How do I convince people that audio cables DO NOT make a difference
May 2, 2010 at 3:35 PM Post #436 of 2,696

cegras

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Quote:

Originally Posted by JaZZ /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Well, my point is that a great majority of solid-state amps has indeed measuring specs (= measuring flaws) way below officially accepted hearing thresholds. Moreover they can't be distinguished in DBTs, at least that's what I get from the posts here. And that's what I find fascinating. The number of people who think that cables make no difference is relatively large. But the number of people who think that electronics components make no difference (roughly spoken) is drastically smaller – they're particularly concentrated in the science forum. Which is understandable: People who pay high attention to measuring specs are more likely to call for blind tests in cases where the specs say that there «shouldn't» be audible differences. Consequentially these tests reveal that «there are no real differences». So they decide to not trust their ears anymore.


I explained it to you previously, not sure if you ignored me or not.

Measurements are done with static loads, while what you hear with headphones plugged in is the real output of the amplifier as it drives a variable load according to music, because the headphone does not respond the same to all frequencies.

Ti Kan's Dynahi Headphone Amplifier

The β22 Stereo Amplifier

The scope shots show clear differences.

HeadWize - Project: The Kumisa III Headphone Amplifier by Benny Jørgensen

The CK2III has varying responses according to frequency and changes its output impedance as well. This will no doubt form complex reactions with various headphones. It has a ever so slight bass hump that can be exaggerated if paired with the 'wrong headphone.'

So you see, amps really are different.

The purpose of an amp has been discussed umpteenth times over, and that purpose is to provide sufficient power in the form of voltage and current at any volume - it's not about loudness. A pocket amp driving a 600 ohm is fundamentally limited in the voltage swing it can put out, which high impedance headphones need. Therefore an amp driving a grado or a sennheiser that is design limited will certainly sound different than plugging it into a beta22, even though the both of the distortion specs tell you otherwise. Distortion is related to, but does not tell the whole story of how an amplifier sounds when connected to a headphone.
 
May 2, 2010 at 3:48 PM Post #437 of 2,696

Shike

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Quote:

Originally Posted by JaZZ /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Look at my choice of HeadRoom amps for comparing the specs! (And somewhere I was mentioning «home amps».)


Unfortunately you never used the "home amps" clause - which wouldn't necessarily be right anyway.

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Of course battery-powered amps can have power limitations. But they (or some of them) can nevertheless drive high-impedance headphones without a (sonic) problem if you renounce excessive or high volumes.


Yes and no - depends on headphone efficiency too.

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I'm speaking of own experience.


Which isn't saying much. The fact is they can clip - and I'm not going to make a statement that can be used against me when some designer completely screws the pooch on some poor design.

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And I definitely expect the HeadRoom Micro Amp to power an HD 650 with ease, even with battery power. Also, the sonic result will be comparable independent of power supply (battery or mains supply), maybe even in favor of the battery. Of course power reserve wil be limited in the case of battery power, but that doesn't mean it will clip at normal volumes. If someone's listening habits lead to clipping, it's simply the wrong amp or the wrong power. But that's easy to find out and to fix.


All assumptions - again.

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Everything above the $349 Micro Amp.


Some include DACs and amplifier sections - and are balanced in operation. Which ones should I include for comparison of what's a "rip-off"?

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I don't see the point with your clipping hysteria. Personally I would be most interested in the sonic characteristic of an amp. As mentioned, with my listening habits I haven't met a clipping amp.


Cool, so you can speak for yourself. That doesn't really mean anything. You proposed that I say all headphone amps sound the same regardless of anything - which isn't the case, because there's always going to one that doesn't meet a minimum performance standard.

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We were talking of HeadRoom amps, which you explicitly refused to give credit in terms of clipping, but had no problems to give credit in terms of hissing based on hearsay.


I fail to see what you're getting at exactly? I said odds are the SNR should be high enough - something would have to be drastically wrong for that to be false. On the other hand it's very hard to guess power capabilities.

