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

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

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  1. Soundsense

    Soundsense Forum Resident

    Location:
    Colorado USA
    As a physicist (dim distant past), I could never come to a solid understanding of why a bunch of decently-made speaker cables can sound different.

    As an audio-dude (longer career than physicist), I'm in no doubt. However, cable vs cable seems to me to be the wrong argument. I have consistently found that 'cable+component' vs 'cable+component' is the really effective mode of comparison.

    I've had expensive Kimber Monocle XL monster cables be embarrassed by Home Depot solid core wire, on one particular set of speakers. Another speaker type created a diametrically opposite synergy, with the Kimber sounding like it's worth every penny.

    I think synergy is the game and I'm not convinced that any one particular design or price tag can easily be considered 'better' outside of consideration of the speakers, and by inference, the amplifier too.
     
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  2. bluesky

    bluesky Forum Resident

    Location:
    south florida, usa

    You said it perfectly!! (I even saved it! :) )

    Totally agree.
     
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  3. Madeuthink

    Madeuthink Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Oakmont, PA
    If you will notice in Stereophiles Recommended Components issues they Don't rate cables from Class A to Class D (quality classes) like they do with most other component categories because of the synergy issues. I must have been lucky because my top speaker cables simply sound great and superior no matter what they are used with, and I have mixed and matched a lot. Maybe something in their design. Like cartridges, some cables are more susceptible to different loads than others. With interconnects, none of my top 6 interconnects change their ranking in my hierarchy, no matter what components they are used with, although I do favor certain combinations a bit. Their unique personalities remain unchanged and shines through no matter what combination of components they are used with.

    Years ago when I didn't have as much buying power, for my interconnects I had Kimber Silver Streak IC and an early Purist Audio IC, which had fluid damping of the conductor. Their retail price was within $20 of each other (back then). The two cables could not have been different sounding. The Streak which used pure silver wire on the more important positive + conductor was obviously purer sounding. Silver is considered the best conductor of electricity of all the reasonably common materials. Copper is second and gold is actually third. The Purist Audio cable wasn't as pure sounding but had more depth and openness in the midrange and more space between the instruments, and the instruments sounded noticeably bigger. A grand piano really sounded GRAND. However, I felt the purity of the Kimber cable was more important than the things the Purist cable did well, so I used it more often, but for a decade I occasionally switched between the two. I so wished that I had a cable which would have combined the best qualities of both. It was a good learning experience though. I now do have several cables which combine their strengths and do not do anything less than great.

    I find with moderately priced equipment, (in any category,not just cables),there often are a few things they do real well but to find stuff that does everything well, which really puts it all together, unfortunately you might have to go higher up in price. Which is a shame. We all would like to get amazing sound as reasonably as we can. I also find that cheaper cables often lack tone colors and sound bleached. With higher priced cables that are good choices, you don't run into that problem often. A slight peak somewhere in a particularly bad place when using a cable with certain combinations of equipment, can cause you to not like the sound, no matter how good or expensive the cable. Synergy is important.
     
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  4. Grant

    Grant Now let that bass fall in! Oh yeah!

    Location:
    United States

    Guess what?




    I know the difference between analog and digital.
     
  5. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    I still don't buy it, no disrespect.
    It seems like an industry position just like the idea that cables should be a certain percentage of the cost of your system to do it justice. Not buying that one either.
    The right interconnect is the one that makes your source sound its best- awesome. The right speaker cable is the one that makes your system sound awesome too.
    Not saying they cannot be the same brand and model- e.g. Audience Ohno interconnects and speaker cables, but the function of interconnects and speaker cables have different electrical requirements as well as speakers having a bigger influence on the sound for many different reasons. Just to blindly buy the same brand/ model of each is kind of blind IMHO.
     
  6. Grant

    Grant Now let that bass fall in! Oh yeah!

    Location:
    United States
    Well, he's right! :laugh: Adter it's all said and done, the digital stream is still converted to analog, something we can understand. If not, we'd be listening to a bunch of noise.
     
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  7. frimleygreener

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

    Location:
    united kingdom
    To my mind,there are two places that graphs should never appear. Firstly in the pages of HiFi forums,because I simply do not understand them,and secondly,in zoos as it is just not right.
     
