expensive cables

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  • 12-09-2003, 05:09 PM
    sofsoldier
    expensive cables
    First of all, I'm not an electrical engineer! Now that is out of the way, I have some issues that I want to bring up with cables - and hopefully get some very calm and logical responces.

    I used to be a cable believer, meaning that I thought these exotic designs for cables make a difference. While testing myself and really nit-picking the result, I came to the conclusion that I could not tell one way or another. So I sold my expensive cables and made a good bit of cash!

    I buy some music online, mostly for LP's, through places like Music Direct and Accoustic Sounds. They have great selections, and sell some pretty cool equipment. They also sell cable. The prices on some of these cables is enough to give a guy a heart attack! Some of them are prices more that 3 50 inch plasma screen televisions! Or a small car!

    Now I cannot prove they make a difference, and I cannot prove they do not make a difference, so I came up with a few questions:

    1. If cables of varying design do indeed make some type of an improvement, why don't audio equipment makers implement (or contract out) the same wire designs within the chassis of a piece of audio gear? Or speakers?

    2. If buying premium cables will make such a huge difference ("elevated to a new level of musical enjoyment" as quoted by one advertisement), why not include some lower level model for free with all pieces of audio gear sold? I mean, it would be good advertising, and perhaps the owner would be willing to upgrade if a difference is heard.

    I just have a hard time accepting that a thousand dollar power cord, six thousand dollar speaker cables, and eight hundred dollars of interconnects actually yield 7800 dollar increase in musical clarity.

    I say buy more music if one has that much to spend!

    Rick
  • 12-10-2003, 09:01 AM
    FLZapped
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sofsoldier

    I say buy more music if one has that much to spend!

    Rick

    On this board, that appears to be the majority opinion. However, you can go to the cable forum on Audio Asylum and these folks believe their cables are making huge diffrences....it is so fervered that the moderators tend to erase andy posts and eventually ban anyone that upset this view.

    So far, no one has been able to conclusively that anything beyond the basic LCR parameters have an effect on "cable sonics."

    -Bruce
    (For non techen der geekspeak: L=inductance, C=capacitance, R=resistance)
  • 12-10-2003, 10:08 AM
    Mwalsdor_cscc_edu
    Since I can't link the post without the entire thread attatched, here's my response to that very same question.
    Quote:

    This subject has been discussed many times and I’ve shared this before but for those unfamiliar… In the last four years I’ve had numerous conversations with two designers on the subject of internal wiring: Craig Uthus, designer/President of Moth Audio and Alan Yun, designer/President of Silverline Audio.

    Alan Yun is a designer of loudspeakers, ranging in price from $1,500>$35,000; he also manufactures his own line of speaker cables and interconnects. In conversations with the distributor that sold me the Silverline Sonatinas I learned that Alan uses the same wire in his cables that he also uses to internally wire his speakers. Included with my speaker purchase were two complimentary 10' runs of Alan's speaker cables and his interconnect. A couple of years later I contacted Mr. Yun about his new Sonatina II as I was curious if the new upgrades could be incorporated into my speaker. We discussed the modifications in the new speaker and eventually the internal wiring of his speakers. As a speaker designer he felt the internal wire was a valid consideration, finding good results with the wire selected. We parted company on the choice of conductor; he prefers copper, myself silver. And so he encouraged me to experiment if I was so inclined. We also discussed other upgrades, such as the copper Edison-Price binding posts. I came away with the distinct impression that he felt the collection of these ancillary elements do affect the signature of his finished product. In this respect our POV was quite similar.

    Craig Uthus designs single-ended triode amps that have a retro appeal and a respect for modern applications of the SET philosophy. He also designs single driver speaker systems. The circumstances involving my connection to Moth Audio was quite different from the purchase of the Silverline. Foremost, the amp I purchased was not a stock product like the Silverline; instead it was a custom project that Craig elected to build for me. We discussed many of the internal parts; resistors, caps, potentiometer, secondary winding of the OPT as well as internal signal wire as possible upgrades. I told him I wanted to use pure silver as signal wire and contacted various suppliers / manufacturers before selecting Bob Crump. Bob had sent me products to demo in the past and was happy to supply the same wire he uses to hookup his 10k “Blow Torch” pre-amp for my project. Aside from amplification components he also designs cables and power cords. Bob's wire consists of a separate run of small gauge [22awg] solid silver wire [signal] and a silver-plated copper Wonder Wire [current]. He provided me very specific instructions along with the wire for Moth, including the wires directionality. In the course of our conversations I’d asked Craig about the captive power cords in his earlier designs. His response gave me the impression that the I.E.C. facility in the new designs was based more on customer requests than a personal endorsement of that product type.


