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Do 'High-End' Audio cables matter? - Page 9  

post #121 of 1128
Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Injury View Post

Because the differences between headphones are readily apparent in blind tests, with or without instant switching?

 

Because the differences between headphones are objectively quantifiable?


But the thing is, we will get used to the sound of the LCD2/HD650 anyways. Why by a higher end can unless we're constantly comparing the two just to appreciate the better?
post #122 of 1128
Quote:
Originally Posted by Girls Generation View Post


Again with the scientific measurements. Oh jeez... One-dimensional through-and-through.
No one person is the same, and everyone will taste the same coffee in a different way. One might say the coffee is way too bitter, one might say it's just mild. It really all depends on what we're used to, and I think same goes for cables.


Girls Generation; of course, no one person is the same and we all prefer different sounds and different setups. The point you make would be relevant if the cables actually made an audible difference for the listener to prefer/dislike. Scientific testing is useful because it is based on verifiable, measurable, quantisable differences in the sound produced. Any aspect of a sound that a cable improves upon should be measurable. For example, if a cable improves detail, a headphones impulse response should improve, because this describes a drivers ability to return to a rest state in a short a time as possible. The shorter the time taken to return to a rest state, the more "spare" time there is for a driver to move to produce extra detail.

post #123 of 1128
Quote:
Originally Posted by J0nny 
The point you make would be relevant if the cables actually made an audible difference for the listener to prefer/dislike.

So you're assuming we don't hear an audible difference?

May I ask what cables you've listened to?
post #124 of 1128
Quote:
Originally Posted by Girls Generation View Post

But the thing is, we will get used to the sound of the LCD2/HD650 anyways. Why by a higher end can unless we're constantly comparing the two just to appreciate the better?


If you get used to the sound of a new headphone that easily, don't buy one. I still hear something new every day from old headphones.

post #125 of 1128
Quote:
Originally Posted by Girls Generation View Post


I'm expressing that there doesn't need to be scientific measurements in order for something to exist. Not everything is "law," and that's why we are taught "theories" in science class.


Not to be pedantic, or more accurately to be pedantic, a law just helps us predict how things will behave, a theory describes why it behaves that way. A theory is valid until dis-proven. A theory of cables needs to tell us why the sound is different.
post #126 of 1128
Quote:
Originally Posted by Girls Generation View Post

So you're assuming we don't hear an audible difference?
 


I think the point he was making is simply that no one has demonstrated that they do.

 

se

 

 

 

post #127 of 1128
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prog Rock Man View Post

If switching has to be instant, why buy a 'better sounding cable' at all?

 

In real life the switch will not be instant, so if you say you would not be able to hear a difference unless the switching is not instant, how can you hear one in normal listening conditions?

 

Surly a high end cable, particularly because of its cost and sound enhancing properties should sound differnece and indeed better no matter what.

 

That goes back to my post on reasons why cable claims do not stack up, they are inconsistent, so have nothing to do with the cable itself.


It has to be instant because our ability to remember fine aural details exists for a few seconds. I once had a conversation with an engineer at Philips about this. They do internal ABX testing when developing new audio products, and they have a system that allows them to switch A to B with no interruption in playback. This is the only effective way to do it.

 

If you have to wait a minute or two between A and B, you've already forgotten exactly what A sounds like, so B sounds close enough that you have to guess which is which.

 

Since you can't do that at home, the effective alternative is critical listening. Spend 20 or 30 minutes with one cable, using reference tracks to evaluate it in different areas. If necessary take notes to help you remember strengths and weaknesses. Then swap, and spend another 20 or 30 minutes with the same reference tracks.

 

Differences between high quality cables are generally small, but there should be at least some in one area or another. If I have a new challenger in place that fails to demonstrate noticeable improvements in at least one area, it gets returned or sold. I have no problem admitting to myself that I just spent $1,000 or whatever on a cable that didn't sound better than what I already had. That's happened more than once. I don't attempt to trick myself into thinking that it must've sounded better, I just return it or sell it to somebody else. Maybe it will work better for them.

 

In rare cases I've spent quite a bit on expensive cables that just flat out sucked. Whether it was bad design or just bad synergy, doesn't matter, I got rid of them.

post #128 of 1128
Quote:

Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

 

Since you can't do that at home...

 

Sure you can. You can use an ABX comparator.

 

Tom Nousaine installed ABX comparators in a number of peoples' homes so they could do their listening tests in the comfort of their own home, using their own system, at their leisure and over a long period of time.

 

However no actual audible differences were ever established.

 

se

post #129 of 1128

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

 

 

And those factors are what? Again, still waiting for a real argument on this. The only thing ABX tests prove is that those tests don't work. If you demand an ABX test to prove a difference, and you accept its conclusions, than you MUST ACCEPT that there is no difference between any amplifier or CD player. There is also no difference between analog and digital recordings, and no difference between 16/44 and 24/96. ABX tests have "proven" those things all to be true. If you do not accept those conclusions, than you are being disingenuous.
 

 

I don't understand this post, are you simply saying that ABX tests don't work, and we shouldn't rely on ABX testing because it's flawed?

 

 

post #130 of 1128
Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Injury View Post

Balanced cables themselves wouldn't do anything without a balanced amp. Balanced amps only sound different if they're designed to sound different, as far as I know. No one's convinced me otherwise, at least. Balanced systems have advantages and disadvantages, all of which seem to be present in some single-ended amps as well.


What is the disadvantage of a balanced system, aside from the 100% increase in cost due to doubling up on components?

 

From what I've read and heard, the advanced of having a truly balanced system is less noise.  It's also helpful for systems with long cable runs and lots of cables densely packed together.

