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Digital cables shootout - myths and facts
Old 4th May 2012
  #1
Digital cables shootout - myths and facts

This is the most controversial thread on Gearslutz. I strongly recommend not to compare those files if you don’t have at least Lavry, Crane Song, Forssell, Benchmark Prism and so on DA converter plus reference monitoring system and threated room for any judgment.

Belkin PureAV™ Digital Optical Audio Cable – 23 usd
Custom-made SPDIF Cinch-Cinch (Tasker gold and selected antenna cable) – 25 usd
Oehlbach Hyper Profi Opto – 45 usd


Samples are random. Made from the same source.

Attached Files

1.wav (4.82 MB, 762 views)

2.wav (5.16 MB, 724 views)

3.wav (5.16 MB, 713 views)

Old 6th May 2012
  #2
Second test files are here! Same competitors but this time 5 buks ALVA cable added. Samples are random again.

PS: different mixdown used.
Attached Files

2.wav (6.49 MB, 722 views)

1.wav (6.49 MB, 686 views)

3.wav (6.49 MB, 699 views)

4.wav (6.49 MB, 740 views)

Old 6th May 2012
  #3
LOL.

I did a test of my Lavry DA11 using various cables of varying lengths, and the fact that they completely nulled is all I need to know. No use in torturing yourself to "hear" a difference in something you're not actually hearing at all.

And for what it's worth, I did the same test on my POS Sony multi-disc CD/DVD player with its optical and Spdif ports on separate passes from an audio CD. Same thing: All completely nulled.
Old 6th May 2012
  #4
Gear Head
 
Fishnmusician's Avatar
 

LOL

Its amazing a mastering engineer will spend $5000 on one AES cable !
What about Radio Shack ?
Old 6th May 2012
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishnmusician View Post
LOL

Its amazing a mastering engineer will spend $5000 on one AES cable !
What about Radio Shack ?
Any mastering engineer that has cables like that, I'm flying out of there!

Edit: I mean the $5K ones, not the Radio Shark: That's okay.
Old 7th May 2012
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Magucci's Avatar
 

5K $ for AES cable is crazy!!! Really CRAZY...almost illegal

@Anghello

Can you tell us more how you did the shootout?
What was connected with the digital cables you've mentioned?

Thanx.

Old 7th May 2012
  #7
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anghello View Post

Belkin PureAV™ Digital Optical Audio Cable – 23 usd
Custom-made SPDIF Cinch-Cinch (Tasker gold and selected antenna cable) – 25 usd
Oehlbach Hyper Profi Opto – 45 usd
:

All this proves is that most "ordinary" cable are about the same.

I think it's only fair that you buy one of those $5,000 fancy cables and include that in the test.
Old 7th May 2012
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoSueMe View Post
LOL.

I did a test of my Lavry DA11 using various cables of varying lengths, and the fact that they completely nulled is all I need to know. No use in torturing yourself to "hear" a difference in something you're not actually hearing at all.

And for what it's worth, I did the same test on my POS Sony multi-disc CD/DVD player with its optical and Spdif ports on separate passes from an audio CD. Same thing: All completely nulled.
Very true
Old 7th May 2012
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishnmusician View Post
LOL

Its amazing a mastering engineer will spend $5000 on one AES cable !
What about Radio Shack ?
Only one moment I can agree the differences comes littlebit out is when monitoring is at very low latency... I mean not what is recorded but just monitoring.. thats why I thought Toslink is fuller then Cinch in my first comparison few weeks ago and decided to get a quite expencive cable..

