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The Truth About Cable Design and Marketing


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We have three audio consumers with a distinct preference in music:

 

Consumer A = Classical

Consumer B = Jazz

Consumer C = Rock

 

Note that there is no objective/subjective bias between the three consumers. I doubt any participant on Computer Audiophile can complain about the fact that most individuals have a favorite musical category.

 

If we all agree that musical preference exists without objective/subjective bias, then why not postulate that each consumer has a preference for a different “sound”. For the sake of this post let us invent three nonsensical musical sound characteristics (MSC):

 

Consumer A = High

Consumer B = Middle

Consumer C = Low

 

These MSC preferences are similar to the individual’s love of a style of music (Classical, Jazz, Rock) it is the same brain chemistry as a preference for coke over 7-Up. In short, we do not know why some people like Classical and some do not.

 

Now, I believe that the cable manufactures have broken the code. They know that any well made - high quality cable sounds about the same, so how do they market and sell wildly overpriced products to the audiophile community?

 

Simple, they build on the fact that most people have the preferences listed above, so all the have to do is tweek (or voice) each cable and let the consumer’s inborn preferences, which have nothing to do with musical sound quality, do their dirty work for them.

 

Bottom line: As each cable is designed to sound a bit different, the audio consumer hears a difference and the consumer or audio reviewer then states, “I switched out the Snake Oil 200 (@500 USD) for the Viper Oil 700 (@1000 USD) and wow what an improvement.” or, if the tweek does not match his inborn preference, just the opposite. The consumer falls for the tweek he likes, Coke or 7-Up.

 

We can expand this concept a bit further and state that there is no such thing as objective or subjective since all opinions are related to the innate preference of the listener.

In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake ~ Sayre's Law

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We can expand this concept a bit further and state that there is no such thing as objective or subjective since all opinions are related to the innate preference of the listener.

 

But doesn't "subjective" mean exactly that? This is the classical definition of a tautology. I thought I understood where the "concept was going"—but I don't see the sudden lumping of objective and subjective as the same thing as being a logical outcome.

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Simple, they build on the fact that most people have the preferences listed above, so all the have to do is tweek (or voice) each cable and let the consumer’s inborn preferences, which have nothing to do with musical sound quality, do their dirty work for them.

 

Interesting. So, please tell me, how does one voice a cable? If you run frequency response graphs on any speaker cable or interconnect, they will measure identically, regardless of brand or model or cost. Ditto for square wave response well up into the megaHertz range. Cables produce no distortion because they are passive devices, and while it is possible for a cable with enough capacitance to introduce dielectric-absorption distortion, a cable with built-in shunt capacitance large enough to cause that would be useless as an audio conductor. So what's left? I.E. what are the cable manufacturers changing to "voice" their cables? Surely they must know the cause and effect of the changes to cable design that they make. If they do know, how come nobody else seems to know? If they don't know, then they can't reliably voice anything. Since the component driving a cable as well as the component receiving the signal from the cable have wildly different characteristics from component to component, and these are a part of the circuit that each cable is a part of, I don't see how a cable manufacturer can predict anything. I mean, the possible combinations are endless.

 

It's like making popovers without a recipe. One might know that popovers require butter and eggs, and milk, flour and water, but just combining them in different proportions will never produce a popover, no matter how much you try, and you can't predict the outcome of each trial because you don't have any idea what those changes in parameters will affect. You need a recipe. If you have one you'll find that the butter, and water have to be heated together first, then you can stir-in the flour until a dough forms. Then you stir-in one egg at a time until all the eggs called for by the recipe are mixed into the dough. Pipe the dough, using a pastry bag onto a baking sheet and bake. That will produce the desired result because you know what's needed, the proper measurement of each ingredient and variable (like temperature), and what the proper steps in the procedure are. Without them, the results are unpredictable and simply won't produce a popover. The same is true with any engineering task. You need to find what materials are needed for the desired result, the proper measurements to achieve that result, and you need develop a repeatable way to employ those materials (a recipe). It seems to me that with the high-end cable industry, they have neither a complete list of materials needed to "voice" a cable, nor a recipe for doing so. Again, I'm not saying that they don't somehow do this, or that their results aren't predictable, I'm merely saying that I can't imagine what they can possibly do (and apparently neither can anyone else in materials technology research), or what they are measuring to effect their desired results. IOW, I don't see how a cable can be purposely voiced when there are so many unknown variables involved and where all conventional measurements yield the same result. The resultant cables might sound different, but they won't measure different.*

 

Other opinions? Some insight that perhaps I lack? Anything?

