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cotdt said:
Yes, I can agree that it is too little an effect to be significant. All in all, you guys seem to be saying that

1. R,L,C and shielding are the only factors that make a difference in cables.
2. Except for very extreme values, RLC doesn't effect the frequency response enough to matter.

So therefore one can still conclude that all cables sound the same, unless the connection contact is really poor, as noted by werewolf. But I don't understand why werewolf said that cables can sound different, if he also says that the resistance, capacitance, and inductance in typical cables are too low to matter. So, please clarify guys. Do all cables sound the same or not?
I believe werewolf is just being diplomatic. :D
 

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squeak9798 said:
He said it's not "impossible" for cables to sound different. The potential is there for cables to "sound" different. We can determine this potential by examining the RLC properties (aswell as noise rejection capabilities and contact metallurgy) to completely determine the ability, or lack thereof, for two cables to "sound different". And he later elluded that the RLC properties of a cable would have to be staggeringly out-of-the-ordinary to have any audible affect. So it's possible; Yes. But very highly unlikely to be from anything related to RLC.
Yes, that's what I thought. However, something doesn't make sense. And that something is the blind tests, and there have been many blind tests that have been done, that shows that people really CAN detect differences in cables, usually interconnects.

Usually it consists of people having to distinguish between what cable is the cheap Rat Shack and which is the $4000 wonder cables (snake oil?). Strangely, most of the time people say that the Rat Shack cable is the $4000 one, and the exotic wonder cable is the cheap one, so you get a negative result, but one that is still significant because it says that a difference has been detected. I can provide links if you guys are interested. What it tells me is that (A) expensive cables are indeed snake oil, if people prefer the cheaper one over it, and (B) others do seem to be able to tell the difference, and certain individuals can do it consistantly. There have been both formal and informal blind tests that all reach this similar result, and like I said, I can provide some links.

I would also like to see for myself, so I will be constructing my own low inductance, high capacitance interconnect and compare it to a cheap Rat Shack interconnect, to see if small differences in RLC really can impact sound. The math says it shouldn't, but something tells me I might hear a difference. I'll do a blind test with a friend and see.
 

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maybe the people that prefer the ratshack cable are just used to how your everyday cable sounds. or maybe the expensive cable has so much technology in it that it's actually HINDERING the task the cable is supposed to be doing. notice i'm staying neutral here. i personally have a 6' ratshack cable going from my tv to my reciever. sounds fine and i don't watch near enough tv or movies to justify blowing money on snakeoil. also listen to 99.999% of music in my truck with the 3 knukonceptz karma cables going from the alpine headunit sending actively crossed signals to the single jbl 6-channel that's about to get replaced by a pair of memphis amps. i've had those cheap knu cables since the summer of 04 and they're doing great. no reason to change them until i go optical with an h701 processor in the next couple years.

in the home environment slight difference MIGHT be audible in a blind test. in the car audio environment i defy anyone to hear a difference between a standard twisted pair and snakeoil cables. then again, i'm just a redneck with roaring a/t's for tires and a magnaflow exhaust dumped near the spare tire. :p
 

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cotdt said:
Yes, that's what I thought. However, something doesn't make sense. And that something is the blind tests, and there have been many blind tests that have been done, that shows that people really CAN detect differences in cables, usually interconnects.
I'd have to see the methodology of the specific tests in question. But keep in mind that making the test double blind isn't the only control that needs to be performed.

Personally, I think that if you can accept that it's only the RLC parameters of the cable that are important, then you can modulate those three parameters in a test to derive psychometric curves. In other words, if you can increase inductance (with a series inductor) to the point where you can pinpoint the amount of inductance it takes for your subjects to notice a statistically significant difference, then you have something more to go on. Likewise for capacitance and resistance. Otherwise, you always have the issue of subject bias -- people could always make the claim that they just didn't WANT to hear any differences, so that's what they reported. But if you have psychometric curves to look at, it eliminates that possibility (kinda sorta) and gives you a measure of individual subject variability.

Psychophysics is a very complex and underappreciated field. It's not something that's as simple to control for as some people may think. Pick up the SS Stevens book on psychophysics and you'll see what I mean. Fortunately, the one I'm thinking of is short (and relatively cheap!).
 
