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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.

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

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  • The truth about speaker cables?

    This thread is concerned with speaker cables.

  • #2
    "Lies" in Audio

    the attached article is an "oldie" but a "goody.
    Attached Files

    Comment


    • #3
      A dealer gives-up .... (not really, just frustrated)

      I'll pack it all in now, buy an i-pod and forget Hi-Fi.

      It all sounds the same.

      End of.

      {Moderator's comment: Daft response. Even if it does sound the same it's not built the same, not backed-up the same, not with the same heart, not the same design or build philosophy, not the same people behind the design. Concentrate on those tangibles and there are customers who will still buy.}

      Comment


      • #4
        Daft response from the Mod.

        I have read that stupid article previously and it attempts to make a mockery of any subjective opinions about Hi-Fi equipment. All that matters is measurements and most equipment measures perfectly. Therefore it all sounds the same.

        With that in mind, why would any sane person spend more money for 'heart, build philosophy, people behind the design' ?

        All CD players sound the same, do they not as all they do is count digits ? All cables sound the same as do all stands - surely ? Further, my ears can't be trusted without a double blind test.

        If all Hi-Fi enthusiasts believe the opinions expressed in that article, there would be no Hi-Fi sold except for rock bottom, budget equipment. It all sounds the same !!!

        Utter cr*p.

        Comment


        • #5
          No-nonsense retailing - don't be afraid of the truth

          Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
          ...I have read that stupid article previously and it attempts to make a mockery of any subjective opinions about Hi-Fi equipment. All that matters is measurements and most equipment measures perfectly. Therefore it all sounds the same.
          Does it really say that? And if it did, could it be true? No seriously, could you allow yourself to believe that .... just supposing it were true?

          With that in mind, why would any sane person spend more money for 'heart, build philosophy, people behind the design'?
          Ummm. Clearly your view of 'marketing' and mine are rather different. In a world where product differentiation is narrower than ever - just look at the relatively small differences between cars in the same category - marketing the intangibles such 'heart' is essential. A car tyre can cost as little as 50 or as much as 250. They are basically the same in all primary details, and for those details that they are not, the consumer has neither the science nor the measuring equipment to fully evaluate them. In this knowledge void what sells is the intangibles, those factors which justify somone paying five times as much - and being satisfied with the purchase.

          All CD players sound the same, do they not as all they do is count digits ? All cables sound the same as do all stands - surely?
          Only yesterday I gave you the answer to this very point. You cannot begin to evaluate the truth in that statement until you have taken steps to a) measure how loud the CD players are for a given test signal which needs some test equipment b) normalised the levels so that the players are working at the same loudness. I repeat it thus:

          If only one aspect of human audiology makes an impact on you let it be this: If there is a sound level differences between two pieces of audio equipment that loudness difference alone will give rise to various subjective judgements in your brain. Remove the level differences by making the quieter one as loud as the other and those subjective differences greatly diminish or disappear altogether.
          Harbeth's sales continue to rise. The order book continues to grow. The sales pipeline is 42 weeks long - completely full. Three major customers have orders amounting to about 40% of our capacity from then until December 2012, 18 months away. How? Why? Because we tell it like it is to an audience who are sick and tired of being 'suckered' and who want to get off the audio merry-go-round and reconnect with the music. There is self-evidently a positive and growing role for honest retailing and we're delighted to be on the receiving end of it.

          May I suggest that some adaptation to the new business climate and the sentiment of those we interest? This no-nonsense end of the audio business is highly secure, and vibrant.
          Alan A. Shaw
          Designer, owner
          Harbeth Audio UK

          Comment


          • #6
            IMO and experience all LS cables sound differently and is also depending on the match between speaker/amp.

            Taste and other subjective influence makes me like the one more then the other in my setup(specs are less important to me)

            Comment


            • #7
              Cables - The Loch Ness of Audiophile World.

              Originally posted by Cyreg View Post
              IMO and experience all LS cables sound differently and is also depending on the match between speaker/amp......
              We have covered about the influence of different type of speakers and amplifier before. Under those circumstances cables do make a difference.

