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Thread: Do mains cables make a difference??

  1. #171
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 83,133
    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.

    BE HAPPY EVERYDAY!

  2. #172
    Join Date: Apr 2018

    Location: Cornwall

    Posts: 176
    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

  3. #173
    Join Date: Apr 2018

    Location: Cornwall

    Posts: 176
    I'm Dominic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Qwin View Post
    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.
    An excellent and level headed post Ken and I am particularly impressed with the fact that you recognised the cheap flimsy rubbish mains cables that they truly are.

    I have played with some really esoteric cables in my time and have learned that the laws of diminishing returns applies to cables like no other component. The jump from the cheapo freebie up to something in the 50-80 bracket is usually a big step, with in percentage terms around 60% of sound improvement. Going on to around the 100 mark yields around 8%-10% over and above the 50-80 cable and I wish I could add a linear scale to the money spent relating to the improvements gained in percentage terms, but even a smarter man than me would have trouble compiling that scale.

    So why then do some people spend the price of a car on one single cable KNOWING that the level of sound improvement could be infitessimally small? Some people just have to have the best because it is available to buy, some may have their ego massaged by owning said cable, but there are some people that are almost clinically addicted to upgrading higher and higher to reach a pinnacle. Who knows? I am too poor to be similarly afflicted
    CD player = Vincent
    Pre amp = Rotel RA03
    Power amp = Lyngdorf SDA 2175
    Speaks = Quadral Chromium Style 6

  4. #174
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 83,133
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nonuffin View Post
    Thank you Marco. I am delighted the entire thread stayed so positive throughout without corns getting stepped on.
    That would never be allowed to happen here, as we moderate *very strictly* to prevent that type of behaviour occurring, or anyone who thinks they're entitled to say what they like, in the most arrogant or obnoxious manner, without consequences.

    Banishing that crap to oblivion (and those responsible for it) was one of the first goals I set out to achieve when AoS was born. And now that the forum is successful and well-established, it's a case of OUR way or the highway!

    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.
    Yup, that for me, is *exactly* what's going on. Therefore, you should always think of any cable 'upgrade' experienced, precisely like that!

    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.
    Indeed - exactly so!

    I also agree with your point on hearing acuity, although acuity aside, I do also believe that some people can benefit from being 'trained' on how to hear subtle changes in musical presentation when, let's call it, 'less bad', cables are introduced into a system, before they 'get' what's going on, as some are inherently more attuned to picking up on those changes than others.

    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.
    You just have to get your head around that notion, and most importantly of all, stop using cables as glorified tone controls!

    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.

    BE HAPPY EVERYDAY!

  5. #175
    Join Date: Apr 2018

    Location: Cornwall

    Posts: 176
    I'm Dominic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marco View Post

    I also agree with your point on hearing acuity, although acuity aside, I do also believe that some people need 'trained' on how to hear subtle changes in musical presentation when, let's call it, 'less bad', cables are introduced into a system, before they 'get' it, as some are inherently more attuned to picking up on those changes than others.

    Marco.
    Glad you raised that matter because I was somewhat affeared from mentioning it in case it did tread on some corns.

    Go to any hi-fi show and just listen to the comments people make as they come out of a demonstration and that gives an indicator to just how variable people's hearing acuity and listening preferences vary so widely. Some say it was "too bright", some say "not enough detail", or "too much bass for me", or whatever, even though it was one fixed system playing the same music to everyone. The mind boggles sometimes

    I said in an earlier post I have two friends that join me for a listening sesh sometimes and one of them only notices a change in sound character when the system is off lol. While us two are talking about nuances and inflections, soundstage and microdynamics, he quips it has a lovely tone. Love the man to bits, but he is an example of someone who listens with a broad brush rather than chewing over and dissecting the finer points.

    Taught a few people now how to really "get" into the music by listening in stages. I ask them to listen to a track and focus on one instrument in complete isolation, shutting everything else out completely. I then play the same track again and attention must be paid to another instrument in isolation. I repeat that process until there is no instruments left to hear, then play the track again and make no restrictions on what they are hearing. Amazingly, they can hear every instrument clearly in parallel despite being asked beforehand to listen to one instrument alone. I suppose without even realising it I must do the same as I notice a tad more sheen from cymbals, a bit more heft in the bass or whatever this way as I use my brain almost as a reel to reel tape recorder so I memorise each and every detail.
    CD player = Vincent
    Pre amp = Rotel RA03
    Power amp = Lyngdorf SDA 2175
    Speaks = Quadral Chromium Style 6

  6. #176
    Join Date: Dec 2014

    Location: UK, East Midlands

    Posts: 1,377
    I'm Mike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nonuffin View Post
    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.
    Must admit I tend to stick with the 'freebie' mains cable I get with an amplifier - I figure that it was chosen to complement the 'freebie' casing, 'freebie' transformer and 'freebie' volume control they supply with it.

  7. #177
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Birmingham

    Posts: 4,236
    I'm James.

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    I must say Marco your new Avatar picture is an amazing likeness

  8. #178
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 83,133
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

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    I'll get to the other new posts here later.

    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.

    BE HAPPY EVERYDAY!

  9. #179
    Join Date: Aug 2010

    Location: East Midlands

    Posts: 386
    I'm Hugh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nonuffin View Post
    Taught a few people now how to really "get" into the music by listening in stages. I ask them to listen to a track and focus on one instrument in complete isolation, shutting everything else out completely. I then play the same track again and attention must be paid to another instrument in isolation. I repeat that process until there is no instruments left to hear, then play the track again and make no restrictions on what they are hearing. Amazingly, they can hear every instrument clearly in parallel despite being asked beforehand to listen to one instrument alone. I suppose without even realising it I must do the same as I notice a tad more sheen from cymbals, a bit more heft in the bass or whatever this way as I use my brain almost as a reel to reel tape recorder so I memorise each and every detail.



    Far too analytical/(anal?) for my taste I must confess. For me the bottom line is the music.

  10. #180
    Join Date: May 2009

    Location: Bristol

    Posts: 4,152

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    Quote Originally Posted by narabdela View Post
    Far too analytical/(anal?) for my taste I must confess. For me the bottom line is the music.
    We'll have none of that sort of talk here, thank you very much.

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