Have You Heard Exotic Audio Cables Improve Sound Quality? - Page 10 - AVS Forum
View Poll Results: Have You Heard Exotic Audio Cables Improve Sound Quality?
Yes, and it was a big improvement 47 8.56%
Yes, but it was only a slight improvement 61 11.11%
No, I did not hear any improvement 303 55.19%
I don't have enough experience to say 138 25.14%
Voters: 549. You may not vote on this poll

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post #271 of 646 Old 03-10-2013, 03:27 PM
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Cheap Menards speaker wire will work just fine. smile.gif
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post #272 of 646 Old 03-10-2013, 08:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by repete66211 View Post

A question for the EEs: Would a copper wire electrocute me less than a silver wire?

It wouldn't do so in any measurable way, but you would certainly feel a more distinct separation from your low end. Only 2 out of 5 people in blind studies watching others be electrocuted couldn't correctly identify the metal being used. But I can definitely see the difference. I really can't put it into words.. Silver is just clearer- It can even be proved by illogical science and engineering statements magic! Get the silver.

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post #273 of 646 Old 03-10-2013, 11:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DS-21 View Post

Still no "expensive cables made things worse" poll option.

Once a poll is posted on AVS, there's no way to alter the choices; I can't add or delete choices, nor can I edit them in any way. You're right, I should have included a "made things worse" option; I didn't think of doing so because I had never heard anyone say that exotic cables can make the sound worse before it was brought up in this thread. I was thinking about the much more common claim that exotic cables make the sound better. 


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post #274 of 646 Old 03-11-2013, 08:19 AM
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/\/\/\

My guess is that while it could, and likely does happen that it would be on the rare side anyways. It would have to be no different than cables causing it to sound "better" in that it would be altering the signal, which in my mind is not the goal of a cable. In either case the result would be subjective, someones' "better" could be another's' "worse".
There might be cases where the electrical properties cause amps to oscillate, but I think that too would be rare.
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post #275 of 646 Old 03-11-2013, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Flavius View Post

For digital transmission, as long as the same bits get there, it doesn't matter what the cable is. But speaker wire is another beast entirely, because there we're talking analog electrical pressures and pulses. And given that speakers are driven by things like the force, amplitude, etc of electric current, the same current traveling through the speaker wires, I'd say it HAS to make some small difference. Electricity is like water. Let's take the water example. If you had a bunch of water pipes supplying a turbine or even an old fashioned mill, then the thickness of the water pipes, the speed of water flow through the pipes, the presence or absence of holes in the pipes, etc would all have some small effect upon the performance of turbine/mill, or in this case speaker. Even something like the total electrical resistance of the wire could have a subtle impact on sound.

So does that make any sense, or am I off my rocker?

So if we take two otherwise identical pipes, one made from copper and one made from plastic, will there be a discernable difference once the water reaches your hands via the faucet?

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post #276 of 646 Old 03-11-2013, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by BVLDARI View Post

So if we take two otherwise identical pipes, one made from copper and one made from plastic, will there be a discernable difference once the water reaches your hands via the faucet?

Yes, of course. With the copper pipes, the hot water will be more defined and the cold water more clear. All the water will be cleaner. We can't prove it with blind studies, but it's more expensive..so it must be better.

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post #277 of 646 Old 03-11-2013, 10:17 AM
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Just doing the math. Nordost ODIN Supreme Reference Cables....

You could literally melt eight 1oz Philharmonic gold coins and having it strand into pure gold speaker wire wrapped in the panties of a virgin and sealed and sewn with the tears of orphans and eagle feathers would still be cheaper than some these potpourri bouquet speaker wire companies charge for their 8 foot wire runs. If you don't like it you could melt the wire and still have 8oz of pure gold that's actually worth something.

Nordost ODIN Supreme Reference Cables only $20,000 for a 2 channel setup.... Where is the sucker born every minute smiley emoticon?
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post #278 of 646 Old 03-11-2013, 10:46 AM
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LMAO !!!

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post #279 of 646 Old 03-11-2013, 12:42 PM
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Some rich ppl are really stupid. smile.gif
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post #280 of 646 Old 03-11-2013, 02:49 PM
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I will attempt to keep this brief. I participated in some double-blind testing of cables and other electronics in the late 1980's through the mid-1990's. All were tested on vairous pieces of equipment from inexpensive (NAD) to normal high-end (Audio Research/Conrad Johnson/Krell/Carver). And it was always the cables being tested on one specific set of components.

In double-blind testing, I never saw a single person who could consistently identify any specific components or even when components were the same or different. These tests were carried to a slightly higher level as various solid state electronic components were also tested. Vacuum tube equipment was not tested as they all typically had a sound of their own at that time (maybe still). As long as things stayed within the capabilities of the various components, again no one could consistently say which was which. That didn't mean that a $ 300.00 integrated amp from NAD was the same as a pre-amp and amp from Mark Levinson or Krell but only at a level where there was no stress on the components that the sound could not be consistently identified from componenet to component. During this time I had a considerable sum of money invested in AR tube equipment and this sure didn't make me decide to sell it.

