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Cable consensus - asking too much?

Discussion in 'audio' started by Brian S, Mar 23, 2018.

  1. Brian S

    Brian S pfm Member

    Is there any agreement on which cables - power through to speakers - have the greatest impact on sound? I am pretty sure I couldn't, in a blind test, tell my QED unex 75 reference from my MIT reference digital interconnect costing several times as much. Where would the cable sceptics put their money when buying the cables for a system?

    Thanks Keith for advice on usb which certainly cost quite a bit less than £100. It is now the only cable in my system I don't feel I have wasted quite a few quid on. The cash doesn't bother me, it's my own capacity for self delusion that does. I will be most grateful for any illumination. I am afraid I can't trust my own musical memory very far,
     
  2. Margin_walker

    Margin_walker pfm Member

    Can. Of. Worms.
     
  3. Witchfinder-general

    Witchfinder-general pfm member

    My usb cable cost me £5, for 5 metres of it.
     
  4. h.g.

    h.g. pfm Member

    Are cable sceptics those that doubt the relevant science or those that doubt many of the claims of cable enthusiasts?
     
  5. Margin_walker

    Margin_walker pfm Member

    For what it's worth, in my limited experience of very cheap, cheap ad medium priced cables once you get up to something half decent (van damme or equivalent) with shielding and good quality connectors then any differences noticed between more expensive cables would pale in comparison to a change in speaker position, listening chair position, room treatment etc.

    As far as USB cables go, unless you are using it to power the device i cant see why anything more expensive than the one used by Witchfiner-general would be needed.
     
  6. Mr Cat

    Mr Cat Owner

    apart from the bell wire type of cables you sometimes get with components - all cables sound the same ime...
     
  7. stevec67

    stevec67 pfm Member

    Speaker cables can make a difference in some systems for reasons well understood by physics. This isn't anything new. Electronics doesn't change, however the pink fleshy bit of the music reproduction and appreciation system changes very readily.
     
    darrenyeats and Peter Stockwell like this.
  8. Dougunn

    Dougunn pfm Member

    Well made cables that have the correct electrical properties for the application are all you need.

    This particularly includes digital cables - where spending ££££'s is madness.

    Once you have purged yourself of cable nervosa, focus the energy you wasted there on room acoustics - where there is significantly greater potential benefit.

    Sorted

    Doug
     
    darrenyeats, F1eng, narabdela and 2 others like this.
  9. webster

    webster Listen & enjoy.

    In the past year or so I've changed/upgraded all cables in my system and I would say that speaker cables made the most difference closely followed by
    USB cable.
     
  10. Purité Audio

    Purité Audio Trade: Purite Audio

    Just buy cables that are ‘fit for purpose’ everything else is snake oil.
    Keith
     
    F1eng, narabdela, Getgaff and 3 others like this.
  11. hifi-dog

    hifi-dog pfm Member

    its taken me years of cable swapping etc to settle on a one manufacture loom, bought second hand so i can get the best quality i could afford with well engineered connectors and shielding and i'm very happy.
     
  12. i.j.russell

    i.j.russell pfm Member

    Happy to agree completely. I've got well made cables with good quality connectors and now concentrate on buying and listening to music.
     
  13. Marky-Mark

    Marky-Mark pfm Member

    Both. Add in some commonsense, logic, and experience, and the associated topics vacillate between entertainment and existential despair.

    I’ve done the testing with my mid-fi (LFD/Exposure/PMC) system. Granted, I bought all the cables secondhand with the exception of the speaker wire, and the only difference I *thought* I heard was with an MIT interconnect on a recently purchased irDac.

    I’d had a generic single RCA cable between the Arcam and the transport (Cambridge), and when I inserted the MIT cable and powered-up I thought maybe there was something to cable mania. The DAC definitely sounded better than the previous listening. But then I thought about what was involved and recalled that I maybe had 10 hours of play time on the new DAC, and so I re-inserted the no-name cable after a few days. Couldn’t tell a shred of difference. This played out with all the interconnects in the system when switching back and forth between name brand cables and generic stuff — most of it relatively inexpensive Monoprice RCA.

    But later, apparently under a spell from advertisements and forum chatter, I broke down and bought a new pair of QED silver anniversary bi-wire cables with the factory installed ‘airlock’ bananas to compare with the bog plain 12g Monoprice speaker wire. This was apparently award winning cable (some HiFi mag) back in the day. I thought perhaps the QED sounded thinner. The dealer said to “run them in” for awhile. I decided to run from the dealer instead. I did, however, switch back to the standard Monoprice 12g wire after a few months and couldn’t tell a difference to save my life.

    Expensive USB and “digital interconnects” … horseshit, all of it. And I’m no Einstein. But I am somewhat cynical, or maybe it’s critical thought taken a bit too far. As a consequence, audio manufacturers who tout their integrity with one hand while selling insanely expensive cables — often in nice wooden boxes — wind up on my resolute “never again” list of products, as they’ve beaten me hands-down in the cynicism department, and I’m a sore loser.
     
    narabdela, JTWzen and Euan like this.
  14. JensenHealey

    JensenHealey pfm Member

    There was a link in an earlier thread where Mr Linn, Ivor, himself allowed himself to tell cables apart in a test (in Canada I seem to recall). He failed.
     
    Mr Cat and Brian S like this.
  15. AKG

    AKG pfm Member

    (1) Digital cables : a different animal from Analogue cables entirely with high degree of associated skepticism for 99% of them.... including me.

