A non confrontational cable thread? We will see...

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by frimleygreener, May 19, 2019.

  1. vwestlife

    vwestlife Forum Resident

    New Jersey, USA
    A "digital" coaxial cable is just an ordinary RCA cable with a different name on it. If anything, an analog RCA cable should be built to higher standards than a digital one, because unlike digital, analog audio actually is susceptible to noise and interference, and the capacitance of the cable possibly coloring the sound.
    Grant, Robert C, Dansk and 1 other person like this.
  2. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    I appreciate the link but unfortunately don't have the time to watch a 20-min video for a yes or no answer. If you happen to know whether RCAs can accept digital or if there's a conversion done if they cannot, please let me know. :)
  3. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    It's basically a regular interconnect with a different plug on it, then. In such a case, I can understand why he likely heard a difference in sound between two cables.

    Until very recently, I assumed interconnects wouldn't make a lick of a difference but my wallet was crestfallen that I heard an immediate difference. Would be *so* much cooler and fun to use the money these cables cost towards something nice like tubes or a preamp but nooooo... a *wire*, of all things. :realmad:

    This hobby is both fun and frustrating at times. On one hand, it's great that there's an additional way to improve the end result. On the other, it's yet another way in which money needs to be spent to get the most out of my system. :thumbsdow
  4. Dansk

    Dansk Forum Resident

    Ontario, Canada
    Yes, they can. A digital signal IS an analog signal, it's just one where the information is in code rather than being a 1:1 representation of the sound wave.
    Strat-Mangler likes this.
  5. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    So the short answer is RCAs can accept a digital signal. In such a case, I can see your resistance to the idea of a different tones as if the sound is encoded and then decoded properly, there theoretically should be no difference between this or that cable.

    If there is a difference, there has to be something else at play, then.
  6. Ned Bode

    Ned Bode All you love is need

    I’m down for some of this. The XLR interconnect I use for my CD player is a snide, whiny little brat.
  7. Dansk

    Dansk Forum Resident

    Ontario, Canada
    Your dealer is attempting to sell a more expensive product. Now, I'm not saying that he's lying to you, he may actually believe that the more expensive cable sounds better, because the wholesaler or company rep convinced HIM that it sounds better.

    All you have to do is follow the money.

    This exact phenomenon occurs in all sorts of different places, most notably in wine tasting. Studies have proven that putting a more expensive label on a bottle of wine makes people believe that it tastes better, even when it's the exact same wine as the "cheaper" option. The same phenomenon is at work here.

    Sound and taste are profoundly influenced by our prior expectations, our mindset, our environment. That's what makes blind testing so crucially important. Unless you remove the influence of those expectations, you can't have an objective answer.

    I promise you that you would not be able to tell the difference between those cables if you didn't know which one was which. I would wager my entire life savings on it, and I'm not kidding about that.
    4011021 and vwestlife like this.
  8. Dansk

    Dansk Forum Resident

    Ontario, Canada
    The "something" at play is psychology. It's called the placebo effect.
  9. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Well again, theoretically, there should be no differences in sound between DACs as they merely decode what's been encoded. If a math equation is resolved to the same "answer" (so to speak) whether that's accomplished by one or other processor shouldn't matter. And yet, there are clear differences in sound between DACs using the same chip.
    sotosound likes this.
  10. My dealer sounded almost envious about the Chord cable since his primary wish would be to sell his own Heretic Audio cable, probably with a greater margin than the higher priced Chord. It was also his own Heretic Audio cable that he lent me when I was auditioning DACs.

    Regarding telling the difference, I tend to involve my wife in home auditions because she has a really good ear but also has zero interest or knowledge in technical stuff. So with the cables I simply said "Do you prefer this or this?", without saying that I was changing cables. I was simply playing a track for the first time and the second time. When I do this kind of thing, she'll sometimes prefer the first and sometimes prefer the second. There are no rules and no expectations and she reacts purely to what she hears. She sometimes says "Can I hear the first one again?" or "Can I hear the second one again?" She also has preferred masterings of some of her favourite tracks and when I was switching cables she didn't even know whether I was switching masterings of tracks, or switching cables or CD players or .......

    When I rein in my analytical side and my knowledge of specs and just say what I hear I tend to arrive at the same conclusion as her. So we choose what we prefer but we do hear differences, including between digital cables.