Bottom line is, if your cable is sufficient for your needs, a higher priced cable well not improve the sound (or video). I have no idea what is available in cables today, but 20-25 years ago there were definitely cables that sounded different and not in a good way as some could cause oscillation of various electronic components when connected to certain speakers like those from Quad or Apogee or anything else that might show a reactive load to an amplifier.
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post #281 of 646 Old 03-11-2013, 02:59 PM
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Yup, that pretty much sums it up. Nothing has changed except that the digital audio chain has even further reduced the "measurable" differences between components.
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post #282 of 646 Old 03-11-2013, 03:18 PM
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No more needle cracking noises..... smile.gif
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post #283 of 646 Old 03-11-2013, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by vision-master View PostSome rich ppl are really stupid. smile.gif

Rich doesn't equal IQ!


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post #284 of 646 Old 03-11-2013, 09:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by wse View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by vision-master View Post

Some rich ppl are really stupid.
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Rich doesn't equal IQ!

how true..

anyone got exotic cables that can post a pic?

cheers..
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post #285 of 646 Old 03-12-2013, 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Toymachyne View Post

Just doing the math. Nordost ODIN Supreme Reference Cables....

What I like the most at their specs is the fact that the cable reaches 98% of light speed though...
I've measured my 12g Monoprice at NASA LABS and they reach, well... only 97,987654321% of light speed; therefore it's about time for a change, no? eek.gifbiggrin.gif

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post #286 of 646 Old 03-12-2013, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by drfreeman60 View Post

I will attempt to keep this brief. I participated in some double-blind testing of cables and other electronics in the late 1980's through the mid-1990's. All were tested on vairous pieces of equipment from inexpensive (NAD) to normal high-end (Audio Research/Conrad Johnson/Krell/Carver). And it was always the cables being tested on one specific set of components.

In double-blind testing, I never saw a single person who could consistently identify any specific components or even when components were the same or different. These tests were carried to a slightly higher level as various solid state electronic components were also tested. Vacuum tube equipment was not tested as they all typically had a sound of their own at that time (maybe still). As long as things stayed within the capabilities of the various components, again no one could consistently say which was which. That didn't mean that a $ 300.00 integrated amp from NAD was the same as a pre-amp and amp from Mark Levinson or Krell but only at a level where there was no stress on the components that the sound could not be consistently identified from componenet to component. During this time I had a considerable sum of money invested in AR tube equipment and this sure didn't make me decide to sell it.

Bottom line is, if your cable is sufficient for your needs, a higher priced cable well not improve the sound (or video). I have no idea what is available in cables today, but 20-25 years ago there were definitely cables that sounded different and not in a good way as some could cause oscillation of various electronic components when connected to certain speakers like those from Quad or Apogee or anything else that might show a reactive load to an amplifier.

The part I bolded above says it all..

Sadly, no matter what facts are presented, no matter how many double blind tests prove this point, no matter how many links are provided, there will still be the 'but I heard a difference' crowd who can never back up their claims.
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post #287 of 646 Old 03-12-2013, 07:57 AM
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Yes, but I would have thought the percentage of "believers" would be higher, I guess they're just a bit more vocal crew.
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post #288 of 646 Old 03-12-2013, 11:10 AM
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you guys are going to kill me for this, but many years ago, hell it was half a lifetime ago. I replaced my super cheap thin cables with cheap thick Monster cable on my Klipsch Cornwall 2's. It did make a difference in more than just my wallet. I got a noticeable amount of bass. WhileI can not go back and test this theory, i'd bet if I had just bought generic 16-10 gauge wire I would have had 99%+ of the effect for 25% of the cost.

For my home theater i use regular cheap 12 or 16 gauge cable (i forget)

for my 2 channel rig Jolida, rega I have some fancy cable I paid pennies on the dollar for from a friend who was upgrading. while unloading the car at college I was more worried about the cable as it was more expensive than the car. If i can find the time i should hook up the normal stuff and see if I can hear a difference.
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post #289 of 646 Old 03-12-2013, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by ldp82 View Post

for my 2 channel rig Jolida, rega I have some fancy cable I paid pennies on the dollar for from a friend who was upgrading. while unloading the car at college I was more worried about the cable as it was more expensive than the car. If i can find the time i should hook up the normal stuff and see if I can hear a difference.

Providing they're both the right gage for the job you should hear no difference.

Now by saying that I'm planting a seed in your sub-conscious no different than if I told you you'd get better bass and extended highs.

The fact that the first "seed" is backed by science and the latter is backed only by subjective analysis is where the crux of this argument lies.

It is really hard to be objective in a sighted test, and I'd argue impossible if there are any pre-conceived expectations.
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post #290 of 646 Old 03-12-2013, 11:44 AM
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As others have mentioned gauge can be important as well as shielding / insulation.
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post #291 of 646 Old 03-12-2013, 11:51 AM
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I would say this, if the gage is wrong, the sound will be wrong. No different than if your water pipe is too small, there is now amount of gold, oil or whatever you can line it with that will make it flow right.

Construction is key. A well constructed cable is must from a longevity standpoint and to make sure that it functions properly. No different than making sure the joints on your pipes are soldered/threaded correctly so it doesn’t leak.

