Cable Materials Affecting sound?

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by JaeYoon, Oct 21, 2017.
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  1. JaeYoon
    Can anyone give more insight on cables. Which is practically just a wire, now I do know electricity does whatever it wants, flows however through anything conductable.

    But someone on a review site says they have a Ph.D friend who can explain why cables affect sound.
    You all have a lot more experience and knowledge. Is this pseudo-science or does at least have some validity?
  2. bigshot
    That PhD is a sock puppet. I'm betting that the quoted and the quoter in that post are the same person. It's a college student doing high end audio reviews for a website. The person asking the question is ok.

    (edit: checked the citation and figured out who was talking in each paragraph)
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
    JaeYoon likes this.
  3. JaeYoon
    That person is also on headfi. The fact they are trying to pretend to be multiple people to sell cables in their review. That cable is around 2.5k too.

    Time to go to all three.
  4. hemipowered007
    Here's also the thing, there is still, the traces within the driver, the leads coming off the driver, the connection itself to an aftermarket cable, all of which are typically not changed. Not to mention the leads inside the source. So how, how on earth, can different metals, just within a cable itself, change anything sonically? Yes if a cable is cheaply made it may not conduct well, or pick up interference. But that's where all these people lose me on "upgrade" cables. Myself, yes I would like a nice hefty cable, but just for aesthetics and feel of said cable alone, never have I thought of upgrading a cable for better sonic performance, because I just don't see how in the world that would be possible. I'm also not the brightest or most educated person with years of electrical theory under my belt. But, I've worked with copper for 16 years now, and testing wise, if it flows it flows. Solid core copper is obviously better than clad, gold better, apparently silver even better but I've never worked with silver. I would be willing to pay may be 100 fi r an aftermarket cable that's where i stop.
    JaeYoon likes this.
  5. bigshot
    I just looked at the fella who wrote that stuff. He says in one post, "Well to be honest, the accentuated 6 KHz is not something that necessarily returns in its tone, because it is compensated by the attenuated treble". Last time I checked 6kHz *was* in the treble range. How can it be accentuated and attenuated at the same time? I'd dig deeper, but I don't think I need to.
    JaeYoon likes this.
  6. ev13wt
    Just pretending for a moment "cable sound" is real...

    Moving the headphones just a bit on ones head introduces on order of magnitude more variation into the response than the supposed "cable sound".

    Pls. Relevance? None.

    Pretty cables are pretty. I like pretty cables.

    But cable should only make a sound when you drop it on floor.
    JaeYoon likes this.
  7. castleofargh Contributor
    cables are part of an electrical circuit, they have electrical properties depending on the diameter, the length, the metal, how much insulation there is between each wire..... like most stuff in electricity they can be defined as RLC or series of RLC components. but because a wire is pretty basic, you usually know a lot just with the gauge and length. changing those variables will change the electrical characteristics of the cable. it's not vodoo.
    now in our home audio stuff and with the short lengths usually involved, the electrical specs will tend to be so irrelevant relative to the rest of the circuit that pretty often having a good contact at the plug can have more effect on the signal than the entire cable.

    still, a given cable for a given purpose will have a known standard associated to that use. we don't use an Ethernet cable to carry 20000volt to another city for example. it's a dumb example but it shows the purpose of following a standard for a specific use. aside from electrical needs, we'd like it if a headphone cable could bend a little and didn't weight a dead horse so we don't usually use fat power cable for that purpose. that too will lead to certain standards. a coax cable shouldn't be 0.3ohm, and an IEM cable should probably not be 50 or 75ohm(unless it's part of the IEM's design).
    in the end the not so secret to get a good cable is to have one with the necessary specs. which is what the vast majority of cables will do.
    now some high end cables will try to get better manufacturing quality, lower variation from the target specs, durable soldering, pretty look... and other self proclaimed high end cables makers will have messed up specs for the given use just so that the user may perhaps notice a change in sound and mistake it for an improvement.
    2 different "schools" ^_^.
    ev13wt likes this.
  8. gregorio
    Cables do affect the sound, it's measurable and quite a few years ago someone here on the science forum tested and published those differences. If I remember correctly, the differences were typically in the rage of hundredths or thousandths of a dB, so clearly inaudible. With regard to the friend, there are three options:
    1. Daniel is an imaginary friend, invented to try and provide credence for the typical audiophile nonsense.
    2. Daniel is a real person but has an imaginary Ph.D.
    3. Daniel is a real person who has a real Ph.D but is desperate enough for money that he's sold his soul to be a shill.
    #1 is the most likely IMO.

    While that's a valid argument, there are better arguments IMHO. The music to which audiophiles are listening has been produced in world class studios, which use relatively cheap cables, not audiophile cables. The most important cable in the whole recording and reproduction chain is the mic cable because the signal passing through a mic cable is tiny and has to be amplified many times, as much as 100 times. That signal is often further amplified during mixing and mastering and then amplified again to feed speakers/headphones. Anything the mic cable is doing to the sound is amplified far more than with any other cable and therefore should be far more obvious/noticeable than with any other cable. So what do the golden eared engineers at the multi-million dollar studios use? Mic cable which costs just a few bucks per foot!

    KLK2A1, cathee and JaeYoon like this.
  9. JaeYoon
    Thank you gregorio. That is incredibly good thing to learn.

    Today I learned. Our damn fine recording studios just use a simple wire connect to their microphones.
  10. cathee
    definitely not try to restart the cable wars but can anyone point me in the direction of some more literature on the subject? i completely agree with everything i've read, but in experience (with cheapo cables) i've noticed differences in sound with different materials (although it could mostly just be volume related...)

    would love to know more! thanks in advance.
  11. castleofargh Contributor
    care to be a little more specific about what you're looking for? audiophile level of oversimplified stuff that can only end up in "maybe" unless it's false? or if you have a little education in electrical stuff and remember some math(I don't:crying_cat_face:), then obviously the stuff to read becomes different.
  12. cathee
    would love to be as scientific as possible. very fond of my ib hl physics/chem days and definitely don't get enough of it working now
    ev13wt likes this.
  13. ev13wt

    How did you come to this conclusion? How did you test?
  14. hemipowered007
    Yes exactly! If these cables were such a sonic difference, studios would be using them, not 100foot extension cables laying in parallel with other cables. The cables many studios use are built well, durable and are made to withstand interference, and that's it. Find me a studio using all silver in all of their cables. But sure, let's believe a cyrogenically treated cable warrants a 5k price tag, because, you know, science. I'm glad you brought that up about studios using fairly cheap cabling because thats an extremely good point, but don't expect the folks who truly believe a 4foot interconnect is making the soundstage on their headphones bigger, to believe you. You honestly make me want to bring that fact up to some of these companies selling cables into the 20k and higher range, and see what their bs response is, but, I wont
    JaeYoon and cathee like this.
  15. cathee
    not the most scientific but i was just trying to see if i hear any difference: same earbuds left/right plugged into different cables into separate potential meters into same chord mojo
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