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Thread: Do mains cables make a difference??

  1. #171
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

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    I'm Oliver.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beobloke View Post
    Yes, I'd be happy to give you a list, based on the mains cables I've tried. Here it is:









































    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Wizard Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
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    Amplification: Slagle AVC Passive Preamp & Firebottle Monoblocks (Telefunken Valves)
    Cables: Fisual S-Flex Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables Throughout
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  2. #172
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

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    I'm Martin.

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    Re 'placebo' - it is the case in medicine that people who know they are taking a placebo still get better. I'm not saying that necessarily translates over into hi-fi but to say that placebos only work if the subject does not know that it is a placebo is incorrect.

    I'm still having trouble with the idea that even though the difference these cables make to the sound is so obvious that wifey can hear it from the other room, no-one is able to tell them apart when they don't know which is which. I've done a fair bit of searching and I can't find a single mains cable blind test where anyone scores better than chance.

    If someone can square that circle for me then I'll pay attention. Otherwise my advice to anyone reading this who is new to the hobby is to spend all your money on loudspeakers, amps and sources first and any sort of 'mains treatment' absolutely dead last if at all.

    In other words spend it on the components where absolutely everyone can tell the difference even under all the stress of a blind test and with their dodgy hearing and everything else; because logically and demonstrably that's how you will get the best sound for your money
    Martin



    Current Lash Up:

    Technics SL1200P CD Player * NVA P90SA passive pre / Krell KSA50S Power amp * JM Lab Electra 926 loudspeakers *



    'The best I advice I ever received was to always remember that no-one else has any idea what they are doing either.'

  3. #173
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 77,359
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Macca View Post
    I'm still having trouble with the idea that even though the difference these cables make to the sound is so obvious that wifey can hear it from the other room, no-one is able to tell them apart when they don't know which is which.
    Who says so? Who is this "no-one" you're referring to? Certainly not me, nor I don't think, Dominic, who can clearly hear a difference and has passed a blind test before.

    I've also never made the "wifey" remark, so you're simply cherry-picking bits of 'gossip' that apparently supports your argument, rather than giving proper consideration to the views of those here, which contradict your argument and expose its flaws.

    I've done a fair bit of searching and I can't find a single mains cable blind test where anyone scores better than chance.
    Why are you all of a sudden so obsessed with blind tests? Are you Serge in disguise?

    Surely, the only thing that matters is what's dictated by your OWN experience in this area, not how others 'score' in such tests (complete strangers, whom you don't know are deaf or not, or just stupid)?

    The fact is, if you had true faith in your own judgement, you wouldn't give a monkeys about that.

    If someone can square that circle for me then I'll pay attention.
    Firstly, you can "square that circle" yourself, simply by applying the results of your own experience to date, with 'fancy mains leads', to the forming of your opinion on such. You shouldn't need anyone else to do it for you.

    Secondly, you're clearly paying attention already, otherwise you wouldn't be posting on this thread

    Otherwise my advice to anyone reading this who is new to the hobby is to spend all your money on loudspeakers, amps and sources first and any sort of 'mains treatment' absolutely dead last if at all.
    Well, I'd advise almost the exact opposite, and tell anyone who is new to this hobby, not to obsess over 'mains treatment', but pay sensible attention to it, by using relatively inexpensive mains leads, properly designed for hi-fi purposes [such as Ollie has just built], and if possible installing a dedicated radial circuit for their system, as well as other things I believe are crucial to maximising the performance of one's chosen equipment.

    It might help stop them from later becoming a perennial box-swapper [chasing their tail getting next to nowhere], and 'hi-fi victim', suffering from near-permanent system dissatisfaction, simply because all they misguidedly believe in are boxes and speakers.

    Marco.
    http://www.thestainedglasscompany.com

    "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do" -- Milan Kundera.

