Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Lost Causes, Mew Nexico
Re: What cables do you use?
Originally Posted by keesue
Caveat: For those interested, a cable-difference discussion follows...
There is a reason Mogami and Belkin have been the dominant cable standards in recording studios and broadcast facilities worldwide. The cost benefit of build quality and durability are of paramount importance in production environments. For the home consumer and in the eyes of pragmatists, the suggested cable source is certainly sufficient and adequate for connectivity. The audiophile's claims of audibly discernible differences in cables not only spawned an industry but has become tantamount to religious fervor in the tenacity of conviction on both sides of the argument. I have found over the years, that pragmatists generally tend to respond to those who own higher end cables and purport to hear differences with the tried-and-true one-line responses which are in many cases - and in this instance - put downs.
The issue expressed in engineering terms is simple. Two devices connected by wire should [and will] behave the same electrically, and therefore, should sound the same when conducting electrons through wire of identical electrical properties. Cost, construction and cosmetic differences notwithstanding, this is measurable, straightforward and governed by accepted mathematical principals. Where differences are heard, asserted by those who say they can, those differences can be attributed to and measured by differences in the electrical properties of the conductor, which are impinging on signal transfer and manifesting differences [most predominantly] in the frequency and decibel domains. These differences can be audible by some - others not. Hearing is not a universal constant among us humans.
The problem arises when two devices are connected with cables that have identical characteristics electrically, again construction notwithstanding, and claims of differences are heard. The dogma of 'wire sounds the same' arise and those who cling to the no-difference rule will not be swayed by those who claim to hear these differences. These claimed differences cannot be explained by measurement, therefore, they don't exist. These claims of differences are then characterized as psychologically-induced leaps of faith by pragmatists who do not, cannot and will not accept such claims. The innumerable DBT tests in controlled environments, conducted since the salad days of the Gow/McIntosh tests, have shown statistically that perceived differences were the same as guessing. This has been repeatable to this day and is the holy grail of denial.
The conundrum however, is that there has been a growing trend among engineers who have been migrating to 'specialty' cables for low level signal transfer, starting with low-level microphone connections, to achieve higher resolution. They have been migrating their way into signal processing chains, and heresy of all heresies, into high-end mastering and production facilities. To be clear, there remains a body of facilities who still do not; but, the sales statistics and adoption data cannot be discounted. This begs the question: why? These engineers who record what we ultimately reproduce must hear something 'different', sufficient enough to divert from standard and make the expenditure. Several noteworthy producers specify high end cabling in their works. Audiophiles who started this phenomenon and have extremely high resolution systems, generally, although not exclusively, have very expensive inter-connectivity. They can hear differences in cables in their systems and the sales statistics reflect this.
In my home configuration, I have a high capacity UPS with a/c filtration connected to the main(s) followed by balanced power conditioning and port-specific filtration. Analog gear powered by tubes, SS analog gear, digital devices and gear with motors are all isolated from each other on dedicated busses. This configuration has yielded an extremely lowered noise floor. The term 'black background' is appropriate. With this foundation, differences in cables, if they exist, have the best chance of being discerned. This is, of course, predicated on whether I can hear them - not whether they exist. That is an existential argument that has no dogmatic resolution. In my case, I found that I can clearly and repeatably tell the difference in cables with lesser electrical build qualities, which are generally cheaper, but I haven't been able to hear the differences in more esoteric and costlier cables. I have not chosen thus far to expend money for them. I chose Mogami on the same basis as the studios. My monster speaker cables were customs and were acquired from my friend from a mastering facility when he upgraded. The Teklines were acquired from one of my better-heeled audiophile friends when he upgraded. They may be hand-me-downs, but measurement-wise, they are more than adequate, and yes, they sound good.
I respect those who hear differences in cables and enjoy hearing of their impressions. For me, this is the beauty and the camaraderie of the hobby. Some of my friends hear differences some don't. Some don't like tubes, some don't like ribbon speakers but we all tend to focus on the music, the production styles of the producers and the quality of the recordings which is the point of the hobby, yes? It is the common ground that binds us.
I fully support the notion of using one's ears in one's own environment to determine what one hears; and, most importantly what one's wallet will bear. Further, I enjoy the sharing of these impressions and experiences with people like me, who truly enjoy the hobby but haven't thus far been able to hear these differences. The vicarious enjoyment I derive from reading these impressions is not a placebo and I rather enjoy reading them. The question posed for the thread was: "What cables do you use?" - which was not followed by - "you're <insert diminutive comment here> if they are not the cheapest you can find".
Nice forum in all other respects! I'm looking forward to reading the upcoming posts after having read through the archives before I joined. I truly hope what I have said was helpful to the cable believers and encourages their input and discourse. Post up!
I'm glad the placebo effect of pricey cables satisfies you.
Anthem, Conrad Johnson, Dish Network/JVC, Dynaudio, Infinity, Integra, JL Audio, Klipsch, Magnepan, Marantz, Martin Logan, Onkyo, Oppo, Outlaw Audio, Panasonic, Paradigm, REL, Sumiko, SVSound, and Toshiba are the brands equipment I currently use. I have owned/used and tested equipment made by just about any manufacturer you can name.