But audio thru low latency sounds bit different just because different ports or conversion process are done.. I dont know.. thats just my 2 cents.
Old 7th May 2012
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishnmusician View Post
LOL

Its amazing a mastering engineer will spend $5000 on one AES cable !
Depending on the amount and length it can be easily 5k, even if "just" some standard pro audio cables (Mogami, Belden, etc.) are used
Old 7th May 2012
  #11
Lives for gear
 

why ?!?
Old 7th May 2012
  #12
Lives for gear
 
frans's Avatar
For anybody who says "It's just a cable, what difference could that make?" I'll answer that you never listen to a single thing but a whole chain of things. Taking stuff out of context is a working method to not arrive at usable results.
Old 7th May 2012
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magucci View Post
5K $ for AES cable is crazy!!! Really CRAZY...almost illegal

@Anghello

Can you tell us more how you did the shootout?
What was connected with the digital cables you've mentioned?

Thanx.

Sure. First master made on custom 96/24 AD/DA wich is made with quite fast computer chip with quite good clocking and just direct signal path without any "colouring" process. Thats why it sounds bit digital but doesnt hide anything by adding any "high-end" distortion. It has AES, Cinch, Toslink outputs and inputs on it plus dither function. When I switch to Cinch or Toslink only one output is available... means when I switch to Cinch - only RCAs are active, When I switch to Toslink only toslink..

routing is: 88.2khz DAW-DA-Compressor-Equalizer-Saturator-Equalizer-console re-routing-Level control-limiter-AD-Dithering-DAW-Pro tools ugly resampler back to 44.1.

Mix is done:
DAW, running 6 outputs to the small console/eq and 2 channels from DA to the tube compressor and then to the rare type equalizer with tube drive/saturation function back to the mixer for summing plus air added by lexicon via sends/returns.. then signal goes to the pair of 1073 for little colour then back to the AD.

Balanced cabels are used and power supply is cutomized. Quite old Tubes used but does what they should after burn in but still bit noisy in my opinion.

Ohh.. yeah.. cabling is different. I have some very expencive custom cables (top neutrik connection/top tasker cabling/best guy I know) side by side with cheap 5buks ballanced china Stagg simple thing In fact I must agree there is a tiny little difference when I use 200 buks 2m Vovox versus china 15m long cable when heavy independence condenser mic is driven by 60-75db .. But in my experience Vovox is just adding some round tone shaping to the signal and making it bit vintage colored without to much hi-end.. its good and I like it (adding some special tone shaping by distortion of the signal) but Adam Hall guyz are just cleaner and proper. Cable must be well shielded and build like a tank to hold bad owners like me - thats all you need.

Hot signals I run via custom colored cables because it adds little different atomosphere/distortion to the master.. but it does not matter - really. Most effective is to work in proper gain stages then running for stupido "upgrades".

When I push bypass botton and run nice headroom signal thru more then 22 circuits(!!) and 10 cable routing connection paths back.. even with non bypassed channel eq and console THD there is no audiable difference to my ears. Much bigger difference is wav-mp3 difference. In fact you can get a 2000 buks cabling set to your studio and convert mp3 with some Format Factory or sample rate convert it via ableton or any non proper encoder with phase distortion and incorrect passband! Cheek this! Thats really crazy! SRC Comparisons

In both cases I let hardware burn in for half an hour made a quick work on it (especially i dont like the master.. but dont have time to re-do it yet) and plug Cinch to DAW/record.. then Toslink 1/record, then Toslink 2/record.

PS: only one plug used in both samples is -0.3db fader in PT 8. I dont use plugins.


God bless guyz. Hope this would help to aim on more important problems in our business.
Old 7th May 2012
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by deft_bonz View Post
Depending on the amount and length it can be easily 5k, even if "just" some standard pro audio cables (Mogami, Belden, etc.) are used
Agree. These are only 1m long good digital cables. Problem can come with non proper analog cable used in digital signal domain. Each meter can couse problem. I do agree problems could be there because digital signal.. 1,0,1,1,0-s.. are in fact analog at this stage.
Old 7th May 2012
  #15
Gear Head
 
Fishnmusician's Avatar
 

Why ?

The 'Why' I dont understand is, 'Why' don't these 'High End' forum enthusiast's that don't believe(or cant hear) any differences in some cables, go over to the 'Mastering' forum, and explain to those guys that they cant possibly be hearing any difference between all those cables they have been auditioning all of these years, because all cables will null ?

