"Have the arrow pointing in the direction of the flow of music."
August 1, 2015 4:45 AM   Subscribe

Famed debunker James Randi (Wikipedia) teams up with Ars Technica to test the AudioQuest Vodka, a $340 Ethernet cable whose superiority to run-of-the-mill Cat 5 cables, as per a review by Audiostream.com, is as plain as day.
posted by Gordion Knott (97 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
still not 100% certain after reading more of him whether Michael Lavorgna ("plain as day" guy) is serious, or seriously trolling. His sincerity is quite unsettling.
posted by lokta at 5:03 AM on August 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


These particular cables and their insane audiophile nonsense may be bollocks but I have to admit the apparent build quality does make me jealous. If someone sold an audio quest vodka style lightening cable for even double the cost of the standard iPhone lightening cable (the amazon branded ones are ok, but I've never had an official lightening cable last over 6 months) I would probably buy it
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 5:05 AM on August 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


The thing about digital cables, whether for audio or anything else, is that you don't even have to do a test. You can prove the absurdity through pure thought. Or more practically, with a checksum. Either the bits on the one end are the same as the bits on the other, or they're not. If they're the same, then your cable is as good as any other. Unbelievable stuff.
posted by dis_integration at 5:08 AM on August 1, 2015 [35 favorites]


This stuff has been going on for decades and I'm not even offended by it anymore. I'm glad that the scam cable people have found some easy money, and I'm glad the rich people are spending their stupid money on scam cables and not, say, African hunting safaris.
posted by selfnoise at 5:12 AM on August 1, 2015 [15 favorites]


On the other hand, I'd love to get a pair of those Grado cans.
posted by dis_integration at 5:16 AM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Phfft. They used a Netgear switch. Of course nobody could tell the difference.

Everybody knows that Netgear switches randomly invert the electrons that flow through the switch thereby nullifying the beneficial effect of the long grain copper in the audiophile cable. Aarrrg!
posted by mygoditsbob at 5:26 AM on August 1, 2015 [38 favorites]


While there is no lack of snake oil nonsense in the audiophile cable world this Ars Technica test is not valid because they were listening through the the $0.39 internal DAC of the PC. Any subtlety in the sound would have been quashed by that lack of fidelity in the internal DAC. By a wide margin this would have been the limiting factor in their tests. As the world of computer audio has developed quite a bit there is universal acknowledgment in the pro and consumer worlds that the quality the ADC and DAC conversions have a huge influence on sound quality.

The other issue is that 30 sec AB/X testing doesn't really work for listening to digital artifacts. That's fine for listening to classic analog distortion / frequency response / signal-to-noise issues but not adequate to hear the effects of digital signal jitter or conversion artifacts. Easy to demonstrate: take out one of your CDs from the 1980s and see how thin and harsh they sound. That's before everyone acknowledged there was more to measuring digital sound quality than just classic analog testing.

Regarding checksum testing dis_integration: that's true for file transfers and such. But when you add the realtime aspect of digital audio signals cable induced signal jitter is indeed a real problem and something the Audio Engineering Society has been working on for over a decade.

To be clear, I'm not saying there is or isn't any value in the AudiQuest Vodka cables. And people making claims of "plain as day huge differences" for ethernet cables way overloads my bullsh*t tolerance. Just pointing out that this was not a valid way to test these claims.
posted by Dean358 at 5:28 AM on August 1, 2015 [10 favorites]


All audio cables are directional. The correct direction is determined by listening to every batch of metal conductors used in every AudioQuest audio cable. Arrows are clearly marked on the connectors to ensure superior sound quality. For best results have the arrow pointing in the direction of the flow of music. For example, NAS to Router, Router to Network Player.

Ok now that's just brilliant woo. You're not paying for audio quality, youre paying for sheer excellence in marketing handwavery!
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:31 AM on August 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


It's the magic fairy CD chip treatment all over again.
posted by oheso at 5:37 AM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's all good fun.

As an experiment, I ran my (class D, cheap and cheerful Tripath chip) audio amp from a very expensive humungous linear 12v DC power supply instead of from the out-of-a-christmas-cracker will-probably-burn-my-house-down Chinese switch-mode wall wart I had been using. My goodness, the difference was astounding! I even did that 'listen to all your favourite tracks and hear new stuff every time' thing, which is normally triggered by new, expensive headphones or speakers.

There was no doubt about it - night and day. It's very easy to come up with justification about power supply impedances and the like as to why this should be so, too.

But, you know, Feynman's first principle and all that. Plus, I didn't want to tie up my best, most useful power supply doing that if I could find some middle ground.

So, I built up a (surprisingly simple) Arduino board that randomly switched between power supplies when I pushed a button. It wasn't possible to tell which power supply was switched in, although the software kept a timestamped record. I sat down and spent about half an hour listening and keeping notes.

Of course, I couldn't tell the difference at all. It just evaporated.

When reviewers say that something made a huge difference, they probably mean it. Unless there's some methodology to screen out expectations, though, the review isn't saying anything interesting.

And if they resort to 'scientific' explanations and haven't done any tests to check their validity, then it's culpable stupdity at best.

(The good news was that I convinced myself that the old power supply/amp combo actually sounded much better than I'd given it credit for previously. Free upgrade! Yay for self-delusion!)
posted by Devonian at 5:40 AM on August 1, 2015 [67 favorites]


Audiophile psychology is fascinating. If you could make a straight-faced argument that the key to proper sound reproduction is listening while sitting in a bathtub full of rancid mayonnaise, you'd see at least a few people lugging tubs into the living room to try it out.
posted by Zonker at 5:42 AM on August 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


while sitting in a bathtub full of rancid mayonnaise ...

But (and this is the important part!) only genuine Hellmann's. Otherwise, naturally, you'd hear no difference at all. I'm not surprised it didn't work for you.
posted by oheso at 5:45 AM on August 1, 2015 [16 favorites]


"You can literally taste the difference." ~ Pono Player consumers.
posted by Fizz at 5:50 AM on August 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: you can prove the absurdity through pure thought!
posted by I-Write-Essays at 5:50 AM on August 1, 2015 [16 favorites]


(Non-pathological) jitter only matters if you don't buffer and reclock, and while I'm not terribly current on DAC architecture du jour in audio, I'd consider any design that was in any way susceptible to the sorts of jitter you get in normal use would count as broken.

