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Cable Science - Page 4

post #46 of 122

I never got to do any collages in college, that would have been fun. Not even any dioramas.

 

The discussion has degenerated to the back-against-the-wall perspective of "I don't know nor care why, but I insist there is a difference and I don't include what you consider evidence in my assessment." Pretty much kills it dead, doesn't it? Enjoy your cables, gentlemen, there's very little time on this earth and if you're happier with your money in the wallet of someone who puts the conductor in a really fancy package and his product in your chain then I'm not going to look down on you, but I do insist that it be treated scientifically, and not mysteriously, at least in this forum. Just this one. Please? tongue.gif

post #47 of 122
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by rroseperry View Post

But this has as a premise that the human brain/ear are going to be more sensitive than some equipment and there's really nothing that proves that's the case. We're able to hear a certain range of frequencies. There are other animals, not to mention equipment that can register outside that range. Why should there be something special about the human nervous system that makes current understanding of physics and neurobiology (not to mention psychology) irrelevant?
 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by maverickronin View Post

sphinxvc, you are correct that undiscovered properties of such cables cannot be conclusively ruled out no matter how well the theories we currently have hold together.  I admit that and anyone who is intellectually honest should admit the possibility as well.

 

The real question is how likely it is that such properties actually exist.  The weight of the evidence suggests its not likely at all.  Of course everyone is free to think that they may exist or do exist and to try and discover and quantify these unknown properties.  I think its as likely as discovering real live gnomes, but if someone demonstrates I'm wrong I will happily change my mind.  I'd love to be able to make my headphones sound better with something as simple as a recable.  I'll shell out for fancy wire and sing its praises as soon as someone shows me it actually works.

 

What I (and I think most skeptics) have a problem with is the people who sell such things as if these properties had already been discovered.  Some retailers cross over the line into blatant fraud, but most rely on placebo induced testimonials in the usual manner of "alternative" medicine.  That's not as bad but its still far from honest.  If they were just sold for reasons like looks, ergonomics, or status I wouldn't have have much issue with it.  The problem is that they usually directly or indirectly make objective claims which they have not demonstrated to be true.


First, I'm glad someone understood.  That bolded portion above was and is at the crux of my point, no more, no less.  A possibility is a possibility is a possibility, I honestly don't know where one would start to try to determine the probability of a possibility being likely or unlikely.  .

 

I do agree with your last paragraph there, but will add that it's just as frustrating for a skeptic to see measurements being thrown around as conclusive evidence, hence this thread.    

 

 

Originally Posted by Head Injury View Post

So are headphones. Ever wonder why headphone companies don't supply fancy cables with their headphones? Especially the flagships? If the engineers thought better cables would make the flagships perform better, they would include them and up the price $100 or something.


True, somewhat.  Hifiman does include a relatively nice copper cable with their HE-6 and recently Brainwavz changed from a silver to a copper cable when those in the loaner program for their B2 IEM reported a very harsh top-end.  
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trasselkalle View Post

I readily agree with shifty sales arguments being shoved down one's throat is annoying beyond words. That alone usually makes me despise a product (like the Mac, in my case).

 

We seem to be mixing aspects that are discussed however. One argument for there possibly being an impact from re-cabling is that there haven't been any tests that are good enough to be able to capture any sort of conclusive evidence, and that we therefore don't know if this is the case or not. The other argument is that there may be elements in electronics not captured by current measurements. While I agree that we appear quite solid in our understanding of electronics, I actually haven't seen any counter-arguments regarding the effects of braiding, shielding, etc other than based on the far from conclusive A/B and ABX tests. Did I miss some posts? Furthermore, do we have all the measurements we need to cover all sound qualities?


+1

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post

I think "undiscovered" science can be ruled out.  Cables are either paranormal or the result of human psychology.

 

If the paranormal is at work, then blind listening tests would demonstrate a difference.  If a difference was proven, you could assume it exists, even though we would not know what was making the difference.

 

On the other hand, if human bias/expectation/placebo is at work, then a blind listening test would show no difference.

 

Every test so far has come up with results no better than chance, so it's pretty safe to say that the differences are imaginary.  Further, that even if a paranormal difference exists, then it cannot be heard.

 

One thing for the believers to consider is that, in the highly unlikely event that a scientific difference is found, it will probably only apply to a very limited set of cables.  Even worse, it could probably be used to prove that 99% of the stuff out there is pure snakeoil.  This is just a very general discussion.  When you get to the particulars of all the cables out there, they have conflicting claims and construction.

