i've just spent a couple of minutes catching up on the above arguments. i find it quite amusing that Mr Bishop is saying even though his academic training suggest otherwise he can hear a difference between cables, and more curiously they are all directional. Whereas the self trained hobbyists are screaming loudly that this cannot be possible without mentioning their own experiences, only that such claims make no sense. The suggestion is that we already know all we can about the properties of materials and that past (historical?) text books are right.
Apart from the fact books are also out of date regarding some of their material before they even hit the shelves, why do we have ongoing research into materials if there is nothing to learn? I reckon that there is currently very little research into the directonality issue as we do not have any way to measure results and besides there would be no funding. But does that mean it doesn't occur? As for the suggestion that for anyone to understand the subject they just read a physics book is ludicrous. Without guidance/training most people cannot read critically and cannot ask the questions required to apply their new "knowledge".
I believe I can, and do hear a difference in different cables. As for directionality I find life too short to bother trying but will gladly defer to the wisdom of the manufacturer.
"...will gladly defer to the wisdom of the manufacturer."
And therein is the heart of the problem. Most companies selling audio cable are little more than marketing operations who wouldn't know one end of a factory from the other. Genuine metallurgical research requires significant facilities, significant budgets and properly trained academics and engineers. I see none of those things. I would wager that few, if any, cable vendors are doing anything more than packaging and reselling perfectly standard metallurgy.
As for the directionality claim, if any serious researcher were to identify this effect there would be a Nobel Prize in it, which you may or may not know, is something that any serious scientist would die for. I eagerly await any research on the subject of cable directionality that isn't actually written by winkers in the marketing department. In other words, if ANY company's work had uncovered real issues involving the directionality of copper conductors, there would be many patents and huge academic acclaim for the researchers involved - the worth of such a discovery would extend WELL beyond the small, prejudiced world of audiophile anoraks.
in buying their product i am sort of buying into their philosophy in the first place. should i ignore their advice and hook them up any i feel? both reversed or maybe on the right way and the other not? come on. wuld anyone do that after spending more than say 50 quid on a cable? i think not.
you may or may not know.......like it, like it. wee bit catty there. yes i am aware of them. did you mean nobel peace prize to stop all this unnecessary squabling? thought not. and also, no they would give one for that.
of course you may or may not know research isn't written by winkers in marketing depts. as for a company uncovering "real issues" re directionality, i refer you to my last missive and why it would not be viable at the moment. can i give an analogy closer to my heart? we don't know why anaesthetic drugs work. they do, we see their effects, predictably, every day. research on this isn't forthcoming as it wouldnt change much would it? so what would research on directionality do to help those company's who "know" is is a property of their cables? and why would they spend a huge amount on something we can't measure yet?
what would research on directionality do to help those company's who "know" is is a property of their cables?
It would, if proven, be one of the most significant discoveries in electrical engineering for the best part of a century. Something not to be taken lightly. Proper research that proved such an effect would be worth gazillions to the telcomms industry where every dB lost is a dollar lost.
For what it's worth, my theory on an awful lot of cable 'phenomena' is quite simply that the very act of removing and replacing a cable cleans the connectors. Most domestic hi-fi connections are of quite shoddy quality regardless of cost and a good clean now and again never did an audio connector any harm.
remember what we are talking about is hearing differences. not measuring them, so forget your dB differences. that had presumably been measured and found to be no different. also so how would it be a more significant discovery than say, superconductors? not many people give a jot for the audio industry, any why should they?
If any difference of performance whatsoever was discovered in a copper conductor based on directionality, it would be a seminal moment for electrical engineering. All the AC theory would be re-written; it would have huge implications for power generation and telecomms companies universally. If there is a physical phenomenon that is apparent with 2m of speaker cable, it is reasonable to assume that this phenomenon would have significance when far larger runs are involved.
Do you really, really believe that if there was anything to this at all, the many universities round the globe that run audio-related physics and engineering courses wouldn't have got wind of something by now?
