Does crappy rca interconnects introduce distortion?
Jan 23, 2009 at 4:51 PM Post #16 of 18
I have just purchased a variety of cables(4) ranging from $5 to $60 and I will be testing their relative frequency responses against my current collection of cables over the next few weeks as well as listening to them of course.

Sadly I have no way of measuring distortion directly, but I can compare dynamic ranges and thus make a finger in the air judgment of relative noise levels. Certainly I will be able to tell which cables attenuate the signal more or less and whether this attenuation varies with frequency.

I spent several hours yesterday testing my 3 CD players with/without Coax/optical external DAC to determine which combination had the flatest response.
Jan 23, 2009 at 5:33 PM Post #17 of 18
I think it depends on the system. I'm mainly into desktop audio, so taking it from there...

I used a really cheap Y cable between my IPod and amp. When I switched amps to a Winsome Labs Mouse, I decided to go ahead and get a Monster Cable made for the IPod. Of course, I went with the Monster because it was relatively inexpensive with some sort of braided "shielding" on it, but the braiding quickly tore away from the mini-plug, so I went in search of another. I didn't buy the same one, because it was a) faulty and b) I could tell no difference between it and the original cheapy.

The next one I got was a Monster as well, but it wasn't marketed strictly for IPod, therefore it was cheaper. I got it at Home Depot and couldn't find it anywhere on their website. It's white, and the whole thing including the connectors is covered in plastic, it's actually made pretty well. This time the difference was huge, and it was with a cheaper Monster cable, maybe it was $17. I didn't notice a big difference in frequency response, distortion, etc., but the soundstage went from being on the speaker (which I had always chalked up to my nearfield position) to being extended very far behind and out.

So, in an effort to make an even larger enhancement, I bought a Zu Pivot along with Zu Wax speaker Cables. I tried the Pivot first, and didn't notice a difference, if anything the stage shrunk slightly, I don't use the Pivot. The speaker cables did make a difference, but not nearly as big as the cheap Monster Y-cable, though I did note a much bigger difference when I went to a tube amp.

So, moral of the story, your just going to have to try several and "see" if you can hear the difference. But, if it were me, I'd stick to the cheaper stuff.
Jan 23, 2009 at 9:38 PM Post #18 of 18
Another example is my pc audio. I am using an X-FI, Pop Pulse amp and AV123 Rocket MkII speakers. With a traditional cheap mini to rca cable the sound was ok but meh. Sound stage was ok but tight. Extension was limited to 60hz on speakers that do 35hz ok. Rolloff is 40hz but they do not really fall off the cliff until 34 on down in my room.

Anyway, I got a Moon audio blue dragon mini to rca for $75. A bit steep maybe for pc audio but I wanted to make certain that the cable was decent. Result? Everything improved. Hell, the sound stage goes AROUND me now in gaming 3d-cmss mode. No kidding. I hear sounds behind me, beside me, moving around me. This is in a terrible room where one wall is all windows and the other all books! Wicked upgrade for the $$.

Whenever I finish my basement and actually have a proper, treated room? Watch out.

So yeah. It makes a difference.

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