally did a diploma courses, years ago, to get me into sound (this was a *sound* course, but it also covered a little audio). There and elsewhere, I learned enough about what shielding does, and twisted conductor pairs, and what star quad does, and the nature of the different interferences, to have *enough* working knowledge to make usable, saleable commercial guitar and microphone leads out of the components available; I'm confident to select from those to make products that meet my customers' needs. I don't claim to know what an electrical engineer knows, but I'm not trying to do what they do, either.

Regarding cables for my home audio equipment, I'd say I've got a reasonable layman's knowledge of what I'm looking at on the market. I'd still have to consult with an expert to understand new developments or esoteric details, and I'm not kidding myself that I'm "expert" myself. I'm at least less ignorant than some I've met who think they know a lot, though. I'd feel confident to choose cables by listening tests too, with all the mixing I've done. I like to be armed with some knowledge if I can, though.

I started this thread because I'm all too aware how little I know about what really makes high end audio cables what they are. I once learned some of that theory, but I've forgotten most of it because the fact is, I've had almost no cause to apply it. You could argue, validly, that in selling cable products I've got exactly the right application, but no buyer ever once asked me about its electrical characteristics, or dielectric materials, its capacitance... they expect me to know enough to sell them a cable they'll be satisfied with. And they are... new customers come to me recommended by old ones and by music stores who aren't set up to do custom work. I think they probably also understand I'm not an electrical engineer with a complete lab and all the resources that a large firm would employ to develop a class-leading new product from scratch. I'm not trying to do THAT either.

It's also a comfort to realise that of the few people and stores I know who will assemble cables, I still get recommendations, and musicians often tell me that after many years the leads they bought from me are the only ones that still work. They sometimes say they prefer them sonically too.

I see your point and I don't deny it. I wondered if you were challenging me in that I might come across as if I had more knowledge than I do. I don't think I do that. I do sometimes say I know enough to help out other posters, but I try to do that with an awareness of my limitations. From the beginning, I've tried to be clear that I'm brand new to home audio, and I can only go so far as to adapt such knowledge I've got that overlaps this field. Strictly practical only. But in live sound I'm well established. Even in my time, though, "sound guys" never had to be the budding or actual electrical/electronic engineers they once did... the usual metaphor is you don't have to be a mechanic to drive the car. You don't even need a working knowledge of thermodynamic engineering to buy a car, either... you just ask someone who's bought one.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Berniew

Perth, Western Aust... Australia

Post Number: 22
Registered: Oct-12
"Among the ten "speaker cables" being compared, one of the overall "best sounding" cables happened to be a Black and Decker outdoor extension cord. At 100' @ $39 it was certainly the least costly cable in the comparison and one of the least expensive cables ever reviewed by TAS. It was included in the comparison after a TAS staff member saw the cable being used at an audio show in the Quad (electrostatic speaker and components) room.

What was even more interesting is the B&D cable was not the one being used that first day by the Quad rep. His cables had been misplaced in transit and he needed a quick replacement for the opening day of the show. He went to a near by Home Depot and picked up their version of an orange and black outdoor extension cord..." <snip>

HA HA! I love this so much!

I have told SO MANY people you can do this just fine. We do it all the time in commercial audio; in fact the hire company warehouse is full of speaker cables made this way, from bulk reels of similar material.

It's just magnificent that it got into the review this way... that the guy actually FORGOT the cables he'd wanted to use, and had to go with the local hardware store. AWESOME! I have done EXACTLY that myself! I even had to strip them with my teeth once. Of course, this wasn't for a trade show, but for a live event, and people were still paying to be there. In fact, the gig where I stripped extension cord with my teeth was one where we were using our best, newest stage monitors, very expensive, and they had binding posts because the supplier had modified the cab's for some reason. Production versions were all Speakon connectors.

We do use cable with twisted conductors for this, though. One of the bosses even had the company name printed on the cable on the reels. It interests me that you say this grade of stuff is improving in quality; the price of copper is high right now (though lower than it was) and there's a big cottage industry in taking copper to your local scrap metal merchants. It seems (my father tells me, who should know) that the recycling process these days has improved, and tends to make pretty nice stuff, even without going through a special process to create oxygen-free. So I would think ordinary industrial NEW copper would do a pretty good job. So long as the conductors are well separated, capacitance shouldn't be much of a problem, and a good thick run should do just fine. I guess you've seen the figures for losses given length and thickness. Scary, isn't it?)

