Observations of a controlled Cable Test - Page 11 - AVS Forum
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post #301 of 384 Old 12-03-2007, 03:30 PM
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Krab, forgot to thank you for the Greenhill reference, I look forward to reading it.

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post #302 of 384 Old 12-03-2007, 04:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swampfox View Post

You should read Dr. Floyd Toole's work if you want an interesting read.

Which of Floyd's publications did you have in mind?

I dare say I've read a few (dozen) of them...

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post #303 of 384 Old 12-03-2007, 05:01 PM
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post #304 of 384 Old 12-03-2007, 05:07 PM
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I tried to post this yesterday, but it didn't show up, so I'll try again. If it appears twice, sorry.

jj, do you really think demonstrating that one can hear the difference between a coat hanger and regular speaker wire is going to convince subjectivists the test was valid? If you have as much experience with this debate as you say, I can't imagine you're so naive.

Subjectivists can hear the effects of a goat's sneeze in Mongolia on their audio systems. Not being able to hear the difference between any two cables is a clear sign the test setup was bad, or the stress of testing closed the listener's ear canals, or the Shakti holographic defibrillator was out of position, or whatever. So being proven able to hear a difference under some extreme circumstances would simply be dismissed as obvious. It's also useless scientifically - to do what yiou want properly one would establish hearing thresholds, and one data point from one cable doesn't do that.

Lavigne's system had as much subjectivist cred as is possible, pretty much. That he couldn't hear the difference (especially when he was as confident as he was) is as damning an indictment of subjectivist nonsense as you can get.

It was also (contrary to what some were saying in this thread earlier) quite conclusive statistical evidence that he could not hear the differences as he had claimed (which was that he could do so with near-perfect confidence). If his hypothesis was that he could correctly identify 90% of the time, we can reject that with something like p<.03.
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post #305 of 384 Old 12-03-2007, 05:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee (QSC) View Post

We're not talking about absolute volume; we're talking about audible differences between cables.

Which might be due to absolute volume differences.

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Do level matching for active gear, loudspeakers, etc., where gain is adjustable or doesn't really matter. It doesn't make sense for cabling.

Umm... why not? It's like someone once said - if two amplifiers sound different, turn one up until they sound the same.

If the audible differences are due to an overall level mismatch I don't think anyone cares about it (correct me if you disagree). So we should eliminate that possibility, which we can do by matching the levels for some test signal.
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post #306 of 384 Old 12-03-2007, 05:31 PM
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Bob's point, I believe, is that we should care about simple level mismatches between cables, because it means that one is incompetently designed. I don't disagree about the incompetence part, but if the end result is still identical sonic quality, well, that just means the incompetent fool managed not to screw it up.

To me it boils down to perspective, and I can identify two camps.

Either you're in the "it's way too easy to design a sonically perfect cable to accept anything less" camp, which is where Bob is coming from. Sure, in that camp, absolute levels matter because they are an simple indicator of competent design. So no level matching here.

Or you're in the more morbid camp, "let's see how much we can screw up a cable and have it sound just as good as high-end snake oil." I think it would be hilarious if we could pull the hair-thin speaker cables out of, say, the $50 3-piece system in my daughter's room and drive a pair of Wilson Alexandrias with no apparent sonic loss over a pair of Pear Anjous. With tubes. In my camp, you want to level match.

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post #307 of 384 Old 12-03-2007, 05:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Grant View Post

Bob's point, I believe, is that we should care about simple level mismatches between cables, because it means that one is incompetently designed. I don't disagree about the incompetence part, but if the end result is identical sonic quality, well, that just means the incompetent fool managed to not to screw it up.

OK, that's fair enough. But in some cases (like really long runs of speaker wire) there might be some decrease in gain due to resistive losses even for well-deigned cables. In that case you might want to know whether those differences corresponded to a true decrease in sound quality (in which case they'd be audible after level matching) or not.
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post #308 of 384 Old 12-03-2007, 05:40 PM
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I should add that the question you and I are posing is dependent on the speaker. (Technically, on the amp too, but far less so.) The more uneven the impedance vs. frequency response of a speaker, the more likely a high-resistance cable is going to affect the sound.