              --------------------

              I like plain cables. I never used fancy cable with EMI suppressor or that sort. I have *come to a conclusion that I can't tell any difference between cables long time ago. BUT, that didn't stop me from having preference for one cable over another. I could go on comparing cables over a week or two and conclude it made no difference and settle for any of them. After a month or two, I somehow revert to one particular cable for speaker wires. I can't really find a logical answer for that but somehow it just happens.

              Is it because I have a choice to choose another cables or could there be another unexplainable reason for so many experienced and learned professionals to still believe in something that the scientific measurements say otherwise? When people like us spend money looking for best sound it is natural for us to look for something else beside the plain music.*

              Since you mentioned about tyres, I knew one brand of tyres using the same compound as another tyre manufacturer. In fact, they are sharing the same formula for the tyre rubber compound but somehow people did not appreciate the cheaper tyre even though technically both were identical.

              ST

              Comment


              • #8
                A dealer and a lifetime's commitment

                Alan,
                Surely you must appreciate I was saying all that with tongue firmly in cheek.

                I and my customers appreciate products made by enthusiasts who care passionately about their products. Real people who make products at reasonable prices for the man in the street who cares about, above all, the music. That is what I sell, not mass market, highly touted, magazine fodder.

                Now, what gets my goat are ridiculous articles like that one, where measurements are all that count and we are not capable of making decisions without a committee. If we follow those arguments to the bitter end, none of us will be buying Hi-Fi because even a music centre from Argos measures well enough.

                I have spent over 40 years of my life demonstrating Hi-Fi equipment in conditions which allow my customers to make their own informed choices. I know from experience, which equipment goes with which, so mismatches are not possible and very often, customers go away spending a lot less money than they budgeted for. That's what I enjoy.

                I've been doing this for a very long time and I know that much of that article is pure rubbish and really shouldn't be taken seriously by any sensible music lover. I'm not an engineer and cannot argue technicalities but I do know what I hear and what my customers hear and that's good enough for me.

                David
                Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                Does it really say that? And if it did, could it be true? No seriously, could you allow yourself to believe that .... just supposing it were true?

                Ummm. Clearly your view of 'marketing' and mine are rather different. In a world where product differentiation is narrower than ever - just look at the relatively small differences between cars in the same category - marketing the intangibles such 'heart' is essential. A car tyre can cost as little as 50 or as much as 250. They are basically the same in all primary details, and for those details that they are not, the consumer has neither the science nor the measuring equipment to fully evaluate them. In this knowledge void what sells is the intangibles, those factors which justify somone paying five times as much - and being satisfied with the purchase.

                Only yesterday I gave you the answer to this very point. You cannot begin to evaluate the truth in that statement until you have taken steps to a) measure how loud the CD players are for a given test signal which needs some test equipment b) normalised the levels so that the players are working at the same loudness. I repeat it thus:

                Harbeth's sales continue to rise. The order book continues to grow. The sales pipeline is 42 weeks long - completely full. Three major customers have orders amounting to about 40% of our capacity from then until December 2012, 18 months away. How? Why? Because we tell it like it is to an audience who are sick and tired of being 'suckered' and who want to get off the audio merry-go-round and reconnect with the music. There is self-evidently a positive and growing role for honest retailing and we're delighted to be on the receiving end of it.

                May I suggest that some adaptation to the new business climate and the sentiment of those we interest? This no-nonsense end of the audio business is highly secure, and vibrant.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Pure Rubbish?

                  I am not an expert and I don't intend to be ... however, I read the article somewhat differently than Dave. My take on it is not that everything is pure snake oil; rather, that there are diminishing marginal returns with respect to various audio things marketed to consumers. For example, a more expensive cable might affect SQ, but the cost of one is often exorbitant compared to any sonic improvement. Let's be real here: many "high end" cables cost thousands of dollars (euros), yet furnish minimal SQ improvement.

                  I also understand the article to say that some things, e.g., bi-wiring, are neither good nor bad -- just that they generate no benefit whatsoever (other than, perhaps, making one feel good about tweaking his or her system).

                  All that said, I have no doubt that different equipment sounds different and that well made gear should beat that of lesser quality. Again, it's a question of balance and degree.

                  Finally, I'm happy to see that I seem to have started a fire. :-)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Paying for real value, not exoterica: the future of the hifi industry?