Anyway, Anghello thanks for the test files. I listened with headphones thru laptop, and didnt hear much difference in 1,2,3 but 4 is poor quality compared to the first three. IMHO.
I should listen thru my Lavry and speakers.

Hi.
My name is Gary.
And I hear difference's in some cable.
I can quit anytime I want.

Disclaimer: This is my opinion, experience, or sense of hearing, and my intention is not to hurt anyone's feelings.
Old 7th May 2012
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anghello View Post
Agree. These are only 1m long good digital cables. Problem can come with non proper analog cable used in digital signal domain. Each meter can couse problem. I do agree problems could be there because digital signal.. 1,0,1,1,0-s.. are in fact analog at this stage.
Indeed. And I assume that most pro MEs use cables as short as possible.
Old 7th May 2012
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishnmusician View Post
Why ?

The 'Why' I dont understand is, 'Why' don't these 'High End' forum enthusiast's that don't believe(or cant hear) any differences in some cables, go over to the 'Mastering' forum, and explain to those guys that they cant possibly be hearing any difference between all those cables they have been auditioning all of these years, because all cables will null ?

Anyway, Anghello thanks for the test files. I listened with headphones thru laptop, and didnt hear much difference in 1,2,3 but 4 is poor quality compared to the first three. IMHO.
I should listen thru my Lavry and speakers.

Hi.
My name is Gary.
And I hear difference's in some cable.
I can quit anytime I want.

Disclaimer: This is my opinion, experience, or sense of hearing, and my intention is not to hurt anyone's feelings.
Thank you! And please let me know your Lavry stuff reference. Thats hard to hear any difference even on very expencive gear and IMHO impossible on notebooks. Even if those files are nulled ... me and my friend-muscian picked the same file from blind test for several times. Somehow.. I dont know how. We heard more definition and less digitality in it. It was not audible at all but how did we choose the same file? Like instruments are more defined and better placed in stereo? I cant hear things different way in frequency range and dynamics. Its impossible to say why its better or if. Maybe its eletricity and temperature of the gear? But burn-in was done properly. Tracks was mastered/mixed - mean knobs and faders were warmed. Rack is placed in the same correct magnetic field. But something was there. Maybe its just my emotions because human ears are not working constantly.. they hear each tone different way each time.. thats why blind testing with bunch of pros on this forum seems as interesting idea. But maybe there is no difference at all. I must say there is an audiable difference at low latency monitoring mode in pro tools.. but if there is difference in master itself? That is the question.

Thank you.
Old 7th May 2012
  #18
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by frans View Post
I'll answer that you never listen to a single thing but a whole chain of things. Taking stuff out of context is a working method to not arrive at usable results.
Isolating variables is the only way to arrive at definitive results.

I get better mileage when I put a Roger Clemens bobble-head on my dash. Of course I also inflated the tires, and switched gasolines, but I KNOW it's the bobble-head. It's part of a system.

If you are implying that a cable magically performs better when connected to some equipment than to others, this too can be proven by isolating the chains.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishnmusician View Post
Why ?go over to the 'Mastering' forum, and explain to those guys that they cant possibly be hearing any difference between all those cables they have been auditioning all of these years, because all cables will null ?
If the cables do indeed null, that truly is the end of the story.

If someone can honestly pick it out blindfolded every time (or even a majority of time) in spite of a null, this would be Nobel Prize material.

It hasn't happened yet, and we won't need to 'follow it', because it will be front page in the NY Times when it does.
Old 7th May 2012
  #19
@joeq: Continuing snake oil arguments will undoubtedly ensue beyond epidemic proportions, feeding the never-ending Internet worm hole of misinformation. I'll let you take the wheel.
Old 7th May 2012
  #20
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoSueMe View Post
@joeq: Continuing snake oil arguments will undoubtedly ensue beyond epidemic proportions, feeding the never-ending Internet worm hole of misinformation. I'll let you take the wheel.
sigh
Old 7th May 2012
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
sigh
It's okay... Here's some audiophile humor to lift your spirits, and don't forget to check the price...

