Eek... I was a cable believer, until...
post-779276
Thread Starter
Post #1 of 137

bangraman

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Oct 3, 2002
Messages
10,274
Reaction score
28
Joined
Oct 3, 2002
Posts
10,274
Likes
28
When I had a regular amp and I was swapping cables, I was always under the impressions that there were subtle differences in the cable. That is, until I did what I did recently and use the dual-input switching capability of the SRM-007t with the dual 2-channel feature of the Sony SACD players. I chose... you guessed it, Snorah as a test in picking up nuances in the tone.


I recently picked up another pair of the $350-ish Nordost Red Dawn interconnects on discount, and I also have two pairs of the $300-ish Atlas Navigator cables. I used them both as 'controls' to see what difference there was between the 2-channel and the front two-channel outputs, found none to speak of, as well as the differences between input 1 and 2 of the SRM-007t. Thus callibrated, I went on to compare cables I have.


In tests of all the cables I had which did not use sound shaping techniques through additional resistance, I could hear absolutely no difference when doing the A-B switch. There's shock for you. The most dismaying of all was A/Bing between the $300 Atlas Navigator cable, generally regarded as an excellent cable (and which I concurred with until now) and the $5? inclusive cable which came with some piece of equipment.


The result? Zero difference



I was quite horrified and not entirely willing to believe it. But I can't really fault my method of testing. The input switch on the Stax amp is instantaneous and it by far provides the best auditioning platform I've come across. In fact, I actively invite you to pick faults with my testing method because I can't quite believe it myself. I ran out of time comparing, but the Navigator vs Freebie was easily the most shocking test. I will have to run a deeper comparison later but you cannot imagine how depressed I am at the moment. I easily have $2,500 invested in interconnects and... well, this is bad news.


I really don't know what to think anymore. Sound through cables can be controlled through resistance and capacitance. However most IC's out there do the job of moving electricity from A to B without mucking about a lot with it. And it seems that the only advantage of more expensive cables seems to be guaranteed standards of construction.
 
     Share This Post       
post-779281
Post #2 of 137

Ctn

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Aug 6, 2001
Messages
1,851
Reaction score
11
Joined
Aug 6, 2001
Posts
1,851
Likes
11
I did my tests similar to yours and my results are similar except I did hear a difference with stock cables (free) and good quality cables ($20-30).
 
     Share This Post       
post-779284
Post #3 of 137

Steve999

smooth, DARK
Joined
Jul 15, 2002
Messages
2,472
Reaction score
288
Joined
Jul 15, 2002
Posts
2,472
Likes
288
Welcome to the beautiful bright light of the honest truth. It's one of the great joys of life.

Have a cup of coffee, breathe the fresh air, and move on.


Quote:

Originally Posted by bangraman

The result? Zero difference




 
     Share This Post       
post-779285
Post #4 of 137

PinkFloyd

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 13, 2009
Messages
9,511
Reaction score
21
Joined
Jan 13, 2009
Posts
9,511
Likes
21
A friend of mine worked for a very well known UK cable manufacturer whose name begins with Q and he reckoned that their "budget" cables had a degree of capacitance, inductance and resistance "built in" to degrade the sound slightly and their higher end cables were left alone (99.999% OFC copper) which made the "higher priced" cables sound better than their "budget cables"

It could be that the hook up cables that came with your equipment are simply a copper conductor that hasn't been messed around with and will possibly sound better than a cable in the budget / mid range region produced by a cable manufacturer who offers a "range" of cables and on a par with their "high end" flagship.

I had no reason to doubt his word and it makes a lot of sense for a cable manufacturer to engineer in some crap into their budget cables... slightly less crap into their midrange cables and zero crap into their "high end" cables.

I can't comment on this, having not duplicated your test Bangraman, but I thought it would be interesting for to you to learn what I was told all those years ago from someone who was actually involved in the process of manufacturing interconnects.

Pinkie.
 
     Share This Post       
post-779310
Post #5 of 137

Kush_

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
138
Reaction score
0
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Posts
138
Likes
0
I assume this discussion applies to all cables.
I find it amazing how people say headphone cables like the Zu, Equinox and Silver Dragon change the sound so drastically. I would've though that all a cable can do it maybe help with a little more detail, not change the sound signature itself?
 