    Three months later the amp finally arrived and I was tickled pink about the build quality, looks, performance, heck it even came in a wooden shipping crate. It's cool as hell and the heart and soul of my system. Then some months removed I receive an email from the wire supplier, Bob Crump, informing me he thought my amp was "wired backwards". At least it appears so from the photo I posted in a review. So I contacted Craig at Moth about the allegation. Well, he was not the least receptive to my inquiry. He told me "it was wired correctly". That regardless of my wishes or the instructions given by Mr. Crump, he felt it simply wouldn't matter what wire was used. Strangely, this was never mentioned in our earlier conversations. I respect his professional opinion but didn't appreciate that he compromised our agreement on the specifics of the build process, knowing that the customization was a key element of the purchase. I admitted to him that I had no idea which of the two configurations would be "best" but that I respected Bob's reputation and experience on the subject and wanted it corrected.

    Craig did not offer to "fix it" or compensate me and we've not spoken since. And honestly, I wasn't about to ship my amp back cross-country for such a simple procedure, even if I'd discovered it the day it arrived. It was more the matter of his "professional integrity" that pissed me off. I eventually had the amp wired correctly and in all honesty the difference was so slight [least my initial impression] that I forgot about the entire matter. I will say I do feel better about getting it "to spec". I realize I would have been better served if I had tested both configurations myself [as well as all the other custom passive parts] but the intent wasn’t to build the amp myself or get involved with a DIY project. Instead, I wanted to take an existing design and fine-tune it, which Craig was willing to do. So there is my limited experience with two manufacturers who have a different POV on the internal wiring of their components. One who considers the internal wire in his speakers to have an effect and another who doesn’t believe the difference [if any] is audible.
    I don't know exactly what your position on cables are but perhaps your expectations were unrealistic. I've had good results with after-market cables but don't find them to provide a "huge difference". I've compared cables to other fine-tuning devices and I've found them to if not yield the least system benefit than certainly to offer the least value for that benefit. In other words, with limited funds I'd do other things before spending big money on cables. This assumes that you FIRST put your money into the "best" core components you could afford. There are many reasons why manufacturers don't follow your logic. Some don't believe cables / wire matter and others think [rightly] that THAT is a system/listener-dependant decision that NO manufacturer can "guess right". And if you want to go there, then do so on your own. Are any products perfect or not built to a price point? I think not, and that is why some people choose to maximize the performance by using better parts. Of course, better parts don't always = better performance but many times they do. Anything can be improved.

    MikE
  • 12-10-2003, 02:01 PM
    E-Stat
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sofsoldier
    I used to be a cable believer, meaning that I thought these exotic designs for cables make a difference. While testing myself and really nit-picking the result, I came to the conclusion that I could not tell one way or another.

    Regardless of what anyone else says, that's what really counts, isn't it? While I would be considered a "believer" (at least to the extent that my JPS Labs sound marginally better than my Monster zip), the differences would not be considered huge to most folks. Discernable to me, yes. I only became a "believer" after first doing some informal testing with a friend to see if indeed I could tell the difference. I was sufficiently satisfied that on MY system using MY music sans any superfluous added cables or switchboxes in the mix, I can hear a difference that I find brings me closer to the recording. While I won't attempt to debate your findings, I will suggest, however, that perhaps you may not know what to listen for. I have benefitted from the experience of a couple of audio reviewer friends over a period of decades who have helped me in that regard. To master any skill, I aver that one needs training and practice. On the other hand, I would readily agree that most folks simply don't enjoy critically listening to music.

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sofsoldier
    I just have a hard time accepting that a thousand dollar power cord, six thousand dollar speaker cables, and eight hundred dollars of interconnects actually yield 7800 dollar increase in musical clarity.

    Indeed such value questions are always difficult to assess. What does an $8000 improvement sound like? I would be the first agree that it is not wise to plunk down additional cash on any cables first. If you were to hear a $300k system using such cables like Nordost Valhallas (as I have) perhaps you might have a different perspective. Can you hear the benefits of astronomically priced cables on astronomically good (and expensive) systems? I assert that trained listeners can. Is it worth it? Who's to say?

