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  1. #1
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    MIT cables vs Zip Cord

    Here's an interesting thread by Frank Van Alstine about a blind test comparing $1500 cables to plain old 16g zip cord. Scroll down the page.

    http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/i...topic=60159.20
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  2. #2
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    No surprise

    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    Here's an interesting thread by Frank Van Alstine about a blind test comparing $1500 cables to plain old 16g zip cord. Scroll down the page.

    http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/i...topic=60159.20
    Frank Van Alstine is know to believe that cables and interconnects are insiginficantly different from each other. Of the test in question it may be said the the sample size was far too small to obtain statistically significant results. Other criticisms are possible too no doubt: e.g. it would support the conclusion if the listens had done enough sighted listening first to formed their prior conclusions about the sound differences.

    However I agree with result. In my limited personal experience with entry and midrange systems, the difference between Blue Jeans -- or even some cheaper cables from Parts Express for example -- and cables costing 3-4 times as much, is not noticable. My advice to listeners is to put extra money into components other than cables.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    What I found interesting was that here was a $1500 speaker cable that sounded essentially the same as 16g Zip cord on a high end system.

    Even the cable salesmen and professional audio people could not tell the difference. I agree the number of reviewers were small but you would think that for $1500's there would be a noticeable difference! This leads me to believe that either MIT cables are POS or that 16g Zip Cord is worth $1500 and we should all be using it. Or the reviewers all have hearing deficits!
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  4. #4
    Audio/HT Nut version 1.3a
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    My advice to listeners is to put extra money into components other than cables.
    That is music to my ears, praise the Lord...agree 100%.

    One additional thought. If only people would put as much effort into room acoustics and how they place their speakers in the room as they do debating over expensive cables and wires that might be minutely different at best, they would realize real audible improvement.

    I would like to be in on a similar test. After they all come to the conclusion that they could detect no or little difference I would have them close their eyes. I would move the speakers slightly a foot or more closer or farther away from the wall. They all would immediatley hear a signifiant difference. The other item that is most often completely ignored is equalization to correct frequency irregularities. Some who have never tried this successfully tend to dismiss it as non-audiophileic (just made that word up).

    These two factors far outweigh any subtle differences in connectors.

    RR6

  5. #5
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I totally agree about room acoustics. But the reality is that we have to work with what we have. It would be nice if we could all build a room and buy furniture based on our audio equipment. But your right RR, even small changes in speaker placement can make a huge difference.

    As for expensive cables, power cord and IC's making a big difference in sound, I still have to hear it to believe it and I have yet to hear a difference. People would be better off spending the extra $500 or more that they spend on high end cables and use that money up front to buy higher quality speakers, preamp/amps, and sources.

    Ouch! I can feel the spears peircing my heart now from the people in the high end cable camp.
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  6. #6
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    Yeah, I'm runnin for the hills BR. My comments about room acoustics and speaker placement is mainly for those who actually don't know or need a reminder (I think this is a fairly high number of folk). Although I sure did find out the importance of a good cable/antenna lead when I was testing out my new plasma. I think quality video connectors are more critical than audio connectors.

    RR6

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    Ouch! I can feel the spears peircing my heart now from the people in the high end cable camp.
    Not at all. I agree that cables are about the last things that should be looked at on the upgrade path. The first tier would be source, speakers and room. By source, I mean the source media, not the source component.

    Second tier would be electronics. Last would be cables and tweaks. In other words, fix the items that make the biggest impact first and go down the line.
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  8. #8
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    I'm constantly surprised...

    Quote Originally Posted by RoadRunner6
    Yeah, I'm runnin for the hills BR. My comments about room acoustics and speaker placement is mainly for those who actually don't know or need a reminder (I think this is a fairly high number of folk). Although I sure did find out the importance of a good cable/antenna lead when I was testing out my new plasma. I think quality video connectors are more critical than audio connectors.