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  8. Robert C

    Robert C Sound Archivist

    Location:
    London, UK
    You don't understand graphs? Your local snake oil dealer will be delighted.
     
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  9. Who needs snake oil dealers when we have political and economic TV journalists? These people are the experts at creating graphs to support their own spin on a story.
     
  10. Madeuthink

    Madeuthink Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Oakmont, PA
    Just because something costs more than someone thinks it should cost and does not understand all that is involved, does not mean it is snake oil. Like speakers and amplifiers etc. many thing seem priced according to how much improvement they know it makes rather than by how much it "costs" to make. It would be pretty hard to convince someone their new $2000 speaker cables are snake oil when they are sitting there listening to a favorite record and their sounstage is now floor to ceiling and the bass is so deep and full that things are rattling on their coffee table. Corporate greed (in some cases) does mean that everything is phony.
     
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  11. Robert C

    Robert C Sound Archivist

    Location:
    London, UK
    There is nothing more to say.
     
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  12. Madeuthink

    Madeuthink Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Oakmont, PA
    I Don't have $2,000 speaker cables. Neither do most others. There are some pretty good cables for not many hundreds. Just used that as an example. Anyone with well chosen cables that expensive will simply laugh every time they turn their stereo on at the notion that it is snake oil.
     
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  13. Grant

    Grant Now let that bass fall in! Oh yeah!

    Location:
    United States
    I'm astonished that this thread has lasted six pages without any confrontations. I'm so proud of you all! See, we can do this!:thumbsup:
     
  14. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    You have a science degree? Excellent. I suggest taking the next step and spend a bit of time doing the basic reading on psychoacoustics, neuroscience, audiology and the ways in which the brain processes audible signals to provide a sense of hearing.

    What you’ll find is simply that trusting what we’ve evolved to think of as our objective sense of sight and sound are about the most unreliable ways of assessing objective differences or even determining valid differences. Marketing specialists who help develop products in conjunction with the vast majority of audio cable makers understand clearly many of the ways in which perception of value and perception of relative differences (based on PR material, marketing material, positive reviews, guerrilla marketing in the form of forum discussion shills, etc.), directly affect what people believe they’re hearing when they audition and/or compare cables.

    The influences are absolutely real, but only until someone presents us with a listening session in which the listeners aren’t told and cannot see which cables are being used at any given moment. In every case, unless a speaker cable has capacitance so high that it’s off the chart and causing an amp to overshoot treble frequencies or a replacement phono cable with high capacitance is replaced with one that has properly low capacitance or a tiny gauge long run of speaker cable is replaced with one of the correct gauge for example, listeners can’t tell one cable from another with any greater accuracy than flipping a coin to make a choice.

    What you/we/I insist on with respect to what we think is our perfectly good and unbiased hearing and our perfectly good and unbiased reasoning breaks down every single time in such listening sessions. For most people, the revelation can be arresting. Being aware of the real effects of psychoacoustics and the well-understood and widely studied and applied science underlying our hearing does not and cannot make us immune to the marketing and most of its effects on our perceptions of cables. That’s how powerful the effects are.

    Insisting, as some audiophiles do, that they can plainly hear differences simply proves the well-studied and well-understood science behind all of this. Cable makers understand this clearly. And that’s why no cable maker has every willingly submitted any of his products to anyone trying to organize a fully objective listening experiment in which the listeners and the people conducting the test don’t know which speaker cables or interconnects or ethernet cables or digital coax cables are in use during any given album. I’ve been left to borrow and purchase cables myself - as have many other people interest in conducting genuinely objective listening experiments - in order to have some fun with my music listening gang.

    We don’t always know what we think we know, no matter how plainly obvious it seems to be to us in many given situations. Study that science for awhile to gain an understanding of how much profitable fun the cable makers have been having at our expense.
     
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  15. Love is a many splendored thing. Why fault anyone who has found happiness with what they have acquired and are happy with.
     
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  16. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    The moderators are itching to wipe this thread. Can they, pretty please?
     