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post #309 of 384 Old 12-03-2007, 05:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by germanicus View Post

Which might be due to absolute volume differences.

No, which would be due to losses in a cable.

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Umm... why not? It's like someone once said - if two amplifiers sound different, turn one up until they sound the same.

If the audible differences are due to an overall level mismatch I don't think anyone cares about it (correct me if you disagree). So we should eliminate that possibility, which we can do by matching the levels for some test signal.

Gain is an adjustable but non-performance-related part of an amplifier, so matching gains of amplifiers under test is crucial to a proper sonic comparison.

Not so with cables. Significant loss in a cable--enough loss to be audibly detectable--signifies a defect.

Matching levels for a cable comparison also means that switching one cable for another will also require switching something else--a variable gain stage--in the system to compensate for the levels. (Or, by including some sort of attenuation in line with one of the cables, but that would also tamper with the source/load interface that the cable is a part of.) Then you're not comparing only the cables any more. While this additional variable would be unavoidable in a loudspeaker comparison, why require it in a cable comparison? If you have to match levels with cables, something's drastically wrong with at least one of them.

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post #310 of 384 Old 12-03-2007, 06:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jj_0001 View Post

Which of Floyd's publications did you have in mind?

I dare say I've read a few (dozen) of them...


I assumed you have. For others:

Listening Tests-Turning Opinion into Fact
JAES Volume 30 Number 6 pp. 431-445; June 1982

Subjective Measurements of Loudspeaker Sound Quality and Listener Performance
JAES Volume 33 Number 1/2 pp. 2-32; January/February 1985

Subjective Evaluation: Identifying and Controlling the Variables
8th International Conference: The Sound of Audio (April 1990)

Hearing is Believing vs. Believing is Hearing: Blind vs. Sighted Listening Tests, and Other Interesting Things

Can provide some insight to this debate.
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post #311 of 384 Old 12-03-2007, 06:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by germanicus View Post

Lavigne's system had as much subjectivist cred as is possible, pretty much. That he couldn't hear the difference (especially when he was as confident as he was) is as damning an indictment of subjectivist nonsense as you can get.

James Randi's million dollars looks pretty safe to me, even if he did a test with networked cables!
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post #312 of 384 Old 12-03-2007, 06:23 PM
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Matching levels for a cable comparison also means that switching one cable for another will also require switching something else--a variable gain stage--in the system to compensate for the levels.

That is a very fair point Bob. Mike L. posed an interesting solution: he offered to turn the analog volume all the way down during the cable switch. If your preamp had a digital volume control and a simple adjustment of it could compensate, that would help. Of course these solutions prevent any sort of fast switching. Anyway, it proved irrelevant because the levels did match.

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post #313 of 384 Old 12-03-2007, 06:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee (QSC) View Post

No, which would be due to losses in a cable.



Gain is an adjustable but non-performance-related part of an amplifier, so matching gains of amplifiers under test is crucial to a proper sonic comparison.

Not so with cables. Significant loss in a cable--enough loss to be audibly detectable--signifies a defect.

Matching levels for a cable comparison also means that switching one cable for another will also require switching something else--a variable gain stage--in the system to compensate for the levels. (Or, by including some sort of attenuation in line with one of the cables, but that would also tamper with the source/load interface that the cable is a part of.) Then you're not comparing only the cables any more. While this additional variable would be unavoidable in a loudspeaker comparison, why require it in a cable comparison? If you have to match levels with cables, something's drastically wrong with at least one of them.

It's a valid point. On the other hand, it's important to know if an audible difference is due to measurable differences in loudness (likely in the 3KHz to 5KHz range) or due to some other unknown factor. There are other ways of controlling level differences other than changing the gain.
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post #314 of 384 Old 12-03-2007, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Swampfox View Post

You should read Dr. Floyd Toole's work if you want an interesting read.

