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Has anyone tried to make a blind cables test?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

I'm curious for the gain in quality reported when tested blindly. I'm skeptic it has a noticeable difference.

post #2 of 32

Many. No difference has been detected in double blind testing. 

 

See the sound science subforum. 

post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by liamstrain View Post

Many. No difference has been detected in double blind testing. 

 

See the sound science subforum. 

 


So how come I read in the forums again and again how a $400 headphone cable either "improves bass clarity", or "makes a day and night" difference?..

post #4 of 32

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by matti620 View Post


So how come I read in the forums again and again how a $400 headphone cable either "improves bass clarity", or "makes a day and night" difference?..

 

Because some people hear a night and day difference.

 

The people that hear a difference are obviously right as there are too many people that have re-cabled their headphones that have found there is a difference; sometimes significant, sometimes subtle.

What do they say to all the people that don’t hear a difference-“you don’t know what you are missing out on.”

 

However, the people that don’t hear a difference are obviously right as there has never been any objective evidence, apparently not a single successful, repeatable blind test and if you can’t measure the difference then it isn’t different is it?  And to those that believe they have done a blind test successfully and repeatedly, they will fail with a double blind test, well at least they have to date. 

How do they explain all the other people that hear a difference-

wishful thinking, psycho-acoustics and liars.

 

If the cable is damaged, too short/long, has micro-phonic issues, then re-cable.  If you are a believer, then re-cable.  If you are a handy person and like re-cabling, then re-cable.  

If you do not need to re-cable, are not a handy person who likes to re-cable, and you are a non-believer, then don’t re-cable but don’t try to convince the believers they are wasting their money.  They already know you are wrong.

post #5 of 32

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by matti620 View Post

 

 


So how come I read in the forums again and again how a $400 headphone cable either "improves bass clarity", or "makes a day and night" difference?..

 

Expectation bias, among other things. People (consciously or not) have read or otherwise expect that they will hear differences, and so they do (witness the "silver is brighter, copper is warmer" discussions). All such differences vanish in ABX and double blind testing (even when believers and "golden ears" take the tests) 

 

There are sometimes good reasons to recable - or make custom interconnects, etc. Ergonomics, aesthetics, etc. But none are sound related. With that said - there are unconscious psycho-acoustic factors that play on all of us that does affect our "perception" of what we hear, and many people are ok with that being the extent of why they think they hear changes. 

 

Personally, beyond the fun of DIY and my own personal ergonomic and aesthetic preferences for cables, I prefer spending the real money on changes that actually can be demonstrated to objectively improve sound. 


Edited by liamstrain - 4/21/12 at 8:17pm
post #6 of 32

I didn't believe in cable differences either until I ran up against them in practice.  It wasn't even subtle.  

I'm sure a lot of it depends on the quality of your system and the given cable.  But I got two cheap cables from Monoprice.  One shorter, one longer.  The longer one was crap.  It was really shocking.  I had liked the shorter one, and just got the same thing longer so that it would be more convenient, and it sounded horrible in comparison.  I'm not saying it had anything to do with the length, it was obviously just that the second cable as faulty in some way.  But it wasn't subtle. One was smooth and rich sounding, the other wasn't.

 

Then stumbled onto a great deal on the TWcu iem cable by whiplash - a demo unit he was selling just to get people's opinions for testing purposes.  Not that expensive.  I basically just liked the look of it.  So I got it, it was fine, I used it, never really thought of it again.  But then the connector wore out - gold connections can SUCK - and it got all scratchy and horribly whenever it moved in the socket.  So I thought, I'll take it apart and fix it!  Except that, being an idiot, I just ended up breaking the whole thing.  So I went back to my stock cable, that I hadn't heard in 6 months.  Eegads!  It sounded awful!  It was nowhere near as thick and powerful and bassy as the TWcu I had come to love, and it made me just not like listening to music as much.  I went to a stock westone cable that I had picked up earlier (since the silver oxidized on the stock JH13 and looked funky) and that sounded identical with the JH13 - thin and anemic.  

 

Now is the TWcu adding something that shouldn't be there?  I have no idea and I don't care.  I don't subscribe to this stupid ideology of "transparency" - there is no such thing, for all kinds of reasons, simple and complex.  You go with what you think sounds good to your ears.  And in both of these cases, it was obvious.  