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  17. Dansk

    Dansk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    I'd kindly refer you to Grant's post:
    All things considered, this has been a remarkably civil discussion and I've quite enjoyed it. It would be a shame to shut it down, I think.
     
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  18. Dansk

    Dansk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Indeed they must; the alternative is to cry.
     
  19. Grant

    Grant Now let that bass fall in! Oh yeah!

    Location:
    United States
    On the other hand, there may have been things we haven't seen that were removed. Either that, or they don't like having to keep their eye on it. And, there have been some posts that have toed the line.

    But, if Steve wants us to force the gorts hand, you do it.:D
     
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  20. Madeuthink

    Madeuthink Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Oakmont, PA
    I think it has been a debate, not anything even remotely ugly; irritating a bit maybe. I know of at least one other major forum that outright warns everyone "in their rules" that "if you do not think you hear differences in cables, DO NOT join in on discussions of cables. They know there are instigators out there and it seems there are multi-forum instigators at that. Maybe all the same ones. I think what the "naysayers" game really is, is to make it seem like people who buy expensive cables are fools and imagining things, like the retro TV Martians and creatures of all kinds that only appear to one guy, when no one else is around to see it and they all believe (at least for a while) that he must be seeing things. I guess that's their "kick." It's real easy to take a group of people (a large group) and lump them all together as "imagining things " and feeling smarter and wiser because they themselves are "above it all" and not so easily "taken in".

    Unfortunately, the people who can afford to buy $2,000 cables, in my experience are almost always very smart successful people; doctors, other people in the medical field, people with their own construction companies etc. The very people they are treating with a patronizing know it all attitude might have actually saved their lives; if this group of mostly skilled professionals, perception was that faulty, a significant portion of the "naysayers" instead of their life being saved in hospitals, may no longer be with us, or their apartment building might have collapsed in on them a long time ago. It's real easy to just lump a group of people together and call them crazy, so seeing through their game is relevant. As I said before the naysayers are not people who have spent many evenings carefully comparing expensive cables, that I'm pretty sure in most cases would be well beyond their means. They are people that don't need to, because of their "grand theories" as they pretending to be scientists. The few that do engage in any comparing might have cut up a few extension cords or house wiring, listened a few minutes and then came to their "forever opinion" that all wires sound the same. They must not have "ears" so to speak and have never even spent one evening listening to familiar music through advanced cable designs, which do cost.

    If there was a man blind, from birth, and someone wanted to attempt to get him to experience the color red, there is just no way to do it. No amount of words or talk or time or explaining would come close to getting him to be able to actually picture or experience the color red, or any other color; or even sight itself. People vehemently insisting there are not superior sounding cables are similar to the man blind from birth. He has never seen any colors, and they have not spent evenings listening to advanced cables. The blind man has no idea what red is and they have no idea of what advanced cables can do. If the blind man from birth would all of a sudden start arguing about what the color red is like, it would be no less ridiculous an argument than the cable naysayers. People who are unwilling to experiment should not be taken seriously. People by the millions, (worldwide) have voted in the most important way of all; with their wallets. High end cables are now a very very big business.
     
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  21. RockAddict

    RockAddict Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    At the moment, I am using (genuine) OFC speaker cable that was marketed as "Studio Grade" and, 4-5 years ago, was retailing at £1.49/m (currently £2.49). I'm very happy with it and am not tempted by much more expensive speaker cables. Yet... :)

    However, RCA/XLR interconnects are a different story. For years I had sub GBP £40 cables but always had the urge to try other cables. In the end, I started experimenting and eventually got to a price point of £320 for 1.5m RCAs. To cut a long story short, they were quickly usurped by a pair of Mark Grant Cables HDX1s at less than 20% of the price. At this point, you'd think I would be happy, sitting down and just feeling relaxed listening to the music with no thoughts about yet more cable conundrums. If only...

