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Dilemma: Should I not believe any reviewers who talk about cables or just ignore that section of... - Page 105

post #1561 of 1790
Quote:
Originally Posted by julian67 View Post

... And any manufacturer or vendor who has even an atom of confidence in their products should be completely unafraid to put their product up against a coathanger.
Which is precisely why no exotic cable manufacturer has ever published that kind of test data, but rather publishes verbose and non-specific diatribes loosely based on misapplied science.

Oops, sorry, guys. Was that a bit too strong?
post #1562 of 1790
I'm not quite sure about calling the usual marketing stuff "diatribes" but apart from that I'm sympathetic to skepticism on the subject once it's established that a cable is of sufficient gauge/conductivity and properly insulated.

Recently I needed a new cable for my Shure IEMs. After seeing the price of the Shure product here in UK I looked at third party products. On ebay I came across http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Furutech-Shure-upgrade-cable-SE535-SE425-SE315-SE215-UE900-in-White-/251252018608?pt=UK_Home_Garden_CD_DVDStorage_SM&hash=item3a7fc98db0

From the description:
Quote:
Characteristics: Dramatically improves sound quality without altering original characteristics. Compact and Solid Mid Frequencies, Filling Mid Frequencies, Exquisite and transparent High Frequencies. Improve blurred sound.

Dramatically improves sound quality without changing it. Brilliant. Genuine magic.

I believe Furutech do make perfectly good and sensibly priced cables that don't require their vendors to transcend physics. But the vendor is in Hong Kong so the holy object would take a few weeks to arrive by non-magical surface mail and I instead bought a genuine Shure cable from a non-mystical dealer in Canada. He used plain old gravity defying airmail for a quick delivery. I do believe in aeroplanes but I worry about fly-by-wire controls using cable that fails to exceed natural laws - is it really adequate?
Edited by julian67 - 5/14/13 at 8:31pm
post #1563 of 1790
Quote:
Originally Posted by julian67 View Post

I'm not quite sure about calling the usual marketing stuff "diatribes"..
 

Yes, of course.  That diatribe comment was pointed at that Audioquest paper...or whatever it was.

post #1564 of 1790
I had this discussion with a store manager today about the issue of imaging in components, ICs, etc. and what numbers one needs to study in order to identify these traits and he was honest to say there are none. You have to hear it for yourself. The goal is to remove any influence on the sound so it can be as pure as possible. But keep in mind that even the source material is someone's creation and not a true reflection of a real life presentation. Electronic and amplified music is useless for comparing gear. The true acoustic instruments and vocals are the most representative sound to use. If you've had the fortunate experience to hear it in real life, you can get a feel of a system's capability. The vast majority don't want the accurate sound but sound biased to their personal taste. Nothing wrong with that but it's not a "true" representation.

Science still is no more than trying to put numbers to the world around us. I know people have put a life and fortune into their careers with the world of numbers but it's still an estimation trying to explain the world around us. Way more often than not, it's wrong and has to be redefined until it finally fits and audio is no different. This guy has been in audio/video as a career and I respect his experience in having all this gear to experiment with. He said varnished transformer wire has blown him away as well as complex geometry, pure metals, insulation, etc. so if the music brings the emotion intended by the artist, that's a well implemented system. Some gear has consistent performance and can be confidently repeated in other systems. A lot of that gear is specially designed with commissioned parts designed for that purpose and not shelf parts. Audio Note and Simaudio are two that come to mind.

At the end of the day, if the music has you engaged and is in the forefront of your attention and not the background, it works. I've experienced both with expensive and inexpensive gear, simple design and theoretically complex gear. There is an influence with everything in the chain or we'd all listen to the same cheap systems. Trying to justify otherwise is opinionated judgment of self biased views. When someone wants to throw in the abx, abc, efg bs, I'll turn them off as quickly as someone extolling the virtues of their new found cure for audio cancer. There is an in between if you're willing to learn for yourself but it takes effort. If you are lead by a forum of opinionated novices, put your money in your pocket and be glad with what you have. Audio forums attract all kinds but seem to be a soapbox for the most obnoxious and degrading types to chirp the loudest . When there are so many ignorant customers open to learning, it's natural to side with the loudest that sides with your biases. Without experiencing for yourself, shame on you for being lazy. You'll never learn and maybe you don't really want to but want validation of your biases.