And what makes you think I have not, sir? I've read every paper by Toole and Sean Olive that's been in JAES, as well as various white papers and presentations on the Harman website. As 'krabapple' or 'ssully' I've made many a post referencing them on various audio fora on the interwebs.
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post #315 of 384 Old 12-03-2007, 07:22 PM
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And what makes you think I have not, sir? I've read every paper by Toole and Sean Olive that's been in JAES, as well as various white papers and presentations on the Harman website. As 'krabapple' or 'ssully' I've made many a post referencing them on various audio fora on the interwebs.

I really wasn't directing that post at anyone, just broadening the database.
Yet, I would use the pink noise data to support the need for level matching.
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post #316 of 384 Old 12-03-2007, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by germanicus View Post

jj, do you really think demonstrating that one can hear the difference between a coat hanger and regular speaker wire is going to convince subjectivists the test was valid?

Those who have a mind that is at all open may experience some doubt. Nobody is going to affect the true believers. It's like religion.

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post #317 of 384 Old 12-03-2007, 10:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by germanicus View Post

OK, that's fair enough. But in some cases (like really long runs of speaker wire) there might be some decrease in gain due to resistive losses even for well-deigned cables. In that case you might want to know whether those differences corresponded to a true decrease in sound quality (in which case they'd be audible after level matching) or not.

If that's your problem statement, certainly.

Most audiophiles won't have long runs, and will not level match. It would be good to know if level was the real issue.

Also, I might mention it might be nice to know if corrosion in not-moved-in-a-long-time RCA connectors might be why new interconnects sound better. But that's another story.

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post #318 of 384 Old 12-04-2007, 05:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Michael Grant View Post

That is a very fair point Bob. Mike L. posed an interesting solution: he offered to turn the analog volume all the way down during the cable switch. If your preamp had a digital volume control and a simple adjustment of it could compensate, that would help. Of course these solutions prevent any sort of fast switching. Anyway, it proved irrelevant because the levels did match.

Well, it was nice the levels matched closely and given the lengths and gauges of the cables in question, I think many were of the opinion that they would. Yet, even had rapid switching been available, given the way Mike L. looked to test, it wouldn't have been a benefit. Consider the following. Mike L. was listening to entire musical selections - as it turned out under level matched conditons. This ensures that were he to hear differences, they'd not be due to level differences.

Let's assume for the moment, that there is something special about one of the cables that permits a particular nuance to be heard. I don't know what the nuance is, it's something. It's fleeting. It only appears in a particular segment of the song. It's long enough to register a brief response, but not so long that it can make its way into long term hearing. If the musical selection is 3 minutes long, even with instantaneous switching, it'll be another 3 minutes before he hears it again assuming he's playing the entire song. If short term hearing, which is what the fleeting nuance is, is only a few seconds, Mike L. will be SOL.

Mike L. would need to use the playing of an entire song in order to zero in on that particular segment that evokes that audible nuance. Assuming of course that there is one. Then a means would be needed to burn a copy of just that segment. This way Mike L. would be able to establish a couple of auditory anchors of short enough duration and emminently repeatable that would permit their use in rapid switching. As it stands now, the time syncing is just too far apart.

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post #319 of 384 Old 12-04-2007, 09:07 AM
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the thing a bout Auditory memory is if he knows that passage enough to apply descriptive terminology to the "nuance" then he has a frame of reference to apply. as such, much longer memory can apply.

Not that i am syaing that there may be lots there, but that is the thing about auditory memory. if i hear two viola passages (not that i know what a viola sounds like) that are similar, i do not have a snowballs chance in LA to identify them. but if i was a concert viola player and had a frame of reference to apply, i would easily be able to identify the difference and even tell people what that difference was.

So in theory, if there was that subtle difference that mike was able to identify, and he did plenty of research and could quantify that difference, and if this was an ABX test, then mike may have a chance of succesfully identifying. Of course there are LOTS of if's here. and honestly i would expect the same result as the existing test.
What keeps getting rightly pointed out htough is that in order to do a test, all these paramaters need to be worked through. And this would test for something more absolute and take quite a bit more work.

