There are differences in cables & sometimes not so subtle but these diferences are not caused by the cables alone & some sources can be be nonresponsive to different cables whereas others can make quite a large difference. This mostly has to do with output impedance of the source. High capacitance cables on a high output impedance source or preamp can make the sound quite lifeless wheras the same cables on a lower output impedace source or preamp will show no difference at all.
A note concerning ABX testing, the ABX testing equipment can in some cases offer too low of resolution to properly test these type of perameters but can be plainly audible in direct connected setups. I have seen in some situations stereo switch gear in retail stores for hifi equipment significantly degrade sound to the point that high end great sounding amps sounded no better than some really mediocre stuff even by midfi standards when hooked to the comparator switches. You will notice that most highend shops always direct connect there higher end amps & sources. Thier lower end stuff is usually but not always hooked to these swtches to make comparisons easy but not the really highend stuff because they want this equipment to put it's best foot forward
When I was using a preamp & stand alone sources I made my own cables that were ultra low capacitance as that was the only way that I was able to get the life like sound I so craved. My curent setup is not cable sensitive at all. It has a low output impedance compared to my standalone sources & preamp did 100 ohms compared to over 600 ohms. This almost matched the characteristic impedance of most audio cables (50-75ohms). Iknow most people don't believe that that can make a difference but in some cases it can.
My current system can match the sound heard in the studio from the instruments themselves, not just the studio playback equipment but the instruments themselves. That I am very pleased with my setup. I listened to recordings made at that studio on my system & compared it to the sound that I heard from the live piano (the recording used that same piano) & the sound is practically an exact match for the tonal & dynamic charactristics of that instrument. Everthing was there in it's proper proportions.
Many times people use recording that were made poorly & many time have sounds that are clipped & think the equipment is bad because it didn't make it sound like the angels coming down from heaven. The equipment is fine in most cases. It's called garbage in, garbage out. Good equipment will reveal that wheras mediocre equipment will often times gloss over this bad sounding recordings but really bad equipment may not just reveal the problem but add it's own garbage as well or have so much of it's own garbage that even the better portion of these recordings & even proper made recordings sound bad. Thats when you have a real problem.
Edited by germanium - 5/6/12 at 9:36pm