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Got my Cables! (minireview) - Page 2

post #16 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
...absolute statements like "night-and-day", you should think about the your own biases and how easy it is to fool the senses sometimes
Okay maybe I exaggerated a little, maybe it is more of a... 'afternoon and evening' difference?

However I can easily pinpoint differences... like, I listen to one part of a song, there is no mistake that it changed with a cable change.


And I wouldn't call a Stereophile Class B/C DAC exactly a 'weak' source (um nevermind about the transport)
I also wouldn't really call the 831s or SR80s just 'mediocre'... Sony MDR-G52s maybe but not the 831s or SR80s...
post #17 of 33
chych, don't worry about it. Me and mikewang already had a little private conversation about this. Basically, he wasn't in a good mood at the time he posted, and came across worse than he meant to. And, to my surprise as well, he wasn't referring to the MSB Link DAC as weak, but to the Delta Dio card's DAC. So he's really a decent enough guy... he was just acting a bit Mike Walker-ish in his post. Hehe, no offense, Mike.
post #18 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by ophir
I read this the other day on avsforum: http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/Forum3/HTML/003699.html. Very interesting thread, some EE prof. states that IC's only make a difference coming out of a tube amp, and have absolutely no effect on SS amps. He goes on to say that electrically the IC difference in SS systems is almost undetectable, and when it is the differences arise well outside of the sonic range. Very long and technical, but interesting nonetheless.
Vadim rules!
post #19 of 33
Measurements can be very informative but they don't tell the whole story. This is because no one measures everything that matters, and even if they could or did, no one knows exactly how that correlates to what we hear. We don't listen to sine waves, but this is what most people measure with. If you do listening tests with sine waves, you'll find that everything does sound the same.

Blind testing under controlled conditions is something very useful because the mind can be easily fooled and it eliminates this error. However I think sometimes something gets lost in the controlled switching back and forth part of it, so I don't take blind test results "blindly". It's a common problem in medical trials, for example, that the design of the test had an effect on the results and another test for the same thing has a different result. You can have the same issue with audio testing.

There will always be "experts" that tell you that under controlled conditions a Krell sounds the same as a Pioneer, or that coat hangers sound the same as Kimber. I've done enough of my own controlled tests on much closer matches than that to know better, and I'm sure many others here have as well. You aren't going to change these "experts" minds, so don't bother trying. Keep an open but objective mind and you'll occasionally get surprised.
post #20 of 33
The "do different cables sound different" controversey will likely never end. Mainly because it's based on "belief". Some people believe they can hear differences while others believe they can't.

It's like arguing religion. It goes nowhere. Christianity has millions of believers. ( like most major religions, split amongst dozens of sub-groups) They are adament that what they believe is right. No proof. Just belief.

But then there are millions of followers of Islam who believe what they believe is right. Again. No proof. Just belief. Then there's millions of followers of the Hindu, and Jewish faiths. They all believe they are right. No proof. Just belief.

Some of these people are so certain of their belief, they would be willing to die for it.

Just because hundreds or thousands or millions of people believe something, that doesn't necessarily make it true. But with all sorts of different beliefs out there, the only thing you can be certain of is that most people are wrong.
post #21 of 33
KurtW- I'm definately not an expert in this, and i certainly havent tried enough interconnects personally, but i think there are many great points raised in that discussion by the "cables don't matter" side...

Vadim makes many great points, but takes them too far, obviously a coat hanger isn't gonna sound good (not only intuitively, but there are many basic electrical theories that prove it), and all solid state amps don't sound the same. (he bases his views only on THD measurements, which we all know indicates almost nothing about an amps performance)

But the microwave engineer makes a great point, audio is really NOTHING compared with the other things we are capable of doing. If electricity can really "shake a wire like a guitar string" (cardas), then things like computers, the internet, and long distance telephone networks could work without taking into account that effect. And virtually all of those claims by high end cable manufactures are unproven, and if they ever were proven, would be absolutely groundbreaking, worthy of nobel prizes and would result in a complete redesign of virtually everything that runs on electricity. But to an average audiophile, who may not have a background in electronics/physics, those articles seem to be reputable, and are misled into spending large amounts of money. And i can see how those cables are of better quality than cheaper cables, and may even sound better, but it's certainly because of their higher quality rather than because of those far-out claims made by them. And that is why i refuse to spend any of my money (not that i have enough to afford their stuff) on those high-end interconnects- even if they do improve sound by as much as some have claimed, i'll gladly live without that rather than supporting people who make a living by misleading others.

