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This audio cable business is getting out of hand...

ahofer

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I think part of the problem is the epistemically closed communities in which these things are discussed. I’ve taken to ridiculing them on Twitter. That’ll show ‘em. :rolleyes:
 

MattHooper

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Yeah, I get myself in trouble in trying to break that epistemic circle in the mainly subjectivist forums. No matter what facts or arguments are brought to bear, this means little to any of them as the most common "comeback" is "Have YOU TRIED IT?" For them, if you have not used the item in question, cable or tweak or whatever, that question is an argument stopper, a trump card. It's all about personal experience to them, the rest is white noise in lieu of personal experience. It's no coincidence that this very epistemology is behind most magical thinking in general.
 

mansr

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Yeah, I get myself in trouble in trying to break that epistemic circle in the mainly subjectivist forums. No matter what facts or arguments are brought to bear, this means little to any of them as the most common "comeback" is "Have YOU TRIED IT?" For them, if you have not used the item in question, cable or tweak or whatever, that question is an argument stopper, a trump card. It's all about personal experience to them, the rest is white noise in lieu of personal experience. It's no coincidence that this very epistemology is behind most magical thinking in general.
Answer them like you do ISP tech support: yes, I've turned it off and on again. Alternatively, tell them that you tried the myrtlewood cable lifters, and it made the bass sound droopy or whatever.
 

scott wurcer

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Alternatively, tell them that you tried the myrtlewood cable lifters, and it made the bass sound droopy or whatever.

I actually did try it and paid $125 for a Bybee Quantum whatever and sat it under my monitor to "improve focus and resolution". Of course LCD monitors don't have focus and the resolution is fixed and it did nothing. I got that tired of the "have you tried it" BS. It did no good at all.
 

MattHooper

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Ugh, I tortured myself by looking at reviews of cables, in particular expensive video cables from some of the usual suspects - e.g. ridiculously expensive HDMI cables said to improve colour, sharpness, black levels etc. And of course the subjectivist mags - even ones that should know better when they are dealing with video technology! - just put on some movies and watch and say "yeah, obviously sharper, colour more saturated, black levels so much better, dimensionality improved."

Cripes! Could they BE more incompetent?

Put on some damned test signals and test these things! Does it show up? Then show us! Aside from the fact the claims make no technical sense, especially for HDMI, every picture quality enhancement claimed is eminently demonstrable and measurable, using the standard test patterns and meters any decent video calibrationist uses on his job. (The technician who calibrates my projector does all this, and we can look at directly-measured results of changes in sharpness, colour, black level, contrast etc).

I mean the audio cable stuff is one thing, where audiophiles are used to accepting the (bogus) idea there are differences we can perceive that do not show up in measurements. But it always astonished me that this claim managed to leap in to the video world once home theater became bigger.
This is because you have precisely zero business writing about video equipment, let alone reviewing or advising prospective customers, if you have no basic understanding of video technology, and even the most basic understanding of the nature of black level/contrast/colour etc entails that the special-cable claims entail measurable, demonstrable differences in the signal. Just the sheer level of credulity, lack of critical thinking and air-headedness is disorienting.

I have to stop reading cable stuff. Starting to edge in to anger.

(And that's actually one of the reasons I found my way to this forum: a level of despair starts to take hold when I see how much of the hobby I love remains in the grips of magical thinking....giving all of us enthusiasts a bad wrap).
 

jsrtheta

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It took SNL to predict the three-blade razor.

It took The Onion to predict the five-blade razor:
https://www.theonion.com/fuck-everything-were-doing-five-blades-1819584036

Mods my apologies if this goes too far in terms of language. Feel free to delete without explanation. It is meant purely in the name of fun and humor, but I get that there’s probably a line in the sand somewhere.

Triple blade razors were out before SNL. Consumer reports tested them against each other. The winner? The single bladed Wilkinson Sword.
I forgive the cable business to some extent because they are catering the the need for belief, not necessity. Many audiophiles demand expensive cables as audio jewelry with their expensive components, and they want to believe they make an enormous difference.

