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Comparing my three XLR cables from DAC to amp

Kuma

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I’ve never heard a difference in cables, even when I’ve wanted to.
 
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andersee

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Hi all,
Now, I have 3 short flac files side-by-side, and I don't need to switch the cables.
And.. I must confess that the differences among them that I perceive are quite reduced and small..

I am still confused since I did think they sounded different, and since I thought my ears are relatively well trained.
Hmm, am I another victim of the fixated emotional bias??
 

dc655321

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Hi all,
Now, I have 3 short flac files side-by-side, and I don't need to switch the cables.
And.. I must confess that the differences among them that I perceive are quite reduced and small..

I am still confused since I did think they sounded different, and since I thought my ears are relatively well trained.
Hmm, am I another victim of the fixated emotional bias??

Can you describe the nature of the differences you perceived?
Fuller, brighter, duller, etc...

I have to say, a cursory look at the stats of the waveforms shows near identical RMS and peak values...
 

NiagaraPete

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You posted at the wrong forum.... ASR is the worst forum to talk about cables.

You should post in other forums if you want to have any meaningful discussion about cables.
There is no reasonable reason to talk about cables.
 

LightninBoy

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I timed aligned sample 1 and sample 2 and inverted phase of sample 2 and played both at same time. The result is dead silence. Proving there is no difference. You can hear for yourself in the attached file.

Edit: I should probably explain more of what I did - cause a file of silence is not convincing without context. First I imported sample 1 and 2 into two separate tracks in Reaper (a popular Digital Audio workstation). The two samples were not recorded at exactly the same time, so I zoomed WAY into the wave form to precisely time align the two tracks. Then I inverted the phase of track 2. When I played the project, I got complete silence. I then rendered this project into the file I attached in this post.
 

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Holmz

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He said physics up front.
But EEs can be fooled too, so the tone seems a bit harsh.

Lastly many people woudl stomp their feet and say our gear is not resolving enough.
So credit to the OP for actually measuring and testing it.
 
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LightninBoy

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For those who commented and help me to test further, I thank you very much.
Thanks for testing your initial "I heard a difference and it was obvious" opinion. And thanks for sharing your test samples. Whether or not you are now convinced that the differences you heard were not real, you are wayyyy ahead of most people in allowing your hearing impressions to be challenged.
 

Pdxwayne

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I have Topping D90 MQA and Topping A90, together with Hifiman Ananda. So, I wanted to have a good enough (but not expensive) XLR cables to connect D90 and A90.
- First, I ordered one from Markertek. (Canare's premier L-4E6S Star-Quad cable) https://www.markertek.com/product/s...in-xlr-male-to-3-pin-xlr-female-gray-1-5-foot
- Since the delivery time was long at that time, I bought another from Monoprice. (Again, Star-Quad.) Stage Right by Monoprice STARQUAD XLR Microphone Cable, Optimized for Analog Audio - 24AWG

When comparing the two, I was surprised by how different the two XLR's sound.
- I became curious, and so, googled to buy another one by WBC. (This time, Mogami 2549) https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0979LF3Y6/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Before expressing what I found in more detail, FYI,
- I majored in Physics, and I am an engineer. So, I think I roughly understand the articles in ASR and in other sites on the basics of XLR cables in room environment with short distance (<10 ft). In my case, the length of all three cables was 1.5ft. So, I think, in principle, the three cables should not show noticeable difference in sound.

Stilllllll, I can't but say that the sounds from the cables are different. I really don't understand why, thought.

- WBC one became my baseline since the frequency balance is the best among them, and still, treble is accurate and not confined.
- I love the airy and clear treble by Monoprice Stage Right. The sound by female vocal or by guitar picking is fantastic. (Celine Dion, Michael Jackson, Acoustic Alchemy, Dave Grusin, etc) But.. it lacks kicking in the bass.

I ended up spending ~$100, but it was a fun comparison. :)
I am still curious why they sound so different.
I am suspecting quality issue of your Monoprice cable.

When I did loopback tests for my DAC a while back using Monoprice RCA to XLR cables, I notice many times that the level of one cable can be significantly less that the other cable. When I moved that cable around, it get back to normal expected level again. So something not connected right inside the cable.

Based on my experience, in your case, I suspect that a certain time, one or both cable are having connection issue, thus giving you less signal strength. Thus you had the impression that bass is weak.
Then, when you do loopback captures, the cables had OK connection again.

