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Old 07-28-2015, 03:50 PM   #61
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While not the cheapest, I have found these cables to be high quality and reasonably priced:

Blue Jeans Cable -- Quality Cables at Reasonable Prices
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Old 07-29-2015, 10:58 PM   #62
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I'm fat, dumb and happy with my Luxman amp, Tannoy speakers, Rega turntable and Rat Shack cables.

I'd rather spend money on records.
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Old 07-30-2015, 12:03 PM   #63
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My experience as an audiophile on cables:

- Cheap cable can really effect the sound (quality, volume) negatively
- Audiophile level cables have subtle differences. But more expensive does not mean better sounding. It's like fine wine. You may not like $400 cable vs $40 while another may rave about it. If one likes a specific subtle change, the $400 cable may worth it. Otherwise, spending money on other components of the music system, including source.
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Old 07-30-2015, 01:18 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by Animorph View Post
An old speaker cable article by Nelson Pass explaining the RLC's of cables and interactions with speakers and amps. I remember a lot of articles like this. If you have difficult speakers or amps there could be audible differences among cables. If the speaker and amp are closer to ideal, or the distance is very short, the cable won't make as much difference as long as the resistance is low enough.
....
https://passlabs.com/articles/speake...e-or-snake-oil
...
Some good info there. Thanks, I recall reading a number of the Nelson Pass articles.

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Originally Posted by robnplunder View Post
My experience as an audiophile on cables:

- Cheap cable can really effect the sound (quality, volume) negatively...
I would rephrase that (and this ties in with the Nelson Pass article that Animorph linked. I would say:
Cheap Any cable, regardless of price, can really effect the sound (quality, volume), if R, L, and/or C are high enough. I would not say 'negatively', that's subjective. For example, if a cable with high R causes a drop in high frequency response in a system that the owner felt was too 'bright', this could very well be perceived as an improvement in sound. If it flattened the overall response, you could also say it objectively improved the accuracy of the system.
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- Audiophile level cables have subtle differences. ...
In fact, many of the esoteric, high priced cables do have significant R, L, and/or C. And that can make them sound different in some systems. Some people may hear the difference (and some will imagine they do). Some may like the change, some may not. And it can be very system dependent as to if there is any change at all, and how the change presents itself. The impedance curve of different high end speakers can be very different, and will interact differently with different high RLC cables. But that difference provides a possible reason to pay for the esoteric cables. And a cheap cable can have high R, L, and/or C as well. Though I contend you could do the same thing in a far more controlled fashion with a few $ worth of RLC components and a basic, mechanically robust cable.

Now this has me wondering - is there an 'audiophile box' that lets you plug in RLC in different configurations? It would be like a hardwired, simple equalizer. It would provide some frequency shaping, but w/o all the downside of a multi-band EQ.

-ERD50
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Old 07-30-2015, 02:12 PM   #65
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Some good info there. Thanks, I recall reading a number of the Nelson Pass articles.


......
Now this has me wondering - is there an 'audiophile box' that lets you plug in RLC in different configurations? It would be like a hardwired, simple equalizer. It would provide some frequency shaping, but w/o all the downside of a multi-band EQ.

-ERD50
Can alway try a capacitor, resistor and coil substitution box. Or Make one. Happy experimenting.
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Old 07-31-2015, 09:18 AM   #66
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Can alway try a capacitor, resistor and coil substitution box. Or Make one. Happy experimenting.
Yes, I could, but I'm just not motivated.

When someone says cable XYZ brings the vocalist more forward, OK. But every recording is different - is that how it was recorded? And what will it do on a different recording?

Again, if the listener is getting the sound they want with a specific cable, they are set. I'm pretty happy with the sound of my system with neutral cables.

What I should do is get back to reviewing room treatments. I know I have early reflections(*) that are messing with the sound a bit. Cables won't fix that, you need to kill the reflections. But my listening room is the living room, so I am limited in what I can do by aesthetics. Now that I think about it, I did experiment a little with putting some 'wings' of absorbent material on my chair, and that made a very noticeable improvement, and I could make that something that I only use when I'm doing serious listening.

(*) Early Reflections - I forget the details (google will bring it up), but one guide to speaker set up and room treatments was to stretch a string from the speaker to your ear in your listening position, and then add X inches to the string so it is now loose. Then, with both ends of the strings attached to those points at your ear level and the speaker (or with a helper), pull the string tight along its length (forming a triangle with the direct 'line-of-sight' between ear-speaker). If the string can touch any hard surface, that surface will deliver an early reflection which 'smears' the sound. So you want to move the speakers or treat that surface to be less reflective. That "X inches" length relates to the msec of delay. The longer delays are less problematical.

