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Why pick on cables ? - Page 8  

post #106 of 403

@Chris J 

 

As mentioned in the original post other things can be questioned, I think Cables act as something of a "boundary" issue for people. We all know that transducers will differ, there is not much to believe or doubt. Amps and Dacs may objectively differ in performance, while the threshold of audibility and correlation to subjective preference may be in question, it's pretty easy for most people not to question the possibility of differing performance. Cables on the other hand seem to offer a challenge for many people, it's simply dificult to accept that differences exist given so much ground to doubt on. Most people don't question what grounds their beliefs and values, cables stand out as the first boundary that force a subjective justification for belief and an obvious place to start scepticism from.

post #107 of 403

Excellent post JadeEast. I think you and I are on the same page.

 

The argument could be made that since Cables are on the front line of this "boundary" issue, they get hit the hardest.

post #108 of 403
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris J View Post

I've been following your discussions WRT cables with interest, the question is still out there, with respect:
Why Pick On cables?

And no, I am not trolling.

Why pick on cables?

Three Reasons:

1) The marketing claims are frequently based on science when there is little supporting evidence.
2) Large levels of improvement are both promised/implied by some manufacturers when the changes in fact are small and 3rd order in magnitude.
3) Many are quite expensive and given items 1 and 2, this exacerbates the focus of critics.

My experience  is that well designed and constructed aftermarket cables can indeed preferably alter the sound of a set of headphones. The magnitude of these effects are 3rd order and are small  but meaningful,  behind more primary factors such as the choice of headphone and source material (1st order), amps, DAC etc. (2nd order). I have experienced an extension of bass,  instrument placement within a perceived soundstage become more precise and the high frequency becomes more "smooth".

I also think that people sometimes exaggerate the perceived differences based on genuine intent or self justification of their purchase. Why spend $200, $600 or even >$1,000 on aftermarket cables when the difference is subtle? I think because the subtleties are both meaningful and the hunt for perfection in itself is engrained in audiophilea nervosa. The same is true with musical instruments and equipment. I personally don't buy the proposed Scientific underpinnings explaining the value proposition of cables. I do however believe that they make meaningful differences in optimizing the last few percent of ones system

My $.02
post #109 of 403
No one picks on cables. A wire is a wire. The thing people criticize is attributing sound quality improvements that just aren't there. It's very easy to find out the truth. The fact that so few people bother to do any sort of controlled listening tests at all just shows the shaky basis of a lot of sound quality claims in audio. I would encourage hifi nuts to be skeptical of any sound quality improvements and find out for themselves if there really is a basis for the claims, and why the improvement is occuring if it is.
post #110 of 403
Quote:
Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 View Post

I have experienced an extension of bass,  instrument placement within a perceived soundstage become more precise and the high frequency becomes more "smooth".

 

This is about what I would call the placebo signature. tongue_smile.gif For some reason, this same set of improvements ("better (in various ways) bass, larger sound stage, more separation of instruments, smoother and less fatiguing treble") keeps getting reported for any change that the listener thinks will make the sound better, be it analog or digital, headphone cables, USB cables, op amps, FLAC vs. WAV, or whatever else.

post #111 of 403
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post

This is about what I would call the placebo signature. tongue_smile.gif For some reason, this same set of improvements ("better (in various ways) bass, larger sound stage, more separation of instruments, smoother and less fatiguing treble") keeps getting reported for any change that the listener thinks will make the sound better, be it analog or digital, headphone cables, USB cables, op amps, FLAC vs. WAV, or whatever else.

While you might be correct, your suggestion to some degree puts into question the entire value and premise of discussion sites such as this where we exchange our experiences and impressions. Differences cited based on many things that we discuss here are all shared  non-blinded subjective impressions that open to placebo effect influences.

