How do I convince people that audio cables DO NOT make a difference
Nov 3, 2020 at 6:27 PM Post #2,041 of 3,317

taffy2207

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It's at least a 1000% markup. Most of the expense is in the custom metal housings for the off-the-shelf USB connectors they're using. It's not like they're manufacturing actual USB connectors, that takes very expensive machinery and doesn't make sense to make in small quantities.

I often think that Companies selling "Audiophile" products like Cables were inspired by the William "Canada Bill Jones" line.

"It's immoral to let a sucker keep his money"
 
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Nov 4, 2020 at 1:39 AM Post #2,042 of 3,317

PointyFox

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Audio cables are components
Cables conduct electricity and not numbers
Cable quality matters.

If cable quality mattered it would also matter for test probe leads for highly sensitive electrical measurement equipment; but it doesn't. If a $5 lead wire is good enough for measurement equipment that can measure differences in signal millions of times smaller than should be perceptible by a human with an audio signal/transducer, a $5 audio cable should be good enough for even the most golden-earred audiophile.

To be clear, we're talking about "quality". This is different from the intrinsic properties of the cable such as resistance and inductance. Those sensitive measurement equipment are calibrated to a particular lead's properties. If the quality of the cable was a factor, calibration wouldn't work reliably and engineers would use higher quality cables if they existed and this was an issue. For audio cables, quality is not a factor but the intrinsic properties are. The instrinsic properties do not degrade or increase the quality of the music. They just cause a shift in the output based on the reaction of the other components.

In regard audiophile believing in cables having a certain "quality", I think the marketing is partly to blame, but also audiophiles themselves. They hear a shift in the signal, and they incorrectly assign a decrease or increase in quality to it based on their preferences and biases.
 
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Nov 4, 2020 at 1:57 AM Post #2,043 of 3,317

PointyFox

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Here's some measurements on the effect of various cables on the audio output of headphones:

130208_Blog_HeadphoneCableMeasurements_Graph_FRLeft.jpg


130208_Blog_HeadphoneCableMeasurements_Graph_ImpLeft.jpg


As you can see, there is little to no difference with those cables on this particular setup, which calls into question the blanket statements made by the cable manufacturers in terms of how their cable is supposed to change the signal. It's something that you can't know without taking the other components into account and is by no means based on the "quality" of the cable.

Here's a few of them:

"The Silver Dragon is the original cable. Silver strands clarify instrument separation, increase soundstage, and find previously lost high and mid-frequency sounds."
"Our Black Dragon cables feature 99.99998% UP-OCC copper* conductors and a warmer sound signature. It is a warm and fuller sounding cable which provides a small boost to bass frequencies. Lower end sounds have a bit more depth and resonance, but the detail isn't lost from the mid-range or upper end frequencies. When you want a bigger presentation the Black Dragon is more ideal."

"The cable is extremely smooth sounding with great low end and wonderful voicing. And will remove the veil all Sennheiser headphones just like the Silver Dragon. "
"The Cardas headphone cable is designed specifically for Sennheiser HD-580, HD-600 and HD-650 headphones. This custom designed cable significantly improves Sennheiser headphone performance by replacing the less than ideal stock wiring. As part of the Parsec family of cables, it offers the characteristic detail and holographic imaging of the rest of the Parsec line, along with the warmth and richness that makes extended listening sessions so enjoyable. Parsec HPC has all the legendary benefits Cardas is known for: richness, warmth, detail, non-fatiguing, musical, etc. "

smh.

This thread has been going on a LONG time. I think the answer is that cables CAN make a difference, but it depends on the setup and the intrinsic properties of the cable. This is not based on cable "quality". No cable will increase the fidelity of the sound or take it away unless it's horribly shielded and has noise leaking in or is broken. It may only change how it sounds, which depending on the listener may be better or worse.
 
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Nov 4, 2020 at 10:45 AM Post #2,044 of 3,317

colonelkernel8

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If cable quality mattered it would also matter for test probe leads for highly sensitive electrical measurement equipment; but it doesn't. If a $5 lead wire is good enough for measurement equipment that can measure differences in signal millions of times smaller than should be perceptible by a human with an audio signal/transducer, a $5 audio cable should be good enough for even the most golden-earred audiophile.

To be clear, we're talking about "quality". This is different from the intrinsic properties of the cable such as resistance and inductance. Those sensitive measurement equipment are calibrated to a particular lead's properties. If the quality of the cable was a factor, calibration wouldn't work reliably and engineers would use higher quality cables if they existed and this was an issue. For audio cables, quality is not a factor but the intrinsic properties are. The instrinsic properties do not degrade or increase the quality of the music. They just cause a shift in the output based on the reaction of the other components.

In regard audiophile believing in cables having a certain "quality", I think the marketing is partly to blame, but also audiophiles themselves. They hear a shift in the signal, and they incorrectly assign a decrease or increase in quality to it based on their preferences and biases.

