my thoughts on optical vs coaxial cables from your player to your DAC, - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 112 Old 03-01-2013, 07:34 AM - Thread Starter
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i have a rock fish optical cable, a glass optical cable with a high strand count i am not sure what brand and i just picked up a monster M-850 coaxial cable for 20 bucks on amazon

i was reading allot of people saying the glass optical cable would sound more smooth and i read some saying it would not be as good, i enjoy tinkering with this stuff so i figured i would try one of each, between the standard and the glass optical they both sound slightly different but i cant say one sounds better than the other each one just sounds ever so slightly different, barley noticable

today i got the coaxial cable, i have seen allot of people saying you get a richer sound, and others saying the optical sounds better, i plugged in the coaxial cable and i instantly noticed a difference, a very slight decrease in volume, it does seem to have a slightly richer sound, but one thing i notice a big difference is the cymbals sound a little more prominent and definitely more crisp. the bass sounds slightly smoother too.

it looks like i will be sticking with the coaxial cable, i think there is a pretty noticeable difference for the better with the coaxial over the optical cables.
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post #2 of 112 Old 03-01-2013, 07:40 AM
 
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It is just 1's & 0's that go through there, so it really does not matter which you used. Even at $20 you still paid too much for that Monster branded cable.
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post #3 of 112 Old 03-01-2013, 08:40 AM - Thread Starter
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how well a cable carry's the 1's and 0's could be the factor, one thing i have read about optical is it can loose some of the signal down the line. i switched back and forth several times between the coaxial and optical cable by pressing the input button on my DAC, the coaxial sounded better to me every time. i know allot of people think a cable is a cable and for the most part that is ture, different cables carry the 1's and 0's in a different way which seems pretty logical that one type may sound better than another type. that is my opinion and its not gonna change, i can definately hear a difference in different cabls, and if its all in my head that what ever, but i sometimes can hear differences from even one set of rca cables to the next

i disagree, for some reason i have a issue with cables getting shorts and such crap, i have a brand new set of RCA cables that just shorted out, there probably a month or two old i have not moved them around or anything, i dont know how many sets of RCA cables i have replaced due to shorts. i got a DVD player and needed another set of RCA cables for that and i wish i would have got a set of monsters, i don't think they would have already shorted out on me like these binary RCA cables did.

i have some monster cables that i have had for 12 years, there still going strong and those cables have been abused, bunched up to fit where i wanted them to fit and everything else, they look like they have been threw hell but they are still going strong, monster as a company is not so wonderful and their prices suck but their cables seem to hold up better than any other brand of cables i have had. i have never had a issue with monster RCA or sub woofer cables, usually i wait till i find them on clearance before i buy them but to me it's worth buying the monsters since they have done me well over the years and i have never had one crap out on me.

if they last as many years as my old monster cables i have now its well worth the 20 bucks.. i also ordered a new set of monster RCA cables to replace these shorted out ones but i have not got them yet.
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post #4 of 112 Old 03-01-2013, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannylightning View Post

how well a cable carry's the 1's and 0's could be the factor, one thing i have read about optical is it can loose some of the signal down the line.

The sound of signal loss on a digital line is typically along the lines of clicks, pops, mutes, and the like. Simply not working

What the sound of signal loss on a digital line is not includes changes in timbre, spectral balance, timing, rhythm, air, soundstaging, etc.

I can confidently say from the standpoint of theory and about 20 years of practice is that if you think you hear any other differences than what's in the first sentence, its not due to anything that happened in the digital domain.