    Just for grins, I did some very informal (sighted) testing last night with an average recording of Dido's newest offering. First I listened to a cut with the JPS hearing some subtle deep-in-the-recording details that I doubted would be as prevalent with the old Monster 12 gauge. I switched to the Monster and listened again. Well, most of those details I first heard were still there, if not even more present. Switch back to the JPS Labs and listen further to passages with her voice and with an acoustical guitar. Back to the Monster for comparison. Gradually after switching back and forth about five or six times, I could start to hear a pattern of differences. They were subtle, but discernable. Dynamics, especially the ability to render softer passages were better with the JPS Labs. There was more "sheen" on the acoustic guitar strings. Articulation on her voice was better.

    Contrary to what many say, most seasoned reviewers like Harry Pearson of TAS will readily admit that there is way too much snake oil in the cable business. I think it is not an all or nothing question. To each his own.

    rw
  • 12-10-2003, 04:37 PM
    bturk667
    1. If cables of varying design do indeed make some type of an improvement, why don't audio equipment makers implement (or contract out) the same wire designs within the chassis of a piece of audio gear? Or speakers?

    2. If buying premium cables will make such a huge difference ("elevated to a new level of musical enjoyment" as quoted by one advertisement), why not include some lower level model for free with all pieces of audio gear sold? I mean, it would be good advertising, and perhaps the owner would be willing to upgrade if a difference is heard.

    I just have a hard time accepting that a thousand dollar power cord, six thousand dollar speaker cables, and eight hundred dollars of interconnects actually yield 7800 dollar increase in musical clarity.

    I say buy more music if one has that much to spend!

    1. Some audio companies do. McCormack does as up-grades on the original equipment, pre Conrad-Johnson. Coincident Speaker Technology does, as an up-grade. There are others.

    2. Who ever said premium cables will make a huge difference? Huge, I doubt it. Don't always believe what you read in ads! But I do believe cables make a difference, just not huge.

    I doubt a pair of $40,000 mono block amps are forty times better than a $1000 stereo amp. I not sure a $100,000 pair of speakers is one hundred times better than a $1000 pair. But you know what? That doesn't stop people from buying them.

    If peole want to spend insane amounts of money on THEIR equipment, and cables, who in the hell cares. It's THEIR money, not yours. I say go for it. Trust me, the people who spend that kind of money on equipment also spend money on music. Probably more than you or I do.
  • 12-10-2003, 09:15 PM
    pctower
    Here's an interesting technical discussion from a company that sells very expensive cables:

    http://www.mitcables.com/technology/power1.asp

    I'm not qualified to pass judgment on the technical merits of this paper, but it seems fairly reasonable to me. However, the most interesting part of the paper to me was the final side bar, which read as follows:

    "Through the use of the power factor, we at MIT have been led to conclude that a poor power factor is a mechanism for distortion. That is, that networks exhibiting poor power factor transport and play in-phase music along with out-of-phase music simultaneously. What level of this distortion is audible? We are continuing our research in this area."

    When I read that I thought I would like to ask the president of that company whether he thought it a little strange that his company went to such lengths to solve the problem discussed in that paper (assuming the paper is legitimate and not mere snake oil) and charges their customers such astronomical prices to solve this problem when this company (which has been in business over 20 years) hasn't even yet determined whether the problems in cables they are trying to remedy are even audible.

    And, BTW, from my own experience based solely on uncontrolled listening, for purposes of my own perceptions, cables do make a difference,
  • 12-10-2003, 09:35 PM
    mtrycraft
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pctower
    to solve this problem when this company (which has been in business over 20 years) hasn't even yet determined whether the problems in cables they are trying to remedy are even audible.,


    Yep, some like to put the cart before the horse, or give causes before there are any :)
  • 12-11-2003, 08:36 AM
    sofsoldier
    Thanks everyone
    I did not know that certain brands offer internal wiring upgrades, but you are talking about equipment that is way beyond my price range. I still need to buy my pizza and beer!

    It seems the consensus is that there are some audible difference with cables, but it is interesting that a major cable manufacturer (MIT) is still researching the possibility if the power distortions are audible!