I have not heard one mainstream audio critic yet who does not rattle on about how certain components require certain types of exotic power cords or cables to optimize them.

If they said they didn't believe in cables, they would no longer be mainstream audio critics, because the cable business is so darned profitable and it's much preferable to offend the occasional die hard objectivist than the majority subjectivist who need the promotional mythology. Those critics scoffing at cable beliefs would just be dropped from the industry.

There is a point where you just have to accept what the market demands and wants to throw its money at, whether you make those particular choices for yourself or not.

No, they are ripping people off. I wish someone had straightened me out pronto when I became an "audiophile". I would have saved many hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

Sorry, but I don't buy the "if people want to buy them, who am I to say no?" school of consumer protection. A ripoff is a ripoff. These people should not be encouraged. If the defense is "the maker actually believes their claims", then they should not be allowed to sell a product as simple as decent cabling without understanding it.
 

cjfrbw

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Well, I've told this story before. When I bought my Da Vinci tonearm, it came with a $2500 cable upgrade (no, I didn't pay that, the tonearm was sold at about 30 percent market overall with the cable included).

The Swiss founder of Da Vinci in an interview said he did not believe in cables at all, as long as they were decent and did the job. The reason he marketed and charged high prices for the cables he offered is because if he didn't, he would lose credibility and customers amongst all the sniffing snobs and mincing audiophile types. It was unusual candor for a high end manufacturer.
 

MattHooper

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They do. I have one of their power cables which I intend to test one day.


I sure hope you get around to testing out their cable, or any cable (especially the purported effects of audiophile AC cables).

It would be quite a service and I'm surprised not many other skeptics have bothered. (I have only done my own blind tests, way back, and don't have the equipment or expertise to measure this stuff).

I'm curious: ultimately the claim made for cables, like boutique AC cables, is that they alter the musical signal coming out of whatever device they are attached to - DAC, preamp, amp, whatever. What measurements would you take to test the claims made for these cables?

Thanks.
 

ahofer

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I sure hope you get around to testing out their cable, or any cable (especially the purported effects of audiophile AC cables).

It would be quite a service and I'm surprised not many other skeptics have bothered......

What measurements would you take to test the claims made for these cables?

Thanks.
Ethan Winer has performed null testing, which really ought to put the whole thing to bed.

https://audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/ethan-winer-builds-a-wire-null-tester.5197/

I mean, if your speaker is reacting differently to *exactly the same signal*, you have a big problem. When I point this out on Audiogon, the dealers and cable vendors stomp off in a huff-“believe what you want to believe”, they say, without a hint of irony.
 

Wombat

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MattHooper

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I went to Ethan's video, which I've seen before, and in the youtube suggestion panel the top was one of Paul Mcgowan's videos, the topic:
"Why is there so much snake oil in high end audio?"

It was hard to even view the video through the thick coating of irony, particularly when Paul mentioned the actual efficacy of green pens for CDs and that of audiophile AC cables. He said, to paraphrase, "I've seen a lot of snake oil in this industry, but I'm not going to call them out on it, and I'm not going to tell you why." Can anyone think of an answer why a company selling expensive AC cables and "noise harvesters" doesn't want to call out other companies on snail oil? :)

But what caught my attention among the youtube comments calling out Paul on his comments about AC cables and asking about the equipment used to vet this - to paraphrase: "where is your test equipment measurements demonstrating these phenomena?"

Mcgowan's reply:

"Yes, we have some of the best test equipment in the world and we rely upon those measurements to design our products. But, they tell us nothing of how they sound. That still must be done by ear and experience."


Now....I'm trying to wrap my head around what that even MEANS. Their equipment and measurements tell him nothing about how the product he is designing sounds? What, exactly then is that equipment used for? What is he measuring and why??? I mean, let's be charitable and just start by saying he has some basic electrical properties, some baseline, that he is shooting for and measures to achieve that baseline. But then, listening comes in. Ok, so he listens and hears a little something he doesn't like and thinks needs tweaking.

