Comparing cables ...

Discussion in 'Cables & Switches' started by nobo, Sep 18, 2007.

  1. nobo

    nobo
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    To be honest, I find the whole speaker/interconnect/mains cabling debate a bit bewildering. These are those that swear blind that any (or all) of them is critical; others that say it's totally unimportant and all snake oil. Yet surely there must be fairly reliable objective tests on this ... ?

    I'd really like to a/b things in my own system before shelling out any cash (at least, not any non-refundable cash!). That said, testing in your own system (without some kind of switching unit, which introduces other problems) is far from scientific. The problem is that your auditory memory is actually very, very short (a few seconds, usually cited as up to 5 seconds), such that by the time you've changed the cables it can be very difficult to have a reliable opinion. My only solution, I guess, would be to wire each L and R channel identically, and then swap out one link (interconnect/mains/speaker cable) on one channel - using the balance control to A/B in mono. (Fortunately I have monoblock amps, so I could even test the mains cable this way).

    Next step is to find somewhere with loan stock cables ... which seems to be much harder than you'd expect, even in London. (Suggestions welcome!)
     
  2. nobo

    nobo
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    p.s. i hope this isn't seen as trolling; i'm just very interested as to why this is (still!) such a contentious topic. I realise that it may not be possible to measure with instruments the effect, but ABX testing should have some validity - but the switch overs between cable would have to be pretty much instant (or not more than a second or two) to be valid. Surely this debate should have been settled by now...

    FWIW, I've been reading up a bit on the following (and elsewhere):

    http://theaudiocritic.com/

    Tom Nousaine's claims that "No subject was able to demonstrate an ability to reliably distinguish expensive rca interconnects or expensive speaker wire from junk box rcas or zip cord purchased for18 cents a foot."

    http://forums.soundandvisionmag.com...&thread.id=5664&view=by_date_ascending&page=1

    http://www.vxm.com/21R.64.html

    Also, on mains cables, here is an audiophile attempted ABX test of AC power cables: http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_11_4/feature-article-blind-test-power-cords-12-2004.html. In this case they actually couldn't discern any differences - although they then went on to make various excuses about ABX test quality and sample size etc. (these weren't all invalid conclusions BTW). http://forums.soundandvisionmag.com/audiovideo/board/message?board.id=42&message.id=5669#M5669


    Having not done any tests myself, I don't yet have an opinion on the cable debate.

    Friends of mine have reported hearing cable differences in non-blind A/B tests before parting with their cash, but only with gaps of maybe 30+ seconds between tests. To me, that's not very helpful, unless they're as strongly convincedly of the differences as I was in my amp and CD switch test.

    In the meantime, I'm keeping an open mind. I do plan to do some extensive tests (blind ABX in mono using the rough methodology above, with not more than 1 second between different cables) with several listeners in a month or two's time. I'll report back. I'd be very interested to hear if anyone's done anything similar, and what their findings were.

    As an alternative to double blind ABX testing, have a read of this:
    http://theaudiocritic.com/blog/index.php?op=ViewArticle&articleId=35&blogId=1
    I'm tempted to give this a go (especially since, as a recording engineer, I've got access to the facilities to implement it). Anyone else tested things using this method?
     
  3. JohnWH

    JohnWH
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    I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to achieve with your follow up post, afterall you've already said you want to try out different cables and have asked for advise on where you can get 'loan' cables from. This seems like a reasonable thing to want to do, but if you want to read a debate on the the cabling subject why don't you have a read through the numerous threads referenced by this thread,

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=445008&highlight=cable+evidence+debate

    Edit: Sorry, maybe I don't need to jump, theaudiocritic method is a good idea by the way, although you would need an environment with a very low ambient noise level to do it justice.

    John.
     
  4. deaf cat

    deaf cat
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    I found cables like Nordost and Cardas quite opposite in presentation, maybe somewhere to start;) if you are used to a tune and play it with various cables you should quite easily hear differences - if you are one of those who does hear differences of course:D
     
  5. nobo

    nobo
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    Thanks for the replies (links make interesting reading) and cable suggestions.

    I've been reading up on the debate generally and find it bizarre that there's a debate at all ... I don't know what the answer is, but I do find it stange that - afaik - no cable believers or manufacturers have defended their cables with any scientific data or been able to subjectively tell the difference in the better controlled blind ABX tests.

    Guess I'll have to give it a go myself and see what I hear. Unfortunately I can't go with mic measurement testing as my ambient noise levels are too high ... I've not seen any results from anyone's that tested this way though, which could (perhaps?) conclusively settle the debate once and for all... !
     
  6. JohnWH

    JohnWH
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    Unfortunatley the idea of listening to the difference signal may be a bit flawed in that you could have subtle differences in phase that produce a rather odd signal when you subtract the two. This said I think technical analysis of the data would offer signifiant value and would show the truth of the matter, but do you honestly think the type of people involved would really accept the results?

    John.
     

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