The above is primarily why I don't buy the cheapest cables I can find. I go at least a model up from the cheapest cool.gif

After that, I personally can’t confirm or deny whether higher end cables make a difference.
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post #292 of 646 Old 03-12-2013, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadbike60035 View Post

As others have mentioned gauge can be important as well as shielding / insulation.

Sure, and those are considered electrical properties. The premise always being that the cables meet the "required electrical properties" for the transmission distance.
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post #293 of 646 Old 03-12-2013, 04:21 PM
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Although I honestly have not heard the 15 thousand dollar cables, I just can't believe this even a discussion. I mean no disrespect to people that can afford it and those that truly believe in them, as I don't know you, your equipment, your experience, or your reasoning. I can only speak from what I know and my experiences. I am in the utility industry and have taken a lot of electrical theory courses. I know more about impedance, resistance, phases, wattage, voltage, amperage, ohms, and conductors then I care to. Admittedly, my experience is limited to much bigger components as I've spent several years working for an engineering firm design transmission and distribution systems. (substations and power lines). Essentially, my job is to determine what equipment is needed, what size transformers are needed, how many conductors are needed, what type of conductors are needed, what gauge and insulation conductors are needed, what type of connectors are needed, how it will be buried or what type of pole structure is needed, what type/size grounding is needed and determine exactly where all of it needs to be placed both in there exact GPS location as well as in relation to each other. I do this both with my knowledge and resources as well as mathematical algorithms and computer software. There is quite a bit more to it then that, but that's the idea. Then I provide electrical utilities a complete list of materials, as well as a saved file of exactly what needs to be built, how it needs to be constructed, and where it needs to be placed. I work with a wide variety of people, and have become quite good at dumb-ing it down to explain to others. I am in no way implying that anyone is less intelligent then I am, but the average person generally has less knowledge in the engineering aspect then I do. Intelligence and knowledge are two different things. I will stress that my knowledge is more focused on larger electrical components and systems and less so on audio equipment. That said, many of the basic principles and electrical relationships, properties and laws that apply to the big stuff is the same as the little stuff. I'll try to explain my opinion based on what I know, and apply it to audio.

I'll start with the water example others have mentioned. It's actually an excellent analogy and is commonly used to explain electrical relationships. Current, amps, wattage, and ohms can all be explained easily using this analogy.. If you need a refresher.. quick google search= http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/energy/question501.htm

Electrically, a major component is the resistance. The first step is to find a low-resistance material for the electricity to flow through. In a water pipe, it's essentially air. There is nothing there to resist the flow of the water. In the a wire, it's generally metal. Electricity needs a low-resistance material to flow through. This can be steel, aluminum, copper, silver, gold, etc. Each has it's own unique properties. A lot of the really big stuff uses galvanized steel because it is the most cost-effective means. Aluminum is lighter and doesn't rust away, copper is more flexible, silver and gold are excellent conductors, but generally too expensive. Silver and gold are often used on smaller components as plating between connections...This is great as a connection, and I can understand it making a difference there.. But for the actual length of the wire, it's far more economical to just ensure the wire gauge is big enough...any of the conductors mentioned will not give you a problem with resistance.

Fair enough right? So if we need our water to get from a to be, we need a big enough pipe to do it without any resistance.. this is the most important aspect. Just like water needs a big enough unobstructed pipe, electricity needs a large enough gauge conductor(or wire) with low resistance to allow the electricity to flow. The material around the pipe only matters to the extent that it cannot allow outside forces to disrupt what the pipe is carrying and it needs to keep the water in the pipe. You don't want to use a plastic windshield washer hose as a fire-hose. BUT assuming it has good enough properties, many options are sufficient. If a PVC pipe keeps the water in the pipe and is a big enough diameter, that's the best you can expect any other pipe material to affect that water. It's job is done. Using a diamond studded gold plating over a helium filled outer shell with silver lining is not going to deliver that water any better then the pvc pipe did. It basically means, that the thickness and the material of the pipe is sufficient. Once that is met, no other insulator will improve it's function. With electrical wires, you want to make sure the insulating material does the same thing. You want the electricity to stay in the copper wire, not escape it. (unless you are grounding something, in which case you will often see exposed wire) If you've ever tried to jump-start a car battery with speaker wire, you will see what I mean- the electricity will be too much for the insulation and it will melt it. That is an extreme example, but basically the insulator needs to be a material that will not allow the flow of electricity to escape the conductor (just like a pipe wall doesn't let water escape the inside of the pipe). electrical insulators include ceramic and certain rubbers and plastics among other things. Generally, if it can keep the electricity in, it can also keep other interference out. Sometimes however, you want a little more then needed to ensure you don't get any interference. The ONLY time I've seen interference on wires is on very cheap stuff. Unless you're running a small gauge speaker wire near some other non-insulated component, it shouldn't be an issue. Regardless, I generally prefer a cable that has a decent amount of insulation over one that doesn't. I wish earbuds came with thicker insulation, but most peoples' priority is a thin, flexible wire instead... I would prefer a decently insulated wire over a poorly one any day, but once insulated properly, injecting it with helium or painting it with gold is not going to make it any better at insulating. You don't want to build a pipe using cardboard, just like you don't want to use speaker wire to jumpstart a battery. But once the requirement to keep the water or electricity inside the pipe or wire has been met, nothing else is going to make it any more functional.