In the sort of evaluation you did, people tend to hear random differences or differences that agree with their prejudices or beliefs. Everybody. Even me! ;-)
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post #5 of 112 Old 03-01-2013, 09:02 AM - Thread Starter
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what about the gauge of the wires, that monster coaxial cable is extremely thick, i am not sure if its the size if the wire inside or the shielding and what not but i would assume it's probably a bit of both, do you all think either one of those things could improve sound quality at least a little.
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post #6 of 112 Old 03-01-2013, 09:54 AM
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No

Also,
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i have a rock fish optical cable, a glass optical cable with a high strand count
Can you explain that? If the "strand count" on an optical cable is more than one.... you have a bad cable. wink.gif
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post #7 of 112 Old 03-01-2013, 10:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannylightning View Post

what about the gauge of the wires,
Gauge is irrelevant in this application because you are carrying a small signal into a fairly modest load. Current is quite low so a very fine conductor will carry it OK.
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that monster coaxial cable is extremely thick, i am not sure if its the size if the wire inside or the shielding
Monster are famous for padding out their cables with lots of insulation to make them look more impressive, so size is irrelevant. Ths application, approc 1.4MHz data stream so circa 10MHz BW and 75ohm characteristic impedance is something the most generic RG6 (cable TV type) coax at 50c per m will carry perfectly.

If the shielding was so poor and local RF interference so high that it caused an issue, you would have the effects Arny posted in the beginning of post 4.
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and what not but i would assume it's probably a bit of both, do you all think either one of those things could improve sound quality at least a little.
No.
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post #8 of 112 Old 03-01-2013, 10:17 AM - Thread Starter
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with the glass cables i guess they need to be made out of several extremely small strands of glass so they can bend. i was doing some research and i rememer seeing a few things about you want a high strand count on these glass optical cables. i remember reading there was a minimum strand count that you want and this one has way more than that.

this one is Constructed from 280 individual strands of glass for maximum flexibility

either way, it does not really seem to sound any better than the regular optical cable, i don't think there is anything special about these glass cables
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post #9 of 112 Old 03-01-2013, 10:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannylightning View Post

with the glass cables i guess they need to be made out of several extremely small strands of glass so they can bend.
Nope.A single clad silica fibre can bend far more than you'd think, plastic even more so, before fracturing.
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post #10 of 112 Old 03-01-2013, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
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I C, optical cables are not something i have done much reading on, i think i had one many years ago during the short period of time i had a surround sound system,. so i guess that is a pretty crappy cable than lol..

o well, the coax cable seems to be working out for me so i guess that is a good thing.

thanks for the replys
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post #11 of 112 Old 03-01-2013, 08:38 PM
 
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This is from 2006, regarding RocketFish cables http://www.avsforum.com/t/693711/rocketfish-cables/0_100 As for multi-strand, you would only have that if you were connecting multiple devices. A single strand of fiber is used in Optical cables not multiple.
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post #12 of 112 Old 03-02-2013, 02:00 AM - Thread Starter
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thanks, so i take it that my glass toslink cable is probably not a good cable since its got a bunch of glass strands

i bought the rock fish because it was relatively inexpensive yet not inexpensive compared to allt of the cheap crap cables they sold i think it was about 15 Bucks, i figured at that price it would not be a cheep-0 cable, i have not really heard much of rock fish before hand, it has been a long time since i have needed to buy any cables until recently

when i got this cambridge amp and DAC. i got a Audio USB cable so i can run my computer to the built in DAC on the amp, i kept reading about DACs and i had to try one out, the local stereo shop only seems to carry audio quest cables 80.00-1000.00 a cable so i turned to best buy and amazon to look for cables.

i just cant understand the price of some of these cables. i just saw a set of speaker wires for 13 grand online the other day. do people really buy that stuff. i though paying 100 bucks for a cable was crazy, i will do it if i know its going to last me a long time even though i know its kind of dumb to spend that kind of money on a cable. on these cables that are several thousands of dollars, do people really buy those things. like most of you say for the most part a cable is a cable, some are nicer than others and do have advantages over other cables but 13k dollars worth of advantages over other cables, for that much money there should be a fire works display in my living room the whole time i have my stereo playing and my speakers should lay golden eggs out of the bass ports for that kind of money lol..
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post #13 of 112 Old 03-02-2013, 02:39 AM
 
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$15 bucks is too much, especially for Best Buy branded stuff. I use only monoprice.com stuff, and for the $15 you paid, I can get just as good 8 six foot Toslink's from monoprice. And yes, people are paying $13 grand for cables, just because they believe the marketing hype.

