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Testing audiophile claims and myths - Page 111

post #1651 of 3201

Guys, correct me if I'm wrong but speaker differences can be quantified in all respects now, right? One argument I've heard from cable believers is that due to the reactance of any audio system a cable that colors the sound one way in one system could very easily sound quite different in another system. Is that a particularly compelling argument? If I say the cables can be quantified.. but then audiophiles might say that's not possible because it depends on the system. Thoughts?


Edited by Yahzi - 12/5/12 at 1:12pm
post #1652 of 3201
Quote:
One argument I've heard from cable believers is that due to the reactance of any audio system a cable that colors the sound one way in one system could very easily sound quite different in another system.
Is that a particularly compelling argument?

 

 

No. It not only is not compelling, it does not make sense.


Edited by liamstrain - 12/5/12 at 6:23pm
post #1653 of 3201
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yahzi View Post

If I say the cables can be quantified.. but then audiophiles might say that's not possible because it depends on the system.

 

That is an excuse to believe things that are quite clearly not true. Audiophiles have a whole passel of prevarications like that.

post #1654 of 3201
Quote:
No. It not only is not compelling, it does not make sense.

 

 

Could you explain why it makes no sense? Please understand I'm not disagreeing, just would like you to elaborate more on your answer.


Edited by Yahzi - 12/5/12 at 9:48pm
post #1655 of 3201

In theory, each step in the system adds (or doesn't add) noise, distortion or imbalances. When you get to the end of the chain, all of those anomalies theoretically add up to a mulligan stew of noise. This was true in the analogue era where turntables crackled and amps hissed and distorted. Every layer of noise built up, so you tried to keep each layer as clean as it could be.

 

However, in the digital age this really doesn't happen. Even the cheapest CD players put out audibly perfect sound... massive dynamic range, inaudible noise and distortion, and perfectly balanced frequency response. The same is true of even humble amplifiers and receivers. The wires connecting add nothing at all. All of the potentially audible noise, distortion and imbalances come when the rubber hits the road- the speakers and the room.

 

Audiophiles love to muddy the waters by concocting magical circumstances where 1+1 doesn't equal 2. The say things like a certain wire "sounds different" when it's connected to a certain CD player. They talk about "synergy". It's all hogwash. With digital audio, generally things either work or they don't. It isn't like analogue sound where everything added its own noise to the chain.

post #1656 of 3201

But I have seen, for example, speaker cables acting like tone controls. Surely in those cases it can be audible? Cables with grotesquely high inductance or capacitance? Audioholics measured some in their cable reports.

 

But the whole "speaker is reactive load changing depending on the cable ...is nonsense? 

post #1657 of 3201

Found this :

 

http://www.silveraudio.com/papers1.html

 

Because of DC and AC resistance, the "sound" of a cable is really defined by how it alters the interaction between the source and load components. AC resistance (impedance) is the result of both capacitive and inductive effects (reactance) and is far more relevant than DC resistance however. AC resistance is perhaps the main source of the "voodoo" of audio cables since a given cable design will in principle cause different audio equipment to "behave" differently due to the substantial variation in both input and output impedance's of preamplifiers, power amplifiers, and front end units.

 

The "voodoo" reputation of audio cables is worsened by the apparent irrelevance of typical steady state measurements. Educated "cable cynics" are fond of pointing out that calculated frequency effects (3db down!) of the capacitative and inductive values of any normal audio cable at normal lengths are much higher than any audible frequency. This simplistic argument implies that that such delicate, complex and highly variable sonic qualities affected by different audio cables (or amplifiers for that matter) such as sound stage depth, image focus and ambience could be completely explained by simple frequency attenuation.

 

Indeed persistent attempts by solid state designers to clone the very unique manner in which vacuum tubes affect the audio signal by using simple tone networks have always been a laughable and dismal failure. While the "first order" effects of LC influenced frequency attenuation are well characterized, indirect effects of their time delay components on our perception of the more subtle aspects of playback are not. One or two degrees of phase shift can be calculated in the audio band from capacitance whose frequency attenuation is well into the ultra-sonic regions.

 

Exactly what one degree of phase shift and perhaps one tenth of a dB of attenuation may sound like is not known and is probably very unpredictable and extremely dependant on the particular source material. Such small effects could not normally be seen since they would be hidden in the noise floor of measuring equipment. Instead actual their existence can only be suggested mathematically.

The fact that different audio cables do affect system performance differently would be especially challenging to defend if all audio cables had identical LC measurements.

 

Luckily, this is not the case, as different interconnect and speaker cable designs result in easily measurable variations in capacitance and inductance respectively.

post #1658 of 3201
Quote:

Originally Posted by Yahzi View Post
 

Indeed persistent attempts by solid state designers to clone the very unique manner in which vacuum tubes affect the audio signal by using simple tone networks have always been a laughable and dismal failure.

