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  1. #1
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    A question for ex-cable believers

    Ok, so you're past your audiophile cable belief days because you participated in some blind tests and couldn't reliably distinguish your old audiophile cables from generic ones. You're now convinced there are no audible difference in cables. Since your transformation, have your ears ever fooled you during, say, a friends cable audition or in any other instance? Ever talk yourself out of a difference you thought you heard because it was a sighted audition?

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    Quote Originally Posted by musicoverall
    Ok, so you're past your audiophile cable belief days because you participated in some blind tests and couldn't reliably distinguish your old audiophile cables from generic ones. You're now convinced there are no audible difference in cables. Since your transformation, have your ears ever fooled you during, say, a friends cable audition or in any other instance? Ever talk yourself out of a difference you thought you heard because it was a sighted audition?
    It's hard to compare because of different room acoustics, equipment, etc. When presented with a sighted cable audition (only a couple times in recent memory), I usually give them my spiel about blind testing. If the difference is so huge and glaring, you should be able to hear it blind. Take the example of my old CEC TT vs. my newer Rega. The difference is 100% noticeable. If you have normal hearing, you will hear the difference. When people say their power conditioner or cable makes a night/day difference, then you should be able to hear the difference blind with that kind of accuracy.

    E-Stat has made a valid point about the possibility of needing an extended period of time to be able to hear the differences. RGA frequently quotes Audio Note's Peter Q's "Road to Audio Hell" (which by the way is such a biased, unbelievably ridiculous, and self-serving essay that I found it difficult to finish reading without retching). Maybe doing cable tests require a longer time frame to truly appreciate. In this case, a blind test over whatever period the subject feels is adequate (the testing as described in the other thread) should do the trick. It remains only with the particular audiophile whether he is willing to expend the energy to get his wife/friend to switch cables at random whenever he requests. Then he only needs to keep track of which cable he thinks he is listening to.

    I can only think of two reasons why they don't want to do this test: 1) they are lazy; 2) they are unwilling to truly see what reality has to offer. Maybe there are other reasons that others are willing to elucidate upon.

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    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    Hey, this sounds familiar.

    Quote Originally Posted by magictooth
    retching). Maybe doing cable tests require a longer time frame to truly appreciate. In this case, a blind test over whatever period the subject feels is adequate (the testing as described in the other thread) should do the trick. It remains only with the particular audiophile whether he is willing to expend the energy to get his wife/friend to switch cables at random whenever he requests. Then he only needs to keep track of which cable he thinks he is listening to.
    NAh.. .that's just too, too simple. It would have taken a genius to come up with that.

  4. #4
    Forum Regular Tony_Montana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicoverall
    A question for ex-cable believers.
    That question might be a loaded one.

    Since been posted here and on AA audio forum, I've never met anybody that actually have changed their mind about cables because of any type of cable evaluation test (be it DBT or not). So when you address your question to "ex-cable lovers" or "ex-cable nayers", you might be addressing a very tint tiny tiny minority (if any).

    Those who tend to believe that cables makes a 'big" difference, seem to stick to that ideology no matter how many test they have done or been presented to that indicate other wise. And those that don't, tend to fall into same category also (present company included ).

    Of course it won't be fair to say that no body have made any progress in either direction, but it is rare to see a full blown conversion.
    Last edited by Tony_Montana; 01-23-2005 at 10:13 PM.
    "Say Hello To My Little Friend."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony_Montana
    Of course it won't be fair to say that no body have made any progress in either direction, but it is rare to see a full blown conversion.
    Both markw and magictooth have posted that they have been "saved" from the evil snare of cables. There are several others around here that are naysayers, although they may have always been. Apparently, though, this thread didn't generate any interest.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by magictooth
    It's hard to compare because of different room acoustics, equipment, etc. When presented with a sighted cable audition (only a couple times in recent memory), I usually give them my spiel about blind testing. If the difference is so huge and glaring, you should be able to hear it blind. Take the example of my old CEC TT vs. my newer Rega. The difference is 100% noticeable. If you have normal hearing, you will hear the difference. When people say their power conditioner or cable makes a night/day difference, then you should be able to hear the difference blind with that kind of accuracy.

