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Author Topic: Cables lubricated with snake oil  (Read 731 times)

sevenlayermuddle

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Cables lubricated with snake oil
« on: March 25, 2017, 11:47:47 PM »

For at least thirty years now I've been able to raise a smile by buying one of the HiFi mags, or recently looking online, to see what they have to say about cables.   Recent daftness has revolved around 'picture quality' of different HDMI cables.   :D

But daftest of all, of course, has been 'directional speaker cables'.   Oddly though, a search of a moment ago yielded no support at all for directional cables.   Neither from What HiFi editorials & tests, and neither from cable manufaturers.   All I found was multiple online forums, agreeing how silly it all was.   ???

So, Question...  Has trading standards (or other)  enforcement finally closed down this whole 'snake oil' cabling industry?
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Weaver

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Re: Cables lubricated with snake oil
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2017, 12:28:17 AM »

As an incurable HiFi buff but vicious skeptic I have been following all the physics-free voodoo for forty years. Cones under amplifiers, silver mains cables for 00s and as you say directional speaker cable.

The concept of digital links made of out of unicorns' noses in the case of SPDIF connections is something I can just about grudgingly cope with, because in the past such systems have sometimes been not entirely digital in their design - but then they should just be designed properly and fully buffered, reclocked locally and so totally timing-decoupled.

But directional speaker cables, come on? Double-blind test and you are toast. I have even read accounts of journalists whacking a signal cable with something and listening to the signal going through it in order to try and give support to the concept of cables having a 'sound'. Even if that is real what does it even prove? (Don't whack your cables.)

My speaker cables are nice and thick with lots of copper in them to keep resistance low. That's it. In any event, my loudspeakers are full of loads of electronics anyway, which is evil beyond words when you think about it, compared with a piece of straight wire.
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roseway

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Re: Cables lubricated with snake oil
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2017, 07:50:27 AM »

When I had a mild interest in hifi several years ago, I remember the impassioned arguments in favour of speaker cables made of Litz wire. But my favourite bit of dottyness was a letter in one of the hifi mags from a chap who was absolutely convinced that the sound coming out of his system was enhanced by removing the plastic caps from his phono plugs. :)
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  Eric

parkdale

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Re: Cables lubricated with snake oil
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2017, 11:08:38 AM »

I've got the Wadia dac and Wadia transport with a AT&T ST Glass interconnect (not coax or plastic spdif) and I use Audionote silver cables (bought trade not retail!!!!) for the interconnect.
This combo still sounds stunning after 20 yrs of use, I can't find any reason to change.
I remember me and my mate attending a hifi show on behalf of a Amplifier manufacturer (Valve) in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, and we heard about his German chap called Albert, anyhow being the most skeptical pair when it comes to tweaking this chap had little stands under the speaker cable and rolling steel balls running on tracks along the tops of speakers.
As you could imagine we left the demo room highly dubious about the whole effect it was having on the sound, so we said come to ours and see what you can do for us ;) so he dully arrived with his 'brown box' of bits, he then placed this wooden cube onto the Turntable plinth just by the front of the tone arm we we're using and the effect was immediate, the sound became more 3d. so we both got to play with this cube lifting it on and off, listening to the before and after ???, Albert had other cubes/things in his box we tried them on different parts of the system but none was as certain in the apparent effect on the music being played as the cube on turntable :-\
Looking closer at the cube which was about 3cm square with a small 'Pin' slightly sticking out of the bottom, this was coupled to a spring inside (Cube was sealed, Albert did not speak english so using good old tech sign language :))
To this day we still talk about the 'Albert effect' which was much better than 'Peter Belts' :lol: tweaks, still trying to work out how it made such a difference.
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renluop

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Re: Cables lubricated with snake oil
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2017, 02:17:53 PM »

I've got myself a new computer, that has HDMI, which my old one didn't. Wanting to set it up asap, I went to the local indie. He offered a 1 m. cable for 14.99, claimed to be 4K compatible! You can imagine my reaction as an HDMIc able is an HDMI cabl;e person. His response was to see what he could do.