It has been proven over and over, that $13 grand, $100 grand, $1,000.00, $100 cables work no different than the stuff that the majority of us are buying from monoprice for very low prices.
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post #14 of 112 Old 03-02-2013, 03:30 AM - Thread Starter
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i found a study on cables where people had tested the monoprice HDMi cables and they were not getting a true 1080 with those cables but they were getting a true 1080 out of some other brands. so i have always been a little sure of some of the mono price stuff. i will buy their speakers cables and stuff like that but after finding those test on that website ( i wish i had saved the link ) i have been kind of uneasy about buying their cables

i have some really cheap speaker cable and i have some monster XP cable i got along time ago, i bought some new banana plugs and i got out my braided wire wrap and heat shrink to make a really nice looking set of speaker wires, i like how my optical cable has that stuff on it and thought it would be cool to put it on my speaker wires too. i looked in my bag of speaker wire and realized i had some monster XP in there so i decided i was gonna use thta. so i cut to to length to start making some cool looking speakers cables. and i found something i do not like at all. running thew the center of the speaker wire is a piece of plastic, so my 14 gauge wire is not even 14 gauge, they thew that plastic piece in there to make the wires look like a lower gauge than it really is. after finding that i can see why lots of people don't care for monster.

o well i did decide to order some speaker wire from mono price though, when i get that ill make some nice looking speaker cables kind of like the ones that i saw for 13k bucks, i fly big aerobatic Radio controlled helicopters at competition level so i have wire wrap and heat shrink i use for the electronics on the helicopters to protect the wires from getting cut by the carbon fiber frames on the helicopters and i have no use for the stuff i have left over at the moment so i though i would put it to use. but i guess i will wait till i get the mono price speaker cable before i make them.

i had a few sponsorship offers for the helicopters but the sponsors were not offering enough to where i thought it would be worth my while to accept, and it would probably have cost me more money than what it was worth because they wanted me to do more traveling around to most of the major events, i just like to stick to the couple of local ones and maybe hit one of the bigger events each year that i can drive to.
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post #15 of 112 Old 03-02-2013, 04:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannylightning View Post

i found a study on cables where people had tested the monoprice HDMi cables and they were not getting a true 1080 with those cables but they were getting a true 1080 out of some other brands. so i have always been a little sure of some of the mono price stuff. i will buy their speakers cables and stuff like that but after finding those test on that website ( i wish i had saved the link ) i have been kind of uneasy about buying their cables

I've got a 55" wall hung Sony LCD TV being driven by a Panasonic Blu Ray Player over a 25' long HDMI cable that I obtained from Monoprice. The 25' length was required by the route required of an in-wall cable from a designated location for the player. Before I set this up, I tested the player and LCD with a 6 foot Monoprice cable. True 1080 in all cases.

Could you post a link to this other study?
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post #16 of 112 Old 03-02-2013, 11:03 AM
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It's true that some HDMI cables will not pass 1080p60 properly if they are of poor construction, running near power cables/others and have insufficient shielding, or are of insufficient gauge wire for their length.
It starts out as "pixel noise" where you will see some pixels randomly flash brightly on screen. Simply put up an all black image and it will be very clear whether your cable is passing 1080p60 correctly. (note: some Plasma/DLP devices have noise on black too, but this is dark noise that is caused by how that display is driven, not a bad HDMI cable - you're looking for bright pixel noise, not dark pixels) Beyond that, you will start to run into handshaking issues where the picture may start to drop out etc.

