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Have You Heard Exotic Audio Cables Improve Sound Quality? - Page 6

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 #151 of 645
What about some people thinking it takes time for your speaker cables to " Break In " ? It makes no sense to me.
post #152 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skytrooper View Post

What about some people thinking it takes time for your speaker cables to " Break In " ? It makes no sense to me.

Have you ever heard a cable "break in"? I have not. Not once, ever. I have heard a cable "break" and that's about it, and that was back in the day i.e. 1986, when I used Radio Shack cables on my Technics because I was a kid. It is a sad part of the exotic cable scam that claims are made about cable break-in.
post #153 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrEastSide View Post

What's even funnier is, most speakers, receivers, amps, etc... use the most basic copper cabling for their internals. So, while someone goes and hooks up $1,000 dollar speaker wire to their speakers, the internal wiring that goes to the actual driver is of the most basic construction and materials. Even most high end speakers use some basic, copper cable inside their enclosures. So even if these expensive cables made a difference, they're not going to make a difference unless you swap out all of the internal wiring in your speakers and likely upgrade the components of the internal crossover.

Then talk about a huge gauge power wire, when all of the internal wiring inside of your receiver is tiny, in comparision to the $1,000 dollar power cable you bought. You can't really argue with these points.


This post is why I have never even tried expensive cabling/ speaker wires.

I just grin when I read about these night and day differences.
post #154 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by grasshoppers View Post

This post is why I have never even tried expensive cabling/ speaker wires.

I just grin when I read about these night and day differences.

Here is my speaker wire, guaranteed to give nightmares to fans of exotic cables that need break-in. Nothing but extension cord from Lowes and Home Depot. That's enough for 7.1 channels, including bi-amped mains and four subwoofers powered by Crown amps XTi amps. My current system sounds as good or better than all of the high-end gear I have heard over the years. If exotic cables were any part of the equation, that result would be impossible to achieve. "Digital" amplification and DSP changed the game and gives people who want to learn about sound the tools needed to explore the things that really do make a difference like having more power for transient peaks, using balanced interconnects, and putting the crossover, delay and EQ functions into the digital domain.


Edited by imagic - 3/4/13 at 6:33am
post #155 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Schuermann View Post

I imagine this has been posted before in one of these "exotic cable" threads but here is an excellent video on why we often perceive differences in sound quality, even when nothing has changed. What I like about Ethan's approach is that he actually produces examples to illustrate the concepts:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYTlN6wjcvQ
I love that video and would have posted it myself but I expected Ethan to chime in.
post #156 of 645
Speaker Wire break in is much talked about on a Sony Site I visit. They also talk a lot about using power cords the sizes of garden hoses and copper receptacles making things sound better. I think I angered some of their senior members with my down to earth opinions, especially when I mention Ohms Law.
post #157 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Have you ever heard a cable "break in"? I have not. Not once, ever. I have heard a cable "break" and that's about it, and that was back in the day i.e. 1986, when I used Radio Shack cables on my Technics because I was a kid. It is a sad part of the exotic cable scam that claims are made about cable break-in.

I put out a challenge both here and at Polk Audio Forums to the cable burn in zealots. It was interesting how quickly they distanced themselves from their messiah. Caution it reads like clowns at a circus they scrambled that fast.
post #158 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skytrooper View Post

Speaker Wire break in is much talked about on a Sony Site I visit. They also talk a lot about using power cords the sizes of garden hoses and copper receptacles making things sound better. I think I angered some of their senior members with my down to earth opinions, especially when I mention Ohms Law.
I've seen cable break-in talked about but it's usually on the usual audiofool sites where magic exists and the True Believers circle their wagons whenever science rears its ugly head.
Edited by repete66211 - 3/4/13 at 10:39am
post #159 of 645
It's amazing how this cable talk flames out everytime it shows up, isn't it??

Anyway, let me tell you guys about an experience I've had with an "AV Cable Lover Guy", way back when:

the guy I'm talking about is a MD and as said above, he just loves AV stuff ( he didn't say, but the way he talks, he considers himself as an Audiophile, for sure ), plus the fact that he has the $$ to buy hi-end stuff the way he pleases though ( believe he does that every 6 months, specially in regards to exotic cables, something like the quest for the Holy Grail, if you got the point )...

About a year ago he was bragging about his latest buying of a Nordost "whatever- nordic- god's- name- is" power cord and how it improved the overall sound over the supplied standard cord on his new power amp., though...

