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Audiophile cables - is this really a thing?
Old 6th September 2020
  #1
Audiophile cables - is this really a thing?

I'm testing a new pair of monitors and the dealer was awesome enough to also lend me 2 pairs of audiophile cables. They both cost ridiculous money, over $1000 for a pair. When I'm reading all these audiophile reviews about how a cable makes your vocals sound more sophisticated, instruments are more separated, bass is quick, mids are smooth and highs are silk etc. I'm hitting 'close' button in my browser instantly. I tried to compare my old speakers to the ones I'm testing using these cables with one set of speakers and cheap cables with another one. The difference is tremendous. Unfortunately, I don't have a 'decent' pair of cables in comparable size to compare those turbo cables with some 'studio standard'. I don't want to start another 'audiophile bull**** whiplash' thread. What I really like to know is how much of their sales slogan is being covered in physics and real performance.
Old 6th September 2020
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by ihavelostmykeys View Post
. What I really like to know is how much of their sales slogan is being covered in physics and real performance.
There is almost a universal lack of scientific knowledge in hifi circles and a desire to ‘believe any old crap’. This is perpetuated by an industry selling dreams of perfect and better sound to the delusional. Some audiophiles call themselves ‘subjectivists’ (i.e. if I can hear the improvement it is better) and they generally spend a fortune seeking audio perfection.

Of course the only purpose of a hifi industry (or in this case the music gear industry) is relieve consumers of as much cash as possible and if some sort of ‘pseudo babble’ or fancy coloured light on the front of the equipment does that better than cold hard science they don’t really care; they just want your cash.

Worth the watch IMHO about how hard it is to measure and assess audio equipment scientifically.

Old 6th September 2020
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ihavelostmykeys View Post
I'm testing a new pair of monitors and the dealer was awesome enough to also lend me 2 pairs of audiophile cables. They both cost ridiculous money, over $1000 for a pair. When I'm reading all these audiophile reviews about how a cable makes your vocals sound more sophisticated, instruments are more separated, bass is quick, mids are smooth and highs are silk etc. I'm hitting 'close' button in my browser instantly. I tried to compare my old speakers to the ones I'm testing using these cables with one set of speakers and cheap cables with another one. The difference is tremendous. Unfortunately, I don't have a 'decent' pair of cables in comparable size to compare those turbo cables with some 'studio standard'. I don't want to start another 'audiophile bull**** whiplash' thread. What I really like to know is how much of their sales slogan is being covered in physics and real performance.
Beware of subjectivity and flowery descriptions!!!

Cables that cost $1000 cost that much because there are people that believe that $1000 cables are the best you can buy....

If I am selling them, I LOVE that line of thinking....

And, there are Good Cables and Great cables. And terrible Cables. Just like anything, you DO get what you pay for.

Within reason of course...

Im afraid the science behind "HOW" a good cable PERFORMS and "WHAT" it actually SOUNDS like are mutually exclusive.

Because SOUND is subjective.

But no amount of science, or Solder made of the tears of Angels, will convince an "AudioPhool" that this his $1000 dollar cable purchase does not make his "SOUND" the best....
Old 6th September 2020
  #4
I am perfectly aware of how rotten is audiophile industry. When I was at university we even had a lecture about audiophile bull**** like a paste for transistors to make it sound more lika a valve etc. But this time I can't tell if it's fake or not. He was saying a lot about 'mono-crystals' that the cables are build from. One of them is tinned copper and another one silver with no shield(!). However, I cannot find any hard data like capacity, impedance or inductance.
Old 6th September 2020
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ihavelostmykeys View Post
I am perfectly aware of how rotten is audiophile industry. When I was at university we even had a lecture about audiophile bull**** like a paste for transistors to make it sound more lika a valve etc. But this time I can't tell if it's fake or not. He was saying a lot about 'mono-crystals' that the cables are build from. One of them is tinned copper and another one silver with no shield(!). However, I cannot find any hard data like capacity, impedance or inductance.

Look, there is plenty of hard scientific data that will that will enlighten you about WHY silver is the best conductor in the group 11 metals column of the periodic table...

There is also the market driven force that says a Silver cable is worth per ounce what the Cost of a Troy Ounce of Silver is at the moment.

If you google the "Crystal Lattice of Silver", you will find explanations about How Silver is unique in its atomic level lattice, that allow for the best conductivity of any of the Group 11 metals.

