How do I convince people that audio cables DO NOT make a difference
May 2, 2010 at 10:38 PM Post #451 of 2,696

Happy Camper

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Carver's statements about amps should be stickied in the amp forum.

I'd like to hear a pro cable designer discuss the parameters to achieve when building a cable. Not QC, frequency response, yada...., but goals and proofs for determining what criteria is considered success.
 
May 2, 2010 at 10:47 PM Post #453 of 2,696

JohnFerrier

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Happy Camper /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Carver's statements about amps should be stickied in the amp forum.

I'd like to hear a pro cable designer discuss the parameters to achieve when building a cable. Not QC, frequency response, yada...., but goals and proofs for determining what criteria is considered success.



In part two of the same video series, Bob mentions simple null testing he did for the Stereophile shootout. He strikes me as a level headed guy without a bunch of marketing hooks. Perhaps, it's his having a physics background.
 
May 2, 2010 at 11:08 PM Post #454 of 2,696

cegras

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Quote:

Originally Posted by JaZZ /img/forum/go_quote.gif
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.

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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No, they don't measure the same. They measure the same with static loads. They will not measure the same with headphones! Differences. And see, you're doing it again, pigeonholing: "this only applies to amps with certain design goals." You can't make blanket statements while pigeonholing.

Again, no: there are no electrical standards for amplifiers. Cable runs for speakers have certain acceptable resistance per unit length: there are gauges of wires to be used for xx feet. There are NO STANDARDS for amplifiers. You are free to design them as badly or as well as you want. Case and point: Singlepower, Gilmore, AMB, and plenty of other designs. The only 'standard' is perhaps 'safe' operating parameters and 'Gilmore's rules of audio design.'
 
May 3, 2010 at 2:50 AM Post #455 of 2,696

Shark_Jump

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Quote:

Originally Posted by JaZZ /img/forum/go_quote.gif
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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I hold the opposite opinion to yourself.

I actually would enjoy more of that (tech specs and DBT protocols ), apart from a few outstanding individuals there is not too much science on this forum IMO.

No disrespect to the philosphers of this world, but I find endless circular subjective debating without a point kinda well ......... pointless! (Talking generally, not this thread of course)

I'm an engineer, nothing gets my blood racing more than a good graph!
smily_headphones1.gif
 
May 3, 2010 at 12:42 PM Post #456 of 2,696

aimlink

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Shark_Jump /img/forum/go_quote.gif

I'm an engineer, nothing gets my blood racing more than a good graph!
smily_headphones1.gif



So you say now. Music teaches you otherwise, if you let it..... before it's too late.
frown.gif
 
May 3, 2010 at 12:49 PM Post #457 of 2,696

JaZZ

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Quote:

Originally Posted by cegras /img/forum/go_quote.gif
No, they don't measure the same. They measure the same with static loads. They will not measure the same with headphones! Differences. And see, you're doing it again, pigeonholing: "this only applies to amps with certain design goals." You can't make blanket statements while pigeonholing.


There are certain measuring criteria to be fulfilled for a significant difference with dynamic loads. Power limitations aside, the only criterion that comes to mind is a differing and nonlinear output impedance. But most solid-state amps offer negligible output impedances below say 2 ohm.

Quote:

Again, no: there are no electrical standards for amplifiers. Cable runs for speakers have certain acceptable resistance per unit length: there are gauges of wires to be used for xx feet. There are NO STANDARDS for amplifiers. You are free to design them as badly or as well as you want. Case and point: Singlepower, Gilmore, AMB, and plenty of other designs. The only 'standard' is perhaps 'safe' operating parameters and 'Gilmore's rules of audio design.'


Singlepower almost exclusively made tube amps, Gilmore is no amp manufacturer, AMB I don't know, and plenty of others are just a few dark horses. Show me the data to prove your point about deviating measuring data! So far the only attempts to disprove my statement have produced one DIY project and some dubious anecdotal evidence about clipping amps. Of course there are no fixed standards for amps. What I'm saying is that their measuring data – the deviations from an ideal transfer function – fulfill the requirement to be below the official hearing threshold just as well as cables. This applies to well-made amps. You must know that the term «well-made amp» is often used by representants of the objectivist camp when they pretend that all amps sound the same. And according their experiences that seems to be the case for a large number of them.
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May 3, 2010 at 4:13 PM Post #459 of 2,696

Prog Rock Man

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Quote:

Originally Posted by 883dave /img/forum/go_quote.gif
As this is a science forum...