But most cheap cables are fine and it's pretty obvious when you have a bad one. It's only once you start getting to long HDMI runs that you have to worry about cable quality, and that just means spending an extra $10-20 on the next level up, not hundreds. Monoprice are usually pretty good at doing cables which meet spec at low prices. (you can find cheaper cables that may or may not work)


Coax is generally regarded to be a better connection than optical. The main issue is that optical can suffer from jitter more than coax does. If your DAC/Amp uses a jitter-immune design (many are these days) then there should be no difference between the cables.
Even if it is not a jitter-immune design, you probably won't hear a difference.

Switching digital cables for one that is "better" is unlikely to make any difference. It's my understanding that jitter via optical cables is caused by the transmitter/receiver, and not the cable itself.
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post #17 of 112 Old 03-02-2013, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronoptimist View Post

Coax is generally regarded to be a better connection than optical. The main issue is that optical can suffer from jitter more than coax does. If your DAC/Amp uses a jitter-immune design (many are these days) then there should be no difference between the cables.
Even if it is not a jitter-immune design, you probably won't hear a difference.

Switching digital cables for one that is "better" is unlikely to make any difference. It's my understanding that jitter via optical cables is caused by the transmitter/receiver, and not the cable itself.
^^^ This is all true, and I couldn't have said it better. But to add:

Almost all modern audio DSPs now contain something called an Asynchronous Sample-Rate Convertor (ASRC). This "filter" re-clocks the incoming signal and completely removes any jitter from the incoming serial stream. So if the receiving device contains a DSP, it is likely immune from 'incoming' jitter, and a coax interconnect looses that one perceived advantage over an optical interconnect.

However, coax still has an advantage over optical: The ability to survive multiple cable segments. If you are running cable through the wall, and therefore use multiple connections, you often find that the optical signal does not make it through to its destination. There is a lot of signal-loss in an optical connector, whereas there is little loss in a coaxial connector.
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post #18 of 112 Old 03-02-2013, 03:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

I've got a 55" wall hung Sony LCD TV being driven by a Panasonic Blu Ray Player over a 25' long HDMI cable that I obtained from Monoprice. The 25' length was required by the route required of an in-wall cable from a designated location for the player. Before I set this up, I tested the player and LCD with a 6 foot Monoprice cable. True 1080 in all cases.

Could you post a link to this other study?

here is a link, i guess it was just the 50 foot cable that had the issue

http://gizmodo.com/282725/the-truth-about-monster-cable-+-grand-finale-part-iii
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post #19 of 112 Old 03-02-2013, 04:32 PM
 
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Quote:
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here is a link, i guess it was just the 50 foot cable that had the issuehttp://gizmodo.com/282725/the-truth-about-monster-cable-+-grand-finale-part-iii

The problem lies in not the cable, but there are just some equipment that do not play nicely with longer cables, and you have to use a EQ on anything over 35 feet with those instances. What you are looking at on the gizmodo.com article is a screwed up opinion from someone that did not do their homework, and is trying to disclaim that monoprice cables are not any good, because of the low price for them. The other thing is, the person writing the article does not give you the part number of the cables, so there is no way of knowing which one they actually used. Just because the cable is thicker jacket, does not state that it is better. It is the wire gauge of the wires that matters. They did not state if it was the 22awg or 24awg that they used.

http://www.monoprice.com/products/subdepartment.asp?c_id=102&cp_id=10240
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post #20 of 112 Old 03-03-2013, 01:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannylightning View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

I've got a 55" wall hung Sony LCD TV being driven by a Panasonic Blu Ray Player over a 25' long HDMI cable that I obtained from Monoprice. The 25' length was required by the route required of an in-wall cable from a designated location for the player. Before I set this up, I tested the player and LCD with a 6 foot Monoprice cable. True 1080 in all cases.

Could you post a link to this other study?

here is a link, i guess it was just the 50 foot cable that had the issue

http://gizmodo.com/282725/the-truth-about-monster-cable-+-grand-finale-part-iii

Thanks for the URL. This is a good sort of thing to include in any post you make - a clear pointer to the source of information you want to talk about.