  4. #174
    Join Date: Apr 2018

    Location: Cornwall

    Posts: 58
    I'm Dominic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marco View Post
    Who says so? Who is this "no-one" you're referring to? Certainly not me, nor I don't think, Dominic, who can clearly hear a difference and has passed a blind test before.
    Spot on Marco and I will give an instance of that. I participated in a blind ABX session and after 2 full hours of struggle, myself and the rest of the panel were on the verge of slitting our wrists, as it was very stressful, tedious, monotonous and seemed aimless very quickly. We all breathed a huge sigh of relief when it ended and were just about to do a runner for the kitchen for some refreshments when we were told to do just one more final test just between cable A and cable B using one 2 minute music excerpt, which we did, then rushed out for the welcome cup of coffee.

    Narurally, we were very keen to see the results and we managed 52% in the ABX, but wait for this . . . . . we knocked out a full 100% with all 9 participants in identifying that cable B was the pure silver cable and cable A was the generic power cord, which is amazing considering how tired and thoroughly jaded we all were by then.

    It was that first hand experience of actually being there that formed my conclusion that ABX tests were in no way a suitable methodology to evaluate mains cable claims.
    CD player = Vincent
    Pre amp = Rotel RA03
    Power amp = Lyngdorf SDA 2175
    Speaks = Quadral Chromium Style 6

  5. #175
    Join Date: Apr 2018

    Location: Cornwall

    Posts: 58
    I'm Dominic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Macca View Post
    Re 'placebo' - it is the case in medicine that people who know they are taking a placebo still get better. I'm not saying that necessarily translates over into hi-fi but to say that placebos only work if the subject does not know that it is a placebo is incorrect.
    If they have got better by knowing and taking the placebo then it isn't a placebo. They surely would have got better anyway without any kind of intervention?

    Quote Originally Posted by Macca View Post

    I'm still having trouble with the idea that even though the difference these cables make to the sound is so obvious that wifey can hear it from the other room, no-one is able to tell them apart when they don't know which is which. I've done a fair bit of searching and I can't find a single mains cable blind test where anyone scores better than chance.
    There are very god reasons why ABX tests do no better than chance and if you have ever been involved with a real ABX test you would know why that is. I made an earlier post which set out clearly why these tests are flawed.

    Wifey doesn't know either which cable is which yet she can pick out that change with no prior knowledge (usually) of any change, completely unsighted from the kitchen and most often from memory too. comparing the old sound with what she currently is hearing. These people that have a wife like that should rent them out to audiophools who have an insane urge to test components before purchase
    CD player = Vincent
    Pre amp = Rotel RA03
    Power amp = Lyngdorf SDA 2175
    Speaks = Quadral Chromium Style 6

  6. #176
    Join Date: Apr 2018

    Location: Cornwall

    Posts: 58
    I'm Dominic.

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    Well then good AOS members it has been pleasurable chewing the fat with all you guys about such a knotty topic and delighted that no blood has been spilled or toys being thrown any distances

    Don't think I can add any more to the discussion without repetition so will leave you to it
    CD player = Vincent
    Pre amp = Rotel RA03
    Power amp = Lyngdorf SDA 2175
    Speaks = Quadral Chromium Style 6

  7. #177
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 77,359
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

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    Not before, Dominic, I compliment you on your earlier (rather enlightened) post. Let's tackle the juiciest bits....

    Quote Originally Posted by nonuffin View Post
    I think you been a bit too gracious towards accepted 'wisdoms' as to be honest they have only paid lip service to the subject, relying only on resistance, inductance and capacitance as the beginning, middle and end of the knowledge base which has remained virtually static since the 1940's.
    ...which is why, in isolation, it's simply too 'blunt' a tool to use for conclusively disproving the existence of effects people hear with 'fancy mains leads'. Yet the naysayers stubbornly cling onto it, as the basis for defending their position, in order to protect themselves from a fatal attack of cognitive dissonance

    Those measurements being used to evaluate cable performance are flawed because they are primitive in the extreme. For a start, they are purely static measurements and bear no relation whatsoever in the measurement of complex frequencies, interactions and dynamics found in real music reproduction, because they are unable to do so and won't admit that. It is the very reason objectivists throw a smoke screen of pointless accusations like placebo and expectation bias to divert attention away from those shortcomings.
    Yup, and I've witnessed that blinkered behaviour from them time and time again, over the years, whenever these types of subjects come up. Why can't they be more open-minded to new possibilities and admit that their argument is flawed? Real scientists would never be so arrogant as to assume they know it all, so these wannabe ones/self-appointed 'experts' you see on forums, lecturing to all and sundry about how right they are on subjects such as this, should learn to take a few humility pills...!