     Share This Post       
post-779317
Post #6 of 137

fiddler

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 24, 2001
Messages
1,930
Reaction score
30
Joined
Jun 24, 2001
Posts
1,930
Likes
30
I'm not entirely convinced about your testing method. I find to appreciate differences in cables you have to do quite a bit of extended listening before swapping over. Very fast A/B switching in my experience doesn't allow the ear enough time to catch all the subtle differences.
 
     Share This Post       
post-779352
Post #7 of 137

lan

Videographus Supremus:Makes audio cables using super-advanced materials, like "some clear tape" and "some not so clear tape."
Joined
Sep 4, 2002
Messages
8,604
Reaction score
13
Joined
Sep 4, 2002
Posts
8,604
Likes
13
Do you have power conditioning? I find it's easier to detect differences when you have clean power.

I also don't like swapping back and forth real fast. I think the ear needs a small reset time to readjust.

Why don't you try these cables on another system?
 
     Share This Post       
post-779376
Post #8 of 137

meat01

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 7, 2003
Messages
3,102
Reaction score
120
Joined
Mar 7, 2003
Posts
3,102
Likes
120
I disagree that fast switching is not a good test. If your ears are good enough to detect a difference, then your ears should be good enough to detect it right away. If you have to strain or really grasp to detect a difference, then you are spending too much time listening to your equipment and not enjoying the music. Then again if there is a difference, how great is it? Is $350 worth that extra .0001% difference? Only you can determine that.
 
     Share This Post       
post-779386
Post #9 of 137

fiddler

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 24, 2001
Messages
1,930
Reaction score
30
Joined
Jun 24, 2001
Posts
1,930
Likes
30
Quote:

Originally Posted by meat01
I disagree that fast switching is not a good test. If your ears are good enough to detect a difference, then your ears should be good enough to detect it right away.


My ears are good enough to detect a difference, and I find it's easier to do so when say, listening to a track using one cable, then listening to the exact same track with another. *shrug* whatever works best for you....
 
     Share This Post       
post-779398
Post #10 of 137

halcyon

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Oct 21, 2002
Messages
1,817
Reaction score
172
Joined
Oct 21, 2002
Posts
1,817
Likes
172
This thread has a high potential of turning into another one of those "I believe, you don't. Let's fight!" threads that will likely turn ugly really quickly


Let's assume some ground rules:

1) Map is not terrain i.e. measurements are not listening. If you can't find measurement differences, but can hear differences, it doesn't guarantee that the listening results are wrong (or vice versa). This is a basic philosophy of science principle.

2) Hearing is experiental, subjective and evolving. What you hear today is gone tomorrow (for a while). What you didn't hear yesterday, you hear today. What your friend hears, you may not (and vice versa). Your hearing learns to detect things to a finer degree as it is attuned to the same signal for longer durations. This is a basic psychoacoustic finding.

3) All senses adapt and mask difference (our senses are difference detecting categorisation engines). The quick ABX test is one of the most notoriously misunderstood for finding very subtle audible differences between two auditory signals. Why? Because hearing adapts to smaller difference tresholds really fast and diminishes them, (probably) in order to cut down higher order cognitive recognition task (i.e. attention loading issue relevant for survival). This can be easily seen in brain imaging by diminishing of the early auditory evoked potentials. In short, the more you switch, the less you notice. This is a basic neurology finding, most people just aren't aware of it.

So, without trying to fully refute the original findings or take a silly stance like "Of course all cables have audible differences" - I will nevertheless say this:

Some people will hear differences, some people will not. Some believe in them, some don't.

But to make anyt universal claims from one's one subjective (usu. one time) findings is not only impossible, but also probably counterproductive. Claims usually just arouse a flame war


Of course, we are all entitled to our opinions about whether the difference is there and whether it has any useful meanig. But let's just remember that they are merely opinions and not final truth that all must adhere to


regards,
Halcyon

PS I've listened to ICs, speakers cables, identically measuring amps both in double-blind (ABX) as well as blind and open (ABC HR) settings. Sometimes I hear differences, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I think they (differences) are at least interesting, sometimes I think they are totally uselss to be bothered with. The important thing is to listen and learn, imho.
 
