The Cable Dialectic

FrantzM

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
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#21
I will be able to show you that you can measure the difference when direction is reversed. These stranded, twisted pair cables are twisted in a certain direction, and following the right hand rule, when you put two wires in close proximity, when the twist is in opposite direction, you can change the balance of inductance and capacitance. Also, you will notice when you take these cables apart that the orange, green, brown, blue wires inside have different twists.......
Gary

Is that a solid argument? I am not too sure. in my line of work, I deal with Cat 5, 6, etc and the likes cables and indeed the twist have a direction ... I would however say that if you put reverse the direction of a known cable, the measurements will not change. Of that I am certain. I used to believe in cables ..not anymore: I strongly believe, no I know that the human perceptual appartus has threshold and that beyond those threshold signals are no longer perceived. e.g we don't "see" infrared or UV ... Nor are we able to hear differences between 2 signals that are ..05db apart , I am not even sure we perceive 0.1 dB apart ...
Back in the 80's when I was still in college, I remember how during the week end I would change the oil (Oil was cheap then) and the filters of my car, clean the engine and feel that the car performed so much better ... Such seems to exist inthe world of high End cables ... It remains for example interesting that the most expensive cables are always superior to the least expensive while the objective reasons why these more expensive cables work "better" fall well below human perceptive threshold ...(Nordost Propagation delay figures of 96% of the speed of light for the Valahalla and 98% for the Odin :confused: In Physics the propagation delay is the time it takes a signal to travel from one end of a conductor to the another so that would not matter at all .. you would simply hear the music the same since all the music would have been delayed only by 2% of .000000001 sec !!!!)
I am also certain the debate will continue for a while .. There is too much invested in cables from the manufacturers and the Audiophiles alike.. Audiophiles usually prefer to err in the sense of more and this is used by cables manufacturers ... to sell their ware .. .. I suspect that from the audiophiles side it is an emotional issue.. People usually cling to beliefs, beliefs are emotional investments ... And the cable is much an issue of belief and in no small amount of insecurity .. Many have been exposed to the inability to hear differences between cables.. Most haven't rejected the belief ... They have rather chosen to dismiss science of more conveniently the validity of the tests they were subjected to . Believe me, it truly bothers one to discover that one's hearing abilities is not as good as one would like to think .. as I have said somewhere else in this forum or others ... The experience can be humbling, sometime humiliating and over all upsetting .. So beliefs are safer .. And if one can afford it ..really ..Why not play it safe? mmmmhhh? .. After that 100K speaker in my 200 K system a few more dollars in "great" cables here and there make the system more ..organic ..... Right? ....?

On the Pro side using cables, if I were a cable manufacturer and considering the margin on cables, that would have been one of my favorite marketing outlet ... The Pro gets to project more mystique for nothing: a simple endorsement and the cable manufacturer? You already knew ...
 
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May 30, 2010
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#23
Gary,

Can I re-post these two tests in your dialectic?

I would suggest that those who do not believe in cables do an experiment - make a DBT with your cables versus 9 AWG ones. If you do not distinguish, compare the 9 with 12 , 12 with 15 and so on until you hear a difference. Please tell us at what gauge you heard a difference.

When I have the time I will set an experiment - I have some meters of rusti AWG 4 iron wire . I will clean the extremities to bright metal and compare them with AWG 12 copper - same resistance. Do you think they will sound the same?
 

fas42

Addicted To Best
Jan 8, 2011
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#24
I've just been inspired to throw in a big hint, sorry about that, Gary ...:D

The cable thing is not about R, L and C. It's all about second order effects, that effectively the R, L and C values of the cable are not static but vary, are dynamic, while the music is playing, for all sorts of reasons. These things can be extremely hard to measure, so typically are ignored. The sort of things that COULD come into the mix, for starters, are stray magnetic fields, thermoelectric, electrochemical, piezoelectric, triboelectric, pyroelectric and antenna behaviour.

A nice little bundle of things to worry about ...

