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Why pick on cables ? - Page 3  

post #31 of 403

This thread seems to be fairly civil about the whole cable thing, which is pretty refreshing, but then again it is only a couple pages long.  I am bored so here are just a couple thoughts to throw out there.

 

I have made a lot of cables out of a lot of different materials, with a lot of different geometries over the past couple years since I discovered Head-fi, and I know now that I can't hear any substantial differences unless I botched a solder joint.  However, because I am human, and more importantly, because I listen to music to enjoy it (not analyze it), cables do still matter and make a difference in my listening experience.  Just as how pretty a knob or the color of an LED on the front of a receiver can be important to me and how much I enjoy the experience.  All of my senses are tied together to build my experience and when I use cables that are aesthetically pleasing, I enjoy my music listening experience quite a bit more.  When I add in the smell of freshly made coffee or chocolate chip cookies, Norah Jones sounds even better to me.  If someone started marketing air freshner as an audiophile tool, would they really be in the wrong?  Even if the differences in cables that people hear are simple psycho-acoustics, or an attempt to justify a purchase, so what?  If our brain tells us the sound is better, then it is.  If spending $1000 on a cable makes someone enjoy their rig enough that they are cool with paying $1000, then the cables were well worth the $1000!  

 

Also, for the people who badger the sellers of cables for their prices, take a simple economics class.  They can't sell a cable for any more than someone is willing to pay for it.  Taking advantage of market opportunities is what business is all about.  For niche, audiophile products, can anyone really claim that someone is being taken advantage of?  Most people getting into this hobby are aware if not comfortable with the costs of diminishing returns and are willing to spend more to get less in return than most any other normal person.  If someone is missing rent to buy headphone cables, then that is a problem, but not one that cable makers are responsible for.  False advertising is a different issue, and I agree that hyperbolic claims of incredible changes in sound will occur due to this that the other are not cool.  But I think there are enough cable makers out there who are transparent about the materials they use and why they could be better for cables without going overboard with the claims of actual sound improvement.

 

I think it's important to remember that we are all human, with all the wonderful quirks of personality and consciousness that make us so interesting.  Sometimes you can't reduce enjoyment and even "sounding better" to numbers or dollar signs.  Just hope that these thoughts can keep threads like on a more even keel instead holy flame wars.

post #32 of 403

Sometimes, pricing cables more than 10x their worth lessens distortion, noise, improves time and flattens the FR for the listener. 

 

I'm okay with headphone cables costing 50-100usd for some nice, well built cables, but jeez, $1k, I rather buy disc and watch concerts than pay the price for a negligible improvement. Hell, I could put that money into the "save up for Stax" fund if I already have all conventional headphones out there and want more.

post #33 of 403

One thought here for the thread starter:

 

Question:Why pick on cables?

Answer:

Bigshot likes to pick on amplifiers

I like to pick on tubes.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FraGGleR View Post

This thread seems to be fairly civil about the whole cable thing, which is pretty refreshing, but then again it is only a couple pages long.  I am bored so here are just a couple thoughts to throw out there.

 

I think it's important to remember that we are all human, with all the wonderful quirks of personality and consciousness that make us so interesting.  Sometimes you can't reduce enjoyment and even "sounding better" to numbers or dollar signs.  Just hope that these thoughts can keep threads like on a more even keel instead holy flame wars.

 

Nice post!biggrin.gif

The cynic in me says "give this thread a few more pages for the flame wars to begin".

The optimist in me says "I hope the thread stays on this even keel".

Quote:
Originally Posted by firev1 View Post

Sometimes, pricing cables more than 10x their worth lessens distortion, noise, improves time and flattens the FR for the listener. 

 

I'm okay with headphone cables costing 50-100usd for some nice, well built cables, but jeez, $1k, I rather buy disc and watch concerts than pay the price for a negligible improvement. Hell, I could put that money into the "save up for Stax" fund if I already have all conventional headphones out there and want more.

 

Yowser!

For a G note I would buy a pair of Stax 2070, bro.wink_face.gif


Edited by Chris J - 8/30/12 at 9:31am
post #34 of 403
Quote:
Originally Posted by FraGGleR View Post
 If someone started marketing air freshner as an audiophile tool, would they really be in the wrong?  

Not if you base the judgement on a subjective holistic aesthetic experience of enjoyment. Wear your special audiophile socks if it makes you happy.

post #35 of 403
Quote:
Originally Posted by FraGGleR View Post

I have made a lot of cables out of a lot of different materials, with a lot of different geometries over the past couple years since I discovered Head-fi, and I know now that I can't hear any substantial differences unless I botched a solder joint.  However, because I am human, and more importantly, because I listen to music to enjoy it (not analyze it), cables do still matter and make a difference in my listening experience.  Just as how pretty a knob or the color of an LED on the front of a receiver can be important to me and how much I enjoy the experience.  All of my senses are tied together to build my experience and when I use cables that are aesthetically pleasing, I enjoy my music listening experience quite a bit more.  When I add in the smell of freshly made coffee or chocolate chip cookies, Norah Jones sounds even better to me.  If someone started marketing air freshner as an audiophile tool, would they really be in the wrong?  Even if the differences in cables that people hear are simple psycho-acoustics, or an attempt to justify a purchase, so what?  If our brain tells us the sound is better, then it is.  If spending $1000 on a cable makes someone enjoy their rig enough that they are cool with paying $1000, then the cables were well worth the $1000!  