IMO of course.
post #1565 of 1790
Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Camper View Post

At the end of the day, if the music has you engaged and is in the forefront of your attention and not the background, it works. I've experienced both with expensive and inexpensive gear, simple design and theoretically complex gear. There is an influence with everything in the chain or we'd all listen to the same cheap systems. Trying to justify otherwise is opinionated judgment of self biased views. When someone wants to throw in the abx, abc, efg bs, I'll turn them off as quickly as someone extolling the virtues of their new found cure for audio cancer. There is an in between if you're willing to learn for yourself but it takes effort. If you are lead by a forum of opinionated novices, put your money in your pocket and be glad with what you have. Audio forums attract all kinds but seem to be a soapbox for the most obnoxious and degrading types to chirp the loudest . When there are so many ignorant customers open to learning, it's natural to side with the loudest that sides with your biases. Without experiencing for yourself, shame on you for being lazy. You'll never learn and maybe you don't really want to but want validation of your biases.

IMO of course.

Didn't bother to quote the entire thing because...

 

Hey, Happy, you've got quite an opinion there!  Seems to bunch a lot of us into a group of obnoxious and degrading types that haven't experienced "it" for ourselves, being all lazy and all.

 

Could be the pot calling the kettle, though.  Do you have any idea of who some of us are?  What our backgrounds are?  How many years we've put into audio and the quest for perfection?  How much live music we've listened to, recorded, etc.?  How many circuits and devices we've designed, thrown out, and redesigned?  I'm not talking just about myself, there are several others that post here that have actually put their life, not just in numbers for numbers sake, but in attempting to glean a deep understanding of "why" stuff works, and "how" to make it work better and actually reliably and verifiably achieve the very goals you claim can't be defined by science.  Science is not just putting numbers on the world around us.  Science asks the question, "Why does it sound better?"  and "How can we make it sound even better?".  Science isn't just about discrediting hokum, though that does often happen in the course of searching for truth.  

 

I take offense at your generalization, and your presumptuous categorizing anyone into your definition of scientists on the opposite side of your issues.  Really, we all have the same goal, its just that some of us would like to actually understand why something sounds better so that we can take the next step forward.  If, in doing so, we find out something else makes little or no difference, that, too, is taking a step forward.  

 

You are up against quite a stack of volumes of research into human bias of perception, though.  And pardon us if we try to eliminate variables like that and find out what is really coming out of the speakers and headphones, and not just what someone suggested will be coming out of the speakers/headphones.  Elimination of expectation bias is critical to all scientific research.  Yes, sometimes the reality ain't that fun, but the next step forward just might be.  

 

And, I, for one, simply hate spending what little money I have on stuff that doesn't benefit me.  I hate being fooled and lied to, even if the fooler and liar is just one more link in a long chain of liars and foolers, and knows no better.  Others are welcome to love it, of course.

 

And I take exception to the whole "Science is Evil" thing.  You wouldn't have one bit of what you now cherish as "fine audio" without evil science.

 

Thanks for listening, I'm off to ABX something before I go nuts.


Edited by jaddie - 5/14/13 at 10:26pm
post #1566 of 1790
Quote:
Science still is no more than trying to put numbers to the world around us. 

 

You're right, science is nothing but numbers and cannot be applied to the world around us. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jlaw-nod.gif 491k .gif file
Edited by doublea71 - 5/14/13 at 11:30pm
post #1567 of 1790
Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Camper View Post

Science still is no more than trying to put numbers to the world around us.

No, science is why you're able to hear music performed decades ago on the other side of the world with tiny things that fit in your ears while discussing the relative merits of that with strangers from all around the world in an instant.

post #1568 of 1790

You know, all the important points aside (which jaddie pretty much covered originally; no need for me to belabor the points), I'm a bit on the fence on another assertion.

 

I've seen this opinion plenty of times, that sounds from acoustic instruments are better for doing (subjective) evaluations of audio reproduction gear:

 

Quote:
Electronic and amplified music is useless for comparing gear. The true acoustic instruments and vocals are the most representative sound to use. If you've had the fortunate experience to hear it in real life, you can get a feel of a system's capability.

