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Author Topic: The old thread was locked this one will not be. Audiophile cable discussion.  (Read 13653 times)

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Offline scb

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And I have said it before and I will say it again.. I don't think there is a difference between one quality cable and another. If both cables have the same electrical properties and construction. I dont know what you don't understand about that. Again nothing personal but you just seem to be looking for an argument.

You completely missed the point of everything I've said in this thread.

Offline Church-Audio

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And I have said it before and I will say it again.. I don't think there is a difference between one quality cable and another. If both cables have the same electrical properties and construction. I dont know what you don't understand about that. Again nothing personal but you just seem to be looking for an argument.

You completely missed the point of everything I've said in this thread.
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Offline Gutbucket

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If you ask for specs, I am curious what specs you want and how you use these specs to "prove" one "sounds" better than another

If both cables have the same electrical properties and construction.

The basic measurable electrical specifications which are available for any wire from reputable manufacturers are resistance, capacitance, inductance, signal cross-talk, common mode rejection, etc., specified per foot or per meter - preferably specified with a tolerance range which the actual production product is guaranteed to fall within. 

Beyond those basic measurements I imagine there may be other measurements such as bandwidth, frequency response, etc.  (I’m not a super familiar with the additional data provided by reputable manufacturers)

That is in addition to the specifications describing the materials used, the cable geometry, the type of shielding, reinforcements, cable flexibility, environment constraints of the jacket, conductor color codes, conductor and overall cable dimensions, etc.

Reputable manufacturers provide data sheets describing all those things in an easy to read clear format, as opposed to a sales brochure full of marketing speak.

None of those specifications proves that one cable will sounds better than another.  It provides the buyer with information required to make certain the cables will behave predictably and reliably in the intended application.  Without those specifications, there is no way to know.
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Offline DigiGal

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Here is the science in additional recommended material pertinent to this discussion from this years AES Convention, you can find recordings of these sessions available now LINK HERE

13AES-T05 An Overview of Audio System Grounding and Signal Interfacing

13AES-W21 Lies, Damn Lies, and Audio Gear Specs



edit to add

Still recommend seeking out the excellent technical reference paper I linked in the other thread, it's titled, "Noise Susceptibility in Analog and Digital Signal Processing Systems" by Neil A. Muncy.  It is available from the AES E-Library and was originally presented at the 97th Convention of the Audio Engineering Society, San Francisco, CA, 1994 November 10-13; revised 1995 April 13. http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=7945

Other tutorials located from this link --> http://www.aes.org/tutorials/

If people are spending ridiculous amounts of dollars on exotic cables made from UN-obtainium etc. they've got more money than smarts.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2013, 05:07:48 PM by DigiGal »
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Offline ScoobieKW

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And I have said it before and I will say it again.. I don't think there is a difference between one quality cable and another. If both cables have the same electrical properties and construction. I dont know what you don't understand about that. Again nothing personal but you just seem to be looking for an argument.

You completely missed the point of everything I've said in this thread.

To your question SCB. As Chris just replied while I was typing this. We don't need to do scientific testing, it's been done. The specifications published by the major cable manufacturers, Canare, Belden, Mogami, Gepco are available. The science is understood. A good cable for audio has certain electrical characteristics. These can and have been measured for what we consider "quality cables". Beyond those characteristics it gets into physical construction. At this point, experience comes in. Brand X cable fails more often. Brand Y cables have a shield that doesn't hold up when coiled repeatedly. Brand MONSTER cables have an RCA connector that when mated with a female connector stretch the contacts and makes the female connector unusable with other RCA cables.

So what we do is make a price/performance decision, and for most professionals that make a living using cables it comes down to the manufacturers I've listed using connectors built by Neutrik, Canare and Switchcraft. Cheaper cable will often do the job, but often the specs are not available, the build quality is lower, and they work until they don't. (which tends to be sooner)

Note: What Jon, Chris and I consider "Quality Cable" tends to cost 1-2 dollars US a foot, with the connectors in the 3-5 dollar range. Considering we are connecting microphones worth $500-$5000 to preamps and recorders that will run another $300 - $5000, going cheaper on cable just doesn't make sense, if for no other reason than we are capturing one-of-a kind performances where we don't get to ask the band to start again because we had to swap a bad cable.

That said, there is not a need to spend more on "Audiophool Super High Quality Cables" until we've seen specifications that show how these cables are superior on the things that matter. So far, there has not been an "Audiophool" grade cable that has been able to provide solid engineering data to back their claims.