     Share This Post       
post-779412
Post #11 of 137

Steve999

smooth, DARK
Joined
Jul 15, 2002
Messages
2,472
Reaction score
288
Joined
Jul 15, 2002
Posts
2,472
Likes
288
While I disagree strongly with the gist of your post (in my view, whether cables make a difference, except for those with intentional manipulations of resistance, etc., is not an open question -- within reasonable design parameters, they make no difference at all), this point of yours is very interesting and very consistent with my experience. This is something I didn't know and I thank you for your post.


Quote:

Originally Posted by halcyon
3) All senses adapt and mask difference (our senses are difference detecting categorisation engines). The quick ABX test is one of the most notoriously misunderstood for finding very subtle audible differences between two auditory signals. Why? Because hearing adapts to smaller difference tresholds really fast and diminishes them, (probably) in order to cut down higher order cognitive recognition task (i.e. attention loading issue relevant for survival). This can be easily seen in brain imaging by diminishing of the early auditory evoked potentials. In short, the more you switch, the less you notice. This is a basic neurology finding, most people just aren't aware of it.


 
     Share This Post       
post-779413
Post #12 of 137

bangraman

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Oct 3, 2002
Messages
10,274
Reaction score
28
Joined
Oct 3, 2002
Posts
10,274
Likes
28
Fast switching, not to and fro but after a certain period of listening to one cable for a while then immediately going to another is the best test in my view. As meat01 says, if you can't hear the difference then there is unlikely to be a difference.


It doesn't apply to all cables. For example I think I recall the Sennheiser HD600 cable to have a surprisingly high impedance. The Cardas aftermarket cable does make a difference, I'm fairly sure... but how much of the difference is in impedance-adjustment and how much is in the cable itself I don't know. My friend's got rid of his Cardas'd HD600 so I have no way of measuring the resistance of each any more. Anyone care to have a go?


All the cables I tested measured near zero in impedance. I did not include cables which use resistance to change the sound. I did reject one set of freebie cables as having too high an impedance, and another because there was a significant level of current leakage (probably a 'floating' wire at one of the moulded connectors or a frayed cable internals). So it's absolutely true that cheapie/freebie cables cannot be relied upon. My main point of interest is in the high-end of low-end manufacturers
Profigold/Bandridge for example. The cables are at a level where you have a warranty in the case of problems and they are fundamentally well made, or at least acceptably made. Do you need to go further than this? is, I suppose, my main focus now. Do you need to spend more than $50 or so? is the question. In the light of what I'm finding, DIY cables at very reasonable prices like Fiddler's present a fantastic opportunity in my view.


However, I find it difficult to accept that manufacturers will intentionally cripple cables, especially low-end ones, although I did find that both the IXOS and QED mini-> RCA cables exhibited very very slightly worse electrical traits than the Profigold mini->RCA cable (all about the same price). The QED cable was in addition wired back to front, but this was easily corrected as the QED RCA plugs have rubber rings as colour coding which can be easily slipped off and re-mounted.


My home features partially clean power, and the audio equipment is being powered off the shielded ring with conditioned / regenerated power. During the tests I unplugged everything else that was on the same ring. The conditioning / regeneration wasn't installed with audio in mind, but in order to protect other sensitive instrumentation, which it does. I only have two 'proper' power cables right now, both of which are in use, one of which is by the SACD player. I'm having another one made up which will be attached to the Stax amp. In any case even with a standard IEC cable I'm willing to bet that the supply is cleaner than most of your set-ups. Nevertheless, I'm going to run the tests once again when I have the replacement IEC cable for the SRM-007t. This will be a continuous thing.


Halcyon, I fully take your point. What and why I'm posting is that for the first time I've had potentially the most controlled testing environment that's been available to me (and I suspect most others on Head-Fi) and the lack of a difference both surprised and dismayed, especially given that I thought I could hear a difference between the same cables on previous occasions when there's been a break in the listening to unplug and replace the cables.
 
     Share This Post       
post-779427
Post #13 of 137

PinkFloyd

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 13, 2009
Messages
9,511
Reaction score
21
Joined
Jan 13, 2009
Posts
9,511
Likes
21
Quote:

Originally Posted by bangraman
Fast switching, not to and fro but after a certain period of listening to one cable for a while then immediately going to another is the best test in my view. As meat01 says, if you can't hear the difference then there is unlikely to be a difference.


