Expensive cables a waste of $$ - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 595 Old 08-15-2014, 08:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Expensive cables a waste of $$

As a electronics and electrical engineer, I can tell you wasting money on expensive brand cables, weather it be for speaker wire, audio component cables or HDMI video cables are a waste of money. One might pump a signal down a cable and look at the wave with a oscilloscope or spectrum and see a minute difference, but to the imperfect human ear, there's no way in hell you're going to tell the difference.
Especially if your over the age of 10. The human ear Deteriorates as we age, loosing effective hearing from 20,000 Hz (the top of the range down to 1000 Hz, every day of your life. So spending extra money on expensive cables won't do a thing. For speakers, get some standard copper 18g - 16g wire, and be done with it. For component RCA plug cables, getting the gold connector types are a joke. You ain't gonna hear it. Same for the digital HDMI cables with gold connectors...they aren't real gold to begin with, and even if they were you aren't going to notice the difference. The extra money you save, spend on decent speakers and a center speaker. With a half way quality theater amp of 70 watts a channel, the speakers make all the difference in the world. And Ohh... power filters for your components..... B.S. The transformer converting the AC to DC for all of the circuitry along with filtering capacitors take care of all of the filtering you need.
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post #2 of 595 Old 08-15-2014, 08:36 AM
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A similar thread was just locked a few days ago. It's possible this one will be closed even sooner.

Do good cables make an audible difference in sound?
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post #3 of 595 Old 08-15-2014, 09:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheNeff View Post
As a electronics and electrical engineer, I can tell you wasting money on expensive brand cables, weather it be for speaker wire, audio component cables or HDMI video cables are a waste of money. One might pump a signal down a cable and look at the wave with a oscilloscope or spectrum and see a minute difference, but to the imperfect human ear, there's no way in hell you're going to tell the difference.
Especially if your over the age of 10. The human ear Deteriorates as we age, loosing effective hearing from 20,000 Hz (the top of the range down to 1000 Hz, every day of your life. So spending extra money on expensive cables won't do a thing. For speakers, get some standard copper 18g - 16g wire, and be done with it. For component RCA plug cables, getting the gold connector types are a joke. You ain't gonna hear it. Same for the digital HDMI cables with gold connectors...they aren't real gold to begin with, and even if they were you aren't going to notice the difference. The extra money you save, spend on decent speakers and a center speaker. With a half way quality theater amp of 70 watts a channel, the speakers make all the difference in the world. And Ohh... power filters for your components..... B.S. The transformer converting the AC to DC for all of the circuitry along with filtering capacitors take care of all of the filtering you need.
Your post may start another war here.

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post #4 of 595 Old 08-15-2014, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheNeff View Post
...they aren't real gold to begin with...
Are you a metallurgist, too?
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post #5 of 595 Old 08-15-2014, 10:41 AM
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You follow in the footsteps of many EE's and industry professionals before you since this forum was started in1995 IIRC.

Yet still, the audiophools just don't believe it. It's a lost cause.

It's not science or engineering, it's religion plain and simple!
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post #6 of 595 Old 08-15-2014, 11:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Talking Metallurgist

Are you a metallurgist, too?

No, but when you go to electronics school, you learn that copper is the best conductor money can buy. And that gold plated stuff is used in Space Craft, for NASA and DoD. Usually to mitigate corrosion. But with no air in space, that rational is rather rediculous also. Did you know that is you solder a piece of copper, it can not corrode?

No I'm not a metallurgist, but after working on programs as an engineer, like the F4-A Phantom Jet Fighter, DD963 NAVY electronic Warfare equipment, E2C Hawkeye airplane, NASA Hubble Space Telescope, NASA Space Shuttle, and Missile Defense programs, I can provide you some of the most expert recommendations of where to drink the best cold craft beer, as well as who serves the heaftiest Jack Daniels on the Rocks.
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post #7 of 595 Old 08-15-2014, 11:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheNeff View Post
when you go to electronics school, you learn that copper is the best conductor money can buy
Silver is better, by a whopping 5%. The reason we don't use silver is that paying a hundred times more so you can use a 5% smaller gauge wire isn't logical... unless you're an audiophool.

And that gold plated stuff is used in Space Craft, for NASA and DoD. Usually to mitigate corrosion. But with no air in space, that rational is rather rediculous also.

