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Audiophile cables, an interesting question. - Page 17

post #241 of 377
Quote:
Originally Posted by maverickronin View Post


I get that part.  Different cables which are considered "good enough" by the usual RLC standards can measure differently by tiny but statistically significant amounts.

 

My point was that if there are golden ears who can actually hear that sort of thing there is no reason to suggest that those differences disappear when they no longer know what cable they're listening to.


Looks like we basically agree on all this stuff.

 

I've heard rather surprising differences in cables, but under very uncontrolled conditions. Could be placebo effects. I actually thought that I did not like the sound of some Cardas cables.

I'm rather surprised that we can fairly easily hear difference in amps but find it difficult to impossible to hear differences in cables.  When I say this I am thinking of all the various differences in cable construction beyond differences in RLC:

twisted, coaxial, flat

shielded, unshielded

different types of shielding

radically different insulation materials

rather surprising that you can do all those things when designing a cable but NOT screw up the sound.
makes me want write something in the "Articles" section.confused_face.gif

 

post #242 of 377
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris J View Post


When I say this I am thinking of all the various differences in cable construction beyond differences in RLC:

twisted, coaxial, flat

shielded, unshielded

different types of shielding

radically different insulation materials

rather surprising that you can do all those things when designing a cable but NOT screw up the sound.


Most of those things actually do affect RLC.  The thing is that they're generally small enough that they don't matter at audio frequencies between the most common audio components in most environments.

post #243 of 377
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris J View Post


I would argue that there often are differences in various cables which can be measured, perhaps we just can't hear them as they are buried or swamped by other distortions and/or noise.

Or the effects are outside the audio bandwidth. In other words, insignificant.

Russ Andrews was claiming there are measureable differences in various power cables which appears to be very true,  they lost their case because they could not prove their ultimate claim: the differences are audible.   If the power supplies in your audio equipment have an adequate power supply noise rejection ratio, then having a "better" audio cable or a superior power conditioner may very well be irrelevant.
 

 


It is the same for all cable makers, none can prove the missing link and mistake correlation for causation.

 

post #244 of 377
Quote:
Originally Posted by maverickronin View Post

 

I guess its a matter of semantics then.

 

In that situation I'd say that I thought I heard a difference but the evidence indicates that I didn't actually hear anything different and my perception was influenced by other factors.

 

Loose terminology will lead to misunderstandings and outright equivocations.  I think such tight definitions are important in these types of discussions.  In colloquial usage its ok to saw that you "saw" or "heard" something in a dream because pretty much everyone understands that dreams are only in your head and saying that you "saw" or "heard" something is simply shorthand because being more precise and saying that you perceived or experienced something is inconsistent with the normal flow of casual conversation.  If you did happen to be in a discussion about the nature of dreams then you'll probably have to use more precise language to enable clear communication.

 

For example, if you grant Harley's premise that real audible differences disappear under controlled conditions then it implies the components actually perform differently based on the listeners knowledge of them or something else along those lines.  As there is no evidence to imply that this does happen, no known mechanism to enable it, would probably overturn a great deal of well supported science if it was true, and because the listener's subjective experience is already explained by psychology such a hypothesis is untenable until it is backed up with substantial evidence.

 

That's why precise language is useful.




Agreed. My view point shifted on how it works for 'people to hear a difference, when there is no difference' because

 

-There are so many credible reports of people hearing a difference

 

-I have heard a difference

 

-The results of blind and sighted testing showing that adding sight means sound quality varies

 

-The know affects of placebos and the placebo effect. We don't really know how placebos work, but they do

 

-The McGurk Effect and how sound and sight is linked

 

-The contributions Albedo made on the audiophile claims and myths thread about how we hear and that if somene hears something different to what someone else hears, they are not wrong, we hear differently.

 

So I am sure when someone hears a difference between two cables (when there is none) it is a reality for them, it is not unreasonable to hear a difference, there are good reasons why people hear a difference and it better explains what is going on with cables than the previous cyclical arguments.

post #245 of 377

I am new here but just wanted to throw in a thought:

 

"can one assume that, within these experiments, not all variables are calculated, moderated or even known? ...yet?"

 

science has proven itself wrong before...

post #246 of 377
Quote:
Originally Posted by olilam View Post
 

I am new here but just wanted to throw in a thought:

 

"can one assume that, within these experiments, not all variables are calculated, moderated or even known? ...yet?"

 

science has proven itself wrong before...

Common misconception.

 

It's very easy to measure the difference between cables with modern equipment that can detect minute differences in resistance or capacitance.

 

The issue is not that we can't measure a difference. The problem is nobody can hear a difference unless you tell them which cable is more expensive or what brand it is.