    No wonder I bristle plenty when they are aimed at me in these debates, because I may be placebo'ed a couple times at most, have some sort of expectation bias a few times perhaps, but after hundreds of times over several decades certainly not and I always challenge these people to show me evidence of prolonged, sustained and repeatable facts that these conditions can be maintained for hundreds of times and spanning decades. They can't, because that evidence does not exist.
    Indeed, and that is exactly my stance on the matter. Of course I've been fooled a few times over the years, when assessing things like cables, and been a victim of expectation bias, but not EVERY time I hear something that doesn't fit with accepted wisdom, or the contents of 'Johnny's Bible of Scientific Facts, from 1940'. Like you say, objectivists use it as a convenient smokescreen to deflect attention away from the vulnerability of their (often flawed) arguments.

    I jokingly said earlier in this thread that a mains cable is not there just to convey electricity from the wall socket to the system without spilling any on the carpet and after deep cogitation for more time than I would admit to, I realised that a mains cable has more demands on it than just that simple job. If you think that it is no more than a narrow bore pipe for a steady trickle of leccy to keep your system well fed with the stuff, then you couldn't be more wrong. The current flow demand can change instantaneously from a mere trickle to a full blown call of 20 amps plus in a millisecond, but, "Aha" you might say, the power supply should provide that, but it doesn't and cannot because where exactly does all this power come from? I was taught many moons ago that a capacitor cannot discharge and charge at the same time and logic says that is true, so while the capacitor is trying to supply peak current for a transient or bass, what happens to the charge cycle for the next transient peak come from? There is always a delay and a poorly built mains cable just adds even more delay, longer in fact than the charge rate of the capacitor. It is the only sensible(ish) answer I could find that addressed the issue of bass boom and overhang from a loudspeaker which miraculously vanished when an upgrade mains cable was installed. This bass overhang is the signature for me that the mains cable is not up to scratch.
    That's most interesting, and for me a credible explanation of what's happening. It certainly reflects my experience of the matter, particularly the bass overhang thing, which for me is almost always symptomatic of what you describe. Experience tells me that one of the first improvements heard when substituting a 'cheapo kettle lead' [let's just call it that for now, Andrew] with something better suited for use in hi-fi applications, is a tightening of the bass, which previously (in comparison) was a little bloated. There are other effects too, but that's almost always the main one.

    Metallurgy I say also plays a major part with mains cables, not just curing bass overhang but also hiss. I was at a dealers and we were trying out mains cables on a Consonance valve system with corner horns. I noticed that the noise floor and particularly hiss was considerably reduced almost to zero with the pure silver power cord, which shocked me as I thought that hiss was "one of those things" we all had to live with as it was inherent with amplifiers. It is known fact that silver is more conductive than copper but it must also have a different grain structure in the metal but this wasn't confirmed in my own mind until some nice chap in Japan was also similarly inclined to the grain boundary theory and took steps to manufacture copper wire without them. When OHNO cast cables came onto the scene a similar thing happened compared to a normal copper cable, the hiss was substantially reduced. The continuous casting process virtually eliminates the grain boundaries of the metal, so it is not unreasonable to assume that it is those same grain boundaries that gives rise to hiss. The theory is that hiss is a series of millions of microscopic 'explosions' or arcs as the electrical current jumps across these boundaries. Electricity isn't like water flowing through a pipe but an electromotive magnetic force which has no physical contact with the metal itself so I am told, although the evidence seems to contradict this. Here we go again.
    Again, all very interesting stuff, and the kind of input I enjoy seeing in these discussions: people relating their genuine experiences and 'throwing out' some ideas for consideration, which possibly helps explain what they've heard, thus stimulating discussion of the subject, rather than it being shot down by arrogant, blinkered objectivists who are more keen on massaging their egos and protecting their belief systems from scrutiny, than on entertaining the possibility of learning something new!