Ok, so we've got an adequate conductor surrounded by an adequate insulator. What else? The connections. As long as you've got a thick enough gauge wire that is properly insulated, the only other factor are the connectors. Leaks in pipes are almost always at the joints. Electricity is no different. Static and interference are more often then not generated at a connection somewhere. While duct-taping two pipes together might work for a while, and get some water out.. it certainly will not last long, and you will lose water. In the same concept, electrical connections need to be properly made, with the right materials. While a tight fitting PVC joint may appear to work, I would opt to ensure my pipes are squarely cut, and would put a little pipe dope on them before putting them into the joints. This bond is critical. The rest of the pipe is sealed tight, the joint is the weak point, so attention to detail here is important. While pipe dope may not be necessary, it sure won't hurt... most experts would agree which is why most legitimate plumbers will apply pipe dope in PVC connections. Generally, these fittings as thick (strong) or thicker (stronger) then the rest of the pipe, just to ensure there are not leaks here. With electricity, gold plating is your pipe dope and a decent plastic surrounding is like your thick joint. These connections are critical. In theory, as long as the metal is touching metal, there should be not need for a better conductor, but because it is the most critical location of the conductor and obviously the most prone to lose connection, a gold plating here may be beneficial. I am not completely convinced they are ever needed, but of any high-end advertisement I've seen, that's one I won't try to argue. Depending on the type of wire, you're probably going to have some type of connector that needs to be bonded to the rest of the cable. Whether it's a 3.5 mm headphone jack or what have you- it's important that this is done properly!.. it's essentially another joint. I believe these are mostly soddered on? Regardless, it's important that this stays protected, as connections are the component most prone to failure.. just like joints are the most prone component to leak in a plumbing system. Besides the connection itself, depending on what the wire is used for, it will be pushed and pulled on numerous times and you do not want the end of your cable to fall apart when you unplug it.

Once we've got strong enough conductor, that has a large enough gauge, with proper insulation nothing else is going to improve the function of the wire. The electricity has a large enough, unobstructed, protected path to flow. There is nothing else you can do to improve it's function, meaning the electricity coming out of it CANNOT be improved in any way. BUT-it can certainly be changed!!! Adding a pump can make it flow faster. Adding a filter system to my water makes it cleaner. Adding a water softener may remove some calcium and magnesium, preventing it from building up.
A pump would basically be like adding an amplifier. Generally, this is coming from your material, and if you wish to do so, great. In my business, transformers are generally how we alter the flow of electricity as well. As far as adding a filter or water softener or other means.....yes it will change the water. This ALTERS the source material. If what passes through that water softener and filter has lost elements that were originally in it, then you are not getting the same water that the water utility has provided you. In my opinion, adding any components to a speaker cable that claim to filter the noise, smooth the noise, clean it, or otherwise change it- are indeed changing it. But it's like adding a filter. You are not getting your source material. You are getting a filtered version of it. It'd be like using a red-eye eliminator in photo-shop. Just because you like it better, does not change the fact that it has been altered. If you don't want red eyes in your picture, then no problem. IF you don't want the original audio as the source is trying to deliver it, no problem either.... but if it's changing the audio in any way, you are not getting the content that was intended for your ears.. you are getting a filtered version of it. In my opinion, that is a bad thing. If I don't want red eyes in my picture, take a better picture. My speaker cables' only job is to deliver the source material from the source to the speaker. That is it. If it's changing the material in the process, that is a bad thing.

In conclusion. I do believe that the quality of cables DO matter, but not to the extent of ridiculously priced cables. It IS important to have a properly insulated cable that is the proper gauge for the job. It is also important that it be constructed well, and that terminations are done properly. But once those requirements are met, there is nothing else you can do to a cable to increase how it functions. Any other additions are either going to be change the source material, which is not desired OR they are purely cosmetic and/or useless. I prefer not to use the 2 dollar cable, as it may not be constructed quite as well (although in reality probably is). Instead, I'd opt for the 10 dollar version to ensure the basic functions are properly met. I may spend a little more if it is going to be visible and I really want a nice looking cable. Otherwise, I just do not see it. Besides the reasons above, I have yet to see a logical scientific explanation as to why these ridiculously priced cables are functionally any better then their reasonable counterparts. I've also not seen any legitimate blind tests that would change my beliefs. Now, I only know electricity, I am not an expert in home audio. There could be some factor that I am missing that is unique to audio signals and separate them from electrical signals. If there is, please explain to me what it is. I can certainly understand a damaged cable being an issue, or having a problem with an extremely cheap, poorly built cable. I can also understand hearing an improvement if you had to small of a gauge/long of run. But as long as the cable is the proper gauge and isn't absolute garbage, I'm not seeing how it can be improved. Until I hear a logical scientific explanation and see a large scale legitimate blind test prove me otherwise, I cannot believe that there is any improvement in delivering unaltered source audio when comparing a properly constructed/gauge reasonably priced cable to a several thousand dollar version.

