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AES cable quality, importance?
Old 5th June 2014
  #1
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Amphibian's Avatar
 

AES cable quality, importance?

I've got a Hosa CDL-313 which I'm planning to put between my Ensemble and M7. Now there's a huge price gap on digital cables and seriously I'm lost. What to buy? I've seen cables for anything between €1500 to €15. Will these do basically the same thing as long as they're 110 Ohm? Lenght-wise I'm thinking like 1-2 feet.

Will a Pro Snake 29018 AES/EBU - €15 cable do?

Or should I get a Hosa cable for like €40 instead?

Thanks!
Old 6th June 2014
  #2
I would think any well constructed cable made to spec would be fine.

I have been using Mogami for analog and Canare for digital (AES, ADAT, MIDI) just for peace of mind and the extra warm-and-fuzzy, but I doubt it's necessary.
Old 6th June 2014
  #3
Lives for gear
I have tested many AES Cable

The Vovox AES SD works very very well
Old 6th June 2014
  #4
Quote:
The Vovox AES SD works very very well
The use of two, not one but two (count them!) positive qualifiers on something as utilitarian as a digital cable should set even the most well heeled GearSlutz amongst us snake-oil-spidey-sense a-tingling!
Old 6th June 2014
  #5
Take a look at this!!

Vovox - link direct SD1000 AES/EBU XLR female > XLR male : Cable / stative / media & accessories

My favourite bit on that page was this: "You save 9.00 €!" ah haha, hahahaha, hahahahahahahahaha, hahahahaha, hahahahahaha. Stop it, you're killing me!
Old 6th June 2014
  #6
Lives for gear
Yes, 2 means enthusiasm.
Because low cost digital cables are simply destroying the sound in a way you can't imagine till you have not made A/B.

But it is more easy to be sarcastic than enthusiast. It is also more easy to judge than to make the experience.
The link you show is for 10m meter, you should avoid length over 4/5m for digital.
Old 6th June 2014
  #7
nkf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by priko View Post
Yes, 2 means enthusiasm.
Because low cost digital cables are simply destroying the sound in a way you can't imagine till you have not made A/B.

But it is more easy to be sarcastic than enthusiast. It is also more easy to judge than to make the experience.
The link you show is for 10m meter, you should avoid length over 4/5m for digital.
This is utter nonsense. What you describe would be a broken data connection if there were differences. I use AES/EBU cables since 25 years and nowadays for digital microphones too. Length of much more than 20 meters are of no concern, e.g. for classical recording. Yes, you can try even to use two or three AES/EBU cables together - hear a difference? Seek help ...
When is VoVox coming out with the ultimate MADI cable to save the world? ;-)
Old 6th June 2014
  #8
nkf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chemosit View Post
I would think any well constructed cable made to spec would be fine.
This is my experience too.
Old 6th June 2014
  #9
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Hi
As long as the cable really IS 110 Ohm and you have decent connectors you will be fine.
The whole point of the exercise is to transmit data reliably over a reasonable distance and as a technology, if it didn't work then the serious guys might just have noticed. These are the ones who regularly use hundreds of metres of cable not just a couple of feet.
Matt S
Old 6th June 2014
  #10
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Find someone in your part of the world that sells major brand cable by the foot. By major brand I mean the guys that actually make the stuff, not the relabeler-reseller who jack the price way up. I'm talking about Belden/Gepco/Canare/Mogami/Carol/etc... Now buy a couple feet of 110 ohm cable (it will probably be around a dollar a foot). Now buy a male and female Neutrik XLR connector (around three dollars each). Solder and you have your cable for less than ten dollars. EVERY ENGINEER needs to know how to solder, if you don't, here is a good way to learn.

The 110 ohm spec for AES cable is due to signal reflection which can mess with the clocking but given you are only using a 2 foot cable, using regular out of spec mic cable might not even be a problem. Remember you are moving digital ones and zeros, not audio over an AES cable so beware of the multitude of scum that will try to separate you from your money with false claims. There are no "better quality" ones and zeros, you either get them down the cable or not and if not then the cable is probably broken.
Old 11th June 2014
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by priko View Post
Yes, 2 means enthusiasm.
Because low cost digital cables are simply destroying the sound in a way you can't imagine till you have not made A/B.