Not only was it the 50 foot, but it was a certain sample of 50 foot, because when they tried it again:

"While it may seem conclusive that the 50-foot Monoprice is not a good choice, I was fortunate enough to have another 50-footer from the company, one that was not part of the original lab test. When I used it, I was not able to reproduce the noise. Furthermore, I double-checked the noisy cable on the Sony Bravia KDF-37H1000 with 1080p input (but 720p display) and again could not duplicate it."

Either one cable was bad and caused problems or one cable was a marvelous freak of nature and did things better than it should.

My best guess is that the sample that had snow was a bad cable. That is either a "stuff happens" thing, or a sign that Monoprice QC isn't perfect. Everybody has occasional bad product, even the most expensive sources.

The next serious question is how Monoprice handled the failing cable - went into denial and blamed the customer, or manned up.
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post #21 of 112 Old 03-03-2013, 01:03 PM
 
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They would have RMA'd it with no questions. Have never had a issue with returning items back due to bad out of the box, or went bad after using. For example, had the battery cover for the iPhone 4, and accidentally knocked it off of the end table, and broke the connector inside the case. They exchanged it with no questions asked. Of course the plastic was so cheap on the case, the second one, the plastic case broke on it, so at that time I just gave up and ended up just going with a standard Otter box case, and charged the phone more from that point on.
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post #22 of 112 Old 03-03-2013, 06:12 PM - Thread Starter
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i am not sure what kind of HDMI cable i have, i probably got it at bestbuy when i got my TV, i have never been to worried about picture quality as long as it looks good i am happy. i don't use it for audio since i only have RCA inputs on the back of the receiver so the HDMI just does the video for me. picture quality is great so i assume my cable is doing the job. for many years i did not own a TV, i just did everything off my computer

i recently heard about mono price from a friend a few months ago, after reading that review i was thinking their prices are probably that low for a reason, i was thinking about getting some of their RCA cables and a coaxial cable from them but decided against it. one thing i have always found is usually when you buy cheap stuff you get cheap stuff and that test make me think that was probably case with their stuff. it does look like allot of people like their stuff though, maybe ill try some of their cables some day but i am not sure i will be needing any more cables again any time soon though
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post #23 of 112 Old 03-03-2013, 06:38 PM
 
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Dannylightning, did you realize that places like Best Buy purchase the same cables at the same price, then mark them up at least anywhere from 110 to 500%. Millions have purchased cables from monoprice and have never had issues with them. What you are doing, is allowing some writer's slanted opinion make the judgement for you, not your wallet.
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post #24 of 112 Old 03-03-2013, 08:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannylightning 
seems pretty logical that one type may sound better than another type. that is my opinion and its not gonna change

Danny, you seem fairly level headed. A $13k cable seems absurd to you, as it should. It also seems logical to you that various cables, amps, dacs, etc might all sound different since they have different designs of very complex (to you, me, and most people) circuits, use different components, heck... may even measure differently. Common sense, right?

I urge you though to examine your quote above and really think about it. Would your mind really never change? Chances are it might if confronted with adequate proof. So ask yourself what sort of proof it might take.

Some people are happy to read about the research done in human hearing and human psychology, and accept that we often "hear" differences which simply have no physical reality. Others need first hand evidence. They need to experience the proof themselves. If you are of that mindset (and nothing wrong with that), then I ask you a vital question... do you believe knowing the brand of a component is required to properly evaluate the sound of that component?

Most audiophiles would respond "of course not" but then of course they have known the brand of every component they have ever evaluated prior to listening. They just don't believe it is an influencing factor, thus have never thought to "not know." If you, like so many others, think it obvious that knowing the brand shouldn't be required, then please take the next crucial leap and do a little reading about how to perform a test where you don't know, and what happens in such tests. Maybe even try it for yourself or with a friend.