I now cast my Monoprice cables aside and swear not to use it anymore, other than for non critical audio related emergency.
 
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andersee

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Thanks for testing your initial "I heard a difference and it was obvious" opinion. And thanks for sharing your test samples. Whether or not you are now convinced that the differences you heard were not real, you are wayyyy ahead of most people in allowing your hearing impressions to be challenged.
Hello LightninBoy, thanks for the testing and the nice comments. :)
I am convinced that I'm another ordinary person. :)
 
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andersee

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I am suspecting quality issue of your Monoprice cable.

When I did loopback tests for my DAC a while back using Monoprice RCA to XLR cables, I notice many times that the level of one cable can be significantly less that the other cable. When I moved that cable around, it get back to normal expected level again. So something not connected right inside the cable.

Based on my experience, in your case, I suspect that a certain time, one or both cable is having connection issue, thus giving you less signal strength. Thus you had the impression that bass is weak.
Then, when you do loopback captures, the cables had OK connection again.

I now cast my Monoprice cables aside and swear not to use it anymore, other than for non critical audio related emergency.
I will keep this in mind. Thanks for letting me know.
 

Ingenieur

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Mogami
 

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Blumlein 88

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I get the same result when I time align it as LightninBoy. There is nothing left to hear. Here is an FFT of the track you supplied.

There is nothing wrong with any of your cable, the FR response is essentially identical with all of them. You are experiencing the placebo effect. You had three different cables and were predisposed to think they might sound different, and your mind helped you hear a difference. But there isn't one except in your mind. Now whenever you know which cable is in there you'll hear that difference.

Kind of a funny feeling isn't it? Don't worry, no reason to be ashamed. It happens to humans. Just means you are human like the rest of us. I too applaud you for asking about this and doing the test. Most of us here have been in the same position before with the same experience.

1642465405313.png


Here is the FFT when I subtract one track from the other. The only difference is high frequency noise. And that at a very low level. You'll not hear any of that noise.

1642465517449.png
 
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andersee

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I get the same result when I time align it as LightninBoy. There is nothing left to hear. Here is an FFT of the track you supplied.

There is nothing wrong with any of your cable, the FR response is essentially identical with all of them. You are experiencing the placebo effect. You had three different cables and were predisposed to think they might sound different, and your mind helped you hear a difference. But there isn't one except in your mind. Now whenever you know which cable is in there you'll hear that difference.

Kind of a funny feeling isn't it? Don't worry, no reason to be ashamed. It happens to humans. Just means you are human like the rest of us. I too applaud you for asking about this and doing the test. Most of us here have been in the same position before with the same experience.
Hi Blumlein 88,
Thanks for showing the result.
Yes, it is a funny feeling. And, how to say, somewhat refreshing, too. :)
 

BDWoody

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I am still confused since I did think they sounded different, and since I thought my ears are relatively well trained.
Hmm, am I another victim of the fixated emotional bias??

I know it was quite humbling for me when I did the same with *clearly* different DACs.

Nice to see someone actually challenge themselves, rather than tell the forum how collectively stupid/deaf/poor we are.
 

Ingenieur

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He said physics up front.
But EEs can be fooled too, so the tone seems a bit harsh.

Lastly many people woudl stomp their feet and say our gear is not resolving enough.
So credit to the OP for actually measuring and testing it.
An EE would dismiss it out of hand (after ascertaining no physical problem with the cables) knowing the same signal type XLR and 1.5' long cable could not possibly make a difference. It defies all basic concepts and the physics.

I can be fooled easily, but not convince myself I hear something knowing what the system and change was.
Perhaps in a blind test.
I might hear a change but not provide detailed nuances of them in specific terms and frequency ranges.
"It sounds different" would be the extent, even if that.

Now he knows.
 

LightninBoy

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You posted at the wrong forum.... ASR is the worst forum to talk about cables.

You should post in other forums if you want to have any meaningful discussion about cables.

In just a few pages of discussion we established a testing approach so the OP could more easily test his initial hearing impressions. Thanks to the OP recording and sharing the output from the different cables, we also demonstrated via phase inversion that the cables sent the identical signals. So, IMO, this thread on ASR was more meaningful than 99.99% of the cable discussions in other forums.
 
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