 

Not all of them can be right.  But all of them can be wrong.  Proving that one type of cable "works" would also prove that the majority of believers have been listening to placebo and suggestion.


Nice argument, those last two paragraphs are very much true.  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redcarmoose View Post

To admit you don't know everything is the first step on the road to wisdom.

I would have had more respect for my collage teachers if they would have acted that way. I have a lot of respect for my teachers and they somehow learned much more about some subjects than I will ever learn. I guess their job is undermined by statements showing where mankind is not filling in all the blanks. All day long students are getting one step ahead of the teachers and trying to stump them on their very own subjects.

The truth of the matter is in 60 years collage text books will say different things. Have you ever looked at a textbook from the 1920s?

Funny that we think we understand everything about electricity. I would guess we know about 1%.IMO

Placebo is another interesting subject. I would guess we know very little about placebo too.

Don't try this at home. Several times a day, for several days, you induce pain in someone. You control the pain with morphine until the final day of the experiment, when you replace the morphine with saline solution. Guess what? The saline takes the pain away.

This is the placebo effect: somehow, sometimes, a whole lot of nothing can be very powerful. Except it's not quite nothing. When Fabrizio Benedetti of the University of Turin in Italy carried out the above experiment, he added a final twist by adding naloxone, a drug that blocks the effects of morphine, to the saline. The shocking result? The pain-relieving power of saline solution disappeared.

So what is going on? Doctors have known about the placebo effect for decades, and the naloxone result seems to show that the placebo effect is somehow biochemical. But apart from that, we simply don't know.

Benedetti says, but one thing is clear: the mind can affect the body's biochemistry.

My first day with my new amp I tried the expensive silver cables and the sound was too bright!
Did I know in the back of my mind  that people said silver makes sound bright? Did I feel I had spent too much already and thwarted my next purchase. I went back to the $10.00 Monster cables for about a year. Later I found that other copper cables made a lasting great change in my system.

I have stopped looking for reasons but I do know when the reasons for changes in cables are found there will be more great scientific improvements.

Higher Education says that something does not exist if it can not be proved. This technology saving mankind from superstition and myth. The superstition and myth have held us back all these years. Most of my teachers did not believe in God and were very open about it. It seems that science has taken care of that superstition too. We do not need God anymore as we have all the answers to everything.

To admit you don't know everything is the first step on the road to wisdom.

I would have had more respect for my collage teachers if they would have acted more wise.

 

Another person who understood. 

post #48 of 122

If the road to wisdom starts by giving up on empirical inquiry I pick knowledge over wisdom, and I spent several years reading a lot of dead guys' and a few living guys' perspectives on wisdom, knowledge, and being, getting a pretty piece of paper that says I'm specifically qualified in philosophy wink.gif

 

I love the counter-argument that since there are so many competing extraordinary claims regarding cables, even if one were proved accurate it would essentially invalidate more than it would validate. I mean, don't get me wrong, if you could show me a shred of evidence I would be embarrassed as hell to have argued the point for so long, but I would run through the streets proclaiming your truth (or, well, SOME guy's truth - winners and losers with the one mystery property that we can't define until we figure out what it is)... But it's going to be a pretty embarrassing day for cable advocates too, isn't it? (No, of course not, there would then clearly be ANOTHER undiscovered mystery property that only affects their cable, etc., you see where it goes...)

 

I mean, this isn't a real discussion anymore. Dark matter and dark energy have been brought up as being somehow analogous or applicable to transmission of an electric signal at low frequencies. That is just playing around, isn't it? Black holes, wormholes, WHITE holes, eleven dimensions, strings and super strings, why is there something rather than nothing, why should there be nothing rather than something, and where in the universe has the best cup of coffee are all equally far-out but inapplicable things.


Edited by NotJeffBuckley - 8/4/11 at 11:22pm
post #49 of 122

And so we again prove Prog Rock Man's Law that "as an online discussion on cables grows longer, the probability of it turning to philosophy approaches 1 (100%)" (with apologies to Mike Goodwin).


Edited by Prog Rock Man - 8/5/11 at 1:09am
post #50 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by NotJeffBuckley View Post

I mean, this isn't a real discussion anymore. Dark matter and dark energy have been brought up as being somehow analogous or applicable to transmission of an electric signal at low frequencies. That is just playing around, isn't it? Black holes, wormholes, WHITE holes, eleven dimensions, strings and super strings, why is there something rather than nothing, why should there be nothing rather than something, and where in the universe has the best cup of coffee are all equally far-out but inapplicable things.

