Objective vs. Placebo relating to system changes

I am continually baffled by the number of people that are convinced that changes to power cords, speaker wires, interconnects, etc. in their systems result is objectively real changes. While I won't go so far as saying that making these changes absolutely doesn't make a difference, I would love to have the resources to challenge people prove it to me and test it with my own ears.

Here's what I would do if time and financial resources were no object (I'm visualizing retired millionaires that are audiophiles).

I would build a listening room where the only components in the listening space were the speakers and the speaker cables coming through opening in the wall where the rest of the system was setup. The idea would be to allow the test subject the opportunity to create their system of choice and then have the opportunity to become very familiar with the system by spending hours listening. Then I would let them know when I was going to start changing different components on them on a very random basis and they should report any changes that they heard so we could link the changes to any potential changes on the other side of the wall.

Here's a short list of things that I'd try:

(1) I would replace the upgraded power cord with the stock unit.
(2) I would install or remove isolation (e.g. Nordost sort kones) devices from a component.
(3) I would replace interconnects with basic quailty products.
(4) I would replace well "broken-in" cables with otherwise identical new ones.

Depending on the results of doing these test slowly over a period of time I would consider swapping out some of the more major components to see how obvious a macro change was if the listener wasn't aware that a change had been made.

I can tell the difference between new and broken in speakers (on ones that I'm familiar with) so I know this break-in is very real and would also not be at all surprised with differences from amplifiers and analog sources being obvious. I'm not as sure about digital sources.

So the question is, what components in your system would you be confident enough to bet, say $1,000, that you could identify that something changes if it was swapped out?

In my system I am sure that I could identify a change in amplification or speakers, but highly doubt that I could do the same with any cables, isolation devices, or digital sources. Maybe I just reduced myself to being a non-audiophile with low-fi gear?
Mceljo - here's some basics of the science...

In simple terms it's all about conductivity . i.e. how fast a metal can conduct an electrical current.

King of the hill is silver closely followed by copper - everything else pale by comparison.

See -

Alas - not all copper is equal - there are different levels of purity and some providers alloy the copper for price reasons - impurities reduce the effectiveness of the cable resulting in a less dynamic sound

Now that's just conductivity of the base metal. Wire needs insulation between the conductors - making a cable introduces capacitance and inductance into the equation. With an audio signal impedance becomes a factor - it's like resistance except that is frequency dependent.

Some cable may have a high capacitance which can effect the sound e.g. make it bright, or ir can effect the operation of the attached component e.g. Naim amps do not like high capacitance speaker cables - in some amps high capacitance cables can cause their internal circuit to oscillate and then they sound like crap.

So where do power cables fit in - well, they control the flow of current to the amp.

An underated power cable will not be able to supply sufficient current to an amp when it tries to reproduce transient spikes in the audio signal - in that case the voltage in the internal circuit drops ever so slightly which prevents the amp from adequately amplifying the signal, which introduces distortions into the waveform.

Now complicate that with the fact that there are two amps operating and what happens is the distortions in both amps are not exactly the same, which contributes to an imbalance between L/R channels, which effects the spatial image.

This is just the tip of the iceburg - factor in all the other cable discoveries that have been discovered e.g. skin effect etc., and you end up with the cable science we have today

The one common design point you will find in quality components is their substantial power supply. It is designed to allow the component to operate as best it can in a less than perfect power environment. More modestly priced components may actually respond better to a cable upgrade.

Case in point - my neighbour bought a $200 boom box - I replaced the 18 gauge cable with a 14 gauge cable from Home Depot - she could not believe the improvement in dynamics, bass response and clarity - and she is no audiophile.

So, will quality components benefit from good power cables? - you bet they will, but the improvements are often in the area of enhanced micro details that contribute to better instrument isolation and 3D spatial imaging

Will replacing a single power cable make a noticeable difference - maybe not at first, but when you replace other power cables or interconnects on components in the audio chain the improvements may become apparent.

I decided to replace my entire power corridor
- dedicated line from the breaker panel
- quality Pass and Seymour outlets
- silver plated copper plugs and connectors
- quality power cable that I constructed myself

The benefits are very apparent.

I do not expect you to become a convert, but if you are ever in the Toronto area I also will happily demonstrate, like brownsfan, the difference cables made in my modestly priced system - it's very noticeable.

Hope this helps
There are many people on the Linn/Naim forums that claim to be able to hear the difference between the two sides of the felt mat. All I can say is that I'm glad my hearing is not as good as theirs. Never assume that because you can't hear something that nobody else can hear it. It's like saying that you can't read fine print so nobody else can. We're all different.
"not necessary for everyone to understand all of the science and engineering that may be involved."

That's the point - there often ISN'T science and engineering, it's mystical nonsense that's justified by saying that "well, you're system can't resolve to hear the difference sniff, sniff", or "well, maybe YOUR ears can't hear, but mine.....".

So much nonsense and BS, particularly when it comes to things like power cords (and I have $500+ ones in my inventory, btw), with people trying to desperately back into an answer like "well, maybe the power actually starts at the component" - c'mon!

It seems that many who so desperately profess to hear the "mind blowing" differences are also the ones that desperately try to debunk double blind testing as they know they'll get outed to the nonsense.
Some folks appear destined to become avid book collectors or model railroaders. Not thst there's anything wrong with that.
Understanding the 'science' behind something doesn't constitute a bar of sorts on which to judge others perceptions since the beauty of that 'science' is that it is disprovable. This has been discussed here at great length before.

If you have any doubts that others can hear a difference and can't experience it firsthand with others, what is the strength of those doubts and just how far are you willing to go to refute them? By setting up a straw man argument?

Not too long ago there was an article on another audio site that went back to one of the first audio double blind challenges that was revealed to be nothing more than an attempt to embarrass audiophiles by a person with an agenda against audiophiles. That person was quickly forgotten but his methods weren't.

All the best,