(God, I remember having this argument around twenty years ago when some audio nut was earnestly telling me that expensive TOSlink cables (actually optical fibres) were better "because jitter". Of a few picoseconds? "Tests PROVE you can hear that!" he said. Yes, tests which are about as applicable to normal usage as Hubble is to my smartphone camera...)
posted by Devonian at 5:53 AM on August 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


All I know is that when i use those cables for data and non music purposes fewer words are spelled wrong. Fact!
posted by cccorlew at 5:54 AM on August 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


Bringing in James Randi on this is inspired. Exactly the kind of guy who should be looking into this kind of woo.

I guess in the future corporate claims will have to be looked at with as great rigor (actually greater, considering the money involved!) as ghost legends, mediums, spoon benders and medicine quacks, and James Randi 2.0 will end up hired by Consumer Reports.
posted by JHarris at 5:58 AM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's just...this isn't how digital audio...information works. Period. Why is anyone taking this seriously at all? WHY??

*starts banging head against table, slowly, painfully, sobbing*
posted by dubitable at 6:01 AM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Bits are bits.
posted by tommasz at 6:02 AM on August 1, 2015


Most "audiophile" situations, meaning rich white dude listening to Kind of Blue in his audio-den, do not need to do the D/A conversion in realtime anyway, and so you can solve jitter the way my Discman did, with buffering and error correction.
posted by dis_integration at 6:05 AM on August 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


Bits are bits.

So, TFA actually gamely attempts to address this objection from the crazed-audiophile point of view:

Even the most rabid speaker cable true-believer audiophiles will admit that digital is digital—at this point, almost everyone has accepted that the bits will arrive, or they won’t. However, the audiophile contention is that some amount of electromagnetic interference or noise is transmitted up unshielded Ethernet cables, through the Ethernet port, and into the computer’s DAC (the digital-to-analog converter), which then makes itself apparent to the listener by coloring the sound in some way.
posted by eugenen at 6:15 AM on August 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've yet to see even a stupid reason, much less a credible one, for why the subtle errors supposedly introduced through poorly-shielded or bidirectional(?!?!) cables would not create easily visible, measurable errors in video.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:15 AM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


These AudioQuest Ethernet cables make a difference. I wish I knew why but I don't. I'm not even going to hazard a guess beyond suggesting that the construction of these cables must affect the way in which data is transmitted. My sneaking suspicion is it has something to do with time.
If these ethernet cables can manipulate time, then at $340 they are an absolute steal.
posted by Phredward at 6:17 AM on August 1, 2015 [15 favorites]


If it makes anyone feel better, consider this: within Apple, some extremely good engineers spend their lives making the audio side of Apple computers and portable devices as good as they can be. They are, in my experience, pretty darn good; they use superior components, have a lot of care and thought in their design and production, and probably have as much consideration put into them as any stand-alone audio device of serious intent.

And then Apple ships with crappy headphones and - worse, far worse - actually buys Beats.

So, no matter how much all this 'audiophile' BS gets on our tits, how much more bitter is the taste in the mouths of those engineers.
posted by Devonian at 6:21 AM on August 1, 2015 [17 favorites]


As Dean358 pointed out above, there's a lot of wrong in their testing. Other than the excellent cans, their equipment is just plain shoddy. Ridiculously shoddy. Any audiophile would use never depend on the DAC inside a computer. That's just shooting yourself in the foot right there. You couldn't hear the difference between a low kb MP3 and a 96/24 in those conditions. And a thirty second sample in a barn like that with all that background noise? WHAT THE FUCK? Talk about rigging the game.

I consider myself somewhat of an audiophile and I'd never use those Vodka cables. I know some guys seriously into woo and something like this is the cable of choice to funnel all those high-res tracks into a DAC, which then goes down a truly pricey cable to a high-end pre-amp.

Yes, there is a lot of woo in audiophilia, but don't rig the test like this. I suspect these Vodka cables aren't marketed to audiophiles anyway. The whole thing smacks of Monster Cable, stuff sold in big box retailers for home theater rigs in McMansions. This was ridiculous and pointless.
posted by Ber at 6:31 AM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


We are very easily tricked by price and hype. I just wish more people would recognize the generality of this problem.

Audio, food, wine, suits, cars, schools, etc. There are shitty versions of each, but the high end is all fiction.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:32 AM on August 1, 2015 [10 favorites]


When I was in Europe last year, every other street vendor was selling Beats for 40-50 euro. 80% of the price in the US is marketing, which fits in perfectly with Apple's brand. They bought it for the streaming service, the branding was a bonus selling point, with the hardware not really even a factor.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:34 AM on August 1, 2015


From the Lavorgna review: If you connect to the Internet and listen to music streaming from it, you have Ethernet in your hi-fi.
...
and all kinds of god-knows-what wiring in-between your house and the server where the music files reside! Sheesh.
posted by dhens at 6:35 AM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


All audio cables are directional. The correct direction is determined by listening to every batch of metal conductors used in every AudioQuest audio cable. Arrows are clearly marked on the connectors to ensure superior sound quality. For best results have the arrow pointing in the direction of the flow of music.

This is an AC signal which by definition flows in both directions.

If the signal had a DC component strong enough to be audible or measurable that would imply that the equipment has a serious voltage leakage problem. Even if you were to run Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) as much as that would be a bad idea for any kind of audiophile setup, you would still not want to be extracting any information from the DC component.
posted by Lanark at 6:39 AM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Fizz: "You can literally taste the difference." ~ Pono Player consumers.

I still don't know what the difference is between a Pono Player and a media player (even an Android app) that can play FLAC.