Now I'm off to order 4000' of Belden Cable along with Neutrik and Canare crimpers for new HD switching systems  we are building.
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Offline scb

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Thanks. These last few posts were more along the lines of what I was looking for (at least mentioning things that you would measure if you actually were trying to examine the wires)

Again, I'm not trying to argue with anyone. It just seemed like there was a little "those ridiculously expensive cables can't be any better than the ones I use, but I can't really tell you why the ones I use are better than ones that cost less." So I was wondering what you guys think shows that the ones you use are actually better than ones that cost less.


Offline Church-Audio

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Thanks. These last few posts were more along the lines of what I was looking for (at least mentioning things that you would measure if you actually were trying to examine the wires)

Again, I'm not trying to argue with anyone. It just seemed like there was a little "those ridiculously expensive cables can't be any better than the ones I use, but I can't really tell you why the ones I use are better than ones that cost less." So I was wondering what you guys think shows that the ones you use are actually better than ones that cost less.
I guess I should have said the reason why I go for cable x over something else is specifications. They Audiophool cables tend to not have any real specs. like capacitance per foot. Inductance, resistance per foot ect. And From the 1000's of cables I have made over my life with 100's of different cables.. I know from experience that even the cheapest mogami and canare and belden is better than cheap radio shack cables for example. Making a good quality cable is not rocket science. We know all we need to know about specs of a cable. And the Audiophool companies for the most part leave these out. So doing a direct comparison is impossible based on specs alone. However doing a comparison with real cable companies like the ones I mention is quite easy due to the fact that All of these companies publish specs for the cables they sell. Allowing guys like me to design electronics around a certain cable. Like Jon and his Active mic adapters. That requires a certain type of cable to work properly.

Chris
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Offline dnsacks

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good point -- Seems to me that this thread has drifted a bit too far to the other side of the issue the OP of the old thread raised -- As I see it, there's likely quite a bit we don't KNOW about what's involved in the end-to-end process of making>recording>storing>playing back a sound.  What we can do, however, is apply evidence-based methodologies to determine what does and doesn't work/change.  SCB's prior point was that an esoteric power cable significantly changed his playback system's sound by eliminating a buzz.  Seems easy to confirm this observation through blind testing -- switch out cables without letting SCB see which cable is being used and see how accurately SCB can identify when the esoteric cable's being used.  If SCB can consistently identify the improvements made by the esoteric one, it would seem to prove that the esoteric cable does, in fact improve the sound of his system.

Similarly, while I'm skeptical of many of the snake oil claims being made, shouldn't the same blind testing be applied to these products?  If, say, Victor Wooten (of perfect pitch fame) could consistently identify and describe the changes made by a particular cable/component during blind testing (i.e. listening to the same music under otherwise identical circumstances without knowing which cable was being used), wouldn't such blind testing help validate the esoteric component manufacturer's claims?  Simply stating that since its not supported by current science without testing/validation, seems comparable to taking what the flat-earth folks told Columbus at face value .  . . That said, if I recall correctly, the OP of the old thread was asked if samples could be provided for just such blind tests and came up with a reason not to do so  . ...


Offline ScoobieKW

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We covered the power cable issue in the other thread. The problem he mentioned was 60 hz hum, a symptom of bad grounding. This could be because his original cable was bad. It could also be that before when he changed cables he changed outlets. It could also be that a component in his system had a ground issue. The high grade power cable was doing one of two things.

a. had a working ground
b. Had an unconnected ground.

Without troubleshooting his whole setup, I can't say for certain what the issue was. What I can say, is that eliminating ground noise from an stereo system does not require expensive audiophile grade cables. It either requires making sure all of your grounds are solid and connected at a single point or lifting the grounds on items that aren't sharing a common ground.

Either his expensive cable lifted the ground and didn't connect it, or it replaced a cable with a bad ground.

Again, this is decades old engineering knowledge. No mystical new science foo involved. Tesla, or even Edison could troubleshoot a ground hum.
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Offline scb

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We covered the power cable issue in the other thread. The problem he mentioned was 60 hz hum, a symptom of bad grounding. This could be because his original cable was bad.

Nope, that original cable is not bad.
Neither were the 3 or 4 others I also tried. They're still in my system in other places.


It could also be that before when he changed cables he changed outlets.

Nope.

Without troubleshooting his whole setup, I can't say for certain what the issue was. What I can say, is that eliminating ground noise from an stereo system does not require expensive audiophile grade cables.