The gold keeps corrosion from occurring before the launch. The salt laden moist air at Cape Canaveral isn't exactly metal friendly.

What you've posted is pretty much correct, but not exactly groundbreaking news here.
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post #8 of 595 Old 08-15-2014, 12:59 PM
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"Expensive cables a waste of $$"


Yes.


...but don't get me wrong on the importance of cables -cables are extremely important -without them, the will be no sound...
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post #9 of 595 Old 08-15-2014, 01:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheNeff View Post
No I'm not a metallurgist, but after working on programs as an engineer, like the F4-A Phantom Jet Fighter, DD963 NAVY electronic Warfare equipment, E2C Hawkeye airplane, NASA Hubble Space Telescope, NASA Space Shuttle, and Missile Defense programs, I can provide you some of the most expert recommendations of where to drink the best cold craft beer, as well as who serves the heaftiest Jack Daniels on the Rocks.
Riiiight. Are you sure you weren't an astronaut too?
I would be very concerned if I worked at NASA and got a memo from an 'electronics expert/engineer' laden with the grammatical, spelling, and factual errors that you have displayed thus far.
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post #10 of 595 Old 08-15-2014, 01:11 PM
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I can provide you some of the most expert recommendations of where to drink the best cold craft beer, as well as who serves the heaftiest Jack Daniels on the Rocks.

Never *ever* mention "best...craft beer" and "Jack Daniels on the rocks" in the same sentence again. Tank you for your cooperation.

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I purchased LAT International's speaker & interconnect cables for my Thiel speakers, Krell amp & Theta Miles CD player. Prior to that I was using Monster cables. The LAT cables made a WORLD of difference. For me, it was totally worth it!
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I purchased LAT International's speaker & interconnect cables for my Thiel speakers, Krell amp & Theta Miles CD player. Prior to that I was using Monster cables. The LAT cables made a WORLD of difference. For me, it was totally worth it!
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post #16 of 595 Old 08-15-2014, 02:54 PM
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post #17 of 595 Old 08-15-2014, 04:27 PM
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There is peace at AVS. So far, no shots have been fired.
Yes, but this place is a very small part of the world that I mentioned.
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I purchased LAT International's speaker & interconnect cables for my Thiel speakers, Krell amp & Theta Miles CD player. Prior to that I was using Monster cables. The LAT cables made a WORLD of difference. For me, it was totally worth it!
They do look very nice.
$$$
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post #19 of 595 Old 08-15-2014, 04:31 PM
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Riiiight. Are you sure you weren't an astronaut too?
I would be very concerned if I worked at NASA and got a memo from an 'electronics expert/engineer' laden with the grammatical, spelling, and factual errors that you have displayed thus far.
There there, it's ok. Continue to enjoy your cable upgrades and don't ever let the (doubting) Man get you down!

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post #20 of 595 Old 08-15-2014, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by TheNeff View Post
Are you a metallurgist, too?

No, but when you go to electronics school, you learn that copper is the best conductor money can buy. And that gold plated stuff is used in Space Craft, for NASA and DoD. Usually to mitigate corrosion. But with no air in space, that rational is rather rediculous also. Did you know that is you solder a piece of copper, it can not corrode?

No I'm not a metallurgist, but after working on programs as an engineer, like the F4-A Phantom Jet Fighter, DD963 NAVY electronic Warfare equipment, E2C Hawkeye airplane, NASA Hubble Space Telescope, NASA Space Shuttle, and Missile Defense programs, I can provide you some of the most expert recommendations of where to drink the best cold craft beer, as well as who serves the heaftiest Jack Daniels on the Rocks.
Cute: What's electronics school? I went to university and I learned that silver trumps copper!

Sweeping the facilities floors doesn't really constitute one as having legitimately contributed, to anyone of the programs that you listed.

However, it does perfectly qualify one to comment on your latter statements, which I must say, you seem well suited as a budding authority.


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post #21 of 595 Old 08-16-2014, 02:22 AM
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Originally Posted by RayDunzl View Post
Are you a metallurgist, too?
AFAIK the gold is real on most audio connectors that look like gold, there just isn't a whole lot of it.

If they are used a lot, the gold being ultra-soft, gets worn off and you are stuck with what is under it which might be good, but that's hard to tell because it is covered with gold.
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post #22 of 595 Old 08-16-2014, 02:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Ratman View Post
A similar thread was just locked a few days ago. It's possible this one will be closed even sooner.