But, I can "GUARANTEE" in a blind listening test, with stringent science being observed, that there is infinitesimal difference between two similar quality cables, one made of copper, one made of silver.

Beauty is in the ear of the beholder...
Old 6th September 2020
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by ihavelostmykeys View Post
. However, I cannot find any hard data like capacity, impedance or inductance.
May not be exactly what you want but some good info

http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm
Old 6th September 2020
  #7
Huge differences are heard here between quality copper and silver cables. The rest of the system better be up to snuff to appreciate it. If you want to test cables you will not need a $27,000 Audio Precision analyzer, that won't help. You will need a $60,000 Angilent or HP network analyzer.
Old 6th September 2020
  #8
Hey, I know how difficult is to have a serious conversation on this topic but I wanted to get some proof. I'd appreciate some links about physical properties of silver vs copper, shielded vs unshielded, spiral vs mesh braid etc. What I know is that cable's capacitance and impedance makes it sort of low pass filter and I'd like to somehow tell where does the ridiculousness begin. Like I said before, I couldn't make any comparison between speakers using cheap pair with one set and fancy pair with other which means these cables are really good. I just wonder how good.
Old 6th September 2020
  #9
Ok, if anyone is interested, I've made some hearing tests. Contenders:

Stagg (£25/pair, 3m)
Albedo Flat-One (£1000+/pair, silver, 3m)
Luna Orange £1000+/pair, tinned copper, 2,5m)
self made cables, probably Belden but there's no name on them any more (>1m)

cheap Stagg sounded very dull, no high end, definitively the worst of all 4

Silver Albedo (3m) sound a bit brighter than copper Luna (2,5m)

No-names (>1m) sounded noticeably brighter to Silver Albedo although I really liked that lack of piercing with Albedo. Sometimes I could swear there was something better with low end but I think this might be impression made by lacking highs.

Conclusions: Cheap cables are crap. Good cable is always good. Silver is better than Copper. Quality short cables are the better than supreme quality long cables.
Old 6th September 2020
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ihavelostmykeys View Post
Ok, if anyone is interested, I've made some hearing tests. Contenders:

Stagg (£25/pair, 3m)
Albedo Flat-One (£1000+/pair, silver, 3m)
Luna Orange £1000+/pair, tinned copper, 2,5m)
self made cables, probably Belden but there's no name on them any more (>1m)

cheap Stagg sounded very dull, no high end, definitively the worst of all 4

Silver Albedo (3m) sound a bit brighter than copper Luna (2,5m)

No-names (>1m) sounded noticeably brighter to Silver Albedo although I really liked that lack of piercing with Albedo. Sometimes I could swear there was something better with low end but I think this might be impression made by lacking highs.

Conclusions: Cheap cables are crap. Good cable is always good. Silver is better than Copper. Quality short cables are the better than supreme quality long cables.
Nice scientific overview. Next time I listen to cables, I will remember to forget your totally subjective and arbitrary testing...
Old 6th September 2020
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by UKMK00 View Post
Nice scientific overview. Next time I listen to cables, I will remember to forget your totally subjective and arbitrary testing...
If you have means to test it properly and are willing to do it once, I'll be more than happy to see the results.
Old 7th September 2020
  #12
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Shun Mook Mpingo Discs hand tuned by Bill Ying made my copper cables sing like silver and diamond.

https://highend-electronics.com/prod...k-mpingo-discs
Old 7th September 2020
  #13
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robert82's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ihavelostmykeys View Post
I don't want to start another 'audiophile bull**** whiplash' thread.
They all say that.
Old 7th September 2020
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
neve1064's Avatar
 

I had a friend who started his own cable company. He’s done well. I listened to different cables on his Wilson Audio Speakers; you know, the big ones that look like the robot in the ice tunnel of Logan’s Run. Anyway, he swears the solder used makes a difference including the cable material. I’ll say this about it all, the better your listening environment (room acoustics) and the better your DA, speakers, amps, etc. are, the more you will hear between cables used. It’s that simple.
Old 7th September 2020
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

If you can hear difference with cables then measurement mics should be able to capture that difference? What about running REW measurements through different cables with the same level and mic position? I doubt you will see any difference unless the cable is broken.
Old 7th September 2020
  #16
70% Coffee, 30% Beer
 
Doc Mixwell's Avatar
Return those cables and buy two Accusound IX3. Much less money and very high quality.
Old 7th September 2020
  #17
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James Lehmann's Avatar
 

There are dozens, maybe hundreds of threads on Gearslutz about cables stretching back decades.