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Such as HeadRoom's line-up? Yet you seem to defend it.


Not sure what you're getting at here. I'm not going to praise or condemn Headroom's amp without full measurements. Why is that so hard for you to understand?

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Allegedly because of lacking specs. What I miss from you is a clear statement that to pay more than a minimum for electronics is a waste of money. You could still include the advice to pay attention to clipping resistance.


In terms of performance it could indeed be a waste of money. Some people may pay for different aesthetics or similar though.

Quote:

Well, my point is that a great majority of solid-state amps has indeed measuring specs (= measuring flaws) way below officially accepted hearing thresholds. Moreover they can't be distinguished in DBTs, at least that's what I get from the posts here. And that's what I find fascinating. The number of people who think that cables make no difference is relatively large. But the number of people who think that electronics components make no difference (roughly spoken) is drastically smaller – they're particularly concentrated in the science forum. Which is understandable: People who pay high attention to measuring specs are more likely to call for blind tests in cases where the specs say that there «shouldn't» be audible differences. Consequentially these tests reveal that «there are no real differences». So they decide to not trust their ears anymore.


And I dislike some of the hypocrisy too.


Let me make this clear, this debate isn't "just" about Headroom amps. It's about all solid state amps since that's what you started this with.
 
May 2, 2010 at 5:16 PM Post #440 of 2,696

JaZZ

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Quote:

Originally Posted by cegras /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I explained it to you previously, not sure if you ignored me or not.


I haven't noticed any post of you addressed to me, sorry!

Quote:

Measurements are done with static loads, while what you hear with headphones plugged in is the real output of the amplifier as it drives a variable load according to music, because the headphone does not respond the same to all frequencies.


I know that.

Quote:

Ti Kan's Dynahi Headphone Amplifier
The β22 Stereo Amplifier
The scope shots show clear differences.
HeadWize - Project: The Kumisa III Headphone Amplifier by Benny Jørgensen
The CK2III has varying responses according to frequency and changes its output impedance as well. This will no doubt form complex reactions with various headphones. It has a ever so slight bass hump that can be exaggerated if paired with the 'wrong headphone.'

So you see, amps really are different.[/i]


I don't dispute that amps are (measure) and sound different. But at least 95% of the solid-state amps show metrological deficits below the official hearing threshold. Your first link with the Dynahi is a typical example. Although the measuring values vary with different load impedances, they are close and negligible in terms of audibility according to conservative standards, e.g. < triple THD at 8 ohm compared to 330 ohm – whereas 8 ohm is an exceptionally low impedance for a headphone amp. IMD/noise and frequency response are barely affected, the latter is virtually perfect on all loads.

I haven't found measuring data on the β22 link.

As to the Kumisa III (is that the «CK2II» you're mentioning?): What I see is a very slight bass emphasis (maybe 0.5 dB at 20 Hz) which could indeed be audible. Output impedance is rather flat within 20 Hz - 20 kHz, enough to be negligible.

Now this is a DIY project. It's clear that you can build amps that aren't completely neutral and that such amps exist. But if we concentrate on commercial amps of some reputation, you won't find bass emphases (one known exception being the Creek OBH 11, AFAIK).

Quote:

The purpose of an amp has been discussed umpteenth times over, and that purpose is to provide sufficient power in the form of voltage and current at any volume - it's not about loudness. A pocket amp driving a 600 ohm is fundamentally limited in the voltage swing it can put out, which high impedance headphones need. Therefore an amp driving a grado or a sennheiser that is design limited will certainly sound different than plugging it into a beta22, even though the both of the distortion specs tell you otherwise. Distortion is related to, but does not tell the whole story of how an amplifier sounds when connected to a headphone.


