Audioquest HDMI cables

WELquest

Industry Expert
Jan 30, 2016
43
0
0
PS

Much of the last few decades of progress in metal conductor technology has come from major Japanese refiners and manufacturers -- a community well known for being more engineering-driven than marketing-driven. Hitachi might be a poster child inheritor of Xerox's, Philips' and others tradition of being better at inventing than at employing and deploying, at least in the consumer products domain.

OCC (Ohno Continuous Casting) was developed by Professor Ohno while employed by a public university, and such it was the government which licensed the technology in the 1980's to both Furukawa and Sumitomo, and later to Neotech's mother company in Taiwan. When in 1987, I shifted from using Hitachi's LC-OFC to Sumitomo's PSC-OFC, I was not dealing with fly-by-night audiophile companies who supposedly do no more than take a standard cable, throw Holy Water at it, bless it, and maybe freeze it before disguising it -- I was dealing with major industrial companies who for the most part couldn't give a hoot about our little audio world.

I chose to buy OCC from Sumitomo because they drew from 12mm as-cast vs. Furukawa drawing from 15mm as-cast. Later, prior to switching to the US processed copper I use now, I was fortunate to have Sumitomo work with me, giving AudioQuest the opportunity to evaluate conductor drawn from 2mm OD as-cast, and from 4mm OD as-cast. The performance hierarchy from 15mm > 12mm > 8mm (the standard from Noeotech) > 4mm > 2mm was exactly as would be expected. In this context, any benefit of possibly slightly more directionality in the more processed samples was completely swamped out by the more-or-less damage done by the (even extremely refined) drawing process.

Because AudioQuest was the largest customer for OCC metal outside of Japan, in the early 1990's Nippon Mining (later Japan Energy, another of those touchy-feely little Japanese fly-by-night companies) came to AudioQuest in San Clemente, bringing along one of Japan's most famous audio reviewers to make the introduction, in order to present Stress-Free 6N copper to me. I started to use this material shortly afterwards, years later switching my 6N purchases to Dowa (another "little" Japanese company) because Dowa's copper gave a slightly better result. I don't know why Dowa's copper conductors were better -- I knew all that I needed to know. In my role as a professional consumer, I bought performance, not theory.

In 1999 when I started purchasing the US manufactured copper and silver conductors which I refer to as Perfect-Surface (obviously not perfect, but the surface is a major point of differentiation), I knew less about the "why" than I did when I had previously bought LC-OFC, PC-OCC, or 6N, because the process was not intellectually protected and couldn't be fully revealed -- but again, the "why" only satisfies curiosity, it was the in situ audio performance which justified my switch and my allocation of resources.

My point: The above named Japanese and Taiwanese companies are full of extremely competent engineers, who do measure. That's their world. My world is learning to choose the best of what they have learned to manufacture, and to as cost-effectively as possible apply their products as appropriate in my products.

Sincerely, Bill Low
 

Don Hills

Well-Known Member
Jun 21, 2013
366
1
148
Wellington, New Zealand
Bill,
Thank you for your post. Sadly, it was again long on anecdote and short on technical content, leaving my questions largely unanswered. I'm no closer to knowing the actual order of magnitude of any directionality effect. Your assertions of audibility notwithstanding, my current understanding remains that it's several orders of magnitude below any commonly accepted thresholds of audibility. I guess you can cross me off your Christmas card list.
 

Jinjuku

New Member
Apr 18, 2011
228
4
0
Is there a point that's going to be made anytime soon?

What's AQ to do with more and more connectivity going wireless. It's about data reconstruction. Not the medium of delivery. The title of the thread is HDMI.

All these high bandwidth interconnects are built around commodity process cabling. For a reason. This is so pathetic it's hilarious.
 

WELquest

Industry Expert
Jan 30, 2016
43
0
0
Bill,
Thank you for your post. Sadly, it was again long on anecdote and short on technical content, leaving my questions largely unanswered. I'm no closer to knowing the actual order of magnitude of any directionality effect. Your assertions of audibility notwithstanding, my current understanding remains that it's several orders of magnitude below any commonly accepted thresholds of audibility. I guess you can cross me off your Christmas card list.

