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Blind test of cheap/pricey Power Cables

Discussion in 'Cables & Switches' started by Boris Blank, Dec 4, 2004.

  1. Boris Blank

    Boris Blank
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  2. Knightshade

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    Yet more fuel for the fire....
     
  3. Nick_UK

    Nick_UK
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    Glad to see what I've been saying on here has been statistically proved. The reason why these cables makes your equipment sound better is because your brain wouldn't possibly allow you to come to the conclusion that you had wasted your money.

    There is some merit in good quality video cables, but for audio applications you pay a huge amount for little or no gain at all. Still, it keeps the wallets of the cable manufacturers well stocked :)
     
  4. pjclark1

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    I would go further and add digital interconnect, Scart cables and speaker leads to that.
    People who claim cables make a difference (apart from faulty/unshielding problems) are clearly delusional.
     
  5. Knightshade

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    Interesting that you believe a non conclusive test proves what you've been saying.
    I don't see how this argument can ever be 'proved' scientifically one way or the other. There are far too many variables to consider.
    I'm not an advocate of expensive cables but i'm not foolish enough to say cables make no difference full stop.
     
  6. Jeff

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    This just shows how flawed these tests are.
     
  7. Nick_UK

    Nick_UK
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    What's non-conclusive about the test ? If people flipped a coin to choose between cables, they should be right 50% of the time. The (under age 50)testers achieved 53%, which is well within the limits of statistical variation, because even a flipped coin does not produce 50 heads in 100 flips. Even one of the biggest skeptics came out with egg on his face, because he didn't even manage 50% :)
     
  8. rozzar

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    the thing is with testing cables, that some combinations of equipment will show up differences but some combinations will hide them: I can tell differences readily in cables (mains/ic/spkr) on my setup, but on a friends Densen B400/Atc pre/power/ Atc speakers setup there was hardly any difference between a £2k Nordost Valhalla RCA and a £5 Studio spares cable, even when listening to well recorded tunes like Barb Jungra.
     
  9. Knightshade

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    Nick,
    Bear in mind here I’m actually an 'expensive' (NOT good) cable sceptic. But I fail to see how this test 'proves' anything except that some people can tell the difference and some can't, some of the time.
    The very fact that the human memory is flawed invalidates any 'proof' that can be extracted from this test. It was, as stated an interesting experiment.
    As I have said before there are far too many variables for there to be a solid right or wrong answer.
    I have taken part in double blind tests with cables and equipment and had very similar results to the test in question. I have also had problems in remembering and comparing. However when listening to music for long periods I find It easy to tell the difference between some (not all) cables and equipment.
    Unfortunately, laboratory type experiments often fail when confronted with the real world in 'true' real life environments.
    This I find quite refreshing, otherwise we'd all be listening to Aiwa systems with mains cable.....:)
     
  10. Londondecca

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    The article is interesting but it would be foolhardy to draw generalised conclusions from it.
     
  11. Daneel

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    I'm surprised to hear this coming from you Knightshade. Given your assumption that human memory is flawed, how do long listening periods change anything?

    The the combination of tests at an electrical level with what we know about how it works in theory and evidence from blind tests, the case for there being no audible difference seems quite convincing to me.
     
  12. Peridot

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    Cables are very important, but i think what the test showed is that the moulded lead power cable that comes with your kit is all the quality you need. Those of us who have better uses for a grand than a mains lead know that we're not missing out on anything :thumbsup:

    Thanks for the link PaulB - very instructional :rotfl:
    __________________________________
    Dermot
     
  13. Londondecca

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    Memory is influenced in many ways, there are decades of tests which indicate human memory is 'flawed'. We recall information via perception (I do appreciate it is more complex but basically it is perception) and perception is notoriously inaccurate.

    The problem with the theories of how a cable works is there is no synthesised model which is agreed upon. Researchers tend to concentrate on one area and the number of variables in 'real life' and theory are very high and significant.

    I wonder what this discussion would look like if this article had conclusively shown a significant difference.

    Don't forget, the article was not a validated experiment open to peer review. Its use of philosophical discussion was curious and I would probably disagree with its logic but in the realm of a magazine style article, it and the methodology are OK.
     