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post #294 of 646 Old 03-12-2013, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by CMonMan View Post
I prefer not to use the 2 dollar cable, as it may not be constructed quite as well (although in reality probably is). Instead, I'd opt for the 10 dollar version to ensure the basic functions are properly met. I may spend a little more if it is going to be visible and I really want a nice looking cable. 

 

I agree with your post but found this tidbit interesting.  This seems to imply that you assume because it costs more it is better.  So just scale that up by a factor of 100 for people that have more money than they know what to do with.  They buy the uber expensive one because it must be better.  :-)

 

Not picking on you, I just found irony in the post.

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post #295 of 646 Old 03-12-2013, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by primetimeguy View Post

I agree with your post but found this tidbit interesting.  This seems to imply that you assume because it costs more it is better.  So just scale that up by a factor of 100 for people that have more money than they know what to do with.  They buy the uber expensive one because it must be better.  :-)

Not picking on you, I just found irony in the post.

I see your point... I have seen extremely cheap cables fail. While that's not evidence that all cheap cables will fall apart, I'll pay an extra 8 bucks to ensure that they don't. Even if I had gobs of money I would still buy the 10 dollar cable over the 2 dollar one...but would still have no justification in spending thousands on cables. One of my hobbies is working on cars. I don't buy harbor freight tools because they fall apart. Instead, I get craftsmen and similar quality. Even if I have unlimited funds, I would still buy the craftsmen for home use. There is no sense in buying snap-on. I see what your saying, but spending more then 2 dollars is significantly different then spending 15 grand. And as for the bit about spending a bit more then that if I want it to look nice-- I may do so BUT I am doing so knowing that I am only achieving a cosmetic improvement. I'm expecting a nicer looking product, not a nice functioning one. AND I suppose, if some has a ridiculous amount of money, and wants to have that 15,000 dollar cable because it looks cool or they want to brag to each other about it, great- as long as they are doing so knowing they are only gaining improvements in cosmetics, not in function.
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post #296 of 646 Old 03-12-2013, 07:54 PM
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I'll start with the water example others have mentioned. It's actually an excellent analogy and is commonly used to explain electrical relationships. Current, amps, wattage, and ohms can all be explained easily using this analogy.. If you need a refresher.. quick google search= http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/energy/question501.htm

The water analogy is appropriate when discussing simple current flow through conductors. The water analogy is not appropriate when discussing the integrity of an alternating current audio signal. Unlike water flowing through a hollow pipe, an audio signal moves through solid matter and thus interacts with the conductor metal at the molecular and atomic level. Since a portion of the audio signal also travels on the surface of the conductor, the dielectric properties of the wire insulation also have an effect on signal integrity. Wire insulation stores and releases energy which can cause audible distortion. Impurities in the wire, as well as conductor cross sectional shape, can also cause audible distortions.

Two peer-reviewed technical papers which investigated the effect of various speaker cables on loudspeaker high frequency transducers are:

1. Newell, P.R., Castro, S., Ruiz, M., Holland, K.R. and Newell, J.P., "The effects of various types of cables on the performance of high frequency loudspeakers", Proceedings of the Institute of Acoustics Reproduced Sound Conference #18, Institute of Acoustics, St Albans, UK, Vol. 24, No. 8, 2002.

2. Castro, S.V., Newell, J.P., Ruiz, M.K.R., Holland, K.R and Newell, J.P., "Loudspeaker cables for high-frequency transducers: a further assessment", Proceedings of the Institute of Acoustics Reproduced Sound Conference #19, Institute of Acoustics, St Albans, UK, Vol. 25, No. 8, 2003.

The above referenced papers provide a rigorous investigation, using noise spectrum analysis, of the changes in signal integrity with various loudspeaker cables.

From the conclusion section of [1]:

"The ‘noise’ signals apparent in Figures 5 to 13 would appear to be static, yet it is surprising that no obvious difference could be heard in the background noise of the amplifier when the cables were changed. However, the level difference due to the cable resistance differences could have masked any effect. It is also still not known to what degree the sonic performance of different amplifiers could be affected by these extraneous signals contaminating their output leads.

In the case of the multi-tone tests, a more clearly observable, signal-related intermodulation-product noise is apparent. There would seem to be little doubt that such effects can cause a degradation in the sonic clarity of a musical signal and, although the interference noise signals of Figures 5 to 12 may, in themselves, not be strongly audible, they almost certainly possess the ability to complicate the intermodulations situation, and perhaps by this means they can detract from the sonic transparency of a system.

All of these things point to mechanisms which, under different circumstances and as a part of different systems, can produce noise-like signals which can pollute the purely musical sounds, thus eroding the difficult-to-define transparency and openness of high resolution monitor systems. In the case of loudspeaker cables, screening would seem to be a good thing, and complex reactive loads would seem to be a bad thing. Many audiophiles would already claim to know this, but in this report we have presented some very repeatable hard evidence.

