Thursday 12 December 2013 14:38 UTC
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Steve, it's cruel to mock those folks who think diamond-encrusted gold cables make their digital audio sound better.
You and I know, of course, that the audio should never have been converted from analogue to digital in the first place.
I once stuck up a length of salty wet string and loaded it up on 1.8MHz. It actually loaded and worked (over a 50 mile path), but it heated up and steamed the water off, whereupon it stopped working.
Whilst I accept that there should be no difference between cable A and cable B in terms of dots and dashes, I do find it difficult to believe that all cables are the same. What about shielding etc - and what about cable length? Is an el-cheapo cable going to be as good as an expensive one over, say, 10 metres?
There is a basic standard that cables need to achieve to be suitable for purpose. That standard will vary based on the signal in the cable and the cable length. Once that standard is met, anything more is unnecessary.
For low-level signals in an area where there are high-power transmitters, shielding and quality of termination matter a lot. In a house with nothing else around, they are less critical.
I would want audio leads to be twisted-pair and shielded, and I would want to know the inductance and capacitance of the lead. For digital signals, I would want shielded (to stop the signal interfering with radios etc in the vicinity) but wouldn't be fussed about the rest.
For loudspeaker leads, I care about resistance (a lot), inductance and capacitance (a bit). I would not spend vast amounts on oxygen-free cable, although there are those who do.
Put it this way. gigabit Ethernet would be extremely sensitive do data corruption, but can run perfectly happily on unshielded cable for 100 metres using cat 5e or cat 6 cable. It is ALOT cheaper per metre than the wonder cables sold by the so called hi-fi experts....
This is my favourite thing in the whole world...
6 year-old 32" Humax with PVR (cost £1500 when new from QVC). Hard disk started playing up with bad video picture, then the PVR Recorded Menu's went the same way, and finally you couldn't bring up the PVR section at all. Ripped the thing apart (bad move - one and a half hours and over 80 screws just to get to the PVR board). Replaced 1000uF 16v Capacitor on the board (clue was badly deformed top when all the others were perfectcly flat). All fine thereafter. Shouldn't have wasted half a day out of my life, as the whole thing died around a month later - about the only thing I rescued working was a 40Gb Hard Disk - whoopie!
String which is wet. Normally, string is dry, and therefore will not conduct electricity. Wet string will, at least partially.
It's normally used in the context of an antenna..."Wow, the signal is so strong here that you could get a picture on a 6 inch piece of wet string."
Glad to see Keef has tried even transmitting on said string.
That's excellent! You could perhaps market it, though you may have problems with the string drying out and also with corrosion of the connectors...
But actually, using the same principle, I made a digital cable with some satellite TV coax and a couple of phono plugs to go between my CD player and DAC. Now I've got cheap ones of both, but I didn't think it sounded brilliant. I took them round to a friend's once, who had just bought a very expensive player and even more expensive DAC. He had brought a few cables back from the shop to try, one costing a few quid, another costing 50 quid and yet another costing 300 quid. We did blind tests on each other. We both agreed that his £2k+ set up sounded best with the £50 cable. Guess which one my £400 setup sounded best with? Yup, the £300 cable. Pfft. Anyway, we compared my home made cable and it sounded absolutely awful. On both. Don't think 75 ohm coax works all that well. I bought some silver wire audio coax stuff from Maplin and put phono plugs on that, and it sounded much much better.
So, for whatever reason, it does seem to make a difference.
You just need to get a dog and tie it up behind the telly:
Indeed, between a CD player and DAC, it can make a difference because you can get quite bad jitter. It's really old technology and the clock signal is difficult to recover. Interestingly, there is little relationship between how much you spend on the gear and how sensitive it is to jitter. Some really cheap consumer stuff was completely impervious to it, and many 2k+ transport/DAC combos were horrendous...
My experiment was a Dolby Digital signal between a DVD player and Receiver - which doesn't suffer in this way.
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