How does he determine what is causing the audible issue, and what to tweak technically in the design...if not by going to the measurements and knowing what parameters he needs to physically change in his design? Is it done with a coin flip? Do they just hold their hands over the cable and heal it with audiophile energy? If he's not changing measurable parameters of the cable and correlating any sonic change with those changes, how in the world is he determining how to design the gear?

If PS Audio engineers can not use "some of the best test equipment in the world" to correlate what they measure with the effect their designs have on the sonic signal, what's the point of having expensive test equipment? This doesn't sound like competent engineering to me.
 

ahofer

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Did you read "Schiit Happens"? Same spiel. Claims to be a centrist between objectivist and subjectivist. But, if Amir's measurements can be believed, not so centered.
 

Sawdust123

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"Yes, we have some of the best test equipment in the world and we rely upon those measurements to design our products. But, they tell us nothing of how they sound. That still must be done by ear and experience."
I spent 15 years selling audio analyzers. I was very careful to never claim that they can tell you how something sounds. Instead, I would say, they tell you why something sounds the way it does. There is a big difference the two. Something may sound "harsh". Measurements may show that the harshness was probably due to excessive treble boost or harmonic distortion. However, no graph on an audio analyzer ever had an axis labeled "harshness".
 

majingotan

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I spent 15 years selling audio analyzers. I was very careful to never claim that they can tell you how something sounds. Instead, I would say, they tell you why something sounds the way it does. There is a big difference the two. Something may sound "harsh". Measurements may show that the harshness was probably due to excessive treble boost or harmonic distortion. However, no graph on an audio analyzer ever had an axis labeled "harshness".

Soundstage falls in this category too or would that be measured by phase graphs?
 

syn08

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I’ll play the devil’s advocate for a second...

After all, isn’t the whole High End Audio schtick just another way of wealth redistribution? I somehow doubt the single mother of 3 that sweeps floors in D.C. is much of a $15,000 USB cable customer. I would also think those $15,000 USB cable manufacturers/distributors don’t sell that many cables to qualify as stinkin’ rich.

And why would buying a $15,000 USB cable be more outrageous than buying a $500,000 watch (and no, not necessary one of those made out of 24K gold with diamonds)? I hear little grumbling about watches, although I doubt they beat a $100 quartz watch in their main function, time keeping.

In the jungle, as repulsive as they are, hyenas play an important role in the ecosystem, sanitizing and recycling the organic waste. High End Audio companies and cable crooks help rotate the money, the basics of the economy.
 

StevenEleven

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I’ll play the devil’s advocate for a second...

In the jungle, as repulsive as they are, hyenas play an important role in the ecosystem, sanitizing and recycling the organic waste. High End Audio companies and cable crooks help rotate the money, the basics of the economy.

Come on. . . Don’t you think you’re being a little hard on hyenas? They get a bad rap from Mr. homo sapiens sapiens. Mr. Lion knows the score. . . And knows you don’t mess with Mr Hyena. ;)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyena
 
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ahofer

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Watch retailers rarely, if ever, claim the expensive watches tell time better. They are sold explicitly as bling. Cable retailers don’t create a lot of jobs either, what with mostly just repackaging generic cable. But, yes, we want wealthy people who allocate capital badly to spend their money.
 

BDWoody

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But, yes, we want wealthy people who allocate capital badly to spend their money.

Maybe they allocate it differently, but that doesn't mean it is irrational or being done 'badly.'
 

Juhazi

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Expensive watches, handbags, knives, cameras etc. are fair-play luxury items, they are not advertized to have supernatural "healing power" like those cables etc.

Hi-end hifi is a unique sort of business and I am amazed that obviously many people swallow the tackle, over and over again.
 

Purité Audio

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Before PA I bought expensive cables, I simply believed the magazines and dealers, I just didn’t believe they would lie.
Keith
 
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