As differences get smaller and smaller, they get difficult to describe and placebo effects can indeed influence outcomes (your point).  I also know from my work that small effects are common phenomenon and in order to get a signal over noise large, well controlled, statistically powered studies are required.  No one will ever bother to conduct this type of studies for luxury toys such as these

The alternate hypothesis to your null hypothesis is that the reason you always hear these types attributes cited when describing differences in aftermarket cables is that the effects are real. Opinions on discussion websites typically become more credible as the number of people who say the same thing increases, and not the opposite. 

For what is is worth, I am a scientist, a musician and have been involved with audio for >30 years now. I try in a fairly methodical, non-blinded way to compare what I hear and take contemporaneous notes. I believe the subtle differences to be real.  But to your point, there is no way to prove it. I am indeed aware of placebo effects from my work and they can be quite potent. Again, my background does not make me immune to these influences.

:-)
post #112 of 403
Quote:
Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 View Post



As differences get smaller and smaller, they get difficult to describe and placebo effects can indeed influence outcomes (your point).  I also know from my work that small effects are common phenomenon and in order to get a signal over noise large, well controlled, statistically powered studies are required.  No one will ever bother to conduct this type of studies for luxury toys such as these

:-)

Here's the problem, isn't it? If the guys that designed and made the cable don't even want to invest in any study or validate their design with a theory. I can't help but wondering if they themselves believe in cable. This couple with the fact that no DBT results validate the claim. This makes the claim that cable actually makes a difference very unlikely. Also bear in mind that none of the manufacturer actually makes their own cables, they merely assembled them. This brings the question how do they QA their cable without a valid theory.

post #113 of 403
Quote:
Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 View Post

While you might be correct, your suggestion to some degree puts into question the entire value and premise of discussion sites such as this where we exchange our experiences and impressions.

Yes it does. That's why it's not a good idea to get medical or legal advice from internet forums, and why it's important for the reader to make an effort to sort the wheat out from the chaffe when he is reading.
post #114 of 403
Quote:
Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 View Post

The alternate hypothesis to your null hypothesis is that the reason you always hear these types attributes cited when describing differences in aftermarket cables is that the effects are real.

This "real" is the question, what kind of ontological position (way of existing) is this effect. Is the effect like a mountain or a tree? pain? beauty? good? logic? math?

The realness hasn't been able to be demonstrated and proved simply by pointing to it and saying, "see there it is."  

post #115 of 403
While it's possible to prove something that does exist, it isn't possible to prove something doesn't without checking every cable in the world. But you certainly can say, "there's no reason to believe that properly made cables affect sound."
post #116 of 403
Quote:
Originally Posted by dvw View Post

Here's the problem, isn't it? If the guys that designed and made the cable don't even want to invest in any study or validate their design with a theory. I can't help but wondering if they themselves believe in cable. This couple with the fact that no DBT results validate the claim. This makes the claim that cable actually makes a difference very unlikely. Also bear in mind that none of the manufacturer actually makes their own cables, they merely assembled them. This brings the question how do they QA their cable without a valid theory.

 

It is my understanding that a few cable manufacturers get cables made expressly for them to their specifications.

To my knowledge this includes Kimber, Cardas and Nordost.

I'm sure there are a few more that I am not aware of.

And there are many more that buy Belden or another brand of basic cables and put some nice mesh and heatshrink on them and mark them up, way up.

 

But whether they do or don't is irrelevant to whether cables sound different.

May as well just beat on Audiophile Op Amp and Tube vendors while we are at it for selling their own version of snake oil.

 

In the past I have rolled different Op Amps into circuits, but the differences are so subtle (when I hear them), that I am certain that I would fail any DBT.

In short, probably placebo, expectation bias, etc.

 

It would be nice to break down any DBT performed on various tubes swapped into amps, i.e. rigourously test the tubes to ensure the DBT is not testing/comparing tubes which have widely varying specs.

Some of the claims made by tube vendors alude to this.

One vendor of audiophile tubes states that it is difficult to make anything but generalities when comparing the sound of all Mullards to all Tungsols to all Sylvanias to all GEs to all Ken Rads to all.................etc.

post #117 of 403
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post

This is about what I would call the placebo signature. tongue_smile.gif For some reason, this same set of improvements ("better (in various ways) bass, larger sound stage, more separation of instruments, smoother and less fatiguing treble") keeps getting reported for any change that the listener thinks will make the sound better, be it analog or digital, headphone cables, USB cables, op amps, FLAC vs. WAV, or whatever else.