This is not voodoo. I had a test CD (which I can't locate, I think I borrowed it from a friend, but I think I found one on-line) with a track that was very unusual to me. Not the typical frequency sweeps. This track started with a quickly repeated burst of low frequency beeps (beep-beep-beep-beep-beep), maybe 8 in a row, and then it would step the frequency up a bit and repeat the 8 (or maybe it was a continuous sweep). Anyhow, the results were surprising. You expect to just hear these on/off burst tones boringly repeat as they ascend the scale, but at a few frequency points the beeps got all bubbly sounding, and you couldn't make out the individual beeps, like they were walking all over each other, like the timing was off. I thought there was something wrong with the recording, but when I listened with headphones, the beeps were distinct all the way through. I'm pretty sure this is attributed to the early reflections combining with the straight sound.

Does that affect the music? I believe it does. I need to get back to my room treatments!

-ERD50
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Old 08-01-2015, 07:50 AM   #67
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Anyone still interested in the original post, there's an update by ARS Tecnica including some double blind testing. The audiophile’s dilemma: strangers can’t identify $340 cables, either [Updated] | Ars Technica
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Old 08-01-2015, 10:33 AM   #68
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Anyone still interested in the original post, there's an update by ARS Tecnica including some double blind testing. The audiophile’s dilemma: strangers can’t identify $340 cables, either [Updated] | Ars Technica
While I'm quite certain that a fancy, $$$ Ethernet cable will provide no audible difference over a basic spec-compliant cable, this test is pretty deeply flawed (and tests like this are not easy).

It appears they just used the laptop's DAC and audio output to drive some headphones? I did not see any mention of a separate high-end audio DAC and headphone amp. Laptops have decent audio quality outputs (as in 'not bad'), but I'd bet discerning listeners would detect a difference in quality between a laptop audio output, and a quality external DAC and headphone amp. And you would not need to spend mega-bucks for quality external components, maybe $200? But the laptop components are probably less than $5 total, and a laptop is a very electrically noisy environment with many challenges to great sound (multiple noise sources, clocks, etc, proximity of the noise, difficulty in grounding everything ideally).

It would be easy to make the claim that the noise levels in the internal circuits of a laptop would 'mask' any differences between the cables. I still doubt there is any difference, but this is not a good set up to discern differences. I doubt any true audiophile drives their amp/speakers from the headphone jack of a laptop (I have for convenience and causal listening, but I use a ~ $120 external DAC for my serious listening).

The cable seller claims that this Ethernet cable reduces the noise that can get into the audio circuitry, and that noise can interfere with the audio circuits. Now that claim has some theoretical basis, so I think it would be better to test for that specifically. As a poster in one of those articles mentioned, noise getting into the DAC is not a surprise to the designers. A high quality external DAC will be designed with noise in mind, and they will take steps to mitigate any audible effects. It's a stretch to think that an Ethernet cable with any sort of 'special' attention to noise reduction would make an audible difference in a good design that accounts for this kind of noise, but we could test for that:

My approach would be two separate ABX tests - first with the 'special cable' a constant, but with increasing levels of noise injected into the system. Record the point at which listeners detect an audible difference (and I'd suspect the point where a difference is detected is when they get errors, and the sound mutes - 'golden ears' not required!). Then repeat those tests with noise and a basic cable.

Would you find a difference in noise level rejection between the cables, and are those noise levels likely to be encountered in real life? That would be my test. As I said, this stuff gets involved and is time consuming, and ideally is repeated by different testers and different groups with similar results. That's why I tend to go with logical thinking and track down the stuff I know is an issue (like my room effects), rather than chase questionable issues.

-ERD50
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Old 08-01-2015, 11:26 AM   #69
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While I'm quite certain that a fancy, $$$ Ethernet cable will provide no audible difference over a basic spec-compliant cable, this test is pretty deeply flawed (and tests like this are not easy).

It appears they just used the laptop's DAC and audio output to drive some headphones? I did not see any mention of a separate high-end audio DAC and headphone amp. Laptops have decent audio quality outputs (as in 'not bad'), but I'd bet discerning listeners would detect a difference in quality between a laptop audio output, and a quality external DAC and headphone amp. And you would not need to spend mega-bucks for quality external components, maybe $200? But the laptop components are probably less than $5 total, and a laptop is a very electrically noisy environment with many challenges to great sound (multiple noise sources, clocks, etc, proximity of the noise, difficulty in grounding everything ideally).

It would be easy to make the claim that the noise levels in the internal circuits of a laptop would 'mask' any differences between the cables. I still doubt there is any difference, but this is not a good set up to discern differences. I doubt any true audiophile drives their amp/speakers from the headphone jack of a laptop (I have for convenience and causal listening, but I use a ~ $120 external DAC for my serious listening).