    It may be this trait often gets referred to as the music emanating from the proverbial "inky blackness" that many listeners enthuse over.
    It's definitely a possibility, and not something I've noticed being suggested before. Moreover, it's certainly the type of helpful lateral thinking we like to encourage on AoS, as opposed to the unhelpful closed-mindedness and relentless rubbishing of ideas, put forward by people for consideration, which we so often see instead elsewhere, when they don't fit with the established objectivist dogma.

    Anyway, do hang around and keep up the good work. You're one of the most interesting new members we've had join us in ages!

    Marco.
    http://www.thestainedglasscompany.com

    "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do" -- Milan Kundera.

  8. #178
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Durham - UK

    Posts: 1,444
    I'm Ken.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marco View Post
    Sure, calling such a 'kettle lead' is simply a figure of speech, solely in reference to its appearance and the fact that it uses (as old kettles did) an IEC plug.

    What I'm referring to is the cheap crap Dominic has mentioned, versus anything that's been designed better (for hi-fi purposes), in the areas he refers to, and specifically which tackles the issue of noise interference, such as RFI, through the introduction of effective shielding.

    That is, by definition, a 'mains cable designed for hi-fi purposes'.

    Marco.
    I'm still skeptical about mains leads Marco, beyond any improvements made by just using thicker copper than the poor (thin) leads that are usually supplied.

    I've seen some fairly outrageous leads (came in their own flight case and at a special show price of £1,700 off the asking price) plugged into kit and heard no difference at all, over a basic 25amp mains lead it replaced. So your not alone Macca, I wanted to hear a difference, but couldn't, if there was one, it was so small I didn't pick up on it and I'm sure that amount of money spent elsewhere in the system, would have a more noticeable effect on sound quality.

    The automatic "Shielding must be good", just doesn't float for me. Unless you are using a separate grounding system for the shield and not your safety earth. All you are doing is collecting any interference using the very effective aerial the shield is and putting that interference into the safety earth circuit, which is connected to your case and probably used as the ground plane of your electronics. This might actually be worse than no shield at all, so I struggle with that one. Using a separate shield ground like a copper rod stuck in the ground etc, I can see how that might in principle, help prevent noise getting in.

    Too many people have said they heard improvements for me to ignore the notion, I just haven't experienced it yet myself.
    Ken

    http://www.jkwynn.co.uk/
    DIY Technics/ProJect based Turntable + Terminator linear tracker + AT 33PTG II / AQVOX Phono 2 CI / Pro-Ject Pre Box RS / ESP Active X-Over / Nakamichi AVP1 Power / Modified semi-active Yamaha NS1000M Speakers / Stello CDT100 Transport / NAD M51 DAC.

  9. #179
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 77,359
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

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    Hi Ken,

    I don't have a problem with any of that, as you're simply relating the results of your experience to date. At least you're not rubbishing the contrary experiences of others or attempting to lecture them on how 'ridiculous' their claims are!

    I've also heard very expensive 'fancy mains leads' make no difference, or often making things worse(!) than something rather more basic, but still well-designed for the job, so I in that respect I can relate to what you're saying.

    An example was some Transparent mains leads and interconnects, at £650 a pop, which I'd fooled myself into believing were better than the previous (much cheaper) ones I'd been using before. Unfortunately, it took me about 4 months to find that out, when a friend brought round his DIY designs, which simply showed up what was wrong with the 'foo' ones that, unknown to me at the time, had been strangling the sound of my system!

    Ever since then I've largely ditched using stupidly expensive cables, both of the mains and signal variety, and stuck with the type of stuff used in professional applications and broadcast studios [Belden, Sommer, Van Damme, etc], albeit fitted with 'fancy connectors', simply because I can hear the difference they make, and so overall they're more effective to my ears than standard varieties or 'kettle leads'. I also hard-wire, wherever possible, as undoubtedly the best connector is NO connector.

    I've found in life that the truth usually always lies somewhere in the middle of two extremes, and that for me applies when assessing the respective effectiveness, in hi-fi applications, between a 'kettle lead' and some 'foo nonsense' at £3000+.

    As you've pointed out however, your opinions on this matter are simply reflected by the experiences you've had to date, so it's only natural that you're sceptical, if so far 'fancy mains leads' have had nil effect, although that's no excuse for anyone being blinkered or closed-minded about it.

