Just how much do interconnects influence other components?
Aug 10, 2002 at 9:17 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 20

Hirsch

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This question has been plaguing me recently.

It started with the Grado HPA-1 amp. When I first got it, it seemed dark and congested. However, the manual indicated it was cable sensititive. Not sure what cable to use, I removed my Silver Lace and used Esoteric Audio Air Litz 3, a copper litz cable from the same time era as the HPA-1. The cable also sounded dark and congested with most of my other components. Put it together with the HPA-1, and both open up. The HPA-1 is finally showing what it can do, and is holding up its end in a head to head comparison with a Maxed Out Home (on loan from Headroom). The MOH has a slight edge, but these are two amps performing at the pretty much the same level.

However, the question became more pressing to me when I pressed my Melos back into duty. I have always felt the CD3000 was a poor match for the Melos, while the Grado HP-1 was the ideal for that amp. However, I'm listening to the CD3000 with the Melos now, and there's no hint of the objectionable brightness that had bothered me previously. The difference? Outlaw PCA interconnects instead of Silver Lace. It's not that the Outlaws are better sonically than the Silver Lace, which I love a lot most of the time. However, the Silver Lace seems to be influencing some downstream components in adverse and unexpected ways. Why an interconnect between source and amp would alter the complete sonic signature of a headphone is beyond me. I simply don't know why this would be so. But it is. The Outlaw PCA is allowing me to use headphone/amp combinations that simply couldn't be attempted with the Silver Lace.

It's not that the Melos sounded bad with the Silver Lace. As I said, it was my favorite HP-1 amp using that cable. However, using the modestly priced Outlaw PCA is not costing me any sonic deterioration that I can hear, and is allowing me a wider range of compatible headphones.

Strange. I thought I'd toss this out as food for thought.
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Aug 10, 2002 at 10:42 PM Post #3 of 20

pigmode

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Quote:

However, using the modestly priced Outlaw PCA is not costing me any sonic deterioration that I can hear, and is allowing me a wider range of compatible headphones.


Are you sure its not? I just throw that out as a good possibilty that another cable located higher up on the foodchain might not sound better.

I had the Silver Audio Appassionata in my system and at first thought it was very close to ideal. After replacing it with the Zu Varial, I found that it lacked seriously in the midband and had an unforgivingly harsh analytical quality to it. It rendered many CDs unlistenable.

My experience with cables is that they can make or break your system, but you may never know that without experimentation.
 
Aug 11, 2002 at 12:53 AM Post #5 of 20

BenG

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I think an IC should do a vanishing act and let the sound of whatever components come through as much as possible. I just don't want to go through the pain of finding cables that match with a system everytime I get or upgrade a component.

I thought the Super Silver(little brother of the Lace) injected more harshness into the sound that wasn't there with the Outlaw. and this was consistant with different components and not just a case of the SS revealing more of that part of the sound.
 
Aug 11, 2002 at 2:19 AM Post #8 of 20

Hirsch

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Quote:

Originally posted by pigmode
My experience with cables is that they can make or break your system, but you may never know that without experimentation.


Agreed, but my point is that it appears that cables that can make one system can break another. There also doesn't seem to be any method to the madness. Silver Lace makes the HPA-1 dark: all headphones. OK, that I can understand. Then it makes the CD3000 sound overly bright on the Melos, but doesn't affect HP-1 or HD-600. That's getting weird. Why would an interconnect between source and amp differentially affect headphones?
 
Aug 11, 2002 at 2:33 AM Post #9 of 20

Ctn

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Quote:

Originally posted by Hirsch


Agreed, but my point is that it appears that cables that can make one system can break another. There also doesn't seem to be any method to the madness. Silver Lace makes the HPA-1 dark: all headphones. OK, that I can understand. Then it makes the CD3000 sound overly bright on the Melos, but doesn't affect HP-1 or HD-600. That's getting weird. Why would an interconnect between source and amp differentially affect headphones?


Thats very strange. From exp, if one cable has some particular sound characteristic, its the same when you move from system to system. The difference in sound of good cables differ very slightly in sound.
 
Aug 11, 2002 at 2:36 AM Post #10 of 20

pigmode

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Quote:

Originally posted by Hirsch


Agreed, but my point is that it appears that cables that can make one system can break another. There also doesn't seem to be any method to the madness. Silver Lace makes the HPA-1 dark: all headphones. OK, that I can understand. Then it makes the CD3000 sound overly bright on the Melos, but doesn't affect HP-1 or HD-600. That's getting weird. Why would an interconnect between source and amp differentially affect headphones?


