Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Sound Science › Cable Science
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Cable Science

post #1 of 122
Thread Starter 

This discussion was taking another thread off-topic so I made this thread:

 

My point of contention, originally, was that there's a valid possibility that there could be more at play in cables than known science has accounted so far, and that this (unknown variable(s)) could explain for some of the perceived differences.  

 

This, in my point of view, is a totally valid possibility.

 

On the other side of the debate, I also think it's a totally valid possibility that perceived differences are just the product of the placebo effect.  

 

Some of the responses from the other thread:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Willakan View Post

If the cable manufacturers had truly stumbled upon things in audio as yet undocumented by modern science, don't you think some of the people who write papers about such things would actually care? How comes the head of AudioQuest's "R&D Department" hasn't won a Nobel prize for disproving half of analogue signal theory?


Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post

It would be interesting to discover something new besides, resistance, capacitance, and inductance in a wire.

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by maverickronin View Post


I think if something else that was relevant at audio frequencies was discovered it would be a lot more than interesting.  It would be groundbreaking.


Quote:
Originally Posted by pdupiano View Post

It would be illogical, but the assumption is not that there are more than the basic things (eg. resistance, capacitance etc..) in cables, rather the assumption that most take is that cables are composed of just those basic things (resistance, capacitance etc...) and therefore people make the logical conclusion that the cables do not sound differently. 

 

The difficulty lies not with the conclusion but rather the assumption. Induction tells us to assume that there is nothing different in specialty cables because it is composed of the same set of parameters (R.L.C etc..) but the black swan story (not the movie) should caution us to the use of induction as means of proof and consequently a source for truth. 

 

Neither side of the debate is illogical, its simply that they are starting on different grounds. Until they can stand on the same plateau, I'm afraid there will always be an endless debate. But understand that it stems from the assumptions they make, not their conclusions thereafter. And if anyone here, or anywhere else for that matter, can make arguments/prove that one assumption is better than the other without calling upon other questionable assumptions or arguments but rather Truth itself, well then I should like to hear it and I would like to think so would countless other individuals. 

 

<snip>

 

Once again its amusing to me that the party that claims to be for truth and honesty are the ones hardly being truthful about the power of their position, for it is always easier to be the doubter. Hell a high school student spending one day in a class about nihilism and solipsism can easily be a skeptic and argue with the best who study philosophy for decades. He could not only argue soundly but also excel and win the arguments, that is the power of skepticism. There's more to that story, but I apologize for the digression. 


Quote:
Originally Posted by sphinxvc View Post

You're right, it's the premise.  That said, I think DBTs are actually the cable naysayers strongest argument.  My skepticism goes both ways, the cable supporters would be in error not to concede that their conclusions could be based on place-bo.  The cable naysayers would be in error not to concede that there could be more to physics than science has accounted for so far.  Ultimately both can only fall back on DBTs.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Trasselkalle View Post

The nature of receiving funding for research is one where funds are granted for specific and likely ground breaking advances that are of benefit to the society as a whole (or a large group within the society, which implicitly impacts the society as a whole). Regardless who is right or wrong here, I therefore wouldn't read anything into the fact that there hasn't been any major breakthroughs in research within this specific area. 

 

More than likely, significant benefits from such research outside the small audiophile sphere would be needed to receive anything but corporate funding from an audiophile company. Corporate funding always involves a political aspect to it versus how the results are communicated, which would affect the impact of the results (regardless if they were 'fully true' or 'well published'). In fact, I wouldn't even expect an audiophile company to provide such funding to anyone external to their own R&D team, and I question how many of these are academically trained researchers. If an audiophile company would be collaborating with a university, very few academics would take part in the research project if they couldn't freely publish the results from it - regardless what these results would be. Such findings would also be a significant competitive advantage for a corporate sponsor, and thus fall under the non-disclosure agreement that dictates collaboration with industry during research. As such, it would most likely be left as an argued advantage in marketing campaigns rather than fully disclosed 'scientific truths' for the public.

