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Author Topic: Proof by Measuring that Expensive speakers cable are total BS?  (Read 5137 times)

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Offline onesixright

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Proof by Measuring that Expensive speakers cable are total BS?
« on: February 09, 2017, 07:29:54 AM »
Maybe this is already done (youtube)? 

We (well i assume most of us here) all know that very expensive speaker cable is kind of marketing BS. Together with interconnects.

Now, what woud be the best way to proof that it is indeed is utter BS? I mean, you should be able to see the "music" and conclude that the signal is hardly different? I''m not so keen to put my scope on to a amplified signal :P

Any thoughts what would be the best approach?
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 11:02:29 AM by onesixright »
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Proof (by measuring) that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2017, 07:42:39 AM »
This has been done over and over and over, going back to at least the 1970s. One particular test I read about was a blind listening test between some expensive speaker wire and some wire coathangers straightened out and used as cables. No audible difference.
 

Offline onesixright

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Re: Proof (by measuring) that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2017, 07:47:01 AM »
This has been done over and over and over, going back to at least the 1970s. One particular test I read about was a blind listening test between some expensive speaker wire and some wire coathangers straightened out and used as cables. No audible difference.

Yeah i read that stuff as-well. However i have never seen the difference. Up to a certain extend there should be a visible (and audible difference). I mean if you take a 26 AWG vs 14 AWG (4 ohm)?  In comparison, if you look at HDMI which is digital, you can see that the bits send over a 1 USD cable are exactly same as that of a 40 USD cable.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Proof (by measuring) that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2017, 07:54:02 AM »
Sure, if a speaker cable is very inadequate then it will dissipate energy that you want going into the speaker but I'd challenge anyone to hear the difference between reasonably heavy lamp cord and the fanciest oxygen free audiophool speaker wire on the market.
 

Offline cowana

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Re: Proof (by measuring) that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2017, 08:12:45 AM »
In comparison, if you look at HDMI which is digital, you can see that the bits send over a 1 USD cable are exactly same as that of a 40 USD cable.

That's not the case. If you look at the crosstalk between channels, and the full eye-diagram of the bits received at the downstream device, the $40 cable will likely show a much clearer and more open eye, as it uses much better shielding and thicker conductors.

Whether that has any effect on a 1m cable run is a separate question (hint - it won't) - but the quality of the received bits will be lower from a signal integrity point of view.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Proof (by measuring) that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2017, 08:20:23 AM »
Price alone is not enough to judge cable quality though. I suspect that by the time you get to a reasonable quality $5-$10 cable you're not going to see any improvement going up to a $100 cable. The expensive cables do tend to look nicer though, if you spend time admiring your cables.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Proof (by measuring) that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2017, 09:01:43 AM »
Only a double blind experiment with the world's best and most respected audiophools would do the job.
But they:
a) Won't do it (there was a $1M James Randi prize for this, and no one took it up)
and
b) When it fails will claim something was wrong with the experiment or conditions
 
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Offline wilfred

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Re: Proof (by measuring) that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2017, 09:40:10 AM »
None of the tests can eliminate variation in different peoples hearing. Ultimately it is a question of individual perception and perhaps a good dose of self delusion. Do people really pay $1000 for a set of cables IFF they aren't able to A: afford them and B:  convince themselves they hear a difference. In the end if they sit back and enjoy the music more, good luck to them.

I'm not up on exploiting the gullible but have no problem with exploiting the rich audiophool.

It seems a bit like water sold at the supermarket. Some bottles cost up to 5 times the cost of petrol. I don't doubt there is a perceptible taste difference between brands but people don't buy $8/liter water for the taste. It is a lifestyle and status statement.

All I know is I can neither afford it nor taste a difference. Although Someone has told me I was gullible and I believed them.
 

Offline onesixright

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Re: Proof (by measuring) that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2017, 09:45:03 AM »
Only a double blind experiment with the world's best and most respected audiophools would do the job.
But they:
a) Won't do it (there was a $1M James Randi prize for this, and no one took it up)
and
b) When it fails will claim something was wrong with the experiment or conditions

Thanks, good read (James Randi)  :popcorn:

Even if you go with "respected audiophools", its still arbitrary. Maybe my ears are not that great :-)

I would think, take the human out of the equation. Just look at the signal?  How much better is the signal before it "enters" the speaker? My thoughts is that as you ramp-up the cable "quality", at a certain point, you don't see it getting better anymore.

Now, how would you conduct a test like that?
 

Offline The Soulman

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Re: Proof (by measuring) that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2017, 09:48:07 AM »
Only a double blind experiment with the world's best and most respected audiophools would do the job.
But they:
a) Won't do it (there was a $1M James Randi prize for this, and no one took it up)
and
b) When it fails will claim something was wrong with the experiment or conditions

The title does say: (by measuring)
The two most influential electric parameters that could effect sound quality  are resistance and impedance.
Both could be measured.

(defining high quality as as close to the original signal as possible)
No point in making a point just to make a point, that would be pointless.
 