Finally, Figures 20 and 21 clearly show the differences from one end of 50 metres of cable to the other. The loudspeaker, in each case, was a TAD 2001 on an AX2 horn, producing about 70 dBSPL at one metre. The upper trace of each display is the response at the amplifier end of the cable, and the lower trace is the response at the loudspeaker end. In both figures the upper pair is the RG59, the middle pair the OFC, and the lower pair the RG59 inverted. In all cases the left hand plots are for 5 metres of cable and the right hand plots are for 50 metres. Figure 20 is the response to a 1.6kHz square wave, and Figure 21 a 1.6kHz sine wave. The fact that loudspeaker cables do change the signal would seem to be incontrovertible. The audibility of the various effects, however, still needs further investigation."

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Originally Posted by CMonMan View Post

In conclusion. I do believe that the quality of cables DO matter, but not to the extent of ridiculously priced cables. It IS important to have a properly insulated cable that is the proper gauge for the job. It is also important that it be constructed well, and that terminations are done properly. But once those requirements are met, there is nothing else you can do to a cable to increase how it functions.

I think it is important to realize that what is "ridiculously priced" in one context might be "reasonable" in another context. Audio components differ in resolution and signal integrity. People differ in their personal requirements for stereophonic performance parameters (spatial rendering, transparency, flatness of frequency response, etc.). The more detail and transparency required by the listener, the more expensive the equipment. Typically, as one goes higher in performance, the actual performance gains become incremental and the returns diminish and become increasingly disproportionate to cost. If a person is willing and able to pay an extra $1000 in order to hear faint reflections from the rear and sides of the recording space, who are we to say that such extra expense is ridiculously priced? It obviously is not ridiculous for the person willing to pay it.

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Originally Posted by dan4081 View Post

The part I bolded above says it all..

Sadly, no matter what facts are presented, no matter how many double blind tests prove this point, no matter how many links are provided, there will still be the 'but I heard a difference' crowd who can never back up their claims.

The thing about these tests that give me concern is that:

1. They are set up in ways that do not reflect the way users listen to properly set up stereo systems in their homes.

2. They do not ask the listener to rate stereophonic performance attributes. They merely asked the listener if they perceived a difference. A listener saying that they did or did not hear a "difference" does not provide valuable information unless the difference is characterized within the context of stereophonic performance.

3. It is often not clear if the listener is trained and experienced in stereophonic sound localization. Most people have to learn to discern phantom images within a stereophonic sound field (sound stage). For example, if a listener is not able to perceive front to rear sound stage depth and the actual performance difference between two cables is how depth is rendered, then, for that listener, there would be no difference.
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post #297 of 646 Old 03-12-2013, 07:55 PM
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Although I honestly have not heard the 15 thousand dollar cables, I just can't believe this even a discussion. I mean no disrespect to people that can afford it and those that truly believe in them, as I don't know you, your equipment, your experience, or your reasoning. I can only speak from what I know and my experiences. I am in the utility industry and have taken a lot of electrical theory courses. I know more about impedance, resistance, phases, wattage, voltage, amperage, ohms, and conductors then I care to. Admittedly, my experience is limited to much bigger components as I've spent several years working for an engineering firm design transmission and distribution systems. (substations and power lines). Essentially, my job is to determine what equipment is needed, what size transformers are needed, how many conductors are needed, what type of conductors are needed, what gauge and insulation conductors are needed, what type of connectors are needed, how it will be buried or what type of pole structure is needed, what type/size grounding is needed and determine exactly where all of it needs to be placed both in there exact GPS location as well as in relation to each other. I do this both with my knowledge and resources as well as mathematical algorithms and computer software. There is quite a bit more to it then that, but that's the idea. Then I provide electrical utilities a complete list of materials, as well as a saved file of exactly what needs to be built, how it needs to be constructed, and where it needs to be placed. I work with a wide variety of people, and have become quite good at dumb-ing it down to explain to others. I am in no way implying that anyone is less intelligent then I am, but the average person generally has less knowledge in the engineering aspect then I do. Intelligence and knowledge are two different things. I will stress that my knowledge is more focused on larger electrical components and systems and less so on audio equipment. That said, many of the basic principles and electrical relationships, properties and laws that apply to the big stuff is the same as the little stuff. I'll try to explain my opinion based on what I know, and apply it to audio.

I'll start with the water example others have mentioned. It's actually an excellent analogy and is commonly used to explain electrical relationships. Current, amps, wattage, and ohms can all be explained easily using this analogy.. If you need a refresher.. quick google search= http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/energy/question501.htm

Electrically, a major component is the resistance. The first step is to find a low-resistance material for the electricity to flow through. In a water pipe, it's essentially air. There is nothing there to resist the flow of the water. In the a wire, it's generally metal. Electricity needs a low-resistance material to flow through. This can be steel, aluminum, copper, silver, gold, etc. Each has it's own unique properties. A lot of the really big stuff uses galvanized steel because it is the most cost-effective means. Aluminum is lighter and doesn't rust away, copper is more flexible, silver and gold are excellent conductors, but generally too expensive. Silver and gold are often used on smaller components as plating between connections...This is great as a connection, and I can understand it making a difference there.. But for the actual length of the wire, it's far more economical to just ensure the wire gauge is big enough...any of the conductors mentioned will not give you a problem with resistance.