 

* I haven't changed my mind on cable sound, I just don't want to bring that aspect of this question into this discussion.

George

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I doubt any participant on Computer Audiophile can complain about the fact that most individuals have a favorite musical category.

 

I don't. I don't think I am that uncommon. The only categories I dislike are Country, Western and Opera. That, and almost all pop music. And most jazz. Especially smooth jazz. Actually, I hate a lot of stuff now that I think about it...

 

Bottom line: As each cable is designed to sound a bit different, the audio consumer hears a difference and the consumer or audio reviewer then states, “I switched out the Snake Oil 200 (@500 USD) for the Viper Oil 700 (@1000 USD) and wow what an improvement.” or, if the tweek does not match his inborn preference, just the opposite. The consumer falls for the tweek he likes, Coke or 7-Up.

 

We can expand this concept a bit further and state that there is no such thing as objective or subjective since all opinions are related to the innate preference of the listener.

 

Are any of these design changes ones that manifest themselves in objectively measurable differences?

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Are any of these design changes ones that manifest themselves in objectively measurable differences?

 

Oh,oh !

Now we can expect to see replies using words such as Placebo, silver, gold, quantum and BS. Perhaps even Litz wire ?

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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Catpushingwatermelonyouargumentisinvalid_zpsb66fe426.jpg

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Interesting. So, please tell me, how does one voice a cable? {edit I don't see how a cable can be purposely voiced when there are so many unknown variables involved and where all conventional measurements yield the same result. The resultant cables might sound different, but they won't measure different.*

 

 

A damn good question.

 

Do each of the below listed cables sound or measure differently?

 

 

Transparent OPUS Series

Audio Cables for Ultimate Music and Film Systems

 

Transparent Reference Series

Audio Cables for Superior Music and Film Systems

 

Transparent Premium Series

Audio Cables for Better Music and Film Systems

 

Transparent High Performance Series

Audio Cables for High Quality Basic Music and Film Systems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake ~ Sayre's Law

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But doesn't "subjective" mean exactly that? This is the classical definition of a tautology. I thought I understood where the "concept was going"—but I don't see the sudden lumping of objective and subjective as the same thing as being a logical outcome.

 

 

 

Yea, maybe I went overboard. I was just thinking that if I like blues and you like jazz, there must be some emotional-bio-chemical reason for the preference.

 

So, if there is some difference between to cables, (measurable or not) then a human would be attracted to one over the other.

 

 

 

QUOTE Speedskater: Now all you have to do is explain how a reasonable cable (not a cable plus equalizer circuit) sounds different than any other reasonable cable.

 

 

That is a hard one to answer.

In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake ~ Sayre's Law

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The cat is dry.....so is the watermelon...so neither the cat morph the Mellon were in the lake.

 

Um, yeah, I do think this picture has been photoshopped. It is just a silly photo with a caption.

 

It wasn't intended to be serious.

 

Computer Audiophile..... where grown men and women go to fight about pieces of wire.

Speakers: Melco N1A/2 | EtherRegen/URendu | Denafrips Gaia | Denafrips Terminator Plus/Lampizator Golden Gate | Jeff Rowland Coherence II Series 2 pre | Blue Circle Audio BC-202 amp | Raidho XT-1 | Revel B112 subs  

Headphones: Lampizator Golden Atlantic/Holo Spring 3 KTE | Blue Circle Audio SBT pre|  Eddie Current Zana Deux Super | Hifiman HE-1000SE/Arya Stealth/Audeze LCD-4z

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So, if there is some difference between to cables, (measurable or not) then a human would be attracted to one over the other.