Between this and his recent anti-GMO inanity, Neil Young (one of my favorite artists) has disappointed me as of late.
posted by dhens at 6:40 AM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


The audacity of the plain as day review is impressive: just the right amount of deflection to make it look like the obvious criticism has been considered, some paper thin hints at an explanation "having to do with time" to help you convince yourself this could actually make sense, and of course the true believer "know it when you hear it" appeal to rope you in. If the reviewer ever tires of rolling around on piles of audio woo seller's money, he'd make a first rate con man.
posted by Dr Dracator at 6:46 AM on August 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


But, what if the priming affected the test to such a degree that it predetermined the outcome and precluded a more detailed test from happening? What if an audience of skeptics—some of whom potentially might see the cable’s failure as a validation of the skeptical point of view—were themselves predisposed to believe they heard no difference?
The real underlying question is whether the priming resulted in a self-fulfilling prophecy and precluded lab testing, and that's a solid question. The "best" answer is to assume that the listeners were being honest and that if there were any audible differences, they would have heard and reported them regardless of priming or their own prejudices


I do not think the cables are magic, but this seems like an awfully blithe assumption. Although definitely in keeping with the self-proclaimed-Skeptic assumption of trust in one's own objectivity.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:46 AM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


(God, I remember having this argument around twenty years ago when some audio nut was earnestly telling me that expensive TOSlink cables (actually optical fibres) were better "because jitter".

Expensive? Yeah, they're optical fibre. They're plastic optical fibre. The bare fibre is $20 per 1000m roll in bulk. And back when silicon cost money, memory to buffer cost money as well.

Nowadays? It's a different world, but the optical fibre in TOSlink was, and is, cheap. I'm actually using it today, but not because it's better, but because it solves a "hmm, out of those ports, but I have those ports" problem.
posted by eriko at 6:47 AM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


But (and this is the important part!) only genuine Hellmann's. Otherwise, naturally, you'd hear no difference at all. I'm not surprised it didn't work for you.

Not Hellman's. Sheesh. Only Best's Mayo works.
posted by eriko at 6:48 AM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm an EE who works with Ethernet, DACs, EMI reduction, Bit Error Rate reduction, and digital-induced analog noise problems every day. I'd love to explain in detail why everything in this article and 90% of the comments are pure bullshit, but it's currently day 1 of a 3 day weekend up here and I'm off the clock.
If you like music, buy good headphones. Better yet, go see a local band.
posted by rocket88 at 6:58 AM on August 1, 2015 [22 favorites]


Not Hellman's. Sheesh. Only Best's Mayo works.

Pssst... They're the same.

(Trust me, I've A/B'd them.)

The real clincher is you need a cast iron tub. None of this built-in acrylic business--too much static electricity, too much resonance in the studs and pipes, too much proximity to 60Hz hum sources. And it needs to be clawfoot, on shocks, to minimize any interference in the mayonnaise.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:02 AM on August 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


The list of lidicrous is long indeed.

1. Consider the whole signal chain from when your favourite band put plectrum to E-string to when the noise goes into your ears. The totality of sins committed against the Audio Gods along that line will keep Hades stocked in souls for millennia. What difference will 1.5 metres of ethernet cable make? (see also: have you ever seen how recording studios do their wiring?)

2. "It's magic electromagnetic contamination colouring the DAC". No it isn't. You do realise that DACs - especially those in high quality audio gear - are in circuits designed specifically not to be affected by external noise? Hell, you realise that Ethernet itself is designed specufucally to operate as an isolated transmission medium? If either of these two things aren't true, then something is broken. But they're true. Nothing's broken. This doesn't happen. But hey, here's a spectrum analyser. Show me.

3. "Your equipment is so crappy you can't hear the magical improvement our gizmo makes." The thing is, it really isn't. There is almost no analogue engineering left in consumer digital audio, at least in the stuff you get from laptops, PCs and the like. Sure, it sounds crappy but that's almost entirely due to dreadful speakers stuck into whatever spare space is in the case, and the various god-awful choices made in source material encoding. Last time I looked at the response curves from a $200 laptop, both in and out, it was flatter than any reference design from before the 1990s. Sinless? No, but in terms of what has traditionally been called 'hi-fi' for most of the life of the term, astonishingly good. It may be easy to overdrive, it may have (mutter mumble Nexus 10) actual audible bus noise on it under some circs, but run in a sympathetic way into decent cans with good source material it will sound better than the Last Trump. I regularly listen to BBC Radio 3's 320kbps stream on good-but-not-stupid Sennheisers on a wide variety of off-the-shelf bog standard devices, and let me tell you, Senator, it is uniformly amazing.

Why does so much digital audio sound so bad in practice? Lots of reasons. Precisely none of them has anything whatsoever to do with interconnects, no matter where you sit in the food chain, unless something is actually broken.
posted by Devonian at 7:18 AM on August 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


the bits on the one end are the same as the bits on the other

Maybe so, but the transitions between the bits you can totally hear. A regular copper cable has sharp cliffs between the 1s and 0s giving your music a harsh metallic edge, a bit like how a 9 volt battery tastes. The 10% silver in the $340 cable has smooth, softened edges between bits that give everything a warmer, softer sound.

And that sound only improves with age as the silver tarnishes. Serious audiophiles seek out the 1970s ethernet cables built by researchers at Xerox PARC for their mellow aged sound that perfectly complements your vintage vacuum tube amp. I've got a friend with an antique ethernet cable that was crimped by Bob Metcalfe himself and the sound is amazing.
posted by Nelson at 7:24 AM on August 1, 2015 [45 favorites]


Tom Cruise and Jimmy Fallon talked about setting up an audiophile system on Jimmy's show the other day. The three page email that Jimmy kept mentioning? Written by the guy that owns this company.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:27 AM on August 1, 2015


These particular cables and their insane audiophile nonsense may be bollocks but I have to admit the apparent build quality does make me jealous.
The key word is "apparent". When put through an objective electrical test in a follow-up article, they received only a "marginal pass" (meaning they did worse than what one would consider a baseline "good" Cat6a cable).
...for all the Vodka’s sturdy construction and heft, it exhibited near-end crosstalk numbers that were borderline relative to the spec—at worst, only 0.6dB above the spec’s crosstalk limit [...]. By way of comparison, Denke also included a test for an off-the-rack Blue Jeans Cable Cat6a patch cable of the same 1.5m length, which demonstrated a worst case headroom of 1.5dB.
posted by ArmandoAkimbo at 8:30 AM on August 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


These particular cables and their insane audiophile nonsense may be bollocks but I have to admit the apparent build quality does make me jealous.