Fair enough right? So if we need our water to get from a to be, we need a big enough pipe to do it without any resistance.. this is the most important aspect. Just like water needs a big enough unobstructed pipe, electricity needs a large enough gauge conductor(or wire) with low resistance to allow the electricity to flow. The material around the pipe only matters to the extent that it cannot allow outside forces to disrupt what the pipe is carrying and it needs to keep the water in the pipe. You don't want to use a plastic windshield washer hose as a fire-hose. BUT assuming it has good enough properties, many options are sufficient. If a PVC pipe keeps the water in the pipe and is a big enough diameter, that's the best you can expect any other pipe material to affect that water. It's job is done. Using a diamond studded gold plating over a helium filled outer shell with silver lining is not going to deliver that water any better then the pvc pipe did. It basically means, that the thickness and the material of the pipe is sufficient. Once that is met, no other insulator will improve it's function. With electrical wires, you want to make sure the insulating material does the same thing. You want the electricity to stay in the copper wire, not escape it. (unless you are grounding something, in which case you will often see exposed wire) If you've ever tried to jump-start a car battery with speaker wire, you will see what I mean- the electricity will be too much for the insulation and it will melt it. That is an extreme example, but basically the insulator needs to be a material that will not allow the flow of electricity to escape the conductor (just like a pipe wall doesn't let water escape the inside of the pipe). electrical insulators include ceramic and certain rubbers and plastics among other things. Generally, if it can keep the electricity in, it can also keep other interference out. Sometimes however, you want a little more then needed to ensure you don't get any interference. The ONLY time I've seen interference on wires is on very cheap stuff. Unless you're running a small gauge speaker wire near some other non-insulated component, it shouldn't be an issue. Regardless, I generally prefer a cable that has a decent amount of insulation over one that doesn't. I wish earbuds came with thicker insulation, but most peoples' priority is a thin, flexible wire instead... I would prefer a decently insulated wire over a poorly one any day, but once insulated properly, injecting it with helium or painting it with gold is not going to make it any better at insulating. You don't want to build a pipe using cardboard, just like you don't want to use speaker wire to jumpstart a battery. But once the requirement to keep the water or electricity inside the pipe or wire has been met, nothing else is going to make it any more functional.

Ok, so we've got an adequate conductor surrounded by an adequate insulator. What else? The connections. As long as you've got a thick enough gauge wire that is properly insulated, the only other factor are the connectors. Leaks in pipes are almost always at the joints. Electricity is no different. Static and interference are more often then not generated at a connection somewhere. While duct-taping two pipes together might work for a while, and get some water out.. it certainly will not last long, and you will lose water. In the same concept, electrical connections need to be properly made, with the right materials. While a tight fitting PVC joint may appear to work, I would opt to ensure my pipes are squarely cut, and would put a little pipe dope on them before putting them into the joints. This bond is critical. The rest of the pipe is sealed tight, the joint is the weak point, so attention to detail here is important. While pipe dope may not be necessary, it sure won't hurt... most experts would agree which is why most legitimate plumbers will apply pipe dope in PVC connections. Generally, these fittings as thick (strong) or thicker (stronger) then the rest of the pipe, just to ensure there are not leaks here. With electricity, gold plating is your pipe dope and a decent plastic surrounding is like your thick joint. These connections are critical. In theory, as long as the metal is touching metal, there should be not need for a better conductor, but because it is the most critical location of the conductor and obviously the most prone to lose connection, a gold plating here may be beneficial. I am not completely convinced they are ever needed, but of any high-end advertisement I've seen, that's one I won't try to argue. Depending on the type of wire, you're probably going to have some type of connector that needs to be bonded to the rest of the cable. Whether it's a 3.5 mm headphone jack or what have you- it's important that this is done properly!.. it's essentially another joint. I believe these are mostly soddered on? Regardless, it's important that this stays protected, as connections are the component most prone to failure.. just like joints are the most prone component to leak in a plumbing system. Besides the connection itself, depending on what the wire is used for, it will be pushed and pulled on numerous times and you do not want the end of your cable to fall apart when you unplug it.

Once we've got strong enough conductor, that has a large enough gauge, with proper insulation nothing else is going to improve the function of the wire. The electricity has a large enough, unobstructed, protected path to flow. There is nothing else you can do to improve it's function, meaning the electricity coming out of it CANNOT be improved in any way. BUT-it can certainly be changed!!! Adding a pump can make it flow faster. Adding a filter system to my water makes it cleaner. Adding a water softener may remove some calcium and magnesium, preventing it from building up.
A pump would basically be like adding an amplifier. Generally, this is coming from your material, and if you wish to do so, great. In my business, transformers are generally how we alter the flow of electricity as well. As far as adding a filter or water softener or other means.....yes it will change the water. This ALTERS the source material. If what passes through that water softener and filter has lost elements that were originally in it, then you are not getting the same water that the water utility has provided you. In my opinion, adding any components to a speaker cable that claim to filter the noise, smooth the noise, clean it, or otherwise change it- are indeed changing it. But it's like adding a filter. You are not getting your source material. You are getting a filtered version of it. It'd be like using a red-eye eliminator in photo-shop. Just because you like it better, does not change the fact that it has been altered. If you don't want red eyes in your picture, then no problem. IF you don't want the original audio as the source is trying to deliver it, no problem either.... but if it's changing the audio in any way, you are not getting the content that was intended for your ears.. you are getting a filtered version of it. In my opinion, that is a bad thing. If I don't want red eyes in my picture, take a better picture. My speaker cables' only job is to deliver the source material from the source to the speaker. That is it. If it's changing the material in the process, that is a bad thing.