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Discussion Starter #105
not much time tonight , but you guys have pretty much nailed it. Here's the important points, briefly, off the top of my head:

1. Yes, it is possible for cables to sound different.
2. If they are found to indeed sound different ... in controlled tests where the only possible variable is the cable (and please never forget my opening statement about scraping oxidation in a same-cable test, for example) ... there's no theory or evidence to suggest anything other than RLC parameters (noise shileding, contact metallurgy aside). Linear system theory is well understood guys ... no mystery surrounding electrical transport of a 20kHz signal over a few feet of wire. And by far, wire is the most linear element in the electronic capture and reproduction of music.
3. Some interconnects may contain mysterious little "network boxes" that manipulate ... guess what? ... and will demonstrate measurably different frequency responses (magnitude and phase) as a result ... demonstrating the simple fact that equalizers can manipulate the "sound" :)
4. We have not yet done a speaker cable example ... but we will, probably focusing on a rather inductive cable loaded with a rather capacitive speaker (like an electrostat).

i think i've said it before ... but one of these statements is very boring, while the other is (potentially) very interesting :

1. "Me and some friends tested some cables, and they sounded different!"
2. "A cable test was performed in a well-controlled, double-blind environment where all other variables were compehended, and a sonic difference in cables ... beyond that explainable by random guessing ... was registered. Furthermore, the frequency responses ... including magnitude and phase versus frequency ... of the cables were measured in-place, and RLC analysis (also noise shielding and contact metallurgy, of course) was found to be inadequate to explain the difference."

If there's any links supporting statement number 2 ... all of statement number 2 ... i'd be happy to read them :) No compelling reason to discard a few centuries of well-developed logic, network and electrical theory UNLESS & UNTIL those theories are conclusively demonstrated to be inadequate.
 

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werewolf said:
i think i've said it before ... but one of these statements is very boring, while the other is (potentially) very interesting :

1. "Me and some friends tested some cables, and they sounded different!"

You forgot to add... "It took my friend and I each a 6 pack to install or decide the second cable sounded different, it certainly had less high end" :p
 

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werewolf said:
If there's any links supporting statement number 2 ... all of statement number 2 ... i'd be happy to read them :) No compelling reason to discard a few centuries of well-developed logic, network and electrical theory UNLESS & UNTIL those theories are conclusively demonstrated to be inadequate.
does these comparisons count?
http://www.audioholics.com/techtips/audioprinciples/interconnects/SpeakerCableFaceoff.htm
http://www.audioholics.com/techtips/audioprinciples/interconnects/speakercable2p1.php

for me, i just want to know what is the cheapest speaker/interconnect cable with the most suitable RLC figures and sufficient shielding to be used in a car environment. i'd appreciate if anybody has the answer cause majority of the maths in this thread isn't doing my brain any good.
 

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I still like this thread.

My only question is this:

IMO there are two BASIC (with MANY variations) kinds of people when it comes to audio, those that turn the treble knob up, and those that turn the bass knob up ... explain that ;)
 
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avaxis said:
absolutely NOT !!! :p

Those links provide a very thorough analysis of RLC parameters, and the corresponding frequency responses, of various loudspeaker cables. They are very good links, by the way :)

These links lay a solid foundation for showing how RLC analysis explains any sonic "attributes" of speaker cables, pretty much the exact opposite ... or antithesis ... of what i was asking for :p

I was asking for conclusive evidence that RLC analysis is inadequate to explain any (demonstrably real) sonic difference in cables ... anyone?
 

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Now, that the RLC impact has been discussed enough ( i think ?!?!), what about talking about noise shileding and contact metallurgy. What makes a "good" contact and how should a propper shielding look like in a car cable ? Real good and bad cable examples would be even better !
 

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contact is interesting. Do we have any concrete data showing contact resistance values? I'd be willing to bet qualitatively we arent gonna see much change between ETP copper and high purity gold/silver.

But what contact metallurgy should bring to mind are features "unrelated" to the "science" of cables as they relate to sound. Namely, lifetime, fatigue, and whether the science of the cable will be the same after five years of vibration and thermal cycling :) Could that be affectec by contact metallurgy? possible, but likely processing will play a larger role than material.
 

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Shielding is definitely an area that needs debunking (twisted pair no shield vs no twist overall shield). For single ended transmission, I vote no twist overall shield but I am willing to be educated.

BTW IMO - Locking RCAs are worth the price in a car!!!
 

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Sure it can. Absent the proper controls, science can explain it with the known mechanisms of the brain that affect our perceptions. That's why all properly conducted listening tests aim to eliminate the brain as a variable.
...Thereby making the tests irrelevant, since that's all we have to actually perceive with on a day to day basis.

There's also this notion out there that "science can be wrong". But, by definition, it can't be. Scientific experiments can be performed wrong, or (more common) scientific data can be misinterpreted, but the scientific method is 100% reliable. Unfortunately, a lot of people read a media writeup about a study, and that turns out to be wrong and people conclude that science is fallible. No, the scientist might be fallible, and the media coverage of science is almost always just plain ignorant and misleading, but I digress...
Ha I love it. So as long as we eliminate A: The brain and B: Humans fallibility, we have perfect science.:rolleyes:
 

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...Thereby making the tests irrelevant, since that's all we have to actually perceive with on a day to day basis.