The key word is "apparent". When put through an objective electrical test in a follow-up article, they received only a "marginal pass" (meaning they did worse than what one would consider a baseline "good" Cat6a cable).


And there are still plenty of cut corners:
Then we took the cable we didn’t use on stage and gutted it, exposing its innards. We found an interesting mix of high craftsmanship (a thick polyethylene sheath, genuine S/FTP construction) and corner cutting (masking tape, unterminated shields). [emphasis added]
posted by The Michael The at 8:42 AM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


When put through an objective electrical test in a follow-up article, they received only a "marginal pass" (meaning they did worse than what one would consider a baseline "good" Cat6a cable).

The baseline "good" cable used for comparison was one made and sold by the people running the test, so I'd take that with a grain of salt. (If they were trying to be objective about it, they might have used a competing "good" cable.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 8:53 AM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


(Actually, if they were trying to be objective about it, they might have had had it tested by somebody who wasn't a direct competitor in the first place.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 8:56 AM on August 1, 2015


I recall having a moment with a BestBuy dude once.

"Do you want to upgrade your cable?"
"No, thanks."
"It really makes a difference."
"No, it doesn't."
"It's better."
"No, it's not."
"You get a better picture."
"No, you don't. You literally do not."

It was like Idiocracy. "But this one has electrolytes..."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:59 AM on August 1, 2015 [13 favorites]


I'm waiting for the new line of organic, gluten-free cables myself. Amazing engineering, building conductive cable out of purely organic materials.
posted by Nelson at 9:16 AM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


"I've got a friend with an antique ethernet cable that was crimped by Bob Metcalfe himself and the sound is amazing."

Antique? I think you mean vintage.
posted by jonathanhughes at 9:21 AM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


>Metafilter: you can prove the absurdity through pure thought!

Now I want to see a Doctor Who spinoff show where old Jack Harkness teams up with a young James Randi on a quest through time and space to find Houdini's ghost.
posted by Catblack at 9:28 AM on August 1, 2015


Listening to music is a subective experience. The lightning in the room has no objective impact on the sound from the speakers. Yet I bet we could convince a large majority that it would make the music better with the right pseudoscientific script and appropriately costumed actor playing a physicist.
The currently unanswerable question is, does thinking it is better trigger some change in brain state that actually makes it better.
posted by humanfont at 9:55 AM on August 1, 2015


Cool Papa Bell I have had that exact same exchange at Best Buy too.
posted by Bringer Tom at 10:09 AM on August 1, 2015


Bits is bits. A crappy or inappropriate cable will result in lots of errors - try using an RCA cable instead of digital coax and see what your error rate is! - but past a certain level all digital cables are essentially "perfect".

Don't get me wrong - I spend good money for premium cables - because I hate nasty surprises and expect cables to last for a long time. But these are professional cables - perhaps a few times the cost of the consumer item - not 200 times!

> The currently unanswerable question is, does thinking it is better trigger some change in brain state that actually makes it better.

How is this unanswerable? I'd say definitely, "Yes." People are buying this thing, and reporting positive results in their brain states in great quantities - even though objectively there is no difference in the sound whatsoever.

Better questions are, "What sort of sucker gets off on pissing away money for nothing?" and "Can this class of sucker be convinced to spend on something more socially useful?"
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:17 AM on August 1, 2015


> Listening to music is a subective experience.

There is at least one fairly objective test--for folks who can read music. As you read through the grand staff score of whatever you're listening to, can you selectively attend to each of the inner voices you see on the sheet music? This involves being able to hear each of the inner voices indiidually. This is a good successful test result.

Or does your system just transform all the music into smooth, golden, buttery mush? In short, does the system transform George Szell into Eugene Ormandy? System fails.
posted by jfuller at 10:27 AM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


If it can transform George Szell into Julia Ormand however...
posted by evilDoug at 10:30 AM on August 1, 2015


I'm half deaf in one ear so I feel like I can ignore most of this audiophile garbage.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:02 AM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


But when you add the realtime aspect of digital audio signals cable induced signal jitter is indeed a real problem and something the Audio Engineering Society has been working on for over a decade.

But this is Ethernet. The audio data comes from a file server, packetized and buffered. Jitter in transmission has absolutely nothing to do with audio playback as long as the digital bits are received correctly.

For AES or S/PDIF and Toslink, there is the theoretical possibility of jitter effects because the audio data is not buffered and the sample clock rate must be derived from the transmitted data. But transmission jitter is a high frequency effect, typically in the megahertz, and easily eliminated by filters in the receiver. In studio situations, they will sometimes synchronize all devices using an external clock, but really, that's just overkill. If there are any jitter effects they will appear directly in the source or destination DACs, not in the transmission.

But again, Ethernet has absolutely nothing to do with audio jitter.
posted by JackFlash at 11:41 AM on August 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


Even if all this woo meant anything, why would they use silver, which corrodes (oxidizes) in the open air even when it's not touching anything? Gold at least has the virtue of being non-reactive.
posted by Fnarf at 11:53 AM on August 1, 2015


I don't understand why they didn't use AudioQuest's high end cables. You can't expect to get good results for a measly $340. Hell, that Vodka rubbish doesn't even have Dielectric-Bias System.
posted by flabdablet at 11:58 AM on August 1, 2015


why would they use silver

Because silver is the most conductive of all the metals, and you couldn't possibly have optimal reproduction without optimal conductivity. Stands to reason.

Personally I'm waiting until they release a graphene-skinned version.
posted by flabdablet at 12:02 PM on August 1, 2015


The first comment on the "plain as day" review is priceless:

I've been into computer networking AND played music files (mostly beeps at the time) since 1984.