    Maybe one day you'll find one that will improve the enjoyment of your system (and music) in a worthwhile way?

    Marco.

    P.S The notion expressed at the beginning of your last sentence should be forcibly inserted into the pig-headed skulls of dogmatic, closed-minded objectivists, for them to entertain! So I've now highlighted it for their benefit Hope you don't mind!
    http://www.thestainedglasscompany.com

    "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do" -- Milan Kundera.

  10. #180
    Join Date: Apr 2018

    Location: Cornwall

    Posts: 58
    I'm Dominic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marco View Post
    Not before, Dominic, I compliment you on your earlier (rather enlightened) post. Let's tackle the juiciest bits....



    ...which is why, in isolation, it's simply too 'blunt' a tool to use to conclusively disprove the existence of effects people hear with 'fancy mains leads'. Yet the naysayers stubbornly cling onto it, in order to protect themselves from a fatal attack of cognitive dissonance



    Yup, and I've witnessed that blinkered behaviour from them time and time again, over the years, whenever these types of subjects come up. Why can't they be more open-minded to new possibilities and admit that their argument is flawed? Real scientists would never be so arrogant as to assume they know it all, so these wannabe ones/self-appointed 'experts' you see on forums, lecturing to all and sundry about how right they are on subjects such as this, should learn to take a few humility pills...!



    Indeed, and that is exactly my stance on the matter. Of course I've been fooled a few times over the years, when assessing things like cables, and been a victim of expectation bias, but not EVERY time I hear something that doesn't fit with accepted wisdom, or the contents of 'Johnny's Bible of Scientific Facts, from 1940'. Like you say, objectivists use is as a convenient smokescreen to deflect attention away from the vulnerability of their (often flawed) arguments.



    That's most interesting, and for me a credible explanation of what's happening. It certainly reflects my experience of the matter, particularly the bass overhang thing, which for me is almost always symptomatic of what you describe. Experience tells me that one of the first improvements heard when substituting a 'cheapo kettle lead' [let's just call it that for now, Andrew] with something better suited for use in hi-fi applications, is a tightening of the bass, which previously (in comparison) was a little bloated. There are other effects too, but that's almost always the main one.



    Again, all very interesting stuff, and the kind of input I enjoy seeing in these discussions: people relating their genuine experiences and 'throwing out' some ideas for consideration, which possibly helps explain what they've heard, thus stimulating discussion of the subject, rather than it being shot down by arrogant, blinkered objectivists who are more keen on massaging their ego and protecting their belief system from scrutiny, than on entertaining the possibility of learning something new!



    It's definitely a possibility, and not something I've noticed being suggested before. Moreover, it's certainly the type of helpful lateral thinking we like to encourage on AoS, as opposed to the unhelpful closed-mindedness and relentless rubbishing of ideas, put forward by people for consideration, when they don't fit with the objectivist dogma, which we so often see instead.

    Anyway, do hang around and keep up the good work. You're one of the most interesting new members we've had join us in ages!

    Marco.
    Thank you Marco. I am delighted the entire thread stayed so positive throughout without corns getting stepped on.

    Like you probably, I am the sort of person that asks the question "Why?" and it took me ages to work out that a mains cable change wasn't really putting something 'wonderful' into the system, I was in actual fact taking OUT what was flawed, hence the resultant improvement in sound quality because the inbound cable has less flaws that the outgoing one. That penny only dropped when I replaced the mains block with an upgrade one as well as the mains cable, so it had to be correct as no other logical explanation fitted exactly. My thought processes ever since have deduced that all cables are flawed in some way or other (there is no "perfect" cable) and our job is to find the right set of flaws that suits our systems (AKA synergy) and our own individual listening preferences which are infinitely variable. Hearing acuity is widely variable too, so that also has to be taken into account.

    Making all 'freebie' cables the low point as being the ones with the most flaws really has untangled the complex cables question for me personally and I wish no more than other people make this their starting point too.
    CD player = Vincent
    Pre amp = Rotel RA03
    Power amp = Lyngdorf SDA 2175
    Speaks = Quadral Chromium Style 6

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