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  1. #61

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyb View Post
    Going back to the USB failure rates, I'm curious. Is there no such standard for USB to have to pass ? I mean, if there are, why such a high failure rate ? Are there not independent labs to occasionally check this stuff to make sure it's as advertised and up to spec ? I guess we can say the same for a lot of other things too, eh ?
    It seems to me -- and I should warn that I'm not entirely sure of this, so could be wrong -- that up through USB 2.0 there was no compliance testing requirement for USB devices, cables, etc. Whenever that happens, you get problems; DVI was like that, with a published spec but nobody checking on compliance with the spec. But with USB 3.0 I think there is now a compliance testing requirement. Of course, USB 3.0 cables aren't plug-compatible with 2.0 devices, so that doesn't really help in the 2.0 world.

    My impression, having seen a lot of Chinese cable assembly companies at a lot of trade shows, is that there are a lot of people who just do not really care what the spec is. A lot of these companies have rather primitive systems, and once made products that were not very spec-critical. For example, one factory I recall corresponding with had originated as a telephone-wire business. Telephone wire is very easy to make. Twist rates aren't especially critical, impedance isn't especially critical, and so if you've got the ability to insulate wire, twist it and jacket it, you're a telephone wire company. Companies like this will take a look at a coax, or a high-speed data cable, and just copy it, with highly variable results. Most of the customers don't know enough about the product -- and this is true at the importer/wholesaler level, too -- to actually do any independent evaluation of quality, so it goes to market. But what is the impedance of that coax? What's the impedance of those pairs? Are the UL codes printed on the jacket real, or are they fraudulently using some other factory's UL codes? On those subjects, it's pretty much guesswork.

    Making a coax, to the uneducated eye, may seem like the easiest thing in the world. So, you've got a wire; it's got insulation over it; it's got a foil wrap and a braid shield, and a jacket. If you and I had an extruder, a braider, and some spools of wire (most cable factories don't draw their own wire), we could make coax with very little setup time. But what could go wrong? Well, lots of things.

    (1) The wire: how well was it drawn? How round is it? How well was it annealed? Has it still got lube on it from the wire drawing line? If it was washed, is it now dry? When we pull it over pulleys and into our extruder, is the tension high enough to slightly knock it out of round? Is there any out-of-round or other inconsistency in pulleys that will cause such a change in wire shape to repeat over a regular distance? Tiny, tiny things--but these tiny things matter.
    (2) The dielectric: what are we foaming it with? Do we have a foamer with consistent bubble size? As the foamer warms up, or as the dielectric warms up, does it affect the consistency of the bubble size?
    (3) The dielectric extrusion: how consistent is the outer diameter of the dielectric? It's being drawn through a die but it's foamy stuff and it expands. How much? How well centered is the wire in the dielectric? If there is a minute amount of lube, or washing fluid, or water, on the wire, is this affecting the dielectric? And, very important for any high-bandwidth cable: do we have in-process monitoring that will detect small changes in the product and correct them on the fly (or, at least, alert the operator)?
    (4) The winding of the extruded dielectric onto a production spool: shield application runs much slower than dielectric extrusion, so you've got to collect your "core" on production spools. Wind too tight, and you crush the core together. Wind too loosely or too irregularly, and the core crosses over itself causing bumps and divots. Is the temperature of the material, and hence the final size of the bubbles, still changing at this point?
    (5) Shield foil wrapping: your foil can easily fold up while being wound onto the core. How are you going to stop this from happening? The foil should have a shorting fold. Does your foil wrap machine consistently produce that shorting fold, without gaps?
    (6) Braiding: tension is important. The coax has got to be fed through the braider at a rate consistent with the application of the braid. And the braider is a clattering nineteenth-century steampunk kind of an affair...do all the parts do what they're supposed to do? And do you have a nineteenth-century steampunk mechanic on hand if they don't?
    (7) Jacketing: Ah, this is getting easier. But you do need the jacket to extrude on nicely so that it doesn't infiltrate the braid excessively but does bond to it well enough to keep the insides of the cable from slipping through it as through a tube when somebody goes to terminate the stuff. And the jacket material is critical to your UL rating and NEC rating...

