SH Spotlight FYI, How to judge interconnects, power cords, speaker cable, etc. Let's share techniques together..

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Jan 31, 2019.

  1. thrivingonariff

    thrivingonariff Forum Resident

    Location:
    US
    From the article: "I run across this sort of "very short (of) real science" attitude from Stereo Barn types . . ." --- Igor Kuznetsoff of K Works Audio (a believer)

    Stereo Barn types? A non-believer (my term) cited in the article is Roger Russell: "Director of Acoustic Research at the famous McIntosh Laboratory and the originator of their loudspeakers. He graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, with a degree in Electrical Engineering."
     
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  2. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    I found - despite not being a bass fiend - that I could get positive outcomes listening out for how well a system handled the following:-

    - the decay on Chris Squire's bass during the opening bars of Starship Trooper (see also the fuzzy distortion on the recording in general at the same point)
    - the languid introduction of the bass on the title track of Joni Mitchell's "Night Ride Home" album
    - pretty much any of the first three tracks off Julie Feeney's "Pages" album.

    Honourable mention to Genesis' "Mad Man Moon" and "Entangled" off "A Trick of the Tail".

    Broadly, I'm looking for good separation, clarity amongst the vocal sand instruments so each is easy to follow. The point about the bass or lower registers is a good, or well matched, system will let the listener clearly follow where the bass is going and the whole track subsequently falls into place. Get it wrong and it becomes mush.

    EDIT: It's probably worth adding that obviously, it's not all about bass and to hang with everything else, but it's a process that works for me. As for accessories, I tend to place less emphasis on spending ever more, but go with good build and what works. These days, I'm pretty much all Fisual, and stock mains cables that came with my speakers (Quad 9as actives) though I do have one Russ Andrews Powerkord. I haven't really noticed a huge difference between it and stock cables.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
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  3. Finally! Thank you.
    A 6-foot power cord is 6-foot power cord whether it's 16 or 10 gauge. People that spend money on cables don't seem to be interested in simple science. Impedance calculators are readily available online. If the difference in power cords is real, it should be measurable at least with an oscilloscope, if not a multimeter. But, like others have said, connectors, shielding, grounding, etc. are important.
    And, can anyone explain the science behind cable 'burn in'? How are the electrons in the conductor changing permanently?
     
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  4. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    Why would one want to pursue that level of sensitivity if it takes that much time and effort? Why would someone want to work that hard at listening to music? I know I have better things to do like trying to fix poorly mastered CD music.

    Again your post indicates nothing useful because you don't describe what it is we're suppose to be hearing by changing cables. Even if I could focus on one musical passage or an audio spectrum that brings out one musical instrument or vocal over another how is that suppose to tell me what that cable change is going to do to other kinds of music? There's nothing insuring consistency across a wide range of music played through an audio system no one really knows for sure how it all works with certainty.

    Listening to music is not suppose to be a science lab experiment.
     
  5. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    That's a lower midrange capture thing. Very important. Folks, practice to be able to hear what @Brother_Rael is talking about. Resolution capture is a must if your system is to reproduce properly!

    Focus in on this one thing, it'll give you a clue how well your system is doing with the crucial details. But remember, this hobby is supposed to be fun, so don't stress out if you don't know what to listen for. You'll get it fairly quickly if you just focus in on one little thing at a time. Then, you can let it all go and go back to enjoying music on your system again. Give an hour out of your life to try and "get" the little details that add up to a wonderful and improved big picture..
     
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  6. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    Heck Steve, I'm honoured - thanks for the kind words!
     
  7. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    Some of us can't yank the existing power cord out of our amps and replace them with a more high end variety. And I've never heard any differences in changing my speaker wires seeing it's low voltage and low impedance DC current.

    I learned more about the audio nuances brought out of my Sansui amp by recording CD music off of it through a 19 year old DAC and 17 year old ADC app. Clipping is good in the digital world!
     
  8. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    You're welcome. You had a good and helpful post with nice examples of what to play and what to listen for..
     
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  9. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    The good news though Tim, is that - and I expect that this is true for most folk - the approach works regardless of whatever it is you're testing. Mine was mainly for speakers and other source items. The accessories thing I sort of threw the shackles about 12/13 years ago. I still dabble mind, but the days of £200+ interconnects and £150 mains plugs are pretty much finished. I get that that's important for some enthusiasts and more power to their elbow, but we all set our personal thresholds for this hobby in the end.

    Oh and nice amp!
     
  10. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    But he didn't attribute what he was describing what he was hearing as being caused by a cable change.

    So if I change my cables the decay of Chris Squire's bass response on Starship Troopers will sound like what?....
     
  11. dasacco

    dasacco Forum Resident

    Location:
    Massachussetts
    Ok, hope I'm getting this..

    In the Beatles' "For No One" during the lines "You want her, you need her. And yet you don't believe her when she says her love is dead" there is a descending bass line that goes to the deepest point on the word "don't."

    It's something I've used to compare various pressings of the LP. My 70's Parlophone pressing (stereo) not only goes the deepest, but each note is better defined than in any other pressing that I have - and I have a lot.

