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Don't get why "Audiophile" RCA Cable would improve sound quality

post #1 of 71
Thread Starter 

So this is a mimmick of the other existing thread right now revolving around USB cables.

 

I own a set of Audioquest Sidewinder RCA interconnects between my Musical Fidelity V-DAC and my Matrix M-Stage. 

 

I thought this thread would be an interesting discussion since it's discussing 2 different sound transports: analog and digital. 

 

So I am now curious if the analog transport when compared to the digital transport is in difference in the question of whether or not "Audiophile" RCA cables would improve sound quality?

post #2 of 71

Not a single component can improve sound quality.It can only make it less affected.

In the case with cables,cable capacitance,inductance and resistance react affecting the source output.It's a matter of personal preference and beliefs,if objectively bad cable will make affect the sound subjectively good.Some manufacturers actually make higher-capacitance cables,for example,as the effect of loading the source output with a capacitor is fairly audible,while textbook-made cables perform all the same.

 

post #3 of 71
Analog is a different realm than digital; since an RCA (or coax, or a headphone) cable is actually carrying the audio signal itself, things like inductance, capacitance, resistance, and the like can alter the signal as it's being passed along the cable. Ancillary things like end connectors, ferrites, and cable routing can also play a part in analog cable "sound", and I consider those aspects as important as the actual cable material and construction.

Now, whether these differences make an audible impact is debatable, but as there's the real-world possibility of much greater variance of these measurable characteristics between different analog cables utilizing different materials and construction methods, there's a relatively strong case to be made that markedly-different cables (as related to the measurable parameters listed earlier) could give an audible signal change when compared to each other.
post #4 of 71
Strong case? I'm still waiting to see one.

The cable controversy is not a new one. We've had debates for over 30 years. Sensitive test gear has existed for decades. Gear that can measure things no human can perceive.

So where's the evidence?

Keep in mind that there are huge financial rewards for demonstrating a difference. Cables have the highest margin of any audio gear. Do you see other audio gear manufacturers shying away from measurements? Go ask Sennheiser how the HD-800 stacks up against the T1. I'm sure they could give you a detailed analysis. So could Beyerdynamic. Don't you think it a little strange that cable manufacturers run and hide when asked for technical evidence? The ones that don't disappear take some predictable paths:

1. You're a "hater" for asking questions;
2. Your gear sucks; and
3. Your hearing is bad.

Cute, isn't it?

Try asking them about their margins. They'll start talking R&D. But how do you conduct R&D when nothing can be measured?
post #5 of 71

What happens if you ask a cable manufacturer for actual measurements?

post #6 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post

Cute, isn't it?

Try asking them about their margins. They'll start talking R&D. But how do you conduct R&D when nothing can be measured?


So.... what's all this, then? http://www.analysis-plus.com/design_physics.html

 

post #7 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post




So.... what's all this, then? http://www.analysis-plus.com/design_physics.html

 



That is simply theory.  There are no references to actual studies, and no actual measurements are shown.  Basically, for all we know, they just pulled down their pants and crapped that out.

post #8 of 71

Regarding the article linked, cables do affect frequency response as measured by nick_charles, but claiming you could hear 0.02db differences is a bit like claiming that you can read size 3 font from 500 meters away. Besides, the differences in frequency response didn't have any particular logic to them - all the cables had microscopic deviations from the norm and their price was not comparable to these deviations. 

 

To be honest, I'm surprised people are still trying to apply science to cables when most of the major subjectivist publications have basically thrown up their hands and said "OK, we believe in effects that cause differences. that are not shown by modern science."

 

Of course, the fact that these differences disappear under any formal test where they don't know what they're listening to doesn't touch their credibilityrolleyes.gif

post #9 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post




So.... what's all this, then? http://www.analysis-plus.com/design_physics.html

 


A theory as to why a cable may sound different. Here is another one off the same site

 

http://www.analysis-plus.com/design_whyhollow.html

 

where they show how a hollow cable, because the electrical properties don't change more of the music is delivered to your ears. Apparently. They still need to prove that link. They spend a lot of time showing how their cables work well (better than the rest) here

 

http://www.analysis-plus.com/design_whitepaper.html

 

and promisingly title the final paragraph The best test instrument - the ears, but again show no link, they only suggest that the ear can pick out very quiet sounds without showing they can and do so reliably in any hifi system.

 

post #10 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaBomb77766 View Post

What happens if you ask a cable manufacturer for actual measurements?


Many do publish measurements and information as to how their cable measures differently. They then all suggest that difference in measurement is what makes their cable better. They also often claim superior build quality over their rivals. Both are then used to suggest better sound, but nothing more. For examples

 

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/556398/cables-the-role-of-hype-and-the-missing-link

 

post #11 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post

Strong case? I'm still waiting to see one.

I worded that one badly...there's a stronger case to be made for analog cables than digital cables changing the sound signature of the overall setup. "Strong" is of course relative, but there's a higher probability (low as it may be) that cable carrying an analog audio signal is more likely to modify that signal than a cable carrying a digital signal. Whether that change is audible, if the change does actually exist, is another argument in itself.

