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
    Sure, but it's not proof that the person claiming to hear a difference is in fact hearing that difference.

    I've made my point and don't wish to go further OT, so that's all from me on this.
     
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  2. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    It might be less well defined, it might be too soft, there'd be that niggle that - dammit - it just doesn't sound right!

    I've bought a few of the new Yes Blu-rays, the Stephen Wilson mixes. Naturally, I tried Starship Trooper right away for The Yes Album. I was stunned to hear that he'd made it way too bass heavy and muddy. That's probably the best way I can describe it - compared to the original Atlantic CD, or the needledrop on the Blu-ray extras, his mix was too heavy of touch. I never play it now (didn't stop me buying the rest of them though).

    Okay, it's not a system hardware change, but the end effect is the pretty much the same!
     
  3. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    Oh most assuredly we will respectfully talk at amends on other subjects in future discussions.

    Now if I can just find Mr. Amends. He's a slippery fella'. Never can pin 'em down. :faint:
     
  4. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    You gave me an idea that I just might record music that has been "juiced" in the way you've described off a Blu-Ray playback. Do you find Blu-Rays sound better than regular CD's?

    Now that I've attempted this with the Doobie Bros. song I'm going to record some Glen Campbell Music Show episodes on GetTV because the audio engineer really did a fantastic job of balancing the audio for live performances. I never heard it sound this good back in the late '70's listening on regular TV speakers. Yesterday had an episode of Willie Nelson, Roger Miller and Glen Campbell singing country standards where one of their performances had this long sustained bass guitar pluck that just sounded gorgeous listening on my Boston Acoustic satellite computer speakers.
     
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  5. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    Tell you what, I'll drop you a PM later. :)
     
  6. dconsmack

    dconsmack Forum Resident

    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV USA
    I do this because I want to. Listening to music and interest in tweaking audio gear can be two separate interests. I’m also a professional musician. Why listen to music when I could just play it? Because I like both for different reasons.
    If you practice listening, with time and experience you CAN ensure consistency because you get to “know” a piece of gear. But doing that is certainly not for everyone. I believe assembling a high quality playback system is an art form in itself.
    As far as what to specifically listen for when changing cables (or something else) I will zero in on the most narrow part of the music I can. My go-to is snare drums. And more specifically, the snare wires. I’m very familiar with that sound because I’m a drummer. How much impact it has (dynamics) how clearly defined it is (frequencies relative to the rest of the audio band) and quality of sound (grainy, electronic, realistic) all inform me when A/B-ing a setting or piece of gear. Eventually, after breaking down details of the music (snare wires, vocal sibilants, bass note “color” etc) sometimes tweaks can just change how you feel. It’s not always cerebral.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
  7. Okay, it's complicated science. Lay it on me. If there is no electrical difference between a stock power cord and $300 cord, explain how the ears hear a difference.
     
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  8. -=Rudy=-

    -=Rudy=- ♪♫♪♫♫♪♪♫♪♪ Staff

    Location:
    US
    My "thing" is kind of a low-effort undertaking. I replaced a couple of power cables at one point, and also some interconnects nearly a year ago. I then went about my business, not really paying attention to the music, playing a few recent favorites mixed maybe an oldie I've heard for decades. That's when it hits me. Wait a minute...I don't remember hearing that before. Or, wow, that bass reached deeper than it has in recent months on this same recording. Or, hey, that glaring treble isn't quite so ear-splitting as it used to be. The opposite happened while I was trying a few of the cheaper Audioquest interconnects. I started wondering where the bass went, after several days in the system--everything seemed weak and lacking impact. I have also made other changes and a month or two later, I can't even remember one moment playing music where it stood out as sounding any different than it had previously.

    I think it's due to me subconsciously expecting to hear one thing in familiar music, but then hearing another. It is subtle, but that's how I tend to process these things. Now, if I were hard-pressed and forced to listen to hear a difference, I can't guarantee I'd hear it. Yet I learned a lesson at an audio show a couple of years ago that proved I really could hear minor differences, when I originally thought the accessory was perhaps a bit pricey with no perceivable benefit. Very short version--a demo of the Nordost Sort Kones, used under a power strip in one of the hotel rooms. All of us in the room were amazed not so much that we heard a clear difference with and without the Kones, but that we would even be able to hear the difference at all.

    Although that does point out one aspect of auditioning--I'd never heard the music in that before, didn't particularly like it either, but that almost made me focus more on the sound being made than the music itself. So there's a valid point for going with unfamiliar music when auditioning something, and focusing only on just one or two tracks so we are not distracted.

    Confusing, no? ;)

    And finally some food for thought, for the power cord skeptics: one thing that audiophile power cables might have to their advantage is shielding (like a foil shield or braided copper) or common-mode noise rejection (where the power cables are twisted or braided). The cables not only attempt to keep their own incoming power "cleaner" by not picking up stray RFI/EMI from surrounding components, but that shielding also keeps the power cables themselves from emitting some of that crud back into the interconnects. I have upgraded my power cables, but only with very modest and affordable cables purchased as previously owned, and I'm happy with the results over the "gimme" cords that came with the components.
     