To be pedantic, there are test probes out there that cost thousands of dollars, but they are also for measuring signals in the GIGAHERTZ range, or digital signals exceeding tens of gigabits per second and sometimes contain active (powered) elements to them. But this drives home the point that spending thousands of dollars on a cable to transmit analog signals in (at most) the kilohertz range and digital signals in the kilobits per second (up to the low megabits per second) range is beyond absurd.

For instance: https://www.tek.com/low-voltage-probe-single-ended

You'll note they don't market their products with nonsense like 8N PURE OCC SINGLE CRYSTAL CRYO-TREATED COPPER ARRANGED IN A MULTI GAUGE STRAND BUNDLE ACCORDING TO THE GOLDEN RATIO. They market it as having low capacitance, high impedance (voltage probes in this case), and a high bandwidth.
 
Nov 4, 2020 at 11:40 AM Post #2,045 of 3,317

PointyFox

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To be pedantic, there are test probes out there that cost thousands of dollars, but they are also for measuring signals in the GIGAHERTZ range, or digital signals exceeding tens of gigabits per second and sometimes contain active (powered) elements to them. But this drives home the point that spending thousands of dollars on a cable to transmit analog signals in (at most) the kilohertz range and digital signals in the kilobits per second (up to the low megabits per second) range is beyond absurd.

For instance: https://www.tek.com/low-voltage-probe-single-ended

You'll note they don't market their products with nonsense like 8N PURE OCC SINGLE CRYSTAL CRYO-TREATED COPPER ARRANGED IN A MULTI GAUGE STRAND BUNDLE ACCORDING TO THE GOLDEN RATIO. They market it as having low capacitance, high impedance (voltage probes in this case), and a high bandwidth.

I ignored anything that would affect super high frequencies since this is out of scope for audio. It doesn't stop audio cable manufacturers from pretending that improvements to cable design that only affect very high frequencies (e.g. gigahertz) also affect the audio range like with reduction of the "skin effect". They'll take whatever they can get to make supposed improvements seem scientifically legitimate to a layperson.
 
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Nov 4, 2020 at 1:14 PM Post #2,046 of 3,317

ScareDe2

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Right now, we are talking about A/Bing USB cables. Do you have an opinion on that?

With headphones that have input plugs on both sides, you could put a different cable to each ear I suppose and ask if the ears sound different or the same. Randomize it up with a bunch of different trials and see if you get some sort of pattern. If the two ears heard slightly different, it would still show a pattern if it was different as long as it was randomized. A/A B/A A/B and B/B

A/B test is flawed. The brain has the tendency to create cognitive association, or fusioning two elements close in similarities. If you would A/B test headphones, the difference would also be difficult to hear. You will have a hard time telling the difference between warm and "neutral". Tube rollers have experienced this often. The very fact that the troll suggests even amps sound the same shows that all this is just entertainment for him and has nothing to do with a full interpretation of science, just a small portion, allowing him to confuse people for his own amusement. Like when he talks about cognitive biases : sure the brain can trick you into hearing difference where there is none, but it can also trick you into hearing none where there is an appreciable one.
 
Nov 4, 2020 at 1:43 PM Post #2,047 of 3,317

bfreedma

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If the described audible differences in cables can’t be measured and can’t be properly assessed in an A/B, how does the “audiophile cable engineer” test his designs? Does he buy a variety of cable and parts, assemble them randomly, then hope for the best?

The envisioning of cable manufacturers engineering these cables using the “science” described in their marketing docs yet somehow, science based principles not being applicable to testing via measurement and A/B testing is, IMO, hypocritical.
 
Nov 4, 2020 at 1:58 PM Post #2,048 of 3,317

colonelkernel8

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If the described audible differences in cables can’t be measured and can’t be properly assessed in an A/B, how does the “audiophile cable engineer” test his designs? Does he buy a variety of cable and parts, assemble them randomly, then hope for the best?

The envisioning of cable manufacturers engineering these cables using the “science” described in their marketing docs yet somehow, science based principles not being applicable to testing via measurement and A/B testing is, IMO, hypocritical.
Don't forget, the more expensive and exotic the materials, the "better" it sounds. Except silver sounds "bright" because it's a white metal and copper sounds "warm" because it's a brown metal.
 
Nov 4, 2020 at 2:02 PM Post #2,049 of 3,317

PhonoPhi

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Don't forget, the more expensive and exotic the materials, the "better" it sounds. Except silver sounds "bright" because it's a white metal and copper sounds "warm" because it's a brown metal.
Right, and recent addition of graphene greatly strengthens an imaginary soundstage.

It often feels as if most of you guys here dearly miss positions of marketing directors in audiophile companies :)
 
Nov 4, 2020 at 2:08 PM Post #2,050 of 3,317

colonelkernel8

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Right, and recent addition of graphene greatly strengthens an imaginary soundstage.

It often feels as if most of you guys here dearly miss positions of marketing directors in audiophile companies :)
1. Make s*** up.
2. Sell to rubes with too much money.
3. No ???, just literally profit.
 