 

Anyhow... back to the main topic of the thread now. My popcorn should be ready any second.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Prog Rock Man View Post

There has been a lot of technical study of hifi and cables. There are many links in this part of the forum to various papers studying various aspects of cables. Then there is all of the study that has been conducted by the big cable makes such as Belden through to the 'extensive R&D' claims of smaller audiophile cable makers. Then there is the Audio Engineering Society. Then there is all of the blind and ABX tests. Finally there are the hifi makers themselves and all of the bits of wire used inside hifi.

 

Hifi cables as a specific product began in the early 1970s (roughly). So that is 40 years worth of study. The result, nothing new. We are still using the likes of LR&C and skin effect which were first discovered in the 1800s.

 

So the evidence is weighted very strongly in favour of there is nothing inherant in a cable which affects sound quality. The same kind of weighting you would give to the sun rising again tomorrow. It might not happen, but it is highly unlikely.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sphinxvc View Post

 

I think you're missing the point.  


Edited by sphinxvc - 8/4/11 at 9:45am
post #2 of 122

There is a very valid reason why cables can sound different to different people in different sytems. Call it placebo, psychoacoustics, buyer justification or whatever, but the reason lies with the listener and not the cable................wink_face.gif. The evidence for that is with blind and ABX testing of cables along with the very plausible role of placebo.

 

Surely that is way more likely than an as yet undiscovered, proven link between a electrical property in cables and sound quality.

post #3 of 122
post #4 of 122
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Prog Rock Man View Post

There is a very valid reason why cables can sound different to different people in different sytems. Call it placebo, psychoacoustics, buyer justification or whatever, but the reason lies with the listener and not the cable................wink_face.gif. The evidence for that is with blind and ABX testing of cables along with the very plausible role of placebo.

 

Surely that is way more likely than an as yet undiscovered, proven link between a electrical property in cables and sound quality.

 

If anywhere, the strongest evidence does lie in blind ABX testing (not in measurements).  I don't really have the capacity to put faith in what's "way more likely" or not.  wink.gif

 

To borrow some Vulcan logic: "if you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth", and in this case we have much that we cannot call impossible.

 

All in all, while the cable skeptic's argument is strong (because of DBTs), the measurement argument isn't really valid, because it's based on certain subjective premises (eg. that without a doubt, all there is to know about audio has already been discovered, and that there cannot be any more discoveries which may change our understanding of it).  


Edited by sphinxvc - 8/4/11 at 10:25am
post #5 of 122

One of the problems I have with A/B and ABX tests (I've been in a boatload when I worked in the industry, but never for headphones) is that they don't allow me to get familiarized enough with the sound signatures on high quality gear to actually figure out what I preferred over the other. Differences could certainly be heard fairly quickly, but for equipment at similar levels of performance but with different sound signatures - it hasn't been until I'd heard them extensively using all kinds of different music during different times of the day, over different days, etc, that I can truly decide which I prefer. This implies, at least in my case, that the reference frame for 'maximum enjoyment value' is dependent on many factors. Some of these, like soundstage and positioning are not measurable, and the effect that these have on the perceived level of detailing is subsequently lost to us still. Others, such as the impact of activities earlier in the day vs impressions of different sound signatures, or even the order in which the sound signatures are presented - are completely lost on us still.

 

I'm all for quantitative measurements, but they simply do not capture everything that our brains register. You don't have to go far into behavioral and neural psychology before you realize how little we can control the subjective experiences we have (and appreciating musical reproduction is inherently subjective). I definitely haven't seen any neural psychology results mapped to the people doing A/B or ABX tests, and before we can connect many more scientific disciplines - we're still way too crude to call A/B or ABX  fully conclusive. Heck - we need to wait until neural psychology has a better grasp of how different individuals brains work when reaching the same conclusion before we can go into why this may be so, and if behavioral psychology factors are impacting this, and only then... do we get electronics in to try and come to any definitive yes or no answer to this question. 

 

I won't even get started on the notion of 'is there a universal truth', as the only way to answer that is to get into the insanely deep philosophical debate that so many have spent their entire lives at trying to nail down. In fact, the only way to answer this fully assumes that everyone can accept that there is one fully true answer, which obviously is an inherent problem with the question itself. Crudely, this implies that nobody is in a position to argue that Z is conclusively true because X and Y are known. All we are doing is inferring that this is likely to be true. In other words, we might just not know that pigs really do fly, but that none of us have been watching when they did. Vice versa, it may very well be that Z is conclusively true because of X and Y as the reason we haven't seen pigs fly is that there really isn't any additional magic aspect to this. 