Somewhere I mentioned the "dirty-great-hunk-of-copper" school of speaker cable design. It works, and works well enough, but I didn't really expect them to rate in a review. Nonetheless, something I would have got to in this thread would have been than I firmly believe people get sold a lot of snake oil in the guise of speaker cables.

I only paid money for a pair from my audio dealer so I'd something from the market to compare with. I've already tried something like this, and also household electrical wiring, the parallel, non-twisted type. Frankly, I can't hear a difference in anything (but I've seen it in commercial audio when it's too long or thin, wasting your watts). In theory I suppose the big problem with parallel is uncontrolled emissions inducing currents in signal leads and possibly electronics. If so, I'm not hearing it. I'm not convinced I've ever heard it audibly in live sound where I know for a fact all the rules have been broken (not by me), as in running signal leads right alongside the AC, or next to high-power speaker runs.

Just to set the record straight, I pulled the household stuff after an hour. I'm done with that now.

I've got some heavy, expensive coaxial speaker cable which I've never tried, and plan to use at home.

Canare make "star quad" speaker models, claiming that their reduce emissions by around 90% just as their s.q. mic cable rejects picking it up. (I've tested that, and concur it's radically less susceptible to interference that way). I sold a few like that, but never had my own.

And before I go to bed, look what I found: an old discussion comparing Focus 140's to Excite X16's. It's exactly what I was hoping for: someone describes the differences in the crossovers, cabs and drivers (the 160s I asked about replaced the 140's). As expected, the 140's were superior, but it seems not by so much that I hanker for an upgrade. I'm still quite satisfied with my X16's. People seem to say they like theirs, too, and if I accept their verdicts, the consensus is they're flat, detailed, accurate, have good bass depth & soundstage, and are a good buy. All of which is just what I was trying to get when I bought them.

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?cspkr&1268452496&openflup&4&4#4

Happy chappy, will sleep well.
Cheers
 

Bronze Member
Username: Berniew

Perth, Western Aust... Australia

Post Number: 24
Registered: Oct-12
OK, been doing some interconnect cable tests, and I'm surprised at the results. I started with 2 pairs to choose from, some Tara Labs Prism 200a's and my home made Canare GS-6/Neutrik ProFi RCA's, both 1.2m (4 feet). The differences between these were too subtle for me to pick, since I couldn't just switch over between them. I had to stop playback, unplug one set, connect the others and start listening. About the best I could do was pause the track at some point so it was fresher in my mind after the nearly a minute or so it took to swap over.

I figured there probably wasn't enough difference between any two decent interconnects for me to pick it under those circumstances, but now I think differently.

I borrowed a stereo pair of Kimbers, not sure of the model, but they're one of the cheaper models of the type they make with plaited-looking conductors. They have a range called Hero and this is from the range below that. There's no shield wrapping them as most other cables have, instead there's 3 wires, 2 for a conductor and one for earthing, all woven together to achieve the twisted pair for the conductor and presumably just to hold the earth in place. Fortunately for me, this was again 1.2m, so difference in length wasn't much of an issue (granted that twisted conductors need to be longer to make a finished cable of the same length... don't be picky. The idea is to compare... finished cables of the same length).

You can hear the difference with this lead, alright. The guy who loaned it, myself and a neighbour with an interest in audio all agreed, it was an obvious and non-subtle change. There's a distinct mellowing of the sound; the top end sounded attenuated, and we all heard more bottoms. The question was, was this "extra" bass just because it seemed a different balance after this loss of tops, or was there some net skewing resulting in an apparent lifting of bottoms? I vote for no bass lift, just less tops... but I'm still not sure. I also wondered if I heard deeper notes than I heard before.

Next, I've heard there's a bit of a following for interconnects made from a certain model of Mogami balanced microphone cable and some RCA plugs. I couldn't get the same plugs, but the cable is common enough with local sound companies so I got a couple of lengths, and used the same Neutrik ProFi RCA's as my other home made leads (one day I'll have to A-B different types of solder). The result is probably the interconnect cable I like most out of all I've tried. It seems to have the same frequency balance as the Tara and Canare leads I already had, but 2 of the 3 of us, self included, thought there was a small improvement in top end detail & width of soundstage. That could just mean it isn't losing as much extreme top end as the others too, but my guess was lower phase distortion (that's sheer intuition... I have no way to measure that). The 3rd tester who couldn't hear a difference knows he has some top end damage in his hearing and usually can't detect much over 10k, for whatever that's worth.