Do good cables make an audible difference in sound?

Since you mentioned that thread, there was what I found to be an interesting post there about allected recent technological advances related to magic cables that didn't get a lot of play before the thread was locked:

Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank
1. Cable geometry
2. Dielectric
3. Introduction of filters wired in parallel
4. Cable mfg through the use of high precision cable winders that the high speed winders other use simply can't make.
5. High precision measurement equipment allowing them to make more precise measurements during the R&D phase and mfg phases.
6. Active shielding. I think Synergistic and Audioquest do this. I haven't tried either of these two technologies, but some people seem to like them.
7. Some companies are using flat wire vs stranded wire or solid core.
8. Metallurgy, as some are using silver cables, copper, etc. Different grades, etc..
9. don't laugh but cryogenically treated.
So what about these things?

For example - there is a cable geometry that can provide a large measurable decrease in speaker cable inductance. It's called coaxial cable, it has been known about for decades and I know of no high end speaker cables that are made that way.

As far as dielectrics go, I know of nothing new in that area going back a decade or more. Speaker cables being parts of low impedance systems don't care much ab out cable capacitance within reason. There have been some squirrelly amps that objected to some cables with very high capacitance, but that was decades ago.

Filters wired in parallel. Are there any? The ones I know of are wired in series-parallel and they go back a decade or more. MIT cables proudly claims that they have been doing what they do for about three decades. Nothing new there!

High precision cable winders. In fact few if any high end cable manufacturers make their own cable. Some claims about esoteric stranding have been made, but in fact stranding is very robust technically. You can twist clockwise, counterclockwise, and even insulate every strand and it doesn't make a lot of difference.

Active shielding. This refers to biasing the shield, usually with a 9 volt battery. I can't even imagine what this is supposed to do technically, except scare the $#!! out of audiophiles when they find that the battery went dead and they've been listening to unbiased cables for the last year and never noticed. ;-)

Metallurgy. As has been pointed out by others, copper is wonderful stuff. Highly conductive, very linear, and only a little less conductive than silver. The silver situation can be compensated for with trivial amounts of additional copper as if it would matter.

Cryogenic treatment. Please see former comments about plain old well-annealed copper.
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post #23 of 595 Old 08-16-2014, 03:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Garidy View Post
Cute: What's electronics school? I went to university and I learned that silver trumps copper!

Sweeping the facilities floors doesn't really constitute one as having legitimately contributed, to anyone of the programs that you listed.

However, it does perfectly qualify one to comment on your latter statements, which I must say, you seem well suited as a budding authority.

Silver might trump copper, but where?
Circuit boards are clad in copper.
Unless u live in a mobile home, which you probably do,
house wiring is copper.
So to wiring in appliances.
So too in Air-conditioners.
The list goes on and on.
They use gold in Space Craft, not Silver.
As far as sweeping floors,
you'd best go back and sweep the floor of your mobile trailer.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheNeff View Post
Silver might trump copper, but where?
Circuit boards are clad in copper.
Unless u live in a mobile home, which you probably do,
house wiring is copper.
So to wiring in appliances.
So too in Air-conditioners.
The list goes on and on.
They use gold in Space Craft, not Silver.
As far as sweeping floors,
you'd best go back and sweep the floor of your mobile trailer.
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post #25 of 595 Old 08-16-2014, 05:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post
Since you mentioned that thread, there was what I found to be an interesting post there about allected recent technological advances related to magic cables that didn't get a lot of play before the thread was locked:



So what about these things?

For example - there is a cable geometry that can provide a large measurable decrease in speaker cable inductance. It's called coaxial cable, it has been known about for decades and I know of no high end speaker cables that are made that way.

As far as dielectrics go, I know of nothing new in that area going back a decade or more. Speaker cables being parts of low impedance systems don't care much ab out cable capacitance within reason. There have been some squirrelly amps that objected to some cables with very high capacitance, but that was decades ago.

Filters wired in parallel. Are there any? The ones I know of are wired in series-parallel and they go back a decade or more. MIT cables proudly claims that they have been doing what they do for about three decades. Nothing new there!

High precision cable winders. In fact few if any high end cable manufacturers make their own cable. Some claims about esoteric stranding have been made, but in fact stranding is very robust technically. You can twist clockwise, counterclockwise, and even insulate every strand and it doesn't make a lot of difference.