 

Of course, this only goes for relatively short cables. The effect of very long cables is already known and well-measured.

post #247 of 377
Quote:

science has proven itself wrong before...

actually it is the case that more refined theories expand the range of phenomena that can be explained -  Newton's Laws are fine for designing cars, describing baseballs, bullets - not so good when things start to go close to the speed of light or accounting for 43 arcseconds per century of Mercury's orbital precession

 

the "excess" 43 arcseconds precession of Mercury's orbit that requires General Relativity to explain was a known "problem" seen in measurements, calculations before Einstein

 

 

 

the "unknowns" in electrical measurements of wires and cables, the effects on the signals they transmit are almost always way below any estimate of human ability to hear the effects in a home sound system - certainly when talking headphones, desktop source, amps

 

 

many of us browsing from home, on desktop machines are using DSL modems that push few Mbaud data over km of twisted pair voice telephone cable - often laid down 1/2 a century before in major cities

 

you should really look into the engineering literature on characterizing, compensating those cables electrical/signal transmission of signals now several 100x as fast, complex as voice audio they were designed for

 

or really think about what Physicists have been doing, that electronic instruments are the intermediary of the most detailed measurements of the physical world - think they wouldn't have found any of the "issues" with wiring? http://home.web.cern.ch/about/engineering

 

then try saying with a straight face that "conventional engineering is missing important, clearly audible things about wires"


Edited by jcx - 2/6/14 at 4:38pm
post #248 of 377

Okay, seeing that I have some time to spare here's my take on this subject. I'm not saying it must be right and I'm not saying it explains all there is to explain. Just my thoughts.

 

1.) Blind tests for cables are over-rated. For me, I do not often come across "first note" moments where something is recognizably better after a few notes. I think like most, I have to listen for quite a lot of music to make up my mind. The more subtle the difference, the longer it takes, usually. Sometimes, for a number of factors, some thing stands out but that's quite rare to detect that at first sitting. I fear I am not alone. May be I am...

 

With this in mind, it's going to be difficult to tell apart cables as they're switched back and forth. Specially if there are quite a lot of them to be swapped around and if not enough time is given for each one. (definition of "enough" really depends on the magnitude of the difference, imo.) So there's probably a detectable difference, but is it enough to reliably differentiate or identify a particular cable? Probably not. Even in my home system, sometimes I hear things I've never noticed before without adding or changing anything. Hell I'm sure we've all swapped left and right channels and went for days without noticing. I know I have.

 

So my criticism isn't really against blind tests exactly, but putting people in a room and swapping one cable then the next (repeat etc) and asking them to actually identify which after a day of listening to all of them which is which is probably wishful thinking. I know that for me it would be, most likely.

 

Cables don't make THAT much of a difference, IMO. Our gear have characteristics that underlie those of the cables. It's like watching tv through sunglasses. Your TV's image quality primarily determines the image quality you see, comparable to your amplifier/source/etc. in the case of cable tests. So I feel blind tests, at least in the way it is commonly conducted, do not really give meaningful results.

 

2.) Expectation bias works both ways. I don't mean just people expecting cheaper = worse, but people expecting things to NOT sound different at all will more likely find they're right because that is their expectation. Rarely is this talked about, but it works just as effectively as people expecting their $5k power cable to deliver sonic nirvana.

 

If you combine this with (1) then it's easy for someone with a "no difference" expectation bias to quickly dismiss changes they have not yet heard or stumbled upon.

 

Since we cannot really whip out sodium thiopental and pump audiophiles full of the stuff before tests, it's hard to really be certain who expects what before testing, it gets even more complicated as audiophiles as a group are probably more expectant of differences than other groups, but then again, there are a significant group among audiophiles that are of the Objective2 camp. All in all, it's a bit of a mess…

 

3.) The pricing scale is absurd. This basically leads people into thinking that it must all be snake oil and hocus pocus. Surely something you get for free cannot really be taken to heights where it costs tens of thousands? Can it?

 

I'm not in the wire/cable industry, but as far as I know, cables and wires are usually made in hundreds of meters. Each production lot is probably miles long and it probably has to do with the batch size the machines are capable of. If it's minimum 400 lbs/batch then you'll have to order 400 lbs of the stuff however long that is. Probably a little more just to ensure decent quality. It is also likely that people with the best/newest machinery and best quality controls tend to be large suppliers with larger machines.

 

Now if you're looking to make a very particular design just for you, then there's a problem with production vol. vs. possible market vs. complexity vs. stocking fees vs. your bank account. Long story short, it's probably a crazily exponential increase in cost to go from a fairly common type of wire to a bespoke one. And bear in mind that most audio cables are hand terminated or even hand made still. So more than anything else in the chain of audio equipment, the diminishing returns effect sets in extremely very quickly.

 

If you look at it another way, it's not that these things are expensive (well I'm talking within reason here) but the common types of wires are just crazily cheap because of mass production techniques and common stocks etc.