    Perhaps I can start swapping out some interconnects or power cords and focus on that descending bass line to see if any make a difference.
     
  12. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    I'm not making any arguments for or against whether someone buys expensive cables. I'm arguing that I just don't see any proof provided in this thread that it makes a difference in the sound. I wish you all could hear what I'm hearing in an A/B comparison of that Doobie Brothers song. I should've re-recorded my CD music through my Sansui years ago.

    To heck with cable changes. I'm hearing more this way!
     
  13. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    Hi Tim - it doesn't matter really. It can be a cable, DAC, speaker - it's up to you. The point is really that you use something you're very familiar with.

    The recordings I use aren't audiophile labels either - the Yes track is the original Atlantic CD, as it's pretty much the best of the bunch, bar the needledrop off the Blu-ray. The Joni Mitchell track is the regular WEA release and the Julie Feeney album is another regular CD from 2009/10 - pretty much all female vocal and strings.

    By using content you know well, then any characteristics that you add/remove are amplified.
     
  14. Kimiimacman

    Kimiimacman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Berkshire UK
    I’ve always been of the opinion that what I expect from my home system would differ from what an engineer would want in the studio in so far as presentation is concerned. My home system in a non treated room (I want to live harmoniously with my wife and not overrun the room with treatments, it’s a home system in our living space) is tuned to be balanced by component choice, speaker placement, cables and supports to deliver as close as possible the presentation and engagement I get when attending live performances, ie not a studio presentation as I don’t live or work in one. Of course I respect that you do so your choices differ and some of my customers want to emulate the studio engineer’s experience and can even prefer near field monitors to full range but not me
     
  15. marka

    marka Forum Resident

    Let me also suggest that folks seek out much better systems to listen to for these same attributes. It’s that comparison that helps teach the lesson. I’ve felt that I’ve been on a crash course in listening, being helped by listening to the great systems (and swap out sessions) at the @Warren Jarrett Audio Home and your own incredible system. I learn from listening to those as comparisons, coupled with your guidance and advice that you so generously provide here.
     
  16. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    So what did you hear that was different, that was changed, in the Chris Squire decaying bass line at the opening of Starship Troopers? Can you give an example of an actual change you heard on account of any changes made to your system?

    Anyone can say listen for this or that but it doesn't help if there's no description of the change to listen for.
     
  17. tubesandvinyl

    tubesandvinyl Forum Resident

    Agree 100%!!!
     
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  18. tubesandvinyl

    tubesandvinyl Forum Resident

    Hearing is not simple science, and isn't measured with an impedance calculator.
     
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  19. thrivingonariff

    thrivingonariff Forum Resident

    Location:
    US
    The science that would support the claims is not there, yet. It may be one day. Meanwhile, this thread is (ostensibly) about the sharing of techniques for assessing the performance of certain system elements, so we shouldn't expect those who are here for that purpose to be offering "proof", even if they had it.
     
  20. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    Yes, especially seeing that electrons and any other subatomic particle can't be known to be at a certain place and time unless they are measured according to quantum entanglement. So we don't even know where one electron will be within a cable wiring system to produce those analog waveforms.

    Electrons can be at two places at once. That's quantum mechanics science.

    Can you tell I've been watching a lot of PBS science documentaries?
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
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  21. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    The "proof" is in the describing of changes they are hearing in the sounds they focus on by changing cables.

    Nothing more complicated than that.
     
  22. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    You should hear the clear decay and reverberation of the bass string as Squire struck it. Steve Howe's guitar comes in and there's a very clear distortion, which is on the recording and not attributable to the guitar.

    Say you're using a speaker that has a fairly warm character to it - Pioneer's S71B springs to mind - and compare it with Acoustic Energy's AE22 Active. As speakers, they're very different; one being passive, the latter active. They're similar sizes (ish) but the presentation is entirely different. It's an easy comparison to make because they're so different in tonal qualities. The AE22s are very clear, open, but present a lovely musical cohesiveness. I had the Pioneers for about six months and they never did it for me; too soft, masking the detail because of an overly woolly treble unit. It's an extreme example, but it works.

    And....it's not so much what happens to (in this case) Chris Squire's bass, but - for me at any rate - it's a piece in the music I know what to look out for and what sounds right for my preferences when I'm listening to new gear. You could easily add the opening 20 seconds of Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On" which is another near perfect test track.
     
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  23. thrivingonariff

    thrivingonariff Forum Resident

    Location:
    US
    OK, but that's not "proof".
     
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  24. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    Seems to be a trend with Pioneer speakers. I had 6x9's that sounded exactly as you described installed in my sedan's back dash bouncing off the rear windshield which can actually improve the clarity if the speakers are not so "woolly" as you describe. Sent back the Pioneers and opted for the Polk 6x8's which are VERY bright and crispy but the windshield bounce rolls off those highs just right along with a slight EQ adjust.
    What is the sound change that you look out for? Does the bass decay shorten its decay or sound punchier or go soft when there is a change to the system?
     
  25. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    It's proof they are hearing a change.

    The more detail the more one believes they are hearing a change. That's basic forensic investigation questioning.
     

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