I congratulate you on the review and I am happy to see that personal integrity and competence of an audio reviewer shone brightly and unambigously through once again.

posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:06 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


So, if I'm understanding the EEs correctly, you'll get the most out of this cable if you pair it with a really crappy DAC?
posted by qbject at 12:31 PM on August 1, 2015


Bits is bits. A crappy or inappropriate cable will result in lots of errors - try using an RCA cable instead of digital coax and see what your error rate is! - but past a certain level all digital cables are essentially "perfect".

There is no "level" and no "essentially."

A digital signal is by definition "perfect," meaning the device either gets the bits or it doesn't.

Digital means it's all zeroes and ones. A good cable doesn't create more ones and zeroes. A bad cable doesn't create twos and threes.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:04 PM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


For the record, latency is a real concern in long-distance data transmission where speed is essential. Read Flash Boys by Michael Lewis for a description of how shaving milliseconds off of the time to send financial data 800 miles from Chicago to New Jersey enabled some people to cheat billions out of the stock market. But that doesn't have anything to do with what's happening here. The music doesn't benefit from "getting there early, because the timing is built into the encoding, not the transmission. This is being sold to people who don't know the difference between analog and digital.

Not that the analog audiophile arguments are much better.
posted by Fnarf at 1:13 PM on August 1, 2015


It is really amazing how easy it is to con people who, for some inexplicable reason, just don't want to recognize logic.
posted by Burn_IT at 1:16 PM on August 1, 2015


Thing is, in this situation, the stuff higher up in the OSI stack takes care of any errors that happen in the physical layer (i.e. the cable). When you're accessing a Samba share over TCP/IP there's a lot of stuff that happens in the background to ensure that things are sane. Even with a good cable you may lose some packets, which then get retransmitted, and the receiver puts everything back into the right order. The amount of data streaming across the cable is miniscule compared to its capacity; if you want to take a drink from a firehose, it's fine if the firehose is leaking all over the place. They also claim to have some noise-reducing properties, but ethernet by design is resistant to noise, otherwise we wouldn't be able to run ethernet cables willy-nilly.

Anyway, the brilliant thing about this product is that it's totally irrelevant to audio reproduction.
posted by Standard Orange at 1:31 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Look, the people in the know stopped using metal (copper, silver, gold, etc) conductors 2 or 3 years ago.

I upgraded to superconductive ceramic cables a couple of years ago and have never looked back. Sure the cooling is a bitch, but the sonic quality can't be beat and the excess capacity from the cooler is just enough to bring the Cristal down to 7 degrees C., which is right where you want it to be.
posted by mygoditsbob at 2:58 PM on August 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


Audio fidelity is actually the worst thing that ever happened to music. Just as reading a story is better than seeing a film of it - because you have to imagine the story yourself, rather than having every visual and emotional element thereof injected directly into your eyeballs - so too low-fidelity recording is better than high-fidelity, because your own brain has to play an active role in interpreting and thus creating the very music you are trying to hear. And that is why the compact cassette tape, playing a mixtape of songs recorded from AM radio transmissions, is the highest form of art. Join my secret society if you agree! And if you disagree forget I said anything about a secret society. Please. It's a secret.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:01 PM on August 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


I recall having a moment with a BestBuy dude once.

Those moments can be horrible and time consuming, but also amusing. My sister and I helped my father buy a television there a couple of years ago (the price was good at least). The sales guy tried to con us into paying an additional $200 - $300 to have it colour calibrated. My sister's response was, "So you're telling me that you sell a $2000 TV and the colour doesn't even work!" He shut up after that.

It is really amazing how easy it is to con people who, for some inexplicable reason, just don't want to recognize logic.

See the Tea Party and the Republicans, Donald Trump, climate deniers, conspiracy "theorists" and all those who follow them, amongst thousands of other things.
posted by juiceCake at 4:42 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Pssst... They're the same.

Please, cortex, I beg you, JUST ONE IMAGE LINK!

(Trust me, I've A/B'd them.)

That must have been messy.
posted by eriko at 6:22 PM on August 1, 2015


Why is there so much audiophile woo and very little videophile woo? I've never heard anyone say that with the right cable, all my movies will be more enjoyable. Maybe a market opportunity?
posted by miyabo at 8:22 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Regarding checksum testing dis_integration: that's true for file transfers and such. But when you add the realtime aspect of digital audio signals cable induced signal jitter is indeed a real problem and something the Audio Engineering Society has been working on for over a decade.

These are not realtime cables. They do not have a sample-rate clock like digital audio cables. They are data cables - and is certainly true that if the bits match at either end they are equivalent.

It's kind of stupid that Randi and Ars Technica even bothered to test the audio. If anything, it just adds to the confusion, as appears to sadly be in display here in abundance. The jokes have been pretty good, though.
posted by iotic at 8:30 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Companies like Audioquest are the Anti-Vaxers of the engineering world.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 12:09 AM on August 2, 2015


juiceCake: "The sales guy tried to con us into paying an additional $200 - $300 to have it colour calibrated."

This is not a useless thing. New TVs and computer should be fairly correct, but things drift over time (and it's eminently possible to get them entirely out of whack just by messing with menu settings).

And it's pretty obvious that it's not a con. Just profile and calibrate a computer monitor, then switch between the new profile and the old. Or put two freshly calibrated computer monitors next to each other, and watch how they match in color when you apply the calibration, and do not when you turn it off.

That said, 300 bucks for calibrating a new TV does sound excessive, but if you buy an expensive TV and care about image quality, I think it might well be worth it. And if you use a computer for anything where color matters, please, spend a few hundred bucks for a calibration probe and some software, and calibrate once in a while (every 6 months, maybe).
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:12 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why is there so much audiophile woo and very little videophile woo?

Because the audiophile world is populated by a large number of people who don't believe that there are any objective measures that can be applied to audio signals which correlate with perceived sound quality. (They are largely incorrect.)

In the video world objective measurement has always been part of the story.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 12:16 AM on August 2, 2015


I've never heard anyone say that with the right cable, all my movies will be more enjoyable.