Yes audio cables can sound different, my point is that properly rated ones dont. Why spend a fortune on a bit of wire made of exotic materials if a lump of heavy duty copper will do the same at a fraction of the cost? Even if the copper cable has to be heavier gauge that the electrically equivalent silver it would still work out many times cheaper. Ok the cable might be a bit thicker but so what? Space or weight isn't generally a problem and the improvement in conductivity of silver over copper is only about 5% anyway. As for directionality, i agree with pluto, if cables were directional the telecoms industry would be in real trouble, especially most phone lines are fed from both ends down the same pair. How would they deal with that??
good point re phone lines pete. i can't help but return to the hoary chestnut that what we hear (or think we hear) is not measurable, and of little interest to the telecoms industry if what they deliver is of good enough quality anyway. lets face it, we don't talk about the high frequencies sparkling or lower midrange being exposed walk through sounstaging or any such thing on a phone line. hardly matters either since we listen on a transducer which costs practically nothing. hifi speakers are more discriminating. and we are listening to vastly more complex signals through them and interpreting what we hear in far more sophisticated ways. not just speak up a bit i can't hear you.....
if different amps who measure well (practically zero THD for example) sound different why not the very things they are stuffed with? i mean look at a review (esp those of roy gregory hifi plus). he is always talking about timing, emotional content and all sorts of immeasureables. how does an amp mess timing up? maybe thats all bollox too. but there are whole company's out there selling on this type of immeasureable. (Linn, Naim).
if i really really believed that there was anything to this wouldn't the high end manufacturers be making something of it? oh that's right. they do.....
just rread your last post. if properly rated cables all sound the same, how come some properly rated ones (presumably) cause amps by naim and Lavardin to become unstable? if the amp "sees" the cable is it not possible, just possible that it can make a difference to the sound?
If a particular load is causing an amp to become unstable its usually through the amp seeing too much of a reactive load, usually capacitive. In the case of a cable, capacitance is a function of plate (wire) area, spacing between plates (wires) and the dielectric constant of the insulator. As the conductors of any suitably rated wire will be of much the same diameter and the spacing will be similar as will the dielectric constant, then so will the capacitance. If the difference between cables for whatever reason is enough to cause an amp to become unstable then in my opinion it was too close to instability for comfort in the first place and would in all probability 'ringing' whatever cables are used. This i see as a design fault with the amp, not a problem with the cable. And yes, if an amp is so badly designed that such small changes in load cause it to become unstable then it will most certainly make a difference to the sound.
if i may i'm going to go all esoteric on you all regarding directionality. i cannot accept the argument that because we cannot readily measure any difference there cannot be one. partly because we are never actually measuring what we actually hear as different, but also because of my (utter lack of) understanding of quantum physics. (lets face it if richard feynman didn't i'm in good company)
now if we measure a material as discrete particles that's the way it behaves. but if we measure it in the right way it behaves as a wave. (best description of a wave i've heard is it is a "disturbance that propagates". for example you get interference bands when you fire photons through a slit onto a screen. in other words the individual photons must pass thro both slits and then interfere with itself to cause the distinctive pattern. you cannot get half a photon by the way, so it doesn't split then rejoin. then we found that atoms do the same. so atoms in experiments behave as waves. so do electrons. we don't even know where they are at at any time, because where "is" a wave? besides the very act of measuring affects the thing you are measuring. (schrodingers cat).
so what happens when we are not measuring it? we have no idea. so there is your lattice of metal atoms with electrons zooming around. or is it, or are they? only if you measure in a particular way, but then we know what that does. or more accurately we don't but we know it does something. directionality impossible to believe? the fact we can even hold a material which isn't really there is the hard part to understand........
Sorry guys this discussion could go on for another trillion years,. On the one hand Pete, Pluto etc. in the bis, making the music, a background in engineering stating known facts, and on the other hand, a bunch of enthusiasts claiming to know nothing about the subject but 'what they hear' and spending vast sums on their beliefs.
I for one have had enough of this never ending disagreements, having posted over 290 massages on the subject.
