Phobic

A test for power cables

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9 minutes ago, Pinkie said:

And if it's valid to evaluate a cartridge, speaker, or other component by listening, then it must be valid to evaluate a mains cable that way.

I don't think most people on here would disagree, but he wanted to talk about a test, There you go.

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41 minutes ago, Phobic said:

don't shoot the messenger :)

Of course not. As my short-fused Glaswegian accomplice would attest, up here, real men would stab you. 

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7 minutes ago, ChemMan said:

I don't think most people on here would disagree, but he wanted to talk about a test, There you go.

Thanks.  Mea Culpa - I guess I could have read the OP

2 thoughts - based on my last visit to my chum with the measurements. 

1) measure the effect on the output - but although for some purposes he measures that as the output from a speaker or headphone, he also measures the output of the amplifier, and my guess is any measurable mains cable difference would be there

2) He measures silly low distortion and noise levels - eg minus 140db distortion on the HPA4, and he does that with regular mains cables on the tested item and the test equipment and ordinary suffolk single phase domestic mains.

There must be some sort of moral there

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Super Wammer

I just had an email from a dealer about a Puritan Audio power conditioning unit.  What caught my eye was that the dealer measured it, published his results, and tried it in his system.  Blimey, something sensible to admire!

I realise this thread isn’t about conditioners, but if the test is this simple, maybe it’s applicable to cables too?

Extract from email...

Those who know me will know I get a bit passionate about a product that "really works" - having played with the Puritan Audio PSM136 over the past few days I can honestly say this is one of the most cost-effective upgrades for any decent hi-fi system!

The unit itself looks like something out of a school physics lab, no beautifully finished stainless-steel or hewn-aluminium here, just a rather plain looking steel black box!

My first task was to give it a quick technical test using a Line EMI Meter - this would test the reduction in mV compared to the mains electricity. I had previously carried out this test with a similarly-priced competitor product (albeit in a rather beautiful/expensive case!)

Readings were as follows on the Line EMI meter:

Straight mains: 302 mV
Other Product: 230mV
Puritan PSM136: 14mV


My meter also has a little speaker built-in which buzzes to varying degrees of volume according "dirtiness" of RFI/EMI on the mains. With "Product X" the buzzing reduced a little, with the Puritan the meter was almost silent!  

https://www.audiologica.co.uk/product/puritan-audio-psm136/
 

The real-test is of course testing in a real-hifi system,  I can confidently report that the Puritan PSM136 reduced transformer-noise significantly in my Hegel system and the music just snapped into focus, silence were more silent and dynamics improved considerably.....

The Puritan Audio PSM136 is hand-made in Oxfordshire by skilled technicians, it really works and will bring additional clarity and detail to your system at a very modest price. An honest product built with passion and integrity,  not marketing hype and pseudo science!

Edited by Nopiano
Missed some text

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21 minutes ago, Nopiano said:

I just had an email from a dealer about a Puritan Audio power conditioning unit.  What caught my eye was that the dealer measured it, published his results, and tried it in his system.  Blimey, something sensible to admire!

I realise this thread isn’t about conditioners, but if the test is this simple, maybe it’s applicable to cables too?

Without impugning his integrity

It's an opinion, not a blind test, and many people think they hear many things

That measurement mate of mine continues to measure vanishingly small distortion and design high quality amps doing it, using regular dirty mains - straight out the wall

Just sayin' :$

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Super Wammer
18 minutes ago, Pinkie said:

Without impugning his integrity

It's an opinion, not a blind test, and many people think they hear many things

That measurement mate of mine continues to measure vanishingly small distortion and design high quality amps doing it, using regular dirty mains - straight out the wall

Just sayin' :$

That’s fair comment, Richard, and I’m still very much of the view that mains issues are location dependent.  Maybe your mate’s regular mains is excellent?  

That said, although I’m unclear how EMI is related to hum - which I thought was DC related in many cases - I think if someone hears a hum reduction I’d be inclined to believe it, rather than impressions of deeper blacks or whatever!  

Edited by Nopiano

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Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.  Albert Einstein. 

Just follow this old man's advice and trust your ears. 

Educate yourself about how music should sound and you will know the exact moment to show your well-wisher the door before he starts telling you what you think you hear.    

Edited by Audinista
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6 hours ago, ChemMan said:

If you want a test, and I can't believe someone didn't write this already, get yourself one of the microphones and a stand like Martin uses for DSP, get some open source software like REW and have at it. Get yourself some power cables, and conditioners and whatever you want and measure the frequency response coming out of your speakers.

(...)

I realize that a test like this is approximated, by http://archimago.blogspot.com/2020/02/measurements-do-power-cables-make.html, but he is measuring the frequency response internally and electronically in addition to noise and other things.  I want to know what's coming out of the speakers, so I'd measure the speakers.

It is not a good idea to measure after transduction.

Archimago's is the right way to do it.

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6 hours ago, Heckyman said:

The OP's question is unanswerable.

To scientifically "prove" what could or could not be heard, this is as much a question of sensory neuroscience as physics.

In practical terms, if you like cables, buy cables. If you like speakers, buy speakers. If you don't want to buy anything don't buy anything and enjoy your music. 

Whatever you do your system will always be improvable.

Yet at some point it becomes "good enough".

This is down to the individual.

There are some rather crude audibility thresholds, you can measure the effects of the cable and cross-check with those thresholds.

That's been done by Archimago, as pointed out by @ChemMan earlier –> http://archimago.blogspot.com/2020/02/measurements-do-power-cables-make.html

This set may not be sufficient to cover all bases but is already a good indicator of what is (not) happening.