    So, you, I, and a buddy or two could knock out some coax if we were left in an abandoned cable factory for a while. But when we stuck some BNCs on the end of it and sweep-tested it, we'd probably see a lot of nice spiky return loss, and we'd probably find that its impedance bore no very close resemblance to whatever we were shooting for. And sure enough, I have seen a few test reports from Chinese coaxes (not a lot; they don't find them useful for bragging!) and that's what we see.

    In paired cables, it's the same problem. Process control, impedance, consistency. USB ought to be easy to make, but the factory that can't make four good data pairs for a Cat 5e can't make one good data pair, either. And who's going to test it? Who has both the test gear and an incentive to test? For the vast majority of applications, a USB cable that's "good enough" truly is good enough. I hook the occasional printer up with a USB cable, and it works. Whether USB cables are frequently problematic for audio is something I don't know much about, but when we did look at producing a US-made, bonded-pair cable stock for USB a few years back I know that we came to the conclusion that it had a very, very limited market, mostly because USB has an inherent length limit (so we could not have a cable that works over substantially longer distances than others) imposed by its two-way protocol. Maybe I should revisit that -- but we don't sell a lot of USB cable.

    Kurt
    Blue Jeans Cable

  2. #62

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    I use BJC in both the H/T rig and 2-channel rig and they are superb. Good job folks.

  3. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post
    Eh, here is the issue. Whats your definition of a quality cable? Someone may think a Monoprice cable, other person might think a Audioquest Cinammon cable....

    I will simply say that if the cost difference isn't "that" much between cable A & B, I will go with whatever is a bit more expensive (assuming same brand).

    Case and point. I am looking at Audioquest Cinnamon HDMI cables over Audioquest Forest cables simply because I dont need a super long run (and after some talks with a couple trusted sources, as well as a HDMI demo at Ovation of a BUNCH of HDMI cables). If I needed a MUCH longer cable, then perhaps I would be looking at the Forest.

    But thats me, and like we all know, this is a hotly contested subject for which no one ever "really" wins.
    The definition of a quality cable is one that passes spec correctly and doesn't pick up interference due to poor design, materials or improper termination. Once proper spec and termination are reached , no gain can be had by going with a higher end cable.
    If the mono price cable is built to perfection, then this cable will pass all the digital signal properly and your DAC will receive all the signal and you will hear all the quality from whatever you are sending it from. There are so many other ways to improve your system, this isn't one that the more you spend the better you are. You do however have to have a quality cable.
    Dan
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  4. #64

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    Quote Originally Posted by mccarty250 View Post
    If the cable is in spec it will do the job. As to quality I won't argue there, if it falls apart or is going to have a physical defect pay a little bit more.

    I don't think you need audioquest anything, just a good build quality HDMI cable but again that's contested.

    What I find to be in contention is what the current spec is on HDMI since they keep changing the signalling spec to account for new features that they want to use the same connector for.
    As I agree with you on many points, I have found that Audioquest builds quality cables even at the entry levels. You can be assured that when you buy a cable from them, it meets spec. It's really up to you where you stop in the higher quality that they bring which is higher end materials.
    Dan
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  5. #65

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    Again Kurt, thank you for your well thought out and informative explanation of the process. Truly more goes into making a cable as some may think. Like you said, everything matters....a famous saying around here.

    I'm just having trouble wrapping my brain around this.....whats the point of having specs if there's no compliance ? No way to check. So basically the consumer is flying blind in that aspect. I guess then we all are at the mercy of manufactures specified information, be it true or not.

  6. #66

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    The specs are indeed important, to those users who understand them and rely on them. So data center installers, for example, are much likelier to buy patch cords from known quality suppliers because they know what this is all about, and because they're fairly likely to have the test gear to actually check installed system compliance. There are a few vendors who cater to that market, but you'll never see their stuff in the stores, or even on consumer-oriented websites--it's all at broadcast supply houses and the like who deal with the commercial integrator/installer market.

    But to the consumer, yeah. It's a mess. When you need a $10K gizmo to check spec compliance, few people will, and there is so much dishonesty out there. Not only is there a lot of outright lying about spec compliance, but there are other issues as well. One major online vendor was caught last year selling network cable with counterfeit UL certifications -- that's the kind of thing that can happen when you job out all of your cable assembly to the Chinese factory that does it cheapest.

