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Don't get why "Audiophile" USB Cable would improve sound quality - Page 51  

post #751 of 835

that wireworld powercord is the best cord ever connected into my system...kudos to the engineers there, if u happen to view this post. beerchug.gif

 

okok...back to your scientific discourse.. :P

tongue.gif

 

Edited by Lorspeaker - 5/11/12 at 9:00pm
post #752 of 835
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

I bet the manufacturers of wireworld or audioquest cables are VERY happy.... Smiling all the way to the bank!

 

I think we agree on this pointbiggrin.gif

post #753 of 835
Quote:
Originally Posted by drez View Post

Well I would suggest you use some more advanced comprehesnsion skills in order to appraise the tone of Nicholar's posting.

I am very willing to note that my observations may be affected by cognitive bias, on the other hand many freshling objectivists are not willing to concede that they are merely regurgitating second or third hand opinion and are clearly not familiar with either the technical or scientific foundations of these viewpoints.  This is not constructive.

Sorry, let me put it this way: you seemed a tad too touchy on the subject. Likewise, if I was as touchy, I'd take some offense at your insinuation that I am not using advanced enough comprehension skills.
Quote:
Originally Posted by drez View Post

Cognitive bias is a valid hypothesis but it is just that - it is a mechanism which has been theorised to be responsible for behavior of subjects in previous experiments, and which may be posited as a possible explanation for other phenomenon. AFAIK Cognitive bias explains the tendency for people to attribute properties or differences when they are not actually directly perceived.

I think this might be the root of the misunderstanding. Cognitive bias is not a hypothetical factor - it is a necessary part of human cognition. All perception, thought and memory is influenced by various cognitive biases. Luckily we can learn to identify individual biases and attempt to compensate for them, but it is silly to say that one is simply not subject to a specific cognitive bias after being made aware of it.
post #754 of 835
Quote:
Originally Posted by anetode View Post

Luckily we can learn to identify individual biases and attempt to compensate for them, but it is silly to say that one is simply not subject to a specific cognitive bias after being made aware of it.

 

The question that moves us is: this difference that I am hearing, is it due to cognitive bias, or to some actual sonic difference? The bias is a constant, it's always there unless you're in blind testing conditions, no one argues that. But there's a chance (not with USB, but other cases) that beyond it there's also some physical difference.

post #755 of 835
That's where you get to the quagmire of correlating the measurements of some tenuously related physical parameters of the sound-making device to human response to and appraisal of that device. It's backwards, really. Kinda like worrying about potential causes of jitter rather than worrying about having an adequate PLL.
post #756 of 835
Quote:
Originally Posted by anetode View Post

I think this might be the root of the misunderstanding. Cognitive bias is not a hypothetical factor - it is a necessary part of human cognition. All perception, thought and memory is influenced by various cognitive biases. Luckily we can learn to identify individual biases and attempt to compensate for them, but it is silly to say that one is simply not subject to a specific cognitive bias after being made aware of it.

 

Good point, I never thought about it this way not having done much reading in psychology - if you do have any suggested reading I would greatly appreciate it as I quite interested in the field.  Do you think this is a matter that we have certain categories and theories with which we are trying to make sense of what our senses detect, and which will necessarily influence how we perceive things?

 

WRT PLL and jitter what my theory is that there are actual bits being dropped somewhere as I have experimented with using upsampling at the computer side vs comparable upsampling at the DAC side (differences here could be down to the quality of the upsampling process and filters etc so this is just a vague theory) but I tended to prefer upsampling on the computer to upsampling further downstream.  It is a bit of a long shot but could this mean that bits are in fact being dropped before making it to the DAC rather than just differences in the upsampling processes?  

 

Personally I have no idea how this is actually possible with an asynchronous USB receiver, the digital input receiver in my current DAC is DIR9001 as opposed to the more advanced WM8805 but for some reason I found the latter to sound too forward.  In the last DAC I was using where I could swap between DIR9001 and WM8805 but of course "forward" does not necessarily relate to any reliable technical performance criteria - I mean it could be that the DAC actually sounded subjectively better with the technically inferior performance of the DIR9001 chip for whatever reason.  I think what is difficult with this subject is A) that there is no agreement that there actually are differences and B) that there is no agreement as to what might be causing these differences, which doesn't really leave much chance for intelligent component selection...

 

I mean maybe if I was using the WM8805 I would hear less differences between difference transport and cables etc?  I cant say for sure but I may try this out with my old DAC to try and make sense of this.

post #757 of 835
Quote:
Originally Posted by drez View Post

 

Good point, I never thought about it this way not having done much reading in psychology - if you do have any suggested reading I would greatly appreciate it as I quite interested in the field.  Do you think this is a matter that we have certain categories and theories with which we are trying to make sense of what our senses detect, and which will necessarily influence how we perceive things?

