Do cables matter?

Discussion in 'Accessories, Cables, and Remotes' started by David K., May 8, 2005.

  1. David K.

    David K. Second Unit

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    Well, Ive made a billion cables since I got into audio

    NOTE: I know many do not believe in cables, those into this stuff may find this a fun read. This is however not a form of advertisement in any way, and just a fun test to conduct for those that may find it an interesting read. So please no requests on buying these.

    but this is for just amusement for you folks.

    over then next few days Im gonna listen to certain cable types and post my impressions of sonic characteristics or each one. I think this might be fun.

    I know there are a few non-believers that cables do not make a difference in audio, In all sincerity, Ive heard differences on my portable, and have never really done a comparison between interconnects.

    anyone with input feel free to post your opinions on whether cables make any difference.

    Here are some pics of my test set up, right now I have my copper cables plugged in, before hand I was using litz braided silver plated copper with silver lok plugs.

    off hand I already notice a difference in sibilance and bass response between the silver alloy and the pure copper cable!

    Ill be using a pioneer 563 sacd dvd-a player, which has gotten good reviews as a nice budget player all around by home theater reviews.

    the cans I will use are akg studio monitors 240m which are rated at 600 ohms and
    heavily modified Grado sr-80 headphones

    my amplifier is a t-200 tube amplifier
    tubes used will be the Sovtek el-84 power tubes
    and stock Chinese pre amp tubes.

    by next week I will have hopefully NOS russian military eec84 pre amp tubes to replace the stock chinese tubes.

    I am using a 12 awg silver plated teflon insulated power cable, terminated with hospital grade Marinco plug and wattgate IEC connector. with two ferrite cores attached to both ends.

    more pics to follow, but here is the current set up I will be using.

    pics
    the rig
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    the cables
    [​IMG]

    clockwise from top left

    -22 awg silver plated copper litz braid configuration, silver teflon LOK connectors, Silver plated copper, full teflon dielectric from tip to tip

    -Silver plated copper, silver plated braided shield, silver plated Cardas clone RCA connectors, silver plated copper, teflon insulation/dielectric

    --Silver plated copper, silver plated braided shield, Authetic Cardas SLVR RCA connectors, silver plated copper, teflon insulation/dielectric

    -Starquad full copper conductors 21 awg, two for signal, two for return, silver plated copper, tinned shield.

    TBA

    when I get my parts

    I will be adding pure silver cables 99.999% purity with gold plated conductors and teflon tube dielectric.

    Ill post initial thoguhts on sonic characteristics as the weeks progress
     
  2. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    How will you be ascertaining that the levels are the same? Once you've established that, why not have someone do some switches and conceal the identity from you and see how good you are at identifying the two most disparate cables?
     
  3. David K.

    David K. Second Unit

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    Actually I was just going to plug them in myself, but yes a blind testing is way better. Since Im the only house dweller that knows how to use the stuff, Ill have to find my brother and tell him what to do.

    though I dont think anyone is will to sit there with me and switch them out ever 30 minutes [​IMG]

    well Ill have to figure out how id be able to conduct a blind listening test.
     
  4. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I suggest, just for fun, adding the pack-ins from the Pioneer DVD player to your test.
     
  5. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Sounds like a plan. May I suggest beer and pizza to lure people over?
     
  6. Gralen

    Gralen Stunt Coordinator

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    Please let me know the results I am kinda new at this stuff since I upgrade my audio cables from Acoustic Research to Audio Quest. I hear some difference. It made my Yamaha a little warmer and the highs notes are not as clear as with the the other cables.But there are some low instruments I hear that I haven't heard in the songs I listen to. I think the blindfold test is a good idea
     
  7. trey-m

    trey-m Stunt Coordinator

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    I did similar testing about 6 months ago with my AudioQuest Ruby's and some canare cables I built myself. By the time I walked over, switched the cables, and got back to my seat, my objectivity flew out the window. Since I happened to have both a JVC CD and a JVC DVD player, I decided that would be "close" enough for the purposes of my test, and better than the 30 second or more time lag in between tests. I then put the same CD (store-bought, not burned) in both players (borrow a friend's same CD if you need to) and started them together. I then flipped back and forth between inputs with the turn of a nob. Just remember you must add up your variables. For me, I was comparing CD+rubys against DVD+canare (not just comparing cables). Fortunately, I could barely tell the difference between the two. I don't think I would have passed a blind test with much better than 50%, so for my purposes the cables were nearly equivalent. I want to perform the same test again with my $10 Radio Shack gold cables, but I'm too scared of what I might learn, so I'm not going to right now.
     
  8. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Try the test with pack-ins. That's what I did.
     
  9. Nathan Stohler

    Nathan Stohler Second Unit

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    The truth shall set you free...
     
  10. trey-m

    trey-m Stunt Coordinator

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    Philip, what did you discover when comparing to the pack-ins? (And what kind of components did you use for your testing?) If I fail a blind test trying to distinguish my "nice" interconnects from pack-ins....wow
     
  11. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I used my Technics DVD-A10 into my Sherwood Newcastle AVP-9080 / AM-9080 combo (which reputedly had a fantastic analog section). I chose my best AudioQuest cables (admittadly not very expensive or "high end") and the flimsiest pack-ins that I could find. Playing back my 96/24 DADs and trying to be honest in a non-blind test I could barely detect the tiniest difference in the imaging. It was so slight that I probably would have failed a blind.

    That was the beginning of my long quest that ends up with ditching separates altogether in favor of the Gen1 DD only Pioneer VSX-D606S that I was using in my bedroom (went back to DPL there - that's great, too). I'm much happier now, have almost no upgrade desires, and my system sounds fantastic.

    I've had the same main speakers, B&W DM 602s, since 1997/8. Completely uninterested in any "upgrade".
     
  12. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    If you fail, you fail. Then you can base your purchasing decision on some other parameter that means something to you. For example, locking RCA's, appearance, technical considerations, length, feel, whatever floats your boat. Sort of like wanting to dress up your car with some braided hoses, nicer rims, detailing, you know the routine. You'll read those reviews and realize it's marketing fluff.
     
  13. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    Phil,

    I did a similar test to your own with a Nordost Blue Heaven interconnect that I won at the Secrets site. I was using primarily SACD, and comparing the Nordost to my standard Phoenix Gold (the cheap, clear jacketed one in the car sound section of Parts Express).

    If there was a difference, I was unable to hear it. I promptly traded the Nordost even for a new NAD PP2 phono pre-amp, which allowed me to again play vinyl after 10 years w/o.

    But I have started to notice the PG's are showing some tarnish on the shield (not that this effects the sound, but I do not like the way it looks), so I am biting the bullet and stepping up to some high $$$$ cables; Dayton Audio!

    Note: The high $$$$ part was a bit of a joke!

    I have been extremely jazzed with their build quality, and they look great. If someone took those cables, and re-branded them with some boutique name, they could easily get stupid money for them, and some high end writer would gush over 'em.

    Brian
     

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