Ha I love it. So as long as we eliminate A: The brain and B: Humans fallibility, we have perfect science.:rolleyes:
I don't think you understand. If you're trying to attribute something to a cable, then you don't want the brain's influence to be a confounding factor. If instead you're trying to understand how the brain affects the signal, then you implement the proper controls in order to do so.

Basically, it's a matter of calibrating your measurement equipment (ie. brain) to measure an external factor, or conversely, calibrate your stimulus in an attempt to measure your measuring equipment (ie. brain). Two different questions. Two different strategies to answer them.
 

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On a side note, the best one I ever read was at ECA...someone could hear the difference in a plastic fiber optic cable and a fiber glass one...since it is light that is being transmitted, anyway you get the idea!!:D
 
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On a side note, the best one I ever read was at ECA...someone could hear the difference in a plastic fiber optic cable and a fiber glass one...since it is light that is being transmitted, anyway you get the idea!!:D
actually, it's not entirely out of the question.

Yes, the signal is digital ... but we have to remember that the hellspawn standard known as S/PDIF also carries precious timing information as well. If one type of digital cable is more dispersive than another, that cable may create more inter-symbol interference than the other, resulting in more data-dependent jitter.

This effect would not only depend on the dispersive properties of the cable itself, but also on the jitter attenuation characteristics of the digital receiver.

The real message of this thread is this : we have sufficient scientific/engineering knowledge to adequately explain audio transmission over cables. No need to invoke voodoo or magic.
 

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I tansmitted digital audio down a cooked noodle soaked in salt water, coax to coax, just the center pin, it sounded fine ;) About 1 foot long.
I've found the best transmission to be the "Extra Wide" egg noodles by Muellers:D

Less surface effect, Oh i'm killing myself!!
 

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I'm not well educated enough to be able to refute, or even undertand, either side of the argument(s) here.

All I know is I used to work in an electronics store that sold both $40 nothing out of the ordinary cables, and $400 "it has arrows on the side to show you which direction the information best flows through the xyz shielding with abc positronic flux capacitor enhancement technology!"

I always refused to sell them. Sure I got 30% commission on them, but they wanted me to take a $1500 TV and try to tack on a $500 HDMI cable because it would 'improve' signal quality. I'm like "You do realize HDMI is a digital signal... and... outside of a loss of said signal, there is no reduction in quality. When a digital signal encounters an error it throws off the entire encoding and you get nearly screen size artifacts. Same wth digital audio.. you get blips and hitches.."

Of course they scoffed and told me that the difference meant more 'detail' and 'crisper colours' via digital. I absolutely refused to acknowledge that as even being possible, given my programming background and just simply how 'digital' information/encoding works. If ECC isn't taking care of it, it's a BIG problem.

Now, as for analog cables.. well, I agreed there could be a difference (an analog signal only gets worse) but no one who insisted that the cables were 'as important' as the TV/reciever/speakers, etc. would agree to sit in a room with their eyes closed and let me switch between cables and nominate their 'favourite', nor participate in any double blind A/B testing. I know that with science we can probably qualify all sorts of differences in a cable, but qualifying them, especially under an actual test without knowing which cables are where is much more difficult.

It's a religion.


edit: Also on a side note, earlier on there was some talk about the fidelity of vinyl vs. CDs - and while many audiophiles swear by vinyl, there is some very good information on how vinyl lacks a LOT of the fidelity of CDs. I think one of the better arguments is that the way CDs are PRODUCED is what makes them not as good. As a MEDIUM, CD is superior. A lot of vinyl production gets better attention in the actual recording/production department. I also find it humorous that there is so much discussion about how great certain equipment is, when, to the best I can tell, everyone is using MP3s as a source! And many audiophiles of the same caliber turn and laugh when I insist that my music collection be in FLAC! I wish my head unit played lossless :(
 

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Yeah, most people that work at those kind of stores are ignorant after a while. I think that because they know nothing when they start working there they just assimilate everything they hear so finally when they have any sort of tenure in the company, their false ideas are so ingrained that they will never be uprooted.

I can definitely tell a difference in cable types (composite vs s.video, etc...) but seriously if it's a decent cable I've never really been able to see or hear a difference.

You can play lossless if you get an ipod and put apple lossless on there too bro! I toyed with the idea of a FLAC player going through an AUX, but it's just not the same.

See if you can switch the cables without them knowing and then talk about it. Catch them in their own ignorance? That's always fun!
 
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