    In the consumer market, people seem to tend to get driven into two camps: the "cables don't matter, period" camp and the "look at my fancy ten thousand dollar cables!" camp. We have for a long while been trying, with some success, to find a "third way" in this market: how about cables that actually are made correctly, but the price of which bears a reasonable relation to the actual materials and processes of manufacture? In this position one gets shot by both sides, which makes for some interesting problems in triangulation; we have to both explain why something we sell is actually worth more than a 79 cent Chinese patch cord AND explain why spending ten or a hundred times what our product costs won't probably get you anything better.

    I think that there is a general perception that it just doesn't matter, and that leads people to a price-driven "race to the bottom." It is assumed that any network cable will do what any other will. And indeed, if all you do is push word processing files around a small network, you can put up with horrible connection quality. The mantra we hear most often is the "it's all ones and zeros" argument. While we agree that if a digital bitstream is recovered correctly by a receiving circuit, no improvement in cable quality would make any difference, what we try to point out to people is that this is a big "if." It sounds easy, in principle, to push ones and zeros down a cable. When I turn my light switch "on," it goes on, and when I turn it off, it goes off; digital signalling, people suppose, must work pretty much like that, with nice, unambiguous, easily differentiated ones and zeros. But when picoseconds count, those on/off events no longer look so sharp and clean.

    By the way, if anyone here has a network cable you'd like to see tested, shoot it to me and I'll run it through the Fluke, and generate you a test report, free of charge. All I ask is that you send me the return postage.

    Kurt
    Blue Jeans Cable

  7. #67

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    Wow, thats a pretty cool offer Kurt....

    I may send you a couple of my cables from Uverse and the stock Linksys cable's just for giggles...
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  8. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by KurtBJC View Post
    .........

    In the consumer market, people seem to tend to get driven into two camps: the "cables don't matter, period" camp and the "look at my fancy ten thousand dollar cables!" camp. We have for a long while been trying, with some success, to find a "third way" in this market: how about cables that actually are made correctly, but the price of which bears a reasonable relation to the actual materials and processes of manufacture? In this position one gets shot by both sides, which makes for some interesting problems in triangulation; we have to both explain why something we sell is actually worth more than a 79 cent Chinese patch cord AND explain why spending ten or a hundred times what our product costs won't probably get you anything better.



    Kurt
    Blue Jeans Cable
    How true. I went through the cable experimental phase for 15 years before I finally settled on your LC-1 IC's for stereo and your Belden 1694A for digital. When people post about upgrading from stock cable I always mention these but I feel the same as you, that they are not expensive enough to be taken seriously as an upgrade to most people.
    I'd be interested though, to hear your thoughts on power cables. A large number of us here are convinced, having proven to ourselves through experimentation, that power cords can make an audible and positive difference. There's no way anyone could convince me that any power cord could possibly be worth upwards of $500, but I do believe there are audible improvements to be had over stock power cords. What are your thoughts?
    EDIT: I notice you don't seem to carry any which is why I ask.
    Last edited by dragon1952; 01-18-2014 at 03:39 PM.
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  9. #69

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    As a general proposition, I can't see how a power cord is likely to have an effect upon sound. But there are exceptions to general propositions, of course. The main thing that comes to mind would be simple sizing--that a power cord which is undersized can put enough resistance in the line to make it rough on the power supply under conditions of heavy draw (e.g., when there is a lot of power going into bass). There are some other possibilities, but they'd be sort of weird -- RF pickup through a power cord, for example. Assuming decently designed power supplies in the gear in use, however, that shouldn't really happen.

    Now, there are odd things that happen in practice, and it may be that there are special conditions where this sort of thing happens, but I'd have to think it was unusual. By the time AC makes its way through a transformer, through a rectifier, through a filter, and through a voltage regulator, there's not a lot that's getting through. I have never heard a rationale for power cord effects that I really found credible, beyond the possibility of undersizing.

    Power conditioning can be useful, if you've got a problematic AC supply; my older brother used to be in the VHS duplication business, and when you've got a hundred machines making tapes, one little transient in the AC supply that puts a dropout on a hundred tapes simultaneously is a real pain, so he had some serious industrial-grade power equipment to clean things up.

