Cable Shootout AQ vs. Junk

PolkThugPolkThug Posts: 7,536
edited July 2004 in 2 Channel Audio
Well, I played around with the AudioQuest IC's and a 'stock' IC. I did all the switching myself, so I always knew which cable was being used. I thought that the AQ may have sounded better, but I also know the placebo effect very well so I decided it was time to break out the ole laptop and SpectroGraph (sorry Mantis, I can't help it).

This first picture is a rolling average of the first 60 seconds of Hell's Bells by AC/DC. It appears that the cables are identical in this respect.
Post edited by PolkThug on
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Comments

  • PolkThugPolkThug Posts: 7,536
    edited June 2004
    Next I decided to do a peak graph which I stopped at the 50 second mark. Notice the differences here. The AQ's seems to have more defined valleys/peaks. Look at the 2k mark, the Cheapies have little jaggies, but the AQ has big jaggies (like the scientific terms?!).
  • PolkThugPolkThug Posts: 7,536
    edited June 2004
    So, it looks like the AQ's have more dramatic amplitude changes, indicating the Cheapie cable may be a little bit muddy. So, AQ will be my current champ for now.

    Regards,
    PolkThug

    *Next up: AQ vs. SC. (if I ever get time)
  • michael_wmichael_w Posts: 2,914
    edited June 2004
    Whats the price difference between the two cables?
  • organorgan Posts: 5,022
    edited June 2004
    Thanx for sharing your experiment with us. I'm very happy with my AQ too. I guess the next thing for your would be a blind test.

    Maurice
  • PolkThugPolkThug Posts: 7,536
    edited June 2004
    Originally posted by michael_w
    Whats the price difference between the two cables?

    $5 vs. $150

    Yes, there will be blind tests, which I consider the real test.

    Regards,
    PolkThug
  • WillowWillow Posts: 10,208
    edited June 2004
    would it be worth 30x the price ??
    2Ch- B&W 703, SVS PB10 NSD, Marantz NR1607, Parasound 1500a, Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (Yellow) with Acrylic platter, Pro-Ject phono pre, MIT AVT 2 speaker cables, MIT AVT 1 and AVT 2 ICs, XLO Jumpers, Signal Dig Coax, Signal Cable Magic Power Cables x3, Samsung 55JS7000, Harmony 1100, Sony BDP-S6200, Marantz DV-4200 (as Transport), Cambridge Audio DAC Magic100, Monster 3600MKII, Android Mi Box3 and Apple TV. - Pool /Gazebo Yamaha RX-A1010, Polk Patio 25x4, Rotel RDV 1045 (as CDP) MIT AVT3 ICs - Work - Spotify Premium or Neutron App to my FiiO Kunlun into my Grado SR125e

  • ShizelbsShizelbs Posts: 7,433
    edited June 2004
    How did it sound though?
  • PolkThugPolkThug Posts: 7,536
    edited June 2004
    Originally posted by Willow
    would it be worth 30x the price ??

    Depends on the individual person buying the cables.
    Originally posted by Shizelbs
    How did it sound though?

    I'm waiting for a true blind test before I answer this one. (I don't trust myself lol)

    Regards,
    PolkThug
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited June 2004
    I'm quite surprised you can actually see a difference. That pretty much means the junk cables are "really junk" if the graph were correct. I believe you can hear much more than you can see. Keep in mind it is a very complex signal and you are only seeing an average of what the signal looks like. Have you run the same cable several times? I'm willing to bet it will look slightly different each time.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • WillowWillow Posts: 10,208
    edited June 2004
    were they both brand new outta the box at the same time one not played more than the other ??
    2Ch- B&W 703, SVS PB10 NSD, Marantz NR1607, Parasound 1500a, Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (Yellow) with Acrylic platter, Pro-Ject phono pre, MIT AVT 2 speaker cables, MIT AVT 1 and AVT 2 ICs, XLO Jumpers, Signal Dig Coax, Signal Cable Magic Power Cables x3, Samsung 55JS7000, Harmony 1100, Sony BDP-S6200, Marantz DV-4200 (as Transport), Cambridge Audio DAC Magic100, Monster 3600MKII, Android Mi Box3 and Apple TV. - Pool /Gazebo Yamaha RX-A1010, Polk Patio 25x4, Rotel RDV 1045 (as CDP) MIT AVT3 ICs - Work - Spotify Premium or Neutron App to my FiiO Kunlun into my Grado SR125e

  • PolkThugPolkThug Posts: 7,536
    edited June 2004
    Originally posted by Willow
    were they both brand new outta the box at the same time one not played more than the other ??