But it is more easy to be sarcastic than enthusiast. It is also more easy to judge than to make the experience.
The link you show is for 10m meter, you should avoid length over 4/5m for digital.
Sorry priko but expressing this kind of falsehood on a public forum lessens your credibility.
Old 11th June 2014
  #12
Gear Nut
I'd say most guys who say that make or can't make a difference have never really dug in and compared. Personally I say yes they do make a difference. It depends on your priorities. If your studio is dialed and you are looking for that last bit of refinement cabling is the icing on the cake. Speaker cables, power cords and interconnects make a difference too as well as isolating components from vibrations. Not sure how much you would hear between the 15 and 40 cable probably depends a lot on your ears and monitors and if you can hear those differences. Who knows the 15 could sound better but you won't know unless you compare. A friend of mine upgraded one of his main AES cables to a TARA Labs 0.8 and he said it was one of the most significant improvements to his overall sound he had made.
Old 11th June 2014
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejlif View Post
I'd say most guys who say that make or can't make a difference have never really dug in and compared. Personally I say yes they do make a difference. It depends on your priorities. If your studio is dialed and you are looking for that last bit of refinement cabling is the icing on the cake. Speaker cables, power cords and interconnects make a difference too as well as isolating components from vibrations. Not sure how much you would hear between the 15 and 40 cable probably depends a lot on your ears and monitors and if you can hear those differences. Who knows the 15 could sound better but you won't know unless you compare. A friend of mine upgraded one of his main AES cables to a TARA Labs 0.8 and he said it was one of the most significant improvements to his overall sound he had made.
+1

there are definitely differences in sound between aes cables, doesn't mean that anything is broken like some like to say. (maybe monitoring haha) i'm glad to see that people still listen, the lost art of using your ears

but without a doubt digital optical cable is the true turkey connecting digi boxes.
Old 12th June 2014
  #14
nkf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejlif View Post
Personally I say yes they do make a difference. It depends on your priorities.
Why should any audible difference in sound being depended of someones priorities? They're measurable and/or audible or not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ejlif View Post
If your studio is dialed and you are looking for that last bit of refinement cabling is the icing on the cake. Speaker cables, power cords and interconnects make a difference too as well as isolating components from vibrations.
We're talking data transmissions here, not analog signals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ejlif View Post
A friend of mine upgraded one of his main AES cables to a TARA Labs 0.8 and he said it was one of the most significant improvements to his overall sound he had made.
And I have friends who would say your friend is a lunatic.
Old 12th June 2014
  #15
nkf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timesaver800W View Post
but without a doubt digital optical cable is the true turkey connecting digi boxes.
MADI optical, ADAT optical, S/PDIF optical?
Anyway … these optical cablings are often not so mechanical robust like e.g. AES/EBU but otherwise transmit the data fine. If you can hear a difference of the same signal transmitted by AES/EBU or ADAT optical you have really special abilities. Maybe a text typed with a Microsoft keyboard means something different for you in comparison to the same text typed with a Mac keyboard?
Old 12th June 2014
  #16
Here for the gear
 

Placebo and expectation bias called. They want their cable back.

If you want to talk about cables and more expensive ones being better you damned well better blind test them before you claim anything otherwise you're misleading the public.
Old 12th June 2014
  #17
Gear Guru
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewyear View Post
Take a look at this!!

Vovox - link direct SD1000 AES/EBU XLR female > XLR male : Cable / stative / media & accessories

My favourite bit on that page was this: "You save 9.00 €!" ah haha, hahahaha, hahahahahahahahaha, hahahahaha, hahahahahaha. Stop it, you're killing me!
Overkill
Old 12th June 2014
  #18
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There is no such thing as better ones and zeros going down a digital cable. What you can have is signal attenuation due to length and makeup of the cable effecting whether a device can read those ones and zeros or if a digital cable is out of impedance spec for the format it is carrying which can cause signal reflection in the cable which messes with a device's clock for sync purposes. You will not have "better quality audio" like in cables carrying analog audio signal. Given the AES/EBU impedance spec is 110 ohms plus or minus 20% you could actually use 88 ohm to 132 ohm impedance cable and be in spec for signal reflection. Given good 110 ohm cable from the guys who actually manufacture the cable itself is readily available for $1 a foot, it's best just to stick with that 110 ohm cable. By the way it doesn't even need to be shielded as unshielded twisted 100 ohm wire is sold for AES/EBU purposes (and works), but again with 110 ohm shielded cable being available for a $1 a foot why bother unless long runs and cost are of major priority. Speaking of long runs I'd have to look up what practical lengths are for AES/EBU copper cable before signal attenuation creeps into the picture where you might lose ones and zeros at the device but off the top of my head it's a pretty long distance. Given the OP's need for a two foot cable this is not an issue at all. One thing that will effect a digital cable is a tight bend (and the turning radius is in the AES/EBU specs too) so use some common sense and do gentle bends/curves for placing the cable.