It will sound different (since different amps sound different) – but not so much because of limited power/voltage if you don't drive it do its limits. The question is: Where's the limit? Of course battery-driven designs, let alone if portable, will reach it sooner than mains-driven designs. Among the latter it will take unhealthy volume levels combined with inefficient headphones to reveal differences due to clipping. I don't know every headphone amp on the planet, but the ones I've rested had no such problems: I couldn't drive them into clipping without hurting ears, some couldn't even be forced to clip (Corda Opera and Symphony) with a CDP as source. – What's more interesting for me: They do sound different nonetheless.
normal_smile .gif

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May 2, 2010 at 5:45 PM Post #441 of 2,696

JaZZ

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Shike /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Unfortunately you never used the "home amps" clause - which wouldn't necessarily be right anyway.


However, fortunately now you know what I meant.
smile.gif
So from now on you can exclude shaky portable designs from the discussion list.

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Yes and no - depends on headphone efficiency too.


Exactly. E.g. the Porta Corda with a full battery could drive the HD 600 very well. The same applies to the SR-71. So the Micro amp should do it even better.

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The fact is they can clip - and I'm not going to make a statement that can be used against me when some designer completely screws the pooch on some poor design.


They can clip?

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Some include DACs and amplifier sections - and are balanced in operation. Which ones should I include for comparison of what's a "rip-off"?


The ones you think they're not worth the price to you. Shouldn't be hard to do if we're talking of amps, not DACs, and I doubt you value balanced operation very high.

Quote:

Cool, so you can speak for yourself. That doesn't really mean anything. You proposed that I say all headphone amps sound the same regardless of anything - which isn't the case, because there's always going to one that doesn't meet a minimum performance standard.


Sure, but you could add the reservation «except the ones that clip».

Quote:

I fail to see what you're getting at exactly? I said odds are the SNR should be high enough - something would have to be drastically wrong for that to be false. On the other hand it's very hard to guess power capabilities.


Excuses, excuses... You don't have to rely on guessing, there are a lot of happy HeadRoom-amp owners without clipping and hissing problems, at least none are reported. You picked the hissing out of these non-reports and ignored the clipping. («I haven't heard anyone complain of hiss though and haven't heard any complaint of it so it's probably safe to (yes, assume) that it's relatively high.»)

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Not sure what you're getting at here. I'm not going to praise or condemn HeadRoom's amp without full measurements. Why is that so hard for you to understand?


It's not hard for me to understand.
wink.gif


Quote:

In terms of performance it could indeed be a waste of money. Some people may pay for different aesthetics or similar though.


I see, you're a really tolerant man!
bigsmile_face.gif


Quote:

Let me make this clear, this debate isn't "just" about Headroom amps. It's about all solid state amps since that's what you started this with.


The HeadRoom amps were just so convenient to deal with due to the published specs and the hierarchy which wasn't so not reflected in them. Moreover it was them which made you enter the discussion (or whatever). But of course I'm speaking of all (well-designed) solid-state amps, with a few exceptions.
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May 2, 2010 at 5:50 PM Post #442 of 2,696

JohnFerrier

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Gordon Brockhouse talks to Sunfire’s Bob Carver

Gordon: "How audible are the differences between solid-state amplifiers? "

Bob Carver: " What I’m going to say will fly in the face of what most people believe. I believe that you can take two solid-state amplifiers, and provided neither one is overloaded in any fashion, they’ll sound identical. That’s a big if. Amplifiers are overloaded in three basic ways. They’re overloaded in amplitude; they’ve overloaded in current; they’re overloaded in speed. It’s very easy to do this if you don’t have a big juicy amplifier. Obviously a little Radio Shack amplifier is not going to be able to touch a big Jeff Rowland or a Mark Levinson or a Sunfire amplifier. Provided the amplifier has flat frequency response and sufficiently low distortion, both of which are trivial these days, and provided there are no interface problems, the differences will always be the subtle differences associated with overload, either momentarily, like slew-rate limiting or clipping, or just running out of drive current. "


Bob Carver at CarverFest 2008 (@ 4:00)

Bob Carver: "Anyone have a question on cables?"