Why people feel the need to start yet another one – without as a bare minimum either providing detailed evidence from a recent multi-party listening test in which they themselves have participated and/or providing some first-hand, downloadable WAVs they've recorded – is quite beyond me.

As it is, cable threads without exception can be predicted to end up 'featuring' all or most of the following nonsense:
  • The subject is deliberately or ignorantly obfuscated by conveniently bundling together (in a discursive context) analog and digital interconnects, microphone cable, speaker cable, and even AC cable
  • Tired old internet yarns usually involving Mr Randi and/or coat-hangers are furiously quoted as a substitute for independent thinking and factual enquiry
  • Audio professionals (such as those on this Forum) and hi-fi enthusiasts are inexplicably lumped together into one mass of interchangeable, apparently indiscriminate end-users
  • The actual cost of all and any types of cable other than lamp wire is hysterically extrapolated to thousands of imagined dollars
  • Some people claim to be determined empiricists but decline to underpin their pronouncements with evidence
  • Others appear to possess Jedi-like skills in the art of 'remote listening', ie listening through someone else's ears and then telling them what they can or cannot hear
  • Test evidence that is available is rarely listened to, much less reported on - this can be challenging for some who find it easier to simply trash the test without actually listening, let alone revealing/admitting what they can or cannot hear
  • Most of the 'noise' above is contrived by people who post from behind the smokescreen of an anonymous alias in contrast to people who post under their real names - a search of previous threads on this Forum will show that the majority of the latter are generally reporting in good faith that specific cables in certain systems can cause audible, repeatable differences
Old 7th September 2020
  #18
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It's funny I've never met anyone in real life who's not aware that there are differences in signal integrity between cable types, however ppl on gs often go apesht over this topic for some reason. It's super amusing imo
Old 7th September 2020
  #19
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First off OP doesn't state if it's for passive or active speakers so that's the first red flag. Next, if any third party cable company claiming their product is so good (which all of them don't even manufacture the wire themselves) then why is it not used inside the speaker's themselves? You do realize there is wire between the speakers rear connection plate and it's crossover and from the crossover to the speaker drivers. Short of ABX blind testing the OP's observations could just as well be covert marketing trying to creep into the forums as we have quite a lot of that with cable threads at this site. Seeing the OP has over 5 years on the board he/she must have read enough cable threads to know it's more about making a buck then applying your budget constructively and that most home guys will see more of an audio change from moving the position of the speaker slightly in their untreated, far from optimal geometry home listening space.

If you are actually talking about a passive speaker then hit your local big box home center and pickup some underground outdoor lighting low voltage cable which is just 12 gauge lamp/zip copper wire. One side of the cable will have ridges and the other smooth insulation so you can determine which is which and use one side for the positive connection and the other for the negative. Keep the length of your left and right cables equal and as short as practical. Now you have arguably the "BEST" passive speaker cable for get this . . . very little money. If you still have money burning in your pocket then get the next size larger 10 gauge copper wire but many amp and speaker connection plates can't handle that size and again, what do you think is used INSIDE the speaker.

If you are actually talking about an active speaker then any well spec'ed low capacitance (under 15 Pf/ft) balanced cable that any of the companies that actually manufacture cable will have and get this, they all cost under $1 a foot. You see we use thousands of feet of this stuff in studios to actually record and mix the music people listen to and EVERY foot of that is equally as important in the process of getting sound to the end user.

Now for over a decade in many cable threads I've offered this same advice and in some have gotten into extreme details about the wire specs. In quite a few of them I've offered several models of extra balanced cable I have here for cost (under $1 a foot for the copper models, $2 a foot for a silver coated copper) and have yet to see one person follow through in these type of threads with obtaining cable or the actual blind ABX testing. So bottom line, when you see a cable thread on Gearslutz it's almost 100% chance of it being marketing to sell needlessly expensive cable (there's one born every minute).
Old 7th September 2020
  #20
Audio is a religion/belief system for some. That's why some folks get extra worked up. I love my high end cables here, mostly all Kimber and DH Labs. I hear the difference, the musicians hear it. Even the condenser mics use a short run of solid pure silver/teflon 26 awg Kimber Kable from the capsule to the jfet gate.

