Originally Posted by aimlink
My suspicion on this is that there's more to it and that it's not simply a matter of what we already know and understand being rubbish or poorly understood.
And I've LONG ago been waving in the breeze that the bigger cash cow belongs in the domain of amps, cans and other gear that claim improvements etc that are potentially way overhyped. For instance, I was just reading a discussion on SE vs Balanced amp'ing. It would seem that the virtues of an investment on Balanced amp'ing isn't so clear. That amounts to significantly more than a cable upgrade. There's my HiFace as well vs USB. There's so much more but no-one says anything because there's a measurable difference. No-one can really say anything because they can't prove that a measurable difference isn't really audible and even if so, is genuinely meaningful. So in frustration, the cables issue becomes a punching bag it would seem. So much emotion and over a relatively small area of expenditure in the audio chain.
It's easy to say that there are things we don't understand, but have you thought through the implications? From what we know, there are three electrical characteristics that affect cables: inductance, resistance and capacitance. All three can be measured very, very precisely. These tests can be repeated by anyone anywhere with a wide variety of different test equipment and get the same results.
You're suggesting that there is a fourth force that acts on an electrical signal.
This fourth force could not have any effect whatsoever on inductance, capacitance and resistance. Otherwise, measurements of those three would be off a bit here and there. But that doesn't happen. If they were off and no one knew why, then, yes, I could see the possibility of a fourth force. But it's remarkable that the proposed fourth force has absolutely no effect whatsoever on the three known forces. Even more remarkable, since the three known forces are closely connected. Changing one changes the others. But the new one must operate independently.
Further, the fourth force would have to modify the signal somehow in a way that does not appear on an oscilloscope or spectrum analyzer. If you contend that a cable changes the electrical properties of a signal, then why does the change not appear in a visual representation of the waveform? These devices are very sophisticated and can measure the tiniest of changes. So if the signal changes, why doesn't it show up?
It's pretty amazing that there's a force that changes a signal without showing any change to the signal, and all the while having zero effect on capacitance, inductance and resistance.
It is also amazing that this fourth force only shows up in audio. There are lots of other electrical devices out there, but they all seem to behave according to known laws. These debates only take place in audio. You never see these claims for video. Nor do you see them for test equipment, hospital devices, refrigerators, lights, or anything else. You don't find them in radio applications, either, and those are much more complex than audio devices. If cables work in audio, then why don't they work on anything else?
Like I said, the possibility is out there, but it would mean a fundamental change in physics. It's Nobel Prize territory.
And what floors me is that this mysterious reinterpretation of science is done by some guy working out of his garage charging a 10,000% markup.
As for amps, have you ever gone through how much the parts cost? Go over to Headwize and price out the components. If you want good quality parts and good circuit design, it's easy to put down $500 in parts. Labor, overhead and profit are just like any other manufacturing company. Amps are complex and take quite a few hours to build. Believe it or not, but the margins in the amp sector are probably the thinnest in audio.
The debate doesn't go on with amps because they produce actual measurements. Maybe you're right about the audibility of differences, but there are practical applications like needing Watts for inefficient speakers that an 8W 300B amp just won't drive.
Edited by Uncle Erik - 8/12/10 at 5:49pm