Then with a few strokes on the till/ computer it was 8. I know that is still somewhat high, but needs must, so I bought it. later I looked at the receipt. It told me I'd saved 41.99! That I wished had been true.

from that experience I cannot imagine the sort of mark up must attach to things like cables. ::)
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parkdale

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Re: Cables lubricated with snake oil
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2017, 02:21:45 PM »

HDMI cables 5 at ASDA ;)
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sevenlayermuddle

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Re: Cables lubricated with snake oil
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2017, 02:58:12 PM »

I have had bad experience with ultra cheap HDMI cables as the plug housings seem to disintegrate, leaving the contacts flailing around in the attached device.   

So far no real damage has occurred but it would be a shame to ruin a 900 TV for the sake of a 2 cable. For that reason, my budget usually extends to 10-15 if I can be persuaded of better quality materials.    But did the ones that fell apart affect picture quality before they fell appart?   No, of course they didn't.
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displaced

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Re: Cables lubricated with snake oil
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2017, 03:26:46 PM »

I've committed the audiophile cardinal sin of paring a Japanese amplifier with British speakers, so in their eyes no amount of expensive cable will help  :-X  :P

(...in fact, I've done it twice in two rooms - Sony and Yamaha amps, with Mordaunt-Short speakers!  Oh, the humanity!)

Like Weaver, the only cable I paid any attention to was my speaker cable.  The copper's got a pleasing cross-section, and its insulation is good enough to not worry too much about right-angles.  That's about it.

With digital connections, as we all know, the signal either gets there or it doesn't.  For those, I choose cables which have sturdy connectors, even if they're dirt-cheap.

In fact, I'm struggling to think of any analogue audio connections I have... My retro consoles (an Atari Jaguar and a Commodore CD-TV) are obviously analogue - and they're thick SCART leads into a magic box which turns their RGB and Analogue L+R into HDMI and SP/DIF.

Actually, bizarrely, it's my PC which clings on to analogue audio.  I don't know if its hardware, drivers, or Windows which causes it, but I just can't get 7.1 surround audio out of any digital connection on the machine.  So that's got four 3.5mm-to-2xRCA cables to the amp.  Again, pleasantly well-made, nothing insane.

My 'law of diminishing returns' bar is set reasonably low!
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4candles

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Re: Cables lubricated with snake oil
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2017, 03:31:40 PM »


But daftest of all, of course, has been 'directional speaker cables'.   Oddly though, a search of a moment ago yielded no support at all for directional cables.   Neither from What HiFi editorials & tests, and neither from cable manufaturers.   All I found was multiple online forums, agreeing how silly it all was.   ???

So, Question...  Has trading standards (or other)  enforcement finally closed down this whole 'snake oil' cabling industry?


The idea now seems to be that when new, a cable is not directional, but - once it has been 'burnt in', it won't perform so well if you change direction.   ::)


As for snake oil, it still seems quite abundant. Just one example - 35 for a 13A mains fuse - for your 1500 (yes 1500) IEC lead.
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sevenlayermuddle

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Re: Cables lubricated with snake oil
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2017, 04:18:32 PM »

As for snake oil, it still seems quite abundant. Just one example - 35 for a 13A mains fuse - for your 1500 (yes 1500) IEC lead.

I wonder if they do an actual kettle lead, ie suitable for kettles.   I'd love to know if it makes the tea taste better?
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Weaver

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Re: Cables lubricated with snake oil
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2017, 04:50:56 PM »

1500 !! >:(

Good god, I am definitely behind the times.

I did once commit the sin of having British speakers with a Japanese amp.
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tubaman

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Re: Cables lubricated with snake oil
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2017, 09:18:00 AM »

HDMI cables 5 at ASDA ;)

Poundland sell them and they seem to work just fine.
I'm not telling you the price. :D
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