 

 

I wonder if familiarity with the actual sound of the instruments (voices, etc.) actually isn't a hindrance?  I mean, it's introducing a different reference point.  If you want to compare gear X and Y, you might unintentionally (or intentionally) be thinking about how X and Y stack up against previous expectations and experiences, the actual sounds.  It could distract you or otherwise complicate things.  At least, personally I tend to think and reference the actual sounds, and I'm not sure if that really helps—especially if the conclusion is that, say, both don't sound all that much like the real thing in some context you've had before.

 

That said, in practice, most synthesized / heavily processed / "electronic" / "amplified" / whatever you want kind of sounds are on recordings that are kind of lower fidelity, maybe dynamic range compressed, maybe EQed a bit funkily, etc.  So this may make subjective gear evaluation more difficult?  If so, that doesn't imply that it's the cause, just that there's the correlation.

post #1569 of 1790
Quote:
Originally Posted by sethsez View Post

No, science is why you're able to hear music performed decades ago on the other side of the world with tiny things that fit in your ears while discussing the relative merits of that with strangers from all around the world in an instant.
Science is a language of nature and we have taken what we've learned and made life much better for ourselves. That's human creativity and ambition. Science has explained very convincingly the complex characteristics of audio. So why do we still have so much misunderstanding and no formulas answering something so simple as audio reproduction? If the simplistic view is if it makes music, there's nothing more to it, then all else is biased in other areas than the sound. But it's not that simple and the outcomes are proof that there's still ignorance because experience says there is more to it. I live in the world of science and make a living with it. That's reality as that defines the world around us. But I shake my head that in a mere 40 years, often what was taught as fact in school was in fact wrong. We learn from our mistakes and make better educated stabs at our proofs but the more we learn, the more we realize how much we don't understand. If all pertinent things relating to the science of audio reproduction were compartmentized and locked away as absolute, there'd be no opportunity for us ignorant explorers to be fooled. We could rely on our science to tell us the rights and wrongs and all things would be peachy. Instead, we have our selves to learn by experience and we try to find research through science for understanding. By the constant stalemates in the discussions on who's right and who's not, it's obvious there's some truth from both sides and still no absolute understanding. So science is a great analytical tool but only part of the explanation. Human perception still has it's needs and not every formula has a correct answer.
post #1570 of 1790
Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Camper View Post


Science is a language of nature and we have taken what we've learned and made life much better for ourselves. That's human creativity and ambition. Science has explained very convincingly the complex characteristics of audio. So why do we still have so much misunderstanding and no formulas answering something so simple as audio reproduction? If the simplistic view is if it makes music, there's nothing more to it, then all else is biased in other areas than the sound. But it's not that simple and the outcomes are proof that there's still ignorance because experience says there is more to it. I live in the world of science and make a living with it. That's reality as that defines the world around us. But I shake my head that in a mere 40 years, often what was taught as fact in school was in fact wrong. We learn from our mistakes and make better educated stabs at our proofs but the more we learn, the more we realize how much we don't understand. If all pertinent things relating to the science of audio reproduction were compartmentized and locked away as absolute, there'd be no opportunity for us ignorant explorers to be fooled. We could rely on our science to tell us the rights and wrongs and all things would be peachy. Instead, we have our selves to learn by experience and we try to find research through science for understanding. By the constant stalemates in the discussions on who's right and who's not, it's obvious there's some truth from both sides and still no absolute understanding. So science is a great analytical tool but only part of the explanation. Human perception still has it's needs and not every formula has a correct answer.

I can't say I disagree with most of that, except for the polarization.  I think what's being said is really pointed, not at science itself, but at some of the strong and seemingly polarized positions taken on the forums.  This part of the thread was, I think, triggered by the cable discussion. 

 

Rather than polarize the issue, how about realizing that if something like a cable makes a significant difference, hopefully an improvement, in the final result, should that difference not be audible if taken away?  And if that's true, then shouldn't the difference be detectable even if the listener didn't know what or if something was changed?  See, that's not taking any shots at what's happening in the cable, or attempting to explain the cause of the difference, it's just trying to make certain that the difference is there.  There are no formulae involved.  All we are doing is eliminating expectation bias and seeing if the difference is real.  

