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A test for those who don't believe cables make a difference!

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Jude gave me this idea, and for all I know it might be a common practice. But who cares, I'm gunna share it anyway! This test requires that you have two pairs of relatively decent cables, say for around $40 apiece. Obviously you can do this with very high quality interconnects as well, but I figure if you don't believe cables make a difference, you're not going to have $300 cables lying around the house . They have to be different, of course. Anyway, put in one pair and listen for a while. then replace one cable with a cable from the other pair, so one cable from either pair is in the system at the same time, and listen. I just did this with a pair of Outlaw PCA's and a pair of Dimarzio M-Paths and was rather impressed. it's far from difficult to hear the differences between the two! Headphones are perfect for this test because there is little to no crosstalk between the two channels (assuming you don't have crossfeed on), so they both remain as different from the other as possible. If you try this test, the sound should be somewhat confusing because there are enough differences between the two channels to throw the brain off. This should convince even the most firm disbeliever, provided they actually listen. have fun!
post #2 of 18
*salutes captain obvious

The unenligthened don't have much to go on here. They have to rely solely on their virgin ears. Most of us graduated from monstercable on our own, but perhaps go into more detail on what to expect to make it easier for people to notice differences?
post #3 of 18
Are you talking about signal cables and amps that have individual outputs for each channel, like, balanced output and such?
post #4 of 18
that's a really great idea and i plan on trying it soon
post #5 of 18
What might make this test even better is to use a mono recording, so that each channel is receiving the same information.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Audio&Me
Most of us graduated from monstercable on our own, but perhaps go into more detail on what to expect to make it easier for people to notice differences?
the problem is that I can't be sure of what other people's cables sound like, so I can't know what they should expect. They should listen for themselves, and I don't think it will be TOO hard to hear the difference between the two channels.

Joe, all I'm talking about are basic interconnects, so you don't need an amp with balanced outputs. You simply have one type of cable in the left channel going to your amp, and another type of cable in the right channel. that's all. better?
post #7 of 18
Joe leave it to you to confuse this issue.
post #8 of 18
Neruda,

This is a good idea. Listening with headphones is more revealing than listening to speakers (assuming a high-quality amp/headphones).

Without getting tooooo far off the subject, what was your impression of the Outlaw PCAs versus the DiMarzio MPath? How would you describe the difference you heard?

I own neither and am considering purchasing both.

Thanks!
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'm hesitant to answer because I'm still in the process of burning in the outlaws, however I'll tell you what I think so far. What I noticed when doing this test was that the dimarzios were warmer than the outlaws (which isn't suprising considering that most everyone considers the dimarzios to be warm), and the outlaws were more detailed and might have had a slightly more open soundstage. (soundstage differences with cables?! ) The outlaws sound more neutral to me. I can't really tell you more than that about the sound right now, but I'll keep you posted. in terms of construction I think the outlaws are prettier to look at and are more flexible (the dimarzios have a lot of stiff tubing after the RCA conectors which makes them hard to bend). The connectors feel very good on both, so I have no qualms there. I think, overall, the outlaws seem to present the best value right now, since they sound at least equal to the dimarzios and have equal or better construction. And they're much less! Still, this is all subject to change at this point since I've only had them for a few days and I haven't had nearly enough time to sort through all the differences that there no doubt are between these two cables.
post #10 of 18
Neruda, have you tried the tape loop test on any of these cables? I certainly agree that cables make a difference, but I am looking for cables that don't make a difference, well, sort of...

I connect candidate cables into a tape loop (connect the output straight back to the input) and listen with and without the cable in the circuit (using the tape switch). It is killer easy to hear which cables are coloring the sound, and which are clean.


gerG
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally posted by Audio&Me
*salutes captain obvious

LOL
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally posted by Greg Freeman
Neruda, have you tried the tape loop test on any of these cables? I certainly agree that cables make a difference, but I am looking for cables that don't make a difference, well, sort of...

I connect candidate cables into a tape loop (connect the output straight back to the input) and listen with and without the cable in the circuit (using the tape switch). It is killer easy to hear which cables are coloring the sound, and which are clean.


gerG
any additional circuitry used to make up the tape loop circuit would have some influence. In addition, the feedback to the brain (knowing which switch setting was which) means that a genuinely objective (double blind) test was impossible. The test method does not even qualify as single blind - it is an open test, and the experimenter expectancy effect will confer non-existent attributes to the material being tested, based on preconceived ideas and expectations.
I pulled this from http://sound.westhost.com/cables.htm#preamble
i think it important everyone have a read of this before heated debate begins in this thread. As for my opinion. Cables can make a difference. But not as much as people make out.
post #13 of 18
So many explorers, and so much undiscovered territory. God I love this hobby.

Thanks poddy, interesting read. For what I am after, a double blind test would be pointless. I want to hear no difference whatsoever. If I do, I judge the cable unacceptable. It would be interesting to work Neruda's one channel swap into the test. That would make changes even easier to discriminate, almost like a heterodyne effect. Hmmm... it would be very easy to build a single channel switcher that would drop the cable into one side. For a blind test, have somebody else push the button. The extra circuitry amounts to a switch and the RCA connectors. The switch would be the only part non-relevant to the cables.

Anybody got a reference for a high quality switch?


gerG
post #14 of 18
The problem with the switch being that it does add more circuitry to the loop. Even though it is minimal.
post #15 of 18
HeadRoom just came out with a new product a few weeks ago -- a headphone switch box. It has 3 inputs on the back (it's more complicated than that, actually) and a headphone jack on the front.

I emailed them asking for specs, and they said the damage to the signal would be "minimal" and that it depends on the impedance of the source and headphones. Ummm, kay.

Anyway, the box is entirely passive, and it does come from a company whose quality we all trust. (It has a volume control in the signal path, though.) I'm having trouble thinking up a workable way to use this in a double-blind test. Too easy for the listener to count clicks on the dial. Still, it may be useful for this kind of test.
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