 

Also, for the people who badger the sellers of cables for their prices, take a simple economics class.  They can't sell a cable for any more than someone is willing to pay for it.  Taking advantage of market opportunities is what business is all about.  For niche, audiophile products, can anyone really claim that someone is being taken advantage of?  Most people getting into this hobby are aware if not comfortable with the costs of diminishing returns and are willing to spend more to get less in return than most any other normal person.  If someone is missing rent to buy headphone cables, then that is a problem, but not one that cable makers are responsible for.  False advertising is a different issue, and I agree that hyperbolic claims of incredible changes in sound will occur due to this that the other are not cool.  But I think there are enough cable makers out there who are transparent about the materials they use and why they could be better for cables without going overboard with the claims of actual sound improvement.

 

I think it's important to remember that we are all human, with all the wonderful quirks of personality and consciousness that make us so interesting.  Sometimes you can't reduce enjoyment and even "sounding better" to numbers or dollar signs.  Just hope that these thoughts can keep threads like on a more even keel instead holy flame wars.

 

Very well put.

 

For me that's what it's all about at the end of the day, the subjective experience. Or gestalt if you will. And there's more that goes into that experience than just what's beating on our eardrums.

 

Personally, I think as far as signal transmission goes, we pretty much had cables all figured out some 80 years ago or more. So when I design, I first make sure I get the basics right and after that I feed my soul. There was a lot of subjectivity that went into creating the music in the first place. And I don't know why that should necessarily stop once the recording has been made.

 

se

post #36 of 403
Personally, if I'm going down that road, a comfortable chair and a glass of something intoxicating get me a lot further than fancy stereo equipment, but to each his own.

Can you believe it? There are some people in this world that like GIRLS better than high end audio!! Sheesh!
post #37 of 403
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

The whole expectation with exotic cables is that they improve the sound quality.

 

But the thing is, they can.

 

Sure, you can argue that they don't affect the signal in any way that is actually audible. But I don't see how "sound quality" can be truly meaningful outside the subjective experience of a given individual. I mean, because that's precisely how all of us actually experience all of this "audio" stuff. We don't experience it as charts and graphs and numbers. But as subjective, flesh and blood human beings.

 

se

post #38 of 403
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eddy View Post

 

But the thing is, they can.

 

Sure, you can argue that they don't affect the signal in any way that is actually audible. But I don't see how "sound quality" can be truly meaningful outside the subjective experience of a given individual. I mean, because that's precisely how all of us actually experience all of this "audio" stuff. We don't experience it as charts and graphs and numbers. But as subjective, flesh and blood human beings.

 

se

As soon as you start talking about "sound quality" you've already broken the gestalt/phenomena down and are on the road of reductionism. 

 

 


Edited by JadeEast - 8/30/12 at 11:21am
post #39 of 403
I don't consider the state of my blood pressure as sound quality.

I wish wires could make me happy. If they could, life would be a whole lot easier.

I think people spend too much on cables because they can. They can't afford high end autos or high end computers, but a high end wire is affordable. The truth is if they bought a high end car or computer they'd actually be getting high end performance.
post #40 of 403

I have a friend. He's a judge and very wealthy. The speakers he had is a prototype that cost mucho bucks. In order to move his speaker, we need to get a fork lift. He doesn't pretend to know anything technical or insists on he can identify different cables. He basically told me; he can afford it and it makes him feel more intimate with his music and so why not. If I am not such a cheapskate and an engineer, I will probably buy them just in case they make a difference.

post #41 of 403
That's like people who insist on listening to lossless instead of high bitrate AAC. It's not that they can hear any difference. It just gives them peace of mind to know they aren't losing anything they can't hear. I guess folks like this contribute to the overall economy. If only we could get them to be just as retentive about paying their taxes. It would end the recession!
post #42 of 403
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

That's like people who insist on listening to lossless instead of high bitrate AAC. It's not that they can hear any difference. It just gives them peace of mind to know they aren't losing anything they can't hear. I guess folks like this contribute to the overall economy. If only we could get them to be just as retentive about paying their taxes. It would end the recession!

 

I have some friends who's religion seems to be not paying taxes, burning as much gas as possible and buying junk at garage sales.

I don't think this helps the economy much.................

post #43 of 403

Nice post.

 

I generally avoid the 'sound science' forum, and I am unlikely to follow this thread any further. However, another head-fier pointed me to this post. It   reminds me of a few thoughts I have had concerning this topic.

 

Let me preface this by saying although I refer to cognition below - specifically I pursued  cognitive psychology to post-graduate levels (circa late 1990s), I am a social not a cognitive scientist and have not followed the cognitive literature for some years. If any cognitive scientists chance to read this, they may find it necessary to correct certain particulars.