 

Does it cost Nordost thousands of dollars to make a pair of Valhalla speaker cables? Only they can say, but I don't expect it to be cheap by any means. But that really should have no bearing on whether or not it is better/same/worse than the free ones you got. Sadly most people let this get to them and form eventually a bias in (2).

 

 

So what's my point? Many, many companies and dealers offer trials and returns of cables. It's perhaps best to find out for yourself rather than blindly following blind tests feeling that they are the be all and end all of truths. After all, neither the cable manufacturers nor the blind tester will be listening with you.

 

But that's just me saying stuff...

post #249 of 377

Yeah,  I don't care what the science says or if A/B testing conclusively illustrates the point.  I can taste extra neutrinos in my cheerios when solar activity increases.

 

SB

post #250 of 377
Quote:
Originally Posted by SircussMouse View Post

Yeah,  I don't care what the science says or if A/B testing conclusively illustrates the point.  I can taste extra neutrinos in my cheerios when solar activity increases.

SB

I sort of said a lot about the testing and how it may not be suitable for this particular job. But sure, do your thing.
post #251 of 377
Just one more thing, really. People ask about measurable results. Some have posted and there is more on the web.

Now it's about whether or not we can hear the difference caused by said results.

So it comes full circle back to the simple question of whether or not any difference is detectable by an unbiased listener. Now i'd add that said listener should be trained or at least familiar to what they're listening to (music and components) and one shouldn't expect night/day difference heard over a few minutes/hours but over a longer period of time. May be days with each cable.

Think of it as a car reviewer spending days with a car instead of a couple of laps.
post #252 of 377
Quote:
Originally Posted by x838nwy View Post

Just one more thing, really. People ask about measurable results. Some have posted and there is more on the web.

Now it's about whether or not we can hear the difference caused by said results.

What results? Did they show anything other than what would be expected by differences in simple resistance, inductance, and capacitance?

Quote:
So it comes full circle back to the simple question of whether or not any difference is detectable by an unbiased listener. Now i'd add that said listener should be trained or at least familiar to what they're listening to (music and components) and one shouldn't expect night/day difference heard over a few minutes/hours but over a longer period of time. May be days with each cable.

Think of it as a car reviewer spending days with a car instead of a couple of laps.

Tom Nousaine had done long term ABX listening tests with people using their own systems, in their own homes, over long periods of time. Nada.

se
post #253 of 377
Quote:
Originally Posted by x838nwy View Post

Now it's about whether or not we can hear the difference caused by said results.

So it comes full circle back to the simple question of whether or not any difference is detectable by an unbiased listener. Now i'd add that said listener should be trained or at least familiar to what they're listening to (music and components) and one shouldn't expect night/day difference heard over a few minutes/hours but over a longer period of time. May be days with each cable.

I agree with you that when it comes to measurements, audibility is the most important thing. However, you are completely throwing out the controls when you talk about how you would test for audibility. Human perception is very fickle. If you don't place careful controls on it, you'll end up with incorrect results.

Scientists have done a great deal of testing on the limits of human perception. The first thing you should do is compare the specs to the specs for human hearing. If they aren't even in the same ballpark, you know you aren't going to be able to hear it. Secondly, you need to remove all bias. This means comparing samples blind. If you don't do that, your results are flat out useless. Thirdly, you need to understand how human hearing works when you set up your listening test. You may think that your detection of subtle differences improves from long periods of listening, but studies have shown that the duration of auditory memory in human beings lasts no more than a few seconds. Direct A/B switchable comparisons are the best when the differences are subtle. Line level matching is also important. Humans naturally think "louder is better sound".

Likewise, you should know what heightens the effect of bias in comparison tests... sighted tests with brand names, texures and colors, and build quality can all throw you off. If you put a maroon velvet covered amp next to an identical shiny gold one, you can bet that you are going to think the maroon one sounds richer and less bright. Put a nice chrome Cadillac logo on one set of headphones and a plastic Yugo one on the other, and it's going to skew your results. Every day here in HeadFi we see people judging the quality of headphone amps by how much they weigh. If I was an amp manufacturer, I would build a brick into each unit just to make people think it sounds better.

The best way to determine subtle differences is to put controls on your biases and understand completely how sound and your hearing works. It isn't hard, but you have to follow the facts, not just your feelings.
post #254 of 377
http://www.nordost.com/downloads/NewApproachesToAudioMeasurement.zip

^ some measurements that may be of interest.

Audibility: the posted trace (of a square wave) is perhaps not audible on its own. However, i'm not sure how it might affect connected equipments. Again i'm just stipulating. In any case distortion is distortion. A square wave is basically a combination of a whole bunch of odd number sines. If that distorts, then there's a good chance that it's not just confined to that particular case alone.

Steve, can you send me a link to the test? Thanks smily_headphones1.gif
post #255 of 377
Looking to a high end cable manufacturer for info on audibility of high end cables is like putting a fox in charge of your chicken house.
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