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post #320 of 384 Old 12-04-2007, 10:51 AM
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It's entirely reasonable to look at Mike L.'s initial, sighted findings as a result of various biases influencing his auditory focus and anchor points which conspired to give him a different presentation of essentially the same thing.

"I've found that when you want to know the truth about someone that someone is probably the last person you should ask." - Gregory House
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post #321 of 384 Old 12-04-2007, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Dizzman View Post

the thing a bout Auditory memory is if he knows that passage enough to apply descriptive terminology to the "nuance" then he has a frame of reference to apply. as such, much longer memory can apply.

Actually, if you look at Hall or Allen's work on level roving (JASA, sorry, don't have it in the library here) you'll see that loudness memory (the first stage of auditory memory) only last a few hundred milliseconds at most.

For the very, very smallest, most sensitive testing, fast clickless switching is required.

As to lots of work: Running a good test is a lot of work, as well as being hard and tricky to set up. It's very easy to introduce biases even when one would not expect such.

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post #322 of 384 Old 12-04-2007, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by jj_0001 View Post

As to lots of work: Running a good test is a lot of work, as well as being hard and tricky to set up. It's very easy to introduce biases even when one would not expect such.

Ahh, something we agree upon.
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post #323 of 384 Old 12-20-2007, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles View Post

I think it is important to point out that this is not what the test proved affirmatively. While it's buried in my text, it is very important to be clear that this test proves only one thing: that with this particular testing methodology, it was not possible to distinguish any difference between these cables. It does not prove that there are no audible differences between cables or even between these two specific cables. Just that there weren't audible differences the way we tested. It is possible, though in my personal opinion rather unlikely, that a different methodology could yield different results. So for subjectivists who are certain that there are differences in cables, our test does not authoritatively disprove that opinion, however it does shed some doubt as to that position at least on the degree of difference that some subjectivists claim.

Your test is really no different than any other; and in both cases that is true. Given the parameters of the test, no difference was perceived by that person.

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We just have to remain honest about both the clarity of the result and the limits of applicability of that result. This test alone is not close to universally definitive for these reasons.

And of course it is possible (evident in fact given the results) that the selected cables were similar enough to not notice any difference--there may in fact not be!

Ironically, I think this says something about Monster positively more than a negative on the Opus.

The First Clarke Law states, 'If an elderly but distinguished scientist says that something is possible he is almost certainly right, but if he says that it is impossible he is very probably wrong.'
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post #324 of 384 Old 12-20-2007, 09:36 AM
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Yes, schticker, but the reason I referred you to this thread was a bit deeper than that. It's really not that big of a deal that in this test no difference was perceived by the tester. What is a big deal, however, is that said tester thought he was perceiving those differences, and believed he had guessed correctly 100% of the time, until the test was halted and the results were revealed.

Thus this test does not call into question the differences between speaker cables, so much as it calls into question the so-called confidence of experienced audiophiles.

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post #325 of 384 Old 12-20-2007, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Michael Grant View Post

Thus this test does not call into question the differences between speaker cables, so much as it calls into question the so-called confidence of experienced audiophiles.

Which is what this forum is turning into--a dealer/audiophile bashing forum. It shocks no one that you said that.

The First Clarke Law states, 'If an elderly but distinguished scientist says that something is possible he is almost certainly right, but if he says that it is impossible he is very probably wrong.'
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post #326 of 384 Old 12-20-2007, 12:56 PM
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Which is what this forum is turning into--a dealer/audiophile bashing forum.

Oh, what nonsense. I mean, if "bashing" means offering evidence that contradicts your prideful claim about audiophile confidence, then I guess I'll have to live with that. But I frankly reject that definition, because I reject the notion that audiophilia ought to be defined by the attraction among some of its adherents to baseless tweaks and exotic components. Strip that away, and it still leaves plenty of ways to sink boatloads of money into audio components, listening rooms, and media; plenty of genuine variables for audiophiles to tweak to create the best-sounding room and system.