With video it's a bit more overt and perhaps a little more defensible. After all, The Simpsons really might be more amusing when you watch it on a 4K screen.
posted by flabdablet at 12:18 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


The sales guy tried to con us into paying an additional $200 - $300 to have it colour calibrated

Joakim Ziegler already covered this, I'll just add the reason most TVs do need to be calibrated is simply because manufacturers deliberately misconfigure them to look "good" next to other sets on the sales floor.

Even if you do not professionally adjust your set with a colourimetre and all that jazz (I never did), at least tweaking the contrast, brightness, etc using some test patterns for your viewing environment is good practice. In most models, apparently setting it to "cinema" mode or other similar preset already goes a long way. Of course, you might still subjectively prefer the torch/vivid mode, in which case you'd be objectively wrong and should feel objectively bad.
posted by Bangaioh at 3:54 AM on August 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


So the audiophile phenomenon didn't appear fully-formed from a vacuum. In the early days of home audio systems, there was a lot of fiddly/finnicky stuff you had to do to get rid of all kinds of artifacts. It was a major engineering project to remove interference and distortion from the entire path, and sometimes inexplicable changes would adjust the entire environment in vast chaotic ways.

But once the "hi-fi" era came, this stuff was all pushbutton. When I was a gradeschooler my parents bought a stereo system with a little Dolby Noise Reduction switch, and I used to enjoy listening to the hiss pop in and out behind radio broadcasts and songs on cassette. You no longer needed to perform bizarre surgery on your stereo to make the audio recognisable, and your biggest problems were reduced to pickup hiss and mains hum. So this stuff kept on with static guns and a little careful management of speaker wire, but the market kept pushing odd solutions to the more confused consumers.

So yes, there's the situation now where people are trying to tell you that your speaker wire won't do, despite it being identical to the stuff coiled around the magnets in your high-end speakers. And it seems that audiophile marketing persists in advancing the mistaken belief that digital audio produces stair-step wave approximations.

The best audiophile site I came across was one that started out selling tourmaline crystals you hang off your computer to "de-sample" the audio (presumably based on the stair-step lie debunked in my previous link), and then as you went deeper it sold nutritional supplements claimed to turn you into an audiophile. The unstated idea behind all this was that these people are physically superior to everyone else for being able to hear these artifacts that aren't there.

And that's where it begins to be a bit like a form of the environmental sensitivity hallucinations that have come up on the blue before: these people claim to experience discomfort in the presence of modern technology, and the remedy is expensive new age crystal therapy and vitamins.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 5:19 AM on August 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


All this work, a flight to Vegas, 3 page article, and their sample size was seven?
posted by nathancaswell at 5:50 AM on August 2, 2015


Rum-Soaked Space Hobo - the connection between audiophiles and electrosensitives had escaped me until now. I shall be using it at every opportunity forthwith.
posted by Devonian at 5:55 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hey, if it sells homeopathic medicine, herbal supplements and alternative cancer cures, where's the problem? Selling all those expensive audio cables will probably keep the economy going for what... 2 or 3 more years?
posted by sneebler at 7:57 AM on August 2, 2015


I've never heard anyone say that with the right cable, all my movies will be more enjoyable. Maybe a market opportunity?

A neighbour of mine was going on about his gold plated HDMI cable that he paid over $30 for, so someone must be marketing that nonsense.

As for colour calibration. Having worked in print for years (using Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc.) I'm well aware of the value of colour calibration. In the case of the TV, it was utter nonsense. Some minor manual adjustments were made and it looks spectacular and incredibly well balanced.
posted by juiceCake at 9:53 AM on August 2, 2015


> If it can transform George Szell into Julia Ormand however...

Look or feel? (You're not one of those impossible to please people who're going to demand both, are you?)
posted by jfuller at 10:52 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


> > but past a certain level all digital cables are essentially "perfect".
> There is no "level" and no "essentially."

I'm sorry, but you should not be correcting me, as you are wrong in every respect.

(Me? I've been working on digital audio since the 1970s, I worked on error correction codes for Canada's videotex standard Telidon in the 1980s, blah blah, and I have a commercially available digital audio program though these days I do cryptopayments...)

First, crappy cables will result in failure. I have seen dozens of hours wasted because one badly constructed cable in a network center had an intermittent failure.

But the fact is that no cable is perfect - none - which is why honesty compelled me to say, "essentially". ANY cable you have has a bit error rate which is greater than zero. On high-quality cable this bit error rate will be small, perhaps very small - but it will never be zero. Environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, mechanical, flames licking at data center, etc) will affect this bit error rate, often significantly, and often depending on the design of the cable.

If you have an old-style DAT machine, you can often actually measure the bit error rate of a digital coax cable. If you accidentally use an RCA cable, a cable that is visually and mechanically interchangeable with a digital coax cable, you'll get a huge bit error rate - and the sound will sound bad, and I don't mean "golden ears bad" I mean, "AM radio bad". (And yes, I did do this by mistake once, which is how I know...)

> A digital signal is by definition "perfect," meaning the device either gets the bits or it doesn't. Digital means it's all zeroes and ones. A good cable doesn't create more ones and zeroes. A bad cable doesn't create twos and threes.

Every part of this statement is wrong - and you can easily prove it without leaving your desk. The internet is nothing but digital signals - right? So it's perfect - right?

Now, the protocol that much of the net runs on, TCP/IP, is a layer on top of a more raw UDP layer.

If you know the material well, it shouldn't take you long at all to write a tiny program and a repeater so that you can send UDP packets to somewhere "far away" on the internet and get them bounced back.

If you try this exercise, you'll find that a certain number of these packages are lost - which could easily be the whole packet being routed wrong - but a certain number of the packets are apparently received but are different from what you sent (you will usually be able to notice this because the checksum is bad but sometimes you'll get a package with two errors so the checksum seems fine...)

These are digital errors - those imperfections you believe don't exist. These are part of the reason that TCP/IP exists. The error rate will be tiny if you're sending in your personal network, huge if you are bouncing New York to Karachi, and somewhere in between if you are bouncing off Tokyo to Sydney.

Let me tell you one more story about "perfect". Google has their Google File System, which allows very large files and provides a great deal of error detection and some error correction.