    Regarding wine, the act of publishing that study will already have affected the behaviour of some wine drinkers. :)

    I let my taste buds, and my head the day after, work out which wines are good. For instance, Waitrose in the UK do a budget Italian red for £4.99. It's so budget that they don't even give it a vintage. However, as Italian wines go it's lovely, and it beats a lot of Chianti and Chianti Classico wines offered at far higher prices. It's also kind to the head the following morning. Bad bottles are also a rarity. So that's what we often drink.

    When in Italy, we tend to drink house red, since we know that it'll be good and that it'll also be inexpensive. A great combination, really.

    Having said all of that, a nice Valpolicella Ripasso sounds like a good idea, and I'll worry about my head tomorrow. :)
    Dave likes this.
  11. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Many years ago most living creatures had their own God. It was also common that dead things had theirs. Without a doubt if a cable had existed then it would have had its own. You would´ve taken a great risk stating digital cables didn´t have a sound. I`m afraid I still had gone that root.
    Those were the days.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019 at 1:01 PM
    Kyhl likes this.
  12. vwestlife

    vwestlife Forum Resident

    New Jersey, USA
    A digital audio cable cannot change the tonal balance of the audio going through it any more than the USB cable connecting your digital camera to your computer can change the colors of your photos.
    Robert C, 4011021 and Dansk like this.
  13. Dansk

    Dansk Forum Resident

    Ontario, Canada
    Of course there are, because constructing an analog audio signal from digital data isn't a simple matter. For example, some devices perform sophisticated interpolation on the data, attempting to "create" additional points of data between the ones they're given through the use of algorithms. That process can colour the sound somewhat. There are also differences in the quality of components used in building the DAC (the resistors, capacitors, op-amps, etc.), which can affect the accuracy of the waveform and also colour the sound as well.

    Just because the raw data is identical, doesn't mean it will be interpreted in the same way by two different devices.
    wwaldmanfan and Strat-Mangler like this.
  14. Dansk

    Dansk Forum Resident

    Ontario, Canada
    This is a fantastic analogy.
  15. The puzzle for me is that a standard RCA cable and plugs doesn't contain a DAC, and yet I heard what I heard.....
    Dave likes this.
  16. Grant

    Grant C'mon let me show you where it's at!

    United States
    Steve Hoffman does it all the time on his projects: using analog cables as tone controls.
    unclefred and sotosound like this.
  17. jfeldt

    jfeldt Forum Resident

    SF, CA, USA
    The physics is there. If you want to learn more and already have an introductory level of understanding, these are good references:
    https://www.fuw.edu.pl/~aramaniuk/E... to Electrodynamics-Addison-Wesley (2012).pdf
  18. frimleygreener

    frimleygreener "It 'a'int why...it just is" Thread Starter

    united kingdom
    And then it is all converted to analogue.....
  19. Lowrider75

    Lowrider75 New Member

    Philadelphia, PA
    Audio Note markets their interconnects for use as analogue and digital.
  20. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    Sure, but an SPDIF cable carrying biphase mark code digital information between, say a CD player and a DAC, is carrying a very different kind of signal, which s being transmitted and received very differently compared with a cable carrying analog AC audio signal between say a CD player output and a preamp. They work totally differently.

    The analog cable is carrying an AC signal that is an analog of the audio wave, and non linearities along the way show up as alterations of the audio waveform.

    I'm not expert in digital audio so the IT folks here can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think an SPDIF cable is basically just carrying a high speed square wave and the received at the DAC is just reading each transition between up and down as one bit, and the duration between transitions is being used to signify if the bit is a one or a zero. There's no tone shaping that goes. If you heard the signal on the cable it would just be ultrasonic noise. And if there's a problem with the cable you don't necessarily get altered tone, you'd get noise and dropouts.
    Dansk, Kyhl, vwestlife and 1 other person like this.
  21. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    Of course, a 75-ohm RG6 coaxial cable could be used for analog audio, it could be used for SPDIF digital audio, it could be used for your cable TV video. The same cable could be used for all those applications, but the applications and the signal being carried in each instance isn't the same.
  22. Ralph Karsten

    Ralph Karsten Forum Resident

    St. Paul MN
    Years ago I heard differences between cables. I knew Robert Fulton, who pretty much founded the exotic audio cable industry.

