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Audio Myths... A mostly civilized discussion
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Short version of the break-in story: "I got used to the sound".
Short version of the cable story: "I'd better say they sound better, even though they don't. Otherwise I'll feel like a fool for buying these cables".
Break-in period is right up there with the psycho-induced phenomenon of improved sound by changing cables. It's these same psycho-induced phenomena that have people believing that headphones that have low transparency along with high distortion and excessive driver coloration, such as the Sennheiser HD6XX series, are good headphones. What these headphones provide is "safety". Then, being human, "safety" gets translated to "good". But from the purely auditory sense their ability to accurately reproduce the recorded sounds in a clean, precise, and transparent way is in realty quite awful.
Here's a review (not mine) pulled from Amazon that helps explain further:
Break-in Period. Engineers can't risk designing product that depends on a break-in period. Too much uncertainty. When listening to headphones that have audible coloration the listener over time will minimize their perception to it. They will also adjust their perception to compensate for spectral imbalance. Some audiophiles are not aware that they are mistaking mental adaptation for a nonexistent brake-in period. In my evaluations I will temporarily adapt to the sound of a particular headphone model to determine how similar it is to or dissimilar it is from other headphone models in order to place it and others in the proper category.
Upgrade Cables. Upgrade cables do not improve sound quality. Not to the slightest degree. When I purchased a new Onkyo A-9050 integrated amplifier I needed to check it out after receiving it. However, I was currently enjoying my JR Transrotor headphone amplifier and was not in the mood to do so. When I did make the switch the Onkyo unit sounded lousy. I went back to the JR Transrotor unit and it also sounded lousy. So, what happened? My depth of perception dropped along with my mood. If one is excited about checking out a new product the opposite effect can happen. One's depth of perception is greatly affected by mood. I chose European karaoke music to do my evaluations for bass and overall sound because it was the music that I was interested in at the time. Therefore, I was able to up my perceptive depth and get into a zone for doing those evaluations. During my evaluations I had to be aware of my mood and degree of perceptive depth all the time. I repeated many evaluations on different days.
I would respectfully contest that all structures
, even Kyutae's friends Godly Apple; "beasty rig "
would succumb. Almost all of your critical components such as thin film precision resistors are
, or we say annealed to stabilize them; Engineers design this in, we know what they are, should be, as deposited and subsequently where they should fall into a specification window in regards to Rs and TCR, after
... after all this we do know that they will
further with use, the term
works well here... "Electron Winds" along with O2, H2O etc. all play a part. Engineering is still knowing that they will stay in the spec. window... for a while... passivation quality and environmental conditions mostly rule then.
In fact all matter would bend to the onslaught of ”European Karaoke Music”. The sheer angst, wrought asunder and raped quality of music with the voice bloodily ripped out of it, would warp the harps of the gods if played. Why it carries the cursed name of ”empty orchestra”... ‘Karaoke’. Having ‘European‘ stirred into the karaoke cauldron, is perhaps the epitome of musical malfeasance.
Save your tender tympanic membranes and fields of cilia from all such further abuse; perhaps the damage was irreparable for that reviewer. They may now perhaps dwell in the land of Autotuned Bieberism, In search of a voice. Only the power of Aretha may bring them salvation; if they could only hear her again...
Or worse, the eternal 'Stairway to Heaven' in a musac elevator... going down...
I disagree about cables not improving the sound, different materials change the electrical properties of the cable which changes the load your amplifier is powering. Even those small changes make an impact on how your amp drives the load that is your headphones, not to mention the different kinds of EMI Braids. I won't tell you that $400 cables sound better than $140 ones, I've got headphone cables of a variety of materials and designs some ranging from $60 and some upwards of $400ish, and for better or worse different cables sound better or worse with different headphones. Depending on the headphone but also the amp, for example I went with high quality Silver Plated Copper for my AKG K240 Sextett, I wanted to maximize the power output from my amp so I choose a cable with slightly better conductive properties than the stock cable, as with the stock cable the headphone really under performed in the low end, which is really a fault of the amp not providing sufficient enough power for the K240 Sextett [I was/am running a balanced Solid State at that mind you] So in that instance, yea the upgraded cable lessened the overall resistance of the load I presented to my amp which did to my ears net me gains in low end authority.