I than said, look man if you do really hear that huge difference the way you do ( for the better, of course ), and being yourself a MD, why don't you try this magic cord down at the hospital, while using those uber-expensive & sophisticated X-Ray and Thomography equipments from GE, Toshiba, Siemens, Phillips and the likes?? If you do so, most probably the final results will be far better in terms of overall performance, smoothness, clarity, specially if plugged onto an hospital-grade plug, bla, bla, bla... Furthemore, I said: have you ever heard about these manufacturers talking or EVEN CONSIDERING the possibility of swapping the STANDARD power cords from their equipments?? Bet my neck NOT and you NEVER will!!

Bottom line: the guy never talked to me anymore, as he felt himself heavily offended by what I said, believe it, or not... Matter of fact, I apologized after his reaction, not because of him ( a jerk, in my book, but YMMV ), but because one of his buddies, which is a very good friend of mine as well. This very friend introduced me to the guy, on a Saturday House Party. Never thought that such could ever happened, go figure!!
Edited by Avliner - 3/4/13 at 12:47pm
post #160 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.

I don't see a need for this to be hotly contested. Telecommunications companies, AT&T in particular, has spent decades and billions of dollars researching the effect that different materials, wire shapes and twist geometries have on signal integrity. It would help if cable companies provided scientific measurement evidence (Fast Fourier Transform noise spectrum measurements, time domain signal analysis, transient analysis, etc.) of their product's performance. However, I understand that such information is often considered proprietary. Even if such data were provided, it would still be up to the consumer to evaluate the product in their audio system.

With regard to extravagant prices, there are snake oil vendors in every field of merchandise. Just because some "high performance" cable manufacturers are dishonest it does not mean they all are. A consumer must educate themselves in order to determine if the price asked is fair in relation to the performance benefits, if any, provided.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post

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.



Even if the Stealth cables were $3 a foot, I would be concerned with the helium leaking out over time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post

Are such high prices justified?

Without knowing a manufacturer's R&D, manufacturing, overhead and distribution costs, how can a consumer say with any certainty that a product's price is justified? The best we can do is become aware of the stereophonic performance parameters that are important to us and then educate ourselves on how to evaluate those performance parameters.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post

Have you heard exotic/expensive cables improve the sound quality of an audio system?

With regard to three of your poll options:

1. Yes, and it was a big improvement,

2. Yes, but it was only a slight improvement,

3. No, I did not hear any improvement,

I have experienced all three, sometimes with the same cable used in different systems.

I have also heard inexpensive/non-exotic audio cables improve the sound quality of an audio system. You don't have to spend a ton of money to get a good audio system, just like you don't have to spend a ton of money to get a good car.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post

What were the circumstances that led to your conclusion?

I appreciate you asking readers to express the circumstances under which they reached their conclusions. When I evaluate any piece of stereophonic audio equipment, I do not concentrate on trying to hear and remember differences. There is too much going on in a stereophonic sound field for a person to remember every detail. Gross sonic differences are often easy to pick out, but if a listener does not have knowledge and experience with stereophonic performance parameters, then they might miss important differences.

I take detailed notes of sound characteristics, along with aerial and lateral maps of the positions of sounds within the sound stage. I often do not become aware of differences until I compare the listening notes for two pieces of equipment.

The purpose of stereophonic audio is to create a convincing illusion of a musical performance in a three dimensional space. With that in mind, the things I assess are the stability, clarity, weight, detail and tactile sensation of sound images. I note how much space is between images front, rear and sides. I note the sustain and decay of string instruments. I note the ambient sounds of the recording space.

A long time ago, the Bell Laboratories scientists who invented and developed home stereo systems expressed a desire that people using those systems become proficient in sound localization techniques:

"Critical listeners were sought in these tests because of a desire to set permanent standards. At the moment, only a small percentage of people fully appreciate high fidelity. Even less appreciate or understand stereo. However, there is a growing sophistication evidenced among users of stereo equipment. Anticipating the future, it seemed wise to avoid naive or unconcerned personnel in these tests to prevent establishing loose standards which eventually might have to be abandoned.

The listeners chosen were sophisticated in the art of sound localization either by working in this field or by education before testing. They were felt to be the equal of any serious listener who is accustomed to playing the same records many times and thus becomes familiar with the more subtle artistic and technical effects."


The above quote is from F. K. Harvey and M. R. Schroeder, "Subjective Evaluation of Factors Affecting Two-Channel Stereophony", Journal of The Audio Engineering Society, Vol. 9, No. 1, January 1961, pp. 19-28.

For someone to say that they evaluated two audio cables and there was a "big difference", "no difference" or a "little difference" really does not aid understanding unless those differences, or lack thereof, are placed within the context of stereophonic performance. If someone says that the sound stage was three feet wider and deeper, if someone says that ambient echoes were more audible, if someone says that a singer's vibrato was more clear, well defined and fixed in three dimensional space, then that is helpful information. But even with that, the improvement someone heard on their audio system is only a suggestion of what someone else might hear on their audio system.

