Jump to content

Audiophile Equipment: Are cables snake-oil?

A Friendly N00b
 Share

 

Always wanted to try out a super high end set up like this one day. Out of curiosity I took a trip to Abyss' website and loaded up my cart with the equipment shown in the video above, and added their recommended cables as well, which is what I found to be a little dubious.

 

Why exactly does the recommended power cable here cost ~800 dollars? I'm not exactly an audiophile myself, so these are legitimate questions, but does this make any actual discernable difference? What benefit is there to this massively expensive cable, and, does using it produce any measurable difference in the audio quality? Even if measurable, would it produce an audible difference? And this is just a power cable, not even mentioning the 1200 dollar XLR cables-- same question with those, what difference does it actually make?

 

Could someone explain this to me?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

Cables like these, yes. And a lot more things as well. 

 

More recent example:

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

For the most part with all these gimmicky marketing yes, definitely are some better cable's than others and some are only for specific use cases but alot of it is marketing shenanigans, primarily the quality of the connectors matters the most in terms of durability and signal quality but a good cable with quality connection can be had between $17 to $50 beyond that (unless you need to make a connection over 45ft) is market bs, like going to guitar center there is no durability/ audio quality difference between livewire and monster, both "good" one of them is sold at BS price 

Ryzen 5800X3D(Because who doesn't like a phat stack of cache?)

X470 Strix f gaming, 32GB Corsair vengeance, WD Blue 500GB NVME-WD Blue2TB HDD, 700watts EVGA Br

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

Things that matter in order of importance 

[Headphones, Speakers, Positioning, Fitting] > Room Treatment > EQ and time/phase alignment > Amp > DAC >>>>>>>>>>>> cables. 
Note that positioning and fitting don't cost money so much as time. And "good enough" often isn't that much time. 


As long as your cable isn't defective, it's probably fine. If you have a super long cable run there might be some value in going XLR or getting better shielding. If your cable is a few feet... $1/foot speaker wire from Home Depot should perform about as well for speakers as the $1000/ft stuff. Similar story for bindings and the like. 

3900x | 32GB RAM | RTX 2080

1.5TB Optane P4800X | 2TB Micron 1100 SSD | 16TB NAS w/ 10Gbe
QN90A | Polk R200, ELAC OW4.2, PB12-NSD, SB1000, HD800
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

Another thing I forgot to mention above: Abyss also sells "Equipment Isolation Rack" to put the DAC/AMP on, starting at $2000. Does that have any actual impact either?

 

What about the "Eleven Audio XIAUDIO Powerman Power Supply" that you can purchase with the amp shown in the OP video? What's it even for?

 

I've heard good things about the fundamental equipment like just the DAC, amp, and headphones themselves, but if the same company that makes stuff like that also sells stuff like this, it makes me question the actual quality of those other products.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

18 minutes ago, A Friendly N00b said:

Another thing I forgot to mention above: Abyss also sells "Equipment Isolation Rack" to put the DAC/AMP on, starting at $2000. Does that have any actual impact either?

 

What about the "Eleven Audio XIAUDIO Powerman Power Supply" that you can purchase with the amp shown in the OP video? What's it even for?

 

I've heard good things about the fundamental equipment like just the DAC, amp, and headphones themselves, but if the same company that makes stuff like that also sells stuff like this, it makes me question the actual quality of those other products.

Most audiophile stuff that gets screamed about is BS. 

Don't worry about a $2000 rack or $500 cables unless you've got LOADS of other stuff. And even then... copper coat hanger pulled out of a dead hobo... probably good enough as a wire. Power conditioning is a borderline scam (maybe if you live in an area with unstable power grids, even then this shouldn't cost too much), power cables are usually a scam (do you think the 3' coming from the wall make a difference when there's 50' of commodity Romex cable in the wall?)

There are some benefits to having a good equipment rack but that's more practical than auditory. You'd get an audio rack for the same reason you'd get a server rack (imagine a commercial setting where an extra minute of downtime costs tens of thousands of dollars, you want to be able to service things quickly). Do note that there's plenty of DIY Ikea server racks on redit.com/r/HomeLab that are built off of freebie throwaway tables. 



Get good headphones/speakers, maybe some room treatment, maybe some stuff to do EQ. Have a good enough amp (the bar isn't THAT high for this) for your use case and be happy. Other stuff really is negligibly important. 

3900x | 32GB RAM | RTX 2080

1.5TB Optane P4800X | 2TB Micron 1100 SSD | 16TB NAS w/ 10Gbe
QN90A | Polk R200, ELAC OW4.2, PB12-NSD, SB1000, HD800
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

29 minutes ago, A Friendly N00b said:

Another thing I forgot to mention above: Abyss also sells "Equipment Isolation Rack" to put the DAC/AMP on, starting at $2000. Does that have any actual impact either?