 

I agree that it is a futile act to try and explain the potentially unexplained with notions that aren't fully elaborated (for good reason!) on a forum. The words get 'too big' to have meaning (at least for me).

 

What isn't futile to note (as I've repeatedly stated) is that the double blind tests are still far from scientific, and the write-ups are certainly very seldom of scientific quality (and published in strong journals or conferences after double blind reviewing of the papers by their peer academics). Double blind A/B and ABX tests are only barely better than a market assessment review from a scientific perspective. There is essentially no control over a crap-load of variables that are clearly not independent, and are thus simplified to an extent that is well beyond the theoretical understanding of how the interplay between electronics and neural (as well as behavioral) psychology works. Furthermore, the sample sizes are considerably smaller than they need to be for the results to be statistically significant. That rules out the quantitative approach for the double blind tests as scientifically valid. From a qualitative perspective, the double blind tests do not focus on the 'why' questions anywhere close to enough. If an individual reviewer may sometimes believe A is X and sometimes B as X, does this mean that there is no difference between A and B, or does that mean that the reviewer needs more times to familiarize themselves with the sound signature of A and B, needs a different kind of music to do this reliably, needs a different start of the day to be at ease enough to tell the difference, or is all this just hokum? Those are examples of qualitative questions that are never answer in an elaborated way in the double blind tests. Ergo, the tests are not valid from a qualitative perspective either. 

 

Basing an argument on a best guess - which is the closest we can come to argue that the double blind tests are - is still preferable to sticking a wet finger up to see where the wind comes from. That doesn't make this conclusively true, or even remotely 'true enough' to be called generalized. Thus, the die-hard 'no-difference' group is not basing their arguments on science. That is a myth. If I were to bet on which side holds up over time (and I'm a conservative poker player), I'd still put a sizable stack on their end but I most definitely wouldn't go all-in as there are too many outs for the double blind tests themselves to be flawed. I seriously question that all skeptics have read up on the tests they defend, and compared them with the demands in terms of rigor and relevance held by science. Thus, as much as there is a bandwagon effect on the 'audible-difference' group, there is also a bandwagon effect among the 'no-difference' group. Ironically, both bandwagon members of the two groups share one thing - they believe, rather than know.

 

This doesn't change that we have some pretty sophisticated electricity-related measurements that seem repeatable to the point where any differences that may be found are incredibly hard to repeat in a controlled fashion, and appear to have minimal effect on the outcome. What we don't have is a conclusive proof that measurements actually map to specific listening impressions. Faults in our extant understanding of electronics are not likely (but remain plausible as long as any new finding fits within the current theorems), but do we really have metrics that capture all potential listening experiences? If we don't, then we still have a fair bit to go in figuring out the relationship between electronics and perceived experiences. If we can't find metrics for everything (and to get philosophical on you - we couldn't without an agreed upon universal truth, which is highly debatable that it exists), well... maybe then we shouldn't trust quantitative approaches to tell us the full answer to questions like this? It may be that the exceptions rather than the norms have a more revealing story to tell.

 

Having stated the last sentence, it may look as if I am in the 'audible-difference' group. I'm honestly not set in my beliefs (and I recognize them as beliefs only) about cable, which is a large reason for me to test some cables for headphones (in accordance with the different - and potentially magic - hypotheses), i.e. so that I can test them myself to see if I actually find differences. For speaker cable (and other cables in my speaker set-up) I have been able to pick out the ones I use as my favorites in double blind (and unscientific, i.e. flawed) tests, but the differences haven't been groundbreaking and the tests may be affecting the results. However, I run a rather simple Canare speaker cable to my bi-wiring speakers rather than some of the fancy (and MUCH more expensive) stuff that we were given when I worked in the industry (many years ago), so I definitely don't fall for price = performance. I still have a boatload of fancy cables in a closet somewhere rather than use it. I may actually dig some of it out and try to make headphone cable out of it instead...

 

Finally, just as a reminder that re-cabling is far from only about potential sonic impact, I actually have three criteria that have nothing to do with sound quality when considering cables that in themselves make re-cabling fun to follow. One, they can look extraordinarily nice, and given that the cables are visible in living rooms, libraries, and other areas where we spend thousands - I certainly see this as highly valid in itself. Two, I like a sturdier cable rather than some of the flimsier ones that we see to avoid causing tears if I accidentally get snagged on a chair or something. Three, I much prefer a thicker cable as my small parrots don't bite on them while they have to be watched at all times when I have my IEMs with their thin cable out, but thicker typically means heavy and that's not ideal although a certain mass 'feels right'. Thus - I don't think any thread will change the beliefs of yey or nay sayers, as both are based belief to a certain degree. 