Whatever might turn out to be the cause, I could definitely hear the difference between some of these cables. The good news for me is that I now know some combinations of easily available parts that I can assemble into a decent quality set of interconnects, comparable (or to some, preferable) to pricey, commercially available products.

And I learned something else... I always thought that there would be perceivable differences when trying different interconnects, but I never expected the difference to be so much. I'd have expected lowest-cost, throw-away domestic trash leads to exhibit a big difference against higher-end stuff (otherwise, why would you buy anything expensive), and that is so, but I never anticipated such a big subjective difference between other high-grade cables. For all of these leads, they don't introduce noticeable distortion, you don't get large differences in level between channels, and they connect reliably and don't pop and crackle. After that, intuition would tell me not to expect much difference, between 2 models of good "quality" by these measures. The subjective difference can be surprisingly big, however.

And I wouldn't be surprised if the set that works best in my system isn't the ideal choice in someone else's... you'd just have to try them. I'm just so amazed that these Kimber leads, which are a respected, reputable brand, made it seem like I'd fitted an equaliser.

Mostly, I didn't like them. I don't think my system, now that the speakers are probably almost fully "played in", needs any mellowing. One reason I like them is they're detailed and spacious in the tops without harshness, which is one speaker trait I really can't stand. With the Kimbers added, it's TOO mellow. Something happened that made it sound like there was now too much bass in tracks that had sounded balanced before (I've got standard testing tracks I always use), and I'm still not sure it was just that there was seemingly less in the tops... at times, it sounded like there was a gentle slope skewing the whole response gradually downwards from low to high freq's, and not just a rolloff up high somewhere. On this system, I enjoy the capacity to boost treble so I can examine details of some of the music I like to play, and sounding sweet enough until there's quite a lot of boost. These cables just seemed to kill all that detail.

However, I've also got certain tracks I've owned and loved for years, but I just have to accept they weren't mixed terrifically and the distortion on the guitars is just ugly, and these leads actually helped. Playing those tracks counts for the few occasions I ever use a filter to cut anything from the response. I centre a parametric on about 2 or 3k, and pull maybe 3dB (Q about 1.5 to 1.8). I never use that filter any other time as it just sounds like a hole in the sound (I *think* my listening position gets a reasonably flat curve, and whatever modes there are in here, there's nothing I find noticeable or intrusive. There's probably more dips than peaks, but again, nothing drastic. I really need to run the analyser again...)

Anyway, for those rock pieces and just one album of classical, I finally enjoy the sound without EQ when I fit these leads. The album is a version of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, I think it's a 2L release, and it's in 24/96. It was the 1st hi res recording I bought, and I was disappointed because it's so thin and bright, though it's got loads of detail. With the Kimbers, now it sounds about right. But that's an aberration; I just think that album's thin and these leads are thick sounding, and combining the two just happens to combine nicely. I'm giving the cable back tomorrow and I'm not going to miss it. When I play the Vivaldi, I'll use a filter curve I set up just for playing it; I set a parametric to -6 at 20k and a very wide bandwidth so it's a long, gentle, curved roll-off starting at about 2k. Lately I've decided it needs to be more like 9 or 10dB. I do something like that in the lows but set to boost instead, but more recently I've decided one filter's enough, so I just trim the highs.

I've also noticed that I usually find MP3's to sound OK at at least 192, preferably 256k sample rate, but with the Kimbers killing the tops like that, it ends up sounding flatter, "etched" (as they say) and losing stereo image just like a much lower bitrate MP3. I've got the John Legend & the Roots "Wake Up" album at 256k; it's always sounded fine until I tried it with these leads.

So this is a chapter I'll call "Bernie learns something about interconnects" of my education in home audio. The main lesson of which would go something like this... "don't listen to people, listen to music on as much different equipment as you can, if you want to know about sound". Even supposedly educated and experienced people in that world are often pretty misguided. Trust what you learn for yourself, not what anyone tries to tell you... they'll all say different things and get you nowhere.

Cheers <swigs>
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17553
Registered: May-04
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Now you have an idea how one cable inserted into one location in one system affects your perceptions of the music you selected as review worthy. How would two cables of the same type affect that same system? How would the same cable perform in a different location within the same system? How would a system wired from front end to speakers cables with the same line of cables be affected? I appreciate the logic of only swapping one cable within a system but that makes it very difficult, IMO, to then make subjective claims for how that one cable has affected the music when there is a likelyhood the one cable is simply responding sympathetically to the rest of the system and its location within that system. What if you removed the eq from the signal chain? If the signal must pass through a component such as an eq which will present at the very least an "impedance" to the signal flow, there's reason to think that one component is capable of affecting the sound in some way even when it should aparently have a benign effect.