    That the trick though, right? I mean, specifications are one thing. Hearing the result is another. An example is my love for vinyl. CD's, SACD and DVD-A's have better frequency responce, better dynamic range, and a quieter noise floor. But I still like the sound of vinyl better!

    Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

    Rick
  • 12-11-2003, 09:00 AM
    pctower
    Sof:

    I don't mean the following comment to be flip, but my 30-plus years in this hobby have taught me that there is no such thing as a concensus in anything having to do with home audio, and probably never will be. That's part of what keeps it interesting.

    My advice: do what works for you, keep a tight grip on your wallet, and consider cables as the last place you choose to look for improvements. Many here with a lot of knowledge and experience will advise you never to look to cables as a place for improvements. Others, on other boards will disagree.

    I say try everything you can within reason and consistent with maintaining your own enjoyment of the hobby. I often have to remind myself that listening is what it is all about and tinkering or upgrading is at best a means to an end. Above all, don't buy into the belief that more money necessarily buys improvement in performance.

    As for choice of formats, my own personal experience leads me to believe the quality of the original recording and the number of masters and re-masters it has been through are far more important than the particular choice of format. Beyond that, the cost and availability of software is also extremely important.

    You have a very merry and happy holiday season.
  • 12-11-2003, 10:23 AM
    skeptic
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pctower
    "Through the use of the power factor, we at MIT have been led to conclude that a poor power factor is a mechanism for distortion. That is, that networks exhibiting poor power factor transport and play in-phase music along with out-of-phase music simultaneously. What level of this distortion is audible? We are continuing our research in this area."

    This is a technical paper ONLY in the eyes of non technical readers looking at advertising copy.

    All of the technical explanations about impedence, capacitance, inductance are AC electricity 101 to an electrical engineer.

    There are some factual errors; "Since a High-End audio cable is typically constructed with many coils of wire, constructing a cable is like constructing an inductor. In fact, it is during the winding process that the important element of inductance is added."

    Actually they are constructed with many STRANDS (not coils) of wire but they are each pulled off coils in the cable assembly plant. Series inductance of the overall cable is the result of the geometry of the oveall cable meaning the diamater of the aggregate conductor and the spacing between them.

    Power transfer for signals fed through interconnects is insignificant probably at most in the microwatts if not nanowatts. If power or voltage transfer of an interconnect were a consideration in audio cables, they would cause enormous distortions in video signals fed through them because they require 300 times the bandwidth. They don't.

    Power factor changes created by a few feet of lamp cord to power equipment is virtually insignificant and probably not even measurable.

    Power factor changes to loudspeaker loads by "normal" speaker cables
    such as zip cord are undoubtedly insignificant. MIT says you have to have the right mix of inductance and capacitance? What is the right mix? Every loudspeaker load is different and most are highly inductive. If there was a right one for one speaker, it would be wrong for another. If there was a right "mix" created for a certain cable of a certain length, it would be wrong if you used a different length. If the wire had the right inductance stretched out, it would be wrong if it were curled up.

    The graph is virtually worthless. You can't see a thing. Comparative data on a chart would have been better. MIT's claim that some cables such as zip cord do not allow efficient transfer of low frequencies presumably because of power factor is not borne out by experience and there is no data to support it. Changing the power factor to a load not only depends on the impedence of the cable but the impedence of the load. Compared to loudspeaker loads, inductance and capacitance of most cables are insignificant. This concept of power factor is no different than the concept of LCR changing frequency response except made more complicated by stating it differently so it sounds like something new and different.

    There are no double blind tests to show that there is any audibly detectable difference between their cable and others.

    There are no waveform capture photographs or computerized analysis to show that there is any difference between current or voltage waveforms transmitted through their cable and anybody elses.

    There is not one single objective fact or suggestion of a fact to justify the purchase of their very expensive product in preference to much cheaper alternative.

    BTW, what the hell is "in phase and out of phase music"? I never heard of such a thing. The phase angle of non periodic waveforms typical of music always varies all over the place. Nothing new there either.

    It all sounds to like technobabble smoke for suckers. This is what they produce because this is what the law allows. Suggestion, inuendo, hypothesis, complex irrelavent facts, but no actual claims. Example; "Power that is not transported in phase may still be transported to the load. But it will be out-of-phase power." The concept of reactive power is of some use to industrial power distribution engineers like me, because some users eat up utility company amp capacity on transmission lines without using up watts. Beyond a point, some utilities charge extra for low power factors and so there are industrial means to deal with it (large power factor correction capacitors.) But it has no relevance or meaning here. Just there to impress and confuse prospective non technical customers.