Edited by Trasselkalle - 8/5/11 at 1:21am
post #51 of 122

Here is a quote from Nordost's website

 

"Because cable really is a matter of life and death!

 

Ultra-Precision Tolerances and Manufacturing Technologies

 

Let’s face it: no one’s going to die if their A/V cabling isn’t perfect. On the other hand, astronauts, pilots, surgeons and heart patients all stake their lives—and the lives of others—on the performance of cables thinner than a human hair. And when medical, military and aerospace professionals trust their lives to a cable, they’re putting their trust in Nordost.

Unique among ALL audio and video cable manufacturers, Nordost applies the same space-age technologies, high-quality materials and exacting production tolerances to hi-fi that are demanded by these other cutting-edge, life or death fields. That means tolerances of less than one-millionth of an inch, with absolute precision and consistency: Cables whose construction must survive extremes of temperature and humidity, attack by chemical solvents and physical abuse that would destroy any other product. This “trial by fire” enables Nordost to make products that not only sound better, but products that can withstand several lifetimes of tough use and sound even better than the day they were made.  Best of all, thanks to the industry’s most precise and consistent manufacturing processes, THE NORDOST CABLE YOU BUY WILL MEASURE AND PERFORM EXACTLY THE SAME AS THE CABLE WHICH THE REVIEWER RAVED ABOUT!"

 

 

I like the way Nordost allude to their cables being used in medical, military and aerospace applications, which they are not. Certainly in military applications resilience is the most important factor as cables are expected to work in the most extreme conditions. As for transferring of data including data to be used for communications so in the audible frequency range, so long as it works, that is fine. The idea that a cable could improve the clarity, sound stage or bass of the communication is not considered as there is nothing inherant in a cable that can do that.

post #52 of 122
I would love to conduct formal discovery on Nordost's internal "research."

Just how do you delevop something when all scientific measurement is allegedly irrelevant?

Nordost must have a Department of I Just Pulled This Out of My Backside.
post #53 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post

Just how do you delevop something when all scientific measurement is allegedly irrelevant?
 

 

Was this part directed to me or the pipe dream that Nordost lives in? On second thought, you must be meaning Nordost, as all I did was point out that A/B and ABX double blind tests unfortunately haven't been up to scientific standards. 
 

 


Edited by Trasselkalle - 8/5/11 at 2:50am
post #54 of 122

It's all very well that technically you cannot completely rule out that cables are doing things unknown to science. However, taking that approach with everything quickly leads you to insanity. We have to evaluate claims reasonably based on all the evidence before us - the claims for cables seem ludicrously implausible.

If we take the position that, as cables cannot be completely disproven believing in them is beyond criticism, I must introduce you to dragon in my garage. Same principle, just degrees of ridiculousness.

 

EDIT: The reason that skeptical cable investigations are not always conducted with perfect scientific method is quite possibly because the people who could do so have better things to do with their time, in the same way as quantum physicists don't trouble themselves with disproving the notion that the force of gravity is in fact produced by invisible elves.

 


Edited by Willakan - 8/5/11 at 5:29am
post #55 of 122

I think wormholes are far out. You guys think that? They are seriously far out. I need to, like, get some of that wormhole stuff going on... in a cable, man, you know?

 

That would be really far out...

post #56 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trasselkalle View Post

 

I agree that it is a futile act to try and explain the potentially unexplained with notions that aren't fully elaborated (for good reason!) on a forum. The words get 'too big' to have meaning (at least for me).

 

What isn't futile to note (as I've repeatedly stated) is that the double blind tests are still far from scientific, and the write-ups are certainly very seldom of scientific quality (and published in strong journals or conferences after double blind reviewing of the papers by their peer academics). Double blind A/B and ABX tests are only barely better than a market assessment review from a scientific perspective. There is essentially no control over a crap-load of variables that are clearly not independent, and are thus simplified to an extent that is well beyond the theoretical understanding of how the interplay between electronics and neural (as well as behavioral) psychology works. Furthermore, the sample sizes are considerably smaller than they need to be for the results to be statistically significant. That rules out the quantitative approach for the double blind tests as scientifically valid. From a qualitative perspective, the double blind tests do not focus on the 'why' questions anywhere close to enough. If an individual reviewer may sometimes believe A is X and sometimes B as X, does this mean that there is no difference between A and B, or does that mean that the reviewer needs more times to familiarize themselves with the sound signature of A and B, needs a different kind of music to do this reliably, needs a different start of the day to be at ease enough to tell the difference, or is all this just hokum? Those are examples of qualitative questions that are never answer in an elaborated way in the double blind tests. Ergo, the tests are not valid from a qualitative perspective either. 