I say all of this not to preach, lecture, criticize, etc but because it has real world usefulness. Usefulness to you. And I like to help people. If you were to come to accept that dacs, amps, cables etc were audibly identical if designed to a minimum quality standard, then the dollar savings to you are potentially huge. You can now focus your future purchases (or even sell old expensive gear, like I have in the past) on things that truly impact your system and experience. Speakers. Room. Room treatments. EQ, surround processing, etc. More movies and music. Audio jewelry is fine if you recognize it as jewelry... something for looks, not sound.

Again, your posts hint of a very level headed guy in there that may be receptive to a little steering. Not everyone is with wasting the effort on. I hope you are, and i assure you that losing the "innocence" of audiophilia detracts nothing from the joy of the hobby.

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post #25 of 112 Old 03-04-2013, 02:13 AM - Thread Starter
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I guess i should say that if my ears hear a difference than i am going to trust my ears, unless some one can proove their theory to my ears than i will change my mind. As long as i hear a difference nothing any one says will change my mind. I trust my ears more than what someone tells me.

Sent from tapatalk. spelling will probably be worse than usual
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post #26 of 112 Old 03-04-2013, 05:32 AM
 
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You are not going to be able to hear anything in a difference in the cables. Only time you would physically see or hear a problem, is if the cable is truly bad, and the equipment cannot do the error checking, due to a bad connection or "ghost" open, that closes when the cable is laid in one way, but opens when laid another way.
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post #27 of 112 Old 03-04-2013, 05:45 AM
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Originally Posted by dannylightning View Post

I guess i should say that if my ears hear a difference than i am going to trust my ears, unless some one can proove their theory to my ears than i will change my mind. As long as i hear a difference nothing any one says will change my mind. I trust my ears more than what someone tells me.

Sent from tapatalk. spelling will probably be worse than usual
Thats the spirit! Just dont forget that this is a science forum. Not an ears forum. And youre the one who asked the question. smile.gif Sorry if you didnt get the answer you wanted.

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post #28 of 112 Old 03-04-2013, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannylightning View Post

I guess i should say that if my ears hear a difference than i am going to trust my ears, unless some one can proove their theory to my ears than i will change my mind. As long as i hear a difference nothing any one says will change my mind. I trust my ears more than what someone tells me.

Sent from tapatalk. spelling will probably be worse than usual

Understood. Human hearing using your ears rather than measuring equipment is and should be the foundation of all we do. What is so often overlooked is just how severely our sense of hearing is biased by what we know, what we believe, what we see, what we have been told or read... Not to mention other stuff like our mood etc.

Trust your ears... when you have isolated other variables so that only what you hear affects your impression. Comparing two cables as you did is essentially worthless. I could have performed that test for you and not swapped anything, and you would have still heard differences just because I "said" I swapped cables.

The word placebo is thrown out so often it turns people like you off of the whole field. But it is an appropriate starting point and I urge you to do a brief search and discover just how powerful placebo and bias can be.

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post #29 of 112 Old 03-04-2013, 08:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannylightning View Post

I guess i should say that if my ears hear a difference than i am going to trust my ears, unless some one can proove their theory to my ears than i will change my mind. As long as i hear a difference nothing any one says will change my mind. I trust my ears more than what someone tells me.l

In fact many of the things you perceive have nothing to do with your ears. Your perceptions originate in your brain, and the existence of both optical and aural illusions says that the brain is not a perfectly reliable source of such information.

Therefore, the phrase "trust my ears" as it is commonly used is often wrong.

If you are unconvinced by this sort of discussion I can give you readings from authoritative sources that you can use to correct your musunderstandings with.
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post #30 of 112 Old 03-04-2013, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

In fact many of the things you perceive have nothing to do with your ears. Your perceptions originate in your brain, and the existence of both optical and aural illusions says that the brain is not a perfectly reliable source of such information.

Therefore, the phrase "trust my ears" as it is commonly used is often wrong.

If you are unconvinced by this sort of discussion I can give you readings from authoritative sources that you can use to correct your musunderstandings with.
He will have to read them with his ears. smile.gif Any theory must be proven to his ears because that is all he trusts. Thats what he said.

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