    We have often thought about adding power cords to our line. The problem is that it's quite a product-liability concern -- we want to be sure that we are not going to set anyone's gear on fire or burn anyone's house down. What I'd like to do is use an ultrasonic welder to affix the wires to the terminals, and then do a plastic overmold on each end. But currently we don't do plastic overmolding and so we're looking at a lot of tooling cost --50K or so -- to get into it. Once we were in it, we would probably do something very conventional -- just good high-flex portable cordage, in large-gauge, high-strand-count copper. If that had audible effects upon someone's system, we'd be happy to hear it--but we wouldn't be able to predict such a result and would pretty much just sell this on the basis of it being a solidly made, US-manufactured product.

    Kurt
    Blue Jeans Cable

  10. #70

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    OK, thanks for your reply. I know this is off topic and I'm definitely not trying to start a debate. I just respect your opinion. So are you saying that you think that most throw-in stock 16-18g power cords would be sufficient in most cases and under normal conditions?
    Last edited by dragon1952; 01-18-2014 at 04:49 PM.
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  11. #71

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    I guess also Kurt, is that there's a lot of real estate between stock cords and 10,000 buck cords. I would imagine the laws of diminishing returns apply the higher up you go.

    From an engineering stand point, everything matters in the process of making a cable. Should one not assume it also matters in the sound ? Like I said before, I'm not too interested on whats inside, just how it sounds because that's what I listen to....the sound, not the specs. Having tried a fairly good variety of cables over the years I can attest that they do make a difference to my ears with my gear. Of course speculation arises once you get into good quality and designs, how much better can it get....right ? There is no magic fairy dust in cables .

    A coloration of the sound ? Obviously, but one I like anyway. Everything in the chain...cables/gear/speakers, colors the sound to a degree. Trick is getting the combinations that float your boat.

  12. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyb View Post
    There is no magic fairy dust in cables .
    Not in but sometimes around...;) For filtering purposes. I still have the original Shunyata Hydra that's packed with what they called Stardust. They have a technical name/number for the dust but I'm too lazy to look it up.
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  13. #73

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    Which Fluke do you use?

    I use these two devices:

    http://www.bytebrothers.com/bb_teste..._Main_Page.htm

    http://www.bytebrothers.com/bb_teste...0Certifier.htm





    Quote Originally Posted by KurtBJC View Post
    The specs are indeed important, to those users who understand them and rely on them. So data center installers, for example, are much likelier to buy patch cords from known quality suppliers because they know what this is all about, and because they're fairly likely to have the test gear to actually check installed system compliance. There are a few vendors who cater to that market, but you'll never see their stuff in the stores, or even on consumer-oriented websites--it's all at broadcast supply houses and the like who deal with the commercial integrator/installer market.

    But to the consumer, yeah. It's a mess. When you need a $10K gizmo to check spec compliance, few people will, and there is so much dishonesty out there. Not only is there a lot of outright lying about spec compliance, but there are other issues as well. One major online vendor was caught last year selling network cable with counterfeit UL certifications -- that's the kind of thing that can happen when you job out all of your cable assembly to the Chinese factory that does it cheapest.

    In the consumer market, people seem to tend to get driven into two camps: the "cables don't matter, period" camp and the "look at my fancy ten thousand dollar cables!" camp. We have for a long while been trying, with some success, to find a "third way" in this market: how about cables that actually are made correctly, but the price of which bears a reasonable relation to the actual materials and processes of manufacture? In this position one gets shot by both sides, which makes for some interesting problems in triangulation; we have to both explain why something we sell is actually worth more than a 79 cent Chinese patch cord AND explain why spending ten or a hundred times what our product costs won't probably get you anything better.

    I think that there is a general perception that it just doesn't matter, and that leads people to a price-driven "race to the bottom." It is assumed that any network cable will do what any other will. And indeed, if all you do is push word processing files around a small network, you can put up with horrible connection quality. The mantra we hear most often is the "it's all ones and zeros" argument. While we agree that if a digital bitstream is recovered correctly by a receiving circuit, no improvement in cable quality would make any difference, what we try to point out to people is that this is a big "if." It sounds easy, in principle, to push ones and zeros down a cable. When I turn my light switch "on," it goes on, and when I turn it off, it goes off; digital signalling, people suppose, must work pretty much like that, with nice, unambiguous, easily differentiated ones and zeros. But when picoseconds count, those on/off events no longer look so sharp and clean.