Nov 4, 2020 at 3:30 PM Post #2,051 of 3,317

Hifiearspeakers

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A/B test is flawed. The brain has the tendency to create cognitive association, or fusioning two elements close in similarities. If you would A/B test headphones, the difference would also be difficult to hear. You will have a hard time telling the difference between warm and "neutral". Tube rollers have experienced this often. The very fact that the troll suggests even amps sound the same shows that all this is just entertainment for him and has nothing to do with a full interpretation of science, just a small portion, allowing him to confuse people for his own amusement. Like when he talks about cognitive biases : sure the brain can trick you into hearing difference where there is none, but it can also trick you into hearing none where there is an appreciable one.

This entire post is just ridiculous.
 
Nov 4, 2020 at 3:50 PM Post #2,052 of 3,317

KPzypher

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A/B test is flawed. The brain has the tendency to create cognitive association, or fusioning two elements close in similarities. If you would A/B test headphones, the difference would also be difficult to hear. You will have a hard time telling the difference between warm and "neutral". Tube rollers have experienced this often. The very fact that the troll suggests even amps sound the same shows that all this is just entertainment for him and has nothing to do with a full interpretation of science, just a small portion, allowing him to confuse people for his own amusement. Like when he talks about cognitive biases : sure the brain can trick you into hearing difference where there is none, but it can also trick you into hearing none where there is an appreciable one.

I wouldn't call it flawed. It's simple. If the difference is difficult to hear, then it's not a difference worth mentioning. This is no different than arguing over difference in measurements imperceptible to hearing. If you can't hear the difference, does anything else really matter?
 
Nov 4, 2020 at 7:05 PM Post #2,053 of 3,317

Kentajalli

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I wouldn't call it flawed. It's simple. If the difference is difficult to hear, then it's not a difference worth mentioning. This is no different than arguing over difference in measurements imperceptible to hearing. If you can't hear the difference, does anything else really matter?
Before I go further, I am a true believer that exotic cables are just bling!
There is a lot of presumptions and if's in your argument.
- No one has established that differences can not be heard, assuming it is a given, is foolish. as human nature goes, both sides of the argument claim vistory. Perhaps we should involve the Supreme court !
- again, assuming we can measure everything, what we can not measure does not exist and we understand the measurements fully is another bone of contention.
Measurements are just tools aiding designers, they are just certain indicators, designed based on some scientific assumptions (mostly valid). but lab measurements do not indicate everything. I am not knocking measurements as @bfreedma correctly points out, how else a designer test his designs. we choose what to measure and what not to, based on our assumptions, some valid, some imaginary, some damn right foolish - but never completely.
This whole argument shows how religiously polarized we all have become!

remember, belief does not prove God exists, science doesn't prove he doesn't!

For me I am happy with my exotic USB interconnect that I skilfully put together myself ! :ksc75smile:
Made from top quality twin shielded cable (salvaged from my leftover junk pile), hand soldered under a quality magnifying glass.
https://www.head-fi.org/threads/diy-cable-gallery.71148/post-15939991
Sounds as good as any £2 commercial cable, under blind test!
Means I had my eyes closed listening to pink floyd with them.
 
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Nov 4, 2020 at 8:33 PM Post #2,054 of 3,317

KPzypher

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Before I go further, I am a true believer that exotic cables are just bling!
There is a lot of presumptions and if's in your argument.
- No one has established that differences can not be heard, assuming it is a given, is foolish. as human nature goes, both sides of the argument claim vistory. Perhaps we should involve the Supreme court !
- again, assuming we can measure everything, what we can not measure does not exist and we understand the measurements fully is another bone of contention.
Measurements are just tools aiding designers, they are just certain indicators, designed based on some scientific assumptions (mostly valid). but lab measurements do not indicate everything. I am not knocking measurements as @bfreedma correctly points out, how else a designer test his designs. we choose what to measure and what not to, based on our assumptions, some valid, some imaginary, some damn right foolish - but never completely.
This whole argument shows how religiously polarized we all have become!

remember, belief does not prove God exists, science doesn't prove he doesn't!

For me I am happy with my exotic USB interconnect that I skilfully put together myself ! :ksc75smile:
Made from top quality twin shielded cable (salvaged from my leftover junk pile), hand soldered under a quality magnifying glass.
https://www.head-fi.org/threads/diy-cable-gallery.71148/post-15939991
Sounds as good as any £2 commercial cable, under blind test!
Means I had my eyes closed listening to pink floyd with them.

Presumptions??

What are you even talking about?

measurement is beside the point.

As the end user, if the difference is too subtle for my ears to detect, then it doesn't matter what the measurements indicate. At that point, its just equally good or equally bad to whatever else you're comparing it to.
 
Nov 5, 2020 at 3:03 PM Post #2,055 of 3,317

bigshot

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If they did such a thing, the Hifi purists who are the bulk of their potential customers, would spit on the floor and leave the room in disgust.

What about the hifi purists who love tube amps?
 

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