a/b interconnect cable comparison single ended

here is an approach to help to determine which of two cables is least colored.

asuume there exists two cables : a and b. you will need two female to female connectors.

select recordings. listen to stereo system with cable a. take good notes. listen to stereo system with cable b. allow appropriate interval between listening sessions to avoid loss of acuity. again, take notes.

listen to cable a + coupler + cable b. take good notes.
listen to cable b + coupler + cable a. take good notes

you have 4 conditions to compare. use the results to help determine which of the two cables alters the sound more than the other.

yes, the coupler may add some "coloration" and yes the reults are anecdotal and highly subjective. but, hopefully, a good first step. perhaps there are other suggestions and improvements to this process.
Mr. T: you note you'd like to find

'which of the two cables seems to alter the signal to a greater degree'

How do you know what the signal is suppose to be?

If we take our time and listen carefully for the sound of live music in our audio rooms (creating the illusion of sound/space) we will select out increasingly 'accurate' components where accuracy means accuracy in recreation of the encoded musical moment.

Perhaps it would be useful to make a recording of some music made in my audio space. I suspect that advances in digital technology make it a realistic proposition that an serious amateur could make a high quality encoded musical moment in their living space which could in turn be used as a high quality 'test signal' for evaluation of their audio system. It's late, I'm rambling on but I think you can get my drift. Or am I out of my mind? (one audiophile to another!)
hi cjsmith, your point is well taken.

suppose you had a high quality spectral analyzer.

suppose you had a cd which contained white or pink noise.

if you follow my paradigm, one of the cables might exhibit greater frequency response deviations, when the spectral analyzer is set up at the listening position.

yes, the room is part of the equation, but the room is a constant.
Mr. Tennis
I'd say that your approach in having better comparison means instead of the classic pause (shut down) disconnect, reconnect, seat, play again is good. It can give you a better glimpse of each cable characteristics faster. That doesn't mean you are not going to listen to each cable for longer periods to really have a more thorough evaluation.

Point to remember when you try anything at home: you'll select what appeals best to your ears, not necessarily what is the "truest cable".
In other words if it's closer to the ideal cable is one matter, that the user likes, enjoys, foot taps what is heard is another; in my book the latter overwhelms the former, because I look for music enjoyment.

On the inputs regarding tape loop for the evaluation, I agree with Sean that there are differences indeed. As a matter of fact I choose the input connector based on what I hear sounds better not necessarily because the manufacturer marked a determined input “CD” for example.

You can assess the difference the input makes on the result swaping cable/ input and re-evaluate. Another approach is to use one single cable and evaluate it using input “A” then input “B” and hear if the existing difference is that relevant to your evaluation results.

I think we have to simplify this hobby a little and enjoy the music more.... just my 2 cents guys

Luis, I find that my enjoyment of this hobby stems from the fact that I can listen to music or think about physics or do some soldering or worry aobut chemistry (record cleaning) or the biology of hearing or just listen to music. I mean, it's all fun or it's not a hobby!

Mr. T - I agree. Wish there was a simple 'cable distortion test' as you describe. However the test might not always correlate with which cables we find musical - which would give us some additional questions to ask. I don't have an occilliscope (yet) but I wonder if you put standard signals (e.g. square waves) thru various cables are they all identical?

Altering the source and load impedances can vary the response that a cable would demonstrate under these test conditions. This is the same thing that happens when you change components i.e. the load and / or the source impedance is altered. As such, one can simulate various circuit combo's and see how each cable responds accordingly. Why there aren't any reviewers / manufacturers doing anything like this, i don't know. Sean