A friend has begun a small forum where he gets to play with equipment and write his subjective reviews of what comes through his system. Due to the fledgling nature of his forum and the fact his loan agreements are with a handful of local stores looking to get some positive reviews, his conclusions are, IMO, only relative to; first, his musical and audio priorities and, second, the limits of his own root system. Therefore, when he states a $2k component is not twice as good as a $1k component, I have to say, "Of course it's not. Price is not a linear progression relative to improved quality." When he further states that the less expensive component delivers 90% of what is heard from the higher priced product, I have to wonder if he is not merely commenting on the limitations of his root system. Would that 90% figure change had he the ability to send a far more sophisticated source component's signal through both the low and the high priced components? There's every reason to think it would - if, that is, his perceptions were attuned to the higher resolving powers of the more sophisticated system. If they were not, if he were not as interested in the realistic portrayal of, say, timbre and tone as he is in "imaging", the question becomes, how would he even notice an improved sense of tone or timbre? Since his base line system has its own limitations and he has his own group of priorities which are not likely to be similar to your's or my own, what are we to make of his pronouncements regarding the merit of any component?

One of the oldest and probably most quoted adages in audio is the simple idea that any (audio) chain is only as strong as its weakest link. And this becomes a lynchpin of subjective reviewing. Your comments regarding the "low end" cables of the Kimber line reflect yet another, more modern, bit of thinking in high end consumer audio. Quite often a reviewer is faced with a cable, component, speaker, etc. that seems to serve more as a tone control or filter at best than would be expected. Or in the case of a footer to reduce resonance in a component, there is nothing preceived as a change. It's logical to expect a system incapable of resolving the finest details which would be affected by the removal of a resonance would also not be capable of demonstrating the benefits of that footer. And, there is no doubt, far too many buyers almost expect a cable to "sound" a certain way, which leads me to think they really are looking for a BandAid to a poorly assembled system. However, is a less resolving cable such a bad idea if it is most likely going to be used in a low resolution, less accurate system? If the system were plagued by "digititus" or "transistor sound", would you possibly not want something in the system which would mitigate many of those qualities? If we can agree that we tend to own higher end components because we dislike the "less expensive sound" of, say, a mass market receiver and CD player, would a cable which "tones down" those nasties found in the mass market lines be such a bad idea? Matching "this" to "that" is, at times, an inexpensive way to make a system more listenable to the budget limited or the less experienced listener. Mating polar opposites goes against my basic tenets of system building but, at times, can be the BandAid that keeps someone from giving up entirely on high end audio. Consider though what you would expect to have as a final result when that component, cable or speaker were used in a very high resolution system. So context is quite an important thing to keep in mind when making comparisons and drawing conclusions.


Let's say someone has no experienced guidance as they set out to buying a "competent" system. Their first inclination might be to use the old rules of buying the best speaker they can afford since it is the speaker that makes the most "difference" in the system. Using those rules they might buy a $1500 speaker but only a $400 receiver and a $100 BluRay/DVD/CD player as an all in one source. Disregarding the obvious effects of the room for now, what are they likely to hear when they put their system together? Chances are they will hear the limitations of their front end as portrayed through their better than average speakers. The speakers will do exactly what their designer intended and they will show the warts as well as the pimples of the system feeding them. Out of the cables you tried, which would be your first recommendation for such a system if the listener were to complain about the "hard" and "bright" character of their system?