As a person progresses in a hobby, they typically move to higher performance, and higher cost, equipment. Often the higher performance differences brought by higher quality equipment are the type that only an experienced practitioner would perceive and appreciate. Audio is no different in this regard.
Edited by DarqueKnight - 3/4/13 at 11:04am
post #161 of 645
If someone in the Philadelphia area wants to out together a double blind test of area AVS members, I would be game to participate.
post #162 of 645
I hope they don't put too much helium in those cables. I can't imagine opening my car door and watch my $14,000 cables float away. smile.gif Oh, the humanity! smile.gif
post #163 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skytrooper View Post

I hope they don't put too much helium in those cables. I can't imagine opening my car door and watch my $14,000 cables float away. smile.gif Oh, the humanity! smile.gif
You could always use your tactile sensation to bring those cables back to planet Earth.
Edited by repete66211 - 3/4/13 at 12:06pm
post #164 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post

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.

I don't need personal experience with faeries and gremlins to know they don't exist. The more important issue is why people sometimes believe they hear a difference even when no difference is possible. When people understand that, all the rest falls into place.

This explains one reason:

A common-sense explanation of audiophile beliefs

This article is written for recording engineers, but the same principles apply to hi-fi and home theater:

Perception - the Final Frontier

--Ethan
post #165 of 645
One thing I've noticed by a bit of observation: it seems like the "cable purists" are more interested in analyzing music than simply listening to it to enjoy it. I'd also add that it seems those people have significantly more disposable income than the average person interested in listening to music (and I mean average on this forum).

I'm sort of tempted to grab some of the spec analyzers and sig gens here at work, find a great manky expensive power cord, and see how much smoother well-defined my output data is with said great manky cable versus any of the generic IECs I pull out of our box 'o wire. I mean, if the human ear can differentiate between two bits of copper so far out of the audio signal path, surely a much, much more sensitive Rx instrument should be able to record the output differences from the Tx side? Right?

With all the money the cable purists seem to have, it's sort of funny that none of them have funded an objective, scientific test to prove that things like power cables can really make a difference, instead of coming up with ever more asinine "It offends me that you dare challenge my opinion that expensive cables are better!" justifications as to why such differences are not just measurable, but represent a THD change significant enough for the human ear to perceive.
post #166 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by DemonicLemming View Post

One thing I've noticed by a bit of observation: it seems like the "cable purists" are more interested in analyzing music than simply listening to it to enjoy it. I'd also add that it seems those people have significantly more disposable income than the average person interested in listening to music (and I mean average on this forum).
The justification to spend money is proportional to the amount of money to be spent.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DemonicLemming View Post

I'm sort of tempted to grab some of the spec analyzers and sig gens here at work, find a great manky expensive power cord, and see how much smoother well-defined my output data is with said great manky cable versus any of the generic IECs I pull out of our box 'o wire. I mean, if the human ear can differentiate between two bits of copper so far out of the audio signal path, surely a much, much more sensitive Rx instrument should be able to record the output differences from the Tx side? Right?
I'll save you the trouble. You'll find no difference (or a difference under the threshold of human perception). The True Believers will all say that everyone's hears differently and things as complex as the ear and brain just can't be measured with instruments. And even if you could the claims would be attributed to some other factor that can't be measured.

I just don't understand why some people are so closed minded regarding something so well understood as placebo and expectation bias.
post #167 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by repete66211 View Post

I'll save you the trouble. You'll find no difference (or a difference under the threshold of human perception). The True Believers will all say that everyone's hears differently and things as complex as the ear and brain just can't be measured with instruments. And even if you could the claims would be attributed to some other factor that can't be measured.

I just don't understand why some people are so closed minded regarding something so well understood as placebo and expectation bias.

But even if one spec analyzer/sig gen combo doesn't give me any results, couldn't I just use a different sig gen and spec analyzer in a different part of the room and get the results I want? Since all of the cable guys say that a specific cable might not make an appreciable difference with a specific this and a specific that in a specific place to a specific person at a specific time with a specific temperature on a specific day...maybe I should get someone else to run the test, and keep getting different people until they give me the results I want?

Sorry, making fun of faux logic by attempting to use said faux logic to justify an inane claim is a bad habit of mine.