    BTW, I'm not picking on MIT. They each have their own way of doing exactly the same thing. Each different, each worthless.

    Buyer beware.

    (Sofsoldier, I am an electrical engineer.)
  • 12-11-2003, 11:10 AM
    FLZapped
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pctower
    Here's an interesting technical discussion from a company that sells very expensive cables:

    http://www.mitcables.com/technology/power1.asp


    Sorry Phil, this one goes in the snake oil bin too......

    Here's some hints;

    1) Where is their actual test set-up used to test with?

    2) Each load(speaker design) has a different impedance/phase vs frequency profile requiring a unique power factor correction(at each frequency), so what complex load impedance did they use when writing this paper? I don't see any mention anywhere of a complex load impedance being attached to the wires, they only seem talk about the wires as if they were the load impedance that needed the phase correction(power factor). You can't do power factor correction until you know what your load looks like - and the wires ain't da load.

    I would worry about power factor correction if I were trying to drive a hugely inductive analog power supply with a small generator, not my amplifier driving my speakers.

    Wire Power Factor is a Non-Factor and I don't think it will make the O'Reilly Factor......

    -Bruce
  • 12-11-2003, 11:12 AM
    sofsoldier
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by skeptic
    (Sofsoldier, I am an electrical engineer.)

    Great!

    As an electrical engineer, have you considered a website with the purpose of acuratly educating people with such things? I mean, there is a host of very expesive "tweaks" that may or may not provide audible improvements (like a demagnetising CD or cable elevators), that should be challenged! You said it best: "Buyer Beware."

    Example: As an Astronomer, I find it comical to read media information on news of Astronomy, as well as the Astrology b.s. There is a really great source of info at www.badastronomy.com. It is well researched and its purpose is to educate.
  • 12-11-2003, 12:03 PM
    Rockwell
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sofsoldier
    Great!

    As an electrical engineer, have you considered a website with the purpose of acuratly educating people with such things? I mean, there is a host of very expesive "tweaks" that may or may not provide audible improvements (like a demagnetising CD or cable elevators), that should be challenged! You said it best: "Buyer Beware."

    I think you are looking at that website :D Actually, I think there are several such websites, but I don't have any links.

    Unless companies selling tweak/wire products can give real evidence that their products do what they claim, it is wise to consider those products rubbish. If audiophiles actually put the responsibility on the companies to prove questionable audio tweaks make a positive difference, then those comanies would dry up quickly because they likely can't. As it is now, said companies make claims, audiophile buy. No proof needed because audiophiles buy and trust their ears will tell them. Unfortunatley, ears may tell them whatever they want to hear, without controlled blind testing.
  • 12-11-2003, 02:03 PM
    skeptic
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rockwell
    Unless companies selling tweak/wire products can give real evidence that their products do what they claim, it is wise to consider those products rubbish.

    As it is now, said companies make claims, audiophile buy.

    But you see they haven't made any claims. They've made statements of facts which are either well known or irrelevant using technical jargon to impress people who don't know what they are talking about. They have not anywhere said that your stereo system will sound better if you use their product. That is an inference you and many other people draw by reading into their statements more than is actually there. That's how they stay within the law or at least as close to it as they can.

    They have not claimed that you will have less distortion, flatter or wider frequency response, greater dynamic range, lower noise or anything else. They have simply compared theoretically ideal wires with real ones pointing out some of the deviations from perfection in those areas where they might be able to prove some aspects of their products closer to perfection than some other alternative product not telling you that it makes an audible improvement or if it's at the cost of some other factor somewhere else.

    The manufacturer of a car could say something for example like; my product has more trunk room than a BMW, more leg room than a Ferrari, more glove compartment space than a Caddilac, and will stop from 60 to 0 in less time and distance than a Rolls Royce. He wants you to come to the conclusion that his car is better than the others even if it is a Yugo. And if you buy it, that's your problem, not his. Until the FTC gets on his case that is. Maybe it's time for me to start a new posting about FTC rules of fair advertising again. It's been a while.
  • 12-11-2003, 02:44 PM
    Rockwell
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by skeptic
    But you see they haven't made any claims. They've made statements of facts which are either well known or irrelevant using technical jargon to impress people who don't know what they are talking about. They have not anywhere said that your stereo system will sound better if you use their product. That is an inference you and many other people draw by reading into their statements more than is actually there. That's how they stay within the law or at least as close to it as they can...