 

What about the "Eleven Audio XIAUDIO Powerman Power Supply" that you can purchase with the amp shown in the OP video? What's it even for?

 

I've heard good things about the fundamental equipment like just the DAC, amp, and headphones themselves, but if the same company that makes stuff like that also sells stuff like this, it makes me question the actual quality of those other products.

Audio shelves are absolute nonsense, even more than cables. At least truly awful cables actually could cause problems. Buy shelves because they look good, not because they claim sound benefits.

 

Audio power supplies are at least less nonsense than shelves, but still nonsense. A decent transformer brick or in-device power supply can easily create basically perfect DC power with no need for a $2,700 USD power supply.

 

Honestly, it's totally reasonable to not want to buy from companies like this. There are plenty of manufacturers out there making top of the line headphones that aren't trying to pull a fast one on your wallet with audio shelves and cables dipped in unicorn blood. Audeze, Hifiman, Dan Clark Audio, Focal, and more.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

 

Desktop:

Intel Core i7-11700K | Noctua NH-D15S chromax.black | ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WiFi  | 32 GB G.SKILL TridentZ 3200 MHz | ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 3080 | 1TB Samsung 980 Pro M.2 PCIe 4.0 SSD | 2TB WD Blue M.2 SATA SSD | Seasonic Focus GX-850 Fractal Design Meshify C Windows 10 Pro

 

Laptop:

HP Omen 15 | AMD Ryzen 7 5800H | 16 GB 3200 MHz | Nvidia RTX 3060 | 1 TB WD Black PCIe 3.0 SSD | 512 GB Micron PCIe 3.0 SSD | Windows 11

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

What, no one mentioned the audiophile SSD yet? https://www.tomshardware.com/news/nvme-ssd-for-audiophiles

If you want a good laugh, read the forum: https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topic/62753-nvme-ssd-designed-for-audiophiles/#Comments

 

For sound that is stored digitally, no amount of quackery is going to change the bits into something else. But if you believe their words, it will…

Quote

TLC mode: It sounds like background music, no features and powerless, everything is flattened, lacks extension and density.

pSLC mode: There is a special natural feeling, it becomes more smooth and calm, the thickness is slightly increased, and overall it is more resistant to hearing but still slightly dry.

 

Remember to either quote or @mention others, so they are notified of your reply

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

@Eigenvektor

 

Quote

Still trying the drive out, just received 2 days ago. Initial impressions are positive, this is easy/pleasant to live with as OS boot drive, unlike the Samsung 970 Evo plus NVME

I tried last. Seller recommendation is use for OS, not media storage; I concur.

 

Will take to end of the week as swapping it in place of Optane boot drive caused Euphony hardware signature change so I need to finish listening, then revert back

to Optane HW license to complete comparison, share observations.

Screenshot_20230125-071940.thumb.jpg.af66ca438197a0682c7491f39181fb9b.jpg

 

I'm dead 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

not completely. really shit cable with little to no shielding will fuck up your high powered audio equipment (sometimes includes high impedence headphones too) by introducing noise and distortion from interference. as long as you get a decent cable with good shielding, the silver plating/silver core/gold plating etc are largely just 1,000% the money for 1% return. they are technically upgrades because slightly better conductivity does give you ever so slightly better audio outcome. but 99& of the people who claim to be able to hear the difference with their bear ears are just praising emperor's new clothes.

 

so, snake oil? not entirely. worth upgrading if you already have a pure copper core cable with good shielding? no really.

 

edit: just realised you are talking about power cable. power cables are 100% snake oil. i was talking about audio cables that run analog signal from your dac/amp to your speaker/headphone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

Power cables shouldn't make any difference unless faulty.

 

Headphone cables *can potentially* make a difference, just not a meaningful difference for typical listening. I did a test with 500 feet of Monoprice's cheapest aux cable, measuring loopback with different lengths connected, and found easily measurable changes in crosstalk and high-frequency rolloff, and no measurable increases in distortion or noise.

 

At 500 feet, the effects of the cable were clearly audible. At 50 feet, I couldn't tell the difference at my normal listening volume. For the typical end user with a couple of feet of cable running to their headphones, the audibility of any difference between similarly well-constructed cables is extremely doubtful.

 

It should be noted that for certain exotic amplifiers which don't have a ton of phase margin in the control loop, too much capacitance (which long cables may contribute to) can cause the amplifier to oscillate and potentially catch fire. These are rare though.

2 hours ago, A Friendly N00b said:

Another thing I forgot to mention above: Abyss also sells "Equipment Isolation Rack" to put the DAC/AMP on, starting at $2000. Does that have any actual impact either?