 

Oh, third story - not exactly about cables - was that I hooked my old, unused computer up to be a "music server" so I wouldn't have to use my main computer for everything.  I hooked it all up and thought, now this is going to sound MUCH better than my main computer, since it's not running any other processes, only the music program - and has tons of free space.  Well, I plugged everything in and was totally dissappointed.  It sounded... just ok.  I went back to my main computer - yeah, that's what I thought - the main computer actually sounded BETTER, by a fair margin than the new one I had set up.  How could that possibly happen?  It didn't make any sense - I had done everything right.  And then it hit me - I had screwed around trying to fix the internal fan on my old computer, and remember slightly mussing up the usb port on that side.  I tried the other side - presto!  Music sounded great.  Much better than the main computer, like it was supposed to?  No, not really.  About the same.  But at least it wasn't worse. But that was another breakthrough moment - that power, usb signal - I don't know what it was, but something in that port was screwed up, and it was making the sound dull and slightly wierd.  

 

Science has an incredibly limited understanding of psychoacoustics, and of the brain's cognitive functioning in general.  So it's ludicrous to think that everything we perceive can be tested and measured.  

 

I think what gets people all up in a fuss - rightly, in my opinion - is that you've got all these idiot boutique sellers claiming that their $4000 cables make this huge difference, which is just pathetic. Basically, I think it's pretty straightforward - get equipment YOU CAN RETURN and if YOU like how it sounds, then keep it, and if you can't hear a difference, there's no reason to keep it!   But all these BS debates on the sound science forums are extended masturbation sessions, where lots of people who think they know much more than they actually do end up talking past each other into the void.  It's sad.  And that's why they exile those people to that one little forum, so they don't wreck the rest of the forum with their endless diatribes one way or another.  

post #7 of 32

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by liamstrain View Post

Expectation bias, among other things. People (consciously or not) have read or otherwise expect that they will hear differences, and so they do (witness the "silver is brighter, copper is warmer" discussions). All such differences vanish in ABX and double blind testing (even when believers and "golden ears" take the tests) 

 

There are sometimes good reasons to recable - or make custom interconnects, etc. Ergonomics, aesthetics, etc. But none are sound related. With that said - there are unconscious psycho-acoustic factors that play on all of us that does affect our "perception" of what we hear, and many people are ok with that being the extent of why they think they hear changes. 

 

Personally, beyond the fun of DIY and my own personal ergonomic and aesthetic preferences for cables, I prefer spending the real money on changes that actually can be demonstrated to objectively improve sound. 

 

Agree.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AVU View Post

 

Science has an incredibly limited understanding of psychoacoustics, and of the brain's cognitive functioning in general.  So it's ludicrous to think that everything we perceive can be tested and measured.  

 

 

Perception has nothing to do with measurment. And it cannot be demonstrated either, or be perceived by others. If thats the case, its already science.

 

post #8 of 32

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AVU View Post

Science has an incredibly limited understanding of psychoacoustics, and of the brain's cognitive functioning in general.  So it's ludicrous to think that everything we perceive can be tested and measured.  

 

 

psychoacoustics is the study of the perception of mechanical differences in sound, not things that sound the same. e.g, masking - sounds that are rendered inaudible due to other sounds, used to great effect in lossy encoding of digital audio, hypersonics - the perception of frequencies higher than 20khz, etc. in other words, sounds that are different may be perceived as the same, not vice versa.

 

what you're experiencing is a different scientific phenomenon - experimenters fallacy/expectation bias. the expectation that more expensive equipment sounds better, copper sounds warmer than silver, etc will tend to confirm themselves in subjective impressions. an understanding of this phenomenon does not make you immune to it. however, a blind test removes these forms of bias.

 

 

Quote:
I think what gets people all up in a fuss - rightly, in my opinion - is that you've got all these idiot boutique sellers claiming that their $4000 cables make this huge difference, which is just pathetic. Basically, I think it's pretty straightforward - get equipment YOU CAN RETURN and if YOU like how it sounds, then keep it, and if you can't hear a difference, there's no reason to keep it!

 

i believe a lot of snake oil boutique manufacturers do have a returns policy, but their consumers also tend to be the most satisfied with their products, again, because they confirm their own expectations. the reason there are so many of these sellers on the market is because people have attitudes like yours. you probably don't buy $4000 cables but someone else who thinks exactly like you may, and at the end of the day they drive up the price of the stuff you buy.