  14. Peridot

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    I think that the relative 'status' of the components under test questions the need for any deep consideration of the philosophy of the test methodology.

    Unless I've missed something in the article, we're talking about the difference between a two quid cable and £1200 one. The fact that there wasn't a clearly identifiable one (a difference that is) is pretty conclusive.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, most of the claims made for these so called 'high end' cables are total
    bo:censored: ks.

    __________________________
    Dermot
     
  15. Knightshade

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    Hi Daneel,
    Short term memory is indeed flawed. There is a limit to what information the mind can hold, it is also open to suggestion.
    I would say that longer exposure is another more/less accurate way of telling the differences between cables again flawed but at least you have more data for comparison.
    But, assuming i'm wrong, how do you explain why over long periods of listening a certain cable on a certain system leaves you with a feeling of satisfaction when another, on the same system, leaves you with a slight headache?
    Again probably too complex to have a simple answer.
    Just speaking from my own experience.
    To tidy this up: Good quality well made cable is all you need. IMO
    Like I said I am sceptical. I still reckon CAT5 is damn good speaker wire......
    Perhaps we should conduct a test of our own?
     
  16. spocktra

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    I actually tested side by side an award winning scart against a £5.99 cheapo bought 12 months ago on ebay.I was shocked to see [and i looked f***ing hard] no difference at all.Sraight back to the shop it went in exchange for some headphones.Mr a.d phile in the shop was outraged and sceptical following my findings.As i produced MY scart out of my pocket he declined a comparison test.i wonder why?
     
  17. Daneel

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    I wasn't disagreeing that human memory has its problems. I just didn't see how you could go on to make a point about long term sessions after having said that to refute the validity of the secrets test.

    Londondecca:

    What model isn't agreed upon and who is disagreeing? AFAIK the only people who say something is missing from physics descriptions of what happens when a signal flows down a cable are cable believers.

    My point was, all measureable evidence (which by using DBTs includes human response) points to the cable making no difference. Once you have a cable suitable for the job (guided by electrical theory) there is no need for anything more.

    If the test were to show and a statistical difference, something strange would be going on as if there was one, cable manufacturers would have been using it for years as a marketing tool.
     
  18. eviljohn2

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    Interesting observation there spocktra, my experience is that scart is one of the few cable forms where differences are easily observable. Between a Sky box and a Toshiba TV the leap was colossal with a decent Thor lead compared to a freebie scart. I think the telling point though is that the difference was only noticeable when the image was set to "Pal". I couldn't see a difference for the RGB setting, maybe a little less flicker on the banners but I could be imagining it. :D

    With regards to mains cables, I made up a "Sid's Posh Power Cable" for my BK sub and was surprised at the difference. The noise floor was definitely reduced (easily measured using an SPL meter and turning up the subs gain). No discernable difference to the quality of the sound though. Similarly, when I replaced the interconnect with a DIY job the only difference I found was an increase in senstivity (again, easily tested using the subs gain and an SPL meter). No change to the quality again. :)
     
  19. Nick_UK

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    It is unfortunate that the testers had to manually switch cables (which took a few moments) instead of having two identical setups and switching between them, but I expect that the doubters would have dissed that too. However, I do think that if a "superior" quality cable made that much of a difference, I would remember it.

    In any experiment of this kind, you would expect the audience to be right about 50% of the time, because the probability of a correct guess between two unknowns is 50% (the same as flipping a coin). The actual results came out at exactly 50%.

    There's nothing wrong with mains cable to connect speakers, as long as it has the correct rating. A 100W RMS amp running continuously flat out (which it would never do in normal use) would take just over 3A on an 8 ohm load, so 5A cable is more than adequate. I would use the money saved to upgrade the Aiwa to something like a Yamaha, because you would notice the difference. Putting expensive cable on an Aiwa would never make it sound like a Yamaha, so I think this makes a case for where the cash is best spent.
     