 

Ah, but there are many differences between cables. Some are thin, some are fat—some deep blue, others very stiff. Believe me, anyone marketing cables is well aware of this.

 

Even as a person that truly believes that cables DO sound different (and yes, I am in that sad, sad category, based on too many blind test sessions over 35 years to argue about), I'd be the first to admit that almost every company that makes and markets cables uses the physical aspects of the cables (sight and feel) to instill a sense of "quality" to them. So, even if a thin speaker wire (say...) were to perform well, it would be a much harder sell than a garden hose looking cable. People want their money's worth. I find reading the technical descriptions, most white papers (but not all), and close-up shots of interconnects and power cables, etc. to be more comical than anything else, and understand why there are those that put it all down to chicanery.

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Interesting. So, please tell me, how does one voice a cable?

 

Snippage of facts, and logic and science and stuff not pertinent to the question asked.

 

Other opinions? Some insight that perhaps I lack? Anything?

 

 

First I agree the premise is flawed.

 

Consumer A Prime = Opera

 

And that is the key to how you voice a cable. You have the cable audition with some silly and unpopular signals fed through them. Then you classify the sound of the cable based upon the range, weight and color of those signals. Not really all that complicated. Classification of operatic voice is not new. They just didn't apply it to cables for quite some time.

 

Once you have classified the voicing of the cable (you don't design in voice, you audition and discover it), then you have a basis for deciding in which systems it can have synergy and perform its role the best. This requires human judgment just as in opera. It isn't like we have ways to measure a person's singing voice and have it spit out an operatic voice classification. Only humans can do that. Sure you could measure range, loudness etc. of voice, but it never tells you how someone's voice sounds in terms of pleasing, thrilling or otherwise emotional effect. To think signal measurements of wire would be any different is beyond pathetic.

 

The art of cabling comes from a tasteful, discerning ear developed over time (not many can actually do this at a high and consistent level). You then audition and discover the classification of cable voicing. With luck you can manage to alter designs based upon too many factors to factor. Sometimes you hit gold, more often things don't pan out. So even when you know a cable's voice classification it still may have an unpleasant or emotionally unsatisfying quality. To find the classification needed for a given system synergy, and one which is so emotionally satisfying is like falling in love at times. Other times it is just a delightful fling that crashes and burns against the travails of reality in daily life.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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One might know that popovers require butter and eggs, and milk, flour and water, but just combining them in different proportions will never produce a popover, no matter how much you try, and you can't predict the outcome of each trial because you don't have any idea what those changes in parameters will affect. You need a recipe.

I often wonder how much stuff that's said to be radically different in design for a reason was actually designed in accord with your description of the random popover, rather than as a result of intense scientific endeavor and new discovery. I'm often at a lack to identify even a thread of logic or other reasonable justification for the claims of many about the superiority of their materials, designs, construction methods etc. And the pseudoscientific explanations offered are often thin and weak to me.

 

I can imagine a mad cable scientist's making cables with gelatin-filled licorice tubing for dielectric, thinking it sounds great, and going straight into production after a brief stop to raise money from angel investors. So a recipe may not be necessary to come up with something someone likes and is willing to accept as a new kind of popover. Just don't enter one in the Cordon Bleu popover contest. And make sure you refrigerate those gelatin-licorice cables - they sound best when operated at a temperature between 42 and 55 degrees F.

 

You might rethink the "...no matter now much you try" part a bit, though - even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then. I also believe strongly in the "infinite number of monkeys" theory. Sometimes greatness is achieved through pure chance, and cable designers are as likely to luck out as anyone.

 

tumblr_mtuw6ajpxW1qcbrp0o2_r1_1280.jpg

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Squirrels find nuts by smell !

 

I consider the rest of the post, and this entire thread of a similar quality :(

From your lack of objection to my second analogy, I assume you're OK with the concept that if you put an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of typewriters and let them peck away at the keys forever, one will type the Gettysburg Address. So, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, although squirrels use a combination of sight*, smell* and memory / spatial relations** to find their nuts, I withdraw my introduction of squirrels into the proceedings and ask that you disregard my remarks about that. This, however, has nothing to do with the point I was making, which was:

 

Although audio (and a lot of other) design often seems to me to be random and driven solely by the designers' unsupported beliefs, it's not surprising that one occasionally stumbles onto greatness with no clue as to how it happened.