When I evaluated this stuff I usually only treated one side of the playback. Then the listening began. I would watch others and their response. From the sweet spot they would always slightly turn their heads toward the better sounding side.
Old 7th September 2020
  #21
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Jim, its OK to get worked up or be religous about audio however it's still best to spend funds where they will do the most good and $1000 speaker cables should be at the very end of that list. I'm sure the mods you do of speaker crossovers and the amps themselves for reasonable cost will produce far more audible difference.

When you actually examine the rooms and setups of many studios and almost every home usage you are going to find questionable acoustics and certainly a horrible isolation rating (if you have noise masking audio what are you really hearing?). Thats where audio really costs the big bucks, the cost of heavy mass construction and the cost of a specialized HVAC system to quietly move air. Few take this first step to improve that part of the interaction you actually hear as audio.

We know that many could first spend under $80 for a bundle of Rockwool, some 1"x4" wood framing, some screws, and some fabric to end up with several broadband absorbers, improving room response. If you don't want to make your own you can buy these already assembled. We know most fail to even take the the few hours of time for speaker positioning experiments with a buddy with a ruler/tape/marker to mark positions at the cost of a few beverages. Spending $1000 on a speaker cable will not fix this.

Frankly if you want to hear "brighter" you can simply turn up the treble or if you want to tune like a world class studio, buy a used Meyer CP10 EQ unit for $300-$400 and send it to Jim for his upgrades and then turn the high frequency filters up on that. At least when you sell it you will about break even and suport one of the guys here not trying to rape consumers with bullcr*p marketing.

Bottom line . . . There are sooooooo many other things to do to improve audio regardless of your state of being worked up or religous before spending $1000 on any cable.
Old 8th September 2020
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bassmankr View Post
Jim, its OK to get worked up or be religous about audio however it's still best to spend funds where they will do the most good and $1000 speaker cables should be at the very end of that list. I'm sure the mods you do of speaker crossovers and the amps themselves for reasonable cost will produce far more audible difference.

When you actually examine the rooms and setups of many studios and almost every home usage you are going to find questionable acoustics and certainly a horrible isolation rating (if you have noise masking audio what are you really hearing?). Thats where audio really costs the big bucks, the cost of heavy mass construction and the cost of a specialized HVAC system to quietly move air. Few take this first step to improve that part of the interaction you actually hear as audio.

We know that many could first spend under $80 for a bundle of Rockwool, some 1"x4" wood framing, some screws, and some fabric to end up with several broadband absorbers, improving room response. If you don't want to make your own you can buy these already assembled. We know most fail to even take the the few hours of time for speaker positioning experiments with a buddy with a ruler/tape/marker to mark positions at the cost of a few beverages. Spending $1000 on a speaker cable will not fix this.

Frankly if you want to hear "brighter" you can simply turn up the treble or if you want to tune like a world class studio, buy a used Meyer CP10 EQ unit for $300-$400 and send it to Jim for his upgrades and then turn the high frequency filters up on that. At least when you sell it you will about break even and suport one of the guys here not trying to rape consumers with bullcr*p marketing.

Bottom line . . . There are sooooooo many other things to do to improve audio regardless of your state of being worked up or religous before spending $1000 on any cable.

You’re thinking too much. I’m just a small home studio owner. I do have an acoustic treatment, I precisely position my speakers, I use Sonarworks which gives a lot more than any cable ever could but this thread is not about any of this. It’s about cable quality. I’m very sensitive to audiophile gibberish and so decided to ask wiser and more experienced ones.

Has any of you heard about mono crystal copper used in cables? I can’t find any data about it and it was presented to me as a dealbreaker. Is there any proven difference between mono crystal and regular (poly crystal?) one?

Btw speakers are active, cables are XLRs
Old 8th September 2020
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ihavelostmykeys View Post
You’re thinking too much. I’m just a small home studio owner. I do have an acoustic treatment, I precisely position my speakers, I use Sonarworks which gives a lot more than any cable ever could but this thread is not about any of this. It’s about cable quality. I’m very sensitive to audiophile gibberish and so decided to ask wiser and more experienced ones.

Has any of you heard about mono crystal copper used in cables? I can’t find any data about it and it was presented to me as a dealbreaker. Is there any proven difference between mono crystal and regular (poly crystal?) one?

Btw speakers are active, cables are XLRs
Its very funny that you would ask questions about the metallurgy of an audio cable, and it being a dealbreaker and everything, when you presented your own unscientific listening experience and concluded that silver sounds the best...

I would think that would be enough....


