A New Believer

I have listened to many systems over the years, and have never appreciated the difference speaker cables can make to a sound. In fact, I was so skeptical of the sound changes they can make that I have always not bothered with any special type of cables, generally going for generic (and dare I say it) roughly made ANY copper wire plugged in to amp and speaker. Well, imagine my surprise when I decided to do a blind test and listen to what difference cabling can make. Wow, my Vand 3A Sig's had been getting strangled! (some of you guys may want to strangle me if I told you what connects I had been using). So I am now a firm believer, cables DO make a difference.
Very interesting. I'm a cable designer and manufacturer, so feel free to think less of me than you might of another poster. And go on and believe that anything I say is only done in order to sell you my cables.

I have personally found that paying more for cables gets a better cable - at least in terms of resolution. You won't find any $200 cables that have the resolution of say a Stealth Indra or Nordost Valhalla.

The thing I think that is missing in these "Tis/Tisn't" debates in audio forums is an understanding of how the ear/brain processes what arrives at the ear. Some put it that all sound is invented in our brains. Of course, sound waves really do arrive at our ear, but what our brain chooses to 'hear' is an abstraction from that.

Our beliefs can indeed cause us to hear something that isn't there. The brain will fill in missing harmonics when the rest of the sound convinces the brain that they must be there.

This kind of thing is caused by the need for the brain to unravel from a single waveform the presence of multiple sources of sound. It does this from its auditory memory of timbres/objects, and from time-domain factors which tell it about the location of different sound sources.

Those that go completely deaf, after having hearing, are well aware of how the brain can invent sound - most that have suffered this still hear music playing in their head from time to time, just the same as if it was real.

Once you are able to manufacture audio gear that can faithfully reproduce timbre, so that the brain can identify a violin from a cello, Ella from Jacintha, a large drum from a small one, the next thing to get right is accuracy in the time domain. If the time relationships in a sound are unnatural then the brain is quickly fatigued trying to make sense of what it hears, and the music sounds confused. If the time relationships are accurate then the brain can make complete sense of what it hears, with singers/players/instruments occupying distinct and real spaces. These time-domain issues are two-fold; signal-smearing, and phase distortions.

Unlike equipment design, cable design to get accurate timbre is not tough, but time-domain accuracy is hard, and every design is a trade-off. What audiophiles perceive as dynamics or tonal issues with cables are all just time-domain issues (if the cable is competently designed). With steady state signals, wires perform well. But with rapidly changing signals, wires suffer self-interference and external interference problems. The effects are small, but the brain is very sensitive to them.

So when assessing cables, look out for certain things... If the cable creates a tonal shift then this is actually (unless the cable is incompetently designed) a time-domain issue. To assess whether the time-domain performance is actually an improvement, listen for dynamic linearity, subtle musical nuance, soundstage clarity and a sense of ease (when your brain is finding it easy to make sense of what it is hearing). This is a major reason why we often associate good soundstaging with good reproduced sound, when it isn’t important to us at a real concert.

Hopefully you did serve with the 2nd (per your moniker) as otherwise would be exceedingly lowlee and trollee.

Now the Shill(s) have arrived.

To Antipodes_audio
I thank you for a very interesting post. I will have to reread it many times until my puny brain can comprehend it all. But one question I have is this: can you give me any information on the manufactoring process. What do you do to achieve the different properties of the cables. You mentioned that more expensive cables perform better than cheaper ones, then the question is what do you do or fail to do to achieve the different price points. These price differences in electronic equipment and speakers are more readily apparent, but cables sort of look like cables. :)
thank you
Who's the shill?

Rok2id, that's easy. In our case it is the cost of the materials that makes almost all of the difference. I suspect most are like us too, in that the higher priced cables have a lower percentage mark-up over materials cost than our cheaper cables. And our percentage mark-ups are much the same as equipment manufacturers have. There are some people with crazy mark-ups for sure though - I could name a few and quote some verifiable facts to support that - but don't tar everyone with that brush.