Frank
 

FrantzM

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
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#25
Hi

Since the thread subject invite so, I would add that there ARE differences between cables. Heck! There are differences between two pieces of wires of metal from different mills. The crux of the matter is not so much that there are measurable differences , there are. No! The crux of the matter is IF these differences can be heard and there ... Cables tend to grind to halt why? Because under strict , bias reducing conditions, and once a threshold of electrical adequacy is met differences between cables become insignificant and can't be reliably perceived... IOW under blind conditions people are not able to even recognize their own "familar" cables.. Under sighted these differences are described with qualifiers from the seemingly never-ending trove of audiophile hyperboles ("Night and Day", "more Organic", "transparent", "speed", etc)...

Pragmatism rules Scientific experiments as it does life.. One does not measure people height to the nanometer or people weight to the nanogram .. It simply doesn't make sense. Losing a nanogram of fat is not relevant to our silhouette ... It is the same for cables .... 0.01 dB variances at 100 KHz doesn't, cannot make a "vast" difference
 
May 30, 2010
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#26
(...)
Pragmatism rules Scientific experiments as it does life.. One does not measure people height to the nanometer or people weight to the nanogram .. It simply doesn't make sense. Losing a nanogram of fat is not relevant to our silhouette ... It is the same for cables .... 0.01 dB variances at 100 KHz doesn't, cannot make a "vast" difference
Frantz,
Your position is clear and I understand it, but it as badly supported as the one of those who say the opposite. :D

The two sentences I have quoted do not add nothing to the cable debate. Weight and height are simple, single defined variables, perceptual results of an electrical signal transfer with a 20-20000 Hz bandwidth is a very complex problem.

Plenty of people refer to individual blind tests sourced from the net, that are of almost zero value, pointing in both directions. When people highlight the humiliating aspect of audiophiles that can not under stress conditions distinguish their cables they are just exploring their ignorance about these type of tests - any reasonable audiophile with a minimum of scientific knowledge would refuse to carry them in those conditions. But it is defined in war manuals - an humiliated adversary is half of the victory, and in the war cable everything counts.

I have asked several times - if anyone has references to this type of tests, accessible to everyone and validated in a scientific way, please post them here. Otherwise we should debate our own experiences, knowing that they only express our humble opinions, surely biased by our convictions.
 

Ron Party

WBF Founding Member
Apr 30, 2010
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Oakland, CA
#27
When people highlight the humiliating aspect of audiophiles that can not under stress conditions distinguish their cables they are just exploring their ignorance about these type of tests - any reasonable audiophile with a minimum of scientific knowledge would refuse to carry them in those conditions.
Apparently there are an awful lot of ignorant, unreasonable audiophiles, including me.:mad:
 

fas42

Addicted To Best
Jan 8, 2011
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#28
Of course, the other aspect is that cables are really part of the amplifier, in the sense of being part of a music making machine. People agonise over whether to use a certain type of silver wire yea long in the amp, carefully soldered at both ends with Wondersolder or whatever, then cheerfully whack a great length of some cable on the carpet on the floor, outside the case of the amp, exposed to all the elements so to speak, attaching it at either end under a plastic screw down, and tightening using just finger pressure.

This is where Tim's active setups are way in front ...

Frank
 
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May 30, 2010
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#29
Apparently there are an awful lot of ignorant, unreasonable audiophiles, including me.:mad:
Ron,

Surely - a reasonable audiophile should use audiophile hyperboles such as ("Night and Day", "more Organic", "transparent", "speed", etc). As far as I know, you never used them in this forum :) .

More seriously, I consider that most of us (including me) are ignorant in statistical analysis of perceptual experiments or methods of DBTs. Surely we are able to learn, but just it is not our main interest.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
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Manila, Philippines
#30
More curious to me is why the same cables will sound sharp (doesn't transmit everything else as well as highs) and the opposite depending on speakers while maintaining the same front end and amplification, while some cables are consistent with the same two loudspeakers. I hope there is an explanation somewhere that makes sense. Oh wait. There's a network in the cable I mentioned (Townshend Isolda). Still, I don't understand the possible interactions.
 

muralman1

New Member
Jul 7, 2010
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Sacramento Ca
#31
I believe the wisest thing said here is that we need to know what amp we are using. I am sorry to say, with my set up, it all boils down to configuration, and dielectric. Flat and thin with a whisper of insulation wins the race as miraculously as Secratariat running the Belmont.
 