Could those people refering to ABX test's, double blind test's, rigorous test's...etc

Please provide links to these tests



Here are some more

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f133/t...-myths-486598/

So from my research the answer to the question "How do I convince people that audio cables DO NOT make a difference" is to show them a series of blind tests which find people cannot tell the difference and then make them try a proper blind test themselves.
 
May 3, 2010 at 5:17 PM Post #460 of 2,696

Eagle Eye

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I am so glad that I am older and have probably not the best hearing in the world. This way I don't have to worry about the small .0005% difference that may be able to present itselt. I am so happy with my sound now that I would rather spend the money on CD's to enjoy the music. Oh well just my opinion.
 
May 3, 2010 at 6:30 PM Post #461 of 2,696

cegras

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Quote:

Originally Posted by JaZZ /img/forum/go_quote.gif
There are certain measuring criteria to be fulfilled for a significant difference with dynamic loads. Power limitations aside, the only criterion that comes to mind is a differing and nonlinear output impedance. But most solid-state amps offer negligible output impedances below say 2 ohm.

Singlepower almost exclusively made tube amps, Gilmore is no amp manufacturer, AMB I don't know, and plenty of others are just a few dark horses. Show me the data to prove your point about deviating measuring data! So far the only attempts to disprove my statement have produced one DIY project and some dubious anecdotal evidence about clipping amps. Of course there are no fixed standards for amps. What I'm saying is that their measuring data – the deviations from an ideal transfer function – fulfill the requirement to be below the official hearing threshold just as well as cables. This applies to well-made amps. You must know that the term «well-made amp» is often used by representants of the objectivist camp when they pretend that all amps sound the same. And according their experiences that seems to be the case for a large number of them.
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Um, go to headroom. There is a wealth of frequency response data (for some amp) with headphones. Furthermore, tube amps fall within the general category of amps. It may be possible to say ss amps can all be made to sound the same, but since tube amps offer much more distortion and fall under the category of 'amps,' then the conclusion is that there is significantly more flavour to be had by switching amps (the differences being electrically justified) than by switching cables. Although the magnitude of the difference depends on how much you want to believe.
 
May 4, 2010 at 2:41 AM Post #462 of 2,696

Shark_Jump

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Quote:

Originally Posted by aimlink /img/forum/go_quote.gif
So you say now. Music teaches you otherwise, if you let it..... before it's too late.
frown.gif



I love music that has science as the subject matter especially if it has a graph in it.

It started with Landscapes 80's hit 'Einstein A Go-Go'.

My doctor has told me to avoid seeing Joy Division's 'Unknown Pleasures' Album cover if I have taken a Viagra.
picture-110.png
 
May 4, 2010 at 3:20 AM Post #463 of 2,696

Head Injury

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Shark_Jump /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I love music that has science as the subject matter especially if it has a graph in it.

It started with Landscapes 80's hit 'Einstein A Go-Go'.

My doctor has told me to avoid seeing Joy Division's 'Unknown Pleasures' Album cover if I have taken a Viagra.
picture-110.png



Oh man. I am so turned on right now.
 
May 4, 2010 at 10:04 PM Post #464 of 2,696

JaZZ

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Quote:

Originally Posted by cegras /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Um, go to headroom. There is a wealth of frequency response data (for some amp) with headphones.


If you're talking of the «Build A Headphone Graph» section: The (seeming) deviations from amp to amp (or rather from single-ended to balanced drive) are the result of measuring variances.

Quote:

Furthermore, tube amps fall within the general category of amps.


Yes, of course, and I'm not pretending that they sound any worse than solid-state amps, not even clearly less neutral. They have been left out because they don't guarantee measuring data low enough to be considered below the hearing threshold.

