Expensive Digital Cables = Baloney, Bunk, Bollocks, Snake Oil…

I have often wondered why companies make very expensive cables for digital signal interconnections. A digital signal, put simply, is a 5V pulse for a ‘1’ digit and 0V for a ‘0’ digit. For modern computers, the data rates are not very high, which is why your computer can happily decode your AIFFs/WAVs/MP3s in the background, so you can listen to music while you work.

So long as the cable is not extensively long (and they won’t be unless you have the amp in one house and the CD player in a neighbours), whatever digits go into one end will come out of the other. So why spend a lot of money on a digital signal cable when even the cheapest will do exactly the same job?  Neither of them will be losing information.  A more expensive cable may be more robust or less prone to corrosion but that aside, there will be no difference in sound quality. Unfortunately the world is full of people who want to make as much money as possible even if it means lying, cheating or exaggerating the truth. Hence there are cable manufacturers making claims for their cables that are unfounded, in order to validate their high cost.

One of the reasons I am designing the HiFi system I am is to create something special for audiophiles/music lovers who cannot afford to buy into the lies. A HiFi system that is exceptionally good in reproducing sound but without the usual price mark-up that always goes with this level of equipment. I’m not trying to set myself up to be seen as some kind of expert. I hate that term and don’t believe in it, it’s just more hype and gives the impression that that person knows all there is to know about a particular subject, so anything and everything they say must be true and correct. We are all human and all subject to the forces of prestige, greed, power, corruption, swank etc. and I have all those emotions too but try very hard to keep them in their box and not let them guide my decision making on how I go about creating this HiFi system or how I market/sell it. But I am getting carried away by my soap-box…

When I first listened to the prototype of my amplifier design I was shocked to hear that every single CD I listened to had a completely different feel to its sound – it was almost as if I could hear that some CDs were made with all the musicians playing at the same time, or they played at different times and then dubbed together or recording techniques that I do not know about (I am not a recording engineer or professional listener such as someone who writes for a HiFi magazine). Each one had a completely different sound ‘signature’ – I cannot think of any other way of putting it. Years ago I listened to my vinyl using a Linn Sondek turntable, Linn Ittok tonearm and Linn Karma cartridge. I think most people would agree that that would be a reasonably decent signal source. I did not hear such differences in recording techniques then so my instinct is that my amplifier design is going in the right direction.

Due to this experience I decided I needed to find a set of recordings that were exceptional, otherwise how could I know how good my system sounded. Searching the internet for HD tracks (High Definition) I came across a guy called Dr. Mark Waldrep (aka Dr. AIX). He is based in America and is fighting hard to promote true HD audio since not all music touted as high definition is high definition. I won’t go into all the entailed arguments here but will point you in the direction of Dr. Waldrep especially since he has just taken on the high-end cable giants AudioQuest. It seems their digital cables have been demonstrated to show an increasing degree of sound quality the higher up the price scale they slide and as I said at the beginning, how can there be any difference regardless of the cost? Dr. Waldrep agrees there can be no difference and has taken them to task.  He has downloaded the offending YouTube video, analysed it and found that the results have been faked!  It all makes for a very interesting read.

To see what the arguments are about, or even to enter the fray yourself, go take a look at his site:  Real HD-Audio

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About Matal

Hand made HiFi, photos, a friends poetry.
This entry was posted in High Definition Sound and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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