Oct 1, 2010
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Cleveland Ohio
#32
..........
The cable thing is not about R, L and C. It's all about second order effects, that effectively the R, L and C values of the cable are not static but vary, are dynamic, while the music is playing, for all sorts of reasons. These things can be extremely hard to measure, so typically are ignored. The sort of things that COULD come into the mix, for starters, are stray magnetic fields, thermoelectric, electrochemical, piezoelectric, triboelectric, pyroelectric and antenna behaviour.
...........
Frank
It appears that some words have disappeared from the second sentence.

But "thermoelectric, electrochemical, piezoelectric, triboelectric, pyroelectric" in your listening room, I don't think so. (with a hand held microphone, maybe).

Now about "stray magnetic fields & antenna behaviour" Bill Whitlock writes about audible differences in cables, because of how they react to EMI/RFI interference.

NO OTHER PRODUCT IS AS SHROUDED IN HYPE AND MYSTERY AS THE AUDIO CABLE!
The audio industry, especially the "high-end" segment, abounds with misinformation, myth, and
mysticism. Scientific double-blind tests have shown that there is nothing unexplainable about
audible differences among cables — when the differences can be demonstrated to truly exist. For
example, the physical design of a cable is known to affect its coupling of ultrasonic power line
noise. Even very low levels of this noise can cause audible “spectral contamination” in
downstream amplifiers. [11] The real solution to this problem is to prevent the coupling in the first
place, rather than agonize over which “designer cable” makes the most pleasing improvement.

Expensive and exotic cables, even if double or triple shielded, made of 100% pure unobtainium,
and hand-made by a team of virgins, will have NO significant effect on hum and
buzz problems!
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
#33
Thanks, Frantz for staying with the spirit of the dialectic.

Gary

Is that a solid argument? I am not too sure. in my line of work, I deal with Cat 5, 6, etc and the likes cables and indeed the twist have a direction ... I would however say that if you put reverse the direction of a known cable, the measurements will not change. Of that I am certain.
Actually, it does - if you measured the first pair of cables we made (even using something as simple as a B&K 878A meter) the capacitance is 623.9pF reading from the start of the printing, and 618.5pF reading from the end of the printing. If you take apart that pair, and then re-assemble them with the printing reading in opposite directions, the capacitance is 616.2pf at either end.

The scales of this difference *should* be inaudible, but in the spirit of the dialectic, we should still explore the scale of what we can each perceive in the context of our listener/amplifier/loudspeaker combination. I believe that there WILL be some combinations where the difference is insignificant, and there will be some combinations where the difference is mind-blowing.

I used to believe in cables ..not anymore: I strongly believe, no I know that the human perceptual appartus has threshold and that beyond those threshold signals are no longer perceived. e.g we don't "see" infrared or UV ... Nor are we able to hear differences between 2 signals that are ..05db apart , I am not even sure we perceive 0.1 dB apart ...
In some of the research papers I previously posted, the lowest threshold of human perception of level difference in simple sine wave signals is 0.2dB. However, we are still continuing to learn about the threshold of human perception of hearing. Just as we know that we cannot see IR or UV, each and every one of us has a different perception of where along the red-blue scale "purple" is. Trained professionals in the fashion and interior designer circles also have different threshold where purple becomes puce. In color, we have words along the continuum of red to blue - including claret, indigo, magenta, violet, aubergine, mauve etc.

One of the new areas of research into auditory perception that I cited in the OP is the temporal (not just phase) threshold of perception down to 6microseconds.


I suspect that from the audiophiles side it is an emotional issue.. People usually cling to beliefs, beliefs are emotional investments ... And the cable is much an issue of belief and in no small amount of insecurity .. Many have been exposed to the inability to hear differences between cables.. Most haven't rejected the belief ... They have rather chosen to dismiss science of more conveniently the validity of the tests they were subjected to . Believe me, it truly bothers one to discover that one's hearing abilities is not as good as one would like to think .. as I have said somewhere else in this forum or others ... The experience can be humbling, sometime humiliating and over all upsetting .. So beliefs are safer ..
That is why I thought that this might be food for an interesting thought experiment. The cost is low, it isn't too hard to do, and you don't have to admit to anything in public.