As for this test in particular I think it is clear, if you actually read my contribution to this thread, that I've been measured in my response to it. I haven't run for the hills shouting "see! all cables sound alike!", and have challenged suggestions to that effect. The reason I point out this issue of confidence is precisely because it is one of the few pieces of information the experiment provides; and certainly the most compelling one.

I certainly hope that new experiments take place which increase the chances that Mike L. can hear any differences that may exist. But so far, one piece of clear information has been obtained: that what Mike thought he heard was not, in fact, what he heard.
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It shocks no one that you said that.

I sure hope not! It is, after all, what the evidence calls for.

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post #327 of 384 Old 12-21-2007, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Michael Grant View Post

I reject the notion that audiophilia ought to be defined by the attraction among some of its adherents to baseless tweaks and exotic components.

Amen to that!

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post #328 of 384 Old 12-21-2007, 10:19 AM
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Hi

I have not visited this forum for a good while. I have been an audiophile for a very long time, the son of an audiophile (one that however would have been in a balanced objectivist camp. Prior to this interesting test, I would also swear that differences between cables would be very easy to distinguish... I am no longer so sure.. In fact I KNOW I will not change the present (expensive) cables I have...
I will also conduct some blind testings...

I also agree with Michael Grant that there are several more rational ways to indulge into making our systems better.. Room Treatment and frankly better speakers and components... among others
We must also keep an open mind and understand this test is far from conclusive.. It however, in my personal opinion at the very least, shows that the differences we sometime perceive are not so marked or maybe so real. In the end, it does not seem to make much sense investing in $10,000 speaker cable... worse it does not seem to make ANY difference in performance... Time and more testing will tell...

Frantz
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post #329 of 384 Old 12-21-2007, 09:31 PM
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This is a great post from a guy who is building one of the biggest homes in the US and for sure one of the biggest personal theatres....

The link is here
http://www.curtpalme.com/forum/posti...=quote&p=72659

But i will quote the text...

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The speaker cabling used in ALL of the HPS-4000 installations is ordinary non-metallic jacketed 10 gauge, 4 conductor electrical cable, with the wires ‘doubled’ to create one massive ‘pair’. I know at this point many of you are rolling your eyes, but let me share with you another story:

In the early 1970’s, I was friends with the owner of The Stereo Shop in Hartford, CT. Being the science nerd that I am, I questioned the real need for the super-expensive turntable cables that supposedly ‘changed the sound of your records’, or the silver-plated speaker cables. It was the latter that I took the most exception with. I just could not see the benefit of spending the $20 or so a foot for the fancy cable when logic told me conductor size was more important than having a hundred small silver-plated conductors. Every time I visited the Stereo Shop the arguments grew more intense. Finally, the owner agreed to bring to my house a pair of the largest McIntosh speakers made, as well as a MC-2300 amplifier to drive them. An A/B speaker switch was provided, and he hooked up his silver cables to one side, and I hooked up ORDINARY 12 GAUGE SOLID CONDUCTOR ARMOR JACKETED (“BX”) ELECTRICAL CABLE that I had left over after an electrical installation to the other side.

Hours later, after listening to all sorts of source material from the intimately familiar to the Lincoln Mayora ‘Direct to Disk’ series, I could detect ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE between the two, and frankly neither could he. Thus with this background, I found complete comfort years later with John Allen’s approach: let the end result do the talking.

not conclusive by any means, but somebody who did the proper testing and found... nothing there.

Proud Daddy to
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Born October 26 2005.

Ob was the delivery doc.

Since i cannot rant on a soapbox in the town square...

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Dizzman is offline  
post #330 of 384 Old 01-01-2008, 04:28 PM
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I would politely suggest that mild applications of digital room correction and much more attention to room acoustics would be a lot more beneficial than anything more than large zip cord in speaker wire.

James D. (jj) Johnston
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