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steve u

Power Cables a "blind" test

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Well, the results. And let me say, I am trying as hard as I can to be at least objective, if not scientific. And I found it bloody hard work.

But first, I learnt a bit from this first foray of only 2 cables and have a question about the process and it has to do with settling time of the cable. The assistant chose to leave the cable in place for one change, but removed it from the CD player and then put it back in. So it was the same cable, but pulled out and pushed back in.

 

Which is a hint for the results.

Change 1 was the lorad cable and probably should be noted had the longest time in the setup.

Change 2 was the lorad, it was pulled out and put back in again.

Change 3 was the Odin.

 

I actually wrote more notes about Change 2, than the other 2. I said it seemed a little coagulated or congested and not as resolved as Change 1, even though it was the same cable. And Change 3 with the Odin, I didn't like initially but after 30 minutes, was noting the speed and attack and that it seemed as though the volume had actually increased. But I scored it lower than Change 1, which was the most settled of all the cables.

 

I am going to hone the testing procedure a bit and try some other cables.

So far I have found out this is a time consuming, tough test and my notes about the same cable change dramatically if compared at the 3 minute and 33 minute marks.

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12 minutes ago, steve u said:

I originally was going to try and evaluate 4-5 cables.

The feedback and suggestions from the start of the thread, primarily ZB was to trial "best" cable against "entry level" cable, this was basically decided on price. If I could hear any difference continue on.

The assistant was asked to start with any cable and make changes after 30-40 minutes of playing. I sat there and made notes that only I would probably understand. This was done mainly because I thought it would be difficult to have an objective reference point and that is the problem with this kind of test. My ears are going to focus on things that I might have an issue with.

 

My abbreviated results were 1 and 3 were the same cable and 2 was the other cable. 

 

This took about 2 hours of focused listening and for me, wasn't easy. I wasn't drinking, I was tired and was taking notes.

Hi Steve,

 

That's how I started my "shoot out". I had a music mate swap out between a "standard" cable and a Furutech cable without me knowing which was which. That I easily picked the differences on every occassion (9 swaps between the two cables) allowed me to go into my "shoot out" with full confidence of evaluation. I'm personally happy that I think a few people gained something from my test and hope they do from yours. I've just done a quick comparo between a "standard" cable and the KLEI cable on one of my Phono stages and the differences seem to be even more pronounced than on the CD Player.

 

Can I ask are you using some sort of conditioning? I've found the results are more pronounced through a conditioner than just plugging into the wall.

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I think it should be easy to pick between a standard cord $2-$5 vs an Nordost Odin.

 

In my case I focus on the mid to high frequency, listen out for changes to details of strings being plucked and singer's breath as well as changes to sound stage.

 

If you just focus on one aspect, I'm sure you should will be able to pick it consistently every time.

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41 minutes ago, steve u said:

Well, the results. And let me say, I am trying as hard as I can to be at least objective, if not scientific. And I found it bloody hard work.

But first, I learnt a bit from this first foray of only 2 cables and have a question about the process and it has to do with settling time of the cable. The assistant chose to leave the cable in place for one change, but removed it from the CD player and then put it back in. So it was the same cable, but pulled out and pushed back in.

 

Which is a hint for the results.

Change 1 was the lorad cable and probably should be noted had the longest time in the setup.

Change 2 was the lorad, it was pulled out and put back in again.

Change 3 was the Odin.

 

I actually wrote more notes about Change 2, than the other 2. I said it seemed a little coagulated or congested and not as resolved as Change 1, even though it was the same cable. And Change 3 with the Odin, I didn't like initially but after 30 minutes, was noting the speed and attack and that it seemed as though the volume had actually increased. But I scored it lower than Change 1, which was the most settled of all the cables.

 

I am going to hone the testing procedure a bit and try some other cables.

So far I have found out this is a time consuming, tough test and my notes about the same cable change dramatically if compared at the 3 minute and 33 minute marks.

 

Good stuff Steve, not quite the result you expected.  Of course with such a small sample set the results are less than clear and a number of conclusions could be drawn:  don't change cables cause the sound gets messed up; the Odin sounds better from a fresh plug-in that the Lorad; the Lorad and the Odin sound more or less the same; you may have been thinking that #3 was the same as #1 so expectation bias kicked in and you heard similar things.  Everyone can take something from this I think...just depends on your perspective on the issue.

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1 hour ago, steve u said:

My abbreviated results were 1 and 3 were the same cable and 2 was the other cable. 

Your score 

Change 1 -cable scored well, good resolution, large stage, 53/70

Change 2 -not as good as the first one less resolved, bit more glare, smaller stage 43/70

Change 3 -a little harsh at first, but after 30 minutes attack and decay was improved, almost seemed to be playing louder than other cables, soundstage large 51/70

And the actual results 

Change 1 was the lorad cable and probably should be noted had the longest time in the setup.