Offline T3sl4co1l

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Re: Proof (by measuring) that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2017, 10:05:10 AM »
Perhaps unsurprisingly, audiophile circles generally shun double-blind testing.

The curious part is, the problem is not so much the audiophiles themselves, but is also the people complaining who don't think the conditions matter.  (But then, if they think the conditions don't matter, why would they insist on double-blind testing?)  It's not about the product, it's about the experience.

It helps the experience, to have a good solid material, regardless of its electrical properties, so it's bound to be some sort of heavy cable.  Beyond that, whether they use the materials they say they do, is a matter of marketing honesty, so if they're doing it legally, the profit margin on the more precious-metal-rich models won't be as amazing as the sticker price alone would lead you to believe.

So, is it dumb?  Hell yeah it's dumb!  Are people dumb?  Well... I think you can figure it out. ;)

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Need engineering assistance? Drop me a message!
 

Offline TimFox

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Re: Proof (by measuring) that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2017, 10:49:22 AM »
Instead of true double-blind testing, the usual procedure is to spend money on a new gadget/cable/capacitor  install it in ones system, and think really hard about if it now sounds better.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Proof (by measuring) that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2017, 10:58:35 AM »
Only a double blind experiment with the world's best and most respected audiophools would do the job.
But they:
a) Won't do it (there was a $1M James Randi prize for this, and no one took it up)
and
b) When it fails will claim something was wrong with the experiment or conditions
The title does say: (by measuring)

And that's my point, you can't debunk audiophile products by measuring. It's impossible, they just come back and say "you have to listen to it". And they are 100% correct, the high end audiophile industry is mostly psycho-acoustics.
 
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Offline onesixright

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Re: Proof (by measuring) that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2017, 11:02:03 AM »
Only a double blind experiment with the world's best and most respected audiophools would do the job.
But they:
a) Won't do it (there was a $1M James Randi prize for this, and no one took it up)
and
b) When it fails will claim something was wrong with the experiment or conditions
The title does say: (by measuring)

And that's my point, you can't debunk audiophile products by measuring. It's impossible, they just come back and say "you have to listen to it". And they are 100% correct, the high end audiophile industry is mostly psycho-acoustics.

But you can (not?) measure the quality of the signal (waveform), apposed to the interpretation of the listener?
 
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Offline xrunner

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Re: Proof by Measuring that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2017, 11:06:01 AM »
Yea I've argued all this audiophoolery for years.

What it comes done to is how good the audiophool feels about the product they purchased. It has to look like a million dollars, and has to cost a shitload of money too. The rest of the job is done by the audiophool - they basically are delusional to begin with, with respect to these products anyway, and simply compartmentalize the logical side of their brain from the audiophool side of it, and thus make themselves believe that the thing works and adds value to their listening experience. It all works much like a religion really ...

Hopefully one or more of them will read this thread and join up to debate the topic.  :popcorn:
I am a Test Equipment Addict (TEA) - by virtue of this forum signature, I have now faced my addiction
 
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Offline james_s

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Re: Proof by Measuring that Expensive speakers cable are total BS?
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2017, 11:08:07 AM »
Of course you can, but that's not the point.

The audiophiles we're talking about are not engineers. They don't understand how these things work on a fundamental basis, to them electricity may as well be a supernatural force. You could show them the measurements and they will still claim there is some aspect that somehow cannot be measured, and in a sense there is, but it's inside their head. Anyway it's a waste of effort to try to convince them otherwise, it's like trying to convince a conspiracy theorist that they are wrong or convince a devoutly religious person that their religion is phony. It won't work, it's a waste of time, let them spend their money if it makes them happy.
 
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Offline Someone

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Re: Proof (by measuring) that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2017, 11:09:05 AM »
In comparison, if you look at HDMI which is digital, you can see that the bits send over a 1 USD cable are exactly same as that of a 40 USD cable.

That's not the case. If you look at the crosstalk between channels, and the full eye-diagram of the bits received at the downstream device, the $40 cable will likely show a much clearer and more open eye, as it uses much better shielding and thicker conductors.

Whether that has any effect on a 1m cable run is a separate question (hint - it won't) - but the quality of the received bits will be lower from a signal integrity point of view.
And the "digital is digital it works or it doesn't" is also untrue for HDMI, visible artefacts become visible well before the video drops out:
http://www.audioquest.com/resource_tools/downloads/literature/technical_papers/HDMI_eyepattern_BER_and_cliff_effect.pdf
Its a nightmare trying to find the magic combination of discount products that will work reliably together, cheaper to get something quality in the first place.
 
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Offline james_s

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Re: Proof (by measuring) that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2017, 11:11:48 AM »
In comparison, if you look at HDMI which is digital, you can see that the bits send over a 1 USD cable are exactly same as that of a 40 USD cable.

That's not the case. If you look at the crosstalk between channels, and the full eye-diagram of the bits received at the downstream device, the $40 cable will likely show a much clearer and more open eye, as it uses much better shielding and thicker conductors.