    E-Stat has made a valid point about the possibility of needing an extended period of time to be able to hear the differences. RGA frequently quotes Audio Note's Peter Q's "Road to Audio Hell" (which by the way is such a biased, unbelievably ridiculous, and self-serving essay that I found it difficult to finish reading without retching). Maybe doing cable tests require a longer time frame to truly appreciate. In this case, a blind test over whatever period the subject feels is adequate (the testing as described in the other thread) should do the trick. It remains only with the particular audiophile whether he is willing to expend the energy to get his wife/friend to switch cables at random whenever he requests. Then he only needs to keep track of which cable he thinks he is listening to.

    I can only think of two reasons why they don't want to do this test: 1) they are lazy; 2) they are unwilling to truly see what reality has to offer. Maybe there are other reasons that others are willing to elucidate upon.
    I've heard (somewhere) that acoustic memory is so short that long term tests are deemed unreliable by whomever it is that determines these things. So my reason for not doing this test is because it's pointless. It won't prove anything to anyone. Should I fail, I will blame the test. Should I pass, you will blame the test (You and I in this case means the naysayers and yeasayers). It's not going to show us anything about reality.

    I do agree that this test seems to be the most valid and honest method of blind testing. It's too bad we can't simply test as we would pictures of colors with slight differences, holding them up and rapidly flipping our eyes from one picture to the other.

    Gross differences such as turntable example should indeed be picked up by rapid fire blind testing. Subtle differences might not, IMHO.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony_Montana
    That question might be a loaded one.

    Since been posted here and on AA audio forum, I've never met anybody that actually have changed their mind about cables because of any type of cable evaluation test (be it DBT or not). So when you address your question to "ex-cable lovers" or "ex-cable nayers", you might be addressing a very tint tiny tiny minority (if any).

    Those who tend to believe that cables makes a 'big" difference, seem to stick to that ideology no matter how many test they have done or been presented to that indicate other wise. And those that don't, tend to fall into same category also (present company included ).

    Of course it won't be fair to say that no body have made any progress in either direction, but it is rare to see a full blown conversion.
    I've changed my mind about cables. I thought I used to be able to hear a difference, but not any longer. I am certainly willing to try different cables, but I will insist on a blind test.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicoverall
    I've heard (somewhere) that acoustic memory is so short that long term tests are deemed unreliable by whomever it is that determines these things. So my reason for not doing this test is because it's pointless. It won't prove anything to anyone. Should I fail, I will blame the test. Should I pass, you will blame the test (You and I in this case means the naysayers and yeasayers). It's not going to show us anything about reality.

    I do agree that this test seems to be the most valid and honest method of blind testing. It's too bad we can't simply test as we would pictures of colors with slight differences, holding them up and rapidly flipping our eyes from one picture to the other.

    Gross differences such as turntable example should indeed be picked up by rapid fire blind testing. Subtle differences might not, IMHO.
    I'd be interested to see any test that has been passed whether it is long term or short term. I think that your original post had a question about whether people have failed a gross difference test so I included my observations about my TTs.

    The problem with the Audio Lab is that it is www.audioreview.com's thread purgatory. When the mods don't want a particular line of reasoning, off it goes to the Lab. That's probably why you don't get as many replies as when you post to HT or speakers or even the cables forum.

  9. #9
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by magictooth
    The problem with the Audio Lab is that it is www.audioreview.com's thread purgatory. When the mods don't want a particular line of reasoning, off it goes to the Lab. That's probably why you don't get as many replies as when you post to HT or speakers or even the cables forum.
    Let me begin my comments by saying that although I was asked to be a moderator, I am in no way affiliated with the management of this site. The following is my perspective.

