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How can expensive cables perform anything but worse to equal at the most?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

Cables obviously have electrical properties, but these can only be influenced up to a point.

Given the electrical properties of cheap but properly designed cables, how can more expensive cables perform anything but worse to equal at the most?

 

 

Random example for a really expensive cable performing worse: http://www.audioholics.com/education/cables/pear-cable-science

Quote:

What does $7250 for speaker cables really buy?

It buys a very expensive filter.


Edited by xnor - 6/12/13 at 8:47am
post #2 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post


Random example for a really expensive cable performing worse: http://www.audioholics.com/education/cables/pear-cable-science

 

I'm hard pressed to recall reading anything as grossly overwrought as that article.

 

se

post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 

Overwrought .. learning new words every day.

 

But what do you think about the science behind manufacturers' claims?

I guess many people think "not every expensive cable performs better than cheap, properly designed ones" but I kinda just replaced "not every" with "not any" since I have not seen scientific explanations or measurements by manufacturers or DBTs that would proof otherwise. Do you know of any? I'd like to discuss them here.

 

What usually can be seen, if there are measurements at all, is an unnamed cable that is really, really bad (not properly designed) used in a comparison with the manufacturer's cable which can only improve on that.


Edited by xnor - 6/12/13 at 9:49am
post #4 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post

how can more expensive cables perform anything but worse to equal at the most?
Exactly. As you showed, some cables are intentionally broken, I suppose so a vendor can claim that their cables are better, using an audible difference as "proof." But for the most part wire is wire, and if it's properly spec'd and not defective it will sound and measure the same as any other competent wire. But you already know this! biggrin.gif

--Ethan
post #5 of 32

Many years ago NHT (Now Hear This) speaker company came to a local audio shop to audition their new flagship speakers. They set up a demo room and offered 10,000 dollars to anyone who could repeatedly identify the difference between lamp cord and 200 dollars per foot speaker cable. Lots of people showed up, some with these little cardboard "ear extenders" (for lack of a better term). NHT left with their 10 grand as nobody could do better than about 60% guessing which cable was which after repeatedly listening to various genres through the same sources. 

post #6 of 32
Quote:

Originally Posted by xnor View Post

 

But what do you think about the science behind manufacturers' claims?

 

As a member of the trade, I could be banned for answering that question. Hell, members of the trade here are treading on thin ice just discussing basic physics and materials properties.

 

se

post #7 of 32
Personally I'm against that policy. Members of the trade should actively discuss the real science behind their products.

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post #8 of 32
Thread Starter 

@se: So can you at least answer if you think there's a relation between a cable's price and its performance where with performance I simply mean the cable's ability to pass a signal as unaltered as possible?

 

I don't mean on a $1 to $10 scale but more like up to hundreds or thousands of $$$.

post #9 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrystalT View Post

Personally I'm against that policy. Members of the trade should actively discuss the real science behind their products.

They could provide science on their websites. If it's "real" science what's stopping them?


Edited by xnor - 6/12/13 at 12:00pm
post #10 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrystalT View Post

Personally I'm against that policy. Members of the trade should actively discuss the real science behind their products.
 

 

You can largely immunize yourself from that if you're a paid sponsor.

 

se

post #11 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post

@se: So can you at least answer if you think there's a relation between a cable's price and its performance where with performance I simply mean the cable's ability to pass a signal as unaltered as possible?

 

 

What's that have to do with science?

 

se

post #12 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eddy View Post

What's that have to do with science?

You may incorporate all your scientific knowledge about cables into the answer. I'm certain you had one or the other high-end cable on your desk. I haven't seen any especially well measuring expensive cables so far, but maybe you know more about such cables, if they even exist?

 

Cable manufacturers are also just cooking with water (sorry for the German idiom) even if they claim they make them from Unobtanium. They cannot defy the laws of physics even if they spent years on "research". They cannot reduce resistance, capacitance, inductance to unrealistically low values, etc. That's where I was heading anyway.

 

What would be required to significantly improve on a cheap but properly designed cable in order to cause audible differences?

 

 

 

(I know there's more to cables such as durability, or even looks, but that shouldn't matter here.)


Edited by xnor - 6/12/13 at 12:40pm
post #13 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post

You may incorporate all your scientific knowledge about cables into the answer.

 

Your question was about price versus performance. There's no inherent science to "price." A manufacturer may ultimately put whatever price they want on what they're selling. The price may bear some relationship to the cost to produce, or it may be pure market pricing (i.e. "whatever the market will bear"). So in that sense, I guess I would have to say no, I don't think there's any inherent relationship between price and performance.

 

se

post #14 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eddy View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrystalT View Post

Personally I'm against that policy. Members of the trade should actively discuss the real science behind their products.
 

 

You can largely immunize yourself from that if you're a paid sponsor.

 

se

I should not have to pay to see empirical evidence.

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post #15 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post

 

What would be required to significantly improve on a cheap but properly designed cable in order to cause audible differences?

 

 

 

(I know there's more to cables such as durability, or even looks, but that shouldn't matter here.)

A question with no answer if I understand you.  Cheap properly designed cables are effectively totally transparent.  They contribute nothing to the signal that is audible beyond the signal itself.  So the only possibility for a cable to sound audibly different from a cheap properly designed cable which is totally transparent to the source signal is to introduce something which is additive or subtractive vs the source signal.  . 

 

Good cheap cables have an abundance of flat frequency response, contribute no noise at any level that matters, add no distortion at any level that can matter.  So for something to sound different it would need to add noise, alter the frequency response, or add distortion.  In effect color or tailor the sound beyond having fidelity to the source.  Those optically coupled cables I read about do that.  They add barely audible noise at about the level of LP surface noise, they add low order harmonic distortion at 1 or 2 % something like some tubes can do.  They can sound different, and it might seem better.  But it isn't accurate.  If you want to alter the sound to suit preference there are better places than cables to do it.  Cheaper places in regard to highly expensive cables.

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