How important are cables when using separate amps?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by James Zos, Feb 20, 2002.

  1. James Zos

    James Zos Supporting Actor

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    I'm running monoblocks for my fronts and center. I was using some cheap cables, but am now considering much more expensive (to me, anyway, around $100) silver cables by Tributaries. I'm demoing them and I THINK I detect an increase in clarity and better sound. They definitely fit much more snugly on the jacks than the other cables did, for what that's worth.

    If you are using separate amps, how much did you spend on cables and is it worth it?

    (I know this is a "controversial" topic, so whatever your opinion, please don't bash anyone else who responds because they disagree with you, even if you think they are really really wrong and you are really really right.)
     
  2. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

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    In my experience they are very important. Meaning both the interconnects and speaker cables. Once you move to separates the differences in cables is much more noticable.
     
  3. Michael Yung

    Michael Yung Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi James,

    I think cables are very important to separate gears. Assuming that the rest of your systems matches well sonically, without paying attention to what's connecting the equipments, your cables could be the weakest link of an otherwise great sounding system. And despite what seems to be very high prices, cable is still probably the most economical way to change the sound of your system than changing speakers, amp and etc.

    The only guideline I can think of when it comes to buying cables is the same as everything else. Buy what sounds good to you and what you can afford. Don't underestimate the influence of cables in your system.
     
  4. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Technically all you need is decent-quality stuff – something like Radio Shack Gold is usually fine.
    However, many people believe they hear a difference with some cables – too many people to dismiss the phenomenon outright.
    So if you’re in that situation, James, you should consider Michael’s advice: The question to ask is, is the improvement you’re hearing worth the price of admission?
    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  5. James Zos

    James Zos Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for all the responses!

    What I REALLY wish I could do is try the old double blind scenario...unfortunately I don't think my girlfriend has the patience to turn the power off on the reciever and both amps, switch the cables, and turn everything back on again, several times in a row...I'm not knocking those who make judgements based solely on how they think something sounds, but for me it is too difficult to tell if the difference I think I hear is actually there. I wish there were a faster way to switch between the two sets of cables. Maybe I'll try hooking up one of the expensive ones, and one of the cheap ones, and listen in stereo...

    Thanks again for responding!
     
  6. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    James:
    I use Nordost Quattro fils for my 2-channel rig, which replace the Blue Heavens I used to use. I will not mention any dollar figures; suffice it to say that they are expensive. [​IMG]
    Larry
     
  7. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    Wayne:

    Out of curiosity, do you have acess to a really high-end stereo rig? If so, and if you have some time, it might be interesting to compare Radio Shack cables with a cable from, for example, Nordost. I suspect you would quickly become a "convert."

    Regards,

    Larry
     
  8. Bob Marker

    Bob Marker Stunt Coordinator

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    Back when I owned separates, I tried various interconnects (including some VERY expensive Audioquest silver cables) as well as different types of speaker cables, and, although I intially thought I could sometimes detect a differences in sound quality, these differences tended to disappear over longer term use. Of course, I must also admit that I also don't believe the separates I owned sounded any different from my cheap receiver.

    That said, I have to agree with what others have said - if you believe you can hear a difference and it is worth the expense - then go for it!
     
  9. Michael Yung

    Michael Yung Stunt Coordinator

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    Double blind test is the only way to test if this stuff really matters to you. Without it, we are all somewhat bias. So if your girlfriend won't help you do this, invite a buddy over and try it.

    I don't know if you're doing this for movies or CDs. If you're only doing this for movies, then my suggestion is to stop and just use the regular cables because with all the visual and surround sound stuff going on, how good your front speakers are probably won't make that much of a difference to the total experience. As a matter of fact, using different amps to power the front and back might create timber inaccuracies that take away from the surround effect. However, if you're trying to create that stereo (that means 2 channels!) magic then by all means try the different amps and cables and room adjustment tricks because you'll need it if you want to feel as if your favorite singer is in the same room with you.

    I just want to make a clear distinction between HiFI and Home Theater here. Hope this helps.
     
  10. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    Michael:

     
  11. EricHaas

    EricHaas Supporting Actor

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    "(2) Did you perform a DBT when you selected your speakers? If it, why not?"

    My Paradigm dealer allowed me to do a blinded AB speaker switch between a pair of Monitor 7's and a pair of Studio 60's. I picked the Sudio 60's as the one I *liked* more in 8 of 10 trials, for what that is worth.

    I suspect that the answer to part b of this question in most cases is because "they didn't have the opportunity."
     
  12. Frank_S

    Frank_S Supporting Actor

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    My 0.02c James. If you purchase equipment from any hi-end dealer he should be more than willing to work with you as far as a cable loan program. I borrow cables and hardware over the period they are closed(Sunday,Monday)to audition them at home. I only change 1 thing at a time. Don't swap multiple components and cables simultaneously. It is however better to have them over a longer period of time, at least a couple of weeks if that can be arranged. There is an online dealer that has a cable program you might check out at www.usedcable.com. I have no experience with them personally. Also, www.audioadvisor.com has a 30 day money back guarantee on all of their inventory.
    IMO, it is best to concentrate on source components first, I.E. CD player,Turntable,Preamp,Amplifier(s)in that order but remember that your system will only sound as good as its weakest link. If you choose on a specific line(IE Harmonic Tech.) of cable, they usually have a matching interconnect/speaker cable which helps keep from overspending in 1 area over the other. Good luck! [​IMG]
     
