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Do Headphone cable upgrades really work?  

post #1 of 58
Thread Starter 

Recently on the train back from London I got talking to a guy with some pretty fancy in ear headphones. He had a pretty homeade braided cable with them, turns out all silver.

I have decent cables (Chord Co) on my HiFi, but I did not think they made a big difference over the stuff I had originally.

Is it worth upgrading the cable on my Audio Technica Headphones?

It can be unplugged from the headphones. The cable has plugs on both ends.

f I want to try something, where can get such a cable?

Does it have to be silver (sounds expensive)?

post #2 of 58

it does work, BUT it is generally very expensive for the improvement you get. and the price to performance ratio is normally far worse than other components 
(not sure about the cables you mentioned though)


Edited by streetdragon - 1/10/13 at 11:04am
post #3 of 58
Thread Starter 

Hi Streetdragon,

So, maybe it is not worth getting for my headphones?

They where only around 200 Pound when I bought them a few years ago.

I recently got myself a headphone amp for similar money, it was quite a revelation compared to the headphone out of my Laptop, love listening to music on headphones a lot more since.

I still prefer speakers though, when I can. I tried a few other Headphones, but the only one I liked better costs silly money.

So I am looking for some upgrade I can do with the headphones I have. I thought cables might be easy to do. Anything else I can do?

post #4 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by bedlam inside View Post

Hi Streetdragon,

So, maybe it is not worth getting for my headphones?

They where only around 200 Pound when I bought them a few years ago.

I recently got myself a headphone amp for similar money, it was quite a revelation compared to the headphone out of my Laptop, love listening to music on headphones a lot more since.

I still prefer speakers though, when I can. I tried a few other Headphones, but the only one I liked better costs silly money.

So I am looking for some upgrade I can do with the headphones I have. I thought cables might be easy to do. Anything else I can do?

well depends on the rest of your system. if they are high end then i think its okay (recabling cheap headphones is often a no-no), but i think so far a dac might be a consideration as well since you are running it from your laptop soundcard

post #5 of 58
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by streetdragon View Post

well depends on the rest of your system. if they are high end then i think its okay (recabling cheap headphones is often a no-no), but i think so far a dac might be a consideration as well since you are running it from your laptop soundcard

 

Hi, my headphones and other stuff is not what I think they call "High End". 

But I do have a DAC plus a Headphone Amplifier. The DAC has even got another box to power it, just like in my Naim CDS CD-Player. I bought them after hearing them at the recent Audio Show.

I recently tried some headphones that cost more than all of my boxes and headphones together (Sennheiser ones) and was somewhat impressed, but not enough to consider buying them.

So, the only thing to upgrade are my headphones (which I like the way they sound) or cables...

What do you think I should do? Maybe nothing?

 

post #6 of 58

Depends on what you mean by "work."  There is absolutely no scientific basis for 99.9% of the claims cable sellers make, the science that is applicable makes changes measured in the 0.00001db range, measurements show no difference, and no one has ever passed a double-blind test to differentiate cables. 

 

However, once people do sighted tests, cognitive biases (placebo, etc.) kick in, and you do hear a difference - just not a "real" difference.  So, once you're happy with your system (and ONLY once youve upgraded all you can on gear that makes a real difference), go ahead and get some pretty looking cables, and you may enjoy your system more even though the sound hasn't technically changed. 

post #7 of 58

FWIW, I didn't believe it would make a difference, but putting the $80 CH cables on my UE TF10 made a huge difference.

Doesn't hurt that the cable and connectors are a lot better as well, but I was honestly surprised by the difference (swapped the cable a few times to be sure).  Main negative is microphonics are worse because the cable is harder :-P

post #8 of 58

I believe Suggestion and auto-suggestion play an extremely large part in assessing Hi Fi.

 

DBT discussion is banned in this part of the forums, to me this is inexplicable and bizarre.

 

However I would ask people to view my article here:

 

Suggestion and Auto-Suggestion in the Assessment of Audio Products

post #9 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by p a t r i c k View Post

I believe Suggestion and auto-suggestion play an extremely large part in assessing Hi Fi.

 

DBT discussion is banned in this part of the forums, to me this is inexplicable and bizarre.

 

However I would ask people to view my article here:

 

Suggestion and Auto-Suggestion in the Assessment of Audio Products

I'll tell what is bizarre. You posting in this forum about something you never tried and know nothing about; wanting to discuss auto-suggestion and other psychology theories here.  

 

you went to all that trouble to write that article (or whatever it is), and nobody gives a ****. it sucks

post #10 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by El_Doug View Post

Depends on what you mean by "work."  There is absolutely no scientific basis for 99.9% of the claims cable sellers make, the science that is applicable makes changes measured in the 0.00001db range, measurements show no difference, and no one has ever passed a double-blind test to differentiate cables. 

 

However, once people do sighted tests, cognitive biases (placebo, etc.) kick in, and you do hear a difference - just not a "real" difference.  So, once you're happy with your system (and ONLY once youve upgraded all you can on gear that makes a real difference), go ahead and get some pretty looking cables, and you may enjoy your system more even though the sound hasn't technically changed. 

 

still hanging on to the same nonsense. still trying to start the debate. let's face it, the debate is over. you lost it. nobody believes the nonsense anymore. nobody gives a damn.

 

there are hundreds of users who are satisfied with their cable purchases. people like to give the benefit of the doubt.

 

it's goes like this: I ask a question about a product; two people reply. one has tried the product, the other hasn't - who I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt?

 

...and it's still a dbt-free zone, even for you.