 

Basing an argument on a best guess - which is the closest we can come to argue that the double blind tests are - is still preferable to sticking a wet finger up to see where the wind comes from. That doesn't make this conclusively true, or even remotely 'true enough' to be called generalized. Thus, the die-hard 'no-difference' group is not basing their arguments on science. That is a myth. If I were to bet on which side holds up over time (and I'm a conservative poker player), I'd still put a sizable stack on their end but I most definitely wouldn't go all-in as there are too many outs for the double blind tests themselves to be flawed. I seriously question that all skeptics have read up on the tests they defend, and compared them with the demands in terms of rigor and relevance held by science. Thus, as much as there is a bandwagon effect on the 'audible-difference' group, there is also a bandwagon effect among the 'no-difference' group. Ironically, both bandwagon members of the two groups share one thing - they believe, rather than know.

 

This doesn't change that we have some pretty sophisticated electricity-related measurements that seem repeatable to the point where any differences that may be found are incredibly hard to repeat in a controlled fashion, and appear to have minimal effect on the outcome. What we don't have is a conclusive proof that measurements actually map to specific listening impressions. Faults in our extant understanding of electronics are not likely (but remain plausible as long as any new finding fits within the current theorems), but do we really have metrics that capture all potential listening experiences? If we don't, then we still have a fair bit to go in figuring out the relationship between electronics and perceived experiences. If we can't find metrics for everything (and to get philosophical on you - we couldn't without an agreed upon universal truth, which is highly debatable that it exists), well... maybe then we shouldn't trust quantitative approaches to tell us the full answer to questions like this? It may be that the exceptions rather than the norms have a more revealing story to tell.

 

Having stated the last sentence, it may look as if I am in the 'audible-difference' group. I'm honestly not set in my beliefs (and I recognize them as beliefs only) about cable, which is a large reason for me to test some cables for headphones (in accordance with the different - and potentially magic - hypotheses), i.e. so that I can test them myself to see if I actually find differences. For speaker cable (and other cables in my speaker set-up) I have been able to pick out the ones I use as my favorites in double blind (and unscientific, i.e. flawed) tests, but the differences haven't been groundbreaking and the tests may be affecting the results. However, I run a rather simple Canare speaker cable to my bi-wiring speakers rather than some of the fancy (and MUCH more expensive) stuff that we were given when I worked in the industry (many years ago), so I definitely don't fall for price = performance. I still have a boatload of fancy cables in a closet somewhere rather than use it. I may actually dig some of it out and try to make headphone cable out of it instead...

 

Finally, just as a reminder that re-cabling is far from only about potential sonic impact, I actually have three criteria that have nothing to do with sound quality when considering cables that in themselves make re-cabling fun to follow. One, they can look extraordinarily nice, and given that the cables are visible in living rooms, libraries, and other areas where we spend thousands - I certainly see this as highly valid in itself. Two, I like a sturdier cable rather than some of the flimsier ones that we see to avoid causing tears if I accidentally get snagged on a chair or something. Three, I much prefer a thicker cable as my small parrots don't bite on them while they have to be watched at all times when I have my IEMs with their thin cable out, but thicker typically means heavy and that's not ideal although a certain mass 'feels right'. Thus - I don't think any thread will change the beliefs of yey or nay sayers, as both are based belief to a certain degree. 


Quoted for truth.  A lot of people involved in the discussions here don't understand this. There was another member (whose posts I wish I had saved) whose job it was to conduct proper double-blind trials who explained in detail what you've summarised well above. To be more harsh, I'd say this forum has a big confirmation bias focus.

 

There's much I feel like writing, but more useful, I want to post a quote from someone I know that is more significant than this discussion, but encompasses such circular discussions as ones about cables and about any subject as happen on forums and elsewhere all over the world:

 

The true measure of intellect is seen in the ability of a person to re-evaluate what they believe to be true when additional and clarifying knowledge is received, and then apply this knowledge in their life so as to intimately embrace the higher truth that has been revealed in the endeavor to receive still Higher Truth. That most people are incapable of making this critical re-evaluation of what they already believe, is simply a reality of life that inhibits man from making any real intellectual and spiritual gains in life.  

