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HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts

Since its inception ten years ago, the Harbeth User Group's ambition has been to create a lasting knowledge archive. Knowledge is based on facts and observations. Knowledge is timeless. Knowledge is human independent and replicatable. However, we live in new world where thanks to social media, 'facts' have become flexible and personal. HUG operates in that real world.

HUG has two approaches to contributor's Posts. If you have, like us, a scientific mind and are curious about how the ear works, how it can lead us to make the right - and wrong - decisions, and about the technical ins and outs of audio equipment, how it's designed and what choices the designer makes, then the factual area of HUG is for you. The objective methods of comparing audio equipment under controlled conditions has been thoroughly examined here on HUG and elsewhere and can be easily understood and tried with negligible technical knowledge.

Alternatively, if you just like chatting about audio and subjectivity rules for you, then the Subjective Soundings sub-forum is you. If upon examination we think that Posts are better suited to one sub-forum than than the other, they will be redirected during Moderation, which is applied throughout the site.

Questions and Posts about, for example, 'does amplifier A sounds better than amplifier B' or 'which speaker stands or cables are best' are suitable for the Subjective Soundings area.

The Moderators' decision is final in all matters regarding what appears here. That said, very few Posts are rejected. HUG Moderation individually spell and layout checks Posts for clarity but due to the workload, Posts in the Subjective Soundings area, from Oct. 2016 will not be. We regret that but we are unable to accept Posts that present what we consider to be free advertising for products that Harbeth does not make.

That's it! Enjoy!

{Updated Nov. 2016A}
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The truth about speaker cables?

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  • #16
    Level matched - and no audible difference

    I've heard differences over the years with amplifiers, D/A's... and I've owned some pretty decent enough gear. But recently I A/B'd the HD analogue out of my cable box and the same signal via coax through my D/A. This time I level matched - no difference. Interesting.

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    • #17
      Paint the orange utility cable black or silver, or encase it in a soft velvet sleeve, and it'll sell for 1,000 euros.

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      • #18
        Unequal speaker lengths?

        On this subject, would I be right in assuming that, within reason, driven by room placement of the system, it doesn't matter to the heard sound if the speaker cables to the left and right speakers are of unequal lengths?

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        • #19
          Itching to experiment with cables

          Well, we could all just sit "in the box" and be content---but what fun would that be? Experiment. Try new things. I don't need to justify my choices/purchases to anyone. My cables are pretty modest by most standards, but they strike the right balance (for me) of cost/build quality. We could run Walmart tires on that 2012 'vette too, but would you want to?

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          • #20
            The myth of exotic cables

            Hi everybody,

            It's been a long time since we ran some tests in my house, using various cables, priced fron 3/m, to 150/m. Nobody could find a real difference in sound, I mean a serious one, during blind tests. As far as a cable is well constructed, with good material, presenting stable electric characteristics, it will most probably thoroughly transfer the signal to the speakers. Don't forget the internal cabling used inside the amp and the speakers themselves... Are they thick and extremely high priced? Try to compare them with the external speaker cable... As far as your connection between amp+speakers is fairly good, taking into consideration the parameters of load, impedance and capacitance, ANY modestly priced and well built cable will do the job. I did and still laugh when I read Phil's comment on the example of Quad in the Heathrow Hi - Fi show, as it demonstrates in the most realistic/raw manner what most of us learned about the myth of exotic cables.

            Cheers from Athens,
            Thanos

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            • #21
              $$$

              Based on a number of comments I'm reading concerning the silly notion that we can actually hear differences in amps, cdp's etc., should I have selected my gear from the "Hello Kitty" line and saved myself about 8 grand?

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              • #22
                Blind test? Letting your heart decide

                I still read about "the blind test"... Who's trying this kind of torture do not understand... something. You can feel the differences, even for cables, mostly when you don't try to find some. For example every piece of electronics from an audio system create a sensation, a feeling. So a good or bad audio system create sensations and you can feel different sensations once in time but you become confused if the sensations (also read part from audio system) are changing too often.

                Is more appropriate to let the sensations to come at you in time. I mean you can change a cable or pre-amp but live with that at least a week and after that, take an conclusion based on living sensations.

                And don't mix different things, like an 30000$ speaker cable...with an 200$ cd player, thinking it would sound better...like one of 5000$.
                Cheers

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                • #23
                  Comparing A and B on a level playing field

                  Originally posted by steveinaz View Post
                  Based on a number of comments I'm reading concerning the silly notion that we can actually hear differences in amps, cdp's etc., should I have selected my gear from the "Hello Kitty" line and saved myself about 8 grand?
                  No, that would be the opposite extreme and no one is actually saying that.