Whether that has any effect on a 1m cable run is a separate question (hint - it won't) - but the quality of the received bits will be lower from a signal integrity point of view.
And the "digital is digital it works or it doesn't" is also untrue for HDMI, visible artefacts become visible well before the video drops out:
http://www.audioquest.com/resource_tools/downloads/literature/technical_papers/HDMI_eyepattern_BER_and_cliff_effect.pdf
Its a nightmare trying to find the magic combination of discount products that will work reliably together, cheaper to get something quality in the first place.

There is quality and there is absurdity. Sure, you might want to avoid the $1 cables, but there are loads of <$10 cables that are quite good. Spending big bucks on a cable doesn't guarantee it will perform any better on any metric than a modestly priced cable. Some even have side effects. I don't remember how many things I fixed years ago that had RCA jacks ripped out by ridiculously stiff and heavy Monster cables.
 
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: Proof (by measuring) that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2017, 11:12:21 AM »
And the "digital is digital it works or it doesn't" is also untrue for HDMI, visible artefacts become visible well before the video drops out:
http://www.audioquest.com/resource_tools/downloads/literature/technical_papers/HDMI_eyepattern_BER_and_cliff_effect.pdf
Its a nightmare trying to find the magic combination of discount products that will work reliably together, cheaper to get something quality in the first place.

Someone (no pun intended) busted the HDMI one by capturing the output frames and comparing every pixel with the source.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Proof (by measuring) that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2017, 11:13:37 AM »
But you can (not?) measure the quality of the signal (waveform), apposed to the interpretation of the listener?

Of course you can measure it, but that's not the point. It will never convince the audiophools.
 
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Offline onesixright

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Re: Proof by Measuring that Expensive speakers cable are total BS?
« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2017, 11:14:47 AM »
Of course you can, but that's not the point.

:wtf:, thats is my point  ;) Im not trying to convince anymore. I would like to see it with my eyes, not my ears  :)

Obviously there is a difference between a 100 USD, 2500 USD and 5000 USD speaker. But the more expensive they get, the less likely you will be able to hear it. Now expensive speakers, needs expensive cables. Well, thats what most claim.

I'm after a visualisation, which show at which point it simply doesn't matter any more.  If i take a 28 AWG wire on a 2500 USD speaker, im pretty sure you can hear (and thus see?) the difference, compared to a 16 AWG cable. Now how do you visualise that?
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 11:16:38 AM by onesixright »
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Proof by Measuring that (expensive) speakers cable is total BS?
« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2017, 11:17:25 AM »
Yea I've argued all this audiophoolery for years.
What it comes done to is how good the audiophool feels about the product they purchased. It has to look like a million dollars, and has to cost a shitload of money too. The rest of the job is done by the audiophool - they basically are delusional to begin with, with respect to these products anyway, and simply compartmentalize the logical side of their brain from the audiophool side of it, and thus make themselves believe that the thing works and adds value to their listening experience. It all works much like a religion really ...

And just like religion they really do believe it, and they really can hear things in their head. Either god talking to them, or the greater "ambience depth" in the sound, it's a similar psychology at play. The mind is the most powerful instrument.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Proof by Measuring that Expensive speakers cable are total BS?
« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2017, 11:20:53 AM »
I'm after a visualisation, which show at which point it simply doesn't matter any more.  If i take a 28 AWG wire on a 2500 USD speaker, im pretty sure you can hear (and thus see?) the difference, compared to a 16 AWG cable. Now how do you visualise that?

Probably. But that's not comparing apples with apples because they are not the same electrically.
Two otherwise identical 16AWG in all electrical parameters will perform exactly the same within the error limits of the experiment. Cryogenicly freezing one and having a nude virgin rub it with snake oil won't change that.
 
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Offline james_s

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Re: Proof by Measuring that Expensive speakers cable are total BS?
« Reply #23 on: February 09, 2017, 11:22:35 AM »

Probably. But that's not comparing apples with apples because they are not the same electrically.
Two otherwise identical 16AWG in all electrical parameters will perform exactly the same within the error limits of the experiment. Cryogenicly freezing one and having a nude virgin rub it with snake oil won't change that.

One might well be more visually pleasing than the other though.
 

Online Richard Crowley

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Re: Proof by Measuring that Expensive speakers cable are total BS?
« Reply #24 on: February 09, 2017, 11:28:23 AM »
One of my favorite quotes from another forum (GearSlutz):
Quote
A $200 cable is better than a $2 cable.  But not better than a $5 cable.
Yes, there are really horrible cables made from shoddy materials and assembled haphazardly with zero quality control.
But once you exceed "sensible" pricing, you get into the esoteric and self-induced realm of audiophools.

To make matters worse, many audiophools believe that you must "break-in" cables and listen to them for hours before discovering how much better they are.  Of course, by the time you have listened to anything for several hours, you whole perception has shifted to accommodate the "ambient". 

Just as your eyes automatically adjust between widely varying color temperature (indoor candle-lit <3000°K to glaring outdoor sunlight >5000°K)  You can watch a video camera "auto-tracking white balance" between indoors and outdoors, but you never perceive your eye-brain system doing it.
 
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