And Mbriant makes a great point, and his comparason with religion was excellent- for some audiophiles, finding perfection has become a "religion" (i think soundstage (blah) said this), and they simply want to believe that if they keep on spending more money, they will get better sound. So even if they had Sennheiser Orpheus or the equivalent in speakers, and had electronics to match, they would still keep on trying to find ways to improve the sound. And they believe it so strongly that there is nothing anyone can say that will get them to believe otherwise (willing to die by it)

It makes perfect sense to them, because the audiophile community considers cables to be "componants", and it would be crazy to use $50 "componants" with $50000 speakers, and they will not let anything, even their own observations convince them otherwise. They believe it so strongly that they will "hear" improvements, whether or not they are actually there. (also, in the audiophile community, anyone that says they can't hear differences between cables are immediately ostrisized as being "tin eared")

And bringing in that religion comparason again, just because one side is right doesn't mean that the other sides are wrong. I strongly believe that ALL religions are basically the same thing, just expressed differently (i mean, practically the only difference between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam is who they believe Jesus is...All those "holy wars" are just sad attempts by political leaders to get their way, using religion as a scapegoat for the underlying political, cultural, personal differences)...In the same way, basic physics confirms that cables have no effect on the signal, and people that tell you this are making perfectly valid points. And others who claim to hear a difference between cables may also be correct, because different cables may well sound different due to quality differences and possibly effects not taken into account by traditional theories. And since none of these issues can be proved difinitively one way or the other, i guess we should each make our own observations on the issue, and act accordingly...
post #22 of 33

Cable Jihad

Tara-ist. Kimberanity. Cardasism.

Though there are differences, all seem to have a fundamental disagreement with...

...Monsterism.

post #23 of 33
Religion is based on faith, which is defined as a belief that is not based on proof. I don't think there is anything wrong with having faith, but not all statements about what we hear are just based on faith. If someone runs a well controlled and blind experiment based on someone switching out two different cables, and based on this experiment they determine that they usually prefer cable A over cable B, then that's proof that Cable A is the preferable cable, it's not faith. Notice that I said preferable, not better. Cables are much easier to compare than different amps or headphones, for example, since the volume doesn't change with the cable swap. On the other hand, if someone thinks that cables don't make a difference and therefore believes that anyone that hears a difference is just being fooled, then that's based on a belief and not proof. I think the problem arises when someone doesn't accept one person's proof just based on their own particular faith.

I have a background in electronics and physics, and I think that some of the claims made by the cable manufactures do have a solid scientific basis. If you insist on just looking at the first order affects like resistance, capacitance and inductance, then you can create a argument that cables won't sound differently. If you actually tried them out on a decent system like many people have and have heard them sound different, then that would make you start looking a little deeper at why there are differences. The history of science is full of examples of people over-simplifying theories that are later proven wrong. You also have to realize that selling cables is like any other business, you have to have a marketing angle if you want to stay in business, so some of the claims can be overstated and even far fetched, but that's the business side. I think this has left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouth. I like to think that I buy any product based on it's actual merits rather than it's advertising blitzes. I felt better about buying a BMW 20 years ago when hardly anyone in the US knew about them, and people bought them because they were well engineered cars rather than a status symbol.

When Edison invented the phonograph cylinder player (I forget what it was called) people compared a recording played back on it to a live orchestra and found they sounded the same. Some of listening to different audio equipment is learning what to look for. It's taken me a couple of days to hear the differences between two CD players, but after I figured out what they were I could consistantly pick out which was which. Perhaps I was better off before I knew. Most people are happy with $10 headphones and probably think that spending $50 for headphones is crazy...more power to them.

