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Yesterday a mains cable sceptic had to revise his thoughts.


Fourlegs

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Super Wammer

A fellow wammer @audiobuff came to see me yesterday with the prime aim of hearing the Sean Jacobs power supply with a modified Dave compared to his standard Dave but whilst he was here we had a play with some of my other kit including trying a DC4 powering his Mscaler instead of his Farad Super3. Of course we played with my BNC cables compared to the ones which Mark normally uses but he also suggested that I might like to hear his AudioQuest mains cables (I think they were AudioQuest) compared to my old LAT AC-2 cables and my plain kettle leads that he had wincingly observed to be my normal uncaring collection of 'adequate' mains cables hidden down behind my equipment.

The LAT cables were introduced to me by @TheFlash . I liked their foil shielding (good for RF rejection), ample conductor cross section area (good for current delivery) and stranded conductors (good for flexibility) so I started using them. I didn't even bother to do a listening comparison with any other cables because I was fairly sure that mains cables were just bling and in that capacity the LAT colour of British Racing Green ticked all the boxes.

Mark had a variety of mains cables in his goody bag and we swopped to and fro between them and my LAT cable several times. Just one cable to one component, the Dave power supply.

I now declare that I can hear the difference between mains cables. Or at least I declare that I could clearly hear the difference between those cables powering that component. The effect on the sound quality by each cable was reproducible and was heard each time we swopped to that particular cable. I cannot recall what exact cables Mark had brought but their original cost was quite expensive, bordering on eye wateringly so for one of them. We were therefore both pretty surprised that the old LAT cable was preferred by both of us and by some margin.

I admit I am very surprised by what I heard and I will revisit @George 47 and his mains cable review with somewhat more interest.

Having tried changing mains cables Mark suggested we try his Synergistic Orange Fuse in my LAT cable. I found this less compelling when just in the cable powering the Dave supply but it is possible that I heard slightly more effect when inserted in the plug for the PliXir balanced mains supply supplying all my components. To me the Synergistic Orange Fuse is in the more listening required category compared to the mains cable swops.

I am sure many or most wammers are in the mains cable sceptic group just as I was before yesterday but no wammers were killed or injured and Mark and I had an entertaining afternoon of listening so all I can suggest is to invite a friend with some mains cables and have a go.

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Super Wammer

Shhhh! Don't mention the LAT AC-2! They'll all want one...

Seriously, it would be great to know what the current (ahem) equivalent of these discontinued cables is and at sensible prices (if anything more than a £5 kettle lead can be considered sensible). I used to pick them up for maybe £100ish used, RRP obviously higher but never eye-wateringly expensive like some of the crazy stuff out there. As Nick says, all I would seek in a mains cable is shielding and chunky conductors (stranded conductors they may have but they're still pretty unwieldy). If folk have other well-designed, cost-effective recommendations I'd be pleased to see them.

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The two cables you heard were the Audioquest Hurricane (high current) and the Audioquest Blizzard, the Hurricane was the expensive 3 stranded one.  I was expecting that to make a nice improvement, however as it turns out with a lot of testing stories, the result of the actual testing was the exact opposite, the Hurricane made things a bit muddier and less detailed!  Much to my minor despair I might add, I thought that was going to be an end game cable for me, but it is now on the list to be changed....

The fuses have made a big difference in my system, in the test we did on Nicks main supply cable, it seemed to my ears that the bass tightened up and became a little more weighty.  In my home system they also bizarrely seem to enhance the stereo picture too.  Dont ask me why or how, they just do.  I have about 8 of them through out my system (including internal fuses) and cumulatively effect they make is a VERY noticeable difference as far as I am concerned.

Edited by audiobuff
added a bit more detail
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I don't necessarily "believe" in mains cables, but Hans Beekhuyzen gives a typically sensible and entirely logic explanation as to why certain qualities are important in a cable, for example the fact that the three power leads need to be braided. It doesn't mean one nees to buy £££ mains cables. A bit like digital cables, you don't need to spend the earth, but you need the right spec cable.

