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post #31 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulWog View Post

The testing was blind testing.
Anyway, it does matter how the cable is constructed. Every cable modifies the signal, because it has to travel through the cable. If a cable has more resistance, or different impedance, or different levels of inductance, that all modifies the signal (among other things). Each cable has different properties. If you compare a cheap cable to a more expensive cable, you usually look at worse numbers on the cheaper cable when it comes to measurable impedance, inductance, and resistance.

Are you sure? There wasn't some black veil over each or some little panel saying which one had which cable?
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post #32 of 44
Seriously now, not being condescending, could you describe the circumstances of the blind (hopefully double-blind?) test, procedures, controls, scores, and so on?


Have you looked at the levels of resistance, inductance, capacitance in a cable of typical length and construction (also note the magnitude relative to typical line input and line output impedances) and the effect of those things on audio-frequency signals? You end up with what measures as thousandths of a dB differences between interconnect cables.

Of course, there are also EMC issues as well that could rarely have an impact, but that's really more up to the equipment manufacturers to get right (they often don't). If a cable ends up making a significant difference, there's something wrong with the system, something nasty coupling into the audio path, or otherwise some issue to deal with.
post #33 of 44
Thread Starter 
Here's the lowdown of the blind test:

The system was set out on a mock living room setup (sort-of), but it was easy to access everything. There was a DAC and the Marantz PM-6004 and PM-8004 all set up, as well as a couple DACS. So we plugged together the DAC Magic Plus, the Marantz PM-6004, and then a pair of speakers which cost a bit more than mine but are about on-par. The difference between the wires was relatively evident. I couldn't see which wires he plugged in, but there wasn't any kind-of bait and switch going on.

After the blind test I tried switching wires myself even... non-blind, but same results. There was an evident difference.
    
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post #34 of 44
Thread Starter 
Mindful criticisms and informed opinions are entirely welcomed. I will respond to a couple of the responses above when I get some time to: I don't know absolutely everything since I'm no electrical engineer... nor am I an audio expert. I've just done my research, and I have consulted with a computer & electrical engineer (family member) -- not that he manufactures or works with RCA cables for audio... but he just provides a bit more insight into the matter for me to contrast with the reviews and google searches I've been doing.
    
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post #35 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulWog View Post

Here's the lowdown of the blind test:

The system was set out on a mock living room setup (sort-of), but it was easy to access everything. There was a DAC and the Marantz PM-6004 and PM-8004 all set up, as well as a couple DACS. So we plugged together the DAC Magic Plus, the Marantz PM-6004, and then a pair of speakers which cost a bit more than mine but are about on-par. The difference between the wires was relatively evident. I couldn't see which wires he plugged in, but there wasn't any kind-of bait and switch going on.

After the blind test I tried switching wires myself even... non-blind, but same results. There was an evident difference.

Is there a possibility of distinguishing cables by how they sound when being plugged in, handled? The bigger problem is that it seems like the person switching is visible to the person viewing, or that process is otherwise not concealed. That's why people do double-blind testing, to make sure you don't get any Clever Hans effects. Proper testing is hard.

In pretty much any listening space, more so if the design isn't the best for sound reproduction and is carefully acoustically treated, comb filtering effects from small differences in head positioning make non-trivial differences in the sound that gets to your ears. Even in an anechoic chamber, of course there are differences from moving slightly off axis relative to the speakers. (i.e. more difference than is normally expected between the cables, so you best be careful to control these things too, randomize properly)

What was the success rate for determining that cable A was identical to cable A when tested? Or did the person switching never do a false swap?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulWog View Post

Mindful criticisms and informed opinions are entirely welcomed. I will respond to a couple of the responses above when I get some time to: I don't know absolutely everything since I'm no electrical engineer... nor am I an audio expert. I've just done my research, and I have consulted with a computer & electrical engineer (family member) -- not that he manufactures or works with RCA cables for audio... but he just provides a bit more insight into the matter for me to contrast with the reviews and google searches I've been doing.

As a third-year Ph.D student in electrical engineering, I think that most people overestimate what EEs know (many "experts" in general), particularly outside their of areas of expertise. And even in relevant areas, you think they aced all their exams all the way through school? Everybody's human and can get confused, misinterpret contexts, be plain wrong, including me.



edit: By the way, you mentioned the electric parameters of the cables involved. Yes, they are measurably different. As for what matters, there should be a careful distinction between speaker/headphones cables (running to a relatively low-impedance load, particularly for speakers) and interconnect cables.

Here are some electrical measurements of several audio interconnect cables. You can see the different electrical properties (inductance, capacitance, etc.), and the resulting impact on the frequency and phase response, other audio parameters of interest:
http://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/46225/41567257.pdf

Here's just a set of output measurements of different interconnects, so looking at the difference in signal passed:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/405217/my-cable-test-enterprise
Edited by mikeaj - 10/21/12 at 10:05pm
post #36 of 44
RCA cable quality matters, but not the cost. It doesn't have to be expensive to be transparent. It should only cost dollars.
 
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post #37 of 44
I would be grateful if someone could give answers for few questions.
I've got Essence STX connected to Onkyo TX-SR607 and JBL l890 Studio.
Ok, so from what I read here on forum means that I've got TWO DAC's, one on STX, other one on Onkyo (it's BurrBrown I think.
Explain me which DAC converts signal if card and receiver are connected by RCA? Both or just from STX ? Now, what happens if both things are connected by SPDIF? Does it mean that receiver gets raw, digital, unaplified signal and uses only it's DAC?
Last question is about Essence One. Someone on nice the Review said that signal gets serious distortions while connected through USB, probably due to BETA USB drivers. So now, is there any other way to connect it to PC? For example using SPDIF between Essence One and Essence STX?
post #38 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Krezol View Post

I would be grateful if someone could give answers for few questions.
I've got Essence STX connected to Onkyo TX-SR607 and JBL l890 Studio.
Ok, so from what I read here on forum means that I've got TWO DAC's, one on STX, other one on Onkyo (it's BurrBrown I think.
Explain me which DAC converts signal if card and receiver are connected by RCA? Both or just from STX ? Now, what happens if both things are connected by SPDIF? Does it mean that receiver gets raw, digital, unaplified signal and uses only it's DAC?
Last question is about Essence One. Someone on nice the Review said that signal gets serious distortions while connected through USB, probably due to BETA USB drivers. So now, is there any other way to connect it to PC? For example using SPDIF between Essence One and Essence STX?

Look at the inputs and outputs involved. If an analog audio signal is sent between devices in a playback chain, that means the D/A already happened. An analog audio signal can more or less be interpreted as a voltage that changes over time—when this is applied to transducers, they will move in position mostly following the shape of the signal, thus producing vibrations. Any digital signal is unamplified in the sense that it has yet to pass through an audio amplifier.

If the card and receiver are connected by line output -> line input with RCA (usually color-coded white/red), then that means the STX already did the D/A conversion. There are two S/PDIF signal transmission options: one is electrical using a coaxial cable (uses a single RCA connector), and the other is optical and uses the TOSLINK connector. In either case, this carries digital audio information, so it would be the receiver doing the D/A.

Essence One has S/PDIF input options, so you could use that instead of USB. Seems like a pretty big waste to me for a consumer audio playback system if you already have a good sound card, but that's ultimately for you to decide.
post #39 of 44
Motherboard optical is fine for a transport granted you can get bit-perfect output.
 
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post #40 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ramicio View Post

Motherboard optical is fine for a transport granted you can get bit-perfect output.

This. Original signal is original. You don't need to fork out some more cash for one of the best sound cards just to use its S/PDIF connector (Coaxial or Toslink).
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