I do love the bit about "You can't appreciate it if you can't afford it, and if you can't afford it you're surely not experienced enough to appreciate it in any case." Victorian England, is that you channeling your self-righteous arrogance? Course, I'm a dirty heathen metalhead anyway, so I'm sure even if I was rich enough to afford $35,000 in cables I probably wouldn't be able to appreciate them. No Diana Krall here, sorry, I like things a bit more energetic.

I wonder if a better power cable would let me analyze the bassist's to determine if he had indigestion while recording or not? Oh nuts, there I go again...
post #168 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by DemonicLemming View Post

I do love the bit about "You can't appreciate it if you can't afford it, and if you can't afford it you're surely not experienced enough to appreciate it in any case."
That's the Catch-22--you can't understand how great they are unless you spend the money and once you spend the money you don't want to admit you just wasted $14,000 so you "hear" an improvement.
Quote:
Course, I'm a dirty heathen metalhead anyway, so I'm sure even if I was rich enough to afford $35,000 in cables I probably wouldn't be able to appreciate them. No Diana Krall here, sorry, I like things a bit more energetic.
Haha, I know what you mean. "If you want me to say how awesome your speakers are you're going to have to play something I want to hear. This awful Kenny G crap just isn't doing it for me." biggrin.gif
Edited by repete66211 - 3/4/13 at 1:38pm
post #169 of 645
$14K for a 2.5m length cable ( even if it was solid stranded gold )...


that quite reminds me of someone saying:

"those hard-core audiophiles and/or cable-purists are delighted to listen to the music with their pockets, rather than ears though" eek.gif
post #170 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarqueKnight View Post


A long time ago, the Bell Laboratories scientists who invented and developed home stereo systems expressed a desire that people using those systems become proficient in sound localization techniques:

"Critical listeners were sought in these tests because of a desire to set permanent standards. At the moment, only a small percentage of people fully appreciate high fidelity. Even less appreciate or understand stereo. However, there is a growing sophistication evidenced among users of stereo equipment. Anticipating the future, it seemed wise to avoid naive or unconcerned personnel in these tests to prevent establishing loose standards which eventually might have to be abandoned.

The listeners chosen were sophisticated in the art of sound localization either by working in this field or by education before testing. They were felt to be the equal of any serious listener who is accustomed to playing the same records many times and thus becomes familiar with the more subtle artistic and technical effects."


The above quote is from F. K. Harvey and M. R. Schroeder, "Subjective Evaluation of Factors Affecting Two-Channel Stereophony", Journal of The Audio Engineering Society, Vol. 9, No. 1, January 1961, pp. 19-28.

For someone to say that they evaluated two audio cables and there was a "big difference", "no difference" or a "little difference" really does not aid understanding unless those differences, or lack thereof, are placed within the context of stereophonic performance. If someone says that the sound stage was three feet wider and deeper, if someone says that ambient echoes were more audible, if someone says that a singer's vibrato was more clear, well defined and fixed in three dimensional space, then that is helpful information. But even with that, the improvement someone heard on their audio system is only a suggestion of what someone else might hear on their audio system.

As a person progresses in a hobby, they typically move to higher performance, and higher cost, equipment. Often the higher performance differences brought by higher quality equipment are the type that only an experienced practitioner would perceive and appreciate. Audio is no different in this regard.

A few of us understand your logic. In the same way a vast majority of people can not tell the difference between a standard defintion tv and a high definition tv. Or see the difference between dvd and blu-ray. Or see interlacing artifacts in a picture. Or see the "rainbow" effect in DLP projectors. Just because one can not perceive subtle changes in things does not mean the changes do not exist. I could easily set-up a blind test comparing a properly calibrated projector and another projector that is slightly out of calibration. I can surmise very few would be able to tell the difference. So I guess the conclusion would be one shouldn't calibrate a projector because the "average" person can't tell the difference.
post #171 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by repete66211 View Post

I just don't understand why some people are so closed minded regarding something so well understood as placebo and expectation bias.

That's exactly it, for me anyway. An understanding of placebo and expectation / confirmation bias really does explain everything. Why people hear differences during subjective tests, and why they do not during objective (blind) tests. It explains both perfectly.