I didn't say it required an expensive cable. I simply said that this specific power cable was the only thing that cut it down significantly.

Either his expensive cable lifted the ground and didn't connect it, or it replaced a cable with a bad ground.

It doesn't lift the ground. The other cables also have no grounding issues.

I never said there was anything "magical" about this cable. I don't really know what makes this cable different (all I know is it's huge, with 4awg copper per phase). I never said it had to be good because I paid $300 for it. All I said was it solved my problem in a way nothing else did, so I was willing to pay to keep the cable after I borrowed it.

« Last Edit: October 30, 2013, 08:13:31 PM by scb »

Offline DigiGal

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SCB - Out of curiosity would you be able to measure the ground connector resistance from the plug's ground lug to the IEC socket on that?

The power cable has likely changed the ground connection which cleared up your problem.  If it simply used a lower resistance ground wire than  other cables you used then great that's a good thing. However, if they for instance inserted diodes in the ground path then that would be a bad thing.  Such practices are unsafe and potentially deadly but not beyond sleazy overpriced cable manufacturers and they wouldn't admit to it in order to cover there arses.
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Offline Church-Audio

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SCB - Out of curiosity would you be able to measure the ground connector resistance from the plug's ground lug to the IEC socket on that?

The power cable has likely changed the ground connection which cleared up your problem.  If it simply used a lower resistance ground wire than  other cables you used then great that's a good thing. However, if they for instance inserted diodes in the ground path then that would be a bad thing.  Such practices are unsafe and potentially deadly but not beyond sleazy overpriced cable manufacturers and they wouldn't admit to it in order to cover there arses.
What she said  ;D
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Offline scb

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how do I do that?

and no, no diodes in there

Offline DigiGal

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how do I do that?

and no, no diodes in there

You will need a multimeter to measure resistance and preferably one with a diode check too, doesn't have to be an expensive Fluke though for this simple check.  You don't know that the manufacturer didn't put diodes in the ground line of the cable or its plug if you haven't made the measurements to check (diodes are easily concealed).  I'm not stating that's what Sablon Audio did but it is possible and they certainly wouldn't tell you if they did.  Like I pointed out if they lowered the resistance of the wire used for safety ground connection then great that's the right thing to do.

DIODES --> For example, the Ebtech HumX does not advertise the diodes but that is precisely what they are doing and the reason the device doesn't carry a UL approval and never will.  The diodes are encased/molded within so you'll never see them but a multimeter will tell you that's what Ebtech is doing.  Such practices are not safe and potentially LETHAL!!! :yikes:  While yes they will get rid of a hum it is accomplished by Smoke and Mirrors, the mirrors don't tell you how they did it and the smoke when the thing fails.

Using a plug adapter to eliminate ground is not safe either and those adapters state right on them their proper and intended use, if people use them improperly the manufacturer is covered.  The HumX or a cable with diodes will pass a simple continuity test but NEC does not allow anything to be inserted in the safety ground path because it is unsafe.  Doesn't stop dubious manufacturers from finding a way around the practice though.  Something like this could help explain high prices, where they may incur high legal fees employing more attorneys than engineers.  Very sorry to see these Ebtech HumX's are made in the USA.

DO NOT USE THESE ! ! !
« Last Edit: October 31, 2013, 01:37:44 PM by DigiGal »
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Offline Gutbucket

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Picking a few nits- I’m no EE, or even very circuit-wise so please correct any of my errors here.

Any analog signal passing device, in this case a piece of cable, which has measurable inductance, capacitance, and impedance will form a filter that determines the bandwidth and frequency response through the device (which are closely related but not identical measures).  A length of cable will have a bandwidth limit, which can be described more precisely as a frequency response measurement, as determined by those charateristics.  It’s interaction with the other devices before and after it forms other filters.

That the bandwidths of those filters are orders of magnitude larger and frequency responses orders of magnitude flatter than what is necessary for essentially completely unaffected analog audio signal transmission in competently designed equipment is a critically important point to make in this thread.  Yet that does not change the fact that these phenomena are real, measureable, and predictable.  That they are measurable to tolerances so far beyond any reasonable influence on human audibility bolsters the argument for scientific objectivity.  It does the argument no good to dismiss those charateristics as non-existant when they are simply inconsequential to the intended application in well designed equipment.

The important points in favor of your position (which I agree with) are that those characteristics are real, measurable, and inconsequential to audio transmission except in the specific cases you mention and in improperly designed and/or implemented equipment.

Would you say that's a correct assement?
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