I used to be a cable believer - when I was introduced to the QED79 strand in 1984. Then, when most new cables sounded different rather than better, I became a cable skeptic. It was only in the last few years that I became a cable believer again, but by then it was difficult to wade through the snake oil. This is not an attempt to prove or disprove anything - it is a dialectic. It is an attempt to give participants the tools to think through the morass themselves.
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
#34
Gary,

Can I re-post these two tests in your dialectic?

I would suggest that those who do not believe in cables do an experiment - make a DBT with your cables versus 9 AWG ones. If you do not distinguish, compare the 9 with 12 , 12 with 15 and so on until you hear a difference. Please tell us at what gauge you heard a difference.

When I have the time I will set an experiment - I have some meters of rusti AWG 4 iron wire . I will clean the extremities to bright metal and compare them with AWG 12 copper - same resistance. Do you think they will sound the same?
Of course, you are welcome to.

The difficulty with "DBT" is that for that to be truely double-blind, both the tester and the testee must not know the device under test. With cables this is extremely difficult. I tried build a relay-based switcher to switch cables, but I can hear the introduction of a relay switch even when I soldered the speaker cable under test to the relay. For a proper test, you need a relay switch at both ends.

However, I have tried what you suggested, and yes, different gauge will sound different, and copper and iron sounds different. You can even try it with old coat hangers.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
10,995
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38
Manila, Philippines
#35
Shouldn't capacitance inherently have temporal implications?
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
#36
Pragmatism rules Scientific experiments as it does life.. One does not measure people height to the nanometer or people weight to the nanogram .. It simply doesn't make sense. Losing a nanogram of fat is not relevant to our silhouette ... It is the same for cables .... 0.01 dB variances at 100 KHz doesn't, cannot make a "vast" difference
Frantz, no argument here. To me, I don't see the difference between puce curtains and purple curtains, it is below my threshold of perception of color - but to the wife, it's material for divorce. We are not here trying to convert anyone - not in a dialectic.
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
#37
Shouldn't capacitance inherently have temporal implications?
Yes, and so does inductance. Unless it has a network, inductance and capacitance measurements are tiny in the scale of the values found in the crossover network of the loudspeaker, and are easily dismissed. That's why I am trying to keep this empirical.
 

FrantzM

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
6,469
0
0
#38
Frantz,
Your position is clear and I understand it, but it as badly supported as the one of those who say the opposite. :D

The two sentences I have quoted do not add nothing to the cable debate. Weight and height are simple, single defined variables, perceptual results of an electrical signal transfer with a 20-20000 Hz bandwidth is a very complex problem.

Plenty of people refer to individual blind tests sourced from the net, that are of almost zero value, pointing in both directions. When people highlight the humiliating aspect of audiophiles that can not under stress conditions distinguish their cables they are just exploring their ignorance about these type of tests - any reasonable audiophile with a minimum of scientific knowledge would refuse to carry them in those conditions. But it is defined in war manuals - an humiliated adversary is half of the victory, and in the war cable everything counts.

I have asked several times - if anyone has references to this type of tests, accessible to everyone and validated in a scientific way, please post them here. Otherwise we should debate our own experiences, knowing that they only express our humble opinions, surely biased by our convictions.
Microstrip

You have displayed in many discussions a singular penchant for producing Strawman arguments with a dash of ad hominem for good measure:. Debates cannot be useful if such tactics are regularly used, as these do not advance and even less elevate the debate. Such tactics often showcase their user bad will or faith:

I used the nanometer imagery to point out that we have enough parameters to understand what cables do. From these you inferred that I meant that measuring weight and height was more complex than measuring the action of cables parameters on the reproduction of the Audio Spectrum … I didn’t but it can be ...