 

"Yo! iPod earbuds smell just like acorns - but this sure don't taste like no acorn! I wish I could smell my Stax - they're buried around here somewhere." (a South Philly audiosquirrel)

 

Squirrel-Chewing-on-Headphone.gif

 

*“Grey Squirrel Fact File,” by Pete Carpenter. New Forest National Park

*“

,” by BBC Worldwide YouTube Channel, 24 November 2008.

*Lucia F. Jacobs & Emily R. Liman, 1991. Grey squirrels remember the locations of buried nuts. Animal Behaviour, 41(1): 103-110.

**http://animals.pawnation.com/squirrels-really-bury-food-11108.html

**http://ecotheo.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Jacobs_AB91.pdf

[the Princeton research paper from ecotheo is attachment.php?attachmentid=12236&stc=1&d=1181866275]

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Again- a silly bunch of pseudo scientific drivel.

 

How does one voice a cable?

 

1. One builds a cable

2. One listens to the cable

3. One rebuilds the cable changing one element at a time

4. Repeat 2 & 3 above till happy with the sound

5. Document construction

6. Duplicate cable by construction docs

7. Listen to confirm same sound, repeat 5-7 until satisfied

 

There is nothing unscientific or stupid about such a process. It may be a little labor intensive, but so what? It also does not make a hill of beans whether of not anyone else can hear a difference or not. They simply will not sell if people do bot hear a difference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

First I agree the premise is flawed.

 

Consumer A Prime = Opera

 

And that is the key to how you voice a cable. You have the cable audition with some silly and unpopular signals fed through them. Then you classify the sound of the cable based upon the range, weight and color of those signals. Not really all that complicated. Classification of operatic voice is not new. They just didn't apply it to cables for quite some time.

 

Once you have classified the voicing of the cable (you don't design in voice, you audition and discover it), then you have a basis for deciding in which systems it can have synergy and perform its role the best. This requires human judgment just as in opera. It isn't like we have ways to measure a person's singing voice and have it spit out an operatic voice classification. Only humans can do that. Sure you could measure range, loudness etc. of voice, but it never tells you how someone's voice sounds in terms of pleasing, thrilling or otherwise emotional effect. To think signal measurements of wire would be any different is beyond pathetic.

 

The art of cabling comes from a tasteful, discerning ear developed over time (not many can actually do this at a high and consistent level). You then audition and discover the classification of cable voicing. With luck you can manage to alter designs based upon too many factors to factor. Sometimes you hit gold, more often things don't pan out. So even when you know a cable's voice classification it still may have an unpleasant or emotionally unsatisfying quality. To find the classification needed for a given system synergy, and one which is so emotionally satisfying is like falling in love at times. Other times it is just a delightful fling that crashes and burns against the travails of reality in daily life.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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From your lack of objection to my second analogy, I assume you're OK with the concept that if you put an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of typewriters and let them peck away at the keys forever, one will type the Gettysburg Address.

 

Well, it is an interesting theory/concept. But it has always bothered me. 1) Monkeys, being primates, are pretty smart. So why would anyone think that they would stay at a keyboard for enough time to create more then a haiku ? Also banging away at the keys is fine, but how about the fine motor control and timing of multi-key operations like the 'Shift' and whatever ? Sounds like too much to ask of a fun loving monkey, if you ask me :)

 

 

As to this thread (not specifically you, bluesman), it seems to me so full of idle and ridiculous conjecture, that it reminds me of the line: "it is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing"

 

Hopefully we will move on to something better. Or not...

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[..................................]

How does one voice a cable?

 

1. One builds a cable

2. One listens to the cable

3. One rebuilds the cable changing one element at a time

4. Repeat 2 & 3 above till happy with the sound

5. Document construction

6. Duplicate cable by construction docs

7. Listen to confirm same sound, repeat 5-7 until satisfied

 

[.............................]