I've compared cables that cost $700 with ones that cost $150 and preferred the $150 one. I would recommend the $150 one for someone that has my system and my preferences for how it should sound, but someone else might prefer the other one. On some other system maybe they wouldn't sound any different from each other. I have the Cardas microtwin that Chych has, and I agree that they sound very smooth...too smooth for my equipment and tastes actually. But they are definately better than the cheap cables that come free with your CD player, and their smoothness might be a better match for certain equipment than a much more expensive cable.
post #24 of 33
Quote:
If someone runs a well controlled and blind experiment based on someone switching out two different cables, and based on this experiment they determine that they usually prefer cable A over cable B, then that's proof that Cable A is the preferable cable, it's not faith.
yep, i agree and would love to see such a test but how often do you see well controlled blind experiments on cables? i haven't seen any, and it seems that cable manufacturers are reluctant to do such a test beause it might not cast their products in the best light. Almost all cable reviews i've seen say somthing like "i pluged in cable B and suddenly the bass was tighter, the midrange was more defined, the highs cleaner, and the soundsatge was wider". But these are based on memory, and i can assure you that a person's hearing changes more over time than any cable will. Combined with the placibo effect, and the fact that one WANTS the cable to sound better so that he/she didn't just waste large amounts of money, and i have to take those reviews with a grain of salt. So if there was a well controlled test, done by people that i respect (not too many hi-fi writers come to mind), then i would accept it as proof... why don't you do such a test at your next headfizer meeting? i'll be intersted to see the results.

And is hearing really more valid than scientific principals or intuition? Hearing is not done by your ears, but by your brain. Your brain will automatically combine thoughts and feelings along with the sensory input from your ears. So how you are feeling at that time, and what you expect to hear from that cable can often "colour" your hearing. And throughout history there have been countless reports of people having "out of body" experiences and visions, based only on faith. If someone believes so strongly that cables will have such a drastic effect on sound, i can see the exact same thing happening.

Quote:
I think the problem arises when someone doesn't accept one person's proof just based on their own particular faith
And just becuase one person can hear a difference doesn't make it a fact, even IF there is such a difference in the first place. Each person's hearing is totally different, and just because one person can hear it doesn't mean that the difference is there for everyone. Which is why i believe each person should test it out for themselves instead of simply accepting either conclusion/

Quote:
If you insist on just looking at the first order affects like resistance, capacitance and inductance, then you can create a argument that cables won't sound differently. If you actually tried them out on a decent system like many people have and have heard them sound different, then that would make you start looking a little deeper at why there are differences
I never insisted on looking at any particular effect, i just stated that the claims of cardas and others are completely unknown to the world of science. I find it very difficult to accept that EVERY other piece of equipment in the signal path from the microphones in the recording studio to the headphones you use to play them back are desined using "first order" effects, and all of these are not only much more complex than cables, but also have lots of cabling inside them. So if audio is really so special that it can not follow the basic principals used in other electronics, then shouldn't every piece of audio equipment follow those principals?

In my opionion, a cable should add nothing, and take nothing away. And that certainly doesn't seem hard to do, i don't see how it could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars per foot for a wire that simply passes on a signal without altering it (enough for us to hear it). I think the simplist explanation is that different cables sound different because they are colouring the sound. Stuff like MIT cables have circuity that will alter the sound, making it sound different. It may "match better" with different equipment, but i can't see this as an improvement worth the price they charge. Its just like using an EQ, but audiophiles will sneer at deliberately changing the sound with an eq, yet they have no problem making changes with different cables...

i hope that comment written in second person wasn't actually directed at me, i really hope that you aren't impling that my system isn't "decent" enough to pick out differences between cables.

And i can not see any justification of using far fetched claims that are written in such a manner that an unknowing person will be easily misled, to sell make money. It certainly has left a bad taste in the mouths of the average consumer; mass market junk and bose dominate the market, even though they are inferior to comparable audiophile equipment mainly because most people would rather avoid the far fetched claims and snoobery of the audiophile world. We all have different values, and I personally do not like supporting companies that i feel are not honest in how they make their money.

Quote:
Some of listening to different audio equipment is learning what to look for. It's taken me a couple of days to hear the differences between two CD players, but after I figured out what they were I could consistantly pick out which was which. Perhaps I was better off before I knew. Most people are happy with $10 headphones and probably think that spending $50 for headphones is crazy...more power to them.
Yes, and hopefully i will get a chance to test out different cables in the future, if there is a difference that i feel is worth the money spent, then i will purchase them. I certainly don't think that ignorance is the right way to go, but ignorance can go both ways, either ignoring cables because of preconcieved notions, or blindly accepting them because of the claims of manufacturers.
post #25 of 33
thomas,