    Willow,

    The AQ's are from the cable swap program. I played the entire Back in Black album 1 1/2 times on them before I started testing. The Cheapies are the cables I use all the time in my 2-channel rig. The Cheapies are the standard cables that seem to come with every piece of audio equipment.

    Regards,
    PolkThug
  • Zen DragonZen Dragon Posts: 504
    edited June 2004
    Interesting. I am not familiar with the spectragraph you are using to reference the test. I work in the electronic test equipment industry and it seems to be something Akin to a spectrum analyzer. The differences are noticeable on the graph, but not sure the human ear is that precise.
    I use AQ Gr8's...just in case :cool:
    The Family
    Polk SDA-1C's
    Polk SDA-2
    Polk Monitor 10B's
    Polk LSI-9's
    Polk Monitor 5's
    Polk 5 jr's
    Polk PSW-450 Sub
    Polk CSI40 Center

    Do not one day come to die, and discover you have not lived.
    This is pretty f***ed up right here.
  • Mike682Mike682 Posts: 2,094
    edited June 2004
    PolkThug,

    I was looking at the second graph and noticed on the cheapie graph it looks like the -140 and -80 measurements are crunched together on the vertical axis (just to the left of the word cheapie). I am wondering if this could be just a trivial display overlap or if it had actually effected the graph, especially in the 2k line..
    Receiver: harmankardon AVR235
    Mains: polk R30
    Center: polk CSi3
    Rear Surrounds: polk R20
    Subwoofer: polk PSW404
    DVD: Panasonic DVD-S29
  • mantismantis Posts: 15,956
    edited June 2004
    PolkThug,
    no need my man no need but I do have comments.....

    let me talk to you for a minute.Trust yourself.Don't justify the cables by knowing which cable is in when..know the differences in the way they both sound.The patch cable will have "IT'S"own sound as well as the AQ.For better or worse they will sound different.

    how I demo wires in this case interconnects is such.I hook them up and allow them to play for serveral hours or days if you will.I like the cables to be used quite a bit.Then I Install the replaced cables back in and listen to some favorite tunes.Full songs.I listen to the Voice and the air between the Instruments.I listen to the tone of the bass guitar and kick drum.I listen to the ring of the symbols and how long they rign for.The sound of the snare drum.I try to lose myself in the moment,be one with the music.Then I install the new wires and see what has changed and what has not.Sometimes the new cable might actually sound worse.I have experienced that many times.Sometimes it's just the little details that come forward in the better cable that I feel is needed.This is when I decide if this cable is right for my system or not.Sometimes just different cables of the same quality sound better in some systems and worse in others.It's finding the balance that the system lacks of has to much of.......

    To me cables of all kinds are a intimate experience.It's a personal experience.Now this will greatly depend on how serious you are about your sound quality.Im completely Anal.I don't care what I own at any given time,I wil make it the best it can be.I spend many hours tweaking.Wire gives me a avenue of adventure.

    The comments of price I only have few words,you buy what you can afford.Matching your cables you your system is just as Important as the amp,speakers,pre,receiver,source they are wired to.Again if your serious about your sound,your wallet will only stop you from going to levels the wallet can't afford.Value is in the knowing the system is performaing it's best.Ask youself if the money you didn't spend is worth having at the sacrifice of sound quality?The last detail your not hearing due to your cheap ****.I don't think owning nice gear is worth it if your not prepared to go all the way.Remember these are my opnions and I stand firm with them.I personally take my system very seriously.Do you??Ask yourself this and you will answer your own questions"is the wire worth the asking price"....that my people is up to you.

    Good luck with your demo and turn off the computer,you don't need it.

    Dan:cool:
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • PolkWannabiePolkWannabie Posts: 2,763
    edited June 2004
    Mantis,

    Although you didn't directly state it the impliciation in your post is that sound quality as it pertains to cables is directly related to price. Personally I don't find this to be true and even if it were the law of diminishing returns still applies. Are a set of $100 cables better than the $10 cables ? Probably and they probably justify the difference in price for most people. What about a $1000 set of cables or a $10000 set of cables.