I read (when I was there, can't find an external link) that the genesis for GFS came fairly early on when someone copied a simply huge file and then discovered it had gotten corrupted. They tested every part of the copy path and it was perfect. At some point, someone did a calculation and realized that the file so was so big that chances of a bit flipping because an alpha particle had physically hit a bit in the RAM and flipped it was about 5%...

The moral of the story? Perfection is impossible - digital or otherwise.

Now, you can reduce the chances of error significantly by error correction codes - a means of adding controlled redundancy to a digital signal to allow you to not just detect but correct errors. A high-quality error correcting code can perform wonders, but it is impossible still to reduce the effective error rate to zero - just "very small".


> Digital means it's all zeroes and ones.

Sorry to be so monotonous, but this is also wrong.

Digital means that a signal has a fixed number of discrete levels - but that number of levels definitely doesn't have to be "two". Many early digital computers were base-10, which means that each signal line has ten possible levels - of course, that turned out to be a dumb idea because it's much easier to distinguish between "off" and "on"

Ternary computing - where you use the levels -1, 0 and 1 and do everything base three - might actually have been "better" than binary, or at least more power efficient, because you get over half an extra bit per wire for very little extra power or circuitry, but, well, the simplicity of binary won out and probably just as well.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:52 PM on August 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


This is what I said to you in mail.

The issue is that sellers of expensive cables are saying it can make a digital signal better. Not faster. Not without interruption of data. Not dropping packets.

Better. Qualitatively. The cable is creating more or different ones and zeroes.

Please.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:59 PM on August 2, 2015


Now, the protocol that much of the net runs on, TCP/IP, is a layer on top of a more raw UDP layer.

Actually, both TCP and UDP are transported over IP, which is why they both use IP addresses and ports, but TCP does not ride atop UDP. TCP breaks up a cotninuous data stream and performs checks and timeouts and retransmit requests as necessary to make sure you get every single byte (or 'octet') in the order it was sent. UDP transmits packets which you have to assemble and does no error checking other than what is guaranteed by the IP specification, very specifically not guaranteeing when or whether any packet will actually arrive where you sent it. But there is a UDP header which does not appear in a TCP packet. It's a different protocol.

I know this because I have coded the routines to build raw TCP and UDP packets for transmission by a microcontroller via a ENC28J60 ethernet chip, which is a GIANT pain in the ass.
posted by Bringer Tom at 3:17 PM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


When I was buying an HDMI cable, the guy tried to sell me gold plated one. I asked him what difference it would make and he showed me two differently wired screens to demonstrate. One was clearly better. But the other was wired with a VGA CABLE
posted by KateViolet at 3:51 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


In fact cable quality matters quite a lot for VGA, precisely because VGA is not a digital signal format. I have seen a five foot length of bad VGA cable produce visually dreadful results - blurring, edge ringing, smearing to the point of making text completely unreadable - that simply didn't happen over a fifty foot length of much better VGA cable.
posted by flabdablet at 8:20 PM on August 2, 2015


First, crappy cables will result in failure.

We are talking audio here, which has a relatively low bit rate. So first you have to specify whether your audio player is using TCP or UDP for music transfer. If it is TCP, then the bit error rate is essentially irrelevant. TCP has error detection and correction so that the integrity of the data transfer is perfect. Consider, people are using TCP to store all of their music, picture data and banking information in the cloud. You would think that you would hear about it if data integrity over TCP were a factor.

As for UDP, which does not have error checking, the specified bit error rate for 100BASE-T and 1000BASE-T Ethernet is a minimum of one bit error in 10 billion. That is the equivalent of one single bit error in 3 hours of CD quality music, which is completely inaudible. Typically the bit error rate is 100 times better than the minimum, or 300 hours of music per bit error. Even a very bad cable is not going to have enough errors that anyone would notice. If a cable were critically bad, you would notice that it would fail even using your browser.
posted by JackFlash at 8:31 PM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


"In fact cable quality matters quite a lot for VGA, precisely because VGA is not a digital signal format."

The thing is, he was trying to persuade me a gold HDMI cable was better than a normal HDMI by showing two setups that compared a gold HDMI to a VGA cable...
posted by KateViolet at 9:29 PM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Understood. My point is that I have seen VGA setups perform better than I would have believed was feasible without seeing it. In particular, I have seen 1920x1080p 60Hz video delivered over a good VGA cable that is visually indistinguishable from the same video delivered over HDMI, even though I have a good understanding of the ways in which VGA cables can degrade video signals and therefore a good grasp of exactly the kinds of degradation artefacts to go looking for.

So your idiot sales droid might, ironically, have been right that a better cable could, all other things being equal, improve the video he was showing you. He just got the kind of improvable cable wrong, as well as failing to ensure that all other things were in fact equal.

Five gets you twenty that his car stereo is wired up with cables that cost more than his amp did :-)

And of course you are completely correct to say that none of this has anything to do with gold plating. Gold plating is a good thing to have on connectors because it can reduce corrosion-related degradation over time, but there will never be any measurable or perceptible difference between new gold-plated and non-gold-plated connectors in any properly conducted blind A/B/X experiment on otherwise equivalent cables. Not even analog ones.
posted by flabdablet at 11:03 PM on August 2, 2015


TCP has error detection and correction so that the integrity of the data transfer is perfect.

Yeah, no. TCP has checksum-based error detection and retry, and its checksums are not actually all that strong. Data transfer integrity that relied solely on TCP doing the right thing would end up being fairly rubbish.

TCP's error detection is designed to deal with gross errors like packets being mangled inside routers, not so much on-the-wire bit errors due to noise-induced bit-decoding failures. In practice, those are dealt with at lower layers, most often by Ethernet; the Ethernet packet format includes a 32 bit CRC for each Ethernet frame, and this is extremely likely (though not absolutely guaranteed) to detect noise-induced errors. In conjunction with the TCP checksums, this makes data integrity very very good but still not perfect.