    RR6
    ...at the number of people I talk to that fret over cables before they even try the freebie of speaker placement, let alone look into room acoustics. Cables do make a difference in sound but nowhere near the level of the room and its setup.
    Form is out. Content makes its own form.
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    The format doesn't matter. The music is all that matters.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicoverall
    The first tier would be source, speakers and room. By source, I mean the source media, not the source component.
    Agree! The source is so obvious I forgot it but it is so true, both in audio and video.

    RR6

  10. #10
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    Hmmm

    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    Here's an interesting thread by Frank Van Alstine about a blind test comparing $1500 cables to plain old 16g zip cord. Scroll down the page.

    http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/i...topic=60159.20
    It's been quite a few years but I also compared MIT (I can't recall the model) with zip cord. The audible differences between the two were among the broadest of any two cables I've ever compared. I preferred the zip cord. The MIT sounded like it was trying to clear up some perceived faults of early digital - it sounded cloudy and closed-in. It was at that point that I began to wonder if the fact that many cables sound different because they are engineered to veer from perfect neutrality. I haven't come to any conclusions. Usually there is one (of two) cables that sounds "better" to my ears but that doesn't mean it hasn't been tampered with in some way to make it pleasing to me.
    Form is out. Content makes its own form.
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  11. #11
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    Here's an interesting thread by Frank Van Alstine about a blind test comparing $1500 cables to plain old 16g zip cord. Scroll down the page
    It's a shame he doesn't understand the distinction between double and single blind tests. With double blind, even the tester doesn't know whether or not a change was made.

    The instructions to the hookup guy were to either change or not change the cables.

    I've done SBTs myself. The only issue I have with this apparent "applies-with-all-cases" assumption is that my long term experience suggests that system and matching aspects really are important.

    ...the same budget choice of buying Jims's speakers ($2400)

    Very unfortunately, my choice of speaker is very demanding of amplifier and cable alike (low dielectric).

    rw

  12. #12
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    It's a shame he doesn't understand the distinction between double and single blind tests. With double blind, even the tester doesn't know whether or not a change was made.

    The instructions to the hookup guy were to either change or not change the cables.

    I've done SBTs myself. ...

    rw
    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Van Alstine
    ...
    The results, ran three tests with all listeners sent out of the room and the setup changed by one of my guys who did not take part in the listening tests. ...
    If "his guy" wasn't in the listening room, then the guy was effectively no different than a random switching device. Frank was the tester, not the guy.

    Anyway, the results certainly aren't persuasive in a scientific sense.

  13. #13
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    If "his guy" wasn't in the listening room, then the guy was effectively no different than a random switching device. Frank was the tester, not the guy.
    You're preaching to the choir here. I was just pointing out the true distinction for those who do not know. He should have said he had conducted a SBT.

    I remember an amusing exchange with our friend theaudiohobby who took exception to my SBT - yet as usual never could substantiate how the proctor (wifey) was cueing me. Not only did he just use his own rhetoric, he quoted a professor of rhetoric to support his imagination!

    Watch TAH dance

    rw

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    You're preaching to the choir here. I was just pointing out the true distinction for those who do not know. He should have said he had conducted a SBT.

    I remember an amusing exchange with our friend theaudiohobby who took exception to my SBT - yet as usual never could substantiate how the proctor (wifey) was cueing me. Not only did he just use his own rhetoric, he quoted a professor of rhetoric to support his imagination!

    Watch TAH dance

    rw
    DBT disciples use the Clever Hans Effect as the basis for SBT's being potentially invalid. But if you're careful to avoid that, they work better than DBT's and are more reliable, IMHO. No need to have an ABX box in the signal chain and the tests can go longer than the usual 20 seconds that DBT enthusiasts seem to think is proper.