That is how I see it.

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Its simple really, just perform a mains cable bake off.  If you dont hear any difference you have answered the question, if you do, you have answered the question.  Otherwise its all speculation

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25 minutes ago, audiobuff said:

Audioquest

In Garth we trust. :notworthy:

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Personally I chose cables over a DAC... Im very happy with the thought train I put my stereo system together with..

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Super Wammer
1 hour ago, audiobuff said:

Its simple really, just perform a mains cable bake off.  If you dont hear any difference you have answered the question, if you do, you have answered the question.  Otherwise its all speculation

I reckon a combination of theory and practice is optimal. There are huge number of supposedly "audiophile" mains cables out there, and countless people try to break into the potentially lucrative market each year. On top of that, mainstream manufacturers survive not only by attracting new customers but by encouraging existing customers to upgrade, ultimately to the top of the range, and by topping their previous "best ever" cable with another which may or may not be different technically but will doubtless have a whizzy new name. It's not just mains cables or cables in general, it's the whole hifi industry of course, though there is precious little room for genuine technical innovation in mains cables.

So what is a man to do? Try every cable that comes onto the market? Impossible. Try new/different cables from the same manufacturer through brand trust and loyalty? Much more likely. Try cables others seem to like according to their reviews? Possibly.

Far better IMHO to first seek to understand just a little about the design factors which might affect cable performance, in order to narrow the field. And then to listen to that manageable subset of every-cable-which-is-available.

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15 minutes ago, TheFlash said:

Far better IMHO to first seek to understand just a little about the design factors which might affect cable performance, in order to narrow the field. And then to listen to that manageable subset of every-cable-which-is-available.

I think this is an excellent strategy and not for just cables but any hi fi equipment (or any technical purchase come to that).

Regards Andrew 

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Super Wammer
34 minutes ago, TheFlash said:

Far better IMHO to first seek to understand just a little about the design factors which might affect cable performance, in order to narrow the field. And then to listen to that manageable subset of every-cable-which-is-available.

Re the part of your post that I have highlighted in bold, have you found any source for this information? I ask this because all the standard stuff I have seen is at a very simplistic level, eg screening, resistance, impedance etc etc (eg the Hans Beekhuyzen video kept at all at a very simple level).

None of the simple LCR measurements explain to me why I preferred the LAT cable compared to the AudioQuest Huricane.

Has anyone on here got any understanding of this beyond relying on saying that if certain LCR and shielding is achieved then there will be no audible differences? 

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20 minutes ago, Fourlegs said:

None of the simple LCR measurements explain to me why I preferred the LAT cable compared to the AudioQuest Huricane.

I don't think you will find any. The simple LRC measurements will tell you if it can carry the required AC current etc. It is possible that its rf response and suseptability to rf pickup may help inform you given I belive some of your Chord devices emit rf or you may have othe rf issues.

However given the quality of your DC supplies I don't see how, as a physicist, it could have much physical effect (I don't  recall you saying what was powered by it in what system) . Recently,  on asr they showed even badly distorted mains had no measurable effect on two very different DAC s - although I suspect you will reject this out of hand.

So to  conclude I suspect it is beyond classical physics to explain what you can hear but for people like me with less sensitive hearing it informs us as to what realistically might be worth considering.

I have tried different mains cables, interconnects and power supplies and as long as they were appropriately specified for the given task I heard no difference in my normal listening (I don't deliberately critically listen to the system ). They sometimes improved the look of my system which is why I got them - shallow me!

We are back to our one point of agreement you have to rely on your own listening.

However,  for some understanding the system and it's related measurement helps narrow the field and for others trusting certain others subjective reports might do the same. Unfortunately, for you neither of these seem to help.

Regards Andrew 

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1 hour ago, Fourlegs said:

Re the part of your post that I have highlighted in bold, have you found any source for this information? I ask this because all the standard stuff I have seen is at a very simplistic level, eg screening, resistance, impedance etc etc (eg the Hans Beekhuyzen video kept at all at a very simple level).