    (2) Analogue cables:

    I have absolutely no doubt that the cable pundits preach their interpretation of the audio Bible as THEY see it or THEY experienced it, i.e. Cables do not matter.

    Ok..... fine ..... i'm not going to quarrel with their experiences and resulting opinions, and I would not even try to challenge their points of view in any way. But that nay-sayer subjective opinion is also absolutely no basis for any pontification expanded to a blanket generalization as fact or circumstances.

    Here is the 180 degree opposite counterpoint argument but it was no John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness . Rather, the experience was attended by and witnessed by the several thousand independent witnesses to the exact opposite effect i.e. that cables do matter.
    The experiences of these masses was in a large public audio expo venue in Toronto (TAVES) and it was considered sufficiently profound to the extent that it was so reported in a quality Canadian audio publication by an audiophile hobbyist reporter.

    http://novo.press/taves-consumer-electronics-show-2014-now-we-have-a-ces-north-part-2-by-george-de-s...

    ".... Nordost

    I had a chance to sit in on a couple demonstrations in the Nordost room, giving my feet a well deserved break. I’m very familiar with the benefits of high quality cables and use a full Nordost Heimdall 2 loom with my reference two-channel setup. That being said, I always find the Nordost demonstrations to be an “ear-opening” experience. Michael Taylor from Nordost demonstrated the significant sonic benefits of replacing an OEM cable with a Nordost model – in particular 1) a swap of a single USB cable, from OEM to Nordost Blue Heaven ($250/2m), to Heimdall 2 ($500/2m) and; 2) a swap of a single RCA interconnect, from OEM, to Blue Heaven, to Heimdall 2, to Tyr 2 and finally Valhalla 2. Along with convincing the audience in the room that cables DO matter, I’ve now got the bug to upgrade...."


    THE POINT

    I was there at the TAVES 2014 expo myself and I concur with the conclusions above as reported by the mag reporter .I found the same result with A-B shootouts of many contenders and pretenders ranging from cheap to expensive in my own system.

    Ok..... So what? As already highlighted in many prior posts, the pros and cons of high end cables are entirely system dependent. Conversely plunking in $300 cables into a mediocre $500 unit in the hopes of getting to audio OZ because of cables alone is a predictable lost cause.
     
    Errol likes this.
  16. JTC

    JTC PFM Villager...

    Unless you’ve sorted your room out - positioning, acoustic treatments, etc. - then spending money on fancy cables is a waste of time and money as I’ve found out. And I can’t really reliably hear any differences between cables in my system, even though sometimes I think I do.
     
  17. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    The cable you use between a step up transformer and a phono stage makes a big difference, sometimes a decisive one, and the arm cable in any phono chain can also be decisive. Or it can not. This is because capacitance can make such a massive difference to the sound of a cartridge. Or it can not. It all depends, on many factors. With an issue like this it's really not a matter of subjective vs objective data; we all know that capacitance can be fundamental. This is separate to the qualititive and economic argument of whether it is worth spending lots of money to achieve a higher quality of cable.

    With speaker cables I have a much more basic observation; the fat ones have more bass than the skinny ones.
     
    darrenyeats and Hempknight like this.
  18. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    Bowl of petunias.... again...

    Engage stuck record mode... OK mains cables cannot make any difference at all under any circumstances. Simply impossible so if you think you hear a difference you know your imagination functions.

    Interconnects... If you use 20 metres of cable to go from a high source impedance then it will roll off the treble a bit. It's pretty hard to find a combination of high enough source impedance needing to be used with such a long length of cable to make it happen in practice. In most situations of 1-3 metre or so lengths of cable and <5K source impedance, interconnects make no difference.

    Speaker cable... all we need is a low resistance between the amp and speaker. "bell wire" and similar things (including things like that awful DNM thin single strand stuff) simply have too much resistance and this ruins the damping factor and wastes power heating the cable. This will make a very noticeable difference to the sound, usually a negative one. The resistance will also interact with the impedance curve of a typical speaker to effect the flatness of the response, causing colouration. Use nice thick cable and keep it as short as practicable and jobs a 'gud 'n. The longer the cable the more important that it's thick. Simple as that.
     
    PinkFroyd, Jonboi, narabdela and 3 others like this.
  19. Marky-Mark

    Marky-Mark pfm Member

    ".... Nordost

    I had a chance to sit in on a couple demonstrations in the Nordost room, giving my feet a well deserved break. I’m very familiar with the benefits of high quality cables and use a full Nordost Heimdall 2 loom with my reference two-channel setup. That being said, I always find the Nordost demonstrations to be an “ear-opening” experience. Michael Taylor from Nordost demonstrated the significant sonic benefits of replacing an OEM cable with a Nordost model – in particular 1) a swap of a single USB cable, from OEM to Nordost Blue Heaven ($250/2m), to Heimdall 2 ($500/2m) and; 2) a swap of a single RCA interconnect, from OEM, to Blue Heaven, to Heimdall 2, to Tyr 2 and finally Valhalla 2. Along with convincing the audience in the room that cables DO matter, I’ve now got the bug to upgrade...."



    One hundred USD says demo dude ...

    [​IMG]


    ... had a guy with something like this behind the screen

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Alex S

    Alex S pfm Member

    I sat through a Nordost dem once. The completerubbishitsnotevennordost one they started with sounded best. Probably because I was getting bored, fidgety and thirsty after the first track.
     

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