 

In audio, (pretty much) every tweak is a positive tweak!  That is, if you believe forum posts.  biggrin.gif

 

 

Maybe I just have a low opinion of most of what is written (no offense to anyone in particular), after hearing about one story too many about night-and-day differences, never mind the magic rocks and demagnetizers.  I mean, somehow it's become "common knowledge" that higher-impedance headphones are harder to drive, which is not only false but the opposite of reality (other than not getting loud enough on a voltage-limited amp).

 

Despite mostly best intentions, group think is pretty strong.

 

Sometimes replacing cables matters, particularly for speakers, for reasons like the originals getting oxidized at the contact points and replacements not having such an issue (but cleaning the original would achieve the same effect).  Or long enough runs of thin cables to 4 ohm nominal speakers having some non-negligible effect.  For non-audio purposes, cables can have a much bigger impact.  Maybe it all started with some of the fringe cases that were actually legitimate.


Edited by mikeaj - 9/3/12 at 1:35pm
post #118 of 403
Quote:
Originally Posted by dvw View Post

Here's the problem, isn't it? If the guys that designed and made the cable don't even want to invest in any study or validate their design with a theory. I can't help but wondering if they themselves believe in cable. This couple with the fact that no DBT results validate the claim. This makes the claim that cable actually makes a difference very unlikely. Also bear in mind that none of the manufacturer actually makes their own cables, they merely assembled them. This brings the question how do they QA their cable without a valid theory.

Do you think that Sennheiser does their own injection molding? Does Audez'e do it's CNC work in house? No, companies create supply chains where they integrate components manufactured by specialty suppliers. Very few companies are vertically integrated (even large ones). Most of these smaller cable companies would not have the capability nor means to conduct such a study. Many products more important than this are QC/QA'd with quality attributes and specifications that do not relate to their primary function. Human Rx medicines come to mind.
post #119 of 403
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeaj View Post

 

In audio, (pretty much) every tweak is a positive tweak!  That is, if you believe forum posts.  biggrin.gif

 

 

Maybe I just have a low opinion of most of what is written (no offense to anyone in particular), after hearing about one story too many about night-and-day differences, never mind the magic rocks and demagnetizers.  I mean, somehow it's become "common knowledge" that higher-impedance headphones are harder to drive, which is not only false but the opposite of reality (other than not getting loud enough on a voltage-limited amp).

 

Despite mostly best intentions, group think is pretty strong.

 

Sometimes replacing cables matters, particularly for speakers, for reasons like the originals getting oxidized at the contact points and replacements not having such an issue (but cleaning the original would achieve the same effect).  Or long enough runs of thin cables to 4 ohm nominal speakers having some non-negligible effect.  For non-audio purposes, cables can have a much bigger impact.  Maybe it all started with some of the fringe cases that were actually legitimate.

 

Yes, the "high impedance 'phones are hard to drive" thing really fries my bacon, so to speak.

I admit to getting a bit anal about folks who confuse gain with voltage with power with position of the volume control with efficiency with sensitivity.

OTOH it is difficult for the layman to understand.

And hence, the belief in Wonder Tubes and Wonderful, all conquering Op Amps.

 

I've done some tube rolling myself and occasionally heard differences, but now I suspect what I was really hearing were differences in tubes with variations in parameters such as gain parameters, noise, microphonics, parasitic capacitance, etc..


Edited by Chris J - 9/3/12 at 1:53pm
post #120 of 403
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

Yes it does. That's why it's not a good idea to get medical or legal advice from internet forums, and why it's important for the reader to make an effort to sort the wheat out from the chaffe when he is reading.

May I ask why you participate then? >6400 post is a significant investment in time for something that you don't believe offers value.

Just curious
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