    Take a look at this blurb I quickly found on Kimber website :
    http://www.kimber.com/select/KS3038.htm

    Improved sound is certainly implied in the add copy, and the customer blurbs usually say it directly. But you are right, there probably isn't legally actionable in what they are saying. What I was getting at is that people who buy this stuff should be more demanding from these companies. The selling points add up to nothing but hot air, and customer blurbs are worthless, but the message to buyers is thet these products will make you system sound better. I wish Mr Audiophile would demand that CompanyX actually demonstrate that their product is better than CompanyY's or even generic brandZ. It seems to me that if the Tweek/FancyWire industry were legitimate, that would be common practice as in other industries.
  • 12-11-2003, 04:41 PM
    skeptic
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rockwell
    Improved sound is certainly implied in the add copy, and the customer blurbs usually say it directly. But you are right, there probably isn't legally actionable in what they are saying.

    Implied, inferred, suggested. What does it all add up to? A cloud. Smoke. A wish.

    "delivers dynamics, focus and harmonics like no other. "Total control of all frequencies; especially deep bass, air, air, and more air, EVERYTHING improved across the entire spectrum. This supernatural cable was doing absolutely zero to the signal. I never knew the signal could be so pure. If there was ever a "superconductor" these cables would be it!" Andy Genco-Enfield, CT"

    They NEVER claimed anything here. This is a letter they got from a customer or a reviewer. Not their claim but HIS opinion and with absolutely nothing to back it up. Why don't you call Andy up in Enfield and see if Ray owes him money or has a son in law who works for him and just wants to help him out?

    Why should anybody try to prove anything? They almost certainly couldn't if they had to but then they don't have to. The suckers just keep coming and coming and coming. The worst that will ever happen in all likelihood is that one day they will receive a letter from the FTC to either prove something or stop writing misleading ad copy. Guys like Ray Kimber will probably be reading it laughing all the way sitting on the beach sipping a tall island drink in his home in Bimini or where-ever---paid for by the guys who buy these cables.
  • 12-11-2003, 06:02 PM
    E-Stat
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by skeptic
    Why should anybody try to prove anything? They almost certainly couldn't if they had to but then they don't have to.

    Tell me, Skeptic how many products do you buy solely on the basis of DBT testing? Do you choose your macaroni and cheese based upon DBTs? How about the car you drive? How about that new video camcorder? The new leather couch for the den? How about your new winter parka? Perhaps your house? How about the cola that you drink? What are the DBT results between Fruit of the Loom underwear and Jockey? Are you so insecure in your judgement that you require corroboration by means of verification by the masses?

    rw
  • 12-11-2003, 07:32 PM
    skeptic
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by E-Stat
    Tell me, Skeptic how many products do you buy solely on the basis of DBT testing? Do you choose your macaroni and cheese based upon DBTs? How about the car you drive? How about that new video camcorder? The new leather couch for the den? How about your new winter parka? Perhaps your house? How about the cola that you drink? What are the DBT results between Fruit of the Loom underwear and Jockey? Are you so insecure in your judgement that you require corroboration by means of verification by the masses?

    rw

    I never said that consistantly positive DBT tests in itself was even close to adequate to convince me that more expensive or unusual cables would produce superior sound. It isn't, in fact I said many times it would be the first rung on a very tall ladder.

    Most things that perform comparable functions to a comparable degree of satisfaction have comparable prices. Audio cables don't. It's not just by a factor of 2 to 1 or 3 to 1 but sometimes 100 to 1. The onus of proof therefore if the market were rational would be on the producer. Fortunately for them it isn't rational so they can get away with selling their unproven products at sometimes outrageous prices without any proof at all.

