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steve u

Power Cables a "blind" test

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So I want to see, if I can identify when I think I hear a difference and see if it is repeatable. Others may come and join me, we'll see.

I'm going to burn a CD with about 6 tracks of various styles and recording quality and play the 6 tracks to allow for some settling time for each cable trialled.

My lab assistant/wife will change the cables each time and keep a log of each change, if a change actually happens. She will be swapping the cables in and our of my AudioLab CD player.

The cables will be covered with cloth, so I can't see and this clever rather rustic looking wooden yoke attached at the back of the system to facilitate quick and easy changes.

So far I have an RK Cable, a Nordost Valhalla and a Nordost Odin lined up, there will be another couple in the trial.

So I'll record notes each time she goes to make a change, which may actually not be a change, so I won't know.

 

I don't want to get into the science of a proper blind test being how, I'm not supposed to know what component is being changed and not even if there is a possibility of a change, because those scientific and pedantic things are too hard for the professionals top set up and monitor, let alone me. Also if you start nit-picking the methodology it might say more about your beliefs and than my methods. Speedy changes are not an option for this, the lab assistant isn't that interested in the process anyway.

However I would love to hear any constructive suggestions that could be made to "easily" improve the process. 

 

A full list of components and cables and more pics will be added as I get me stuff together. :) 

This will hopefully just be a bit of fun.....hahaha, has that ever happened with a power cable discussion.

Cable Test_1.jpg

Cable Test_2.jpg

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Nice incentive Steve.  Pics or info of the listening room and acoustic treatments etc. may be helpful for readers to compare their situation to yours.

 

Cheers,

 

Anthony

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Hi Steve,

 

Do you have separate pre and power? Have you considered testing the power cord just on the power amp in lieu of the cd player and Pre? When I tested my power cables the improvements to my mono power amps were the most satisfying. I kept everything else exactly the same with each cable change.

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I have a suggestion:

 

Limit the test to TWO cables only. One should be a standard IEC cable and the other a fancy, over-priced one. Using more than two cables will make things very messy and very difficult.

 

IF you can, reliably, hear a difference between a standard cable and a fancy one, then move on to a more complex test.

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Folks I think this has the potential to be an interesting thread, provided folks stay rational and civil.  There was some really interesting lines of discussion/debate going on in the recent thread that was closed, but that was intermixed with some silly personal attacks and insults.  I think it's awesome that @steve u is prepared to give this a go so how about we respect that and keep the discussion civil and rational and thereby stop the thread from being locked.  :thumb:

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59 minutes ago, Zaphod Beeblebrox said:

I have a suggestion:

 

Limit the test to TWO cables only. One should be a standard IEC cable and the other a fancy, over-priced one. Using more than two cables will make things very messy and very difficult.

 

IF you can, reliably, hear a difference between a standard cable and a fancy one, then move on to a more complex test.

 

Perhaps a slight modification to Trevor's suggestion:

  • compare Fancy Power Cable 1 (FPC1)  to a standard cable.  Need to have it plugged in and out several times; wife will know which one is live ... listeners won't.
  • if FPC1 'wins' - this becomes the one compared to FPC2 ... and so on, for the remaining FPCs.
  • if the standard cable wins this 1st comparison, FPC1 is discarded and the standard cable is the one compared against FPC2.

 

Andy

 

Edited by andyr

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1 hour ago, acg said:

Nice incentive Steve.  Pics or info of the listening room and acoustic treatments etc. may be helpful for readers to compare their situation to yours.

 

Cheers,

 

Anthony

Hi Anthony, I'll add some pics and take some more pics soon.

It's a horn system, with some room treatment.

It has a cathedral ceiling and some diffraction treatment and some absorption at first reflection and a bit more further back. Basically no rear wall, or the closest rear wall 19 metres away. 

So it's a pretty good room.