    The reason for creating the Lab forum (a situation found with another audio based forum ) was twofold: to provide a place for those to discuss strictly scientific testing matters and results and to allow those who are casual listeners to offer their opinions elsewhere without having to provide a thesis paper to substantiate that opinion. The tone of many a post in the cable forum got quite nasty (on both sides). Debate on differences of opinion are one thing, but there really is no good reason for questioning others' intelligence.

    I really don't understand the "purgatory" comment as there are no special requirements to either view or post here. I have seen a few "look over in Audio Lab for the X thread" posts found in the other forums for those who are concerned that others won't see them.

    I believe that there has been an overall improvement in the tone of posts since then.

    rw

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    Let me begin my comments by saying that although I was asked to be a moderator, I am in no way affiliated with the management of this site. The following is my perspective.

    The reason for creating the Lab forum (a situation found with another audio based forum ) was twofold: to provide a place for those to discuss strictly scientific testing matters and results and to allow those who are casual listeners to offer their opinions elsewhere without having to provide a thesis paper to substantiate that opinion. The tone of many a post in the cable forum got quite nasty (on both sides). Debate on differences of opinion are one thing, but there really is no good reason for questioning others' intelligence.

    I really don't understand the "purgatory" comment as there are no special requirements to either view or post here. I have seen a few "look over in Audio Lab for the X thread" posts found in the other forums for those who are concerned that others won't see them.

    I believe that there has been an overall improvement in the tone of posts since then.

    rw
    The reason I call it thread purgatory is because it is the only place for a naysayer POV. Instead of before where free reign in cables was allowed, only a yeasayer attittude is allowed. When people have cable questions, they go to - guess where?..... The Cable Forum. However, free debate isn't allowed there. They don't get the full gamut of the knowledge out there.

    In order to be fair, the debate should be allowed to run free in cables. A new forum similar to the Audio Lab, but for yeasayers only, could then be created to allow people who believe in their cables a place for uninterrupted....well, never mind, this is a family site.

    I realize that this is a pipe dream because of financial reasons. It wouldn't really do to have many of the advertisers' products shot down in a regular, highly viewed forum.

  11. #11
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by magictooth
    The reason I call it thread purgatory is because it is the only place for a naysayer POV.
    I think you misunderstand the guidelines. If you wish to challenge someone's opinon with "scientific proof", then here is the place to do it. You are free to state your opinion, however, elsewhere. A search shows 15 posts in the cable forum where you have done so.

    rw

  12. #12
    Forum Regular Tony_Montana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicoverall
    Both markw and magictooth have posted that they have been "saved" from the evil snare of cables.
    Those two people don't count

    So you are saying that they used to be full fledge cable believers?

    Most that have electronic background (I assuming Mark and Magictooth have), tend to have their doubt when it comes to cables. And if one have doubt, they can't be a full fledge cable believers (or used to be )

    Quote Originally Posted by magictooth
    I am certainly willing to try different cables, but I will insist on a blind test
    I wished everybody have that approach when it comes to cables. Although [no instantaneous] DBT is not the last word in testing out cables (there still may be some inaccuracy due to memory being involve), but it is a step in the right direction
    "Say Hello To My Little Friend."

  13. #13
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    I actually formed my opinion on cables by doing blind tests, and I was able to perceive differences. But, they were so minor and subtle that I just find the whole cable debate to be laughable when you're talking about potentially thousands of dollars invested in this.

    My cable test was one that can easily be done in real time. The trick is to not only randomize which cables you use, but to also randomize whether you switch out the L and/or R channels. This means that it is possible at any time to be listening to a mixed pair of speaker cables, but at no time do you know whether you're listening to a mixed pair of cables or a matched pair. To make this test a valid one, I used a monophonic source. Any differences caused by room acoustics or channel balances would be accounted for because the cables are swapped across the L and R channels. After a few trials, my friends and I were able to tell when a mixed pair was used most of the time. But, we were not able to figure out which set of cables sounded "better". Overall, nobody thought that the differences were obvious or even worth obsessing about. They were very minute.