 

This is why I've asked the question before: Are people interested in finding the truth or just arguing their beliefs?   This is a question you have to ask yourself, at any time about anything you feel strongly about. Most people are too lazy to have any interest in the former. smile.gif

post #57 of 122

I'll agree, the evidence that was produced specifically to counter the idea that audio cables do audibly different things is not always conducted from a scientifically perfect viewpoint.

However, the initial supposition that cables do these things has not a shred of evidence behind it presented in a way that is not even as scientific as the sometimes wholly unscientific DBTs that are done.

The few tests that have been done, however lacking they may have been in scientific vigour, supported what was suggested by existing theory.

 

As I said a few posts ago, it is all very well to walk in and seemingly take the higher ground and point out how we're all a bunch of hypocrites, but the fact remains that such apparently level-headed thinking falls apart when you try to apply such thinking to other fields and discliplines. You simply cannot be that open minded if you want to construct a vaguely plausible model of the world around you. Imagine if for every conceivable objection to a theory, even those that were fundamentally flawed, we smugly decided "Oh, it's impossible to decide either way."

 

The onus is on the cable companies to present a shred of evidence to support their ideas. I put it to you that it is you who misunderstand - you assume that people such as myself take DBTs and the like as the ultimate evidence there is no difference. It isn't - I still would hold my beliefs with equal vigour if  no DBTs had ever been conducted, not because I'm a narrow-minded hypocrite who wants to just shout my beliefs from the rooftops, but because no evidence has been presented to the contrary. DBTs are simply interesting anecdotes which can be used to illustrate an argument.

 

The core of the hard-core objectivist belief is that there has not been a shred of scientific evidence ever produced to demonstrate cables work. DBT are just the icing on the cake. We can trust in the measurements and theory as we do not need to know how a number relates to listening experiences. We can null signals in the analogue and digital domain to prove that there is no difference of any significance. If there is something we cannot measure, no-one has yet put forward any evidence as to what it is, how to affect it and the like.

 

TL;DR: Those who point to the hypocrisy and irony of the objectivist position as maintained here are completely missing the point. How's that for irony? It is not necessary to consider a theory that has yet to be even laid down, let alone fleshed out.

 


Edited by Willakan - 8/5/11 at 6:58am
post #58 of 122
Quote:
The true measure of intellect is seen in the ability of a person to re-evaluate what they believe to be true when additional and clarifying knowledge is received, and then apply this knowledge in their life so as to intimately embrace the higher truth that has been revealed in the endeavor to receive still Higher Truth. That most people are incapable of making this critical re-evaluation of what they already believe, is simply a reality of life that inhibits man from making any real intellectual and spiritual gains in life.

This is true, no question. My primary problem with these cable and other "is there a difference?" threads in Sound Science is that there's not much in the way of knowledge in the discussions. We have unexplained and inconsistent phenomena, no good hypotheses, and few ways to test different assertions. This is why the discussions dive into philosophy.

I take issue with the frequent misrepresentations of what science is and how science works.
post #59 of 122
Thread Starter 

I can't deny that where this discussion has gone is a dragon in my garage argument to some extent.  The concept's original purpose was simply supposed to be a check on certain premises.    

 

Even if it's inconceivable that some property may exist which might advance our understanding of certain materials, surely it isn't inconceivable to suggest that human understanding of physics (or as it relates to audio) may be incomplete (at the moment).  

 

So far, the best counterargument I have received is Uncle Erik's, but as NotJeffBuckley pointed out, UE's point does incidentally assume that the next discovery will be the one, the one to fully complete human understanding physics and audio.  

 

It also assumes that this discovery might validate some manufacturer's claims, whereas it's just as plausible that it may validate none of their claims, and yet still may lead to higher knowledge.  

 

But--this is just an endless path of conjecture and skepticism we could go down.  Instead, it's better to stick with the simple concept at hand.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Willakan View Post

It's all very well that technically you cannot completely rule out that cables are doing things unknown to science. However, taking that approach with everything quickly leads you to insanity. We have to evaluate claims reasonably based on all the evidence before us - the claims for cables seem ludicrously implausible.

If we take the position that, as cables cannot be completely disproven believing in them is beyond criticism, I must introduce you to dragon in my garage. Same principle, just degrees of ridiculousness.