The cable seller claims that this Ethernet cable reduces the noise that can get into the audio circuitry, and that noise can interfere with the audio circuits. Now that claim has some theoretical basis, so I think it would be better to test for that specifically. As a poster in one of those articles mentioned, noise getting into the DAC is not a surprise to the designers. A high quality external DAC will be designed with noise in mind, and they will take steps to mitigate any audible effects. It's a stretch to think that an Ethernet cable with any sort of 'special' attention to noise reduction would make an audible difference in a good design that accounts for this kind of noise, but we could test for that:

My approach would be two separate ABX tests - first with the 'special cable' a constant, but with increasing levels of noise injected into the system. Record the point at which listeners detect an audible difference (and I'd suspect the point where a difference is detected is when they get errors, and the sound mutes - 'golden ears' not required!). Then repeat those tests with noise and a basic cable.

Would you find a difference in noise level rejection between the cables, and are those noise levels likely to be encountered in real life? That would be my test. As I said, this stuff gets involved and is time consuming, and ideally is repeated by different testers and different groups with similar results. That's why I tend to go with logical thinking and track down the stuff I know is an issue (like my room effects), rather than chase questionable issues.

-ERD50
Of course once you go to an external sound card and an usb cable, then the issue of the quality of that cable could emerge.
As to the ethernet (and/or wireless connection). it might be possible to compare direct streaming with using network shares to handle the music. If you use network shares then the music comes over in blocks as the player reads the next block of data and then the receiving computer gets that block and presents it to the player. In this mode as far as the player can tell the file looks like a local file. (Indeed a third possible test, a local file vs a networked file, vs streaming). (Although if you watch the net traffic in streaming you see the file buffered into local memory and the net traffic stopping for a while before resuming again).
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Old 08-01-2015, 11:54 AM   #70
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Of course once you go to an external sound card and an usb cable, then the issue of the quality of that cable could emerge. ...
But isn't that how a digital high-end system would typically be configured? So shouldn't that be the test case?



Quote:
As to the ethernet (and/or wireless connection). it might be possible to compare direct streaming with using network shares to handle the music. If you use network shares then the music comes over in blocks as the player reads the next block of data and then the receiving computer gets that block and presents it to the player. In this mode as far as the player can tell the file looks like a local file. (Indeed a third possible test, a local file vs a networked file, vs streaming). (Although if you watch the net traffic in streaming you see the file buffered into local memory and the net traffic stopping for a while before resuming again).
In any case, if the cable seller is claiming their cable cuts noise that could get into the DAC and affect the audio, isn't that what we should test for? I'm not sure it is relevant whether the data is sent in blocks, gets stored in a buffer in RAM or anything else.

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Old 08-01-2015, 12:04 PM   #71
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In any case, if the cable seller is claiming their cable cuts noise that could get into the DAC and affect the audio, isn't that what we should test for? I'm not sure it is relevant whether the data is sent in blocks, gets stored in a buffer in RAM or anything else.

-ERD50
Since the data is buffered into the computer, the sound card gets the data as a dma transfer (memory to memory). If there were jitter on the ethernet cable, or wireless link, it would be absorbed by the buffering process. (Unless you think any ethernet jitter gets preserved in memory).
So the audio data is sent to a buffer and that buffer is loaded to the sound card a bit later. So given how things are done its not clear how ethernet jitter could get to the sound card in the first place given the buffered nature of how things actually work.
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Old 08-01-2015, 12:49 PM   #72
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Since the data is buffered into the computer, the sound card gets the data as a dma transfer (memory to memory). If there were jitter on the ethernet cable, or wireless link, it would be absorbed by the buffering process. (Unless you think any ethernet jitter gets preserved in memory).
So the audio data is sent to a buffer and that buffer is loaded to the sound card a bit later. So given how things are done its not clear how ethernet jitter could get to the sound card in the first place given the buffered nature of how things actually work.
I see the confusion. The way I read the article, is they were just talking about noise in general getting into the DAC, not jitter specifically. Noise getting into the DAC could cause audible problems, but as I said earlier, I'd expect a good quality DAC to be immune to the kinds of noise you'd get from a basic Ethernet cable in the system, and the differences in noise levels with some 'super' cable versus a basic cable would likely be small anyway.

I agree with you, jitter would not be preserved in memory (or most other chains for that matter).

I'm highly suspicious of their claims of noise differences between a 'super' and a basic Ethernet cable having audible effects. But I think it can be tested as I described. I'm not going to bother

-ERD50
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