However, even if unrecoverable transmission errors do show up in digitally coded audio sent over TCP, they will manifest as intermittent bursts of audio noise. Error detection and retry will make them exceedingly rare, and if any given noise burst is perceptible at all it will most likely be heard as an isolated click, pop or chirp.

What these occasional noise bursts will certainly not do is alter, on an ongoing basis, subtle qualities of a stereo mix like the depth and accuracy of the sound stage or the clarity, timbre and dynamics of the recorded instruments. Audiophiles who detect that kind of improvement from switching cables are fooling themselves.
posted by flabdablet at 11:33 PM on August 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


lupis_yonderboy, I hesitate to bring this up because yours is easily the most interesting comment in the thread, and more stories please.

But your comment is full of examples that are technically true, but practically, over this domain, not useful. Your statement that good quality cables do matter is not inaccurate, but what these guys are selling may not be good relative to the demands of the purpose. It's possible for weird things to happen to bits during transmission, storage or operation, but our computers rely on these being extraordinarily rare events just for basic operation, and this isn't a Google data center containing files measured in petabytes but just people's stereo setup, and the consequences of a wrong bit in music playback are going to be both extraordinarily rare and probably not going to be perceivable even if it does happen.

Your argument plays into the hands of shysters and frauds, people who will decline to mention to their monied customers who demand the very best that we're effectively talking about the difference between error rates of 0.0000001% and 0.00000001%.
posted by JHarris at 12:54 AM on August 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Agreed. lupis_yonderboy, your true points notwithstanding, it remains the case that any good-enough Ethernet cable using TCP will result in error rates so negligible that anyone claiming there could be an auditory difference should be given some serious side-eye.
posted by iotic at 3:02 AM on August 3, 2015


And multivalent logic is really pretty tangential in this context. How many widely-used file transfer protocols over ethernet use that? So questioning the "digital is zeros and ones" statement here seems a little over the top.
posted by iotic at 3:08 AM on August 3, 2015


Not to further muddy the waters, but most of our ethernet cables are twisted-pair differential signal cables. What this means is that we don't treat a single circuit's voltage as 0 or 1 depending on which side of a threshold it is. Instead we subtract the voltage of one wire from the voltage of the one it's twisted around.

This is delightfully resistant to interference with inexpensive equipment. A simple interfering magnetic field might push a straight coaxial cable into pure noise, but with differential cables it'll push both pairs simultaneously and the signal will be retained. It's by no means a panacea, but it's allowed us to get insane levels of reliability at a gobsmacking reduction in electricity and copper used. It's allowed us to actually run telco-style power (48vdc) over the same bundles being used for signals, which is pretty cool too.

And this ties back into my comments about how golden-ear audiophilia grew out of a more finnicky and fiddly era where the "rig" did need to be debugged and a delicate equilibrium achieved: check out what life was like for ethernet in The Before Times. Coax was horrible, bar none!

Even if you skip out on the error correction stuff we're used to by the time we're at the top of the OSI 7-layer burrito, the actual errors introduced by a garden variety ethernet cable will not materially affect the listening experience for anything short of a spectrum analyser.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 3:34 AM on August 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


It also bears remembering that the cables being tested here were only five feet long. Hell, you can just about run GigE over five feet of wet string.
posted by flabdablet at 7:22 AM on August 3, 2015


TCP has checksum-based error detection and retry, and its checksums are not actually all that strong. Data transfer integrity that relied solely on TCP doing the right thing would end up being fairly rubbish.

Ethernet and TCP use 32-bit checksums. While there are theoretically better checksums -- better hamming distance, ability to detect multiple bit errors -- in a practical sense for audio it doesn't matter. With an Ethernet cable that has a BER of one in a 10 billion and on top of that a 32-bit checksum, the rate of undetected errors, even in the theory papers, is somewhere between 10 to the minus 20 and 10 to the minus 30. In other words, it is possible that you may never experience a single undetected error in your lifetime.

While the computer scientists can certainly come up with marginally better checksums, to call the standard checksum rubbish is nonsense. And of course, even non-computer scientists already knows this. They do their banking over Ethernet cables, pay bills, trade billions of dollars of stocks and bonds every day. If bit errors over Ethernet cables were a real problem, they would know it.
posted by JackFlash at 8:36 AM on August 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


You nerds talking about error rates in TCP are bikeshedding in the worst way. Yes, cable quality matters for reliable data transmission. No, silver-impregnated ethernet cables are not going to make for better sound. And the wonderful thing about digital networks is that errors are discrete and generally detectable.

I'm one of you nerds too and realized I didn't know much about the TCP checksum algorithm. It's a 1s complement sum of the words in the packet. This page claims somewhere between 1 in 16 million to 1 in 10 billion TCP packets will have an error that slips by the checksum. For a file transfer, that's a single bit error every ~20GB in the worst case.

In practice in large datacenters errors happen a lot. That's why large scale distrbuted storage systems include application-level checksums. But buying a cable made from pure silver isn't going to help you much with that. OTOH, can I interest you in some hand-crafted, oxygen-free lead shielding for your datacenter? It's balanced with crystals!
posted by Nelson at 9:45 AM on August 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Agreed. lupis_yonderboy, your true points notwithstanding, it remains the case that any good-enough Ethernet cable using TCP will result in error rates so negligible that anyone claiming there could be an auditory difference should be given some serious side-eye.

Well, that's exactly what I said above initially:

> but past a certain level all digital cables are essentially "perfect".

and I expected to leave it at that, because I was both agreeing with the general consensus on the thread, and being accurate.

Then someone else answered:

> There is no "level" and no "essentially."

But these are exactly the sorts of hedges that I, as someone who does this for a living (at times), am required to put in to make sure my statements are completely true. Some digital cables are actually crappy and even good digital cables aren't perfect!

So I felt a certain reputational need to push back against the claim that I had made a false statement.

But as I said, I care about my cables, and I pay perhaps twice or three times what a generic consumer cable would cost - not 200 times! Past a certain level, it's money down the drain.

And honestly, for all their cost the audiophile cables are less resistant to abuse, which does happen in the real world, so you're perhaps getting a lesser cable for all your hundreds of dollars.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:35 AM on August 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


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