    Compared to sighted listenings that I've done, the blind tests are a lot better for addressing the true magnitude of differences between components. Differences that you might have thought were "night and day" during sighted listenings might be disappointingly small under blind conditions. It never ceases to amaze me how many golden ears will nitpick and criticize blind listenings, when they've never actually tried them out for themselves.

    For my money, I would rather invest in system improvements that are obvious and measureable such as speaker upgrades and room treatments.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony_Montana
    Those two people don't count

    So you are saying that they used to be full fledge cable believers?

    Most that have electronic background (I assuming Mark and Magictooth have), tend to have their doubt when it comes to cables. And if one have doubt, they can't be a full fledge cable believers (or used to be )



    I wished everybody have that approach when it comes to cables. Although [no instantaneous] DBT is not the last word in testing out cables (there still may be some inaccuracy due to memory being involve), but it is a step in the right direction
    I actually have no electronics background other than intro level physics about 15 years ago. I did believe at one time that cables made a difference. A couple years ago, I did blind testing and was extremely surprised at the result. It's a bit of a humbling experience to find out that you do not have the golden ears that you once supposed.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    I actually formed my opinion on cables by doing blind tests, and I was able to perceive differences. But, they were so minor and subtle that I just find the whole cable debate to be laughable when you're talking about potentially thousands of dollars invested in this.

    My cable test was one that can easily be done in real time. The trick is to not only randomize which cables you use, but to also randomize whether you switch out the L and/or R channels. This means that it is possible at any time to be listening to a mixed pair of speaker cables, but at no time do you know whether you're listening to a mixed pair of cables or a matched pair. To make this test a valid one, I used a monophonic source. Any differences caused by room acoustics or channel balances would be accounted for because the cables are swapped across the L and R channels. After a few trials, my friends and I were able to tell when a mixed pair was used most of the time. But, we were not able to figure out which set of cables sounded "better". Overall, nobody thought that the differences were obvious or even worth obsessing about. They were very minute.

    Compared to sighted listenings that I've done, the blind tests are a lot better for addressing the true magnitude of differences between components. Differences that you might have thought were "night and day" during sighted listenings might be disappointingly small under blind conditions. It never ceases to amaze me how many golden ears will nitpick and criticize blind listenings, when they've never actually tried them out for themselves.

    For my money, I would rather invest in system improvements that are obvious and measureable such as speaker upgrades and room treatments.
    Interesting idea. I will try to see if I can tell a difference in ICs this way. My DVDP has multiple outs and I can try using that machine. I agree about rather investing in other parts of the system.

  16. #16
    Forum Regular FLZapped's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    I think you misunderstand the guidelines. If you wish to challenge someone's opinon with "scientific proof", then here is the place to do it. You are free to state your opinion, however, elsewhere. A search shows 15 posts in the cable forum where you have done so.

    rw

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    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FLZapped
    Oh how quickly we forget the original name(and obvious intent) for this forum.....
    While I would agree with your comment regarding other threads found in this forum, I find no anecdotal testimonies in this one. On the contrary, the only "test" discussed is Woochifer's random blind cable test. Have I missed something?

    rw

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    While I would agree with your comment regarding other threads found in this forum, I find no anecdotal testimonies in this one. On the contrary, the only "test" discussed is Woochifer's random blind cable test. Have I missed something?

    rw
    Is anecdotal testimony banned from the Audio Lab?

  19. #19
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicoverall
    Is anecdotal testimony banned from the Audio Lab?
    The intent for this forum is to facilitate discussion of audio from a scientific standpoint. I would not use the term "banned", but certainly it is not the focus. Conversely, discussions of blind testing and the such is not the focus of other forums such as cable. Having said that, a quick search reveals quite a few such discussions there.