 

Failure ?

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Yahzi View Post
 

The "voodoo" reputation of audio cables is worsened by the apparent irrelevance of typical steady state measurements.

 

What do you mean exactly by "typical steady state measurements" ?

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Yahzi View Post
 

Exactly what one degree of phase shift and perhaps one tenth of a dB of attenuation may sound like is not known and is probably very unpredictable and extremely dependant on the particular source material. Such small effects could not normally be seen since they would be hidden in the noise floor of measuring equipment. Instead actual their existence can only be suggested mathematically.

 

It is entirely possible to measure less than one degree of difference in phase shift accurately, as is to measure less than 0.1 dB changes in frequency response. Any decent measuring equipment (and even some PC sound cards) has a dynamic range higher than what a human can hear at a volume level that does not cause hearing damage. It is also possible to attenuate the noise floor in the measured response by simply using a longer sample in the measurement, and the frequency/phase response of the test equipment itself can be factored out, too. In short, if there is a difference, it can be measured sooner than it can be heard.

If a mathematical model of the effects is available, it can be simulated easily in software, and tested with an ABX comparator.

post #1659 of 3201

Please correct me, the reactive load comments and how different cables can affect those loads does not have merit? Or is there some degree of truth in there? Because audiophiles sometimes like to claim that cables in one system might not adversely affect performance, but some loads are affected due to certain cable characteristics, inductance, capacitance etc etc.

post #1660 of 3201

Interesting test, so what he is saying is spending tons of money for cables to improve sound doesnt make sense 

post #1661 of 3201
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yahzi View Post

Please correct me, the reactive load comments and how different cables can affect those loads does not have merit? Or is there some degree of truth in there? Because audiophiles sometimes like to claim that cables in one system might not adversely affect performance, but some loads are affected due to certain cable characteristics, inductance, capacitance etc etc.

 

Speakers cables, if their RLC numbers trend too much in any one direction, can act as a sort of crossover (too much induction affects lows, too much capacitance affects highs (high-pass filter), etc. So, yes, you CAN make a Speaker cable that will potential affect the sound, depending on your speakers, and how bad you are a making cables (or deliberately try to do so).

 

But by and large, the RLC figures for most speaker cables will have a negligible effect. 

 

Interconnects with modern equipment should have zero effect, again, unless you are doing something wrong. 

 

The whole "reactance of the whole system" argument is one for synergy, and an excuse to make up anything to fit their own pet theories. 

post #1662 of 3201
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yahzi View Post

Please correct me, the reactive load comments and how different cables can affect those loads does not have merit? Or is there some degree of truth in there? Because audiophiles sometimes like to claim that cables in one system might not adversely affect performance, but some loads are affected due to certain cable characteristics, inductance, capacitance etc etc.

 

It is true that the exact effects of the cable depend on the load. However, in most cases they are small enough to be inaudible or make only a very minor difference, assuming that the cable is not used for a purpose it is poorly suited to (e.g. an extremely long high gauge wire with low impedance loudspeakers).

post #1663 of 3201
Quote:
Originally Posted by liamstrain View Post

too much capacitance affects highs (high-pass filter), etc.

 

Capacitance can only act as a highpass filter if it is serial, and that normally does not happen with cables that are not broken. Parallel capacitance can act as a lowpass filter, but either the capacitance or the serial impedance before it has to be unusually high for an actual audible treble roll-off to occur. Highly capacitive cables can make some amplifiers unstable, though, if they are not particularly well designed. Other than that, the most likely source of audible issues is serial resistance and perhaps inductance with low impedance transducer loads (e.g. I have measured a total cable resistance of about 4 Ω for a cheap low-ish impedance headphone).


Edited by stv014 - 12/6/12 at 5:35am
post #1664 of 3201

Does such a thing as "synergy" exist or is that another audiophile myth? What are your thought on this? I must say, all this discussion is really interesting.

post #1665 of 3201
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post

 

Capacitance can only act as a highpass filter if it is serial, and that normally does not happen with cables that are not broken. Parallel capacitance can act as a lowpass filter, but either the capacitance or the serial impedance before it has to be unusually high for an actual audible treble roll-off to occur. Highly capacitive cables can make some amplifiers unstable, though, if they are not particularly well designed. Other than that, the most likely source of audible issues is serial resistance and perhaps inductance with low impedance transducer loads (e.g. I have measured a total cable resistance of about 4 Ω for a cheap low-ish impedance headphone).

 

Thank you for clarifying. The bulk of my point holds, that as long as the cable isn't deliberately made to have very high readings (or broken), it is unlikely to audibly affect anything.

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