 

WRT PLL and jitter what my theory is that there are actual bits being dropped somewhere as I have experimented with using upsampling at the computer side vs comparable upsampling at the DAC side (differences here could be down to the quality of the upsampling process and filters etc so this is just a vague theory) but I tended to prefer upsampling on the computer to upsampling further downstream.  It is a bit of a long shot but could this mean that bits are in fact being dropped before making it to the DAC rather than just differences in the upsampling processes?  

Well the thing is, if just that were enough to actually cause bits to be dropped, let alone enough to cause an audible difference (keep in mind that dropping one or two bits here or there would be like missing say one sample, so like 1/44,000th of a second where the DAC has to guess what it was supposed to be), there's no way USB would be able to reach the full bandwidth it does with bulk data transfer - the actual amount of bandwidth being used for USB audio is pretty small in comparison.

post #758 of 835

Can anyone show any causal link between how a USB cable is made, or what it is made of and sound quality?

 

Can anyone show a causal link between how different USB cables conduct the electrical signal which contains the digital information required to reproduce sound and sound quality?

 

By show I mean prove in a way that is testable, repeatable and verifiable.

 

I have spent a lot of time looking and I cannot find anything that remotely approaches a causality.
 

post #759 of 835
Quote:
Originally Posted by drez View Post

Good point, I never thought about it this way not having done much reading in psychology - if you do have any suggested reading I would greatly appreciate it as I quite interested in the field.  Do you think this is a matter that we have certain categories and theories with which we are trying to make sense of what our senses detect, and which will necessarily influence how we perceive things?

For a quick tour of some of the wonderful ways our brains screw us over, there's "Inevitable Illusions" by Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini. For a more encyclopedic overview, see "Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment".

Being a bit cynical I'd also like to recommend Churchland's "Neurophilosophy" in order to pull back the curtain and show how fragile and tentative all cognition and theories thereof must be.
post #760 of 835
Quote:
Originally Posted by drez View Post

 

Good point, I never thought about it this way not having done much reading in psychology - if you do have any suggested reading I would greatly appreciate it as I quite interested in the field.  Do you think this is a matter that we have certain categories and theories with which we are trying to make sense of what our senses detect, and which will necessarily influence how we perceive things?

 

WRT PLL and jitter what my theory is that there are actual bits being dropped somewhere as I have experimented with using upsampling at the computer side vs comparable upsampling at the DAC side (differences here could be down to the quality of the upsampling process and filters etc so this is just a vague theory) but I tended to prefer upsampling on the computer to upsampling further downstream.  It is a bit of a long shot but could this mean that bits are in fact being dropped before making it to the DAC rather than just differences in the upsampling processes?  

 

Personally I have no idea how this is actually possible with an asynchronous USB receiver, the digital input receiver in my current DAC is DIR9001 as opposed to the more advanced WM8805 but for some reason I found the latter to sound too forward.  In the last DAC I was using where I could swap between DIR9001 and WM8805 but of course "forward" does not necessarily relate to any reliable technical performance criteria - I mean it could be that the DAC actually sounded subjectively better with the technically inferior performance of the DIR9001 chip for whatever reason.  I think what is difficult with this subject is A) that there is no agreement that there actually are differences and B) that there is no agreement as to what might be causing these differences, which doesn't really leave much chance for intelligent component selection...

 

I mean maybe if I was using the WM8805 I would hear less differences between difference transport and cables etc?  I cant say for sure but I may try this out with my old DAC to try and make sense of this.

 

The effective resolution of the DACs differ (like 13 effective bits for 16bit DAC) based on the dynamic range they can produce, but thats a characteristic of the DAC. The USB will transfer the 16 bits over.

post #761 of 835
Quote:
Originally Posted by anetode View Post

Being a bit cynical I'd also like to recommend Churchland's "Neurophilosophy" in order to pull back the curtain and show how fragile and tentative all cognition and theories thereof must be.

 

Very quickly dissolves into solipsism at that point... but fun stuff. 

post #762 of 835
Quote:
Originally Posted by anetode View Post


For a quick tour of some of the wonderful ways our brains screw us over, there's "Inevitable Illusions" by Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini. For a more encyclopedic overview, see "Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment".
Being a bit cynical I'd also like to recommend Churchland's "Neurophilosophy" in order to pull back the curtain and show how fragile and tentative all cognition and theories thereof must be.

 

Thanks for the references, I will definitely enjoy reading these.  Might have to renew my uni library membership depending what these cost to order ($50 yearly membership and having to bother travelling to the city vs poetential cost to purchase)

post #763 of 835

Here is a story from my experience. (Context: I'm not deaf and quite musical, can transcribe music by ear, have lots of live listening/playing experience, and don't use today's pop to test equipment). I was comparing two different DACs. You know, you read here on head-fi how ppl compare stuff and pretty much ALWAYS hear HUGE improvements in sound stage, frequency range, separation etc. So I started looking for these, and of course found something. In the beginning, it occurred to me that there were indeed certain differences between these two DACs, which were very different in terms of their generation and design principles. So I felt happy. This was because unpleasant uncertainty on which option was better fell off my back. I figured out which was better. I felt like I could come here and brag about the HUGE differences in pretty much every aspect.