 

Cheers,

Steve

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1 hour ago, Soundwise said:

Hi Steve,

 

Do you have separate pre and power? Have you considered testing the power cord just on the power amp in lieu of the cd player and Pre? When I tested my power cables the improvements to my mono power amps were the most satisfying. I kept everything else exactly the same with each cable change.

Hi SW, have a Conrad Johnson ET5 and SS amp or could use my Weston 300B mono blocks.

The trouble with the pre is mainly the access, the assistant won't be able to reach over and change these cables easily. Then there is the slow start up time , each time the valve pre goes off.

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1 hour ago, Zaphod Beeblebrox said:

I have a suggestion:

 

Limit the test to TWO cables only. One should be a standard IEC cable and the other a fancy, over-priced one. Using more than two cables will make things very messy and very difficult.

 

IF you can, reliably, hear a difference between a standard cable and a fancy one, then move on to a more complex test.

Ripped the standard cable out of the CD player last night and shoved the Odin in and angles started to sing. ...lol...that's not the point of it I know, so am going to stick with the "blindish" test experiment.

But I will give this a go Trevor and see if the Odin stands out like Norse God's proverbials. 

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1 hour ago, POV said:

Folks I think this has the potential to be an interesting thread, provided folks stay rational and civil.  There was some really interesting lines of discussion/debate going on in the recent thread that was closed, but that was intermixed with some silly personal attacks and insults.  I think it's awesome that @steve u is prepared to give this a go so how about we respect that and keep the discussion civil and rational and thereby stop the thread from being locked.  :thumb:

Thanks Drew, for my own benefit, I'm going to try as hard as I can to make this as fair and as rational as I can, from the review side and look forward to the opinions of others.

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I have a DIY cable you can try Steve 

And I can replace the wife if she is not to keen to be the assistant 

 

Will also bring fresh roasted coffee beans 

 

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3 minutes ago, Full Range said:

This is Steve's audio room 

 

image.jpeg

Hey Paul, thanks and I have added a little bit of room treatment since you last visited. And the cross overs are well and truly run in now.

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Nice wood ! If it sounds nearly as good as it looks, it would be good.

Not so sure about the vibrant wall hanging :)

 

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2 minutes ago, Nigel said:

Nice wood ! If it sounds nearly as good as it looks, it would be good.

Not so sure about the vibrant wall hanging :)

 

 

I believe tthat vibrant wall hanging is the room treatment in disguise   

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2 hours ago, steve u said:

However I would love to hear any constructive suggestions that could be made to "easily" improve the process. 


This all depends very much on what you are trying to do  (the test gets designed around that).   I don't understand that enough to comment yet.

 

What is the question you are trying to answer?   It might help if you say what you intend to write down about each trial....  you've just said "notes".

 

Example:

  • Are you going to try and pick which is which?
  • Rate them with a number?
  • Rate them with qualitative?
  • How you are going to compare or analyse the above?

 

If you wanted to answer "can I tell the difference between a cheapie cable, and one of these expensive ones".   Then you could.

 

  • A=cheap   B=$$$$
  • Listen to one (you don't know which)
  • Listen to another (you don't know if it's the other one, or the same one)
  • Write down if they were the same or different
  • Do this enough times to be statistically significant (more than 10)
  • Evaluate your success rate.   50% = fail (no different to guess).    ~90% = significant ability to notice a different

 

Please don't take any of this as nitpicking, or silly stuff which doesn't matter :)

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2 hours ago, Zaphod Beeblebrox said:

Limit the test to TWO cables only. One should be a standard IEC cable and the other a fancy, over-priced one

 

This is very good advice....  as otherwise it will be not only confusing, but will take a long long time to get a significant number of trials.

 

That being said, depending on what "question you are trying to answer" - this may or may not be an issue.

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I think the test should be kept simple

 

Start with standard cord vs Odin.

 

Publish the results for further discussion and then do a vote to continue or stop.

 

With the choice of component for changing power cords, why don't you pick two and put them to a vote as well.

 

From a practical point of view the SS might be easier then tube for your assistant to operate.