 

EDIT: The reason that skeptical cable investigations are not always conducted with perfect scientific method is quite possibly because the people who could do so have better things to do with their time, in the same way as quantum physicists don't trouble themselves with disproving the notion that the force of gravity is in fact produced by invisible elves.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NotJeffBuckley View Post

If the road to wisdom starts by giving up on empirical inquiry I pick knowledge over wisdom, and I spent several years reading a lot of dead guys' and a few living guys' perspectives on wisdom, knowledge, and being, getting a pretty piece of paper that says I'm specifically qualified in philosophy wink.gif

 

I love the counter-argument that since there are so many competing extraordinary claims regarding cables, even if one were proved accurate it would essentially invalidate more than it would validate. I mean, don't get me wrong, if you could show me a shred of evidence I would be embarrassed as hell to have argued the point for so long, but I would run through the streets proclaiming your truth (or, well, SOME guy's truth - winners and losers with the one mystery property that we can't define until we figure out what it is)... But it's going to be a pretty embarrassing day for cable advocates too, isn't it? (No, of course not, there would then clearly be ANOTHER undiscovered mystery property that only affects their cable, etc., you see where it goes...)

 

I mean, this isn't a real discussion anymore. Dark matter and dark energy have been brought up as being somehow analogous or applicable to transmission of an electric signal at low frequencies. That is just playing around, isn't it? Black holes, wormholes, WHITE holes, eleven dimensions, strings and super strings, why is there something rather than nothing, why should there be nothing rather than something, and where in the universe has the best cup of coffee are all equally far-out but inapplicable things.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post

Just how do you delevop something when all scientific measurement is allegedly irrelevant?

 

The original way, trial and error.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Trasselkalle View Post

I agree that it is a futile act to try and explain the potentially unexplained with notions that aren't fully elaborated (for good reason!) on a forum. The words get 'too big' to have meaning (at least for me).

 

What isn't futile to note (as I've repeatedly stated) is that the double blind tests are still far from scientific, and the write-ups are certainly very seldom of scientific quality (and published in strong journals or conferences after double blind reviewing of the papers by their peer academics). Double blind A/B and ABX tests are only barely better than a market assessment review from a scientific perspective. There is essentially no control over a crap-load of variables that are clearly not independent, and are thus simplified to an extent that is well beyond the theoretical understanding of how the interplay between electronics and neural (as well as behavioral) psychology works. Furthermore, the sample sizes are considerably smaller than they need to be for the results to be statistically significant. That rules out the quantitative approach for the double blind tests as scientifically valid. From a qualitative perspective, the double blind tests do not focus on the 'why' questions anywhere close to enough. If an individual reviewer may sometimes believe A is X and sometimes B as X, does this mean that there is no difference between A and B, or does that mean that the reviewer needs more times to familiarize themselves with the sound signature of A and B, needs a different kind of music to do this reliably, needs a different start of the day to be at ease enough to tell the difference, or is all this just hokum? Those are examples of qualitative questions that are never answer in an elaborated way in the double blind tests. Ergo, the tests are not valid from a qualitative perspective either. 

 

Basing an argument on a best guess - which is the closest we can come to argue that the double blind tests are - is still preferable to sticking a wet finger up to see where the wind comes from. That doesn't make this conclusively true, or even remotely 'true enough' to be called generalized. Thus, the die-hard 'no-difference' group is not basing their arguments on science. That is a myth. If I were to bet on which side holds up over time (and I'm a conservative poker player), I'd still put a sizable stack on their end but I most definitely wouldn't go all-in as there are too many outs for the double blind tests themselves to be flawed. I seriously question that all skeptics have read up on the tests they defend, and compared them with the demands in terms of rigor and relevance held by science. Thus, as much as there is a bandwagon effect on the 'audible-difference' group, there is also a bandwagon effect among the 'no-difference' group. Ironically, both bandwagon members of the two groups share one thing - they believe, rather than know.

 

This doesn't change that we have some pretty sophisticated electricity-related measurements that seem repeatable to the point where any differences that may be found are incredibly hard to repeat in a controlled fashion, and appear to have minimal effect on the outcome. What we don't have is a conclusive proof that measurements actually map to specific listening impressions. Faults in our extant understanding of electronics are not likely (but remain plausible as long as any new finding fits within the current theorems), but do we really have metrics that capture all potential listening experiences? If we don't, then we still have a fair bit to go in figuring out the relationship between electronics and perceived experiences. If we can't find metrics for everything (and to get philosophical on you - we couldn't without an agreed upon universal truth, which is highly debatable that it exists), well... maybe then we shouldn't trust quantitative approaches to tell us the full answer to questions like this? It may be that the exceptions rather than the norms have a more revealing story to tell.

