The Great Cable Debate

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  • 05-02-2005, 09:54 AM
    Cables, break-in and other ramblings

    The best cables I've heard initially sound "dark" as though they are rolled off at the top. Yet, you can clearly hear the harmonics of a triangle, for example.
    I agree completely, in audio systems there is a fair amount of apparent extranious signal in the upper mid region. I don't know if the electronics are repsonsible or if this is a human hearing survival trait left over from listening to breaking twigs and rustling leaves to prevent the predators form eating us.

    Nevertheless most of us seem to have a high sensitivity to energy in this region and if you are like me you have paid a substantial dollar premium for equipment that minmizes this problem. CDs in particular seem prone to emphasis in this region and it is probably one of the major problems that make them so much less listenable than vinyl in spite of (on paper) having so many performance strenghts over vinyl.

    But I digress; the intial darkness of a cleaner presentation for me clears up within a track or two, after that the better cable shows itself by revealing new low level information. So I'm slowly learning to be wary of first impressions. Certain combinations of cables and tracks seem to combine poorly. Better cables make almost all disks sound better but there does seem to be the rare exception where the opposite of synergy takes place and a previously so-so CD is revealed as pretty awful. The good news is that more often bad CDs become much better. I've had CDs change from unlistenable to pretty damn good after throwing considerable amounts of money at the problem.

    Eventhough we want realism and neutrality there are systems that excessively emphasize poor recordings, the trick is to find products, especially cables, that bring out the best of good recordings and while revealing poor quality recordings for what they are, not neccessarily making them worse. If this was easy, there would only be one way of making cables and we would all agree as to how, whose and how much to pay.

    Not to start yet another war of words, all this seems confounded by the break in problem. The cables I have heard that I think are the best seem to require a longer break in to acheive that behavior. Yes I do understand that there is a least some form of hearing adaptation taking place in how I hear the information. But that is not all there is to it.

    My friend and I are developing a speaker. During prototype work we have been listening and testing in mono. As the speaker design slowly got better it became clear that the system needed to be improved including the cables. The system was preventing us from further improving the speaker as we had acheived sort of the resolution floor for that system. So during a fair amount of swapping of components and cables to determine where to spend the money, the mono cable that had been left un-connected accidentally got placed into the mono channel that we were using for the speaker. The difference between that cable and its other channel twin was very distinct and noticable. Since it hadn't been in use, it had "reverted" to it's unbroken in state. This is support for the notion that not all of the adaptation to a cables sound happens at the human ear end.

    I know all this is controversial but I can only write about what I hear or experience. I don't need to know why these phenomina exsists to enjoy the benefits of minimizing them. I would like to know exactly why and how this stuff works, because the implicationa are I could then know much more easily whose products are more likely to solve the problem for the lowest expense.
  • 07-16-2013, 09:31 AM
    Happy Camper
    Besides all the banter about non topic misdirection, good read. Gives one things to consider.