 

I recently ran across two reference-grade tube preamps.  The entry-level model (unbalanced) has four configuration settings: low feedback, high feedback, anode direct output, and cathode follower output.  Each setting provides significantly different output (such as dryness, clarity, soundstage, etc.).  The high-end model (balanced) doesn't have those configuration settings because it's balanced.

post #131 of 1128


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Girls Generation View Post


So you're assuming we don't hear an audible difference?
May I ask what cables you've listened to?


It is true that I haven't heard many cables. I have however, listened intently to a £60/metre cable vs. a free, thin, cheap looking cable that came with my Denon CDP. I heard zero difference, I listened intently and intensively for many hours. This wasn't in a shop where I was surrounded by noise, where I had little time, this was in the comfort of my own home, in a quiet room. If you wish, I shall go out and buy some cables costing a good deal of money and compare it to the stock cables on my stereo if the shop will offer me a refund if I can't hear a difference. If this thread isn't locked by then I'll post my results.

post #132 of 1128

ASUS have released a balanced amp now, with 11 opamps, and 384kHz upsampling.

 

Expect your head-shot ratio to skyrocket.

 

 

post #133 of 1128
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiteki View Post

ASUS have released a balanced amp now, with 11 opamps, and 384kHz upsampling.

 

Expect your head-shot ratio to skyrocket.

 

 


Hehe! I would never, ever use a balanced headphone with a PC soundcard.

 

post #134 of 1128
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiteki View Post

I don't understand this post, are you simply saying that ABX tests don't work, and we shouldn't rely on ABX testing because it's flawed?

 

I've not seen any indication that ABX is suited for audio testing, except when there are radical differences between A and B. There have just been too many failures. You can take two conclusions from those failures - either that their findings are correct and any perceived sonic difference between nearly any component other than loudspeakers amounts to self delusion, or that something in the process itself is wrong. I choose to believe the latter. You can obviously fool some of the people some of the time, but I simply cannot believe that the competing products from hundreds of different companies, designed by thousands of different engineers, ALL SOUND EXACTLY THE SAME. It's hogwash.

 

The idea that amplifier circuits, or anything else has been "perfected" and there's nowhere else to go is also hogwash. There's no more perfect amplifier than there is a perfect car. Mercedes has been at it for some 125 years, and I don't see them saying "oh, we've figured it out, we're done".


Edited by DaveBSC - 10/23/11 at 3:24pm
post #135 of 1128
Dave, can you explain - precisely - why you need to see the cable you're listening to? If the difference is heard, a blind person would pick it out.

You should also download Audio Diffmaker. Show us what your cables are doing.

If the signal doesn't change, then what is going on?

Elysian, balanced is mostly a product developed by marketing. Well, for audio. If you have to transmit signals over many miles it really does help. For 3' runs it has no value. But you sure can increase the prices and make people buy new cables.

Those preamps you saw are pure marketing. Some people sat down and decided how best to position features to extract the most profit.

And, yes, there are real problems with balanced:

1. Doubling the parts doubles the points of failure. You will have twice the failures and twice the chance of having to send it to the shop. All parts wear out and fail eventually. Further, repairs will be more costly because it is more complex and there will be more to replace.

2. Doubling the parts doubles the heat. This can be managed with bigger/multiple chassis, but a lot ofnstuff out there isn't designed for maximum cooling. It is designed (again) by marketing who put all other considerations aside so there can be a 1" thick aluminum faceplate (or whatever) because consumers associate that with "quality."

3. Not everything marketed as balanced actually is balanced. You can use a $25 input transformer so the amp will accept a XLR jack, run that through a single-ended amp, then use output transformers connected to XLR jacks. It adds maybe $100 to the build cost. Yet it will be loudly trumpeted (by marketing, again) as OMG BALANCED!!!!!! and the price increases by at least $1,000. To be fair, input transformers are good things. But not $1,000 better and single-ended amps should not be marketed as balanced.

4. Then there's component matching. Something you don't hear much about. The average layperson thinks that a 100 Ohm resistor is precisely that.

Nope.

The average component comes with a tolerance, typically 10%. So a 100 Ohm resistor will be anything from 90-110 Ohms. To have a 20 Ohm variation between left and right really is a Big Deal. You'll get a channel imbalance. Better parts will have a 5%, 2% or 1% tolerance. Those are more expensive. Even then, a 1% tolerance will result in a channel imbalance.

If you want a really tight tolerance, you have to buy a lot of extra parts and hand-match them with a meter. I did this with speaker crossovers once. I had to buy about $50 of extra resistors and caps then took a couple hours to hand-match. I got left and right mirrored to .005. Excessive, but I wanted it done right. Mind you, this was with about 20 components total. If I had 200 components in a balanced amp, then I would have spent another $500-$600 for parts and spent 9-10 hours matching and sorting. In a production environment, that can add an extra $1,000 to costs.

So excessive matching doesn't really happen unless you're an obsessive DIY'er or paying high four figures for a custom build.

To get to the point, a balanced amp has twice as many parts and twice the variation in values. The chance for a channel imbalance is higher.

And speaking of channel imbalance, I always find it curious that the Golden Ears who can (supposedly) hear unmeasurable differences between cables cannot hear the channel imbalances in their amp. After all, the imbalances really are there. You can measure them. You can also go through the gear, component by component, and measure how they vary between left and right.

So if unmeasurable differences are "night and day," then a measureable difference should have its hands around your neck while jumping up and down and screaming.

Yet the Golden Ears never seem to notice that.

Curious.
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