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Can you hear a difference between audio cables? ABX test

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Gorgonzola

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The difference "between the two cables" used above.

View attachment 356691 View attachment 356692 View attachment 356693 View attachment 356694

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

Yikes!! I'm a little surprised at these obviously measurable differences. When I see harmonics at -100 dB I begin to suspect that audible differences are possible -- at least by some people using specific equipment.

I'll say this, that reading the Stereophile article increases my suspicion of pricey cables and my conviction that many megabuck components in general are design to distort and thus contribute to "differences" that audiophools (may) actually hear.

In my case on account of age and other circumstance I'm stone deaf above about 9k Hz, so I'm not a good test. Still in a spare moment I might download and listen to those files ... unlikely I'll hear a difference.
 
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Audiofire

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In this test - find the part with low signal level, it is near 27.5 s. Turn volume quite low, not high. The cable3 file has buzzing background noise. Turn volume down when you still hear the background buzz from cable3 but no background buzz from cable1. It is absolutely reliable, as you can see from the 16/16 result. No cherry picking, just playing a while with volume control.
Absolutely reliable 16/16 result (indeed)
foo_abx 2.1 report
foobar2000 v2.0
2024-03-17 13:18:01

File A: cable3.wav
SHA1: ee244f1d3f32864da82e2742918ab494f20a1b22
File B: cable1.wav
SHA1: 86fd0a74ab4a6a93d14521fce5e9ca3e0cf9022a

Output:
ASIO : ASIO MADIface USB
Crossfading: NO

13:18:01 : Test started.
13:19:57 : 01/01
13:20:36 : 02/02
13:20:49 : 03/03
13:21:03 : 04/04
13:21:22 : 05/05
13:21:43 : 06/06
13:22:07 : 07/07
13:22:25 : 08/08
13:22:40 : 09/09
13:23:02 : 10/10
13:23:28 : 11/11
13:23:42 : 12/12
13:24:07 : 13/13
13:24:50 : 14/14
13:25:13 : 15/15
13:25:28 : 16/16
13:25:28 : Test finished.

----------
Total: 16/16
p-value: 0 (0%)

-- signature --
9dfddc032f9a9da43a1afe1378ebe4f7063dedd0
 

delta76

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I personally cannot ignore certain members. While I frequently disagree with some posters, I believe that everyone has something to offer the conversation and need to rely on my bullshit detector to discern the truth. No better method can be found to sharpen my detector than to read and filter the wheat from the chaff.
Which is why I admire you guys. i don't have same level of patience and while I might speak out to random BS, I usually turn a blind eye and move on to persistent BS :)
 

amper42

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There is a difference between looking for (short) tells and hearing a clear (and sound degrading) difference.

That brings up another issue. Even if a person hears excess noise/distortion, another person may believe it sounds better or doesn't degrade the sound at all. None of us hear sound in the exact same way and the judgements we make can be totally different.

When I taught music in a school where the fire alarm drill bell would go off unannounced at a splitting 115db - 120db, I would cover my ears and get out as quick as possible. I noticed many others who had been there for years were immune to it. I complained and was told it was required to be that loud by the Fire Department. I ended up getting advance notice on these drills as my ears were in pain for hours later. I learned to leave the building before they came on. Volumes that are OK to some are crazy for others. The same difference in reaction to noise/distortion/harmonics can be found in different people. Some have perfect pitch. Others are a bit tone deaf. Some can tell when they are playing in tune while others can only try to look for the resulting out of pitch looks from their peers. :facepalm:;)

Noise that is not degrading the music for one person will likely wish to be avoided by another.
 

Tangband

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Some people are trained not to hear a difference. They have been told and so believe all cables sound the same, in all situations. They are not trained to listen for noise in the chain or harmonic differences in sound. Our brain can easily ignore these cues. Others simply can't hear the difference due to the constant ringing/noise in their ears that they fight with each day. The definition of sound you hear may not be the same as your neighbor or your wife. I find it amazing in the rare case were everyone hears the same exact thing. It's quite rare except when the person is being told what they should hear before responding.
Its called nocebo.
Its like when people say they cant hear the difference between a kitchen radio and a Genelec monitor. You can fool yourself that there are no audible differences.
 