Active shielding. This refers to biasing the shield, usually with a 9 volt battery. I can't even imagine what this is supposed to do technically, except scare the $#!! out of audiophiles when they find that the battery went dead and they've been listening to unbiased cables for the last year and never noticed. ;-)

Metallurgy. As has been pointed out by others, copper is wonderful stuff. Highly conductive, very linear, and only a little less conductive than silver. The silver situation can be compensated for with trivial amounts of additional copper as if it would matter.

Cryogenic treatment. Please see former comments about plain old well-annealed copper.

First off, there is no such thing as "magic" cables. Maybe the sound might produce something that's magical or maybe some people think that because they sound different it's magical, but there is no magic in audio cables. Any time someone refers to cables as "magical" I question their actual knowledge on cables. I think the problem is that the average person doesn't know much about cable designs and there is not much actual test measurements that all companies use to "prove" a different sound quality. The cable mfg have marketing people trying to attract attention since they aren't posting any or very little in the measurement area to show a difference in quality of sound. Looking at the impedance, capacitance, etc. aren't quality of sound measurements. Obviously, a perfect cable will have none in terms of LCR, so the best cable is none, but for most of us we need to use something. Also, cables do change if they are put under a load or not put under a load, so just measuring a cable not actually connected to other equipment may not be the preferred or most accurate way to measure. This is similar to speakers. if you measure a speaker under different loads, the impedance changes, which is why they only use a nominal impedance for use to use as a guide to buy an amplifier.

I was just simply answering to one's question of what's changed in cables? I guess it depends on your perspective. For some of us that have been looking at the high end cable market, some of this isn't new to us, but to others it is.

But this is just a quick list of what's different in the cable market for audio cables since the high end cable market began back in the late 70's/early 80's. And these companies are still finding new ways to make a cable.

Yeah, I know some of the tricks being used are a little outlandish, but I wasn't trying to comment on that, i was just pointing out what the difference is.

As far as cryogenic treatment, first off copper wired used in cables is annealed copper and cryogenically treating them does change the grain structure and tinsel strength, so you're comment isn't reality in terms of well-annealed copper. What and who decides what's "well annealed" and what isn't? I always thought Cryogenic treatment was a little on the Looney Tunes side until I saw magnifications of different metals before and after the process. It does work, but it's expensive to do and that's a mfg cost that gets passed on to the customer. Whether you can hear the differences or not, that's a completely other story.

Again, it boils down to what cables work best in your "system" and if you can or can't hear a difference in sound quality and what one prefers. What works for one person doesn't always work for someone else.

I've seen discussions on a lot of audio related forums over the years and those that are "anti cable' seem to cast off cables as just pieces of wire and there really isn't a difference. Well, to me and others the have spent time with higher end cables, we just don't see it that way. I understand both point of view since I didn't think cables would make that big of a difference and in some cases it doesn't. I also used to think that you have to have a high end system to hear the differences and I did a little experiment on a relatively cheap pair of power speakers and I was actually floored by the difference in interconnects, it was a VERY noticeable difference. So, thinking that you have to have a high end pair of speakers isn't the case either.

I personally do think that the cable mfg should derive some standard testing that gives the consumer a way to see a frequency response curve so we can compare using something that's more related to quality of sound. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening so the best we can do is test a variety of cables, see if there is a difference and then use whatever we like/afford.

As far as the 9 Volt battery, I would think that wiring an LED to indicate that the battery needs to be changed would be a simple fix. Obviously, if you aren't paying attention one might not hear when the battery dies because it's not a sudden on/off situation, the battery drains slowly and when the battery begins to not be effective, the change isn't as abrupt. People usually sense large changes in things first and listening to subtle differences must be purposely done.

If someone is going to be a little serious about their audio gear, they need to learn how to listen to different audio gear before one can make intelligent decisions about what to buy otherwise they are going to be more reliant on what others say. A lot of people buy more expensive audio gear without learning how to really listen to different components of a system and that's part of the problem. It's easy to buy a system but it takes time to get used to hearing the differences in components we use and I honestly don't think that the majority of consumers really understand how to listen to different pieces of equipment. That's why i'll suggest applications such as the Harmon How to Listen app, and a variety of CDs that are on the market that can help us understand how to listen to different aspects of an audio system
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post #26 of 595 Old 08-16-2014, 06:07 AM
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Originally Posted by TheNeff View Post
As a electronics and electrical engineer, I can tell you ...

