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Explain it like I'm 5 please: If I upgrade one cable, don't I have to upgrade them all?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

If I were to buy Moon Audio's silver dragon cable to connect my HiFiMan HE-500's to my Schiit Asgard amp, wouldn't I also need to purchase a silver dragon RCA to connect my Amp to my Dac and also an equally high quality USB cable to connect my HRT Streamer to my PC? I just don't understand how upgrading one cable would provide a huge boost in quality if two others were of inferior quality.

 

While I'm an audiophile, some of the technical jargon is still a bit over my head. Can someone please explain this in a way that would make sense? Thanks!

post #2 of 29

The way I visualize cables is that it's not an all or nothing thing.  It's a bit like a game of telephone.  With lower performing cables being like a bad telephone game player.  Once you lose some of the message you aren't going to get it back.  The more bad players you replace with good players, the more of the message you're going to get at the end.  It's just the same as replacing faulty wiring in your amplifier, which I had to do because the secondhand Beta22 amp I had was sucky internally and was cobbled together from random parts - or improving any part of your stereo.  The bad player isn't really going to make a substantial change to the message - like making up something completely new and replacing the message entirely, but a few of the words get changed around perhaps.  The hard part is figuring out when you've really produced an improvement.  As you experiment you'll figure out which cables are the best value to replace.  

 

This same philosophy is what leads me to be amused when people say that if recording studios don't use the very best cables then why should anyone use fancier cables than theirs.  However, the recording that we buy is as good as it's going to get.  The goal is to reproduce it, not somehow better the studio with our own gear...but to get as close to the recording as possible, even though perhaps the original recording could become better if it were recorded on nicer gear, or with nicer cables, or improving whatever parameters.  Improving any part of your stereo gets rid of bad telephone game players and you get closer to the untainted original recording, and often there's more on the recording that one things, which is why when you buy a fresh pair of HD800s or LCD3s you get a new sense of how your recordings "really" sound or at least it feels that way as new details emerge.  

 

Disclaimer:  I'm not trying to advocate spending a fortune on cables.  Because everyone hears things differently, some are true believers and some are not.  Often the psychological boost of a cable is as important as any physical gains, if not more so.  Some stereos and some headphones are cable sensitive, others are less sensitive.  As an example, HD800s are easier to notice different cables on than LCD2s which are not picky at all.  Some of the best cables out there are ones built from humble parts.  


Edited by scootermafia - 3/4/12 at 4:11pm
post #3 of 29


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by scootermafia View Post

The way I visualize cables is that it's not an all or nothing thing.  It's a bit like a game of telephone.  With lower performing cables being like a bad telephone game player.  Once you lose some of the message you aren't going to get it back.  The more bad players you replace with good players, the more of the message you're going to get at the end.  It's just the same as replacing faulty wiring in your amplifier, which I had to do because the secondhand Beta22 amp I had was sucky internally and was cobbled together from random parts - or improving any part of your stereo.  The bad player isn't really going to make a substantial change to the message - like making up something completely new and replacing the message entirely, but a few of the words get changed around perhaps.  The hard part is figuring out when you've really produced an improvement.  As you experiment you'll figure out which cables are the best value to replace.  

 

This same philosophy is what leads me to be amused when people say that if recording studios don't use the very best cables then why should anyone use fancier cables than theirs.  However, the recording that we buy is as good as it's going to get.  The goal is to reproduce it, not somehow better the studio with our own gear...but to get as close to the recording as possible, even though perhaps the original recording could become better if it were recorded on nicer gear, or with nicer cables, or improving whatever parameters.  Improving any part of your stereo gets rid of bad telephone game players and you get closer to the untainted original recording, and often there's more on the recording that one things, which is why when you buy a fresh pair of HD800s or LCD3s you get a new sense of how your recordings "really" sound or at least it feels that way as new details emerge.  

 

Disclaimer:  I'm not trying to advocate spending a fortune on cables.  Because everyone hears things differently, some are true believers and some are not.  Often the psychological boost of a cable is as important as any physical gains, if not more so.  Some stereos and some headphones are cable sensitive, others are less sensitive.  As an example, HD800s are easier to notice different cables on than LCD2s which are not picky at all.  Some of the best cables out there are ones built from humble parts.  



This is my take over the last 30 something years toying around with analog cables. Good cables will allow your system to reproducing the input signals at your system optimum performance NOT to improve them to be something they are not designed for. In short, good cables will not degrade your system , period. 

 

A $500.00 pair RCA cables will not make your Rotel, Adcom or B & K sounding like Classe, Krell or B.A.T. Use your own judgement with the rule of the diminishing rate of return.

 

If one believes the cloth hanger will sound as good as Harmonic Tech or Kimber cables, it's  more power to them. If one believes the " cloth hanger" will degrading the SQ of their system,  it's good for them.

 

This is one hobby that has the most controversial since it's a personal, bias hobby.

 

post #4 of 29

The question is at what point cables can be considered "good." Not a very difficult one IMHO...

post #5 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Disengager View Post

If I were to buy Moon Audio's silver dragon cable to connect my HiFiMan HE-500's to my Schiit Asgard amp, wouldn't I also need to purchase a silver dragon RCA to connect my Amp to my Dac and also an equally high quality USB cable to connect my HRT Streamer to my PC? I just don't understand how upgrading one cable would provide a huge boost in quality if two others were of inferior quality.

 

While I'm an audiophile, some of the technical jargon is still a bit over my head. Can someone please explain this in a way that would make sense? Thanks!