Again though, different headphones respond differently to changes in cables. A lot of your mid range cans aren't really resolving enough to discern a difference, but other headphones like the K240 Sextett or the LCD 2 are and do exhibit small changes
But your right about perception, as dumb as It sounds I do like to unwind and empty my thoughts before I listen to try an eliminate my "mood" from impacting my perception . Still your perception can lessen or enhance the very real differences, and since we have no way to judge how much our mood impacts our perception it's hard to tell what is real and what's... imaginary.
Now I've spoken mostly about Headphone cables here, inter-connectors... I've found to make less of an impact... longer than necessary cables can be nosier and anything with a poorly constructed physical contact will degrade your sound... but even Monoprice cables have a sufficient enough physical contact imo, and most people don't use 50 foot cables across a 7 foot run
Now for burn in...I have no say, I've never noticed a HUGE difference from Day 1 to Day 1000. I've heard people saying a headphone will/can "settle in" and maybe it's true maybe it isn't... I would imagine a change in fit that happens over time is more the cause of a change in sound that... "burn in" in fact we know how much of a difference pads can make and ePads DO wear out/in over time. In fact I like my old DT 880 pads SO MUCH [they wound up wearing in at an angle for me] that I've kept them on my HE 4 to this day... any time I try new pads the changes to the sound are terrible... so yea over time as the pads "wore in" the sound did change but I can reverse that change in minuet's so I don't ascribe the improvements to "burn in" or to my brain "getting used" to the sound, different isn't bad it's different... I have a collection of many different things and I'd like to think exposing my self to a variety of different sound signatures helps keep me grounded
Still before I review anything I too "live with it" exclusively for at least 4-5 days,
The differences in electrical properties of all headphone cables will be inaudible. All cables will have negligible resistance, capacitance and inductance, and will measure much flatter than anything else in the audio chain. For speaker cables, we would be most concerned about resistance, since speakers have relatively low impedance and cable runs are relatively long. Generally speaking, 12G lamp cord is more than acceptable.
The problem with comparing cables is that not only is it nearly impossible to do blind comparisons, but the act of swapping cables itself takes way too long to be able to even do sighted comparisons. Auditory memory lasts for only a few (3-4) seconds, so any swap that takes longer is not going to be valid.
That said, if you hear a subjective difference in cables, it doesn't really matter whether it's placebo or not. If it makes you happy and you think it's worth the cost, then (duh) it's worth the cost. Doesn't matter if it's a $10000 cable or $0.10 one.
Oh man if audible memory ONLY last 3-4 seconds I guess all Headphone reviews are bogus! I guess you've finally exposed us @shimage, the cat's totally out of the bag. Time to pack it up I suppose, it takes me at least 5 seconds to swap from one headphone to another and I can't be alone. Guess it's time to quit reviewing as a hobby forever... bummer ...
hopefully obvious sarcasm aside, I appreciate your respecting our difference in opinion and choosing not to validate your self at the expense of invalidating my thoughts on the matter, if for you all cables truly sound the same then do enjoy the extra funds at the end of the day ^^
Truthfully I started upgrading cables purely for functional gains back when I first got my HE 4. I went Modular for convince, this was before "removable" cables on full sized headphones became a more normal thing. The improvements I heard came about 1-2 years ago... and honestly it wasn't that one of my cables sounded Better but that one of them sounded obviously worse! Literally everything attached to it sounded thin and... harsh ugh! Trying to define what about the "bad" cable sounded BAD more or less lead me to starting to hear the good in comparison to the bad