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2 hours ago, steve u said:

Hi Andy, love your musings and do you want first dibs on the FPC discard pile?

 

That would be fun, Steve!  :thumb:

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3 hours ago, davewantsmoore said:


This all depends very much on what you are trying to do  (the test gets designed around that).   I don't understand that enough to comment yet.

 

What is the question you are trying to answer?   It might help if you say what you intend to write down about each trial....  you've just said "notes".

 

Example:

  • Are you going to try and pick which is which?
  • Rate them with a number?
  • Rate them with qualitative?
  • How you are going to compare or analyse the above?

 

If you wanted to answer "can I tell the difference between a cheapie cable, and one of these expensive ones".   Then you could.

 

  • A=cheap   B=$$$$
  • Listen to one (you don't know which)
  • Listen to another (you don't know if it's the other one, or the same one)
  • Write down if they were the same or different
  • Do this enough times to be statistically significant (more than 10)
  • Evaluate your success rate.   50% = fail (no different to guess).    ~90% = significant ability to notice a different

 

Please don't take any of this as nitpicking, or silly stuff which doesn't matter :)

Thanks Dave for the options and the thought you have put in to this.

I'm hoping that I might be able to hear a difference in the cables, not pick which is which.

I am going to write notes after each "possible" cable change and see if the results are repeatable, the idea of starting with only two cables to do this is a good idea.

After that, if the results prove that there is an audible difference, I hope to then bring in the other cables and see if I can hear some audible similarity. This will be the part that would be the hardest to replicate results.

 

Looking forward to your opinions and thoughts, I wouldn't think you would intend anything ever to be nitpicking.

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WOW...love the room...it certainly has changed since the I was there last...

Agree with the 2 cable comparison...

The only suggestion I would make is this...

 

Turn everything on & play the 6 tracks...do not listen...GO AWAY...

Come back once the 6 tracks have finished...play 1 or 2 tracks...take notes...walk away

Lab assistant makes change (or not)...

 

Play the 6 tracks...do not listen...GO AWAY...

Come back once the 6 tracks have finished...play the same 1 or 2 tracks...take notes...walk away

Lab assistant makes change (or not)...

 

Play the 6 tracks...do not listen...GO AWAY...

Come back once the 6 tracks have finished...play the same 1 or 2 tracks...take notes...walk away

Lab assistant makes change (or not)...

 

Pack it in for the day...buy lab assistant a beautiful meal & enjoy the evening...

A day or 2 days later...with flowers in hand...ask for lab assistant to help again...

 

NOTE: Meal & flower costs may exceed that a a mid priced cable...

 

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5 minutes ago, Rob181 said:

Turn everything on & play the 6 tracks...do not listen...GO AWAY...

Love the idea of starting with just the two cables      kiss

 

Reluctant to ask this but what is the idea behind playing the 6 tracks and not listening to them?

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I'd guess Do not listen = allow items to 'settle' after changing components 

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Guest scumbag

This is a great idea. Someone is actually testing cables in an objective manner. I sincerely hope this doesn't end up getting thread crapped when you post the results.

I think it best to use the ABX method (as mentioned above) and to preclude any comments from the nay-sayers, a double blind test would be preferable though I'm not sure how that will go.

I don't think that fast switching is as big a deal as it might be made out to be - again another topic of endless debate (sigh) and in the case of power cables, a practical impossibility unless you have 2 identical setups (I think).

Let us know how it goes. I am genuinely interested in hearing this. Is this going to be private thing or in the format of a small GTG? 

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Guest scumbag

I have a Russ Andrews YellO cable that uses Kimber woven wire and Wattgate plugs. I am happy to give that out on loan to throw into the mix. I wouldn't describe it as super high end though so it might just add confusion to have more cables in the mix (and increase the time taken to run the test). It would great to have a more "exotic" cable (ETI perhaps) in the mix to see if you really can discern a difference over a budget power cable.

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