If we consider your hi-rez Vivaldi recording, is it thin and bright because of choices made in the process of bringing the music to market? Is it the recording venue which is to blame? Or, the recording? Possibly the equipment used to master the recording's final mixing and mastering processes? The personal preferences of the engineer in charge of production? Or, is it thin and bright because it displays some weakness in a playback system not well set up for classical music? Let's assume for the moment the argument against 44.1kHz sampling has some merit and a system set up and component selection chosen mostly for playback of Redbook Standard CD's has leaned towards not highlighting the upper frequencies. Inserting a 24/192 recording into that system with the recording having greater upper frequency extension and cleanliness might be what you are hearing as "bright", no? Or possibly your player doesn't resolve 192kHz recordings as well as another player might. And, possibly, it could be not much more than your system has been set up to make the most of your rock recordings and the balance struck by the engineers of the Vivaldi recording simply are not bent towards the most common excesses of the average rock recording. Or, say, the speaker placement and room treatments which subjectively appeal to the average rock listener are not conducive to a realistic presentation of classical music. It's always difficult to discern where a problem might actually exist when someone inserts their one hi-rez or their one classical recording into a review process. The result is they are typically commenting on that one recording's values vs the rock, jazz, hip hop, etc. they normally listen to and those comments exist in the prespective of a system set up to best portray something other than unamplified performances. Therefore, it is difficult to make assessements when the reviewer; first, isn't clear whether they are hearing the recording's limitations or, whether the reviewer has a reference for what a specific recording might "sound like". There's an argument to be made for and against using only "reference grade" recordings when doing a review such as you have attempted. For instance, if the reviewer is familiar only with the nature of classical music, are their comments relevant to the rock listener? And, certainly, we all understand that there are fewer reference points when the reviewer has used material which can only exist within a mixing board. Does a pan pot and a chorusing effects processor actually create a deeper, wider soundstage as it existed in the original studio? Or, would those deeper and wider elements ony be present after thay have been sent through the electronics of the studio? If the latter, are you not then reviewing the sound of those studio components more than the playback system's capabilities? Would the Vivaldi be more appealing if you had changed even just the speaker position in your system to be more favorable to the hi-rez source? Or, would the Kimber cable have been more to your liking if you had done a bit of set up changes to make the most of what the Kimber was presenting? Assuming the way your system exists now is optimum, in current time, leaves out the possibility you could have perceived more of what either the cable or the recording had to offer had you set out to give them the benefit of other equipment or a more complimentary set up.


So far we've addressed the notions of system matching, system set up, reference materials and personal preferences in the reviewer. Now I'd like to discuss your thinking toward diy cables. I always begin such discussions with a look at the raw materials available to the diy'er. As I've mentioned high end, consumer audio equipment - cables especially - have few of the standards found in commercial audio. That fact suggests to me that changing, say, just the connector on any cable is likely to influence the sound quality. Not only are too many of high end audio's connectors not designed for proper termination impedance, neither are the cables themself. To make matters even more complicated, the input/output impedance of most high end components will not meet a simple "correct" standard. One pre amp for instance might have an output impedance well above 2k Ohm @ 1kHz. Another would measure less than 300 Ohms. One might include a buffer circuit which maintains the circuit's values while another might be a "hairshirt" type of pre amp stripped of all non-essential elements. How then will even a properly terminated cable react to a circuit which deviates from a "proper standard"? How would the length of the cable run affect such a termination? Certain components and certain cables simply are not well suited to much more than a 1.5 meter length. On the other end, how would a low output impedance circuit react to a high impedance connector at both sending and receiving ends of the circuit? We can predict, at the very least, signal reflections which would perceptually affect time and phase information which, in turn, would tend to make most listeners conclude there is a definite tilt or coloration to the sonic fingerprint of that cable - when it is inserted into that specific circuit. The Kimber braid results in an interconnect which, according to Kimber, has very high self-shielding against RFI and EMI effects. The braid also results in a cable with higher than the norm capacitance - which, BTW, is not consistent throughout the Kimber line due to the use of various dielectrics in the upper end of the line. (You mention the overall length of the braided cable vs the others in your comparison. But, if your other cables were of the twisted pair variety, there's probably not much real world differnce in conductor length between any of the cables tested. If any of your other cables happened to be a parallel leg or ribbon type of cable, then you've traded capacitance for inductance in the cable's base impedance and that would easily account for many of the "differences" you preceived between cables.) As I see your test results, I tend to think you've made things a bit too simple for yourself. Yes, you've discovered the "differences" a cable can introduce to a system's musical presentation. But, you've done little to account for the basic rules which would dictate such changes to be inevitable. Comparing solders? You mean which mixing of tin and lead produces the best electrical signal transfer? Well, I would think a quick look at the conductivity of tin and lead would make it rather clear that neither is the ideal choice if the stated goal is to maintain maximum signal transfer of extremely delicate, low level "detail" oriented electrons. If the "correct" impedance of a connector escapes most high end cable manufacturers, the turning of a blind eye to the sonic implosion of tin and lead at the termination points is even more evident. I won't even bother to address the high end community's adherence to single ended, RCA terminated circuits. The RCA connector was created in the 1930's to make use of what would have otherwise been scrap material rejected from the construction of more "proper" termination connectors. That it still exists on some of the most expensive audio equipment is, to me, a study in how "audiophiles' start off by shooting themself in both feet and a knee to boot while searching for the utmost in "fidelty" to the source. If a recording studio informed me they ran nothing but single ended, RCA terminated cables, I doubt I'd be buying many of their recordings.