Maybe the 'aural pill' could be the best to come out of it, as I'm sure it will appeal to all the subjectivists out there, and finally 'put to bed' the disagreements.
i mean look at a review (esp those of roy gregory hifi plus). he is always talking about timing, emotional content and all sorts of immeasureables. how does an amp mess timing up? maybe thats all bollox too. but there are whole company's out there selling on this type of immeasureable. (Linn, Naim).
First off, I am far from convinced that the likes of those companies necessarily make power amps that are highly stable into any and all loads - they are designed to sound 'nice' when working the type of load that the manufacturers deem commercially suitable. 'Nice' is not a synonym for 'accurate', or even any individual's personal opinion of accuracy. Some journalist or other stating that this or that piece of kit made him feel warm and comfy does not, in my view, constitute a satisfactory method of assessing audio equipment. From a marketing perspective it is, however, a superb state of affairs because all kinds of mediocre equipment can be made to sound 'nice' in the right circumstances and thus acquire status amongst the audiophile community who, most of the time, would not spot low-levels of intermodulation distortion or quantizing error if it bit them on the arse. All the school of warm and fuzzy reviewing achieves is to allow mediocre equipment to slip through. That way, the advertisers don't get pissed-off and amateur audio is a vastly more complex pursuit than it need be. To unravel that complexity, folks buy more magazines and more silly accessories to address the problems they are told they have, caused by nothing more than sub-standard products and, I nearly forgot this one, the almost impossible issue to resolve - the fact that the average domestic listening room sucks to high heaven. But it doesn't suit the hi-fi press to tell their average reader that he'd be better off taking up gardening than to attempt to reproduce realistic music in that breeze block shell laughingly called a listening room.
Things are only immeasurable because it suits the charlatans that they be immeasurable.
you were the one claiming that all the answers are in a physics book but you don't comment on quantum mechanics which is absolutely fundamental to this. i assume your physics books don't comment either, so there's some reading up you can do. and then return and try saying any of the above with conviction. i reckon you couldn't because it really is very weird at that level.....
Yes, yes, yes I agree quantum mechanics are pretty impossible to understand.
But we're not talking 'quantum mechanics' we're talking about getting a low frequency audio signal down a length of cable, this has been done for many years, without any degradation, prove able, measurable, or audible.
So what is your point, that you personally claim to hear directionality, if so the a cable must create distortion, the very essence of one direction different to another, so what in big letters are you saying.
by that rationale we have reached the very technological limits of how we can measure?
No, but we're close. We can measure pretty much down to the thermal (Johnson) noise that is the basis of many fundamental limitations in audio. I would also suggest that, if magazine reviews included a thorough and complete analysis by a top class independent laboratory, the objective aspect of reviews would be far more revealing and useful than it is. Many of the parameters that should to be measured are likely to be so close to the noise that analysis needs to be conducted by skilled specialists in carefully controlled conditions. Not cheap.
But as I stated earlier, it is not in the industry's best interests to reduce the buying process to something that can be easily quantified. The vagaries of timing and musical emotion are far more lucrative.
i thought i was being fairly clear all along. also if quantum mechanics pertains to how everything behaves and interacts how can it not be central to this though you accept freely that this is about electrons moving along cables?
pluto....we haven't even though of all the things we'll want to measure in the future so i don't think we are anywhere near there yet by a damn sight. technologically we are advancing rapidly. our computing power is advancing exponentially. interesting thought if you carry that one on.
i personally haven't experienced directionality because i've never tried it, and haven't had it demo'd. however i wouldn't presume whatever my engineering qualifications were that it couldn't possibly happen especially because my classical physics knowledge says it couldn't. i believe that misses a big bit of the picture. a picture we can't see i'm afraid, but it is underpinning all we see/feel/smell/. oh and maybe hear?
what i think would be a more useful discussion would be those who heard a difference, and those who didn't. not those who did and those who never tried cos it would be ridiculous.
in big letters....ok. for you john
just because we can't measure something doesn't mean it can't happen or doesn't exist