 

Having stated the last sentence, it may look as if I am in the 'audible-difference' group. I'm honestly not set in my beliefs (and I recognize them as beliefs only) about cable, which is a large reason for me to test some cables for headphones (in accordance with the different - and potentially magic - hypotheses), i.e. so that I can test them myself to see if I actually find differences. For speaker cable (and other cables in my speaker set-up) I have been able to pick out the ones I use as my favorites in double blind (and unscientific, i.e. flawed) tests, but the differences haven't been groundbreaking and the tests may be affecting the results. However, I run a rather simple Canare speaker cable to my bi-wiring speakers rather than some of the fancy (and MUCH more expensive) stuff that we were given when I worked in the industry (many years ago), so I definitely don't fall for price = performance. I still have a boatload of fancy cables in a closet somewhere rather than use it. I may actually dig some of it out and try to make headphone cable out of it instead...

 

Finally, just as a reminder that re-cabling is far from only about potential sonic impact, I actually have three criteria that have nothing to do with sound quality when considering cables that in themselves make re-cabling fun to follow. One, they can look extraordinarily nice, and given that the cables are visible in living rooms, libraries, and other areas where we spend thousands - I certainly see this as highly valid in itself. Two, I like a sturdier cable rather than some of the flimsier ones that we see to avoid causing tears if I accidentally get snagged on a chair or something. Three, I much prefer a thicker cable as my small parrots don't bite on them while they have to be watched at all times when I have my IEMs with their thin cable out, but thicker typically means heavy and that's not ideal although a certain mass 'feels right'. Thus - I don't think any thread will change the beliefs of yey or nay sayers, as both are based belief to a certain degree. 

 

Quoted for truth, a second time.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

The true measure of intellect is seen in the ability of a person to re-evaluate what they believe to be true when additional and clarifying knowledge is received, and then apply this knowledge in their life so as to intimately embrace the higher truth that has been revealed in the endeavor to receive still Higher Truth. That most people are incapable of making this critical re-evaluation of what they already believe, is simply a reality of life that inhibits man from making any real intellectual and spiritual gains in life. 

 

Thanks for posting that, the purpose of bringing up this concept had the above principle in mind.


Edited by sphinxvc - 8/5/11 at 9:03am
post #60 of 122

There is nothing wrong with the idea that current scientific principles may be mistaken. What is wrong is positioning the doctrine of the cable companies as if it is a legitimate scientific theory.

There has been no concerted attempt to relate cable construction to sound. There has been no attempt by the cable companies to conduct the kind of scientifically vigorous tests whose absence their customers complain of. There isn't even a theoretical basis put forward - the cable companies simply misappropriate and distort obscure branches of modern science if they want to try to justify their products.

 

My complaint is not against the argument for cables. My complaint is that none has yet put forward such an argument, yet people persist in referring to the cable issue as a "debate."

 

Try this analogy for size:

I declare, along with a few thousand other people, that the colour of my wallpaper affects the sound of my hi-fi. As a group, we put forward no single coherent argument - some people try to put forward scientific arguments as to why this works, but they are found to not be new theories, but merely distortions of existing ones that make little sense. Others simply take the fact they think they can hear a difference as evidence, despite evidence from other areas of science to the contrary. Some others attempt to draw correlations between wallpaper colour/texture/composition and sound, but their opinions are inconsistent and contradictory.

Serious scientists consider investigating such unsubstantiated claims as below them, but a few people trying to persuade the wallpaper-believers of their error conduct various tests. However, as laypersons their tests, whilst they seem to render the possibility of wallpaper making a difference even more unlikely and are thus used in attempts to persuade them of their mistake, are not scientifically conclusive.

The wallpaper believers misunderstand the stance of the people trying to persuade them, attack the testing methodology and thus consider the plausibility of their position vindicated.

I don't think I need to point out where our hypothetical believers made an error of judgement.

 

Whilst the above initially seems to not relate directly to measurements, only to criticism of the various blind tests that have been conducted, that all leads back into the idea of the absence of any argument. If measurements do not cover everything, define that which they do not cover. Until someone can make even a primitive attempt at doing that, the "You can't measure it" argument is invalid for the reasons laid out above.


Edited by Willakan - 8/5/11 at 8:44am
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