Sorry to disappoint yet again, really.

I'm the spectator waiting for the measurers to catch up with the empirical evidence. As I've stated elsewhere, I am not going to allocate resources toward pacifying or inspiring those who won't listen for themselves -- History and experience has shown over and over, from before cable was audio's bad boy, from before there was an internet, that the percentage of humans who will believe the stupidest things, and the percentage of humans who will refuse to acknowledge what is evident to others, are constants. Despite my serious over-application of time to this forum, this macro human phenomenon is not something I would pretend to try to change, though evidently, at the local level, I seem to find trying to open doors to be irresistible. Those who hear might gain a bit of confidence by having supporting evidence. Those who don't hear, will not be persuaded by the difference files we'll make available later in the year, or by any other measurements, such as directional impedance differences.

Those who do listen and do not hear differences should consider the case closed because they should believe their experience, and no further neural activity is worth wasting on the subject -- Those scientifically inclined skeptics who listen and do hear a difference, should of course act on what they heard, whether as a consumer, or because they have been stimulated by what they heard, to investigate why and help further understanding for the benefit of all of us.

If "commonly accepted thresholds of audibility" are in conflict with empirical reality, then it is the "common" that needs modification. The first fork in the road is whether the mechanisms which are commonly thought to be inaudible might not be the mechanisms actually accounting for the differences, such as with those who no matter what I write cling to denouncing directionality because an AC signal can't be directional (actually, at the micro level, that's not a given either) -- or whether the accepted correlation between phenomenon and audibility doesn't have an incorrect commonly accepted threshold.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, it was a better than a commonly accepted perspective that less than 1% THD could not be audible, until the frontier moved on to questioning what percentage of 0.1% THD needed to be odd harmonics in order to audible, and therefor account for the irritation (energy in the wrong place and time) added by many tests-as-perfect amplifiers.

If I had such a Christmas card list, you would still be on it -- the honorable opposition.

Sincerely, Bill
 

Jinjuku

New Member
Apr 18, 2011
228
4
0
This will be a first for any forum but I feel I need to ask:

Could Mr. Low please be required to provide actual data, peer reviewed journals, or independently re-produced results? Barring that posts moderated?

I apologize in advance if it's over stepping. From my view point it's not unreasonable given the context of the thread (HDMI and not straight analog) and the sub forum (measurements).

The enough rope to hang himself with has already been done I just don't want to have to keep seeing the swaying corpse.

Or maybe the requirement for him to continue is to submit to a properly bias controlled evaluation before he comments further.
 

timc166293

New Member
Feb 3, 2016
11
0
0
Bill,

There is no opposition, we are all on the same side for more accurate audio (not different - which is OK, as I sometimes use my tone controls).

We all know the brain can be easily fooled. Yours / AQ was fooled via the video a year ago. Other data points....

- Optical allusions http://www.eyetricks.com/6701.htm
- Magicians
- 3D
- Ask law enforcement about witness memories

The point is.... show us data / methodology that we can duplicate with our own resources.

Regards TJC
 
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ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
6,783
1,173
580
Boston, MA
Hi, let me summarize the key points that I see, between your responses to me and Don Hills (sorry, I find them unnecessarily verbose and hard to follow):

our claim is that, most importantly at the surface of a drawn conductor, due to non-random asymmetrical surface irregularities, that impedance at very high EMI frequencies is incrementally different in one direction vs. the other. Given the law that energy much follow the path of least resistance, noise capacitively coupled from other elements of the cable, or which gets in the ends of the never complete shield attachment of an RCA or XLR, must follow the path of least resistance.

If I read the bolded statement correctly, it's really all about routing noise picked up by alleged directional conductors to either the source or target component, and it all depends on how these components deal with noise; but is it also possible that they deal with noise in exactly the same way, so as to render any directionality differences insignificant?