    I try to spend my money as wisely as I can. I can't help it if people are so stupid as to buy Tylenol instead of generic acetomenaphin or other brand name products identical to others with different packaging and no advertising sitting right next to them on the shelves because they can't read a label. My verdict on Shop Rite ketchup---identical to Heinz at a fraction of the price after several double blind tests at home. I'm about to compare their "real" mayonaise with Hellman's. I chose my car after reading consumer reports, several other publications, and talking with mechanics including a friend who worked for a dealership that sold that car. He knew every nut and bolt of it including its weak spots. Right now it's got 106,000 miles on it and just starting to get broken in.

    I am responsible for spending other people's money. Lots and lots of it. They have procedures including those mandated by corporate purchasing departments to be certain that they have the best chance of getting their money's worth. I don't see any reason why I should be any less careful with my own money. As for yours, I couldn't care less if you throw it away on whatever you like including unproven cables.

    PS, the house I live in is worth about twice what I paid for it 4 years ago--about $1.4 million. I can afford to buy any audio cable in the world if I want to. But I usually buy my speaker cable from Home Depot. 100 feet of RCA for about $20. With the left over money I bought 4 36 inch Sony WEGA extra bright television sets and hook up my vcrs with RS RCA cables, about $1 each.
  • 12-11-2003, 07:34 PM
    Rockwell
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by E-Stat
    Tell me, Skeptic how many products do you buy solely on the basis of DBT testing? Do you choose your macaroni and cheese based upon DBTs? How about the car you drive? How about that new video camcorder? The new leather couch for the den? How about your new winter parka? Perhaps your house? How about the cola that you drink? What are the DBT results between Fruit of the Loom underwear and Jockey? Are you so insecure in your judgement that you require corroboration by means of verification by the masses?

    rw

    Real test results are useful in making descisions. When I buy a car, i can't drive every model. I have to rely heavily on reviews and specs, then narrow my field to a couple. As an aside, it's a shame that car dealers make shopping for and buying a car such a painful experience that I can hardly stand visiting a few without being exhausted. However, this is really not a good analogy because cars and houses are obviously different from each other, whereas cables have not really been established so from a audible standpoint. Also, you are talking about preference which is different from making a choice based on performance. If you are choosing mac and cheese there is no question of performance. You choose based on the box or taste or whatever. But, what if the makers of mac and cheese implied that their product would make you perform better in the sack and had testimonials from once impotent men who can now please all night? Would that influence purchase? No proof, but if you actually bought it to give it a try, you might actually feel that the fallacious claim was true due to placebo effect. Not so different from what is given in these cable ads.
  • 12-11-2003, 11:01 PM
    mtrycraft
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by E-Stat
    Tell me, Skeptic how many products do you buy solely on the basis of DBT testing? Do you choose your macaroni and cheese based upon DBTs? How about the car you drive? How about that new video camcorder? The new leather couch for the den? How about your new winter parka? Perhaps your house? How about the cola that you drink? What are the DBT results between Fruit of the Loom underwear and Jockey? Are you so insecure in your judgement that you require corroboration by means of verification by the masses?

    rw

    You are confusing issues here. Some are based in preferences and biases. Who said that if one DBTs their audio that they must also DBT every consumer product on the market? Must be yours only.
    I actually by sugar by price alone, don't you? Or you are loyal to a name?
    Why wouldn't or shouldn't one base their macaroni choice on a DBT result? How do you think tasters do it? You think they know which product they are tasting and rating? Hardly, or if they do, their value is zero.
  • 12-11-2003, 11:08 PM
    mtrycraft
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by skeptic

    I try to spend my money as wisely as I can. I can't help it if people are so stupid as to buy Tylenol instead of generic acetomenaphin or other brand name products identical to others with different packaging and no advertising sitting right next to them on the shelves because they can't read a label. My verdict on Shop Rite ketchup---identical to Heinz at a fraction of the price after several double blind tests at home. I'm about to compare their "real" mayonaise with Hellman's. I chose my car after reading consumer reports, several other publications, and talking with mechanics including a friend who worked for a dealership that sold that car.
    .

    The Kikland battery at Costco is about $.22 each for AA size. Next to it is the name brand that costs 60% more, each. Funny since Kikland is made by that name brand, coppertop, company and still they make money on producing it for Costco. The problem is that Costco is not getting other sizes like 9V.

    I wish I could DBT everything in the marketplace:)
  • 12-12-2003, 03:48 AM
    skeptic
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mtrycraft
    How do you think tasters do it? You think they know which product they are tasting and rating? Hardly, or if they do, their value is zero.