But your question of why anyone would spend more for a cable than your diy's cost is, I hope, answered in part by the very issue of system requirements. While I'm not trying to disparage your system or your perceptions, Bernie, someone with a higher resolution system or simply priorities different than your own could easily find a more "expensive" cable to provide a more satisfactory result. No? Systems are exactly that - systems. They are only as strong as their weakest link and the owner of a system which was hampered by a cable with insufficient resolution would find their system was only producing a portion of what it was capable of doing and of what they paid for. Therefore, I would not hestitate to say your cable comparison is once again only valid to your system where you swapped one cable within a system of speakers, cables, components and room. Further, your conclusions are reflective of your personal priorities - which I have no idea what they are. From what you've posted I would say you are rather high on "detail" but personally I've found too many "detail" oriented components, speakers and systems to be quite cool and analytical and not very musical at all for my tastes. That does not make your conclusions are irrelevant, it just means I would prefer to read the comments of someone with priorities closer to my own.


Now, as to cost. I've had this discussion on numerous occasions on another forum where one member was on a constant bender about the high price of audio equipment. His contention was he could buy all the constituent parts of virtually any audio component, cable, speaker, accessory, etc. and build that product for himself at a much reduced rate of investment. No one on the forum disagreed with the basic premise that it was possible - if you exclude those products which employ proprietary elements - of which there are many on the high end of consumer audio. There is a generic 1:5 ration for production cost vs reatil price which is found in most of consumer audio. What we disagreed with - and what he did not seem capable of comprehending - was the fact the designer/manufacturer/retailer of that product was in the chain for a reason. Yes, you can buy lengths of Canare or Mogami cable and you can buy Neutrix or Switchcraft connectors, solder them all together and sell them out of your car for a reduced cost when compared to the "real thing". What you cannot do, however, is create that cable or that connector on your own. You cannot design and construct from baseline raw materials a line of products which are similar, yet uniquely positioned in the market to be distinct from one another. In other words, you are not a designer and therefore, you are simply relying on the products you can buy from someone else. And for that you must include in your cost the profit made by the original designer/manufacturer of each part of your cable who in turn paid a profit to each subcontractor with whom they did business. You do not need to have employees, or a manufacturing, packaging, warehousing, shipping and sales staff. You do not need an advertising budget nor do you require "reps" to meet with both existing and prospective retailers to keep and build your business. You have no warranty on your "product" nor do you have to include in your overall costs the simple needs of business to maintain, say, insurance, overtime or vacation expenses for your employees. You do not even need to include in your manufacturing costs the basic necessities of paying for the utilities to keep the facilities up and running. But, when it comes time to upgrade your line of cables, what do you do? Buy a higher grade Mogami cable? A different connector?

Considering a basically one off, single employee, working out of your apartment and the trunk of your car enterprise, it's an easy conclusion to draw that more expensive cables are not worth the money. That, however, ignores the fact the "more expensive" cables you are comparing your product to are not one off, single employee, working as a second job businesses. Your premise ignores the fact there are actual designers and engineers who design and engineer the basic product in the first place. If you are not in a position to put up some capital and take some risks beyond saying you can wire up a patch board for one client this month, then I would hesitate to take your suggestion that anything more expensive than your diy Canares/Mogamis would be a waste of resources. There are more than a few buyers who have no equipment, no knowledge and no desire to diy. For those buyers, more expensive is simply desirable vs what they would put themself through to learn all that is required of the average diy'er.

What if, for example, it was shown your cables were responsible for a fire which destroyed a half milllion dollar studio? What if, for example, you had your cables in a few dozen studios and you required legal expenses to protect your own assets in the case of a law suit. Bernie, I've seen ventures go under for no better or worse reason than the person who began the business simply didn't think to include toilet paper, light bulbs and cleaning supplies in their budget. I am not at all certain then that "more expensive" cables might not represent a situation your "why buy more costly?" has not taken into account.



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Bronze Member
Username: Berniew

Perth, Western Aust... Australia

Post Number: 25
Registered: Oct-12
So Jan, do you take a position on 24 bit and hi sample-rate digital audio? I've just been reading some interesting material about it.