...they aren't real gold...
AMP INCORPORATED Guidelines For The Use Of Gold On Connector Contacts

I'll be back later...



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post #27 of 595 Old 08-16-2014, 06:26 AM
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First off, there is no such thing as "magic" cables.
Unfortunately what follows appears to contradict that statement.

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Maybe the sound might produce something that's magical or maybe some people think that because they sound different it's magical, but there is no magic in audio cables.
The simple belief that many of the items below can make an audible difference amounts to being a magical belief:

Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank
1. Cable geometry
2. Dielectric
3. Introduction of filters wired in parallel
4. Cable mfg through the use of high precision cable winders that the high speed winders other use simply can't make.
5. High precision measurement equipment allowing them to make more precise measurements during the R&D phase and mfg phases.
6. Active shielding. I think Synergistic and Audioquest do this. I haven't tried either of these two technologies, but some people seem to like them.
7. Some companies are using flat wire vs stranded wire or solid core.
8. Metallurgy, as some are using silver cab


Any time someone refers to cables as "magical" I question their actual knowledge on cables.
That, as I explained seems to have taken place in the 8 items mentioned above.

Quote:
I think the problem is that the average person doesn't know much about cable designs and there is not much actual test
measurements that all companies use to "prove" a different sound quality.
The first error in the paragraph above is that this discussion is limited to average persons. Several EEs have posted on this thread and more people with comparable backgrounds are posting on this thread.

The second error is that cable companies generally don't use any kind of real test to prove that their cables have a different sound quality. They tend to use testimonials that cite no reliable evidence.


Quote:
The cable mfg have marketing people trying to attract attention since they aren't posting any or very little in the measurement area to show a difference in quality of sound. Looking at the impedance, capacitance, etc. aren't quality of sound measurements. Obviously, a perfect cable will have none in terms of LCR, so the best cable is none, but for most of us we need to use something. Also, cables do change if they are put under a load or not put under a load, so just measuring a cable not actually connected to other equipment may not be the preferred or most accurate way to measure. This is similar to speakers. if you measure a speaker under different loads, the impedance changes, which is why they only use a nominal impedance for use to use as a guide to buy an amplifier.

I was just simply answering to one's question of what's changed in cables?
And that is a false as well, because none of the things that were cited if even so vaguely, are new.

Quote:
I guess it depends on your perspective. For some of us that have been looking at the high end cable market, some of this isn't new to us, but to others it is.
If there is something new and you are so expert in this area, where are the specifics?

Where is something that is actually new?


Seeing none, and given the number of challenges along these lines that have not been answered...
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post #28 of 595 Old 08-16-2014, 06:34 AM
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AFAIK the gold is real on most audio connectors that look like gold, there just isn't a whole lot of it.

If they are used a lot, the gold being ultra-soft, gets worn off and you are stuck with what is under it which might be good, but that's hard to tell because it is covered with gold.
Nicely said. . .

Steve
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post #29 of 595 Old 08-16-2014, 06:56 AM
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Hmm, IT would seem lots of experts here,and lots of guys named IKE- my kids are both IKE's-( I know everything)
What I do know is the RCA's you get with equipment are sufficient to pass a signal, but at like
$0.03 each, how good can they be?
I choose cables that are medium priced, and I bought a can of Deoxit that took all this red crap off the tips.
Seen cables that cost as much as anew avr. To me-insane! But-if you have it to piss away - why not? Must agree though, there must be a point,where the "buck stops".
I quote PT Barnum : " There is a sucker born every minute"
And,I have met folks with lots of money, who really believe you get what you pay for,that is not always true.
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post #30 of 595 Old 08-16-2014, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by quad4.0 View Post
Hmm, IT would seem lots of experts here,and lots of guys named IKE- my kids are both IKE's-( I know everything)
It is also so much fun being talked down to. ;-)

Quote:
What I do know is the RCA's you get with equipment are sufficient to pass a signal, but at like
$0.03 each, how good can they be?
How good do they have to be?

IME they are good for a limited number of insertions, and after that you either massage their looseness out with a pair of pliers or tolerate a bad connections. Cable Chiropractic, I guess. Not my idea of fun.

Thing is that these days most moderrn audio systems have zero, count them zero RCA connectors so this is a kind of a discussion of straw men.
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