    Although I'd certainly agree that checking out better cables is a good thing to do it's also the place where the most hype exists.
  • mantismantis Posts: 15,956
    edited June 2004
    PolkWannabie,
    No I did not state it in my post nor did I try to Imply it.I agree with you about the wire hype.I see so many wire companies put shrink wrap and cool lookn ends to fool people into buying wire I know is only sub standard.These online companies I see are scams.But to the unknowing it's better then what they where using and maybe rightfully so.Not my call.

    Reason why I rely on listening over computer programs and hype.Name brand and such.there are companies on the market who proved themselves are worthy,respectfully so.

    Listen and you'll see is what I stand behind.

    Dan
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • SamiSami Posts: 4,662
    edited June 2004
    When you start to measure these things, you have to make sure your other equipment is up to the task as well. Is it? What equipment are you using?
  • PolkThugPolkThug Posts: 7,536
    edited June 2004
    Originally posted by Mike682
    I was looking at the second graph and noticed on the cheapie graph it looks like the -140 and -80 measurements are crunched together on the vertical axis (just to the left of the word cheapie). I am wondering if this could be just a trivial display overlap or if it had actually effected the graph, especially in the 2k line..

    Not crunched, there are just 3 pieces cut and pasted there.
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited June 2004
    Originally posted by Zen Dragon
    The differences are noticeable on the graph, but not sure the human ear is that precise.
    I use AQ Gr8's...just in case :cool:

    This is a typical response I've seen regarding test equipment so I'm not saying anything to you in particular but...

    Do you really think you can measure more than you can hear? Lately I've been playing with aftermarket power cords. You know, the ones that cost anywhere from $150 to $350. I have several high end ones that just happened to come with different pieces of used equipment I've purchased. At one point I focused in on a particular "phrase" of a song on a CD. What I noticed was that one sound changed locations repeatedly as I swapped around three different cords. All three combos I tried placed the sound in relatively the same place but in total it changed a few feet. Now I can measure the 60 hz waveform coming through the cords and all and I can guarantee it looks the same through any cord I try. As a matter of fact I could guess that whatever type of wire I run it through will look the same on any equipment I know of. The difference in location is obvious to me but how to measure something that shows me any difference is not. I'm thinking that the ear is of much more precision than any currently available test equipment. You work in the field of test equipment, any ideas? :)
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • PolkThugPolkThug Posts: 7,536
    edited June 2004
    Originally posted by Sami
    When you start to measure these things, you have to make sure your other equipment is up to the task as well. Is it? What equipment are you using?

    Denon dvd player
    Onkyo Receiver
    Kenwood JL-774's ("full-range" speakers with tweeter, mid, sub)

    Cheap microphone
    Laptop 2Ghz Pentium

    Regards,
    PolkThug
  • PolkWannabiePolkWannabie Posts: 2,763
    edited July 2004
    Originally posted by madmax
    This is a typical response I've seen regarding test equipment so I'm not saying anything to you in particular but...

    Do you really think you can measure more than you can hear?
    I know I shouldn't answer questions with questions but if it's not possible to measure more or more accurately then we hear then why for example do we use simple devices like SPL meters ? ...

    IMHO those things that can be measured can more accurately be measured by test equipment then by the human ear. I think the real question is whether or not all things important to sound quality can be measured and I think the answer for the time being is that not all of them can.
  • michael_wmichael_w Posts: 2,914
    edited July 2004
    I say use your ears because if you can't tell the difference between a set of $5 cables and 150 ones whats the point in that extra $145? However, I suppose that it is kinda interesting to see what the actual difference between the two cables is since everyone hears things differently and has different tastes.
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited July 2004
    Originally posted by PolkWannabie
    I know I shouldn't answer questions with questions but if it's not possible to measure more or more accurately then we hear then why for example do we use simple devices like SPL meters ? ...

    Well maybe there is a middle ground here. If you want to know a particular frequency or how loud something is then sure, you need test equipment to give it a number. I guess what I'm refering to is more or less determining quality of complex waveforms. You can hear all the frequencies and the phases all at once and distinguish between them but you could never capture all the information, look at it and know what it means in terms of sound.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • SamiSami Posts: 4,662
    edited July 2004
    Originally posted by madmax
    you need test equipment to give it a number.
    And when it is something this trivial, you need good, quality test equipment. That alone would cost more than most of us have invested in our audio gear. I can pick up a $10k SPL meter from our audio lab but since I would have to involve a few people in doing so, I have no desire to do it. If I do, I will only calibrate my cheap RS meter with it. No point of using it to calibrate my system since I don't have continuous access to it. Also, I would be opening a few other cans..."can I borrow this and that?", "Are you freaking mad, do you have any idea how much that one costs?" But I'm sure it would be fun.