    I use SBT's on occasion. But sorry, I have no quotes from plumbers or garbagemen to back up their efficacy.
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  15. #15
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicoverall
    DBT disciples use the Clever Hans Effect as the basis for SBT's being potentially invalid.
    And guys like TAH do so without having the foggiest understanding of the underlying principles - they just parrot the answer without being able to assess a given situation. Hence, his inability to critique my set up for which the visual cuing was eliminated.

    rw

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    And guys like TAH do so without having the foggiest understanding of the underlying principles - they just parrot the answer without being able to assess a given situation. Hence, his inability to critique my set up for which the visual cuing was eliminated.

    rw
    Thinking for oneself seems difficult for some. I've long thought that there was a faction of audio enthusiasts (written tongue in cheek, to be sure!) that simply do not want components to sound different. They go to great lengths to argue against it and against any protocol that isn't ABX DBT's. Furthermore, if I claimed positive results using ABX, they wouldn't believe it anyway. Tough crowd!
    Form is out. Content makes its own form.
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    The format doesn't matter. The music is all that matters.
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  17. #17
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Conversely

    Quote Originally Posted by musicoverall
    Thinking for oneself seems difficult for some. I've long thought that there was a faction of audio enthusiasts (written tongue in cheek, to be sure!) that simply do not want components to sound different. They go to great lengths to argue against it and against any protocol that isn't ABX DBT's. Furthermore, if I claimed positive results using ABX, they wouldn't believe it anyway. Tough crowd!
    The opposite is even more true, IMO, that is, many more want compenents to sound different. That is the basis of audiophilia as a hobby; where would be the fun if everything sounded the same?

  18. #18
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    ...many more want...
    Not sure "want* is the operative term. There are those who seek exclusivity - whether we're talking audio gear, motorcycles, watches - whatever, but I'm not convinced that's what most of us really want. When I was 15 in 1972, I didn't *want* my Julian Hirsch approved AR Integrated amp with the clean cosmetics and pebbly finish cabinet to sound horrible - it just happened. And opened my eyes forever to the variety found in the real world.

    I would agree there is no single *musical truth* to be found, but there sure are lots of really good variations.

    rw

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    The opposite is even more true, IMO, that is, many more want compenents to sound different. That is the basis of audiophilia as a hobby; where would be the fun if everything sounded the same?
    In the early 1970's, I owned a Pioneer receiver, a BIC turntable and Jensen speakers. If that sounded as good as Edge separates, a VPI 'table and Maggies, I'd give up the audio hobby "faster'n a fart blows away in a dust storm".

    In other words, the hobby is the result of sonic differences, not the cause.
    Form is out. Content makes its own form.
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  20. #20
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicoverall
    In other words, the hobby is the result of sonic differences, not the cause.
    And yet, there are other hobbies where performance differences are largely ignored. As a motorcycle rider, I'm amazed at the money folks spend gilding their iron age air cooled V twin bikes. In this case, it is all about perceived image where the usual virtues of performance, reliability and reduction of NVH are largely ignored. I'll take my bone stock ST1300 over a Harley any day.

    rw

  21. #21
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Ha! maybe YOU would

    Quote Originally Posted by musicoverall
    In the early 1970's, I owned a Pioneer receiver, a BIC turntable and Jensen speakers. If that sounded as good as Edge separates, a VPI 'table and Maggies, I'd give up the audio hobby "faster'n a fart blows away in a dust storm".

    In other words, the hobby is the result of sonic differences, not the cause.
    Says you!!

    Yes, of course components sound different, that is, some do under some circumstances. So I concede that sonic differences spark the hobby, however for many people the thing takes on a life of its own. Some people come to believe (a) all components sound different and (b) all differences are significant. Neither of these is true but the quest for some becomes obsessive. They describe minute differences as "huge"; worse, they label imaginary differences as "huge". The obsessive hobbiest wants and needs to hear differences to justify the hobby; in extreme cases it becomes self-validation.
    Last edited by Feanor; 10-21-2008 at 09:44 AM.

  22. #22
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    No doubt!