 

We have plenty of formulas explaining audio reproduction, which is not simple, by the way.  And, more formulas are being developed all the time.  In the case of audio, what's been taught in school for 40 years isn't wrong, it's incomplete.  There's a big difference there.  It's not like we were teaching the world is flat, then discovered otherwise.  Nothing about the science of audio reproduction is compartmentalized and locked away as absolute. The study of human perception is also a science, and one currently developing quickly.  For example, within the past year two studies have been published regarding human preference for a type of sound presentation. Contrary to the idea that people pick speakers they like the sound of, and it's all individual taste, the studies show that people prefer uncolored and neutral sound.  It took a long time to establish that didn't it?  But doesn't it explain a few things?  Does that mean our early "scientific" concept was wrong? Or does it show our earlier concept wasn't very scientific?  

 

When an idea, like a special cable making an improvement, is presented as fact without test support, then it's being supported only by biased opinion, and mostly that of the company marketing the product, or those selling it.  If the improvement is real, we don't have a problem.  But what if it's not real?  How would anyone know?  Then, the support science that is presented is flawed, and indicates not that the difference is real, but that we have a lot of expectation bias at work.  And now a little logic.  If the cable difference were real, and detectable without expectation bias, wouldn't that be the best possible way to sell the product?  Wouldn't a study of a hundred listeners, all identifying the difference with even 60% accuracy be one of the best marketing tools anyone could ever have?  So why don't they publish it? It's not the cost of the study, that's nothing compared to a run of print ads.  It's not that it can't be physically done.  

 

By extension, if such a study was done and proved 60% reliability in a statistically significant number of trials and listeners, then science could begin the task of explaining why and what's going on.  And once it was figured out, we could develop even better cables, even less expensive, etc.  As it is, without evidence, there's more scientific theory and principle to explain why there is little detectable difference than a lot.  

 

It's a shame you place the scientific and science-minded community squarely in the black of your black and white analysis.  No real scientist is in the black, ever.  Everything is under question and scrutiny. We don't simply point a finger at something and apply 100 year old physics and say "that can't be true".  There's always the question of application, and if there's some gap in knowledge, or a blind spot to clear up.  There are some concepts in audio, though, that remain to this day in a position of "claim only", without bias-less proof.  In something as simple as a cable, the lack of claim support is alarming.  It should be there, and it's not.  One well-done test would silence all of "us" once and for all.  But it's not done. Why not?  Is it that the fault of narrow-minded scientists?  You tell me...and us.


Edited by jaddie - 5/15/13 at 8:22am
post #1571 of 1790

"Science is like an inoculation against charlatans who would have you believe whatever it is they tell you."

 

 Neil DeGrasse Tyson

post #1572 of 1790

To those of you who believe that cables do indeed make a difference. Do you see an improvement in video playback quality if you use special HDMI cables?

 

Funny things is most people would scoff at the latter, yet fight to the bitter end for the former.

post #1573 of 1790

I'm not a believer in audio cables, but unlike audio cables, an HDMI cable that works should have the exact same signal come in one side that goes out the other. It is a digital connection with an impressive amount of error correction. Either you get the signal for a picture that is 100% perfect, or you don't get a picture at all. HDMI cables making a difference is much harder to argue for than audio cables. 

post #1574 of 1790
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThinkAwesome View Post

I'm not a believer in audio cables, but unlike audio cables, an HDMI cable that works should have the exact same signal come in one side that goes out the other. It is a digital connection with an impressive amount of error correction. Either you get the signal for a picture that is 100% perfect, or you don't get a picture at all. HDMI cables making a difference is much harder to argue for than audio cables. 

It is an analogy rather than a direct comparison.... But science dictates that a 100% functioning HDMI cable does what it should, and the same applies for audio both for a very reasonable price.

post #1575 of 1790

The same does not apply for audio. The cable affects the signal, just at a level that should be imperceptible. An HDMI connection is 100% perfect, if it isn't, no picture. An audio cable is 99.999%, while the .001 should not make a difference, it is much easier for people to believe it does. 

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