    But I also noticed when playing in several orchestras that the signal from a Neumann microphone could be sent over 100 feet without any degradation. The reason for the latter turned out to be because the microphones and recorder supported the balanced line standard which later became known as AES48. So when I began designing our amps and preamps, I made sure they supported the standard. In that regard our MP-1 preamp was the first balanced line preamp intended for use in the home. What I noticed right away was that when the balanced standard was observed in the associated equipment, the cable itself became inaudible, quite unlike RCA cables, no matter the length.

    AES48 is rarely observed in high end audio so you see people arguing about whether balanced line is even worth it. If the standard is observed, the answer is yes- and no looking back. You just get more detail, blacker backgrounds, etc. like the best cable money can buy. If the standard is not supported, all bets are off.

    We also found that speaker cables made a difference. But my findings didn't confer with Mr. Fulton's (who said that there was a specific length of 28 feet that was best, hence his 'Gold' speaker cable); I found the shorter the cable the better, this being especially true the lower the speaker impedance. This dovetails nicely with balanced line connections though- you can run monoblocks which reside right by the loudspeakers and so keep the speaker cables short, since if you support the balanced line standard you can run really long interconnects.

    I had this demonstrated in spades when I recorded an LP known as "Canto General" back in 1986. I also had to do the sound for the live performances of that work; to that end I ran a PA system. The hall had high efficiency speakers already mounted in the cloud ceiling; all I had to do was hook up. I didn't need much power; we were relying on the stage for most of the sound. At first I ran long speaker cables since I had a lot of Fulton Brown on hand, but after one rehearsal of that the next day decided to run a balanced signal to the amps, convert to single ended with a line transformer and then run short lengths of Fulton Brown. The improvement in the ability to make out vocals and other details was instantly obvious to everyone,
    Dave, 2channelforever, MGW and 2 others like this.
  23. Madeuthink

    Madeuthink Active Member

    Oakmont, PA
    I have never experimented with digital cables so I will do the intelligent thing and remain silent, but it seems to me that unless someone understands EVERYTHING there is to know about digital, their theories may be leaving something out that is very important. As far as analog cables, actually the same thing applies. That's why actual experience always trumps theories. It seems the majority of audiophiles do hear improvements with speaker cables & interconnects. But of the ones that do, only a small % of them realize what HUGE improvements are possible. Not many of them had $7000 Spectral Ultralinear II speaker cables in their listening room for a month like I did. I could have bought these used cables for a reasonable price but they were way too warm sounding for my system, even though they somehow managed to have such amazing detail through all that warmth. In retrospect, maybe I should have have bought them and built a whole new system around them.That is how superior they were.

    Instead I ended up with cables I am very happy with. I did not spend a fortune on cables. I look for deals and 90% of what I buy is used. My cables are more expensive than usual, but I am happy with my purchases. I remember the way my sound used to be and know the way it is now, and would not want to go back. The particular few on here that are so adamnent about there being no difference in cables. It's obvious that some people are highly disturbed that others can afford better stuff than they can. They deal with this by choosing to believe and convincing themselves that people who buy pricier stuff are delusional and foolish in their perception, and they delight in thinking that they are wasting their money and have sound no better than they themselves have. They believe that audio performance somehow "magically" stops at the exact point of their own financial limits. They Don't even have to hear stuff for themselves, because of the extreme and devout importance that they assign to their own theories and beliefs. I have never gotten into or heard extremely expensive CD players, but I could not imagine getting on here and making absolutistic statements about them because: 1. I would realize that I know not what I speak of and 2. I would be afraid of telling people the wrong thing and leading them astray. To those people: sorry you cannot obtain some of the most amazing stuff. It is something to hear. Performance does continue to go up in leaps and bounds beyond your price limit, even though some expensive things are worth it and some are not. Cables which cost thousands of dollars, obviously their price is not based on what it costs to make them, but on the performance leap that the manufacturer knows his cables can make, and who knows that many audiophiles once hearing them, will gladly pay that amount of money for that big of an improvement.
    Dave, MGW and sotosound like this.
  24. And just look what you started!! Non-confrontational? Pah!

  25. I read the first one on holiday this year. Took me three hours. My favourite page is the third page of the pdf. :)

    The second book is below my level.

    Honest! Would I lie to you?

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