 

 

Quote:

But all these BS debates on the sound science forums are extended masturbation sessions, where lots of people who think they know much more than they actually do end up talking past each other into the void.  It's sad.  And that's why they exile those people to that one little forum, so they don't wreck the rest of the forum with their endless diatribes one way or another.

 endless diatribes that affect the forum's bottom line

post #9 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by AVU View Post

I didn't believe in cable differences either until I ran up against them in practice.  It wasn't even subtle.

The power of autosuggestion will never cease to amaze me.
post #10 of 32

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by matti620 View Post

I'm curious for the gain in quality reported when tested blindly. I'm skeptic it has a noticeable difference.

 


There have been loads of tests. The results are consistent

 

sighted - differences are heard and sometimes they are reported as night and day

 

blind comparison - the differences are sometimes heard, they are not night and day anymore, the cost and brand of the cable is no longer an issue and cheap often does as well as if not better than expensive

 

ABX - some people still say they can hear a difference, but they cannot differentiate between any cable and do not better than guessing. Others hear no difference at all.

 

The irony is that those who proclaim they can hear a difference in cables and that others must have hearing issues (the so called golden ears) are in fact getting it wrong. Those who listen sighted and say they cannot hear a difference have the more accurate hearing as there is nothing in a cable that can affect sound quality.

post #11 of 32

 

Quote:
Science has an incredibly limited understanding of psychoacoustics, and of the brain's cognitive functioning in general.
 So it's ludicrous to think that everything we perceive can be tested and measured.

 

No, you have an incredibly limited understanding of science .

Transferring a electrical signal from point A to B has absolutely NOTHING to do 

with  psychoacoustics .

You can, literally, spend years reading scientific papers, reports and books on electrical engineering, including amp-design , you can even study it and earn degrees .

It's ludicrous to think that we can not measure if an amplifier is a wire with gain or not and it's equally ludicrous to claim that 

people on the sound-science forum who consistently maintain that a correctly dimensioned 'cable' with no mechanical or electrical defects

doesn't HAVE any sound, are 'masturbating' . No, they are not, they are fighting superstition and sometimes even pseudo-science with fact !

Silver-cables sound 'sterile and anemic' ..  Only anemic thing in this cable-nonsense is your wallet !!

 

All this snobby bling-bling babble has given a perfectly fine hobby a bad reputation and it has to stop .

 

Yes, PLENTY of people have made blind-tests on cables, in fact no professional audio-people bother to even conduct them anymore because there is no point

in repeatedly proving that water is wet .

 

 

 

 


Edited by AKG240mkII - 4/28/12 at 5:21pm
post #12 of 32

Can anyone link me to the double blind testing that was conducted with people with respectable hearing abilities? Kind of curious since I see people buying UM3x cables for considerably more than I bought my UM3x for. I can't imagine these people are just paying $400 for a different color...

post #13 of 32
They're buying the cable because they expect it to make a difference. When they try the cable, expectation bias makes them hear a difference indeed (and an improvement at that).
post #14 of 32

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DNZGamer View Post

Can anyone link me to the double blind testing that was conducted with people with respectable hearing abilities? Kind of curious since I see people buying UM3x cables for considerably more than I bought my UM3x for. I can't imagine these people are just paying $400 for a different color...

 

The many tests conducted have included people of all abilities, it makes no difference.

 

If anything those who report not hearing a difference, so long looked down upon by those who claim golden ears, are the ones with the better hearing. The golden ears are hearing something that that cannot and has not been affected by the cable.

 

Tests here

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/486598/testing-audiophile-claims-and-myths

post #15 of 32

LOL that article was pretty funny (The Great Debate). That's one thing I don't have to feel guilty about being not able to differentiate anymore. I thought I didn't know what I was looking for in the past since those $70 LOD cables by whiplash sounded exactly the same as my L9 and cheap Chinese copper LODs.

 

The article though also makes me kind of think these pro audio reviewers are somewhat of a joke. Even in the end of the article, it says that we cannot trust tests but only our ears. This sounds like complete BS. The test is TESTING your ears. If reviewers are selling us products based on how much they cost and how fancy they look, even partially, then I seriously don't know how to trust that market. It even has an example of that pro audio guy completely unable to distinguish between a tube or solid state amp.


Edited by DNZGamer - 4/29/12 at 2:08pm
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