Isolation mounts *can potentially* make a difference for electronics with older or cheaper components. Vacuum tubes, for instance, have electrical properties dependent on the distances between the plates and wires suspended in the tube, which means that physical vibrations can produce unwanted electrical signals in the sound. Bulk ceramic capacitors, often used in power supply circuits, are piezoelectric, which means that the voltage across them changes with mechanical stress.

 

Isolation mounts shouldn't make any audible difference in a reasonably modern home audio setup. But there can be edge cases where that sort of gear could make a difference – consider someone for some reason deciding to put a tube power amplifier right next to a subwoofer.

2 hours ago, A Friendly N00b said:

What about the "Eleven Audio XIAUDIO Powerman Power Supply" that you can purchase with the amp shown in the OP video? What's it even for?

It's for making the company an extra $2700.

 

Realistically, it has a different regulator circuit and larger filtering capacitors for less noisy power input. These changes should not make any audible or even measurable difference for a competently-designed modern headphone amplifier.

2 hours ago, BobVonBob said:

Audio power supplies are at least less nonsense than shelves, but still nonsense. A decent transformer brick or in-device power supply can easily create basically perfect DC power with no need for a $2,700 USD power supply.

If you filtered out the DC component from the average power supply, the remaining AC noise would be about as loud as many people listen to music (~10mVrms). It's more that most audio circuits already have enormous amounts of power supply noise rejection built-in.

 

1 hour ago, Eigenvektor said:

What, no one mentioned the audiophile SSD yet? https://www.tomshardware.com/news/nvme-ssd-for-audiophiles

If you want a good laugh, read the forum: https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topic/62753-nvme-ssd-designed-for-audiophiles/#Comments

 

For sound that is stored digitally, no amount of quackery is going to change the bits into something else. But if you believe their words, it will…

Yeah, there's no reasonable mechanism by which this one could actually improve sound quality in a PC. Neither the power nor the clock from the SSD should ever reach the DAC.

48 minutes ago, WereCat said:

@Eigenvektor

<snip>

I'm dead 

"Euphonic" translated literally means good (ευ) sounding (φωνος). In the audio context it sometimes refers to a recessed frequency response around 4kHz. I mean, usually it doesn't mean anything when it gets tossed around in reviews, but sometimes it can mean something.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

19 minutes ago, Nimrodor said:

If you filtered out the DC component from the average power supply, the remaining AC noise would be about as loud as many people listen to music (~10mVrms). It's more that most audio circuits already have enormous amounts of power supply noise rejection built-in.

I probably could have worded my thoughts way more clearly. My basic idea was that if a $2,700 USD power supply makes a difference, the amplifier manufacturer has already fucked up their power filtering.

 

1 hour ago, WereCat said:

I'm dead 

I think this was referring to Euphony the OS, an entire OS just for playing music, and apparently it has an even more draconian hardware signature check than old versions of Windows. Still funny.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

 

Desktop:

Intel Core i7-11700K | Noctua NH-D15S chromax.black | ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WiFi  | 32 GB G.SKILL TridentZ 3200 MHz | ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 3080 | 1TB Samsung 980 Pro M.2 PCIe 4.0 SSD | 2TB WD Blue M.2 SATA SSD | Seasonic Focus GX-850 Fractal Design Meshify C Windows 10 Pro

 

Laptop:

HP Omen 15 | AMD Ryzen 7 5800H | 16 GB 3200 MHz | Nvidia RTX 3060 | 1 TB WD Black PCIe 3.0 SSD | 512 GB Micron PCIe 3.0 SSD | Windows 11

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

14 hours ago, BobVonBob said:

Audio shelves are absolute nonsense, even more than cables. At least truly awful cables actually could cause problems. Buy shelves because they look good, not because they claim sound benefits.

If you have grounding issues or ventilation issues it could be a problem. If you happen to live right next to a radio tower (you probably don't) a shelf could act as an antenna as well. 

You can get shelves which are perfectly fine from like Target or Walmart for not that much cash.

https://www.target.com/p/3-tier-wire-shelving-brightroom/-/A-83961117?preselect=83500059#lnk=sametab

If you're worried about the antenna effect... plastic shelves and wood shelves aren't that pricey either. 

3900x | 32GB RAM | RTX 2080

1.5TB Optane P4800X | 2TB Micron 1100 SSD | 16TB NAS w/ 10Gbe
QN90A | Polk R200, ELAC OW4.2, PB12-NSD, SB1000, HD800
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

To enjoy audio, your analog 3.5mm singled ended balanced must be made of pure vibranium coated in fullblood Arabic unicorn horse and only in braided diamond cable! Otherwise you'll lose about 0.32db in 200hz frequencies and believe me, you don't want that. 