Your need to know why metallurgy matters between copper and silver is beyond the scope of what Gearslutz is...

Your best answers will come from materials scientists and metallurgy experts.

For audio, if the sounds you are getting from what you are using satisfy you, then you have reached audio nirvana.

Congratulations...
Old 8th September 2020
  #24
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razorboy's Avatar
 

I don't know about the type of cables you refer to, but there is certainly a difference between various guitar cables. It is not so evident between middle priced and expensive cables, but the cheaper ones are evident to me. I discovered that by trying to find what was wrong with a recording and went from there. Don't buy the cheapest cable.
Old 8th September 2020
  #25
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razorboy's Avatar
 

I think that some folks are suffering from Lockdown Lip.
Old 8th September 2020
  #26
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DougS's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ihavelostmykeys View Post

Btw speakers are active, cables are XLRs
Getting the best sound out of your speakers is super important. But if I had a $1000 XRL cable hanging around I would probably put it (or at least test it) between one of my high end vocal mics and the preamp.
Old 8th September 2020
  #27
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esldude's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ihavelostmykeys View Post
You’re thinking too much. I’m just a small home studio owner. I do have an acoustic treatment, I precisely position my speakers, I use Sonarworks which gives a lot more than any cable ever could but this thread is not about any of this. It’s about cable quality. I’m very sensitive to audiophile gibberish and so decided to ask wiser and more experienced ones.

Has any of you heard about mono crystal copper used in cables? I can’t find any data about it and it was presented to me as a dealbreaker. Is there any proven difference between mono crystal and regular (poly crystal?) one?

Btw speakers are active, cables are XLRs
The only proven difference is in the pocket book.

Do some loopbacks of cheap and super cables. Then listen to them (using the super cables) and see if you can accurately hear a difference of one vs the other when you don't know which file you are listening to.
Old 8th September 2020
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bassmankr View Post
Jim, its OK to get worked up or be religous about audio however it's still best to spend funds where they will do the most good and $1000 speaker cables should be at the very end of that list. I'm sure the mods you do of speaker crossovers and the amps themselves for reasonable cost will produce far more audible difference.
Everything you say is true. Cables are the last thing you should consider with exception of speaker cables, that's where you work backwards from. That's how you hear the other changes.
Old 9th September 2020
  #29
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Jim, the OP chimed back into the thread and revealed he is using Active speakers so we are talking about a pair of line level XLR cables here. Looking at his "My Studio" Gearslutz link profile he does not list the exact speakers but does list that he is using a Presonus Clarette two channel in/out interface so we are not talking about the best of the best conversion. Rest of his listed gear appears to be tied to mostly computer usage so likely he is the average home bedroom user found around here. As such I'm guessing he is using his active speakers as nearfields in a less than perfect room and those active speakers likely are using a class D amp in them which we know are at best a compromise between cost/size/heat.

There is little doubt here that if he has a $1000 burning a hole in his pocket, the last thing he should spend it on is two XLR line level cables.

OP, if you really want to do some blind ABX testing to expand your knowledge on this subject and live in the USA, I will do the same thing I've done in many other cable threads and sell you some extra Belden cable I have here at 50 cents a foot plus the around $10 it is to stick it in a USPS Prioity Mail medium box to ship it to you. Just solder some basic Neutrik connectors on it (their XLR's are around $3 each online, or if your Presonus interface uses 1/4" TRS they are around $2 each online). I have one Belden cable that is 8 Pf/ft and another that is 12 Pf/ft capacitance. If you are not in the USA or want to try other brands that actually make cable you are looking at less than $1 a foot to buy their models spec'ed under 15 Pf/ft capacitance. PM me if interested and we can work out the details.
Old 9th September 2020
  #30
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 

Home audio people use high impedance connections, so cable capacitance can make a big difference in the sound. In the pro audio world, we don't deal with any of that foolishness, we use relatively low-Z balanced lines to eliminate all of that.

But what has happened is that since the home audio people got used to the idea that cables sound different, then companies started making cables that were very reactive, in order to deliberately make them sound different. People use cables in place of equalization, which to my mind is expensive and foolish.

Don't say "cables can't possibly sound different" but instead look inside the MIT speaker cables which have big lumped sum networks in boxes on either end. Of course it sounds different, it's got an equalizer installed in it!

It's -easy- to make things sound different, it's hard to make them sound better. But a lot of people do quick listening tests and can't tell the difference, which is very lucrative for the cable vendors.
--scott
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