why don't you just listen to a couple of cables and be done with it. Is this so hard to do? I knew nothing about George Cardas' design philosophies when I tried maybe a dozen different interconnects, and the Cardas 300B Microtwins were simply the most musical, natural, lively, time-coherent, smooth and non-fatiguing cable I could find. What do I care whether his theories are sound? I am not so much interested in theories, I am just the customer, I am interested in musical enjoyment. And I am the ultimate judge. I am the one who says whether all those psychacoustic theories relating measurable engineering criteria to perceivable effects are valid. I have first hand experience about this thing called hearing. I actually do it, while any psychoacoustic theory is just a theory of hearing, a model of reality, a model of my perception. And since the only reason for me to buy hi-fi gear is to enjoy it, musical enjoyment is all that matters to me. If there isn't an increase in emotional involvement from a new component, then this component is simply worse. And predicting my emotional reaction, my musical enjoyment, just from reading a component's specs, is next to impossible.

I just believe what I hear. As jude suggested, there is some degree of Cardasism to this, but primarily, there is a whole lot of Tomcatism.
post #26 of 33
quote:

"I just believe what I hear."

I'm sure everyone has seen one or more of the optical illusion e-mails that circulate. The most incredible I've seen so far was entitled "Steven King's Hand". (If you've never seen it, e-mail me and I'll forward it to you. ) It's simply a series of moving black and white spirals which you stare at then look at your own hand.

Your hand suddenly looks like there are worms moving around under your skin.

A real acid trip.

I used to believe in the saying "seeing is believing".

It's not always the case. The mind, the eyes, and the ears can all work together to play tricks on us.
post #27 of 33
mbriant,

isn't this what the concept of hi-fi is all about: creating the illusion, that there are real instruments playing in real space? That they are here or you are there, whatever. We try to simulate an event, to simulate a performance. And we do this in order to have the same - primarily emotional and sensual - experience we have in front of the real thing. We want to be fooled, we have to be fooled in order for this hi-fi thing to work.

Or would you suggest that there is such a thing as the wrong kind of fun?
post #28 of 33
How is it that silver cables sound brighter than copper? Are there different properties in inductance, resistance, etc.? Also, how important to the sound are the actual connectors? For example, when the gold wears off my cheepie interconnects, will the sound change if they're still clean?

Akin to the break-in arguments (start another thread if you want to argue that point), I'm not sure if it's the equipment or if it's me. With cable, I can only tell silver from copper and only on the exact same equipment using the exact same song/music. And only most of the time.

Finally, I thought hi-fi was about trying to recreate the live event. So far, no system has had me fooled. Some systems/components sound better than others, but I think, for now, I'll save my interconnect money and actually go to the show.
post #29 of 33
thomas, I wasn't trying to imply anything about your system, which I don't really know anything about. The point is that some systems will benefit from cable upgrades more than others. Spending money on cables is not something I would advise anyone to do unless they could verify to their own satisfaction that there is an improvement and that it's worth it. The $700 cable experiment I mentioned was done on a very high end system, and the cable was between the DAC and an amp driving speakers. I have several different systems and didn't even try them out on any other. Even if a $700 cable made a $200 CD player sound better, this is not the best way to spend the audio dollars. If I could get a $700 cable to make $36K speakers sound better, than I was willing to pay it. Lucky me, I liked the cheaper cable better.

Tomcat is right, cable comparisons are relatively easy to do in a controlled way. If people want to do this at the next Bay area headFiWizer meeting then we'll do it. We did some cable comparisons last time but they weren't blind. We did do one blind comparisons (CD player out vs amp out) and got some fairly consistant results. Silver vs copper is a good way to start, since the differences are often pretty big.

huy_ha, I've heard some pretty good systems and they've never fooled me either. Some get closer than others but none of them get really close. I go to hear live music several times a month, and would rather spend my money there if I have to make a choice between the two. Unfortunately I can't go to see Miles Davis, for example, live since he isn't, so I'm back to my system to hear him.

A lot of the problem is with the recordings. I'm sure they do use a lot of crappy sounding stuff and we're left trying to make it sound as good as it can. I recommend people to listen to Mapleshade records CDs (mapleshaderecords.com) to hear what a purist recording can sound like. They also sell the cables and other tweeks that they use. Their claims are also exaggerated in my opinion but I do use some of their stuff, and their CDs sound great.

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that it's all about the music.
post #30 of 33
Kurt, your earlier post (not the last one, but the one before it) was one of the best I've ever read on the whole cable debate.
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