    The reviews published in Wine Spectator Magazine make many winemakers and wine merchant furious. (Only Rober M. Parker garners as much or more respect and anger including death threats in his reviews and although his tests are not blind, his integrity is beyond question and his opinions almost always proven to be right by time.) Food processing companies like Betty Crocker, Swanson, etc. employ many test tasters to evaluate new recipes and to test for potential problems when recipes aren't followed so that their products can be made as idiot proof as possible. My favorite cooking show "America's Test Kitchen" also evaluates all recipes blind. And of course many other products like drugs under development are tested blind to see if they really work.

    Not only has Wine Spectator and its peers given wine consumers the ammunition they need to make their buying decisions based on real quality, not price or prestige, they have helped elevate the overall level of winemaking over the last few decades by putting makers of inferior product on notice that if they don't produce quality commensurate with price, they will find it increasingly difficult to sell it at all.Right now, the entire California fine wine industry is on the verge of a shakeout because hundreds of wineries overexpanded and took on high debt in the last few years. Now they have raised prices from $20 a bottle to often $80 to $120 for the same quality in order to pay for it. The informed market isn't buying it. On the other hand, the uninformed audio cable market will pay any price, believe any hype. I guess rich drunken winos are smarter than rich sober audiophiles.
  • 12-12-2003, 09:21 AM
    Monstrous Mike
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by E-Stat
    ...my JPS Labs sound marginally better than my Monster zip...
    rw

    Here's what I don't understand. We can send a man to the moon but we can't figure out why some cables sound apparently better than zip cord.

    Sure there are lots of reports like about clearly audible improvements and there are many people with lots of technobabble on why one cable sounds better than another.

    But where is the scientific paper? Where are the repeatable test results?

    I know a lot people say "who cares about all that science stuff" and that's just fine. But I would be highly suspicious of any claim that seems to be fairly widespread (or perhaps not so widespread seeing as we might be living in a fishbowl here) but has absolutely no scientific backing or even foundation.
  • 12-12-2003, 09:33 AM
    Monstrous Mike
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sofsoldier
    Great!

    As an electrical engineer, have you considered a website with the purpose of acuratly educating people with such things? I mean, there is a host of very expesive "tweaks" that may or may not provide audible improvements (like a demagnetising CD or cable elevators), that should be challenged!

    In my time on these boards and reading the points of view of various people, I would suggest that no proof would be acceptable to counter the beliefs of those select few.

    Even if Albert Einstein came back from the grave and did another PhD specifically on audio cables and found the whole high end industry was a farce, I believe the response of the select few would be: "Yeah, but what kind of system does he own?"

    And I honestly say this not cynically, but rather because I believe it is the God's honest truth.

    It's sort of like convincing your grandma that she is wrong about some old wive's tale she has believed all her life. Sometimes it's better just to let her go on believing it.
  • 12-12-2003, 09:47 AM
    Monstrous Mike
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by E-Stat
    Tell me, Skeptic how many products do you buy solely on the basis of DBT testing? Do you choose your macaroni and cheese based upon DBTs? How about the car you drive? How about that new video camcorder? The new leather couch for the den? How about your new winter parka? Perhaps your house? How about the cola that you drink? What are the DBT results between Fruit of the Loom underwear and Jockey? Are you so insecure in your judgement that you require corroboration by means of verification by the masses?

    rw

    Sorry to ping on you again, E-Stat.

    There are two facets in answer to your question (which I believe is trying be analogous to buying cables).

    First, many of the products you mention do not have a very wide price range. Underwear and macaroni and cheese do not ever cost thousands of dollars. Secondly, many of these choices are preferences. I wear Jockeys but I don't claim they are "better" than any other underwear, they are simply my preference.

    I have DBT-tested beer and found that I really can't tell beer apart that well unless it is something out of the ordinary like Guiness or a malt liquor. There are a few I really don't care for but for most mainstream brands, I'll just buy what's on sale for happy hour.

    Likewise with audio cables, I have DBT-tested several brands and found I could not distinguish any particular cable. So I use basic, well built speaker wires and cables.

    Any time I approach buying a product where the high end version is several orders of magnitude in cost above the basic model (like audio cables), I am very wary and need some pretty solid evidence.

    P.S. Can you thing of any other product, other than art, that has such a large range of price for virtually the same functionality?