  20. Knightshade

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    Thanks Nick, I'll stick with my Linn and Chord....;)
    I'm not suggesting mains cable is unsuitable. If you've read any of my previous posts you'll know this.
    But, like I stated scientific experiments are just that, the real world isn't quite so clear cut. How can it be? How many people have been amazed by the quality of the sound from a system in a dealers and then dissapointed when they have taken them home? Is the kit suddenly rubbish or is there more at work than mere electronics? It's not clear cut.
    Having made a few cables over the years I believe i'm qualified to comment on this. Using different grades of silver, copper, termination, etc and experimenting with cable construction (twists, strands, shielding etc) with no concern about cost I have been able to tell the difference (Often very easily) between different cables on certain (not all) systems. (Speaking about interconnects and speaker cable here)
    For the average hi fi system you are quite right in saying you won't tell the difference between £5 a metre and lamp cord except the lampcord may be superior! As Hi Fi kit gets more expensive it gets more sensitive.
    I'm sorry Nick but I have listened extensively to very high equipment and unfortunately, I can say lamp cord has it's limits. You will disagree here, I know. This is why I suggest setting up our own test.
     
  21. Londondecca

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    The article makes no pretence about being a conclusive or scientific test yet people are viewing it to validate their beliefs.

    As for the physics of cable, M Hawksford and F Davis for example, both view the transmission in different ways, as far as I know neither are believers or non-believers but are researchers who are trying to increase our knowledge and understanding. If everything was know about cables, a lot of researchers could stop work now and concentrate on something else.

     
  22. Daneel

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    Certainly, but I've never seen anyone other than cable manufacturers claim that these complexities have any significant effect at audible frequencies. The skin effect is a common one for example in audio cables.
     
  23. Londondecca

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    Harwksford claimed in the Essex Echo (1986?) that some people could perceive the phase shifts caused by the skin effect, at audio frequencies. Of course, this raises the interesting research possibility as to how/why some people can distinguish such things.
     
  24. Daneel

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    Interesting claim. What did he back it up with? Here's a rebuttal for the effect at audible frequencies:

    http://www.audioholics.com/techtips/audioprinciples/interconnects/SkinEffect_Cables.htm

    It gets more comprehensive coverage here:

    http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~www_pa/Scots_Guide/audio/skineffect/page1.html

    Interesting, that's hosted on my old uni's web space :) Going back to the main page on audio related information reveals some interesting stuff.

    I don't pretend that I understand everything there, but I haven't come across any assumptions or conclusions that are unjustified.
     
  25. Londondecca

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    Thanks, I have seen the various topics on audioholics, as with so much in science, there is no one truth or single viewpoint. The arguments will continue forever but it does not mean the original article about mains cable proved anything. It was wholly lacking in verifiable and scientific basis, which is fine as the authors made no such claim. My issue is twofold, firstly some are taking the article as conclusive proof that there is no difference between cheap and expensive mains cable and that secondly, cable interactions are very complex and simplified statements can be misleading.
     
  26. Nick_UK

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    That has more to do with room accoustics than anything else. Anyone with reaonable audio knowledge knows that the bigger the room, the smoother the bass, because the wavelength of bass frequencies can be more than 30 feet, and you get cancellation effects in smaller rooms. A decent demo room is large, has drapes, thick carpets, and ceilings made from sound absorbent material to deaden reflections. The average living room is small, and has none of these.

    Err.... no. As hi-fi kit becomes more expensive, the (wealthier) buyers become more gullible :laugh:

    No need. I've already done mine - I'm convinced that it's all hype, and I don't waste money on unnecessary cables. If others want to throw their money away into other people's pockets, that's their privilege, but I just wish they would stop giving us all this garbage about how good it is.
     
  27. Nick_UK

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    I don't think so. It has already been established that the "skin effect" only really applies to RF cables and has negligable effects at audio frequencies.
     
  28. Londondecca

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    That is OK, it is your opinion but I would be interested to know why you refute Professor Hawksfords findings

    Where has it been established and by whom?
     
  29. pjclark1

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    If I were to say
    "I know I am the son of god because the voices in my head tell me so"
    then add there is no scientific way to prove the voices in my head are wrong.

    would that mean there was a chance i was correct and not merely delusional?

    I would like to apply a similar theory to those who "think" they can hear a difference between "expensive" and "cheap" cables
     
  30. red severn

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    no a jerk!
     

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