In conclusion. I do believe that the quality of cables DO matter, but not to the extent of ridiculously priced cables. It IS important to have a properly insulated cable that is the proper gauge for the job. It is also important that it be constructed well, and that terminations are done properly. But once those requirements are met, there is nothing else you can do to a cable to increase how it functions. Any other additions are either going to be change the source material, which is not desired OR they are purely cosmetic and/or useless. I prefer not to use the 2 dollar cable, as it may not be constructed quite as well (although in reality probably is). Instead, I'd opt for the 10 dollar version to ensure the basic functions are properly met. I may spend a little more if it is going to be visible and I really want a nice looking cable. Otherwise, I just do not see it. Besides the reasons above, I have yet to see a logical scientific explanation as to why these ridiculously priced cables are functionally any better then their reasonable counterparts. I've also not seen any legitimate blind tests that would change my beliefs. Now, I only know electricity, I am not an expert in home audio. There could be some factor that I am missing that is unique to audio signals and separate them from electrical signals. If there is, please explain to me what it is. I can certainly understand a damaged cable being an issue, or having a problem with an extremely cheap, poorly built cable. I can also understand hearing an improvement if you had to small of a gauge/long of run. But as long as the cable is the proper gauge and isn't absolute garbage, I'm not seeing how it can be improved. Until I hear a logical scientific explanation and see a large scale legitimate blind test prove me otherwise, I cannot believe that there is any improvement in delivering unaltered source audio when comparing a properly constructed/gauge reasonably priced cable to a several thousand dollar version.

Well, I'd like to at least thank you for taking the time for your explanation. While I don't think it will in the least sway the "true believers" what ever does?
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post #298 of 646 Old 03-12-2013, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by DarqueKnight View Post

The water analogy is appropriate when discussing simple current flow through conductors. The water analogy is not appropriate when discussing the integrity of an alternating current audio signal. Unlike water flowing through a hollow pipe, an audio signal moves through solid matter and thus interacts with the conductor metal at the molecular and atomic level. Since a portion of the audio signal also travels on the surface of the conductor, the dielectric properties of the wire insulation also have an effect on signal integrity. Wire insulation stores and releases energy which can cause audible distortion. Impurities in the wire, as well as conductor cross sectional shape, can also cause audible distortions.

That's interesting, what interaction is it you suppose occurs at the atomic level and at the speed of light, that somehow interacts with an "audio signal" to change it? By the way, metals are not made up of molecules—so whatever you think occurs at the molecular level in a speaker wire, doesn't. eek.gif

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Originally Posted by DarqueKnight View Post

The water analogy is appropriate when discussing simple current flow through conductors. The water analogy is not appropriate when discussing the integrity of an alternating current audio signal. Unlike water flowing through a hollow pipe, an audio signal moves through solid matter and thus interacts with the conductor metal at the molecular and atomic level. Since a portion of the audio signal also travels on the surface of the conductor, the dielectric properties of the wire insulation also have an effect on signal integrity. Wire insulation stores and releases energy which can cause audible distortion. Impurities in the wire, as well as conductor cross sectional shape, can also cause audible distortions.

That's interesting, what interaction is it you suppose occurs at the atomic level and at the speed of light, that somehow interacts with an "audio signal" to change it? By the way, metals are not made up of molecules—so whatever you think occurs at the molecular level in a speaker wire, doesn't. eek.gif

lots of metals are made of molecules... pure if your referring to elements in the periodic table it would be atoms yes.. like steel has molecues eh.. but gold silver and copper are elements.

oh yeah gold is not as good as silver and copper as an electrical conductor its more like aluminium.. not as good more resitance..

cheers
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Originally Posted by DarqueKnight View Post

The water analogy is appropriate when discussing simple current flow through conductors. The water analogy is not appropriate when discussing the integrity of an alternating current audio signal. Unlike water flowing through a hollow pipe, an audio signal moves through solid matter and thus interacts with the conductor metal at the molecular and atomic level. Since a portion of the audio signal also travels on the surface of the conductor, the dielectric properties of the wire insulation also have an effect on signal integrity. Wire insulation stores and releases energy which can cause audible distortion. Impurities in the wire, as well as conductor cross sectional shape, can also cause audible distortions.

That's interesting, what interaction is it you suppose occurs at the atomic level and at the speed of light, that somehow interacts with an "audio signal" to change it? By the way, metals are not made up of molecules—so whatever you think occurs at the molecular level in a speaker wire, doesn't. eek.gif

lots of metals are made of molecules... pure if your referring to elements in the periodic table it would be atoms yes.. like steel has molecues eh.. but gold silver and copper are elements.

oh yeah gold is not as good as silver and copper as an electrical conductor its more like aluminium.. not as good more resitance..

cheers

oh yeah electrons do not move at the speed of light either.. yes they do move fast but not that fast..
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