Change 2 was the lorad, it was pulled out and put back in again.

Change 3 was the Odin.

 

May suggest you could not actually tell the difference between the cables.Plus it could be noted the cheapest cable scored highest with the shortest time in use.   

Perhaps if you had used a $5 cable and the $1200 Odin and got the same results you could now stop.

 

But as mention this is based on a small sample.

Edited by EV Cali

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23 minutes ago, EV Cali said:

May suggest you could not actually tell the difference between the cables.Plus it could be noted the cheapest cable scored highest with the shortest time in use.   

Perhaps if you had used a $5 cable and the $1200 Odin and got the same results you could now stop.

 

But as mention this is based on a small sample.

 

Here is what I found on the net from 2015, I think it's also in USD.

 

The Odin 2 Power Cord is constructed with seven silver-plated, close tolerance, 14 AWG 99.999999% oxygen free copper conductors. Nordost’s patented Dual Mono-Filament technology creates a virtual air dielectric between the extruded FEP insulation and each individual conductor. Nordost’s TSC technology is then carried throughout the cable and into its purpose-built, 100% shielded, HOLO:PLUG® connector. Odin 2 Power Cords are available with HOLO:PLUG® US (Nema), EU (Schuko), AUS or UK to Odin 2 HOLO:PLUG® IEC-C15 or IEC-C19 terminations. The retail price is $16,999.99 for a 1.25 meter length; additional 1.25 meter increments are $4,999.99.

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5 minutes ago, Soundwise said:

he retail price is $16,999.99 for a 1.25 meter length; additional 1.25 meter increments are $4,999.99.

Thanks for the correct retail price information.

I thought I was quoting the thread starter  "Nordost Odin series 1 $12000- second hand price".

Although I was actually incorrect on that. 

Edited by EV Cali

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35 minutes ago, EV Cali said:

Your score 

Change 1 -cable scored well, good resolution, large stage, 53/70

Change 2 -not as good as the first one less resolved, bit more glare, smaller stage 43/70

Change 3 -a little harsh at first, but after 30 minutes attack and decay was improved, almost seemed to be playing louder than other cables, soundstage large 51/70

And the actual results 

Change 1 was the lorad cable and probably should be noted had the longest time in the setup.

Change 2 was the lorad, it was pulled out and put back in again.

Change 3 was the Odin.

 

May suggest you could not actually tell the difference between the cables.Plus it could be noted the cheapest cable scored highest with the shortest time in use.   

Perhaps if you had used a $5 cable and the $1200 Odin and got the same results you could now stop.

 

But as mention this is based on a small sample.

 

I reckon the test needs to be repeated a few times before anyone can say anything about the results

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2 minutes ago, scumbag said:

What's $2,999.99 between friends?

Actual difference between what I thought I was quoting $1,200 and $16,999.99 is $15,799.99

 

Perhaps we are getting confused as we find it hard to believe  a cable could cost $16,999.99

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5 minutes ago, Soundwise said:

The retail price is $16,999.99 for a 1.25 meter length; additional 1.25 meter increments are $4,999.99.

 

That is completely ludicrous and I would love to know what the margins are on such a product.  I'm thinking well over 1000%. That thought gives me a "I'm in the wrong business" moment, but then I remember that I have integrity and could never be involved in selling such a noxious rip-off.

 

 It will be interesting to see what folks think if/when Steve cannot detect a difference reliably between this cable and the <$200 RK cable, let alone a standard IEC lead. 

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@steve u Great work, so far. However, some suggestions:

 

1) Use a cheap, generic cable, as per my original suggestion, as your control.

2) You need to do A LOT more testing, for the result to be statistically significant. 

3) The fact that you mis-identified one cable should tell you a great deal. That said, you need to do many more tests.

4) Keep it simple. Two cables. One cheap, one expensive. And, by cheap, I mean 5 Bucks. 

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[mention=142611]steve u[/mention] Great work, so far. However, some suggestions:
 
1) Use a cheap, generic cable, as per my original suggestion, as your control.
2) You need to do A LOT more testing, for the result to be statistically significant. 
3) The fact that you mis-identified one cable should tell you a great deal. That said, you need to do many more tests.
4) Keep it simple. Two cables. One cheap, one expensive. And, by cheap, I mean 5 Bucks. 

Yes, this! [emoji2]

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1 hour ago, Zaphod Beeblebrox said:

@steve u Great work, so far. However, some suggestions:

 

1) Use a cheap, generic cable, as per my original suggestion, as your control.