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19 minutes ago, tuga said:

It is not a good idea to measure after transduction.

Archimago's is the right way to do it.

I've no idea when/where/what to measure (other than what you've read) My point is one of actual/theoretical/conceptual experimental design. As I am a chemist rather than an electrical engineer, I will have to reinforce my point that measurement of the sound waves coming out of the speakers is where the thought process begins, for me,  and moves forward (backward apparently) from there, if I am the designer of a test.  This is more of a comment on the methodology of scientific experiments or how I would go about it.

The post was about a test. I've offered a simplistic one. The fact that it's not been performed or understood says volumes about the topic itself.

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1 minute ago, ChemMan said:

I've no idea when/where/what to measure (other than what you've read) My point is one of actual/theoretical/conceptual experimental design. As I am a chemist rather than an electrical engineer, I will have to reinforce my point that measurement of the sound waves coming out of the speakers is where the thought process begins, for me,  and moves forward (backward apparently) from there, if I am the designer of a test.  This is more of a comment on the methodology of scientific experiments or how I would go about it.

The post was about a test. I've offered a simplistic one. The fact that it's not been performed or understood says volumes about the topic itself.

Hi,

Just to throw a spanner in the works.

The claim is that power cables work, because it is the last 1metre that matters and not the entire electrical grid as objectivists contend. That is, how can the last 1metre be of such significance ?

Then we have those who claim speaker cables make a difference, and how much one cable is better than another.

Then why, if the last metre which is a power cable matters so much, that the last metre of a speaker cable which is inside the cabinet always get neglected and doesn't matter at all, but the previous amp to speaker, speaker cable costing perhaps many thousands has such an effect ?

It truly is, out of sight, out of mind, and no logic applies.

Regards,

Shadders.

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1 minute ago, Shadders said:

It truly is, out of sight, out of mind, and no logic applies.

My only answer is I Don't Know.  I'm open to the idea they could make a difference.  I've offered a simple, limited, and some would contend flawed objective test, many could perform at home.

In my experience with power cables I've yet to hear anything of consequence on my system, in my room.  That doesn't mean it's not happening,  it means I'm not hearing anything, and as such will not purchase the loaner cables I have used.  

It's really that simple.  If it doesn't exist for me, it doesn't exist --- for me.   Others may have different experiences.

I've seen a few "tests" that don't support any improvements, but in fairness I've yet to see one that supports the opposite. Hence my interest in the actual topic of the thread.

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3 hours ago, Pinkie said:

And if it's valid to evaluate a cartridge, speaker, or other component by listening, then it must be valid to evaluate a mains cable that way.

Even though higher-fidelity electronic equipment (DACs, amplifiers) is reaching a point where differences in measured performance and negligeable there are still in many cases modest audible differences.

Speakers and cartridges produce comparatively massive amounts of distortion.

Wire carrying audio signal may have a slight impact mostly because some are designed for that purpose, but power cables?

Unless there is at least some plausible theoretical evidence that a "special" mains cable design will have any effect in the performance of an amplifier or digital source then I see no point in evaluating it. And even if a couple of mains cable designs are able to produce a slight degree of filtering one is better off buying a filter and using the best conductor for the (wiring) job.

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22 minutes ago, ChemMan said:

I've no idea when/where/what to measure (other than what you've read) My point is one of actual/theoretical/conceptual experimental design. As I am a chemist rather than an electrical engineer, I will have to reinforce my point that measurement of the sound waves coming out of the speakers is where the thought process begins, for me,  and moves forward (backward apparently) from there, if I am the designer of a test.  This is more of a comment on the methodology of scientific experiments or how I would go about it.

The post was about a test. I've offered a simplistic one. The fact that it's not been performed or understood says volumes about the topic itself.

I suggested earlier to start measuring the mains to identify problems such as DM and CM noise. If there is no noise then you must generate it in order to determine if the cable is actually doing something.

Then measure after the current has been through the PSU filtering stage and measure from then onwards, the reason for that being that, even though inaudible and irreproducible by the speakers, infra- or ultra-sonic noise may affect the performance of a circuit or electrical component.

You can of course start at the end but if the PSU is effective at filtering the noise then you will be doing a lot of work for nothing.

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19 minutes ago, ChemMan said:

My only answer is I Don't Know.  I'm open to the idea they could make a difference.  I've offered a simple, limited, and some would contend flawed objective test, many could perform at home.

In my experience with power cables I've yet to hear anything of consequence on my system, in my room.  That doesn't mean it's not happening,  it means I'm not hearing anything, and as such will not purchase the loaner cables I have used.  

It's really that simple.  If it doesn't exist for me, it doesn't exist --- for me.   Others may have different experiences.

I've seen a few "tests" that don't support any improvements, but in fairness I've yet to see one that supports the opposite. Hence my interest in the actual topic of the thread.

For anything to be happening the cable would have to be doing something.

The only thing it can do is:

a) avoid "emiting" noise

b) filter DM and CM noise (as claimed by Russ Andrews and others)

The first one is relatively easy to accomplish with effective screening I would guess but I am suspicious of whether it would have any audible consequences.

The second one is tricky because the wires themselves if copper cannot filter so it's down to the topology and the insulating material which even when used together would produce very little filtering and probably only at frequencies in the MHz range, of little consequence to audio applications.

By I have disclosed my relative ignorance and would love to be corrected if that were the case.

.

This is not about people's right to buy or listen or believe in whatever they wish.

It's about whether such a fancy cable actually does anything.

Edited by tuga
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