  9. sparkmeister

    sparkmeister Forum Resident

    Location:
    Abergavenny UK
    Expectation bias is one possibility
     
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  10. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    At least this thread got me to reconsider paying a LOT more attention to the rats nest pile of various audio and other electronic cable connects at my local thrift store. It'll give me something to hunt for. I did pick up some really thick bullet proof RCA plug connection cables I now have connected between my CD player and Sansui amp.

    Didn't change the sound but the plugs made for a more solid grip sliding them onto the Sansui RCA connects compared to the cheap ones I had where the plugs seemed to not sit right and lost their connection with L/R drop outs. I had to keep sliding them back and forth to prevent the sound drop outs on either channel.

    So in that sense it pays to get high quality "looking" RCA cables even though I paid $6 used at a thrift store.
     
  11. Shielding can be effective at preventing noise, but at 3 or even 6 feet? I am very familiar with twisted/shielded wire in my line of work. Conductor length is a major factor for noise susceptibility.
     
  12. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC

    Location:
    Fullerton, CA
    And, I would like to point out about Marka, as much as he listens to and enjoys our systems, this does not detract from his enjoyment of music through his own system. Listening to superior systems, and learning about what sonic qualities define how good they are, is not a competition or a disatisfaction exercise . It is just a way to more deeply appreciate the subtleties of good sound, and to provide guidance in knowing what to listen for when evaluating a system.
     
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  13. marka

    marka Forum Resident

    Exactly, oh great teacher of listening, who leadeth me down rabbit holes of audiophilic tweaking. :winkgrin:
     
  14. RiCat

    RiCat Forum Resident

    Location:
    CT, USA
    Once I got hooked and became what was called an audiophile (I was around like many of you for the arrival of stereo and spent many years as an end user and sales person in the industry) I developed exactly what Steve has talked about. A critical listening technique where the music is dissected and focused on in its' parts. Using familiar passages and pieces displaying known instruments changes were/are evaluated. No matter if it was a speaker position or a swap of wire. Over and over to see if things changed and how. A truly subjective test but it is how I hear it that matters not how or if it measures. The second listening mode is well listening and enjoying the music. Once my system is dialed in the critical dissection ends and it is kick back time and listen to music. Immersion in the music is what audiophilia is about. Until the bug to make a change bite me again...lol.
     
  15. tubesandvinyl

    tubesandvinyl Forum Resident

    Ears hear what they hear. I can't explain it. Haven't a clue. I also don't know why Mundorf caps sound better than cheap caps, or what makes Mullard, Telefunken or RCA tubes sound unique. Or why Teflon tube sockets sound better than ceramic. Or why really good chassis wire sounds better than cheap hook up wire.
     
  16. Claus

    Claus Restaurant Critic

    Location:
    Germany
    Bias is the biggest improvement :D
     
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  17. Wugged

    Wugged Forum Resident

    Location:
    Warsaw, Poland
    Fancy upgraded power cords ? Utter hogwash. Snake oil.
    Until i tried them. I got the shock of my life (pun not intended).
    They work. God knows how, but they do.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
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  18. Wugged

    Wugged Forum Resident

    Location:
    Warsaw, Poland
    Or the exact science behind hi-fi tables.
     
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  19. Buddys Dad

    Buddys Dad Forum Resident

    Location:
    melton mowbray
    All the rest is opinion but there is one Cable Law that has yet to be disproved:
    Cable discussions = forum traffic increase.
     
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  20. hutchguv

    hutchguv Rock/Metal/Prog/Power Pop fan

    Location:
    England
    I agree totally in cognitive bias....

    But if my brain is fooling me into thinking something is better,.... then to me, it is better..... Even though technically it’s not

    The brain is a very powerful piece of hardware, if it convinces me something’s great,...... I’m just going along for the ride
     
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  21. John B

    John B Once Blue Gort,<br>now just blue.

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Familiar with both concepts but that didn’t help.

    Dadaism perhaps?
     
  22. thrivingonariff

    thrivingonariff Forum Resident

    Location:
    US
    Surely not.
     
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  23. thrivingonariff

    thrivingonariff Forum Resident

    Location:
    US
    Right, but it's still generally necessary or at the very least useful to be able to identify when an outcome is solely the result of cognitive bias (or a placebo effect).
     
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  24. George P

    George P One Of The Few

    Location:
    NYC
    Thanks for sharing this! I wish i had some of these recordings so I could try on my own system. If you (or others) have other, similar examples using other recordings, please let me know?

    On recording I use is Shelby Lynne's Just A Little Lovin'. I listen closely to the rim shots at the beginning and see how well I can hear the room that it was recorded in.
     
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  25. hutchguv

    hutchguv Rock/Metal/Prog/Power Pop fan

    Location:
    England
    You sir, describe this far better than I ever could.

    I agree with you 100%
     
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