<quiet pause . . . before laughter>

Frank: "How much difference does it make in speaker wire as far as the gauge of it goes. And also what difference does it make with the metallic composition of interconnects for example silver or copper in terms of the sound. Will the sound be the same or will it be different?"

Bob Carver: "It depends upon how you define sound. It's like if a tree falls in the woods, and nobody there to hear it, does it make a sound? It's sort of philosophically like that. The movement of the speaker back and forth will be the same whether it's a piece of copper wire of a certain gauge or a certain silver wire of a certain gauge or . . . it doesn't matter. But we will hear the sound differently. We will hear it in our heads and in our hearts. And if we hear it better with silver wire, if it sounds better with silver wire, then I'm all for buying the silver wire. My own experience is it's impossible to toss out that feeling that you have when you listen to silver wire versus copper wire, even though I know there is no difference. So, if I listen to it without peeking which one I'm listening to, then I can't tell a difference and there is isn't any. But if I know which one I'm listening to, it's so powerful that I can't shake it."


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May 2, 2010 at 6:24 PM Post #443 of 2,696

waterlogic

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Quote:

Originally Posted by JohnFerrier /img/forum/go_quote.gif
[/i] [/td] [/tr] [/table] Could...ic. Would this world become a boring place ?
 
May 2, 2010 at 6:56 PM Post #444 of 2,696

JaZZ

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Quote:

Originally Posted by waterlogic /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Would this world become a boring place?


Also, this sub-forum would be a boring place without us objectivists.
evil_smiley.gif
Imagine tech specs and DBT protocols ad nauseam.
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May 2, 2010 at 8:20 PM Post #446 of 2,696

cegras

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Quote:

Originally Posted by JaZZ /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Now this is a DIY project. It's clear that you can build amps that aren't completely neutral and that such amps exist. But if we concentrate on commercial amps of some reputation, you won't find bass emphases (one known exception being the Creek OBH 11, AFAIK).


How do you know that? Ideally you would have dB vs frequency curves for all the amplifiers you are making assertions for. I assume that since you don't it's much safer to err on the side that two differently designed circuits can have subtle differents exposed when you play music through headphones. However, such phenomenon, which you can clearly explain with electronic principles, has no rational explanation for the purposes of cable discussion.

Furthermore, I have no idea how the frequency response curve for the Kumisa III was obtained. For what load was it measured? Certainly not a headphone.

Face it: the differences between headphone and amp swapping far outweigh any empirical differences obtained by swapping the cables. As long as you agree with my statement (and it's 100% true), then you can go back to debating psychoacoustics (read: subjective impressions) as much as you like.

I don't see why you're turtling back to your qualifying statement of 'if we go higher and higher up and find two perfect SS amps ...'

That's a logical fallacy. It's the same as saying if you take two cables and listen to 50 km of one, you'll hear a difference. Of course you will, just as if you take two 10,000 SS amps or just two extremely well designed amps with neutrality intended by design you should not hear a difference. However, the point is there are so many designs for sale on the current market that there will be audible differences between any two arbitrary products, while for cables the plateau of differences is reached extremely, extremely quickly (e.g. cable gauge and length).
 
May 2, 2010 at 9:05 PM Post #447 of 2,696

JaZZ

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Quote:

Originally Posted by cegras /img/forum/go_quote.gif
How do you know that?


The frequency-response curves have been posted on Head-Fi long ago.

Quote:

Face it: the differences between headphone and amp swapping far outweigh any empirical differences obtained by swapping the cables.


That's not disputed at all in the case of headphones. But with cables I perceive differences approaching the magnitude of amps.

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I don't see why you're turtling back to your qualifying statement of 'if we go higher and higher up and find two perfect SS amps ...'


I have no idea what you're trying to say.