Then later same argumentation fallacy plus another, circular

Plenty of people refer to individual blind tests sourced from the net, that are of almost zero value, pointing in both directions
My personal experience is not sourced from the net, inspired? Sure! I conducted my own blind testing and failed to recognize my own cables.
About “Zero Value” .. Some of these tests were conducted under controlled conditions and with peer reviews so what in your opinion reduces their value to “zero”?
Let me continue
When people highlight the humiliating aspect of audiophiles that can not under stress conditions distinguish their cables they are just exploring their ignorance about these type of tests
I didn’t highlight, I offered a personal opinion from which you inferred one more time that I meant this was humiliating to audiophiles .. I thought that my use of the modifier “humbling almost humiliating” would help in showing there was no emphasis on the “humiliation” aspect of the experience.. furthermore, while I am far from ignorant on the matter of Double Blind Testing, I see no shame in exploring my own ignorance , nor should anyone, nor should you, that is the only path to knowledge: Exploring what you don’t know .. I could state the obvious but will refrain from it …

Now let’s explore this together
any reasonable audiophile with a minimum of scientific knowledge would refuse to carry them in those conditions.
And why should they ? Because the stress of the tests will suddenly blunt their hearing acuity? When the same stress doesn’t seem to work for speakers and even for (some) electronics? So are we admitting somewhat that our psychological state can greatly influence our perceptions? So are we admitting that biases color our perceptions… My bad ...these inferences are mine not yours … Sorry :(
Then this from your post

if anyone has references to this type of tests, accessible to everyone and validated in a scientific way, please post them here.
What type of tests are your asking about ? What do you consider to be “scientific” tests?

I posted my own experience on the WBF.. It could be interesting to try these as well; I warn you my experiences were not entirely scientificnor did I feel any stress then again our perceptions have been shown to be far from reliable … So it could be that I only thought I felt no stress
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
#39
I didn’t highlight, I offered a personal opinion from which you inferred one more time that I meant this was humiliating to audiophiles .. I thought that my use of the modifier “humbling almost humiliating” would help in showing there was no emphasis on the “humiliation” aspect of the experience.. furthermore, while I am far from ignorant on the matter of Double Blind Testing, I see no shame in exploring my own ignorance , nor should anyone, nor should you, that is the only path to knowledge: Exploring what you don’t know .. I could state the obvious but will refrain from it …
Frantz,
thank you for exploring and letting us know that you have explored. This is the spirit I hope that others who are reading can follow your good example.

Folks,
let us not allow this thread to degenerate into a DBT food fight. You should do no more than to let yourself listen. If you want to do it blind, more power to you. Otherwise, sighted is fine.
 
May 30, 2010
13,971
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Portugal
#40
Microstrip

You have displayed in many discussions a singular penchant for producing Strawman arguments with a dash of ad hominem for good measure: (...)

I used the nanometer imagery to point out that we have enough parameters to understand what cables do. From these you inferred that I meant that measuring weight and height was more complex than measuring the action of cables parameters on the reproduction of the Audio Spectrum … I didn’t but it can be ...
Please read what you wrote:
"Pragmatism rules Scientific experiments as it does life.. One does not measure people height to the nanometer or people weight to the nanogram .. It simply doesn't make sense. Losing a nanogram of fat is not relevant to our silhouette ... It is the same for cables .... 0.01 dB variances at 100 KHz doesn't, cannot make a "vast" difference"

I answered
"The two sentences I have quoted do not add nothing to the cable debate. Weight and height are simple, single defined variables, perceptual results of an electrical signal transfer with a 20-20000 Hz bandwidth is a very complex problem." just to tell that IMHO it is NOT the same for cables.

For the remaining I stick to my point - if you want to aim at Scientific experiments, you must clearly detail all the experimental procedures to readers. When I say "zero value" it refers to the fact that unless all the conditions are known the experiment is not considered acceptable in Science. I accept I could have chosen a more friendly and meaningful word, such as of not universal validity or private experiment - but it is force of habit.


Apologies for not being able to appreciate your humble - humiliating soft style - I am a not native english reader/writer and did not notice it. :(

Concerning short time DBTs we have different opinions - we have both referred it several times.

I always try not to misrepresent others positions in debates - if it happens I am always happy to correct and discuss it! :)
 

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