    By the way, if anyone here has a network cable you'd like to see tested, shoot it to me and I'll run it through the Fluke, and generate you a test report, free of charge. All I ask is that you send me the return postage.

    Kurt
    Blue Jeans Cable
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  14. #74

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    Sal, a Fluke DTX-1800 according to the reports I received with cables.
    Last edited by SCompRacer; 01-18-2014 at 07:14 PM.
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's
    Krell KRC-HR Class A Pre w/ Reference Phono
    Krell Class A KSA-250
    Harmonic Technology Pro 9+
    Squeezebox Touch / Welborne Labs PS / I2S Out Mod
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    Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC
    Sennheiser HD650
    Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive
    AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm
    AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R
    Shunyata Hydra (Original)
    NHT B-12d subs
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  15. #75

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    Yeah I don't deal with cables enough to offset the cost of a $12K cable tester. The $1000 on spent on the two ByteBrothers works perfectly for me.



    Quote Originally Posted by SCompRacer View Post
    Sal, a Fluke DTX-1800 according to the reports I received with cables.
    Polk Audio SDA SRS 1.2TL's
    With new Exotic wood, Sonicaps, Mills & RDO198's - Born on 4-24-1989 and Signed by Matthew Polk!!!!


    My Polk SDA SRS 1.2TL's http://www.LASAREATH.com/


    It All Started here: http://tinyurl.com/lasareath2

    Part Deux: http://tinyurl.com/lasareath3

    Car Stereo---->http://www.salsleaf.com/leaf_stereo/index.htm<---- NEW for 2013

  16. #76

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    Quote Originally Posted by dragon1952 View Post
    So are you saying that you think that most throw-in stock 16-18g power cords would be sufficient in most cases and under normal conditions?
    Yes. What's harder to say is exactly what sort of other-than-normal conditions are likely, and what the answer then is. Electronics can be vexing and there can be puzzling phenomena.

    Quote Originally Posted by tonyb
    From an engineering stand point, everything matters in the process of making a cable. Should one not assume it also matters in the sound ?
    Well, interconnects are a very different critter from power cable. Interconnects carry the signal in which we are interested, and for any sort of interconnect there are defects the cable could have which would catastrophically mess things up, because -- well, because that's where the signal is.

    Power's a different beast. You get household AC out of the wall, after it's been through a variety of transformers, circuit breakers, screw-down connections and the like. There's no information in it--just an oscillating voltage, plus to minus and back, 60 Hertz, low output impedance. Now, you can't use this in a modern electronic device. If you're all solid state, you need low-voltage clean DC. If tubes, you need low voltages (usually AC) for heaters and high voltages (usually DC) to do things. So, what happens?

    The current comes in and the first thing it hits is a gigantic inductor: the power supply transformer. This has a massive suppressing effect upon high-frequency noise and whatnot. What does go through it comes out AC, but at other voltages. Now, that's still not useful. To turn it into very noisy, bad DC, we run it through a rectifier; a typical bridge rectifier basically reverses one side of the AC so that we now have a sine wave with half of each cycle inverted to make a kind of long series of arches. This is horrible stuff, noisy, hummy, and so we've got to do something to it. Typically this means a filter capacitor and/or inductor which smooths the DC out by storing the high end of the pulses and opposing sudden changes in current flow. In the old days we'd stop there, and it's pretty nice stuff, but nowadays there is also often a voltage regulator to smooth things out further.

    What emerges from the other end of a power supply looks nothing like what went in. Fidelity in conveying what went in cannot really make a lot of difference, because you're going to transform, smoosh, crush and tame it into something else entirely. Where in interconnects we care about preserving signal integrity, in power it really doesn't matter.

    Now, again, that's the normal case. There may be an abnormal case. A very poorly designed power supply could be a factor. An undersized power cord could be a factor. I am not denying that people have these vivid subjective experiences. In some cases they may be mistaken, and in others not. But the problem is that if there exists some valid, blind-test-verifiable, electronic phenomenon which makes one power cord sound better than another in a particular system, that doesn't help cable design at all. To design the doggoned thing right, you've got to know what you're designing it to do. Idiosyncratic behavior of a particular amplifier has to be isolated, understood and described before you can say what the correct power cord design would be, and then you've got a power cord that works well with that amp because of its idiosyncracies. There is then no reason to suppose it will work particularly well with any other amp.