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That's a logical fallacy. It's the same as saying if you take two cables and listen to 50 km of one, you'll hear a difference. Of course you will, just as if you take two 10,000 SS amps or just two extremely well designed amps with neutrality intended by design you should not hear a difference. However, the point is there are so many designs for sale on the current market that there will be audible differences between any two arbitrary products, while for cables the plateau of differences is reached extremely, extremely quickly (e.g. cable gauge and length).


That's your opinion, and you're entitled to it.
normal_smile .gif

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May 2, 2010 at 9:30 PM Post #448 of 2,696

Head Injury

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Bennyboy71 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I'm still waiting for a cable that makes Coldplay sound like Radiohead. Maybe then there'd be hope for humanity.


Sadly, only Photoshop can do that.

kidb.jpg


Excuse the quality, it was done on a laptop trackpad
frown.gif
 
May 2, 2010 at 9:53 PM Post #449 of 2,696

cegras

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Quote:

Originally Posted by JaZZ /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The frequency-response curves have been posted on Head-Fi long ago.

That's not disputed at all in the case of headphones. But with cables I perceive differences approaching the magnitude of amps.

I have no idea what you're trying to say.

That's your opinion, and you're entitled to it.
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Re: You have no idea what I'm trying to say. What you're doing is basically pigeonholing SS amps more and more and more until you say 'if we find two high reputation SS amps, they will sound the same.'

SS amps can be designed to give different frequency responses. You cannot issue a blanket statement that all SS amps sound the same: distortion is hardly part of the story. If you want to back up your assertion that most SS amps sound the same, the burden of proof is on you. Ideally what I want to see is frequency response played through headphones, and that hardly seems possible. However, from our electrical education it is possible to (correctly?) infer that they will end up sounding different.

No, that's not an opinion. The difference between two cables that meet certain minimum electrical standards is minimal, and there are both subjective (blind tests) and electrical tests which are widely stated in this thread and are on the internet. (ref: Speaker Wire)

You perceive differences with different cables, that's fine and dandy. However, your anecdotal evidence hardly allows you to make generalized statements, where as electrical characteristics of an amplifier circuit do allow that. As long as we've established that scientifically cables don't matter past a certain minimum electrical standard in terms of the electrical characteristics, then you should feel free to debate about what you think you hear as long as you want.
 
May 2, 2010 at 10:07 PM Post #450 of 2,696

JaZZ

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Quote:

Originally Posted by cegras /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Re: You have no idea what I'm trying to say. What you're doing is basically pigeonholing SS amps more and more and more until you say 'if we find two high reputation SS amps, they will sound the same.'

SS amps can be designed to give different frequency responses. You cannot issue a blanket statement that all SS amps sound the same or rather near-perfect: distortion is hardly part of the story. If you want to back up your assertion that most SS amps sound the same, the burden of proof is on you.



You mix up something here. I'm not stating all amps sound the same, quite the opposite. What I'm saying is that they measure «the same», actually perfect with respect to conservative psychoacoustic standards. Of course this doesn't apply to amps with a built-in coloration, just the ones without extra signal manipulations, and of course such with a resonable design making for «standard» measuring values: flat frequency response, low harmonic and intermodulation distortion, low noise floor, decently low output impedance.

Quote:

No, that's not an opinion. The difference between two cables that meet certain minimum electrical standards is minimal, and there are both subjective (blind tests) and electrical tests which are widely stated in this thread and are on the internet. (ref: Speaker Wire)

You perceive differences with different cables, that's fine and dandy. However, your anecdotal evidence hardly allows you to make generalized statements, where as electrical characteristics of an amplifier circuit do allow that. As long as we've established that scientifically cables don't matter past a certain minimum electrical standard in terms of the electrical characteristics, then you should feel free to debate about what you think you hear as long as you want.


You're talking of established electrical standards, and that's exactly the point: Well-designed and -built contemporary solid-state amps perfectly fulfill this requirement as well.
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