                    Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
                    I'll pack it all in now, buy an i-pod and forget Hi-Fi.
                    I keep reading articles about how uneducated customers are sounding the death knell of the hi fi industry by being satisfied with ipods/digital compressed music, and speaking from personal experience I have to admit that they may not be far wrong. I now use an ipod, connected via a line out to a decent amp/speaker set up. I transferred all my CDs via Apple lossless to the Ipod. When I play the Ipod this way, in terms of hi fi, I hear no difference between the CD sound through a 1000 GBP Cd player and the cheap and cheerful Ipod, playing through its onboard DAC. I haven't felt the need to see if the same will happen if I play compressed files. I suspect it well may.

                    When I started on this hobby ten years ago, I couldn't quite understand why there would be a difference in sound quality between good quality no brand copper cable of adequate gauge, and exotic hi fi cables and interconnects, on the basis of my high school physics understanding of electricity. I spent ten years using exotically named and coloured cables, and thought it made a difference, because it was sold on that basis. Now I realise that I would have been better off financially, using my common sense. Make no mistake, it was fun while it lasted, reading the reviews of these pieces of kit and based on that, "hearing" the difference, so I am not complaining.

                    But the point is - I keep reading about how the great unwashed are deserting the industry and I have to now smile at the irony. Bottom line, no one can fool all people all of the time.

                    What will always matter is equipment that is easy/cool to use, reliable in reality and in feel, that can allow good, well recorded music to be heard to 90% of the quality level of the exotic kit, at 10% of the price. And much of that quality seems to be derived from the speaker, speaker placement and room acoustics part of the system. Indeed, from all I read here and intuitively now believe to be closer to the truth, the 90% may well go higher, if speaker placement and room acoustics are looked after well. And based on some of the prices I see for the exotic stuff, the 10% may be too high!

                    The market for the exotic stuff - things that work as well as snake oil - will at best always remain what it deserves to be - a small niche.

                    On a slightly different but related note, I remember reading that Warren Buffett, supposedly one of most down to earth of the very wealthy, still wears unbranded shirts because he believes that the additional price he would pay for the brand, does not give him any benefit. Perhaps that is also one of the reasons why he got to be so rich!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      A dealer in the real world of value for money

                      I'm definitely not into 'brands', whether it's shirts, wine, cars or Hi-Fi. I buy only what I like and take little notice of what's said about the product.

                      With Hi-Fi, I no longer have any megabuck equipment in stock. I've been there, done that for many, many years. So, you won't find any 50K amps or 80K speakers you read about in Stereophile or Hi-Fi News. What you will find, are sensibly priced products, designed and made with care and ( dare I say ? ) love by dedicated enthusiasts and the sounds I make now are better than ever.

                      Long before any shops in the UK provided proper listening facilities for their customers, I had a dedicated 'domestic' listening room. I have always allowed customers to listen and try the equipment and combinations of equipment to enable them to make an informed decision about their purchase, whether it's a pair of speakers, an amp or even stands and cables.

                      I find that if the customer is given a decent and comfortable listening room, they are easily able to discern small differences between products and can then decide to purchase or not.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The customer's viewpoint: hifi_dave's way really works!

                        Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
                        I'm definitely not into 'brands', whether it's shirts, wine, cars or Hi-Fi. I buy only what I like and take little notice of what's said about the product.

                        With Hi-Fi, I no longer have any megabuck equipment in stock. I've been there, done that for many, many years. So, you won't find any 50K amps or 80K speakers you read about in Stereophile or Hi-Fi News. What you will find, are sensibly priced products, designed and made with care and ( dare I say ? ) love by dedicated enthusiasts and the sounds I make now are better than ever.

                        Long before any shops in the UK provided proper listening facilities for their customers, I had a dedicated 'domestic' listening room. I have always allowed customers to listen and try the equipment and combinations of equipment to enable them to make an informed decision about their purchase, whether it's a pair of speakers, an amp or even stands and cables.

                        I find that if the customer is given a decent and comfortable listening room, they are easily able to discern small differences between products and can then decide to purchase or not.
                        Good points David and I can confirm (as one of hifi_dave's customers) that his demo room is superb and very quiet and it's so easy to hear the differences between components in there. I would happily live in that room with a Harbeth-based system and a sleeping bag! The P3ESR sounded as good as any speaker I'd ever heard anywhere, in his room. So I bought a pair from him.