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Mart68

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That brings up another issue. Even if a person hears excess noise/distortion, another person may believe it sounds better or doesn't degrade the sound at all. None of us hear sound in the exact same way and the judgements we make can be totally different.

When I taught music in a school where the fire alarm drill bell would go off unannounced at a splitting 115db - 120db, I would cover my ears and get out as quick as possible. I noticed many others who had been there for years were immune to it. I complained and was told it was required to be that loud by the Fire Department. I ended up getting advance notice on these drills as my ears were in pain for hours later. I learned to leave the building before they came on. Volumes that are OK to some are crazy for others. The same difference in reaction to noise/distortion/harmonics can be found in different people. Some have perfect pitch. Others are a bit tone deaf. Some can tell when they are playing in tune while others can only try to look for the resulting out of pitch looks from their peers. :facepalm:;)

Noise that is not degrading the music for one person will likely wish to be avoided by another.
very true, building I used to work in had painfully loud alarms, I had to cover my ears, many younger people were not as bothered.

More recently listening to a system being demoed a bloke called me over and said 'What do you think?' I said it sounded rough. He said that when the vocal came in he involuntarily grimaced, but to look at the faces of the people listening. And we did, and clearly none of them were bothered by what bothered us so much.
 

Tangband

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OK. One more test file. The same setup as in the post #1, only that the RCA cable is now a conventional 1.5m consumer RCA cable that arrived with some cheap stuff. It is the one with 71.1dB S/N in post #64. I have recorded the same track as in post #1 and made a test file "cable3". You may find it in this link


together with a Deltawave delta file with cable1 file. I have also made a requested ABX test and below is the 16/16 ABX record.

Code:
foo_abx 2.1 report
foobar2000 v2.0
2024-03-17 09:14:46

File A: cable1.wav
SHA1: 86fd0a74ab4a6a93d14521fce5e9ca3e0cf9022a
File B: cable3.wav
SHA1: ee244f1d3f32864da82e2742918ab494f20a1b22

Output:
WASAPI (shared) : Speakers (Cambridge Audio USB Audio 1.0)
Crossfading: NO

09:14:46 : Test started.
09:16:54 : 01/01
09:17:01 : 02/02
09:17:08 : 03/03
09:17:14 : 04/04
09:17:22 : 05/05
09:17:28 : 06/06
09:17:34 : 07/07
09:17:41 : 08/08
09:17:46 : 09/09
09:17:52 : 10/10
09:18:03 : 11/11
09:18:12 : 12/12
09:18:18 : 13/13
09:18:23 : 14/14
09:18:29 : 15/15
09:18:40 : 16/16
09:18:40 : Test finished.

 ----------
Total: 16/16
p-value: 0 (0%)

 -- signature --
87042b895ba6e169e50fbadda6241639329719a6

I do not think there may be any doubts that a poorly constructed SE cable may bring an audible difference. Oversimplification is always wrong.

The cable3 makes an audible difference compared to both cable1 (XLR) and cable2 (RCA short coax). Just for the reason of shield impedance and wrong (unshielded) construction.

The cable used in the cable3 file looks like this
View attachment 356994
Just the cable, right? No chance to guess without measurements.

Note: test files cable1 and cable2 (post #1) may be found on this link:
Pma, you wrote ”do not think there may be any doubts that a poorly constructed SE cable may bring an audible difference” .

Is that so ? ( I agree with you - there are sometimes audible differences with RCA cables as you have shown ) .
The ABX 16/16 result shows it.


Remember that you can be suspended for writing such a thing on this forum.
 
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Zapper

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Its called nocebo.
Good term. I like it.