Best Buy - AudioQuest Rockefeller 10' Speaker Cable (Pair) - Black/Gray/Red customer reviews - product reviews - read top consumer ratings
Old 7th May 2012
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoSueMe View Post
It's okay... Here's some audiophile humor to lift your spirits, and don't forget to check the price...

Best Buy - AudioQuest Rockefeller 10' Speaker Cable (Pair) - Black/Gray/Red customer reviews - product reviews - read top consumer ratings

a bargain
Old 7th May 2012
  #23
There are two options:

- our emotions and feelings can make music sound different in the way we want.

- there is another characteristic in sound science know nothing about.
Old 8th May 2012
  #24
Lives for gear
 

As for copper digital cable the impedance might come in to play if you are not using the standard 110 ohm cable spec which could change things a bit (probably not for the better). As for optical cable there are real world length considerations before repeaters are needed but those are very well known and usually not a factor in studios. Using 110 ohm copper 'digital" cable for regular analog line and mic level is just fine too. Even the good very low capacitance (12 pF per foot), 110 ohm copper cable runs under $1 a foot so there is no reason to go broke buying cable (with some smart shopping you can even find it at a fraction of that price).
Old 8th May 2012
  #25
Gear Guru
 
Muser's Avatar
Quote:
- our emotions and feelings can make music sound different in the way we want.
maybe better spending 5K on learning how to do that yourself, than depending
on emptying the earth of precious resources in order that some other dude,
can do it for you. for 5K
Old 8th May 2012
  #26
Gear Addict
 

The use of expensive digital cable is for analog signals, which it transmits better than cheap digital cable or moderately expensive analog cable.
Old 8th May 2012
  #27
Lives for gear
 
frans's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
Isolating variables is the only way to arrive at definitive results.
That's exactly the way flaky science differs from science. You can isolate your single things in the chain all the way till the cows comes home. Then you have to look at everything involved and take the interaction and interdependence into account, too. I repeat myself: you never listen to a single thing, you listen to a combination of things which interact. It has a catch, you can never be sure you have 100% of the facts. As long as you're not omniscient you have to remind yourself that you missed at least one factor, probably more and some of the things you think you know will be wrong. This will likely put off the folks who like to have "the" answer ...
Old 8th May 2012
  #28
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by frans View Post
That's exactly the way flaky science differs from science. You can isolate your single things in the chain all the way till the cows comes home. Then you have to look at everything involved and take the interaction and interdependence into account, too. I repeat myself: you never listen to a single thing, you listen to a combination of things which interact. It has a catch, you can never be sure you have 100% of the facts. As long as you're not omniscient you have to remind yourself that you missed at least one factor, probably more and some of the things you think you know will be wrong. This will likely put off the folks who like to have "the" answer ...
That is not "unknowable" - there are a finite amount of pieces this cable can be plugged into. It is easy enough to test your cables within any 'system' you like

With how many interfaces and computers and combinations thereof must the cables null before you will accept that they null?

Is there some interface/computer/whatever 'chain' that DOES sound better blindfolded with a $5k cable? Why hasn't somebody found it?


It's like saying we can never know if Bigfoot is "real" or not, because some LONG miraculous cascade of coincidences MIGHT have destroyed every Bigfoot skeleton and Bigfoot carcass of every Bigfoot that ever died.

There comes a point where any reasonable person will say 'good enough'.

In particle physics a 'discovery' is declared at the five-sigma level. They are not going to say we have to test every electron in the universe.
Old 8th May 2012
  #29
Lives for gear
 
frans's Avatar
I didn't take any sides, I talked about methodology...and get accused of viewpoints I never stated. No wonder people get all confused over topics they get exposed to.
Old 8th May 2012
  #30
Nulling isn't good enough because of those rogue electrons that hide when they detect a null is imminent.
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