Of those claiming better audio with a more expensive AES/EBU cable it could have been simple oxidation on the device's XLR connectors where ones and zeros were being lost due to a bad connection. By simply removing a XLR and reinserting a XLR you would have cleaned off the oxidation (likely in their case with trying the new expensive cable) and thus restored a proper connection. Proper blind testing is needed especially with claims as far fetched as "better" digital cable especially when the claims come from those companies with a history of exagerated unproven claims to sell highly overpriced items.
Old 12th June 2014
  #19
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Hi
Since probably 70 percent or more of the worlds internet and phones run on optical cable there is nothing 'wrong' with the technology.
In a similar vein, vast quantities of digital information run through copper cabling, also successfully.
Since the memory span of hearing is known to be short, and hearing is flawed I think I know who to trust.
Matt S
Old 12th June 2014
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timesaver800W View Post
+1

there are definitely differences in sound between aes cables, doesn't mean that anything is broken like some like to say. (maybe monitoring haha) i'm glad to see that people still listen, the lost art of using your ears

but without a doubt digital optical cable is the true turkey connecting digi boxes.
There are definitely times when people perceive differences between AES cables. And in a thousand other cases.

Unfortunately - we also know that when lots of people, who still don't understand that what is heard at the ear goes through a powerful filtering system that completely changes our perception, get together and start propagating anecdotes, lots of other people fall into line with them. It is human nature.

If something in a standard cable can make a data-stream of (+/-) pulse waves arrive or be detected in a different sequence than when they left the playback device, under accepted "normal" operating parameters/conditions, I'd like to know how.
If you have links to actual formal test data (reliable, not marketing or enthusiast anecdotes) it might help clear things up.
Old 12th June 2014
  #21
Gear Maniac
 

Maybe I can help with my answer.

It was about 20 years ago a mastering guy demonstrated to me very audible differences just by changing AES cables in a digital chain.

However, the cable is not really the cause for such a problem. The problem can only occur when the AES signal is also the clock master of the following device. In that case poor cables can induce jitter, and poor jitter surpression in the digital input stage of certain devices can cause audible artecfacts. Better cables will help, but better clocking topology (or properly designed gear) can avoid such problems in general. Of course, artefacts will only occur at the stage of D/A conversion. The digital signal itself doesn't change...

In case the AES signal is not the clock master the cable quality doesn't really matter. Same logic applies to optical connections, of course.
Old 12th June 2014
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by priko View Post
you should avoid length over 4/5m for digital.
Complete nonsense, highly qualified broadcast engineers regularly use up to 100M+ without having to regenerate signals. This is via good quality cable from a reputable manufacturer.

Read the AES/EBU Engineering Guidelines at https://tech.ebu.ch/docs/other/aes-ebu-eg.pdf for some common sense, and please stop spreading this misinformation.
Old 12th June 2014
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by londonengineer View Post
Complete nonsense, highly qualified broadcast engineers regularly use up to 100M+ without having to regenerate signals. This is via good quality cable from a reputable manufacturer.

Read the AES/EBU Engineering Guidelines at https://tech.ebu.ch/docs/other/aes-ebu-eg.pdf for some common sense, and please stop spreading this misinformation.
I was just raising an eyebrow over this:

Home Theater Network’s Cables Page



And this, in which the writer, who seems canny and privy to some hitherto "surprising" info, expresses amplitude... in miliseconds.
And: "So even though 7.6 billionths of a second sounds like a very small value, its impact in distorting our audio signal is quite significant."

Digital Audio: The Possible and Impossible
Old 13th June 2014
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulrich View Post
Maybe I can help with my answer.

It was about 20 years ago a mastering guy demonstrated to me very audible differences just by changing AES cables in a digital chain.

However, the cable is not really the cause for such a problem. The problem can only occur when the AES signal is also the clock master of the following device. In that case poor cables can induce jitter, and poor jitter surpression in the digital input stage of certain devices can cause audible artecfacts. Better cables will help, but better clocking topology (or properly designed gear) can avoid such problems in general. Of course, artefacts will only occur at the stage of D/A conversion. The digital signal itself doesn't change...