I'll admit that my bias is towards nocebo. Partly that's heavy skepticism in reaction to audiophoolery. But a larger part is decades of listening through the sound of my hifi to listen to the music, rather than listening to the sound of my hifi to detect the audible deficiencies. The brain is like a powerful DSP that can equalize irregularities and filter out defects remarkably well.
 

pkane

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I have uploaded the difference files to dropbox as a *.zip file


Clock drift - DAC and ADC clocks are not synchronized and 2 have two test runs. And we have a messy loop constituted by 2 USB ports.

So here's the difference between the delta produced by Audition and that by DeltaWave. You can see that most of the differences are just due to the gradual clock drift, with the difference changing with time:

1710689456640.png
 

Audiofire

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How do you explain that he was correct in assigning the file to the cable? Before PMA said anything about it.
PMA showed spectral analysis of the difference by the way, giving room to cognitive bias for peeking.

In the end, my cat couldn't tell the difference at all. He has very good hearing too. So, as they say, that settles that.
@maty claim falsified then, that settled that indeed.
 

Zapper

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In this test - find the part with low signal level, it is near 27.5 s.
Ok, after trying for a while I think I hear it. It's a very brief time, 0.2 seconds or less, when the sound drops down to a quieter noise floor @ 27.5s This evening I'll try the 16 trials to see if I can really hear it. Either way I would not detect this listening to music.

So, I'll file this in the category of "audible, but don't care". I'll keep on using those cheapy SE cables until I have another reason to replace them.

Besides, you can't have ground loops if nothing is grounded. For example, a WiiM powered by double insulated, non-grounded USB charger, into cheap SE cable that came in the box, to a double-insulated, non-grounded amplifier, to passive, non-grounded speakers. Everything is floating and there are no (audio frequency) ground loops. There are possible RF loops due to capacitive coupling across the supplies.
 
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BDWoody

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Pma, you wrote ”do not think there may be any doubts that a poorly constructed SE cable may bring an audible difference” .

Is that so ? ( I agree with you - there are sometimes audible differences with RCA cables as you have shown ) .
The ABX 16/16 result shows it.


Remember that you can be suspended for writing such a thing on this forum.


In this case, I don't believe many here would argue against his fundamental point, which is that construction matters.

However, I think you are very confused about what gets one banned.

What Pavel generally brings to the table is actual evidence to back his claims, which are designed to help people see a bit further into where relevant corner cases may be, and to help fill in a lot of blanks that his education and experience certainly qualifies him to do.

There is a lot that is oversimplified, and I believe that makes him a little crazy (no offense meant Pavel). However, he doesn't *only* bash us all over our heads in his special way, he fills in details, challenges us, and is absolutely willing to admit where he may have made an error.

Maybe others who have claims they feel have been dismissed can put in the same work before the whining starts.
 

DLS79

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In this case, I don't believe many here would argue against his fundamental point, which is that construction matters.


What Pavel generally brings to the table is actual evidence to back his claims, which are designed to help people see a bit further into where relevant corner cases may be, and to help fill in a lot of blanks that his education and experience certainly qualifies him to do.

One thing that always gets me, is when people ignore the "properly engineered" or "properly specked" caveats!

I see this all the time with USB-C cables.

Like when people by a cheap gas station charging cord, and then complin when it melts or breaks in a short period of time. I've literally read people retort with "usb-c cables are all the same", while anyone in the know knows that isn't even close to the truth.
 

Tangband

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Its good that we now can say, thanks to pma, that different RCA cables CAN sound different without being called an idiot and that we now can say this without the risk of being suspended . ASR is moving forward :)
This is good for the forum.
 

SIY

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Its good that we now can say, thanks to pma, that different RCA cables CAN sound different without being called an idiot and that we now can say this without the risk of being suspended . ASR is moving forward :)
That strawman is a fire hazard. No one, NO ONE. NO ONE ever claimed that unshielded single ended cables didn't cause noise pickup. That's all there is here.

Stop whining that when you throw bullshit, you're called on it.
 
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