None of the simple LCR measurements explain to me why I preferred the LAT cable compared to the AudioQuest Huricane.

Has anyone on here got any understanding of this beyond relying on saying that if certain LCR and shielding is achieved then there will be no audible differences? 

I was born in the 1940's and have experienced lots of so called fad's in Hi Fi, car engine/suspension  tuning, shooting etc I have adopted  what I considered to be applicable to me  regarding  hide bound naysayers  evaluating their objections none the less, few objectors have actually tried the concept.  I  sometimes accept the fact that some things simply are. I replaced the ECC82  cathode follower in my Croft phono stage with a ECC88(6N23P) today a 6N1P with an adapter at the suggestion of a friend who manufactures  valve equipment. I have no idea why it works I played Lou Reed walk on the wild side, Herbie Flowers was double tracked on the opening he played Double Bass & Bass Guitar. with 6N1P both can be heard usually just a rich double bass.  Why does it work don't know don't care it just does.

I note with interest  that you have the bottle to eschew previously held ideas and have the gumption to put that in print.

Having had exceptional access to scientists mostly fellows of royal institutions, professors etc  giving evidence to parliamentary committees I was surprised   many said that science does not have all the answers even with things that were indisputable. in other words stop looking for measurements accept and enjoy.

Edited by John (big)
phone call
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Super Wammer
2 hours ago, Fourlegs said:

Re the part of your post that I have highlighted in bold, have you found any source for this information? I ask this because all the standard stuff I have seen is at a very simplistic level, eg screening, resistance, impedance etc etc (eg the Hans Beekhuyzen video kept at all at a very simple level).

None of the simple LCR measurements explain to me why I preferred the LAT cable compared to the AudioQuest Huricane.

Has anyone on here got any understanding of this beyond relying on saying that if certain LCR and shielding is achieved then there will be no audible differences? 

No, I'm happy relying on simplistic assertions. Or as I like to describe them "design principles". :)

Note that I said design factors not measurements. I would not suggest at all that LCR measurements etc would give any indication as to whether you would prefer one cable over another or indeed whether one cable would be inarguably better than another (and nothing to do with personal preference). For example, does shielding affect LCR? I suspect not.

If we were to have a similar conversation about amplifiers, I'd be suggesting that most poeple will eventually settle in on a central "topology" which works for them/their system/their room; say tubes or solid state, or within the latter maybe Class A does or does not float their boat or Class D ticks most of their boxes. If were were talking about digital playback, some of us might work out that we generally prefer neutral/transparent/accurate DACs whereas others might generally prefer NOS with its (typically) rolled off treble. I think most people would agree that upsampling improves SQ so little to debate there.

It's just my pathetic attempt to narrow the field rather than bouncing around from SS to valve amplifier and back (yep, done that), from relatively accurate DAC to less accurate but lovely R2R NOS back to relatively accurate DAC because of system synergies (yep), etc etc. I now know I'm basically a solid state, ideally Class A amp guy, and an active speaker guy otherwise; probably still a NOS DAC guy if I didn't have my RingDAC kit; and a shielded mains cable guy.

Back to your Q: I wouldn't be looking to measurements to understand why you might prefer the sound of a system with one mains cable over another but I would look at design elements eg shielding. I'd also want to do  a good dose of experimentation: take a good look at what device the cable was powering, what adjacent components there might be, whether it makes more or less of a difference if elsewhere in the system.

Peace and love.:flowers:

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There's such good equipment at your house Nick I wouldn't be surprised if even something like turning a tap on in another room would influence it :) So something that powers it all directly from the mains I'm sure will certainly have an influence on the overall signature.

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Super Wammer
37 minutes ago, eddie-baby said:

There's such good equipment at your house Nick I wouldn't be surprised if even something like turning a tap on in another room would influence it :) So something that powers it all directly from the mains I'm sure will certainly have an influence on the overall signature.

There's pretty consistent evidence that when Nick has filled his cafetiere with fresh coffee, boiled the kettle, made the coffee, poured the coffee and served the coffee, the whole system sounds better. Measure that!

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