 

Just for the sake of interest, however, I asked my wife to help me to do a blind test. I had no doubts that it would confirm my findings. So I matched the volume (using spl measurement device and playing a single tone; I also did this in the non-blind experiment), put on my k701, and made sure that in no way I could see which source was playing. Surprise surprise: it was so hard to distinguish that half of my guesses were false. This finding was much less pleasant than finding HUGE differences. The only possible conclusion from this was that the 'differences' that I heard before had nothing to do with the actual sound. Visualization of the equipment made my brain do tricks on me, unconsciously. I did much more testing afterwards, returning to the same conclusion. Up to that point, I did not consider myself gullible. After that, so far as sound testing is concerned, I do not trust my ears anymore, unless they are accompanied by a blindfold.

 

Do you know why they make cables look so nice and shiny, like in the flashing ads in this forum? ;)

 

Some people swear by their cables. And now I can understand them, and sympathize.

 

For example, there is a guy on this forum, called 'slim.a' if I remember correctly. I kinda used to read his reviews, which were very comprehensive and readable. But then I came across his review of different USB cables, where he claimed that he heard HUGE differences, and wrote extensively on these. Jeez, the test wasn't even blind. After that 'review', I don't do his reviews anymore.

 

So from my experience, here are the few conclusions that I learned from this forum (not good for business, but here I go) and my experiments in this very subjective business:

 

1) In hi-fi segment (this means disregarding realtek audio etc) stuff, if made correctly, doesn't make much of a difference (exception is transducers and if you go solid state->tube). Sometimes there is no difference at all. And its OK if there's none. Guess how many reviews you can find here where the conclusion is 'no difference'. There must always be something, otherwise its not interesting to write:)

 

2) You can disregard any statement on 'differences' as false with 95% certainty if it is not backed up by careful (objective) volume level matching and blind testing. There might be also shortcuts to 'ignore', e.g. USB cable guys with 'the veil has been removed' or feelers of ultra spacious sound stages in techno and other boombastics.

 

3) Consequently, according to my observations, around 90%, if not more, content on this forum (and in audio forums in general), so far as it relates to differences between different pieces of equipment, is rubbish generated by a combination of kids, fanboys, shills, and also honest people who tricked by their mind unconsciously promote someone else's business. Because of the latter we still have wars on earth. Critical thinking is our only salvation.

 

4) The most important thing of all is music. Sometimes, cheap boombox can give much more pleasure and excitement than HD800, and its ok.

post #764 of 835

^^^ This. Thanks for your contribution.

post #765 of 835

I think a lot probably comes down to the equipment being tested, at least that is how I would explain the observations I have been having (other than cognitive biasing.)  The USB to SPDIF converter I am using is a battery modified HiFace which has theoretical advantages in producing an SPDIF signal with less noise over the signal.  BUT the HiFace was designed to be plugged directly into computer, and this modified unit is connected via an USB cable.  The drivers for the HiFace are designed with a certain latency in mind for the USB connection, this latency being very small due to the fact that the original hiface is plugged directly into the computer without an USB cable.  The latest cable I have tested is all of 70mm in length and as short as possible, uses 26 AWG OCC copper for the fastest possible signal propagation and I have designed it without braided shielding and with a ground wire that sits away from the signal wires which are tightly bound in parallel , not that this is probably important.  What is important though is that this cable is designed to have the fastest possible signal propagation to be as close as possible to a direct USB connection.  The difference is by far the greatest I have heard between cables, yes large enough I am 100% confident that I can tell the difference in a blind test and I intend to do exactly this at the next local head-fi meet or even sooner.  I could not say with the same confidence that I could tell between other regular length cables no matter of price.

 

I cant be certain that other converters or USB DAC's would respond similarly - it probably depends on the drivers, and buffer setup of the particular device.  Buffers are actually an interesting consideration as my limited understanding is larger buffers require greater processing time than smaller buffers, and if the buffer size is not adequate for the latency of the signal from the computer it will underrun and drop packets.  In fact one of the key features of the new HiFace 2 drivers is an adjustable buffer setting whereas the original hiface did not have this option.  I notice the difference most clearly on high definition material where the USB connection requires greater data throughput.  I do not think this has anything to do with jitter, only to do with latency and buffer sizes along with driver design.

 

My thoughts overall are that yes USB cables can make a difference but ONLY if there is a confluence of factors relating to the hardware being used and material being streamed, in this case that the HiFace in my opinion is not designed to be used with a USB cable and did not have drivers that could adapt to the higher latency of the USB connection.  With the abundance of well designed modular USB receivers such as the XMOS system I think it is less and less likely that USB cables will be a factor in the performance of computer audio gear.

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