    In the absense of specific guidelines (though both Geoffcin and I have both requested said), I have focused my moderating with attempting to maintain a non-volatile tone. To date, I have only interceded with some blatantly inappropriate posts regarding language completely unrelated to any audio issues.

    rw

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicoverall
    I
    I do agree that this test seems to be the most valid and honest method of blind testing. It's too bad we can't simply test as we would pictures of colors with slight differences, holding them up and rapidly flipping our eyes from one picture to the other.
    While audio is a dynamic medium, the use of an ABX devices allows the audio equivalent of rapidly flipping from one picture to the other, Even tho music constantly changes, you can play a short segment over and over, switching at practically every point over the duration of the segment. You also have the option of playing a sound that does not change like a pure sine wave or white noise. It is a well-know fact that people can detect lower distortion levels with pure tones. If you cannot hear a difference with some set of pure tones, you will not hear any difference with music.

    As for subtle differences, there are long-established statistical methods for finding small differences. One can find as small a difference as one likes by merely taking more samples (e.g., trials). By adopting the proper statsitical design, one would be able to test for very very small differences.

    Listening to comparisons longer is just going to make hearing potential differences harder, not easier; but there is nothing stoping a person from taking as long as they like, especially using an ABX.

    When somebody says "I can certainly hear differences in cables you tin-eard midfi oaf." one expects them to take a simple blind, level matched test and show that they can. One does not expect them to say, "oh, I can only hear the difference after listening for three months. The true believers will SAY anything to preserve their illusions, I and others would prefer they actually DO something to show that they can hear differences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobotCzar
    While audio is a dynamic medium, the use of an ABX devices allows the audio equivalent of rapidly flipping from one picture to the other, Even tho music constantly changes, you can play a short segment over and over, switching at practically every point over the duration of the segment. You also have the option of playing a sound that does not change like a pure sine wave or white noise. It is a well-know fact that people can detect lower distortion levels with pure tones. If you cannot hear a difference with some set of pure tones, you will not hear any difference with music.

    As for subtle differences, there are long-established statistical methods for finding small differences. One can find as small a difference as one likes by merely taking more samples (e.g., trials). By adopting the proper statsitical design, one would be able to test for very very small differences.

    Listening to comparisons longer is just going to make hearing potential differences harder, not easier; but there is nothing stoping a person from taking as long as they like, especially using an ABX.

    When somebody says "I can certainly hear differences in cables you tin-eard midfi oaf." one expects them to take a simple blind, level matched test and show that they can. One does not expect them to say, "oh, I can only hear the difference after listening for three months. The true believers will SAY anything to preserve their illusions, I and others would prefer they actually DO something to show that they can hear differences.
    It does seem reasonable that a listener who is certain he can hear a difference beween two components in sighted listening should be able to do so in blinded listening. But it also may be reasonable to question the validity of blinded testing used for such a purpose. It would seem fair to ask if the testing does what it is supposed to do. But how do you test the test?

    A starting place in taking a critical look at blinded testing might be to look at positive results. What kinds of subtle audible differences in components have been detected through blinded testing? Are any studies available? I'm not entirely sure what I mean by "subtle," but if the difference is very very obvious, the testing isn't being tested.

  22. #22
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Maybe the smallest difference in very high performing equipment otherwise i'm stick'n to some plain old "good" cables and wires and spend the rest of my money on some cd's.
    Look & Listen

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mystic
    A starting place in taking a critical look at blinded testing might be to look at positive results. What kinds of subtle audible differences in components have been detected through blinded testing? Are any studies available? I'm not entirely sure what I mean by "subtle," but if the difference is very very obvious, the testing isn't being tested.
    Given that prices in cables can go from several single digit dollars well into the four and five digit range, I would expect much, much more than subtle differences. For me, that holds true for a 10x price difference as well..

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobotCzar

    "I can certainly hear differences in cables you tin-eard midfi oaf." .
    You read my mind! I say that all the time! LOL!

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    [QUOTE=markw]Given that prices in cables can go from several single digit dollars well into the four and five digit range, I would expect much, much more than subtle differences. QUOTE]

    Your expectation is fine - for you! Certainly the laws of diminishing returns go through the roof on expensive cables. But if something is important enough to someone i.e reproducing the sound of live music in the home, it's not unreasonable that they would spend a lot of money for a small improvement. Look how hard runners work to shave a few 10ths of a second off their time. Would that be worth it to me? Nope. But it is to them.

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