    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    Says you!!

    Yes, of course components sound different, that is, some do under some circumstances. So I concede that sonic differences spark the hobby, however for many people the thing takes on a life of its own. Some people come to believe (a) all components sound different and (b) all differences are significant. Neither of these is true but the quest for better becomes obsessive. They describe minute differences as "huge"; worse, they label imaginary differences as "huge". The obsessive hobbiest wants and needs to hear differences to justify the hobby; in extreme cases it becomes self-validation.
    There are two main reasons why I've always appreciated the system you've put together. First, because it was obviously chosen with care as far as "bang for buck" and synergy are concerned. Second, because it seems to me you may have found that special pricepoint where further improvement becomes less than cost effective. You seem to have realized that all the participants in a rat race are rats, win or lose. Would you classify yourself as a utilitarian? And if you answer "No, I'm a Methodist", I'm going to smite thee!

    Point being, I think you have your head on straight. I don't obsess over differences. The only argument anyone will really ever get from me if when they claim everything sounds the same. But I also recognize that the differences we audiophiles rhapsodize over are often extremely subtle and, sometimes... yes... sometimes non-existant. But sometimes even subtle differences become aurally significant.
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  23. #23
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Thanks, MOA

    Quote Originally Posted by musicoverall
    There are two main reasons why I've always appreciated the system you've put together. First, because it was obviously chosen with care as far as "bang for buck" and synergy are concerned. Second, because it seems to me you may have found that special pricepoint where further improvement becomes less than cost effective. You seem to have realized that all the participants in a rat race are rats, win or lose. Would you classify yourself as a utilitarian? And if you answer "No, I'm a Methodist", I'm going to smite thee!

    ...
    Well, I admit I am a hobbiest but I've always been constrained to find the a maximum value point. And yes, I think I've found a certain sweet spot, the low-end of high-end if you will.

    But I have made mistakes in my 35+ years of hifi experience. For over 20 years I lived with two very dreadful components in relative ignorance of how bad they really were; (Phase Linear 400 amp and B&W DM7 speakers; would I'd kept my previous Ohm F's and got an Accuphase P-250). My equipment interest was revived about 7 years ago when I discovered that the Paradigm Atoms ($200) I bought for the bedroom were in some respects better than the DM7's ($3000 in current dollars).

    I'll admit if I had more money I spend it. For starters, a better DAC, maybe a Monarchy NM24, then maybe a pair of Magneplanar 3.6's. Both of these are very high value components. But new speakers might justify more powerful amps, and so on ...

  24. #24
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    Hobbies

    I decided that I had to choose between music collector and audio buff as a hobby - couldn't afford both. This is without a doubt The Golden Age of Recorded Music. Sometime when you're bored, take a look at the discography of John Zorn, one of my favorite composer/musicians. I have over 100 of his CD's and I may be halfway to his total output. And that's just one guy - I have hundred's of favorites! My stereo room looks like the record shop I worked at in college (substituting half of my CD's for the LP's in the shop - it was the '70's after all).

    And let me tell you - I don't listen to all the people who scream "You couldn't possibly listen to 10,000 CD's/LP's very often"!!!! Well, it's true - I can't. But to get rid of any would mean that on my drive home someday, I might have a hankering to listen to Ivo Papasov and his Bulgarian Wedding Band's "Balkanology" or The Hafler Trio's "A Pressed On Sandwich" and they wouldn't be there!!!!!

    Listening to 10,000 CD's/LP"s once on a modest system is better than listening to one CD 10,000 times on the best audio system. Or 250 CD's 40 times.

    Finally, just last night I was listening to the opening E chord on Glenn Branca's "Symphony #1 and the phone rang. I noticed for the first time that my phone rings a perfect E note. It's stuff like that that makes listening fun.
    Form is out. Content makes its own form.
    -Sam Rivers

    The format doesn't matter. The music is all that matters.
    - Musicoverall

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