"If it measures good and sounds bad, it is bad.
If it sounds good and measures bad, you've measured the wrong thing."


My Philosophy about interconnects and cables

Posted by Amine Slimani on December 10, 2009 at 7:56 AM

After reading "The Truth About Interconnects and Cables", I got the idea of writing this article.

I read that article and there are many things that bother me about it:

The name of the article:


Just by naming something the “truth” doesn’t necessarily make it so.

By the way, it would have been wiser to call it “my opinion” or even “my truth”. Indeed, throughout history, scientists have been proven wrong many times. They were right until the next best theory replaced what the “common sense” dictated as the “truth” in the previous period.




I have seen in this article and others for that matter many talks about measurements.

Here are examples of the statements you can usually read in those articles:

“The only characteristics that matter are inductance, capacitance …”

“The only useful bandwidth is between 20hz and 20khz …”

“The cable change won’t affect the sound by more than 1db in the audio bandwidth, which would be inaudible …”

As far as I recall, most of those measurements are static measurements and do not take into account the dynamics of the music. I don’t see much talk about such things as “rise time” and when there is a difference, it is quickly discarded and said being inaudible.

While I can go for a long time talking about technical stuff (phase shift, memory effect, dielectric …;) I won’t and I am going to make a simple analogy with cars.

When comparing a basic interconnect with a high performance one by saying both cover the 20hz-20khz bandwidth the same way, it is like saying that because a Bugatti Veyron and a Fiat Punto both can do 130km/h in highway, the feel of the drive is the same. They don't take into account how fast they both get to 130km/h or the "comfort" in taking a turn at that speed...


ABX tests:


To continue with the car analogy, let’s say that interconnects (for the hifi equipment) are the equivalent of tires (for a car).

If we wanted to compare different compositions of a tire, what would be the requirements for conducting a proper test? In my opinion, some of the “ingredients” would be :

1.a skilled driver

2.a driver who is rested

3.a driver who is familiar with the car he is testing

4.a proper car (a bugatti might just be more revealing than a Fiat)

5.a proper test track

If we just threw a driver in a car he is not familiar in a test track he doesn’t and he is not used to do such comparisons, you can guess the result.


If a few ABX tests are done in a “audiophile” system composed with all the audiophile “nonsense” (such as a speaker system based on Wilson Audio Alexandria, Audio Research amps and preamps, DCS transport and DAC, high grade cables throughout, isolation & vibration treatment, …;) and only ONE of the interconnects or speaker cables or power cords is swapped and someone who is familiar with the system doesn’t notice, then I would really believe that all this talk about cables is total nonsense and people are having mass hallucinations. However, if an ABX test is done in a system people are not familiar with or a system that is not resolving enough, I really don’t care about the outcome of the result. I would really continue to believe what my ears are telling me and so should the many others who have noticed big differences in their system.



Wrapping up:


First, this post is just a reflection of my opinion on the subject of cables and I have no pretentions to hold the truth about this subject.


Second, while I believe that differences are noticeable and real, I also believe that the extent of the differences depend on too many factors (including both the listener and his/her equipment) to predict how much difference it will make on a particular system. So it is best to try before buying whenever it is possible.


Third, I believe that sometimes people miss the main point of the audiophile community. As far as I understand, the goal of many audiophiles when they buy/upgrade their gear is to get a better performance in order to increase their enjoyment of their system.

Let’s take an extreme example, if by using a $1000 power cord I can get each time I listen to my system a gigantic enhancement in performance (soundstage, details …;) I would buy it without remorse. By being pragmatic, I don’t care if the additional enjoyment is “real” or just “placebo”.


Fourth, I wish/hope that whenever someone asks a question about cables (or jitter), people would let the discussion go on and not consistently drag those threads in an endless discuss about changes in cables being not audible or barely audible.


Finally, enjoy your system. Whether you are a cable believer or non cable believer, the goal behind this “hobby” is to ENJOY your music.

Categories: Cables & Tweaks

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