    And that, of course, is our standpoint: the engineering standpoint. You've got to know what you're making a thing to do, before you can know how to optimize it for the purpose. When one sees a variety of power cords with special dielectrics, odd topologies, unorthodox shielding and grounding, and the like, what is always missing is the engineering justification: the statement of what it is that this does better than a conventional design. I know very well that if someone wants a video cable that can be baked at 400 degrees F and keep working, that calls for particular materials; I know why an ordinary cable won't handle that, and I know what will happen if you try to use the wrong thing. I know why you use 75 ohm coax for SDI, and what will happen if you start using 50 ohm. But what, if any, special power demands do these amps present that can be substantially, meaningfully modified in the last few feet of the power supply run? The rationales given are generally not convincing, and without a notion what the demands of the system are, even if power cords sound different there is no way of predicting how or why, and therefore nothing to design to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lasareath
    Which Fluke do you use?
    As SCompRacer says, it's a DTX-1800. For patch cords, currently, that's both the latest and the best Fluke. There's a new generation of tester from Fluke, but currently it has no patch cord adapters available. The Byte Brothers unit looks like it's not a "certification" tester, strictly speaking, but more like a "qualification" tester. Fluke makes those, too -- the idea is, rather than sweep-testing the pairs and measuring return loss, etc., that one can just run some data through under typical conditions and see how it does. A good practical solution for most people, and much more affordable, but for us it's very important to be able to tell the customer that the cable is spec-compliant, which one cannot do with a qualification tester.

    Kurt
    Blue Jeans Cable

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    Power cords Kurt, just like any other cable, can be good or bad from an engineering standpoint. Thing is, consumers have no way of knowing if one is bad or worse than another.....as with any other cable also. I do know they add/subtract their own coloration, have different qualities that may or may not interact with what they are powering.

    As an engineer, you measure things, have equipment....scopes, deal with metallurgy and those differences and so on. But do you ever put that all aside and simply listen ? I have yet to see a piece of gear that measures tone, soundstage width and height, sharpness of notes or how they decay. Certainly engineering has something to do with it as I would imagine different processes result in different sounds. Metallurgy alone would dictate that, right ? Signal flow, timing of that signal, shielding, noise rejection, etc all play into engineering but have different audible outcomes. Talking analog cables here but as far as power cords go, I believe you get to a certain point and there's not much more you can do except change the coloration to a degree. Some things in audio aren't necessarily better, just different sounding.

    We come back again to the consumer and what constitutes a well built cable made to certain specs. There apparently is no standard, no way the average joe can know for sure. So differences in Power cords may just come down to poor designs over good. Better metallurgy over poor. Silver/copper/gold/palladium and different qualities and combinations to offer their own twist of coloration. Now, one can say anything that colors the sound is bad news, but we know coloration happens in most things audio. We shoot for a certain degree to please individual tastes. I will say I have heard many systems that claim neutrality, ruler flat responses, crystal clear uncolored transmission of signals....and they all sounded like crap to my ears.

    That's the other gorilla in the room, our individual ears. How do you engineer to that ? You can't....unless there's a process I'm missing. So we ask ....what makes one cable better than another ? The spec sheet....or how it sounds to each set of ears ? I can't answer for others, but me personally, have never bought a cable in over 40 years in audio based on specs. Never bought a piece of gear based on specs either. Now even as you stated, specs can't even be trusted so whats the point ? To me it's how it sounds regardless if it's engineered to the hilt or has some magic fairy dust or was blessed by the Pope himself. I jest of course but you get my drift.

    I appreciate your very informative posts Kurt, I actually learned a few things and thank you for that. Not trying to be confrontational in my post, simply trying to understand an engineers perspective. I've learned long ago that what should sound better based on specs, isn't a given it will.

