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Have You Heard Exotic Audio Cables Improve Sound Quality?

Poll Results: Have You Heard Exotic Audio Cables Improve Sound Quality?

 
  • 8% (45)
    Yes, and it was a big improvement
  • 10% (56)
    Yes, but it was only a slight improvement
  • 54% (284)
    No, I did not hear any improvement
  • 25% (132)
    I don't have enough experience to say
517 Total Votes  
post #1 of 645
Thread Starter 

This is one of the most hotly contested debates in all of audiophilia. Manufacturers make extravagant claims about how different materials and geometries affect the sound—and they charge extravagant prices for these innovations.

 

 

 

Pictured here is a cross section of the Stealth Audio Dream V10 speaker cable, which lists for $14,000 for a pair of 2.5-meter lengths.

 

Are such high prices justified? Have you heard exotic/expensive cables improve the sound quality of an audio system? What were the circumstances that led to your conclusion?

post #2 of 645
There should be a fith option... I've never heard them and I know it makes no difference.

Exotic cables are the epitome of snake oil for the audio industry

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_11_4/feature-article-blind-test-power-cords-12-2004.html
post #3 of 645
I had a BestBuy salesman tell me the other day that I should not use 12 gauge lamp cord for speaker wire. I had to laugh.
post #4 of 645
I will not spend huge amounts on cables, but I will not use the red and white that come with most equipment. I will buy better than average, but 14k is insane.
as are some other cables.
post #5 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post

This is one of the most hotly contested debates in all of audiophilia. Manufacturers make extravagant claims about how different materials and geometries affect the sound—and they charge extravagant prices for these innovations.

 

 

 

Pictured here is a cross section of the Stealth Audio Dream V10 speaker cable, which lists for $14,000 for a pair of 2.5-meter lengths.

 

Are such high prices justified? Have you heard exotic/expensive cables improve the sound quality of an audio system? What were the circumstances that led to your conclusion?

What a load cables manufacturer are a rip off just like Louis Vitton $1500 for a plastic bag made in CHINA.

 

Snobs will be snobs

post #6 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by matteos View Post There should be a fith option... I've never heard them and I know it makes no difference.
Exotic cables are the epitome of snake oil for the audio industry
http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_11_4/feature-article-blind-test-power-cords-12-2004.html

"Conclusions


To many in the engineering community, blind ABX is an accepted experimental design. Using the blind ABX protocol, we failed to hear any differences between an assortment of generic power cords and Nordost Valhalla. Therefore, we cannot conclude that different power cords produce a difference using the blind ABX protocol. However, we also cannot conclude that there are no differences. We simply failed to prove that differences can be detected to a statistically significant degree using a blind ABX protocol."

 

In a double blind placebo controlled clinical trial setting if you can't show any difference then it is equivalent! So forget those cables buy quality at moderate price and be done with it Canaree or Mogami :)

post #7 of 645
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by matteos View Post

There should be a fith option... I've never heard them and I know it makes no difference.

Exotic cables are the epitome of snake oil for the audio industry

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_11_4/feature-article-blind-test-power-cords-12-2004.html

But that's not what the poll is about; it's about your personal experience with exotic audio cables. If you've never heard them, you can't speak from personal experience. The article you link to is very interesting, leading to another poll some day about the efficacy of ABX blind testing (a question that has fostered considerable debate on my podcast). But that article is about power cords, not exotic audio cables.