Quote:

It may be possible to say ss amps can all be made to sound the same, but since tube amps offer much more distortion and fall under the category of 'amps,' then the conclusion is that there is significantly more flavour to be had by switching amps (the differences being electrically justified) than by switching cables. Although the magnitude of the difference depends on how much you want to believe.


I don't entirely agree on the magnitudes, because in my experience cables can make a similar degree of difference to my ears. As to tube amps' higher distortion versus solid-state amps' lower distortion: Interestingly the sonic differences among tube amps aren't any larger than the sonic differences among solid-state amps. Even in terms of neutrality they aren't clearly inferior, not in every case.

But you know what: I actually agree with you!
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My reference for testing the neutrality of amps is the «direct connection» of a high-impedance headphone (HD 650 or now HD 800) to the Bel Canto DAC2's line out. Its 20-Ω output and high current-supply ability are ideal preconditions. For attenuating the signal I use a 500-ohm potentiometer. It does have some minor impact on the sonic balance, but additionally, for verifying the effective cause of possible differences, I can also entirely renounce it and use a low-level music passage as test signal. It has turned out that the tiny sonic-balance shift is mostly negligible or then compensated by a pair of parallel resistors of 1 kΩ for halfways restoring the damping factor, thus the sonic balance.

With this reference characteristic at hand I try to detect the sonic difference between the direct connection and the detour via headphone amp. I could also use a second headphone amp serving as «source» to make sure that the headphone isn't underpowered or otherwise compromized by the «misuse» of the line outs, but the results are effectively the same, and the cleaner and more detailed line-out signal has turned out to serve my needs better. I also tested the impact of the low load impedance represented by a 300-ohm headphone by means of a sound check via monitor headphone. The sound was stable, just slightly reduced in volume due to the voltage-dividing function.

With this test configuration I can passably test the sonic flaws of the amps. Of the about two dozen amps that have passed this test the Corda Symphony is clearly the most neutral and accurate, followed by the Opera. That doesn't mean the Symphony is 100% neutral, but it is the first amp that offers equal detail, resolution and transparency as the direct connection. However, earlier tests with less «modern» amps than these two have placed the Earmax Pro quite high on the neutrality list, despite its reputation of a very tubey sounding tube amp. It may have helped that I preferred modern, less musical and euphonic current-production tubes with it (such as Sovtek and Electro-Harmonix).

These experiences tell me that it's not so simple to fix sonic traits on harmonic distortion. On the other hand I don't believe in magic in the context of audio phenomena, so the differences are certainly measurable. The question is if the measuring data are really adequately interpreted by the conservative approach. Sure, it's no news that 2nd order harmonics or even-order harmonic in general are less obvious or do less harm to the sound. But what about the extremely low measurable distortion of the latest amp designs with nevertheless existing sonic differences? I don't mention other criteria such as frequency response or noise, because they are no real issue and can be neglected (at least in most cases).

As you have mentioned yourself, amps can react differently to complex loads such as headphones. I don't really deny it, but for the sake of my argumentation stategy also coudn't really agree. Because with classic measuring methods you won't detect the differences. I'm not speaking of damping factors, which could easily be measured by means of output impedance (curves), together with the possible sonic-balance shifts produced by them, defined by the load impedance curve. I'm rather speaking of their reactions to complex, dynamic signals. The reported impacts of better (more stable, quicker...) power supplies must have their equivalent in the measurings. So it's clear that static or regular signals such as sine waves or pulses aren't the be-all end-all when it comes to grasp the entirety of audio phenomena.

In an earlier post I have tried to present a new approach from «Stereoplay»'s test engineers with the goal to bring perception and measuring data in accordance. I like this approach, and if it turns out to be universally valid, it would be a great tool for detecting previously unnoted flaws in audio electronics. Moreover it would open new horizons for the cable-sound proponents.

Again some notes to the different magnitudes of measuring and perceived sonic differences among amps and cables: In «controlled tests» they don't seem to play a role; both device categories seemingly don't alter the sound at all.
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