    While it might be interesting to play with a laptop and a mic, it doesn't really tell much when you are measuring something like this. PolkThug, don't take it that I'm criticizing your experiment, just reminding that the test equipment alone is responsible to differences in your measurement. Have you done multiple runs and the results are always identical for the same cable?
  • PolkWannabiePolkWannabie Posts: 2,763
    edited July 2004
    Originally posted by madmax
    ... but you could never capture all the information, look at it and know what it means in terms of sound.
    I'm not sure I completely agree with this ... However even if the equipment and computer programs to measure and evaluate these sorts of things exist today, I suspect that it is not economically feasible for any of us to have that level of sophistication in measuring equipment for our homes as it's likely to be an order of magnitude more expensive than our rigs are.
  • PolkThugPolkThug Posts: 7,536
    edited July 2004
    Originally posted by Sami
    Have you done multiple runs and the results are always identical for the same cable?

    On my list. This is a key point. Even if the equipment is cheap, the data can still be valid if it is consistent.

    I work full time during the day and part time at CC at night, and I'm going to school, so its hard for me to make time.

    Regards,
    PolkThug
  • Zen DragonZen Dragon Posts: 504
    edited July 2004
    Originally posted by madmax
    This is a typical response I've seen regarding test equipment so I'm not saying anything to you in particular but...

    Do you really think you can measure more than you can hear?

    I'm thinking that the ear is of much more precision than any currently available test equipment. You work in the field of test equipment, any ideas? :)
    madmax

    Madmax

    In the end you can always measure more accurately than the human body can sense. Science has taught us that the human senses can be fooled or misled. Ever sit in a wrap around IMAX theater?
    So my answer would be yes, you can measure more accurately, but with great cost incurred. I can only guess the variance in sound location you are perceiving are due to impedance shifts in the cabling, a little capacitance here, a little reactance there, causing subtle delays in the sound processing. Mega Kudo's to your ears by the way.
    All that being said, it is what we hear and perceive that counts. We each have individual tastes and perceptions. Wouldn't we all have so much more money if we loved Radio Shack Realistic stereo gear. Yet somewhere someone is listening to a Realistic stereo right now thinking how great it sounds. Is he less content than us, or merely less in debt :)
    The Family
    Polk SDA-1C's
    Polk SDA-2
    Polk Monitor 10B's
    Polk LSI-9's
    Polk Monitor 5's
    Polk 5 jr's
    Polk PSW-450 Sub
    Polk CSI40 Center

    Do not one day come to die, and discover you have not lived.
    This is pretty f***ed up right here.
  • Zen DragonZen Dragon Posts: 504
    edited July 2004
    Too more directly answer your question Madmax. If it were an all consuming mission for you.
    You could measure the low level resistance of your different power cords with a digital low ohms meter.
    You could measure dielectric breakdown with a hipot meter
    You could measure the phase relationships with a gain phase analyzer
    You could measure impedance with an impedance analyzer
    You could measure spectral purity and noise floor on your audio out with a spectrum analyzer
    You could measure voltage and current gain with a digital power analyzer
    These are all industrial level pieces of equipment. There is a higher level yet used at major R&D departments of big companies.

    I'd just find the location dynamics you like best and use that cord
    The Family
    Polk SDA-1C's
    Polk SDA-2
    Polk Monitor 10B's
    Polk LSI-9's
    Polk Monitor 5's
    Polk 5 jr's
    Polk PSW-450 Sub
    Polk CSI40 Center

    Do not one day come to die, and discover you have not lived.
    This is pretty f***ed up right here.
  • mantismantis Posts: 15,956
    edited July 2004
    Yeah but does it sound better?Isn't that the quest?I wouldn't buy better wires if they didn't sound better.

    Nothing beats your ears.they don't lie to you.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • PolkThugPolkThug Posts: 7,536
    edited July 2004
    I was able to duplicate the above patterns. This is a peak style graph from the right side speaker up to the 30 sec mark on Hell's Bells (previously did the left side). The right side gives much more guitar harmonics than the left. Focused on 2k - 4k.

    Notice the two peaks at about 2.4k and 3.2k. The cheap cable basically shows single peaks, but the Audioquest shows slightly more complex double peaks. Also notice more detail on the Audioquest at around the 3k valley.
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