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What cables do you use in your systems?

andreasmaaan

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Strange as its unbelievable, I thought likewise too regarding RCA cables. But there really is a threshold below which it does affect the quality of the signal coming through.

I just took delivery of my JDS Atom, and to plug it into the DAC, I used a pair of ultra-cheap $3/pair RCA connect cables (came with the cable-tv box) that ran 2 meters as I didn't want to shift and adjust the position of the DAC to accommodate a pair of shorter $20 cables I had.

I was really shocked at how muffled my HE4XX sounded out of the Atom, I seriously thought I got a lemon or that it was over hyped !
Somehow I decided to give the "proper cables" I had a try instead. And hey .... the Atom does indeed sound good !

As always, there really no need for ultra-expensive cables but there does indeed seem to have a threshold of build quality , below which it really can affect the audio quality.

So, RCA cables CAN matter.
Do you have equipment there to measure the output of each pair of cables? And are you able to pick the difference blind?
 

maxxevv

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Do you have equipment there to measure the output of each pair of cables? And are you able to pick the difference blind?
To answer your question, I actually did. With a battery impedance tester that goes down to 4 decimal places under 200 mOhm.

The cheap (and lousy) cable measured 0.335 Ohm on average with 4 readings, one each for positive and negative or each cable.

The "proper" cable measured in at 0.013 Ohm, with the same 4 readings. That's almost 26x the impedance of the properly made RCA cables for the lousy cables !

Edit and Addendum:

I forgot to deduct the values of the measurement probe, which would have been 0.01 Ohm.

That would have made it 0.325 Ohms and 0.003 Ohms. Makes the ratio even greater at 100 times.
 
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Krunok

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To answer your question, I actually did. With a battery impedance tester that goes down to 4 decimal places under 200 mOhm.

The cheap (and lousy) cable measured 0.335 Ohm on average with 4 readings, one each for positive and negative or each cable.

The "proper" cable measured in at 0.013 Ohm, with the same 4 readings. That's almost 26x the impedance of the properly made RCA cables for the lousy cables !
You are not able to hear that difference. And even if you were the difference would be only in signal level and not in what you have described.
 

maxxevv

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You are not able to hear that difference. And even if you were the difference would be only in signal level and not in what you have described.
I wouldn't say I can't hear it, but perhaps the difference in levels like you said made a difference in the perceived sound . Its completely possible that the differences in levels reduced the low level details coming through, thus the perceived sound differences of it sounding 'muffled'.

Perhaps you guys could try it as a science experiment and see if you can get any differences out of your systems ?

Don't get me wrong, I don't believe in expensive cables, but here, a clearly poorly made one made a perceptible difference for this short episode of mine.
 

Krunok

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I wouldn't say I can't hear it, but perhaps the difference in levels like you said made a difference in the perceived sound . Its completely possible that the differences in levels reduced the low level details coming through, thus the perceived sound differences of it sounding 'muffled'.
It is completely impossible that you can hear the difference in level. Try to calculate that difference in dB at voltage level of say 2V and you will realise it.
Simple truth is that difference should be much larger for a human ear to notice it. Try to listen to it with a blind test and see for yourself, until then don't try to sell your subjective impressions as a facts.
 

maxxevv

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It is completely impossible that you can hear the difference in level. Try to calculate that difference in dB at voltage level of say 2V and you will realise it.
Simple truth is that difference should be much larger for a human ear to notice it. Try to listen to it with a blind test and see for yourself, until then don't try to sell your subjective impressions as a facts.
Its perfectly fine if you believe it to be so, but wouldn't you want to debunk it since it can be done so easily ?
 

Krunok

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Its perfectly fine if you believe it to be so, but wouldn't you want to debunk it since it can be done so easily ?
Sure, why not. Let's assume input impedance of your JDS Atom is app 50K Ohm. As you are actually entering Atom's preamp and not amp it's probably more, but let's stick with this value. As 0.335 Ohm diff represents app 0,00067% of total input impedance I think it is safe to claim that signal level wouldn't change pretty much at all as DAC wouldn't even notice additional 0.335 Ohms when driving 50KOhm input.
 

SIY

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Its perfectly fine if you believe it to be so, but wouldn't you want to debunk it since it can be done so easily ?
OK, here you go, everyone should do back-of-the-envelope calculations before ascribing phenomena. Let's assume the load is 10k, a typical input impedance. Let's further assume a perfect source of zero ohms (a non-perfect source will even further remove the series resistance from the calculation- I'll leave that as an exercise for you).

Loss in dB from a 0.335 ohm series resistance = 20 log (10,000/10,000.335) = -0.0003dB. If you're claiming that you can hear that, you have set records for any existing life-forms.
 

invaderzim

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Copper tubing with strands of solid silver wire inside, filled with an inert gas and crimped to seal it on the ends. (I know I'm a day late with this but that is my SOP)
 

invaderzim

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Strange as its unbelievable, I thought likewise too regarding RCA cables. But there really is a threshold below which it does affect the quality of the signal coming through.
I had a mono amp in the garage and just used a Y adapter to turn the left and right channel into a single signal for it (that was after finding that some Jazz is really boring if you only hear one channel). The stereo RCA cable was just one that had come free with a DVD player years ago and it worked fine. But then I decided to replace it with a homemade cable to avoid the extra foot of cable dangling off the shelf. With the new cable the audio distorted; if I unplugged either side it would sound fine but with both plugged in it would distort. My only guess was that the old cable had high enough resistance that it was fine with combining both channels and the new one didn't so the combined signal caused distortion. Unfortunately, I had already thrown out the old cable so I couldn't verify it but I found a simple resistor schematic online for combining channels and it worked fine with the new cables.

So, I agree that cheap is good as long as they are decently made.
 

maxxevv

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OK, here you go, everyone should do back-of-the-envelope calculations before ascribing phenomena. Let's assume the load is 10k, a typical input impedance. Let's further assume a perfect source of zero ohms (a non-perfect source will even further remove the series resistance from the calculation- I'll leave that as an exercise for you).

Loss in dB from a 0.335 ohm series resistance = 20 log (10,000/10,000.335) = -0.0003dB. If you're claiming that you can hear that, you have set records for any existing life-forms.
Sure, why not. Let's assume input impedance of your JDS Atom is app 50K Ohm. As you are actually entering Atom's preamp and not amp it's probably more, but let's stick with this value. As 0.335 Ohm diff represents app 0,00067% of total input impedance I think it is safe to claim that signal level wouldn't change pretty much at all as DAC wouldn't even notice additional 0.335 Ohms when driving 50KOhm input.
I don't doubt the numbers nor the science, but something did differ between using the two sets of cables. Swapping between the two sets of wires were the only thing I did.

As it is, I'm still trying to figure out what caused the audible difference as I'm still none the wiser on that. If you guys have any suggestions on where else to check I would very much appreciate it.

Will dig out those cables from the rubbish bin when I get home to try to replicate what I observed.
 

SIY

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I don't doubt the numbers nor the science, but something did differ between using the two sets of cables.
There may well be, but series resistance isn't it. And the issue may also be in whatever electronics is driving the cables.
 

Krunok

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Will dig out those cables from the rubbish bin when I get home to try to replicate what I observed.
Good idea. Try to have somebody swapping the cables for you so you don't know which one you are listening. That way, if you spot the difference, you would be sure there really is one.
 

DonH56

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I'm wondering if the bad cable had a broken ground and was buzzing thus the "muffled" sound -- masked by noise. Or could have caused the output to oscillate. In any event I would say yes, there can be bad cables, you found one, toss it and move on. Chances are a good cheap cable would not have sounded different.
 

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