In case the AES signal is not the clock master the cable quality doesn't really matter. Same logic applies to optical connections, of course.
yes, pretty much right. personally i rather use coaxial/aes into a simple pll than optical into a fancy re clocking circuit. i guess i'm allergic to this jitter stuff
Old 13th June 2014
  #25
Lives for gear
 

Hi
Coaxial, AES and optical are only the 'long distance transmission' mediums. Having a known impedance and correct termination allows gear designers to work around the various aspects of this technology, all of which manage to get the correct bits in the correct order from 'end to end'.
What the individual pieces of gear do with the 'raw data' which is what each of these mediums provide is down to the individual bits of kit.
Jitter is a fact of life and appears at some level on everything, however, the amount and importance is variable. Al high quality gear will take some measures to ensure the signals received are cleaned up and if necessary re timed to get the best from the following process.
You can express amplitude in milliseconds if you are referring to some forms of A/D conversion however milliseconds would imply very low frequency, like a temperature monitor where the value is updated every few seconds. The write seems to have been reading the wrong book. A bit like using a Kenwood MIXER. A fabulous bit of kit which will blend butter, flour and eggs perfectly. Maybe such a mixer made by Neve would make cakes like your grandma made?
Matt S
Old 13th June 2014
  #26
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Ulrich, so you took a non-blind test 20 years ago and your opinion is based on that. If you now have AES/EBU digital audio gear and some high end cable for it you can take a blind test now by making up your own standard AES/EBU cable of the same length for a $1 a foot cable cost plus $6 cost for the 2 XLR connectors. Let us know if you still hear the expensive cable giving you better ones and zeros or better yet take some screen shots of you scoping the results. Bottom line is that you can check this out for yourself for very little money if you have an expensive cable in hand to compare it against or just take the word here from a lot of engineers in the trenches.

On another note, the rule of thumb now is that it's best to make the main AD converter as the master and slave clock from it. Given how easy it is to try out different clocking methods though with simple setup changes you should also do your own testing there too.

As for some digital formats having short distances for effective transmission over copper cable, yes there are some like SCSI (typically used with hard drives) or the newer Thunderbolt which is 9 feet but they typicaly involve very high bandwidth / data transmission required in a very short time of which AES/EBU does not fall into. I'm sure someone will chime in with the actual effective length of AES/EBU over copper, if not do some digging on the net (it's likely very long and way over the typical distances needed in a studio to cable between gear).
Old 13th June 2014
  #27
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bassmankr View Post
Ulrich, so you took a non-blind test 20 years ago and your opinion is based on that. If you now have AES/EBU digital audio gear and some high end cable for it you can take a blind test now by making up your own standard AES/EBU cable of the same length for a $1 a foot cable cost plus $6 cost for the 2 XLR connectors. Let us know if you still hear the expensive cable giving you better ones and zeros or better yet take some screen shots of you scoping the results. Bottom line is that you can check this out for yourself for very little money if you have an expensive cable in hand to compare it against or just take the word here from a lot of engineers in the trenches.

On another note, the rule of thumb now is that it's best to make the main AD converter as the master and slave clock from it. Given how easy it is to try out different clocking methods though with simple setup changes you should also do your own testing there too.

As for some digital formats having short distances for effective transmission over copper cable, yes there are some like SCSI (typically used with hard drives) or the newer Thunderbolt which is 9 feet but they typicaly involve very high bandwidth / data transmission required in a very short time of which AES/EBU does not fall into. I'm sure someone will chime in with the actual effective length of AES/EBU over copper, if not do some digging on the net (it's likely very long and way over the typical distances needed in a studio to cable between gear).
I've got the impression you didn't read my post carefully. E.g. I didn't write anything about prices of AES cables. I didn't write it was not a blind-test. I just pointed out that it is not only myth, but hasn't much to do with cable quality but with the lack of proper engineering. No need to ask me for further testing, sorry.
Old 13th June 2014
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by londonengineer View Post
Complete nonsense, highly qualified broadcast engineers regularly use up to 100M+ without having to regenerate signals. This is via good quality cable from a reputable manufacturer.

Read the AES/EBU Engineering Guidelines at https://tech.ebu.ch/docs/other/aes-ebu-eg.pdf for some common sense, and please stop spreading this misinformation.
good god man, don't confuse them with engineering facts and data!

only hand waving and mojo-speak matter...
Old 13th June 2014
  #29
Here for the gear
 

Regarding the "graphs" above, if 20 feet of cable actually did anything like that to an audio signal, the recording industry as we know it would not exist!
Old 15th June 2014
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grant Ransom View Post
I was just raising an eyebrow over this:

Home Theater Network’s Cables Page



And this, in which the writer, who seems canny and privy to some hitherto "surprising" info, expresses amplitude... in miliseconds.
And: "So even though 7.6 billionths of a second sounds like a very small value, its impact in distorting our audio signal is quite significant."

Digital Audio: The Possible and Impossible
Read up on Common Mode Rejection and cable balancing. Human ingenuity eradicated these issues TOTALLY decades and decades ago. And you don't have to spend more than a few dollars on an AES cable to reap the benefits of all that human cunning!!
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