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    I do spend a fair bit of time listening. But I'm also acutely aware of my limitations in that area. It's unbelievable how different a passage can sound on two separate listenings, with no change in equipment whatsoever. Psychoacoustics is a strange field. It has always to be remembered that listening is a highly subjective experience, while sound reproduction happens in a purely objective realm. To validate what we experience subjectively we've got to be able to reproduce it experimentally under controlled conditions, and then comes the problem of working out just what the phenomenon is that we've isolated. The available test gear today is capable of accurate measurement which the ear is not; so when we do find audible differences, we should be able to isolate and characterize them. It is indeed possible to measure things like the decay of a tone, and very easy, once one has set up the right listening protocol and environment, to verify what differences in decay are perceptible to some group of listeners.

    I do not know of any evidence that metallurgy results in different sounds. The single reliable thing in cable design is that it is almost always not the materials themselves, but the dimensional characteristics -- the topology, twist rates, dielectric thicknesses, etc. -- that determine what a cable's important electrical characteristics are. Going back for a moment to Cat 6a cables: there are no unique materials in Belden's 6a stocks, or indeed in anyone's that I know of. What makes them good is dimensional control (greatly aided by in-process monitoring and obsessive maintenance of machinery) and proper design relative to twist rates, spline characteristics, etc. But the PVC in the jacket, and the PE in the dielectric, and the copper in the conductors -- these are all completely ordinary materials. If you wanted them in industrial quantities, you'd have no problem buying exactly the same materials.

    Now, I'm not trying to say you should choose a cable based upon published specs. In fact, some of the worst of the nonsense artists publish specs that are no good for anything -- there's no spec-sheet-checking authority to verify that what's written down is true. What I'm saying goes to a more fundamental problem than that: if you don't know what is causing an effect, how do you design for it?

    And a related question is this: why is it practically always the case that more expensive products are said to sound better than less expensive ones? In the case of power cords, with no signal fidelity issues whatsoever, and with a simple requirement to deliver AC power from one point to a point a few feet away, the only possible cause of an audible difference would have to be some sort of weird idiosyncracy of the power supply -- but if that's the case, we should have no reason to think, for example, that silver-plated wire in Teflon insulation should sound any better than a cheaper assembly using copper wire in PVC. In fact, idiosyncracy being idiosyncracy, it's as likely that the latter sounds better than the former as the other way around. That this is seldom reported strongly suggests confirmation bias.

    Now, again, none of this means that anyone's particular observations in a particular system are wrong. I reserve judgment on the question whether such power supply idiosyncracies as would make power cords important exist. But surely the fellow who says that a $5,000 power cord is superior, but who has no clear engineering basis for that judgment, should have something other than a pile of anecdotal reports to make a convincing case. If I thought I had that superb, sublime recipe, I wouldn't be content to settle for anecdotes -- I would want to validate it experimentally, patent my unique combination, license it out and rake in the moolah.

    It's very easy for me to have custom power cords made -- Belden will put together a 1,000 foot engineering sample of any blasted thing I want, so if I think star-quad 12 AWG stranded conductors surrounded by an aluminum grounded braid and all wrapped in Teflon with cotton fiber fillers and a Solef jacket will make the world's best power cord, it's no problem to make. The difficulty is that there is no engineering justification for thinking so, and really no paradigm in which to develop such a justification. One's got to have a model of the power supply in mind and a view of what the problem is to which ordinary power cords are an imperfect solution. Here, there is no problem to solve -- there is only the possibility that some power supplies may suffer from some sort of unknown idiosyncracy. How does one design to that?

    Kurt
    BJC
    Last edited by KurtBJC; 01-19-2014 at 01:56 PM.

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    I guess there is also no guarantee or evidence that stock throw-in power cords are manufactured to any type of spec either. I would imagine most are made in China with the cheapest material, labor and manufacturing available?
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    Kurt, as a possible future BJC customer since your so dang close, what are your opinions on the Canare 4S11? I noticed you carry this speaker cabling and I run it on my living room system in bi-wire, however unterminated. I found it provided a nice improvement over the crud I was using prior. It'd be nice to hear a cable manufacturer's opinion for a change.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dragon1952 View Post
    I guess there is also no guarantee or evidence that stock throw-in power cords are manufactured to any type of spec either. I would imagine most are made in China with the cheapest material, labor and manufacturing available?
    Yes, but here the main reason to distrust Chinese manufacture is fire safety; it's hard to make a functioning power cord that's really bad, apart from just specifying an inadequate gauge. The spec requirements for a power cord generally are extremely minimal: ampacity's about all there is, and that's more for fire safety (not wanting to melt the insulation off) than for anything else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nbrowser View Post
    Kurt, as a possible future BJC customer since your so dang close, what are your opinions on the Canare 4S11?
    I like it. It's nicely flexible, more attractive due to the rounded jacket than some, and the combined gauge size of 11 is plenty large enough for most purposes. It's not suitable for in-wall because Canare, for whatever reason, still has never had it certified and assigned an NEC rating, but for portable speaker cordage it's just great.

