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Why the cable myth won't go away  

post #1 of 72
Thread Starter 

I was a bit amazed recently as I went to an audio meet. In spite of all the articles  and discussion about the lack of any measurable improvement due to the so-called super power cables, Well over half of the people there had these absolutely huge power cables, some with wires all twisted up and braided into some quite fantastic shapes. I saw one there so large I think it could power a Titan Rocket Launcher. They do realize there is a 20 or 30 amp breaker somewhere up stream that is going to limit the power no matter how big the cable is, don't they? It was pretty interesting to see all of the tremendously exotic cables of all kinds there, I am sure some people spent more on the cables than they did on the equipment they were connected to. I have to believe some people will say they don't buy into the myth and then go out and buy a $750 power cable. One thing for sure, as long as people are buying, someone will be selling. I just hope they took the time to insure all those cables were properly burned-in.

post #2 of 72

hmm, could I sell exotic power cables for kitchen appliances - or would even the dimmest bulb see through my ads for a cable optimized for Crock Pots?

 

hopefully the same people wouldn't also see the audio mag ads for the "cable cooker" burn in device that makes wonderful stews


Edited by jcx - 1/6/14 at 11:41pm
post #3 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcx View Post

hmm, could I sell exotic power cables for kitchen appliances - or would even the dimmest bulb see through my ads for a cable optimized for Crock Pots?



 



hopefully the same people wouldn't also see the audio mag ads for the "cable cooker" burn in device that makes wonderful stews


 



Sign me up for your newsletter! Where can I buy such amazing products?

Personally, I find the whole audio cable industry fascinating. It surely provides great insight into the human condition.

Ultimately, I think it must come down to the brain's ability to self-delude in the face of common sense. Essentially the same impulse that leads people to follow religions or buy Beats headphones.
post #4 of 72

Its not only the audio industry.

 

Its basic human nature. Our motivations in life (well, most of us, under varying circumstances) are not decided by an objective standard, but by a subjective and relative standard (what others have and what they don't).

 

When cost is not a bottleneck, embellishments and extravagance take precedence. The idea is that if it cannot harm, it can only improve, either on a functional or an aesthetic level.

 

Coming up with scientific theories is one thing, but when a product is made using those principles, the specifications are set to serve the lowest common denominator. Thats the boundary of the objective truth. When a product is launched into the market, all that logic and maths remains hidden inside the product, and the product just reflects the social forces that are in play. (Its not only products, it happens among people as well. An excellent engineer will never be paid as much as a mediocre manager. Just a fact of life).

 

In short, science guarantees a solution as efficient and as affordable as possible, but it cannot tame the human need for differentiation and individuality, especially when we can have something others can't.  There's always a conflict with other's need of differentiation and hence these 'extra' add ons will always exist (Unless we turn to the Vulcan way of life :o ).


Edited by proton007 - 1/7/14 at 6:06am
post #5 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

Its not only the audio industry.



 



Its basic human nature. When cost is not a bottleneck, embellishments and extravagance take precedence. The idea is that if it cannot harm, it can only improve, either on a functional or an aesthetic level.



 



Coming up with scientific theories is one thing, but when a product is made using those principles, the specifications are set to serve the lowest common denominator.



 



In short, science guarantees a solution as efficient and as affordable as possible, but it cannot tame the human need for differentiation and individuality. They'll always conflict with other's need of differentiation and hence these 'extra' add ons will always exist (Unless we turn to the Vulcan way of life " src="http://files.head-fi.org/images/smilies/redface.gif" /> ).


 



Indeed. Pimp my sordid sameness, anyone?
post #6 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lostinspace View Post


Indeed. Pimp my sordid sameness, anyone?

 

The cables section is open to post in.

post #7 of 72

My feeling is that only occasionally will the AC power cable affect the audio quality of a system.  When real audible differences are heard, it will be situation specific. Sort of a negative synergy. Simply changing another component or a nearby appliance or modern lighting system or taking the entire system to a friends house may cause the differences to disappear.

 

About large circuit breakers and heavy wire.

The only audible difference between a 15A breaker and a 30A breaker is when the 15A breaker trips.  Tripping is the only way a breaker limits current.

A heavy wire lowers the source impedance of your AC power.  Many big power amplifiers enjoy having a low source impedance. But many power conditioners raise the source impedance, so some knowledgeable manufactures suggest not using PC's. 

post #8 of 72

Why would an amplifier care about the last 2 meters of power cable? Even if you used 5 inch thick silver cables, it wouldn't change a thing.

post #9 of 72

Could someone explain to me why rewiring amplifiers isn't more popular among those who enjoy high-end cables? I would imagine that if I was big into cables, I'd want to reduce any "loss of quality" that I would get from using cheap cable inside my amplifier (which would be the same reason high-end interconnects are used).

post #10 of 72

Because it's not visible. ;)

post #11 of 72

Very possibly, but designer caps aren't visible but are still very popular.

post #12 of 72

I doubt that most people that buy audiophile power cables also buy expensive caps and switch them on the PCB. Many have probably never even touched a soldering iron.

 

It's the EEs and DIY hobbyists that do not have the tools to do measurements that buy such parts to be on the safe, audiophile side. Even if there are no improvements they will hear them .. due to bias.


Edited by xnor - 1/7/14 at 3:57pm
post #13 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post
 

I doubt that most people that buy audiophile power cables also buy expensive caps and switch them on the PCB. Many have probably never even touched a soldering iron.

 

But they may buy amplifiers that are marketed as having designer caps in them.

post #14 of 72

Edited the post above. Additionally: it makes for good marketing.

I know that there are people that look for specific chips, caps, resistors etc. Some of them open up their devices to identify the parts to calm their nerves. There could be a cheap part in there, after all, that would completely ruin sound quality!


Edited by xnor - 1/7/14 at 4:02pm
post #15 of 72

Another interesting, myth-busting exercise here.

 

It amazes what some of the people in the audio cable forums say, such as: "I start thinking that audio may respond differently to stressed and unstressed wires." to which another fellow sanely added: "Stressed and unstressed? You mean tensioning the wires? Other than risking breaking mechanical joints and damaging insulation it won't have an affect."

 

It seems with many, there is an underlying misunderstanding of electricity.  A bent wire and a straight wire look exactly the same to Mr & Mrs Electron.  I think some believe that audio is carried by tiny marching bands inside the cables that need a lot of room, and absolutely hate making turns.

 

I, for one, enjoy building headphone & interconnect cables.  It's not to 'change the sound', but it's a fun hobby, and it does allow me to have something unique to carry around (yes, I'm vain...sue me.)  The only 'audio' benefits I receive from this is removing microphonics (particularly from IEM cables) by using soft sheathing that doesn't send vibrations in the cable up to my ears quite so readily.

 

So...as for the OP's remarks:

Quote:
Originally Posted by HPiper View Post
 

"Well over half of the people there had these absolutely huge power cables, some with wires all twisted up and braided into some quite fantastic shapes...It was pretty interesting to see all of the tremendously exotic cables of all kinds there"

 

It's large vanity...but posing as some sort of audio intelligence.

 

Anyhow, who am I to judge?  I'm off to do some braiding.

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