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Can you hear a difference between audio cables? ABX test

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pma

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I have prepared a listening test with 2 different audio cables. The cables are as dissimilar as they can be. The test files can be downloaded from


If you are interested in the test, please download and unzip the files and in case you think you can hear a difference, it would be nice to post an ABX report, like from foobar2000. The files are in 96/24 wav format.
 
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pma

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The difference "between the two cables" used above.

CableX.png CableY.png Noise cable X.png Noise cable Y.png

Anybody tried the test? Heard any difference? Any ABX record?
 

maty

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Easy test..

1 Less bass. Voice, I do not like. More dynamic -> Cable Y
2. More "analog" sound, engadging -> Cable X

The key are the harmonics. That is why I use PKharmonic v1.3 VSTplugin when I want to emulate them if the sound does not convince me. With complex, orchestral music, I prefer without them.
 

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BDWoody

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Anybody tried the test? Heard any difference? Any ABX record?

I didn't set up an abx, but in careful listening I couldn't find anything to listen for as a tell.

I listened with my Truthear Zero iems and my Elegia headphones both through the JDS Atom 2 amp, and also through my main stereo setup with 708Ps.

Both sound the same to me.

I suppose I am somewhat biased towards the 'no difference' result, but now I can answer that yes, I have listened to the effects of different cables on music and no, didn't hear a difference.

Thanks for putting these together. I know you don't always get as much participation as your effort warrants, but they are very useful and I appreciate it.
 

Audiofire

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Anybody tried the test? Heard any difference? Any ABX record?
Yes to all, at volume -12 dBFS (reference level +22 dBu) on RME ADI-2 Pro FS R with AKG K702, EQ and loudness off. Had to use background noise to determine. Took me a few trials to learn characteristics of the audible distortion.
 

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amper42

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Following the thread

I have prepared a listening test with 2 different audio cables. The cables are as dissimilar as they can be. The test files can be downloaded from


If you are interested in the test, please download and unzip the files and in case you think you can hear a difference, it would be nice to post an ABX report, like from foobar2000. The files are in 96/24 wav format.

I prefer Cable 1. What cable is that? Thanks!
ABX Report below.

foo_abx 2.2 report
foobar2000 v2.6.2
0124-03-15 16:16:03

File A: cable2.wav
SHA1: d9320713d221b19023f9796bc82354a852d99ad3
File B: cable1.wav
SHA1: 86fd0a74ab4a6a93d14521fce5e9ca3e0cf9022a

Output:
Core Audio : Default, 16-bit
Crossfading: NO

16:16:03 : Test started.
16:17:12 : Test restarted.
16:17:12 : 00/01
16:17:19 : Test restarted.
16:17:19 : 01/02
16:17:27 : Test restarted.
16:17:27 : 01/03
16:17:33 : Test restarted.
16:17:33 : 02/04
16:17:40 : Test restarted.
16:17:40 : 03/05
16:17:47 : Test restarted.
16:17:47 : 04/06
16:17:55 : Test restarted.
16:17:55 : 05/07
16:18:02 : Test restarted.
16:18:02 : 05/08
16:18:11 : Test restarted.
16:18:11 : 06/09
16:18:18 : Test restarted.
16:18:18 : 07/10
16:18:18 : Test finished.

----------
Total: 7/10
p-value: 0.1719 (17.19%)

-- signature --
8a14fb3cd220c7b3baca4b2664805c34b50b570f
 
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voodooless

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I’m not exactly surprised people hear a difference. The delta waveform shows some larger differences in some areas, and it’s clear that one of the cables has worse noise rejection. The spectra of both cables are virtually the same, so claiming more bass is just silly. Still, the source of those large deltas would be interesting to find out, it’s not exactly evident from the rest of the data.
 
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pma

pma

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Thanks for the abx reports posted. I have to repeat that 7/8 is not enough for the test to be positively statistically valid. 16 trials is a minimum, 12/16 would be enough. 7/10 can be easily achieved by chance.
 
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pma

pma

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The delta waveform shows some larger differences in some areas,
Interestingly, direct subtraction in Adobe Audition makes better job in this test than the Deltawave. Deltawave delta file is much more audible than the directly subtracted file, in this test. This is interesting and I would like to know what makes the algorithm to create bigger difference.
 
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pma

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I am going to disclose what is happening here in this test. The same DAC (DacMagicPlus) and the same ADC (E1DA Cosmos) are used in both tests, both are USB devices. USB isolator is not used.

Cable1 file (= cable Y): DAC(USB1) is connected through XLR balanced line cable to ADC(USB2)
Cable2 file (= cable X): DAC(USB1) is connected through RCA single-ended line cable to ADC(USB2)

Signal ground loop is created in both cases from USB1 to USB2 via DAC, signal cable and ADC. This is reflected in measurements in post #2. Noise floor with cable 2 is polluted. The noise background may be affected by both signal and PC operation.
With cable 1, this phenomenon is completely suppressed and the DAC record THD+N is even better than in the official DacMagicPlus review here at ASR.

@maty seemed to prefer "sound" of the cable 2 (= cable X). It is my repeated long term experience that the preferences usually go for the technically worse, flawed file.

I am a long time proponent of balanced link even at home conditions. The reason I have explained in trivial form below. In this test, the loop was closed through 2 USB ports, not through PE ground, but the principle remains the same. So, the cable test? Yes, in a way, RCA x XLR.

DAC class I RCA.png DAC class I XLR.png
 

maty

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What is evident is that there are differences and I also said what cable it was. Measurements are used to verify that things are well made but do not guarantee that the sound is excellent. A descending harmonic profile is the closest thing to live music, hence the preference of many even if they do not know the cause.

It is evident that harmonics below 90 dB, not individually noticeable, affect the sound. In SET amplifiers: H2 -50/60 dB and H3 lower -> the H2 so high causes a bass boost when listening. It is striking that it was detected with H2 -100 dB.


(*) Test done with my cheap second audio system (PC). Magnat MA 900 MODIFIED -> Kimber Kable 8PR (DIY) -> KEF Q100 5.25" coaxial MODIFIED. With W10 optimized to minimize the jitter generated by CPU. And "clean" power: DC blockers + Schaffner RF/EMI filters + Würth 150 kHz ferrite.
 

Audiofire

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Thanks for the abx reports posted. I have to repeat that 7/8 is not enough for the test to be positively statistically valid. 16 trials is a minimum, 12/16 would be enough. 7/10 can be easily achieved by chance.
I got a statistically random result with 16 trials, maybe ambient noise or probably victimized by Dunning–Kruger effect again :)
 
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