 

it's over. get over it. go bowling or something..biggrin.gif

post #11 of 58

Re-cabling most often doesn't bring any significant difference to the sound, certainly not worth the price you pay. I cannot say anything about re-cabling your specific headphones but I have my own experience with HD650. Two years ago I tried Cardas cable (costing $300 in Sweden). There was no significant sound improvement, absolutely not worth 300 bucks. Moreover the cable was incredibly stiff and lots of times the sound disappeared on one of the chanels because of some kind of static/capacitive load building up. Fortunately I could return the cable after a couple of days. Re-cabling stuff is probably the most expensive audiophile exercise giving least benefits. The most interesting thing is that people buying expensive cables always perceive the changes for the better (never for the worse). I think that tells us a lot about the credibility of the method itself.

post #12 of 58
Thread Starter 

Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by kenyee View Post

FWIW, I didn't believe it would make a difference, but putting the $80 CH cables on my UE TF10 made a huge difference.

Doesn't hurt that the cable and connectors are a lot better as well, but I was honestly surprised by the difference (swapped the cable a few times to be sure).  Main negative is microphonics are worse because the cable is harder :-P


Thank you. It seems I have I have hit a bit of a hornet's nest with my question.

Where did you buy your cable?

My headphones have a normal headphone Jack in one of the ear pieces, so I need a cable that is plug to plug. If the cable is a little stiff it does not matter, my headphones are what I think are called "full size" here. I think 80 Dollar (that is 50 Quid in money here) is okay.

I did an experiment yesterday evening. I stole the Chord Co. Chorus interconnects from my main system and put them between the DAC and the Headphone Amp in my little headphone system, instead of the cables that came with them in the box. I think there is a definite difference, but it is quite small. I need to look where my old cables are, I remember they used to be quite decent in the 90's, maybe they will be an upgrade too? 

post #13 of 58
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bedlam inside View Post

I did an experiment yesterday evening. I stole the Chord Co. Chorus interconnects from my main system and put them between the DAC and the Headphone Amp in my little headphone system, instead of the cables that came with them in the box. I think there is a definite difference, but it is quite small. I need to look where my old cables are, I remember they used to be quite decent in the 90's, maybe they will be an upgrade too? 

 

So, I found them. It says QED on them. 

I tried them, not sure that there was a difference, maybe a little better.

At least now I know It was worth splurging on the Chord Co. Cables for my main system. So, let me get some better cables for my headphones first, Ted, thank you for the pointers.

post #14 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by bedlam inside View Post

Where did you buy your cable?

My headphones have a normal headphone Jack in one of the ear pieces, so I need a cable that is plug to plug. If the cable is a little stiff it does not matter, my headphones are what I think are called "full size" here. I think 80 Dollar (that is 50 Quid in money here) is okay.

 

These: http://chrishimselfaudio.blogspot.com/

 

A big part of it might be the thicker gauge wire (24 vs. 30 for the OEM ones).  I do believe thicker wires work better if your original wires are too thin for current to flow well.  I was still surprised at the difference though...

post #15 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenni View Post

I'll tell what is bizarre. You posting in this forum about something you never tried and know nothing about; wanting to discuss auto-suggestion and other psychology theories here.  

 

you went to all that trouble to write that article (or whatever it is), and nobody gives a ****. it sucks

 

You don't seem to be very impressed by my article

 

Suggestion and Autosuggestion in the Assessment of Audio Products

 

which is okay by me.

 

However I will take you up on the point you raise that I am apparently posting in this forum about something I have never tried.

 

I put together my first Hi Fi in the late 70s and I have been listening to music through Hi Fis since that time.

 

In the mid 80s the nature of the Hi Fi world started to change and although at the time I felt this was a good thing, in retrospect it was mostly a change for the worse.

 

One of the changes was that magazine reviewers in the UK, and I think in the US as well, started to abandon any idea of eliminating the influence of suggestion or autosuggestion in reviews. It used to be that UK audio magazines would set up ways of reviewing Hi Fi such that they were comparing different makes of amplifier (for example) side by side, but hiding the identity of the makes. There were many different approaches to this.

 

All that kind of reviewing went and was replaced by the kind of "reviewing" we have today.

 

In the late 80s I did get very convinced by the idea that things that were once considered irrelevant to the sound were now relevant, and one of those things was cables. So I dutifully did as many Hi Fi enthusiasts did at that time and spent quite a lot money on cables for my Hi Fi.

 

Each cable I purchased seemed to bring the improvements that the manufacturer had suggested, or which had been discussed in one of the "reviews". So I felt this money was very well spent.

 

Then many life events came that meant that I could not spend so much time reading about Hi Fi. I kept the Hi Fi I had at the time and loved playing music with it. However it was not until the mid 90s when I came around again to a renewed interest in the Hi Fi itself.

 

In the mid 90s I tried changing these cables for much cheaper alternatives I had (free cables that had been supplied with components) and I could not notice any difference in the sound. I even had an "audiophile" mains cable for my power amplifier and I tried changing that for a regular "kettle lead". I could detect no difference, and yet when I had bought that cable during my period of Hi Fi indulgence I was so sure as to the benefits it had brought the system.

 

What had happened to me in the late 90s was that I was now listening to my Hi Fi after spending several years without reading any magazines, or indeed anything about Hi Fi. The endless suggestions repeated by the Hi Fi industry and discussion around it had been removed from me for that period.

 

So you see I have written my article from experience of these issues.

 

I recommend that people do read my article. You can make up your own mind about it. However an understanding that many of these so-called improvements in audio are simply the result of suggestion and autosuggestion might well save you a great deal of money.

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