Yes, a cable having 100% shield coverage almost never means a 100% shielded cable. An "F" connector, as used on an RG6 coax, whereby the shield makes continuous 360º contact with the plugs, has a chance of providing complete shield coverage. An RCA or XLR plug really doesn't allow for a similarly effect shielding regime. The many more modern digital plugs have been designed with noise in mind, but their exact manifestation and implementation is variable. As for the inadequate old RJ45 on an Ethernet cable -- equipment using Ethernet protocols was less subject to external EMI back when Ethernet was over coax.

What about those Neutrik XLR connectors featuring a tiny capacitor between pin 1 and case, presumably to completely shield end to end...

That differences due to directionality can be heard, are significant, and that action is required is a given.

If the differences in conductor directionality are significant and audible, can you measure them, and how.

We now think we know enough to not want less directional conductors, as I explained when commenting on why using amorphous conductors would take away the valuable phenomenon of being able to direct noise.

So it is desirable to direct noise, and there is no way to eliminate it at all, be it by manufacturing techniques and/or proper full shields?

Thanks
 

Joe Whip

Well-Known Member
Feb 8, 2014
1,406
241
220
Wayne, PA
This whole directionality issue has me scratching my head. My HT system is wired with pretty simple wire and could even be described as a mishmash, yet still sounds fantastic. My 2 channel system is wired with AQ from the 90's, namely Lapis and Cobolt because Richard Vandersteen highly recommended the stuff and I got them almost cheap as trades from a dealer. The Lapis are directional and I played with them and heard no difference. Open mind and all but my career has been as a trial lawyer and I could write a book about how fallible our senses and memories are. I have been off the wire merry go round since the 90's and intend to stay off it. However the AQ stuff I have does work great, even the cheaper USB but when listening to the really expensive stuff, I don't hear an improvement. And don't get me started on wires with tone control boxes built into them. Remember a difference is not the same as an improvement.
 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,813
22
0
Seattle, WA
This will be a first for any forum but I feel I need to ask:

Could Mr. Low please be required to provide actual data, peer reviewed journals, or independently re-produced results? Barring that posts moderated?
Not in this thread. The topic here is the HDMI cable and we are in need of anything of that sort there given their agreement with our measurements.

The enough rope to hang himself with has already been done I just don't want to have to keep seeing the swaying corpse.
We can critique his products but I am going to ask that we show him extreme respect as a person. He has walked into a very difficult place that many would not. Let's use the opportunity to get more information than aiming to hang anyone.
 

7ryder

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2015
42
16
113
Belden has been mentioned on several forums, both because Steve Lampen has made himself so visible, and because Belden makes extremely competent cables, within the parameters of their approach to cable. Belden is the Cadillac/Mercedes/whatever of cable as the answer to a function needing to be fulfilled. Many years ago, Belden was a key manufacturer of AQ cables, especially our analog video cables -- because they are a very competent organization, and because their test factory is a full-on full-scale facility with the flexible artisan culture required to always be testing new techniques and processes. During those years, a bunch of Belden engineers came out to visit AQ in San Clemente. While sharing many hours with us, they listened to directionality -- they heard the difference, they did not try to deny what they heard, they only wondered, even if only temporarily, why they heard what they heard.

However, some months later, when I visited these engineers at Belden headquarters in Indiana, they spoke about what they had heard as if it were a somehow isolated phenomenon -- a very normal human response. I wished so much that I had had with me the $99 JVC boombox I had previously travelled with, so that I might set up this oh-so-high-end and exotic system in their office, and let them hear that there it was equally easy to hear directionality in CA vs. IN, or on a mid-grade audiophile system vs. a boombox (with detachable speakers and a need for speaker cable).

Sincerely, Bill Low

here's an editorial on their boombox demo http://www.audioholics.com/editorials/audioquest-demo & the demo seems suspect at best.
 