                  However, I think what is true is that you cannot really make a reliable comparison between components unless you've very carefully matched levels - even a small difference in level may lead to a perceived difference in sound quality, even if the only real difference is quantitative.

                  If you can reliably hear differences between electronic components after proper level matching, well then, you can. I'm not opining one way or the other, because I haven't done it myself and I really don't know. However, I am prepared to believe that if you haven't taken the preliminary step of careful level matching first, any conclusions about comparitive sound quality are suspect and unreliable.

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                  • #24
                    Finally just wanted to listen to music ....

                    Maybe a little polemic, but not completely wrong.

                    If you look at audio from a more realistic point of view it seems that (to say a number), maybe 95% of the result come from the speaker and the rooms acoustics.
                    The other 5% are from source, amp, cables and such. But only a few bucks seem to be enough to get decent (near-perfect) results. My long-time-audio journey made me believe that this is true.

                    I also spent far too much money for my audio stuff (Quad, Atmosphere OTL Tube amp, Sonus Faber, Musical Fidelity, Mission Cyrus, T+A to name a few), and still I do not regret it. It was fun all they way.

                    But in the end I want to listen to my music. And I do as much as I never did.

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                    • #25
                      My foolish years ....

                      Originally posted by thurston View Post
                      Maybe a little polemic, but not completely wrong.

                      If you look at audio from a more realistic point of view it seems that (to say a number), maybe 95% of the result come from the speaker and the rooms acoustics.
                      The other 5% are from source, amp, cables and such. But only a few bucks seem to be enough to get decent (near-perfect) results. My long-time-audio journey made me believe that this is true....
                      I am not sure I would go as low as your 5%:-), but I agree with you 100% on everything else, having done and enjoyed similar foolish things.

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                      • #26
                        The room influence

                        Just wanted to stress how much bigger the room/speaker-influence is.
                        You could also say 7,8 % exactly...

                        ;-)

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                        • #27
                          Harbeth unfussy about rooms

                          Base on my experience, dealing with own or friends setup in room treatment in the past, Harbeth speaker is far less fussy than majority bands in room treatment.
                          "Bath with Music"

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                          • #28
                            Is it worth it?

                            Originally posted by steveinaz View Post
                            Based on a number of comments I'm reading concerning the silly notion that we can actually hear differences in amps, cdp's etc., should I have selected my gear from the "Hello Kitty" line and saved myself about 8 grand?
                            I would say that all cd players sound similar having used various Sony models since the 90's and then a Marantz cd6000ki. I couldn't hear any difference between them or the mnidisc player used in conjunction. The only players I heard that were slightly different were the ultrabudget Eclipse mk1 which really projected and the Rega Saturn which was a lot warmer.

                            In fact I think that most of the differences are those of a tonal nature. Some cables and amps are obviously brighter and sound more detailed initially but then you realise they are just irritating.

                            My 28 inch Sony crt tv actually has a lovely balanced tone which a lot of products out there don't. Domestic audio products moved away from the warm sound of previous decades towards a more thinner sharper sound which is easier to sell. Apart from the high end of course where anything goes. Tube amps sound lovely and smooth and dominate the high end scene. If they are more distorted then maybe it's because we like the distortion they present.

                            The main problem is that the biggest variable is the attitude of the listener. More than even the quality of the original recording. On a bad day nothing will sound great. Also there is no accounting for taste, some people prefer brunettes and some prefer blondes, and just like you can't choose who you marry objectively....

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                            • #29
                              What comes out of the speaker may/will excite the room

                              I suspect that room modes will be stimulated simply if the speaker emits the frequencies.

                              So, if a room has a room resonance at for example 60 Hz, then a speaker that is able to produce that frequency at reasonable level has no possibilty to NOT activate that room-mode. No matter what stands, cables or amps are used.

                              Therefore a speaker with wide frequency response has no ability to be unfussy by itself.
                              It can only produce a better original signal and therefore sound better than a lesser speaker in the same room with its intrinsic acoustic drawbacks.

                              {Moderator's comment: this is completely correct. If the speaker generates sound energy which the room cannot absorb (fast enough) then you have 'room issues'. It is extremely unlikely that cables, stand filling etc. will be energy absorbing substitutes for the basic problem which is ..... the room is inadequately absorptive (at low frequencies)}.

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