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How easily one can deceive oneself!


church_mouse
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My DAC2 is connected to my pre-amp by Chord Chorus 2 interconnects. The Dac is connected to my Stax Energiser by the older Chord Chorus interconnect cable.

 

When Chord updated the Chorus to the Chorus 2, reviews opined that the newer product was significantly smoother, with a sweeter top end and more weight and definition at the lower end.

 

Tonight, as an experiment, having spent a few hours listening to music through the Stax (I live in an apartment so I restrict myself to headphones after 8.30 pm to avoid disturbing others) I decided to swap out the older Chorus interconnect with the Chorus 2. I listened to some of the tracks I had heard earlier in the evening and, yes indeed, the top end was sweeter and the bass deeper and weightier - just as the reviews had suggested. I swapped back the old cable and was satisfied that the Chorus 2 did offer the improvements. I was even pondering buying a new Chorus 2 interconnect for the Stax, the improvement being significant enough.

 

However, as the Chorus 2 is RCA terminated and the Chorus XLR terminated, the Stax offered me the chance to actually have both connected and switch directly between the two. When I did this I was amazed to hear no discernable difference at all between the two - the Chorus was no harsher in the highs, nor lacking in the lows; for all intents and purposes the two sounded identical.

 

I am not suggesting that there may not be a difference between the two cables, simply that, in truth I cannot hear it when compared immediately side by side.

 

I must conclude that I had expected the Chorus 2 to offer the improvements the reviews had indicated and was willing to believe that I was hearing such improvements. Such deception of myself was easy to achieve when listening at length to just the one cable and seeking to remember what the tracks had sounded like when played using the other cable.

 

I offer this posting for no reason above a tale of how one aging audiophile can be so easily duped by himself.

 

Smile at my expense, because tonight I deserve it.

 

 

David

 

MacMini, Mytek Manhattan I DAC, Avantone The Abbey Monitors, Roon

 

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Hi David - I'll :~) at your expense. I'm willing to bet people fool themselves fairly often, myself included, if not listening under very controlled settings.

 

On a side note, switching between the two banalced and single ended inputs may not have the total effect one expects because the component is likely one or the other inside. Balanced could be converted to single ended as soon as it gets inside the box etc...

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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However, I agree with Chris that your balanced vs RCA test may be being "leveled" within your unit, as a true balanced connection should be 6 db hotter/louder in most cases.

 

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I think this sort of thing happens a lot, when the opinions of one lead others and in many cases, many others. Sherif, I believe, was the researcher to leverage the so-called "autokinetic effect" to demonstrate conformity amongst groups. I think audio reviewers have this kind of impact. Anyway, pretty interesting stuff.

 

FWIW, psycho-acoustics also has some very interesting impacts on our hobby, namely that the older you are, the less you can hear -- which means that a review of a piece of gear by someone older than you should be taken with large doses of salt, especially if that reviewer is over 60. They simply cannot physically hear what you may be hearing. Especially if you're 20 (which I'm not, sadly).

 

Anyway, wrt cable variations, I think the previous commenters are correct -- volume is probably the only difference going from XLR to RCA and back again. But that's huge -- given that we perceive bass so poorly, any lift in overall volume will bring more of the bass into perceivable range, and therefore, the whole will sound better (on average). Or, at least the low end can/will. Ditto the highs, for the same reason. Mid-range, not so much. But we're pretty well tuned in that area as it is. The fact that this didn't happen for you in your A/B speaks more of a circuit design, which is interesting -- you can totally skip the balanced connections!

 

As for the character of the wire and its contribution to the overall sound ... well. There are those among us (the Audioholics crew come to mind) that seem to feel that cables, specifically, have little to no impact on sound -- or rather, no impact that the average person is capable of discriminating. Lamp wire is as good as it gets! True? Hyperbole? I dunno.

 

I feel that the vast majority of what I hear out of my system is due to my speaker. Room effects aside, there is no other change you can make that will be larger. Yes, an amp change will matter, but nowhere near as much. A preamp, less so. Room correction and acoustic treatments probably fall on the "more obvious" side. Sources too. But speaker cables? Helmholtz resonators? Somewhere down the rabbit hole, maybe as we get closer to power cables for example (or maybe much farther up slope), we are perhaps wandering in territory where "progress" is inferred and no longer actually measurable. I honestly don't know. I have suspicions, though, especially when I see $35000 speaker cables. But I have to say that in personal practice, I have hedged my bets a bit. ;-)

 

I don't know how to chart all this stuff, but my operating assumptions for some time have been that there is a asymptotic relationship between quality of an individual part and its contribution to the sound of the system as a whole. If its not defective, and made to a reasonably high level of quality, then the variations between gear after certain level matter less and less -- and you can quickly get to a place where you can pay a whole lot of money for a change that only a 3 year old would be physically able to discriminate. Similarly, there are bits that have way more bang for your buck -- and by the time you get to cables, you're talking about eking out that last 3% out of your system's actual response. Again, assuming you're under 30.

 

Every time I hear someone say "it blows it out of the water" I cringe. One, because its almost certainly untrue (a perceptible difference is, perhaps, the most one can hope for in many cases, especially when one is talking about something other than speaker-source-amplifier) and two, because the one speaking is either invariably selling something or justifying the purchase of something.

 

Interesting topic. Thanks for bringing it up!

 

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