It doesn't apply to all cables. For example I think I recall the Sennheiser HD600 cable to have a surprisingly high impedance. The Cardas aftermarket cable does make a difference, I'm fairly sure... but how much of the difference is in impedance-adjustment and how much is in the cable itself I don't know. My friend's got rid of his Cardas'd HD600 so I have no way of measuring the resistance of each any more. Anyone care to have a go?


All the cables I tested measured near zero in impedance. I did not include cables which use resistance to change the sound. I did reject one set of freebie cables as having too high an impedance, and another because there was a significant level of current leakage (probably a 'floating' wire at one of the moulded connectors or a frayed cable internals). So it's absolutely true that cheapie/freebie cables cannot be relied upon. My main point of interest is in the high-end of low-end manufacturers
Profigold/Bandridge for example. The cables are at a level where you have a warranty in the case of problems and they are fundamentally well made, or at least acceptably made. Do you need to go further than this? is, I suppose, my main focus now. Do you need to spend more than $50 or so? is the question. In the light of what I'm finding, DIY cables at very reasonable prices like Fiddler's present a fantastic opportunity in my view.


However, I find it difficult to accept that manufacturers will intentionally cripple cables, especially low-end ones, although I did find that both the IXOS and QED mini-> RCA cables exhibited very very slightly worse electrical traits than the Profigold mini->RCA cable (all about the same price). The QED cable was in addition wired back to front, but this was easily corrected as the QED RCA plugs have rubber rings as colour coding which can be easily slipped off and re-mounted.


My home features partially clean power, and the audio equipment is being powered off the shielded ring with regenerated power. During the tests I unplugged everything else that was on the same ring. The regeneration wasn't installed with audio in mind, but in order to protect other sensitive instrumentation, which it does. I only have two 'proper' power cables right now, both of which are in use, one of which is by the SACD player. I'm having another one made up which will be attached to the Stax amp. In any case even with a standard IEC cable I'm willing to bet that the supply is cleaner than most of your set-ups. Nevertheless, I'm going to run the tests once again when I have the replacement IEC cable for the SRM-007t. This will be a continuous thing.


Halcyon, I fully take your point. What and why I'm posting is that for the first time I've had potentially the most controlled testing environment that's been available to me (and I suspect most others on Head-Fi) and the lack of a difference both surprised and dismayed, especially given that I thought I could hear a difference between the same cables on previous occasions when there's been a break in the listening to unplug and replace the cables.



Try making up some of this Bangraman, all the parts are available from Maplins and you can have an extremely good cable for very little cost http://www.rock-grotto.co.uk/x-silver.htm
 
     Share This Post       
post-779436
Post #14 of 137

fiddler

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 24, 2001
Messages
1,930
Reaction score
30
Joined
Jun 24, 2001
Posts
1,930
Likes
30
Quote:

All the cables I tested measured near zero in impedance. I did not include cables which use resistance to change the sound. I did reject one set of freebie cables as having too high an impedance, and another because there was a significant level of current leakage (probably a 'floating' wire at one of the moulded connectors or a frayed cable internals).


It should be noted that there is a significant difference between resistance and impedance. DC resistance is what you're testing when you probe it with your average multimeter, and it isn't a particularly good useful measure of seeing how good a cable is. A multimeter isn't going to tell you anything important about a cable. As a matter of fact, resistance is pretty much UNIMPORTANT in the low-level audio you deal with in interconnects, while it is more of a concern in speaker cables. This is why good speaker cables tend to be thick (lowers resistance), while many good interconnect cables can be made to be very thin (those Nordosts you have there Bangra are a good example of this). Often you'll see cables marked as "75 ohms characteristic impedance" and this is actually a calculated value based on inductance, resistance and capacitance-- digital cables, for example, require an exact characteristic impedance to for optimal signal transfer. I believe characteristic impedance to be not of concern for analog audio... but then again eric343 is going to disagree with me on that point so I'll just leave it at that.
 
     Share This Post       
post-779442
Post #15 of 137

bangraman

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Oct 3, 2002
Messages
10,274
Reaction score
28
Joined
Oct 3, 2002
Posts
10,274
Likes
28
I stand corrected... I should have phrased it more succinctly. Please note that resistance and impedance were used interchangeably in my post and should stand for the electrical resistance measured over the cable run. Too much headphoning is what I blame for this
It was simply meant to exclude cables which do use resistance to 'add/subtract' something to the sound. I could run tests with TDR's and so forth but this was a simple case of elimination.
 
     Share This Post       

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top