I do entirely agree with your position on power cables, though. My hearing must just be too bad to distinguish that "increased airyness and shimmering sparkle" massively oversized, pretty power cables make.
post #12 of 71

Back in my ill-spent youth, we'd balance and "blueprint" engines to get more performance and reliability. Blueprinting involved tightening every bolt to exact torque specifications, keeping all clearances to spec, etc. Balancing kept vibrations our of everything that moved. The idea wasn't that any single bolt being a bit too tight or loose or any single spark plug gap being a tad too narrow or wide would have much effect, but an engine that had everything done right would operate better than an engine with a lot of tiny imperfections. We called it tolerance stackup.

 

As I read these threads, I see references to very small improvements or differences in each individual component, many below the ability to hear. But I wonder if they all add up to something that is within our hearing.

 

In building a solar system, especially a low-voltage system, it's critical to keep all connections to a minimum because each connection drops voltage. It's critical to use properly sized wire because wire that is too small drops voltage. No single connection is all that critical because the voltage drops are usually very small, but they add up. With solar, we can measure the voltage drop exactly and so there is no debate. 

 

But with audio, I'm not seeing any way people can measure the pleasure factor of music. Yes, I see frequency-response charts, but they don't always correlate to the sound we're looking for. Is there a way to measure warmth, transparency, detail?

 

I read in Robert Harley's "High-Performance Audio Systems" that THC, while certainly capable of being measured and is certainly a good design goal, is often a misleading piece of evidence in  the actual sound being reproduced because certain feedback designs can reduce distortion while degrading the actual sound quality. Some amp manufacturers would design for enhanced specs so their equipment could be more easily marketed, even though it didn't sound as good.

 

It's interesting to see that people in double-blind tests don't seem to be able to find improvements in individual component improvements, I wonder if they can reliably hear differences when all these improvements are lumped together in a "blueprinted" system.

post #13 of 71

Warmth and transparency are all expressed in the numbers.

Regarding your idea of cumulative differences, the problem is that the differences involved here are stupidly small. Cable measurements often end up with a wonderful picture of the noise floor and various characteristics of the DAC/ADC. No cable consistently shows any "improvement" over any other cable - bar some truly microscopic differences that are so far out of the realm of audibility to be verging on farcical, cables are exactly the same.

 

 

 

post #14 of 71

I believe you. It seems there should be some better evidence than I'm seeing.

 

However, just for fun, I measured the resistance in my Monster 400-series RCA cables versus the thin, stock cables that came with my Marantz CD DAC. Both cables measure one meter. The Monster cable measured 0.2 ohms. The stock cables measured 0.3 ohms. Plus, the fit of the Monster cables are much tighter, so resistance could be reduced a bit more. Maybe that's not much difference in resistance -- and I can't hear the difference -- but that's a difference that I can measure. In theory, my amp should have to work harder to achieve the same volume with the stock cables. Couldn't that make a difference in the SQ, even thought small?

 

 

post #15 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Josey View Post

But with audio, I'm not seeing any way people can measure the pleasure factor of music. Yes, I see frequency-response charts, but they don't always correlate to the sound we're looking for. Is there a way to measure warmth, transparency, detail?

 

I read in Robert Harley's "High-Performance Audio Systems" that THC, while certainly capable of being measured and is certainly a good design goal, is often a misleading piece of evidence in  the actual sound being reproduced because certain feedback designs can reduce distortion while degrading the actual sound quality. Some amp manufacturers would design for enhanced specs so their equipment could be more easily marketed, even though it didn't sound as good.

 

It's interesting to see that people in double-blind tests don't seem to be able to find improvements in individual component improvements, I wonder if they can reliably hear differences when all these improvements are lumped together in a "blueprinted" system.



Well, while we can't really measure the "pleasure" factor or "warmness" and "transparency," we can do null tests that test the two different components and nullify the parts that are the same.  If there are substantial differences, then there is a difference...if there is no difference, then it's not going to be affecting the "transparency" or any other things like that.  On the other hand, if the measurements do match up approximately with how you perceive the sound, then that would be solid evidence that cables do in fact make a difference.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Josey View Post

I believe you. It seems there should be some better evidence than I'm seeing.

 

However, just for fun, I measured the resistance in my Monster 400-series RCA cables versus the thin, stock cables that came with my Marantz CD DAC. Both cables measure one meter. The Monster cable measured 0.2 ohms. The stock cables measured 0.3 ohms. Plus, the fit of the Monster cables are much tighter, so resistance could be reduced a bit more. Maybe that's not much difference in resistance -- and I can't hear the difference -- but that's a difference that I can measure. In theory, my amp should have to work harder to achieve the same volume with the stock cables. Couldn't that make a difference in the SQ, even thought small?

 

 



Well, that's just the measurement of a spec, completely unrelated to the audio performance.  The kinds of tests you'd have to run would be frequency response, impulse response and various ones like that.  And you said yourself that you can't tell the difference...meaning that if there is a difference, it is extremely small.

 

Oh, also, the lower the ohm rating, the higher the actual resistance.  So the Monster cable is actually more resistive than the stock cable.  That doesn't really mean much by itself though...

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