    The trouble with hi-fi forums is there is always someone referencing "cable X" as being the absolute end game. Most of those can be easily put down to personal preference and or a set of cables that happens to work well with a particular set up. However, every once in a while, a specific cable is high praise so often (and in context), it's hard not to take note. With that in mind, there are two sets of cables I really, really, really want to try: AudioQuest's "Fire" interconnects (RCA and/or XLR) and several contenders by Telurrium Q. Time and time again, they get fabulous reviews and/or forum feedback. Perhaps I'm lucky in that the AQ "Fire" cables are so expensive that there is no realistic possibility of having them, barring a lottery win (which should happen tonight... ;)). Some of the Telurrium range is, just, attainable so maybe, just maybe, I will try a pair at some point.

    Despite the above indicating I might have a severe case of "cableitis", I haven't lost sight of the main purpose of any system purchase: enjoying the music. So long as I never forget that, the "snake oil" merchants will be more easily avoided.

    Happy listening all, whether you have uber expensive cables or the cheapest of the cheap.
     
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  22. Dave

    Dave Esoteric Audio Research Specialist™

    Location:
    Greater Vancouver
    May as well get in before the lock...

    I wasn't so skeptical as to say different cables can not possibly have any sonic differences, but rather all right convince me. I started out with Kimber Silver Streaks in hopes of obtaining a better sounding sonic presentation. Was I satisfied/happy with my purchase? Not on your life. Everything sounded overly bright in the treble frequencies. I was allowed to audition some Audio Quest cables, sorry I don't recall which model, but it was a let down. They sounded much less focused. Next I tried the Kimber KS1126 cables and it still didn't satisfy what I was actually after. Next after Steve H's recommendation I tried Grover Huffman's Silver IC's, very low capacitance BTW, and they were the magic I was after. Accurate detail without hyper extension/over brightness like the Kimber's. Next after upgrading my speakers I found the Grover's lacking in the bottom end unfortunately. Then I was given a set of Grover's that had more Copper content and were much thicker and the Bass came to life. Now, I just need to bi-wire those old Grover Silvers in to give me everything I'm after. Are there cable sonic differences? Hell yes!
     
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  23. Madeuthink

    Madeuthink Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Oakmont, PA
    My best interconnect I saw on ebay and he had a set price but a Make Offer option. Before I went to bed I made an offer just based on what I could afford. When I woke up & saw Offer Accepted I thought it must be for something else. When I looked closer I could not believe he accepted my offer. He must have needed money for something. I read on another forum that someone actually built his system around this cable; so impressed was he. Recently I was able to buy speaker cabling from someone who gave me an unbelievably good price on what would be a very expensive cable, more than I would spend, since he had only a certain length left on the spool that he thought would not be long enough for anyone. Just enough length for my bedroom system. If it passes up my living room system in sound quality because of this cable I will probably be one of the few, where my secondary system outperforms my main system, at least until I find something even better for in there, which will not be easy. The bigger acoustics in there does give it an edge though. They say small rooms accentuate bass but I am having a little difficulty getting my warmth to bloom in there. Maybe the new cable will solve this. Years ago I once had beautiful warmth that gelled in there using tubes, so I know its possible.Same bedroom. More cluttered now. Could that be it?
     
  24. Grant

    Grant Now let that bass fall in! Oh yeah!

    Location:
    United States
    A debate may not be about cables sounding different, but exactly why they sound different. I believe it is because the name-brand cable makers have found excellent ways to fashion the materials so that they have specific inductive, resistive, and capacitive properties. I do not believe one has to spend tons of money to get a desired performance., but it does take real listening.

    If someone comes in and just says all cables sound the same because "reasons", that tells me that are basically trolling.
     
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  25. vwestlife

    vwestlife Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
    The cable debate reminds me of those "magnetic fuel saver" devices that clip onto the fuel line going to your car's engine and claim to increase your gas mileage by 20%. Despite there being no credible scientific evidence that they actually do anything to improve fuel economy (Mythbusters even did a show debunking them), people who buy and install them regularly do report an increase in their MPGs -- because when they install the device, the expectation of getting better mileage causes them to drive in a more economical manner, even if they insist that their driving habits have not changed.

    And with that in mind, if a device is achieving its desired results, even if it's all just psychological tricking of the mind, can you really say it is not working as advertised? Who are we to say the buyer got scammed when they're happy with the value they got for the money they spent?
     
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