 

In my years of experience, I've had the most success (and noticed the most profound changes) by starting from the source and working down to the destination. That being said, I always encourage using the best components first. You'll get much better results for example by replacing the HRT Streamer with a better component like the Empirical Off-Ramp than using a pricey USB cable.

 

A $5,000 amplifier with $500 interconnects will outperform a $500 amplifier with $5,000 interconnects.
 

 

post #6 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

 

A $5,000 amplifier with $500 interconnects will outperform a $500 amplifier with $5,000 interconnects.
 

 



a $2500 amplifier with $2500 interconnects will outperform  a $500 amplifier with $5,000 interconnects, and a $5,000 amplifier with $500 interconnects. wink.gif

post #7 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Willakan View Post

The question is at what point cables can be considered "good." Not a very difficult one IMHO...



If one wants to get technical, he or she needs to look at and comprehend the value of resistance, inductance and impedance characters of such cables. Besides that there is issue of dieletic ( Teflon, PVC...)

 

Yes, it's only about moving electrons from point A to point B but so is an automoblie design that can move you  from point A to point B but they aren't  all build and designed the same,

 

Trust your own ears with your own gear not someone else's gear.

 

This  is getting old.

post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenni View Post

a $2500 amplifier with $2500 interconnects will outperform  a $500 amplifier with $5,000 interconnects, and a $5,000 amplifier with $500 interconnects. wink.gif


Possibly. Depends on who made what.

 

post #9 of 29

I think scootermafia explained to the OP pretty good. however, I'm wondering how much will it make sense to the OP. I'm not too sure. it makes perfect sense to me because I've experienced some better cables, I know the difference they can make. the Nordost's cables have transformed the sound in my system more than the amp and dac put together.

 

one advice I could give to the OP is consistency. try out some cables; once you find the ones you're happy with, use them throughout your system for better results - don't mix & match different brands/materials. imo    

post #10 of 29

Cables can be used for system fine tuning. I've tried a few, the most expensive being some €250 silver interconnects. Their most obvious effect, to my ears, is akin to an equalizer. My silver cables brighten the sound and cause emphasized sibilance in my system. I no longer use them. Silver has that reputation, though I don't believe all silver cables sound like that. My very first aftermarket interconnect, by contrast, was dull compared even to the patch leads that came with the equipment, never mind the silver cable. On eventual inspection it looked like a solid core, copper power lead. I had to wonder if that's not exactly what they sold me, albeit in fancy packaging at a marked up price.

In my experience cables don't affect fidelity much, though they can slightly alter the perceived frequency balance and, for example, emphasize the bass or treble. I thought the above-mentioned cable dull, but that could be just the ticket in an overbright system. In general I have found no correlation between price and the perceived benefit (or lack thereof) in my system. Nor is there a correlation between price and, say, greater clarity or treble extension. Some of the more expensive cables I heard seemed deliberately designed to take the edge off the treble, for example. This is the problem with cables. That €500 cable might just be the ticket for you, but so might a €50 one, the odd good-quality free patch lead or, for that matter, a €250 equalizer.

By far the biggest improvement in my own system came with the Audeze LCD-2. Sources, amplifiers and cables are further down the list, with cables coming last. FWIW I find analogue interconnect cables make more of a difference between my DAC and pre-amp, rather than the pre and power-amp.

 

Unlike Lenni, the cables in my system haven't made much of a difference. Among them are some entry-level Nordost cables. I believe his are more upmarket.


Edited by fred43 - 3/5/12 at 2:15pm
post #11 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ACDOAN View Post


 



This is my take over the last 30 something years toying around with analog cables. Good cables will allow your system to reproducing the input signals at your system optimum performance NOT to improve them to be something they are not designed for. In short, good cables will not degrade your system , period. 

 

A $500.00 pair RCA cables will not make your Rotel, Adcom or B & K sounding like Classe, Krell or B.A.T. Use your own judgement with the rule of the diminishing rate of return.

 

If one believes the cloth hanger will sound as good as Harmonic Tech or Kimber cables, it's  more power to them. If one believes the " cloth hanger" will degrading the SQ of their system,  it's good for them.

 

This is one hobby that has the most controversial since it's a personal, bias hobby.

 

Well said. In fact, an overly transparent cable may even sound worst than a good budget cable like Belden 1505F on most budget solid state gear; by revealing more treble grain and slurring of notes or images etc.

 

 

post #12 of 29

I bought Nordost Blue Heaven Interconnects that were originally $230. I bought a Q cable. I bought two Oyaide TUNAMI GPX-R powercords to replace the stock cords for the V200 and Rega. I also bought a Lifatec optical cord that I believe is the best out there (it's coming in a few days).

 

When you buy your music gear, you are paying for the gear and not the cords and cables. Almost all stock cords/cables are cheap and suck and put a vail on the music. You may not hear it but it's there. After 3 months of use, I hear the effect and cannot use stock any longer. It's all aftermarket for me and in the future.


Edited by Deverica Wolf - 3/6/12 at 5:11am
post #13 of 29

Don't forget to rewire the inside of the amp in the same wire and replace the brass connectors or you might lose the soundstage and brightness of the silver cables LOL.

post #14 of 29

You don't have to do anything that you don't want to do.

 

That said, your system is only as strong as it's weakest link.

post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by JRG1990 View Post

Don't forget to rewire the inside of the amp in the same wire and replace the brass connectors or you might lose the soundstage and brightness of the silver cables LOL.


I did exactly that. The internal signal wiring in my KGSSHV is all solid core OCC silver. The high voltage wire is OCC copper. Connectors are all Furutech rhodium over pure copper. No brass, no cheap wiring inside.

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