How about I post what I know about this stuff, and whenver I say something really misguided, anyone who knows better (and can tell me why) can jump in and tell me how you say it is and I won't start a flame war with you. OK?

It seems there's plenty of good, established scientific background as to why CD audio at 16 bit, 44.1k is just fine now and for all time. Yet a lot of people have decided they prefer their "hi-res" tracks. So far, I've been downloading music in higher resolution formats than CD whenever possible. I was aware of learned types stating that CD audio is already capable of enough fidelity to satisfy human hearing to the fullest extent we need worry about, and that there's no absolute theoretical benefit to anything of higher rate, but I've been getting hold of these formats anyway for some other reasons.

I don't doubt these people know what they're talking about. I've certainly heard plenty of excellent red-book stuff that leaves me with no feeling that it could have been done better, not as a matter of distribution format anyway. But I have some other concerns with CD audio:
-given that studios commonly record, process and master music in, say, 24/96 and other high-rate formats, there has to be a conversion to CD audio, to publish a CD (ignoring MP3 and so on. I'm just talking about lossless formats). I've known enough people with their own home-studios (so-called) doing this step badly enough to make me wary of it... this is a process that takes considerable expertise. I'm sure it's being automated effectively too, but there's usually no way to know much about the production process behind a CD that you go and buy. Who's to say a given release was mastered to CD format optimally?
-If a publisher wants to preserve a reputation for releasing high quality audio (I'm thinking of some of the reputable houses releasing classical, choral and so on), their customers will expect their "studio master" formats to represent their premium offerings. Hi-res tracks from these publishers, it seems to me, should represent a way to be sure you're getting their good stuff. (I'd welcome any news to the contrary, if you can back it up).
-In sampling theory, it's supposed to be possible to perfectly reconstruct the original waveform from the sample stream, within the design limits. But my concern here is that affordable implementations of the technology are far from perfect. The case against higher sample rates seems to boil down to, you don't need ultrasonics and anyway today's equipment isn't designed for it (no argument from me), and it isn't necessary as sampling theory tells us (which I'm accepting for now). But that brings me back to my point: yeah, a perfect implementation WOULD perfectly reconstruct the original analogue waveform, but given the limitations involved in getting these systems into production and on the market at realistic prices that people will actually pay (and not just the high end), would not higher sampling rates and bit depths go some way towards correcting that deviance from the ideal? (assuming all else is equal in comparing some 16/44.1 player and 24/96)

As the expert writers of these digital audio posts point out, there's no inherent quality DISadvantage in hi-res formats in themselves, either. Now, had a recording been released at, say, 24/96, but this after conversion from yet another format (24/192? 48 bit files used by some dig. audio workstations? Likewise 32-bit floating point?), there is the same peril as for CD audio... poor conversion. I'm aware that choosing a hi-res format over CD may not solve this problem, but it seems to me that just the 24 to 16 bit conversion itself is enough chance for damage... I know some operators insist simply truncating 8 bits is good enough, and that's not something I'd want to pay for.
-Similarly, shouldn't any other component, like an external DAC, do a better job with finer-grained data to work with? To be clear, I'm not talking about theory and ideals... I'm trying to allow for the imperfections of real world components. It just seems to me you have to count on a pretty good implementation to get highly accurate reproduction from CD audio... there is JUST enough information to reconstruct the original waveform (within the design limits of the format), IF the system works close enough to the ideal. I would have thought the real benefit of higher data rates would be that the conversion system has less chance to deviate from the ideal.

I should point out that the only times I've paid for hi-res tracks it's been from trusted suppliers (and except for one album, I just like the sound of all of them)... not to say I haven't got a few free ones, just because I could.

As I understand it, the real intended purpose of higher than 16-bit sample depths is to avoid summation errors during mixing and processing in digital audio systems. You could still get these errors if all the tracks of a multitrack recording were made at 24 bit, and then were mixed at that depth... so there are systems using 48 bits. I believe the 24 bit standard was all about mixing simultaneous 16 bit streams. 32 bit floating point audio is a way around clipping, using a rather different system (I've done enough programming to know what floating point is about).

Oversampling is different again, and is intended to achieve different things... it's about implementing quality digital filters in DAC's, ie higher order low-pass filters than you can do economically in analogue circuitry, is that so?

So I go for hi-res tracks because I feel it's a way around a CD mastering process that is often badly done. Then again, those production houses with that problem might not be the ones releasing 24/96 tracks either. I'm also aware that similar problems could show up in hi-res tracks, but I've been operating on the assumption that the errors must be smaller. Is this likely a mistake?