  13. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Larry,
     
  14. Michael Yung

    Michael Yung Stunt Coordinator

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    LarryB,
    I don't mean to suggest DBT as a scientific solution to judge what sounds good or bad. I miss use the phrase DBT, what I mean is that I think blind test is a good way to test what you are "capable" of hearing and not if the sound is better or worst because that's a matter of opinion. And with the same token, I don't think anyone can "miss the boat" when it comes to audio perception because this is just your own opinion and preference. Some people thinks certain sound is 'warm' and 'smooth' and another would think it’s 'muddy'. There is no right answer. However, if you cannot even hear an immediate difference in a BT of two different cables then maybe the person is “incapable” of hearing the difference and therefore cables shouldn’t matter. But if you notice even just a tiny difference, then perhaps a more extensive listening is needed before you can make a final decision.
    I do agree with your 1st comment regarding extended listening. We are after all not comparing how a system sounds on a single note but rather we are comparing base upon compositions. And how our brains process collection of sounds is a mystery to me but I know that for me I am still picking out new things in songs I’ve listen to hundreds of times. With or without new cables.
    I have A/B compared a total of 4 sets of speakers on 2 separate occasions in my home in the past 14 months in a semi DBT environment with the help of my wife and friends. And the 4 brands and models I compared were Yamaha NS-A100XT, Paradigm Monitor 5, Paradigm Monitor 7 and JM Lab Chorus 710. My first comparison was between the Yamaha NS-A100XT and the Paradigm Monitor 5’s. This was when I first got into HT, not even HiFi, and didn’t believe speakers made that much of a difference. It turns out that speakers do make a difference and Paradigm Monitor 5’s blown away the Yamahas in every respect. Better bass extension, smoother highs and mid-range. As a matter of fact, this is the reason why my wife allowed me to get into HiFi because she also heard the difference. Anyway, so even though the Monitor 5 was better, I was still not satisfied b/c the bass seem bloated to me so pretty soon I got the Monitor 7 and the JM Lab 710 and did another test. This time the difference was smaller but obvious nonetheless. The JM Lab was better in the HF and mid-range but had less bass extension. The Monitor 7 was still bloated in the bass area and the mid-range was fuzzy to me compare to the JM Lab. Besides speakers I’ve also BT cables; Cardas vs. Kimber, CD players; Adcom 72 vs. Rega Planet 2000 and I have a pretty good percentage when it comes to identifying the equipments to the sound.
    To me the bottom line is confidence in your listening capabilities and knowing what you like. There are a lot of insecurities in the audiophile world and that’s what drives the super high-end manufactures in my opinion. After having done all these home auditions and BTs I feel that I could trust my ears to tell me what sounds good “to me” and why. And because there are a lot of differences in preference as I mentioned before what sounds good to me might be “miss the boat” to you. That is why I suggest doing DBT especially when you’re first starting out in this hobby so you can learn to trust yourself. Don't trust what the magazine reviewer has to say and don't trust what we say in forums like this. Use all this as a reference and do something at least similar to BT to varify that at least you have the "capability" to hear differences in sound and then identify what you like and then enjoy this hobby from there.
    Hope my rambling wasn’t too confusing. Take care.
     
  15. JackS

    JackS Supporting Actor

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    Consider silver James. Several companies like Silver Audio , Pure Silver, Cat and Homegrown sell very nice wires at very reasonable prices. Silver, after all is a superior conductor, so anything that adds or subtracts from the sound of silver could be considered in a broad term as an analog version of DS prossessing. With the tweakability of most of todays receivers and preamps, rely on your equipment instead of a megabuck wire that many will vouch for, and just as many will disclaim. My final suggestion- make a nice silver connection at a reasonable price, then move on to other more important upgrades.
     
  16. Mike Knapp

    Mike Knapp Supporting Actor

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  17. JimN

    JimN Stunt Coordinator

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    For anyone who does not think cables are important to a system, I suggest you try listening to your system without them. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  18. John Doran

    John Doran Screenwriter

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    mike,

     
  19. EricHaas

    EricHaas Supporting Actor

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    "Eric,

    From my reading here I know that you are an avid supporter of DBT's."

    Uh, no Mike. I don't know where you get "avid." I just think that there is merit to listening in blinded conditions as opposed to sighted *if* your purpose is to determine if the differences we hear are actual differences in sound or "all in our heads" as they say.

    "You must then know that 8 of 10 is statistically insignificant. Your choice of speakers, if it was based on this DBT, was made on information that had no validity."

    I didn't say that I based my decision on it. I was answering the other post. I actually based my decision on extensive sighted listening as well. And I ended up not buying the speakers I preferred in the blinded test, but a different pair in the same line. And yes, I agree that 8 out of 10 could easily be due to random chance. You really want more like 80 out of 100. I'd put more weight on it than a sighted listening, but not terribly much more. A scientific certainty it isn't.

    "If someone hears the difference in interconnects 8 of 10 times it would (and has) been dismissed out of hand by skeptics that advocate the DBT as the unfailing yardstick."

    Actually, this was not a DBT to determine whether I could tell the difference, though it is worth mentioning that apparently DBT's usually show that people CAN tell a difference among loudspeakers. Rather, I was assessing my preference, which DBT's are not really designed to do. The point of my post was to respond to Larry's question, not to suggest that I made a "scientific" choice. Actually, since you say you have read my posts, you should be aware that I have stated that my buying decisions are not based on scientific tests. They're interesting, but not critical.

    "Im surprised you would mention basing a purchase decision on such a small sample and with results only slightly better than guessing."

    Why are you surprised? Larry asked a question and I provided an answer. Very few people have done even *that* much before purchasing. Have you?

    Eric
     
  20. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    Wayne:

     

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