2) You need to do A LOT more testing, for the result to be statistically significant. 

3) The fact that you mis-identified one cable should tell you a great deal. That said, you need to do many more tests.

4) Keep it simple. Two cables. One cheap, one expensive. And, by cheap, I mean 5 Bucks. 

hmmm, I'm not having any fun yet.

But I do intend to do a bit more testing.

Blind tasting wine is a lot more fun that testing cables.

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6 minutes ago, steve u said:

hmmm, I'm not having any fun yet.

But I do intend to do a bit more testing.

Blind tasting wine is a lot more fun that testing cables.

Perhaps that's because the differences aren't so subtle. 

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Guest guru

I'm slightly perplexed by the judging determinations used in the sense that some of the descriptors would actually mark higher on a lesser cable. For example, unless you have a different interpretation of what a change would bring, both distortion and glare are negatives and masking both aspects to some degree would generate a higher score normally and would tend to be more the territory of a more basic cable.

 

For me personally, the greatest benefits of introducing higher quality power cables into a good quality, well balanced audio system has been in the specific areas of reducing noise floor levels, greater macro and micro dynamics, instrument and vocal tone and a greater sense of effortless engagement to the recording.

 

Whilst I think the effort of trying to listen like a machine and evaluate is a valiant one for you and your assistant, I think ultimately, it will be normal positions resumed. As someone who has participated in an abx audio test in the past, I admire your application. Good luck.

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2 hours ago, Sir Sanders Zingmore said:

I reckon the test needs to be repeated a few times before anyone can say anything about the results

 

10 absolute minimum  (if Steve is looking at the question can I tell a difference between A and B)

Edited by davewantsmoore

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27 minutes ago, guru said:

I'm slightly perplexed by the judging determinations used in the sense that some of the descriptors would actually mark higher on a lesser cable. For example, unless you have a different interpretation of what a change would bring, both distortion and glare are negatives and masking both aspects to some degree would generate a higher score normally and would tend to be more the territory of a more basic cable.

 

For me personally, the greatest benefits of introducing higher quality power cables into a good quality, well balanced audio system has been in the specific areas of reducing noise floor levels, greater macro and micro dynamics, instrument and vocal tone and a greater sense of effortless engagement to the recording.

 

Whilst I think the effort of trying to listen like a machine and evaluate is a valiant one for you and your assistant, I think ultimately, it will be normal positions resumed. As someone who has participated in an abx audio test in the past, I admire your application. Good luck.

Thanks Guru, I agree with what you are saying. And your philosophy has been what has driven me towards a lot of tweaking and fine tuning my system.

I have read so many posts about I added "x" and the soundstage went outside the speakers, before they disappeared. Then this part "y" gave me so much extra detail and tightened the bass and so on. I have done these things, wrote these things, heard these things, that I decided to just stop and think if all the improvements I have done have made the sound stage so real and so big, my neighbour should be walking through my sound stage and just feeling blessed.

So doing a blind test is very confronting for me and the only volunteers I have had to come and participate under the same rules that i set myself are cable "non-believers." There seems to be a pretty long line up of people who want to say I told you so.

But I am a believer, but I thought I would just give it a go.

I am going to fine tune a few things to hopefully help make any changes more evident to me.

And I don't mean better back lighting of the rack. :D

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4 hours ago, guru said:

 

 

 

For me personally, the greatest benefits of introducing higher quality power cables into a good quality, well balanced audio system has been in the specific areas of reducing noise floor levels, greater macro and micro dynamics, instrument and vocal tone and a greater sense of effortless engagement to the recording.

 

Exactly guru. In a good quality, well balanced audio system, with the better quality power cables, I experience blacker background, greater macro, micro dynamics (the little subtleties become much easier to define), music flows more effortlessly, better seperation and bigger soundstage.

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On 2/20/2017 at 0:19 PM, steve u said:

Well, the results. And let me say, I am trying as hard as I can to be at least objective, if not scientific. And I found it bloody hard work.

But first, I learnt a bit from this first foray of only 2 cables and have a question about the process and it has to do with settling time of the cable. The assistant chose to leave the cable in place for one change, but removed it from the CD player and then put it back in. So it was the same cable, but pulled out and pushed back in.

 

Which is a hint for the results.

Change 1 was the lorad cable and probably should be noted had the longest time in the setup.

Change 2 was the lorad, it was pulled out and put back in again.

Change 3 was the Odin.

 

I actually wrote more notes about Change 2, than the other 2. I said it seemed a little coagulated or congested and not as resolved as Change 1, even though it was the same cable. And Change 3 with the Odin, I didn't like initially but after 30 minutes, was noting the speed and attack and that it seemed as though the volume had actually increased. But I scored it lower than Change 1, which was the most settled of all the cables.