                        I saw a BBC documentary last week about clothing brands and it's made me even more wary of getting sucked in by marketing. Dave's range of kit definitely majors on quality, reliability and value and less so on marketing.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          What the masses expect

                          My vote is with the guy who talked about diminishing returns on ever increasing prices. This works for audio gear, for cars, and for most things.

                          I don't really understood people who say they can never hear any difference between amps or cd players. I certainly have. Not always, not invariably - but enough to pick those that I like and to ascribe consistent pluses and minuses to particular models.

                          I've heard differences between cables in the past but it's subtle. There's a point at which it's just not worth getting hung up about cables. Room acoustics and everything else are a more rewarding investment.

                          On computer audio: when MP3 first became very popular, I had a friend who'd hooked his PC up to mid-fi amp and speakers and was building his vast MP3 collection, probably not particularly high quality rips. He was playing tracks I knew well - Beatles etc. I could immediately hear there was information missing from the compressed files. And in fact MP3 is lossy and uses a psychoacoustic algorithm which does in fact suck out information from the music.

                          Now: I read an article a while back (I might try to find the link) where college students were asked to blindly select which recording they preferred to listen to out of an uncompressed track and the MP3. Guess what? They chose the MP3! Why? Because that was the sound they recognized and were used to listening to and the uncompressed original sounded different! In part, it's a question of what you are used to listening to and in fact there is such a thing as skilled listening. No way would I prefer a low bitrate MP3 over the original. I get high quality FLAC rips whenever possible.

                          As for the great unwashed deserting the industry:

                          (1) it might be argued that the masses never were into the high end industry. They were into crappy mini systems, ghetto blasters, and before that walkmans, little casette players, plastic turntables, and little plastic radios with ear buds.

                          (2) the masses have shifted their attention from music systems per se to home theatre, computer games systems with subs, and iPod-like devices. It could be argued that high-end home theatre basically is high end audio but with pictures.

                          (3) ok, when we were students a small percentage of us used to try to buy better quality affordable stuff - the early Rotels and NADs. I don't know if that market segment still does this.

                          {Moderator's comment: we must be boring you (all) stiff when we say (yet again) that you *will* hear differences between electronics solely because one is inevitably louder than the other and obviously the volume control markings are totally meaningless as a way of judging loudness. Is this absolutely understood?}

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Lawnmower cable; the ULTIMATE! (Must be orange)

                            Ok Moderator! Yep I've read that here about loudness and will cease and desist from implying that one amplifier might actually sound better than another ;=)

                            Back on topic, this might raise a smile about those who insist on spending huge amounts on cable.

                            Interestingly, the New Scientists [sic] recently commented on the London Heathrow Hi Fi Show, saying that among the cables selling for up to 30,000 for 6 metres, they found Quad demonstrating their latest speakers to great enthusiasm. The orange cable to the speakers looked oddly familiar. When asked about it, Tony Faulkner, the recording engineer demonstrating them (who'd used the speakers as monitors while recording Saint-Saen's complete works for piano & orchestra, Gramophone's Record of the Year), said of the cables:

                            "Yes, they would look familiar if you have a garden. Before the show opened we went over the road to the DIY superstore and bought one of those 20 extension leads that Black & Decker sells for electric hedge-cutters. They are made from good, thick copper wire, look nice and sound good to me. The show's been running for three days and no one in the audience has noticed..." - New Scientist Magazine
                            So there you go. Quad use 20 extension leads for speaker cable.

                            The source link also discusses the snake oil concerning alleged speaker cable "break-in" supposedly through wear and tear on the insulation:

                            http://www.aca.gr/content.php?439-Au...-Psychological

                            {Moderator's comment: we've been saying that about Flymo cable for many years ... you read it first here!}

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Flymo lawnmower cable - use with care!

                              Ha ha! It's true. The only negative about Flymo cable is that it doesn't resist being flymoed

                              Yes, personal experience I am ashamed to say.

                              {Moderator's comment: just wondering when what we say about cables will be accepted as the truth?}
                              Ben from UK. Harbeth Super HL5 owner.

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