post #8 of 645
I think that the better the equipment is, the speaker cable actually does boost the quality of imaging. I listened to my brothers Krell Amp with a Krell preamp, via a wadia CD player fed into Sonus Faber speakers. We compared an expensive cable and an average cable. We both felt that the more expensive cable sounded clearer in regards to the imaging. I don't think it is as noticeable with mid level systems. Just my 2cents.
post #9 of 645
I could never hear a difference between a decent 'cheap' cable and a high end Esoteric one - at least most of them. There were some differences on some expensive cables, NOT Better, different because they acted like filters. IMO, a cable should just transport the signal from one piece of equipment to another without altering it, period. With this in mid, pretty much all cables will sound the same (i.e. as long as the resistance,capacitance and inductance is not an issue).
post #10 of 645
These cable companies are preying on the perfectionist tendencies of audiophiles and videophiles. Given the small cost of an expensive cable compared to audio equipment or a nice TV, the perfectionist thinks, for a little more money, maybe I can squeeze more performance out of my equipment. We all have to let go though, there is no demonstrable difference. We can't worry all the time about whether our cables could be better, they can't. It's digital, and that is just hard cold facts. If you have a reasonable set of well constructed cables, be satisfied.
post #11 of 645
In my limited experience I have found that gauge matters more.
Edited by wingnut4772 - 2/28/13 at 6:01am
post #12 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by wingnut4772 View Post

In my limited experiences have found that gauge matters more.

My thoughts too. I have never A/B'd esoteric cables vs. decent quality cables though.
post #13 of 645
My wife agrees with wingnut!
post #14 of 645
E=IR
post #15 of 645
I have a brother in law thats in the high end audio game. The entire Hig End audio game is a snake oil joke. Thank god for internet direct and well made, well priced gear.

edit : You also have to wonder why it's always an improvement? Same as speaker break in, it's ALWAYS and improvement.....rolleyes.gif
Edited by N8DOGG - 2/27/13 at 6:17pm
post #16 of 645
With speaker cable, never once heard a difference. Power cables I simply laugh at (especially the guys who think medical-grade power cables are somehow "better" than normal IEC cables, and that 8/3 cables are better than a 14/3 for a 3' cable on an amplifier that draws about 6 amps). Headphone cables, I've tried expensive ones and the only advantage they had was that they were typically less microphonic during movement due to better cable shrouding.
post #17 of 645
I like the looks of some of the moderately expensive cables, so if I know the cable will be visible, I will buy one for looks whether it be component, power, or speaker.
post #18 of 645
Gauge matters most, then the copper purity. Too many speaker wires only use 60% to 80% OFC.
post #19 of 645
I thought this was settled years ago. I do agree with David's post but there is so much nonsense about sound improvements from high priced cables.
post #20 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by wingnut4772 View Post

In my limited experiences have found that gauge matters more.
I agree. The only time that I ever heard a difference, was when I went from speaker cables that were far too small for the long run I was using, to ones that were adequate for the distance the signal was traveling. Once you have an adequate cable, I doubt that going to a larger diameter would make a difference.
post #21 of 645
I love this argument LOL.
I personally have heard a difference between cables. I mean nothing crazy. But between plain 12 gauge lamp cord (for all the fan boys), Kimber Kable 4vs, AQ type 4, and a couple monster varieties ( a couple of local dealers let me take home to test) I put them head to head. I did my best with my fiance's help to set up a blind test. (part of the fun was watching her scramble behind a makeshift sheet wall switching cables!) i know this is the area to boast how stupid people are that spend a little money on wire, and how cheap your wire is and it will be the exact same as everything out there but I picked out the cable that i thought sounded best. Call me crazy but i picked out something that I HEARD that SOUNDED the best. FYI the AQ type 4.
If people want to go crazy with cables I say let them, if you found a piece of copper that cost 3 cents per foot and you love it so be it. Unti I hear a 16,000 dollar cable on a million dollar system i wont judge anyone
Listen to music and have fun. biggrin.gif
post #22 of 645
Having run through a few different cables I can say yes they do make a difference in SQ and sometimes on a component level upgrade be it speaker cable, XLR, RCA , AC Cables,Coax digital and yes even HDMI eek.gif And just in case here's one more Yep! biggrin.gif
post #23 of 645
I definitely heard a difference going from crap 22AWG wire to generic 16 gauge. When I swapped those out for Audioquest Rocket33 wires, well...let's just say i thought, maybe, possibly, oh right there! yeah that was definitely different...I think??? rolleyes.gif