No doubt this could be a real can of worms, like cables, but there are so few people here anyway, nobody's actually argued anything yet that I've seen. Anyway... I'm not here to argue, but I'd be curious to know if anyone's got a position on this topic. (I've seen one forum degenerate badly over this one, and another one at head-fi.org do quite well at keeping it impersonal, informative and friendly. If anyone DOES care to put a case, I hope you'll trouble to do it that way. Surely just because someone posts a differing opinion is no need to get nasty about it)
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17554
Registered: May-04
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This forum has been reduced to so few posters that there are few chances any "disturbances" are likely to occur. Unfortunately, Bernie, that also means there aren't many members who are going to comment on your posts. But, yes, as I said, posting these questions on Hyrdogen audio's forum will get you a very differnt response than it would here.

You've once again addressed too many issues in one post for a convenient response. It will have to come later when I have more time to devote to this. For now, read up a bit on "upsampling" vs "up-converting" of digital files. There is a substantial difference in the two processes and there is also, of course, considerable disagreement as to which better serves the music. You're correct that no studio I am aware of records at 44.kHz/16 bit. Even at the time CD was introduced 48kHz was the "professional" standard for DAT and making a subsequent CD introduced many compromises into the purity of the signal when it was down coverted to 44.1 kHz.

You also might want to read up on "dither" and "least significant bit" if you want to have a discussion of higher bit rates and upsampling of hi-rez music. Of course, "jitter" and "aliasing effects" are common terms in high end playback. We have "re-clocked" and "oversampled" for decades to make up for the many artifacts of digital storage. We've used "brickwall" and "digital" filters and no filters at all. "NOS" or "non-oversampling" DAC's are once again popular. If you are using your computer as a source player or storage tank, you'll probably want a DAC with "galvanic isolation" and "asynchronous USB".

You've opened a can o'worms with this one, Bernie. And there are no answers unless you adhere strictly to theory - at which point you should be posting on Hydrogen. Keep in mind Nyquist Theory was created in the 1930's long before it was possible to implement the numbers in the real world. Also remember that the only music source in the 1930's would have been mono - not two or more channel - music reproduction.

https://sites.google.com/site/hifacemods/home/rf-attenuators



http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/johnkenny/1.html



http://www.audioreview.ca/default.aspx?pagename=showthread&threadID=70



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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17555
Registered: May-04
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Bernie, before we begin on digital this and that, let's step back and discuss another topic which has some relevance to how effective upsampling can be when dealing with a digitally recorded music source.

Since you have some experience in the live sound reinforcement field, if you can, tell me how you would set up the mics for a drum set. Not which brands but which type of mic; dynamic, condensor, ribbon for each location. Tell me the polar pattern you would select for each mic and its approximate location relative to the set. How many channels on the mizer would be required for a single drum kit in a live reinforcement setting? And, how would that set up change for a recording studio set up?

Thanks.




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Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1329
Registered: May-05
Not to hijack Bernie's thread but to answer one of his initial questions without rewriting everything here:

https://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/714919.html

Dave
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1340
Registered: May-05
Just a follow-up on my last comment. I have switched out the MAC speaker cables because I got a pair of demo "Anti Cables" for relatively cheap. They're in the 100 hour plus break in phase. Very interesting so far. Very accurate on the midrange and treble with a taller soundstage. People are life size. The bass is thinner but fairly accurate. Not sure where I'll end up with these, i.e., keeping them or sending them back. I might try biwiring with these on treble/midrange and the MACs on the bass to see what that sounds like. Ain't this hobby fun?
 

Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1343
Registered: May-05
Well, I put over 300 hours on the "Anti-cables"and I decided to go back to the MACs. I loved the clarity of the Anti-cables in the treble range and the slightly taller sound stage but it was too much of a trade off from the more balanced, i.e., "real" sound provided by the MACs.

If there is anyone out there that still doesn't believe that cables impact sound, I'd be happy to do an "A" "B" with these cables to contradict your thinking. These cables, more than any I've tried, really displayed different characteristics of the music. If my amp would have allowed it, I would have loved to have biwired these with the Anti-cables feeding the upper end and the MACs feeding the bass. But, my amp connections simply wouldn't allow for it. Too bad, that would have been very interesting.

But, as Jan pointed out long ago, the real point is to get as close to "real" as possible.
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