While your protocol will work very well in voicing a loudspeaker crossover, it's not going to work with a reasonable cable!

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Um, yeah, I do think this picture has been photoshopped. It is just a silly photo with a caption.

 

It wasn't intended to be serious.

 

Computer Audiophile..... where grown men and women go to fight about pieces of wire.

 

wasnt taking it serious in context-but outta context my point was there's plainly obvious contradictions that many an audiophile are willing to overlook for the sake of arguement.

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Again- a silly bunch of pseudo scientific drivel.

 

How does one voice a cable?

 

1. One builds a cable

2. One listens to the cable

3. One rebuilds the cable changing one element at a time

4. Repeat 2 & 3 above till happy with the sound

5. Document construction

6. Duplicate cable by construction docs

7. Listen to confirm same sound, repeat 5-7 until satisfied

 

There is nothing unscientific or stupid about such a process. It may be a little labor intensive, but so what? It also does not make a hill of beans whether of not anyone else can hear a difference or not. They simply will not sell if people do bot hear a difference.

 

....except for #3......by what means does the designer change or improve the cable if he cannot identify or measure the mechanism? random changes?......more chaotic than scientific and certainly remains subjective and unrelaible at best subject to extreme bias and predjudice. Surprised you posted this arguement.

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A damn good question.

 

Do each of the below listed cables sound or measure differently?

 

 

Transparent OPUS Series

Audio Cables for Ultimate Music and Film Systems

 

Transparent Reference Series

Audio Cables for Superior Music and Film Systems

 

Transparent Premium Series

Audio Cables for Better Music and Film Systems

 

Transparent High Performance Series

Audio Cables for High Quality Basic Music and Film Systems

 

 

I don't see how. If the do measure differently, then that begs the question, what are they measuring?

George

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...by what means does the designer change or improve the cable if he cannot identify or measure the mechanism? random changes?...

 

Hmmm.... sounds like the way Edison developed the filament for the first electric light. So not so strange. Nor is your post, just more shallow, simplistic thinking, driven by an extreme agenda :(

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First I agree the premise is flawed.

 

Consumer A Prime = Opera

 

And that is the key to how you voice a cable. You have the cable audition with some silly and unpopular signals fed through them. Then you classify the sound of the cable based upon the range, weight and color of those signals. Not really all that complicated. Classification of operatic voice is not new. They just didn't apply it to cables for quite some time.

 

Once you have classified the voicing of the cable (you don't design in voice, you audition and discover it), then you have a basis for deciding in which systems it can have synergy and perform its role the best. This requires human judgment just as in opera. It isn't like we have ways to measure a person's singing voice and have it spit out an operatic voice classification. Only humans can do that. Sure you could measure range, loudness etc. of voice, but it never tells you how someone's voice sounds in terms of pleasing, thrilling or otherwise emotional effect. To think signal measurements of wire would be any different is beyond pathetic.

 

The art of cabling comes from a tasteful, discerning ear developed over time (not many can actually do this at a high and consistent level). You then audition and discover the classification of cable voicing. With luck you can manage to alter designs based upon too many factors to factor. Sometimes you hit gold, more often things don't pan out. So even when you know a cable's voice classification it still may have an unpleasant or emotionally unsatisfying quality. To find the classification needed for a given system synergy, and one which is so emotionally satisfying is like falling in love at times. Other times it is just a delightful fling that crashes and burns against the travails of reality in daily life.

 

No wonder some of these cables cost so much! That looks like a very time-consuming procedure, and, of course, it confirms my "popover recipe" example. They try different mixes of the ingredients until the result is a popover. OK, so answer me this: The chances that you use the same source and destination components as those "developing" these cables is pretty small (do the manufacturers even tell you what components were used to develop a particular cable?), so how do they know that a cable that they find sounds good on their "development system" will sound good on another system? Looks like a crap-shoot to me! Might as well just throw together some arbitrary combination of wire and connectors, pick a lofty-enough price out of thin air, add some fancy packaging, put a catchy name on them, and sell them. This way seems to be about as effective as going to all the trouble of listening to the cables and picking the best sounding ones to market - not to mention a lot more profitable.

George

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