To me, even without someone accepting the above explanation, this question is easily answered. Let's simply do some listening tests under controlled conditions.
post #172 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by aceg1 View Post

A few of us understand your logic. In the same way a vast majority of people can not tell the difference between a standard defintion tv and a high definition tv. Or see the difference between dvd and blu-ray. Or see interlacing artifacts in a picture. Or see the "rainbow" effect in DLP projectors. Just because one can not perceive subtle changes in things does not mean the changes do not exist. I could easily set-up a blind test comparing a properly calibrated projector and another projector that is slightly out of calibration. I can surmise very few would be able to tell the difference. So I guess the conclusion would be one shouldn't calibrate a projector because the "average" person can't tell the difference.
That's specious reasoning if for no other reason you take for granted there is a difference to begin with. The argument goes that if you can't hear the benefits of expensive cables it's because you haven't spent enough on gear. Then it follows that you must also be a Very Special Person to perceive these differences. All this ignoring the well understood and documented factors such as bias, placebo and the obvious Emporer's New Clothes effect.
Edited by repete66211 - 3/4/13 at 2:21pm
post #173 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by aceg1 View Post

A few of us understand your logic. In the same way a vast majority of people can not tell the difference between a standard defintion tv and a high definition tv. Or see the difference between dvd and blu-ray. Or see interlacing artifacts in a picture. Or see the "rainbow" effect in DLP projectors. Just because one can not perceive subtle changes in things does not mean the changes do not exist. I could easily set-up a blind test comparing a properly calibrated projector and another projector that is slightly out of calibration. I can surmise very few would be able to tell the difference. So I guess the conclusion would be one shouldn't calibrate a projector because the "average" person can't tell the difference.

But that's not how it works. You can't just assume what the results will be. Subtle cues do affect the results of blind tests. With audio, program material that is a mere .2db louder is enough to reliably get audience members to choose one system over another even though the difference is not obvious. Also, properly executed double-blind tests are not "easily set-up" but flawed ones certainly are. I'm not even sure what an "average" person is, in this context. Most people have the ability to concentrate, and if given a primer on a topic they can think critically as well. Basically, most people have the ability to "rise above average" when a situation demands it.
Edited by imagic - 3/4/13 at 2:29pm
post #174 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by aceg1 View Post

A few of us understand your logic. In the same way a vast majority of people can not tell the difference between a standard defintion tv and a high definition tv. Or see the difference between dvd and blu-ray. Or see interlacing artifacts in a picture. Or see the "rainbow" effect in DLP projectors. Just because one can not perceive subtle changes in things does not mean the changes do not exist. I could easily set-up a blind test comparing a properly calibrated projector and another projector that is slightly out of calibration. I can surmise very few would be able to tell the difference. So I guess the conclusion would be one shouldn't calibrate a projector because the "average" person can't tell the difference.


I see things like this......

111lbg4.png

Hey it's my dang image (copyright vision-master)!


You don't know what I hear sometimes.

Dreams -> 'I keep my visions to myself'
post #175 of 645
It's not unlike religion vs. science.

Many engineers have explained, that at audio frequencies, ordinary copper of sufficient gauge which is properly terminated, and where the cable has proper impedance, should work perfectly. Electronics only recognises resistance, capacitance and inductance in a cable. Resistance should be suitably low in any properly gauged cable. Inductance should be ideally zero ( I have read that some high end cable have elaborate designs which could create inductance where there should be none.) Impedance could be a factor, but a competently designed cable should be of proper impedance, or close enough to not matter.

At audio frequencies, phenomenon like skin affect should not come into play.

In all of my extensive reading, engineers, using scientific reasoning conclude audio frequency cable is cheap and simple to make. There's no reason for elaborate measures.

Then there's religion. Religion talks about feeling, and belief. Not about science. You can't prove belief. You can only go out on the streets and loudly proclaim your beliefs are true.

As such, in my experience, there's a gap that can't be bridged. If I quoted a scientific study, peer reviewed that claims cables don't affect the audio signal for standard home audio applications, people will still cry foul. Just like the church closed their eyes to the solid evidence of heliocentrism 100's of years ago.
post #176 of 645
Science is religon too.......
post #177 of 645
Within ten minutes of me replacing the Nordost Valhalla speaker cable on my Aerial 7Bs with the Blue Heaven (sold the Valhalla) my wife came in the room and asked why the stereo sounded like sh|t now.
post #178 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by vision-master View Post

Science is religon too.......

Well then I suppose apples are also oranges as well then.
post #179 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by vision-master View Post

Science is religon too.......

Umm, no.

On the topic, I've owned a lot of cables over the years from many manufacturers and DIY and the only difference I've ever heard came down to build quality. Typically this had to do with proper contact fitment, termination, or, sometimes, oxidation. Typically this would be heard as a subtle channel imbalance, static, etc. Very uncommon. Love the look of "high-end" cables, but it's DIY or reasonably priced, well made pre-built for me even for the highest of high-end equipment.
post #180 of 645
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdanforth View Post

Within ten minutes of me replacing the Nordost Valhalla speaker cable on my Aerial 7Bs with the Blue Heaven (sold the Valhalla) my wife came in the room and asked why the stereo sounded like sh|t now.
LOL. Seriously, I'm still laughing.
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