 

I am going to hone the testing procedure a bit and try some other cables.

So far I have found out this is a time consuming, tough test and my notes about the same cable change dramatically if compared at the 3 minute and 33 minute marks.

 

It's nice to see someone putting their beliefs on the line!

It is hard work - that's why it's not often done. It's not exactly the most fun you can have in audio!

I think you are making it more difficult than it needs to be. Can I suggest an alternative to make it easier?

First suggestion: pick a single track that you feel is most likely to show a difference. Ideally not your favourite track, because you're going to ruin it! Ideally just 30 seconds - 1 minute. The point is to listen in a very disciplined and deliberate way. It's about listening to observe not listening to enjoy. This will be against the grain for most but it's the only way you will get through a well designed objective test and demonstrate you can hear a difference.

Next suggestion: run it as an ABX test. It goes like this:

 

1. Cable A - your wife reveals which cable is being used, either your chosen fancy pants cable or the bog standard cheap as chips IEC. 30 sec - 1 minute.

2. Cable B with the same sample.

 

In 2 minutes you've formed your opinion about what you think you can hear with that sample. If you're not confident at this point, pick another sample.

 

3. Cable X - now you have no idea which one is in play. All you have to do is say "I think that's the cheapie." In just 3 minutes you have a result. You've given yourself the best chance at hearing a difference.

 

Now repeat at least 10 times. Now you have a score out of 10. Now you're ready to destroy another piece of music that you will never want to hear again. Choose wisely!

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Some HiFi show should run a room whereby, say a group of 5 go in and listen ABX style to an adequate cable to do the job and a medium price point cable e.g. $500.  They write their result on a piece of paper and chuck it in the box, then another lot come in.

 

Through a few days there would be a high sample size, with people of all sorts of back ground listening ability.

 

Surely if X can be statistically identified as A or B there must be a detectable difference between cables and the basic argument will be answered?

 

Maybe some local power cable manufacturer could sponsor such a thing - certainly not run it though!

 

 

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Just now, tesla13BMW said:

 

 

Just now, tesla13BMW said:

 

 

Maybe some local power cable manufacturer could sponsor such a thing - certainly not run it though!

 

 

 

It will never happen. For a whole host of reasons.

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Paul has good advice here!

 

6 hours ago, Paul Spencer said:

run it as an ABX test.

 

 

ABX answers if you can tell whether "mystery" is either the A (cheapie) or B (fancy).

 

OTOH, A/B just asks if you can tell whether cable 1 and 2 were the both same cable or different cables  .... ie.  you don't have to be link what you're hearing to a certain cable .... you just have to be able to detect some sort of difference between the samples.

 

Personally I'd stick to A/B to start with, but both are good.    Indeed if I were very interested, I'd do both.

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17 hours ago, Paul Spencer said:

 

It's nice to see someone putting their beliefs on the line!

It is hard work - that's why it's not often done. It's not exactly the most fun you can have in audio!

I think you are making it more difficult than it needs to be. Can I suggest an alternative to make it easier?

First suggestion: pick a single track that you feel is most likely to show a difference. Ideally not your favourite track, because you're going to ruin it! Ideally just 30 seconds - 1 minute. The point is to listen in a very disciplined and deliberate way. It's about listening to observe not listening to enjoy. This will be against the grain for most but it's the only way you will get through a well designed objective test and demonstrate you can hear a difference.

Next suggestion: run it as an ABX test. It goes like this:

 

1. Cable A - your wife reveals which cable is being used, either your chosen fancy pants cable or the bog standard cheap as chips IEC. 30 sec - 1 minute.

2. Cable B with the same sample.

 

In 2 minutes you've formed your opinion about what you think you can hear with that sample. If you're not confident at this point, pick another sample.

 

3. Cable X - now you have no idea which one is in play. All you have to do is say "I think that's the cheapie." In just 3 minutes you have a result. You've given yourself the best chance at hearing a difference.

 

Now repeat at least 10 times. Now you have a score out of 10. Now you're ready to destroy another piece of music that you will never want to hear again. Choose wisely!

Thanks Paul, I will give this a go as part of the trial.

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Ok I have made a couple of changes to the system overnight and have fine tuned the actual cable change over process with the assistant.

I am going to focus once more upon the Odin and a standard cable, rather than the lorad.

I also have been loaned some other cables that will add to the interest level, perhaps???

 

If we can heed Marc's suggestion and stick to sharing our own opinions on this thread, rather than commenting on issues unrelated, there may be a chance of one of these threads not being closed.

Thanks everyone for your input and co-operation.

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