So What Is Real?

There is a newsletter I subscribe to because the guy seems to talk about reality and not what some sales dude wants to sell you.   Now the funny thing to me is that all these cable specialists of high dollar remedies for flawed playback are somehow going to magically change what you hear and will then rise above the abilities of the music file limitations and recording engineers. A dumb wire that is used to create the hi-res recordings so sought after is not somehow suitable for the playback of the same. The following is from Waldreps newsletter and I fully agree. I love this guy and he is a light shining through all the smoke and mirror BS of high end audio. I confess I too am a cable denier and incapable of hearing " further uptick in micro-dynamic jump " but love the delicious word salad these guys create to try to describe something that is not there. I can see the cable guy sitting there with his buddy. Wow did you hear that uptick in micro-dynamics!!  You just know that's how he would talk, right?
  As an aside here how does one become a professional listener? What is the criteria for attaining this lofty goal? How do you know when you have arrived and what governing authority sets down the requirements for such a thing so you know  you are not deceiving yourself and others? Is it a nebulous category that is assigned to you when you spend a certain level of money or do you have verifiable and provable abilities above the norm as recognized by a large group of people including recording industry engineers, professional sound installers and high end audio system owners? In other words anyone but cable sellers?

  The following is from "Dr. AIX Post for January 25, 2020"

 " Cable Nonsense

What is it that Art Linkletter used to say? Kids say the darndest things. Well, it seems some FB audio group administrators, audiophiles, high-end audio salespersons, audiophile society officials, and manufacturers also say things that make little or no sense when talking or posting about cables.

I usually steer clear of FB posts or online magazines that promote high-end audio cables. It's just never safe to present with science, established electrical engineering theory and practice, or objectiveness when cables are concerned. A recent exchange on a familiar FB audio group page resulted in a member calling me a "cable denier" because I advocated for science and physics in evaluating power cords.

The thread basically dismissed my comments because I'm a member of the professional audio engineering community. Audio equipment salespeople, FB administrators, high-end audio marketing managers, and the general audio buying public are claimed to be better and more reliable sources of information when it comes to recommending expensive accessories and cables. According to the gentleman below, they are capable of listening in ways that audio professionals can not.

One commenter wrote:

"Mark is a pro and speaks just like one, but he is not a professional LISTENER, like you (Writer's NOTE: the guy offering the ultra expensive power cords), I and so many others in the high-end industry. Interesting is that most so-called experts are also naysayers who work in the recording industry, not in the high-end industry."

What does this statement actually claim? That professional audio engineers and producers do not know how to listen? That spending one's professional life in front of speakers in a control room doesn't require listening?Maybe...just maybe...the engineers responsible for producing the recordings that are played back in these guys high-end systems are correct in their assessment of power cords and expensive USB/Ethernet cables. Image that!

Can you really trust a gentlemen that just launched a new cable company that offers a 6-foot power cord for $3150? Oh and this person also believes that cables are directional! BTW They are not.

Here's a couple of additional comments...

"Cables can make a difference. I’m glad I can hear those differences it truly enhances the experience. I have been a dedicated audiophile and in the industry for over 45 years and have been able to identify those differences since my first experience with Smog Lifters in the 70’s. I search for and usually discover great products that deserve special attention by people looking for the last bit of resolution and coherency. I’m truly sorry for those that wouldn’t hear the difference."

Here's a comment from an individual that swapped a normal Ethernet cable for an expensive one.

"...the Vodka seemed to remove a layer of film for superior textural reveal. There was also a shade more tonal depth and recording space ‘air’. Most noticeable of all was a further uptick in micro-dynamic jump."

I don't know about you but I cringe when I hear people talk about audio in such terms. And this after listening to a commercial album and then stopping, swapping the cable and relistening. It's unbelievable.

I could pull quotes from cable reviews all afternoon but I think you get the point. When anyone starts spewing nonsense about power cords, digital interconnects, or network cables, run away. Keep your wallet in your pocket and unsubscribe from that group or online magazine. Their motivations are suspect. They either want to sell you something (usually at very high cost) or are dependent on advertising dollars from the companies they write about or the individuals they interview.

Cables do matter.
i am an ordinary joe blow, but have a good ear. I wasn’t sure about cables etc.
I just got a new preamp and tried 12 gauge “single grain” generic copper speaker wire cause it was easy and laying around.
I thought my moderately priced system ( thiel 2.4, Psaudio pre and amp) sounded crappy. My mind was telling me I wasted 8k on the system I cobbled together . I
reinstalled my 2 inch thick cables which I can’t remember who made them (?RCAudio?).
Big improvement. I won’t use fancy terms , just that no doubt they made a difference.
Don’t care why they do matter.
Julian Hirsch founder of "Stereo Review" set up a test ...
Julian Hirsch was not the founder of Stereo Review.
... he invited twenty experienced high-end audiophiles to audition a very expensive high end system ...
After listening all the participants waxed enthusiastically about how excellent the sound was ... in fact, they had been listening to a $300.00 Pioneer receiver ... They were furious.
That’s fiction. Pure fiction. (And in fact, Hirsch did not setup his own listening tests.)

But even if it were true, it proves nothing. It would be just a parlor trick.
I have a high end system which is not SOTA.  Instead of buying newer gear, I purchase newer designed cabling.  The cabling does not carry SOTA pricing as it is made by Grover Huffman who I don't know if he has an education in physics or relevant engineering in the way cables or conductors work but they have a smattering of knowledge about some of it.  He is a genius though.  As to skin effect, he uses a novel approach by flattening the conductors through a pair of steel rollers.  The smaller conductors have a textured, embossed surface which permits the higher frequencies to travel along the minimum of surface area while the lower frequencies travel through the more mass areas and larger cables.  I don't know if it works that way but his cables beat out most of the high end SOTA sold at 10X-30X his prices.  I have been his beta tester for two decades.  I still have to pay for his cables which adorn my two audio and two video systems.  So, I rather pay $7,500 for those four systems cabling (power, ICs, speaker, digital) than upgrade my equipment for 10X that much.  

By upgrading my cables (and tweaks in the past several years), I have saved myself $50,000 to $100,000 to attain near SOTA sound. 

Local acquaintances with near SOTA (or they think SOTA) systems because they spent $500K to $850K think they sound good find out how wrong they are when they hear my more modest system.  When they install Grover Huffman cables and remove the dreadful High Fidelity cables, their systems become listenable and enjoyable.  Removing/replacing Transparent Audio cables result in more enjoyable results.  These are $100K looms of wiring.  Something is wrong when some SOTA cabling ruins the sound at very high prices.  

At a previous audio show, there were three high end rooms with three levels of Transparent cable in each one.  Moving from the least expensive to the most expensive ($100K+) resulted in worse and worse sound.  I don't know if this proves anything other than paying more doesn't always get you more.

The most honest test of my changing gear and wiring is my wife who has zero interest in audiophilia and only cares about how the music sounds.  She was a harsh critic for about 10+ years of my changes until about 10 years ago when she found my audio systems sounding better and better.  Yes, I had an inferior sounding main system for decades.  Upgrading my equipment in 2006 did not resolve the problems.   Upgrading my cabling (as well as the designers' knowledge and ability) resulted in maximizing her (and my) enjoyment.  Tweaks were also involved (Hallographs, Stillpoints, SR HFTs/fuses/outlets) and PPS E-Mats.  Then last year I improved the system to really high end sound with a custom designed and built listening room for $165K.