 

More importantly, the idea below is hypothetical, a general and straight-forward deduction from recent (1990s) models of cognition.

 

Science only starts with deduction; it decides whether a hypothesis is a worthwhile contribution to one or other theory with testing. In science, any untested deduction/conclusion is, by itself, worthless.

 

The cable debate, and some others within head-fi,  may relate to some details about how the brain/mind constructs or perceives. The way a cognitive psychologist puts this is that we interpret - subjectively speaking, we see - the world through cognitive 'schemata'. A schema is a framework we have 'learned' that dictates how our sense experience is processed. Specifically, schemata cause us to weight (up or down) different features of our sensory input to arrive - finally - at conscious perception.

 

There are several conditions - all have to be satisfied - in which such a schema might produce the experience of cables sounding different:

(1) First, for such a schema to develop we have either to 'believe' or be receptive to the notion cables could make a difference. 

(2) Next, if we pick up some particular cable and have 'nice' experiences with it, it becomes connected - because that's what our schema does, it connects stored experiences and other elements in long-term memory - with a multitude of other compatible ('nice', if you like) elements within one's private audiophile-schemata. And vice versa.

(3) We need to 'know' which cable is connected.

 

All this being so, we will hear it differently, on account of that first, positive (or negative) experience. Over time, the schema will become elaborated and might intensify or lessen the on-going perception of "good" or "bad". It may alter perceptual filters, so that one literally 'hears' (lets through) details with one cable that one misses with another.

 

Interestingly - according to this model - if condition (3) is not satisfied - i.e., we don't know which cable is connected, it is likely we will no longer hear it differently.

 

The objectivist will say "see, no difference" and back it up with identical measurements. That misses the point.

 

The "better sounding cable" experience is not illusory for those whose schemata have developed in this way. It is an outcome of how we/they decode sense-experience.

 

So, it is subjective, and yet makes a real difference because we are 'subjective' beings. Rather than subjective, I would rather say we are neuro-cognitively complex. This is no different to the way we like some people and dislike others - whereas a close friend or our spouse experiences the 'same' person oppositely.

 

Let me repeat; this is purely hypothetical. Like any model, it attempts to explain particular data. Specifically, it would seem to account for these two data features:

a) some of us hear no cable differences - our audiophile schemata did not develop in this way - whereas others do

b) those who hear cable differences - and where the difference is not backed by objective measurements - do not succeed in picking these cables in  DBT tests, according to frequent assertions on head-fi

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FraGGleR View Post

<snip>

 

I have made a lot of cables out of a lot of different materials, with a lot of different geometries over the past couple years since I discovered Head-fi, and I know now that I can't hear any substantial differences unless I botched a solder joint.  However, because I am human, and more importantly, because I listen to music to enjoy it (not analyze it), cables do still matter and make a difference in my listening experience.  Just as how pretty a knob or the color of an LED on the front of a receiver can be important to me and how much I enjoy the experience.  All of my senses are tied together to build my experience and when I use cables that are aesthetically pleasing, I enjoy my music listening experience quite a bit more.  When I add in the smell of freshly made coffee or chocolate chip cookies, Norah Jones sounds even better to me.  <snip>

post #44 of 403
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus-eaters

There are two problems with just being happy that your cognitive bias gives you the perception of better sound...

1) It doesn't last. When we're pleased about a new purchase and it makes us feel good and believe it's an improvement, it doesn't take us long to move on and need another new purchase to regain those good spirits... And another... And another... Since there is no actual physical improvement, the feeling is 100% subject to our whims.

2) It distracts us from things that actually DO matter. Anyone whose job involves problem solving will tell you that you can't make headway until you identify what the problem is. Just randomly trying things just produces random results. Achieving great sound is a complex and involved process, involving many factors. If you want to make significant improvements, you need to identify your problem areas and address them. Simply switching wires and feeling good about it doesn't get you an inch closer to your goal.

Once you've solved every real issue and have a perfect system, you can buy a truckload of frilly lace underpants for it and change them every day, and feel just great about it. But I sincerely doubt that many of us are really at that point. And I think we'd all much rather have others on this forum give us solid practical advice, not feel good alternatives to actually doing something.
Edited by bigshot - 8/30/12 at 6:23pm
post #45 of 403
As the very happy owner of a couple of these "high zoot" cables from multiple botique manufacturers, I can say that there's far more to their value than just the quality of sound. The aesthetic quality alone of some of the cables is easily worth their price. you have to remember that they're made by hand, one cable at a time. That hand labor is the livlihood of the people involved in the passion of creating these cables.
these weren't built by machine in some greasy, smoky, polluted corner of the world. These cables are the product of the passion of some of our fellow head-fier enthusiasts. They're works of art. I for one appreciate that art and passion, and am happy to be part of the patronage of that art form. This is my subjective opinion. I like these works of art, and because they improve the sound, usability, and enjoyment of my headphones, this art form is a bargain. If you choose not to be a patron of these art forms, that's your right and priviledge, but please do not denigrate my right to enjoy them.
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