Hmmm, maybe too much A/B testing?
eek.gif
I refrain from A/Bing most of the time, btw. This kind of relates to what BenG said.

Quote:

I think an IC should do a vanishing act and let the sound of whatever components come through as much as possible. I just don't want to go through the pain of finding cables that match with a system everytime I get or upgrade a component.


That is the concept I am trying to operate under right now, but the fact keeps being driven home: cables do impart their own sound to the equation. Once you reach a certain plateau, how do you differentiate which cable is letting the true sound of the system through?
 
Aug 11, 2002 at 2:44 AM Post #11 of 20

Ctn

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Quote:

Originally posted by pigmode

That is the concept I am trying to operate under right now, but the fact keeps being driven home: cables do impart their own sound to the equation. Once you reach a certain plateau, how do you differentiate which cable is letting the true sound of the system through?


How much of a difference do you hear with well made cables?

I have to a/b so many times just to convince myself that there is a diffrence. When comparing with cheaper $25 cables, there is a pretty big difference. When you rise above $80, the difference is extremely small.

Anyways...make the cable shorter if possible. If you hear a difference, time for better cables
biggrin.gif


Most of the time when I(maybe others) hear differences in sound, is when the cable is much longer than needed.
 
Aug 11, 2002 at 5:36 AM Post #12 of 20

pigmode

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Quote:

Originally posted by Hirsch


Agreed, but my point is that it appears that cables that can make one system can break another. There also doesn't seem to be any method to the madness. Silver Lace makes the HPA-1 dark: all headphones. OK, that I can understand. Then it makes the CD3000 sound overly bright on the Melos, but doesn't affect HP-1 or HD-600. That's getting weird. Why would an interconnect between source and amp differentially affect headphones?


Could we be looking at two different issues here? The Silver Lace should lean towards HF extension, and the CD3000 picks up on that because it too is voiced with an extended treble response.
 
Aug 11, 2002 at 6:42 AM Post #13 of 20

Hirsch

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Quote:

Originally posted by pigmode


Could we be looking at two different issues here? The Silver Lace should lean towards HF extension, and the CD3000 picks up on that because it too is voiced with an extended treble response.


I think it's more complicated than that. With HPA-1, Silver Lace is dark sounding. So, it would be an overgeneralization to call it bright (in fact, it's very neutral with most of my components). The Esoteric Audio Air Litz 3 cable is also very dark. However, put the Air Litz on the HPA-1, two components that sound dark in isolation, and the darkness disappears and the sound opens up. If the Silver Lace is bright, why isn't it bright all the time?

IMO there are some interactions here that are going beyond anything resembling a "sonic signature" that is replicated across components. But I have no idea why that should be...
 
Aug 11, 2002 at 11:31 AM Post #14 of 20

Anders

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Hirsch wrote:
Quote:

IMO there are some interactions here that are going beyond anything resembling a "sonic signature" that is replicated across components. But I have no idea why that should be...


One can also reverse the question: Why should a component have a sonic signature that is independent of the configuration? We can only listen to a system of components: source, amp and headphone/speaker connected by an IC and a headphone/speaker cable. It has to be proven, rather than assumed, that a component has a specific signature. What we usually do it to swap one component and then compare it with the previous one. If I succeed to get rid of, lets say harshness, by swapping cables, it is very tempting to conclude that the old cable is harsch and the new one neutral. If this difference can be repeated in a number of configuations, it is legitimate to attribute these characteristics to the objects. How often do we know that?
Rather, in our striving for improved sound, we have to base our actions (borrowing or buying a new component) on incomplete knowledge, and make some mistakes.
This is another way to look at the problem rather than an answer to your question.
The good thing is that you have showed that the Grado amp can be very good under the right circumstances.
Achieving synergy is no easy thing. Just now I am very satisfied with my speaker system but the headphone system needs improvement, with some possible mistakes in this process.
BTW, with which headphones did the Grado amp sound good, only Grado or someone other too?
 
Aug 11, 2002 at 2:31 PM Post #15 of 20

Tuberoller

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I think this all breaks down to impedence matching.I'm certain that cables modify the output impedence of audio components which is the main factor affecting the sonics in a cable swap.I have found cable matching to be just as if not more important than component matching.The wrong cables can completely ruin a great system.This is also why I think that no single cable type can work through an entire system.When I show people that I am sometimes using four differnt cables within the same system they question the wisdom of this choice until they hear the music.this is the main reason I only swap one cable at a time and quantify the results before moving on.
 

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