Cable curmudgeon

I'm not an 'audiophile" but I like to think I have a good ear having been a professional musician (principal wind player in major symphony orchestras) for 50 years. A number of years ago going into an excellent audio equipment store I talked with, what seemed, a knowledgeable salesman.  Being a musician experienced in audio systems but not expert on all the equipment out there I had some questions concerning high (over-priced?) end cables. The salesman assured there was an audible differencet in a demo room switching back and forth etc.  After a few minutes I noticed the sound coming out of only one channel.  He complemented me on my "good ear."  Hmmm? A few years later when setting up my home system I investigated speaker cables. Two sets of Monster, stranded standard cable, solid core copper (used for alarm system) attached with like connecters. There was a difference.  However, not in terms of better or worse: bass and treble were acceptable as was clarity loud and soft.  Differences were esthetic- like asking "whose the best tenor" (I like Plácido).  Now I know as a musician used to live (i.e. un-amplified) music that all I hear coming out of a loud speaker is perforce ersatz.  But most everything today comes out of a loud speaker whether a rock concert or a hi-fi system so perhaps my opinion is curmudgeonly. But, for me, spending oodles of money on hyped cables, well... I  liked the solid core for my alarm system- still do.



Having a good ear and being a musician won’t get you very far in terms of being able to identify and discern differences between audio components, and that includes cables.  An analogy to your situation would be a very experienced driver who drives a mid-level sedan.  That person will likely have good driving skills gained through years of real-world driving experience, but this person is still in no position to discern the finer differences between two high-performance sports cars because they just don’t have the experience nor the perspective to be able to make those judgements.  It’s just a different world that is loosely related but still hugely different such that one has little to do with the other.

Its the same with high-end audio where you need considerable time and experience listening to lots of high-end gear to begin to be able to know what you like and how to identify the finer differences that are very important in the context of better audio systems.  That you can’t hear such differences and you’re happy with alarm system wire is fine, but you’re still driving an economy car and simply don’t have the experience or perspective to appreciate what better cables bring to the table.  But just because you don’t understand something doesn’t make it invalid, and there are tons of true audiophiles with years of extensive listening experience who use relatively more expensive cables not because they cost more or want to waste $$$ but because they actually sound better to their ears in the context of their systems.  But, if you’re more comfortable living in ignorance and assuming more expensive cables are just hype, so be it.   Leave your head buried in the sand where it’s apparently most comfortable, don’t strive to learn anything new, and live happily ever after with your alarm system wire.  To each his own.


But, for me, spending oodles of money on hyped cables, well...

I don't know your experience with hi-fi or your system details but if it is pleasing to you, you are doing a good job. But don't discount that other people may have highly resolving systems and have spent a lot of money getting them that way. This hobby has room for everybody, enjoy. 

Well, what a hornet's nest.  I didn't know that relating my personal experience could be taken for telling anyone what to do. But SOIX, for me the music comes first, last and always and not the gadgetry. I fail to see the point of spending gobs of cash to listen to slob-art junk. And you totally miss the point of live (I.E. UN-AMPLIFIED) music.  If you go to a concert the sound comes from individuals in as many points as there are musicians.  The human ear is incredible in discerning this directionality and the panoply of sound cannot be transmitted by a few speakers- therefore my comment about its ersatz character.  Even if you go to rock concert the individuality is destroyed by amplification.  Same with recorded music and hi-fi, oh- excuse me- Audio systems.  Now they may be performing wonderful tricks of electronic legerdemain but what this has to do with music- pffft. 

You're right to be judging sonic qualities by listening to acoustic music. Large-scale classical, chamber, quartets, jazz can present proper tonal qualities, dynamics, and nuances not found in electric or amplified music. I listen to mainly classical music and also attend live concerts which helps confirm realistic sound from my home system.

But you need to audition different types of cables and components to know what is possible in sound reproduction. Regarding cables; speaker, interconnects, and power cables will influence sonics. There are online dealers who offer 30 or 60 day return policies allowing you to audition cables.

I have a few musician friends but they certainly not audiophiles, not in the least.  Two of my friends think the sound from their guitar amp is as good as any expensive system.  As they are good friends, I choose not to talk about it with them.