 

With this post, I hope all believers in a specific test as conclusive start accepting that the tests themselves are designed based on a very limited understanding of the human perception and what affects it. What goes into defining a test like this is really best guesses on a limited number of variables, while all other variables that couldn't be controlled are simply ignored. I also hope that all who believe there is much more to cables than we already know, that my argument for additional variables is ONLY an argument for the testing procedures as inherently flawed. They are still the best repeatable test cases for a large number of people to draw generalized conclusions. They may differ significantly from how I come to terms with what I prefer, but the thread wasn't about how I do things so I leave that unsaid.

 

Oh, and I hope some of you feel that I must be a very confused person. That part, I can confirm. 

post #6 of 122
Thread Starter 

Awesome post and a valid point about A/B, ABX tests.  


Edited by sphinxvc - 8/4/11 at 11:13am
post #7 of 122

One of the reasons why I do not think that there is a new undiscovered property in cables is discussed in detail here

 

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

 

and a thread that hardly got any posts at all, but asks a very important question is here

 

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/564918/how-much-of-what-you-see-affects-what-you-hear#post_7643912

 

Another hurdle for 'hunters for the elusive electrical property of cables that makes them affect sound quailty' is, why do people report different levels of affect? Some hear nothing and others hear 'night and day'. To me that suggests again the difference is with the listener as it provides are far more rational explanation.

post #8 of 122
Quote:

Originally Posted by sphinxvc View Post

 

To borrow some Vulcan logic: "if you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth", and in this case we have much that we cannot call impossible.


Sherlock Holmes was a Vulcan?

 

se

 

 

post #9 of 122

Here it comes, PRM (this is from a PM talk he and I had earlier): Your signature says it all, imo. The debate really should be why some hear differences and others do not. If that question would be answered first, maybe then we could see if this can actually be addressed through electronics...

post #10 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eddy View Post

Sherlock Holmes was a Vulcan?

 

 

I thought about that a while as well, but you know... these Brits are pretty odd so I came up accepting that as plausible.

post #11 of 122
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steve Eddy View Post

Sherlock Holmes was a Vulcan?

 

se


I first heard it on Star Trek.  smile.gif

post #12 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trasselkalle View Post

.... The debate really should be why some hear differences and others do not. If that question would be answered first, maybe then we could see if this can actually be addressed through electronics...


Worth highlighting!

 

For cables to cause sound quality differences are we looking for a new property no one has yet found, or the actions of an exisiting known property?

 

It seems to be that we have ruled out the existing known properties of cables even if it just be the lack of consitency between property and affect on sound quality. Would it not be brilliant if lowering the capacitance increased the treble?!!!

 

So we are looking for a new property. And it is not even as if we are at the stage of the first suggestion of the Higgs Boson, we have not even got that far, in 40 years of audiophile 'cable science'.

 

post #13 of 122

An undiscovered principle in electronic transmission of audio-frequency signals that somehow doesn't affect electronic transmission in far, far more sensitive applications, nor affects transmission at power transmission frequencies sub-audible all the way down to DC? That's awfully specific, sounds like too much effort in an attempt to save the hypothesis that there is a difference beyond what is measurable now.

post #14 of 122
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by NotJeffBuckley View Post

An undiscovered principle in electronic transmission of audio-frequency signals that somehow doesn't affect electronic transmission in far, far more sensitive applications, nor affects transmission at power transmission frequencies sub-audible all the way down to DC? That's awfully specific, sounds like too much effort in an attempt to save the hypothesis that there is a difference beyond what is measurable now.


That's a valid point, but what other applications are as discerning as Hifi? 

post #15 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by sphinxvc View Post

That's a valid point, but what other applications are as discerning as Hifi? 


Anything that doesn't rely on the human ear, for one.

 

I'm just afraid the LHC is going to open up a massive black hole because they didn't use much more accurate Pear Cables.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Sound Science
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Sound Science › Cable Science