DAC/AMPs:

Klipsch Heritage Headphone Amplifier

Headphones: Klipsch Heritage HP-3 Walnut, Meze 109 Pro, Beyerdynamic Amiron Home, Amiron Wireless Copper, Tygr 300R, DT880 600ohm Manufaktur, Fidelio X2HR

CPU: Intel 4770, GPU: Asus RTX3080 TUF Gaming OC, Mobo: MSI Z87-G45, RAM: DDR3 16GB G.Skill, PC Case: Fractal Design R4 Black non-iglass, Monitor: BenQ GW2280, Asus Zenscreen OLED MQ16AH

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

think of cables are audiophile jewelry. some people are willing to pay for better looking cables but as far as audio benefits its almost 0. the only exception is some sensitive iems can have their sound signature changed by cables with different impedances but even that isnt a matter of expensive cables or not you just need a cable with the right impedance 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

46 minutes ago, CTR640 said:

To enjoy audio, your analog 3.5mm singled ended balanced must be made of pure vibranium coated in fullblood Arabic unicorn horse and only in braided diamond cable! Otherwise you'll lose about 0.32db in 200hz frequencies and believe me, you don't want that. 

I heard most of the loss was around the ultrasonic 40-50KHz region!!!!!

This is awful, your pet dog or cat or bat might be missing out on the most pristine of sounds. 

3900x | 32GB RAM | RTX 2080

1.5TB Optane P4800X | 2TB Micron 1100 SSD | 16TB NAS w/ 10Gbe
QN90A | Polk R200, ELAC OW4.2, PB12-NSD, SB1000, HD800
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

IME up to a point "audiophile" cables are snake oil.  I don't feel like they can increase the sound quality however a really bad cable can decrease the sound quality.  At least that's what I have experienced.

Open-Back - Sennheiser 6xx - Phillips Fidelio X3 - Harmonicdyne Zeus -  Beyerdynamic DT1990 - HiFi-man HE400i (2017) - *Phillips shp9500 - *SoundMAGIC HP200

Semi-Open - Beyerdynamic DT880-600 - Fostex T50RP - *AKG K240 studio

Closed-Back - Rode NTH-100 - AKG K361-BT - Blon BL-B60 - Blue Microphones Lola - *Beyerdynamic DT770-80

On-Ear - Koss KPH30iCL Grado - Koss KPH30iCL Yaxi - Koss KPH40 Yaxi

Headset Turtle Beach Stealth 700 V2 + xbox adapter - *Sennheiser Game One - *Razer Kraken Pro V2

DAC S.M.S.L SU-9

Class-D dac/amp Topping DX7 - Schiit Fulla E - Sybasonic SD-DAC63116 - Fosi Q4

Class-A amp Emotiva A-100 - Xduoo MT-602 (hybrid tube)

Pure Tube amp Darkvoice 336SE - Little dot MKII - Nobsound Little Bear P7

Mic Antlion Mod Mic - Neego Boom Mic - *Vmoda Boom Mic

Pads ZMF - Dekoni - Brainwavz - Shure - Yaxi - Grado - Wicked Cushions

Cables Hart Audio Cables - Periapt Audio Cables

Speakers Micca RB42 - Jamo S803 - Crown XLi1500 (power amp class A)

 

*given as gift or out of commission

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

On 1/25/2023 at 3:33 AM, A Friendly N00b said:

Always wanted to try out a super high end set up like this one day. Out of curiosity I took a trip to Abyss' website and loaded up my cart with the equipment shown in the video above, and added their recommended cables as well, which is what I found to be a little dubious.

 

Why exactly does the recommended power cable here cost ~800 dollars? I'm not exactly an audiophile myself, so these are legitimate questions, but does this make any actual discernable difference? What benefit is there to this massively expensive cable, and, does using it produce any measurable difference in the audio quality? Even if measurable, would it produce an audible difference? And this is just a power cable, not even mentioning the 1200 dollar XLR cables-- same question with those, what difference does it actually make?

 

Could someone explain this to me?

The cables make no difference.

 

The only time cables make a difference is when you're doing long runs. A high quality (and often expensive) cable does really matter there. But it's such a niche use case and does not matter for short runs.

 

I've tried and owned setups that cost north of 500k, and cables don't matter for audio quality. Where they might matter is for aesthetics. In that case I will spend 100-125 on a good thick power cable, because they look pretty great to me, and I can get the proper length that's needed.

 

For interconnects, I just use some Van Damme XLR's, they cost 35-50 for a single channel, but it's worth it for the quality.

LTT's Resident Porsche fanboy and nutjob Audiophile.

 

Main speaker setup is now;

 

Mini DSP SHD Studio -> 2x Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC's (fed by AES/EBU, one feeds the left sub and main, the other feeds the right side) -> 2x Neumann KH420 + 2x Neumann KH870

 

(Having a totally seperate DAC for each channel is game changing for sound quality)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share


×