Barry2013

VIP/Donor
Oct 12, 2013
2,166
346
253
Essex UK
This whole directionality issue has me scratching my head. My HT system is wired with pretty simple wire and could even be described as a mishmash, yet still sounds fantastic. My 2 channel system is wired with AQ from the 90's, namely Lapis and Cobolt because Richard Vandersteen highly recommended the stuff and I got them almost cheap as trades from a dealer. The Lapis are directional and I played with them and heard no difference. Open mind and all but my career has been as a trial lawyer and I could write a book about how fallible our senses and memories are. I have been off the wire merry go round since the 90's and intend to stay off it. However the AQ stuff I have does work great, even the cheaper USB but when listening to the really expensive stuff, I don't hear an improvement. And don't get me started on wires with tone control boxes built into them. Remember a difference is not the same as an improvement.

And the expert witnesses!
 

Jinjuku

New Member
Apr 18, 2011
228
4
0
My aim is data. That is always my goal/target/whatever.

As far as I'm concerned I'm not even attempting to hang anyone out to dry. Mr Lowe is doing that all by himself by not presenting a single shred of measurement.

Not a cascade plot, not a nulling test, not a polar response plot, not any listener based evaluations (all the while de-crying them with out any citations etc).

I get the difficulty trying to defend the indefensible. Even my hats off for posting as much as he has posted. But it's 100% conjecture outside of the extrusion and annealing processes he has described.
 

Fitzcaraldo215

New Member
Nov 3, 2014
394
1
0
"IMO, if a big cable company brings out new cables on a regular basis, and has many increments and nice colours, then it's sausage factory marketing and manufacturing...and I'd steer clear of such a company."

I just saw this quote today, and it seems to sum it up succinctly. It was quoted over at Computer at Audiophile in another post, but I cannot seem to find the original.
 

Phelonious Ponk

New Member
Jul 1, 2010
8,677
5
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Back when I was working in A/V retail, we used to love to sell AQ cables, because the mark-ups are huge.

Tim
 

amirm

Banned
Apr 3, 2010
15,813
22
0
Seattle, WA
Was mentioned that at one time Belden made cable assemblies for AQ. Considering what Belden makes and the cost one would think the markup to AQ pricing had to be huge.
Belden doesn't have to pay for the sales channel for high-end audiophiles. This is luxury selling and expensive. Imagine someone going to a belden cable and ask to audition them for a couple of hours with their music :).

So one can't directly compare Belden's model to AQ or any other high-end cable manufacturer.
 

esldude

New Member
Belden doesn't have to pay for the sales channel for high-end audiophiles. This is luxury selling and expensive. Imagine someone going to a belden cable and ask to audition them for a couple of hours with their music :).

So one can't directly compare Belden's model to AQ or any other high-end cable manufacturer.

Well that only highlights what one is paying for when buying AQ or other high end cables. Performance is NOT what they are paying for.
 

WELquest

Industry Expert
Jan 30, 2016
43
0
0
Well that only highlights what one is paying for when buying AQ or other high end cables. Performance is NOT what they are paying for.

As Amir clearly explained, retail is where the profit is.

The one-time dealer mentioned a high margin -- that was the dealer's margin, not AQ's! Our gross profit as a percentage of the retail price averages 12.5%. Our net profit is approximately 0.625%% of the retail price.

And in case it's not obvious enough, the dealer margins in low-end are almost universally higher than in high-end. Costco, my largest customer over the last decade (under a different brand name) is a notable exception.

Audio dealers, who struggle to be in business (just look at the turnover!), make a profit on speakers and amps and the rest of it. Singling out cable suppliers as evil for giving retailers the tools they need seems to reveal an irrational war against cables.

As I prepare a final post and wish the forum well, I can't help but laugh at the astonishing lack of methodology by those posters who seems blinded by a personal campaign which does not have anything to do with the forum's agenda of revealing the measured truth -- profit, and who makes it, can be measured!

Sincerely, Bill

PS Cable made for us by Belden cost AQ more, or much more, than the distributor price for Belden brand cable, because the cables Belden made for AQ cost more to make. Apples and oranges, not apples and apples.
 
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