In any case, I like the look, feel, and build-quality of "higher-end" cables. I'm really past the point of buying them in hopes of improved performance, but for looks. It's part of the fun.
post #24 of 645
I have to say that with cables you can easily reach the law of diminishing returns at the low end of the price range, particularly with digital cables. Yes, some digital cables can provide more reliable digital signal transfer in terms of reducing jitter, missed data packets, etc., but in digital you either get the information or you don't and it should have absolutely zero effect on the quality, provided all the little 1s and 0s are received properly during playback.

If I was streaming a 1080p movie from God knows what server in the world thousands of miles away through all the various data hubs, ISP servers, etc. to my streaming device I highly doubt that a $500 HDMI cable between my streaming device and receiver is going to fix or improve any issues with the transmission.

I guess my own personal rule of thumb is that if only a piece of scientific equipment can tell the difference, there are probably huge numbers of other factors such as the room setup, acoustic environment, DSP and EQ settings, listening position, etc. that will have a FAR greater impact on the audio and video experience than what an esoteric cable can provide.
post #25 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by cavchameleon View PostI could never hear a difference between a decent 'cheap' cable and a high end Esoteric one - at least most of them. There were some differences on some expensive cables, NOT Better, different because they acted like filters. IMO, a cable should just transport the signal from one piece of equipment to another without altering it, period. With this in mid, pretty much all cables will sound the same (i.e. as long as the resistance,capacitance and inductance is not an issue).

Agreed 100% I compared cables on my 800Diamond D@ driven by Classé CA-M600 monoblocks and Classé SSP-800 with my BDP-95 playing reference @L Blu Ray discs and honestly no difference so I am saving my money and spending it on music :)

post #26 of 645
Oh no you opened another pandoras box! Close it before its too late!!!





I heard no difference when I tried AudioQuests cable
post #27 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by N8DOGG View Post I have a brother in law thats in the high end audio game. The entire Hig End audio game is a snake oil joke. Thank god for internet direct and well made, well priced gear. edit : You also have to wonder why it's always an improvement? Same as speaker break in, it's ALWAYS and improvement.....rolleyes.gif

 

Agreed except that build quality is important just like in cars but a nice KEF LS50 will sound better than many speakers priced thousands of dollars more!  Having said that if you can get really good discount on high end audio sometime the workmanship, design and quality are part of the price.

 

ut I agree that many high end Jewelry AUdio as I call them are all about the look and no substance :(

post #28 of 645
I must say that there are too many variables to make intelligent generalizations, but clearly a poor cable can degrade a system just as a decent one can improve one.
Back in the day I replaced copper/gold plate connectors between a moving coil cartridge and tube preamp with solid silver conductors and solid gold connectors. Good thing the runs were short,
I was broke at the time and more broke after the purchase. The difference was incredible. Greater depth, more pure timbre, wider range. Breathtaking.

It was 1980 -- I replaced $50 cables with $600 cables. Worth it -- well -- no wife, no kids, no debt -- in school. Yeah, I'd do it again. Would I do it now inflation adjusted?

Hell No. Fun is fun, but this is but a game after all. Now that money isn't an issue, the whole stewardship thing messes up the fun. Plus, we live in a digital world. Decent HDMIs are good enough.

I know several of the posts were about speaker cable. At the time I was running 20,000 conductor Swiss made oxygen free copper cables with a 1/2 meter run from tube monoblock amps.

Short cables with big gauge seem to sound better. Makes sense -- less resistance, less chance for capacitance to mess with the signal. Less is more with length, more is more with gauge.
And no one can argue that the Swiss make really good chocolate and cheese, so why not oxygen free copper cable?
post #29 of 645
.
post #30 of 645
For those who heard an improvement, there needs to be separate categories for comparing at home on their own equipment versus hearing them at an audio showroom.
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