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    I just wanted to bump this thread that I came across today as it has some great answers to a couple of the cable-type threads going around the last couple of days. Read every word that KurtBJC has to say.

    I have recently purchased a full set of interconnects and bi-wire speaker cables from BJC and it was the best $400 I have spent on my system. I will be a customer for life. I don't have anything but anecdotal evidence, but for my system consisting of Cal Audio, Vandersteen, NAD, differing DACs, and a B&K pre-amp, the difference in music quality over the Audioquest varieties that I had is night and day. You've all heard the "lifting of the vale" description; well, that fits this scenario perfectly.

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    must agree Dave...."how soon we forget this great thread"

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    Quote Originally Posted by KurtBJC View Post
    I do spend a fair bit of time listening. But I'm also acutely aware of my limitations in that area. I do not know of any evidence that metallurgy results in different sounds.Kurt
    BJC
    You know I love ya Kurt...but I have to call you on this one. Are you saying, that gold, copper, brass, steel, silver....have no sound differences ? Metallurgy doesn't contribute to the sound ? Then why are you using copper ? Use something cheaper. If that's the case for you my friend, your hearing must be compromised to some greater degree than you previously thought. No offense meant.

    Unless I read that wrong or out of context, but seriously Kurt ? C'mon man, tell me I read that wrong.

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    I must have missed something!
    Has anyone ever shown that:
    "that gold, copper, brass, steel, silver"
    Do have sound differences ?

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    568a and 568b.
    568a is the standard. 568b was the alternate. This was done to make AT&T happy,since
    they had done a lot of wiring this way prior to the standard. And they pushed it like crazy.
    There is no advantage to either format. Most government installs now require 568a.
    And lets not forget USOC. NOT good for data. I haven't seen anything wired that way in years.
    I still have a cat 5 test set sitting out in the garage.
    "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." --Thomas Jefferson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedskater View Post
    I must have missed something!
    Has anyone ever shown that:
    "that gold, copper, brass, steel, silver"
    Do have sound differences ?
    I would suggest to Kurt, since he makes cables, to make exact replica's of IC's using copper-Silver-Palladium- brass-steel, and see which sound better/worse. Obviously gold is too expensive and most use a gold plating anyway. Desiging a cable for simple data transfer is one thing, designing a cable for sound is another. As Kurt suggested, how do you design to that ? Good question...that's why we have so many different sound signatures in various cables. Kind of like trying to make one ice cream flavor to please all, you simply can't.

    I would suggest to anyone else to simply listen to different cables and put your biases aside. If 11tsteve doesn't mind, I'll share his Pm to me recently.

    Re: Cables



    The cables arrived safely today, and I am taking some fleeting moments with them through the Keces on the headphones. And my initial reaction is... "wow"....

    My second reaction is the desire to bop everyone on the head who says cables don't matter.

    This is the sixth set cables to go into this loop, and while they all had differences, this is by far the smoothest, most musical so far. All of the edgy hottness I was hearing in the cymbals and upper vocal ranges has been quelled.... so far. Initial impressions and I need to move these around as you suggested, but again, thanks for this opportunity.

    Steve
    Last edited by tonyb; 04-25-2014 at 06:14 AM.

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    Btw...I'm not saying metallurgy is the be all end all in how a cable sounds. Even Kurt must agree design has something to do with it too. In the end, I'm simply suggesting people try an assortment of cables in their system from different manufacturers and let their ear be the judge.

    If none of this mattered, the cable industry would be small, but it isn't. While snake oil certainly is present too, I can't imagine hundreds of cable makers all partake in snake oil and millions of people buying into it. Sooner or later the truth comes out.

    I've said it a million times, for me...I don't care what the metallurgy is, the design, shielding, how the cable looks on a scope. What matters is the end result in my system to my ears. Does anything else really matter ?

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