Tag Archives: music

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Interconnects and speaker cables matter

Yikes. After yesterday’s brave venture into the hornet’s nest of opinion about power cables and how they matter I can only just imagine the brouhaha today’s post is likely to elicit.

Fact or fiction: interconnects and speaker cables matter. As in yesterday’s post, you already know my answer. But, there are several burning questions.

Do they always matter? How come some people simply do not hear differences? Are audiophiles the only group that buys into the idea of cables making a sonic difference?

Let’s start with the last question first. No, certainly audiophiles are not the only people concerned with cable quality. At a minimum, engineers, recordists, and scientists pay close attention to the quality of their cables in an effort to get the lowest noise results. Proper shielding, balanced, and well-built connectors are a must for any serious pro. Do they also worry about the type of conductors and geometry of the design? Not many, but they do want to make sure they don’t muck up a job because of a noisy or broken cable.

And why do some not hear a difference? In my experience, it’s all about setup, system, and intent. While at RMAF a young group of fellow YouTube channel contributors approached me with folded arms and a challenge. They had purchased at Best Buy the cheapest USB cable they could find. Their challenge to me was to prove to them a difference between their cable and my high-performance cable mattered.

“No problem,” said I and invited them to Music Room One after the show. Within the first 30 seconds of the comparison the looks of shock on their faces was a sheer joy to me. Here were four bright young men intent on being right that cables cannot matter, yet open-minded enough to actually give it a try. After demonstrating the differences I left the room and their leader proceeded to test them with blind ABs and the group fared well: 70% accurate choices. Not bad for inexperienced listeners. (Yes, listening is a learned skill).

Do they always matter? No, they do not. I have had numerous experiences with systems that seem agnostic to the signal cables attached to them and I am not certain why. I’ve heard Bill Low’s Audioquest Boombox comparison of cables and the differences are stark and clear. Yet, I have also worked with in-home setups using good speakers where we could not tell the differences between zip cord and high-performance wire. My guess is that the room and setup were masking subtle differences normally heard.

Whatever the case, it’s obvious to me that for the most part cables—interconnects and speaker—matter.

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Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

With over 2100 CD’s ripped to my music library in WAV format, I have no use for high resolution music streaming, although I do stream for background music for my house music system.

However, there are differences between the two major players in the hi-rez streaming business and it looks like one company from Europe will take over that business.

Streaming wars

Sometimes wars are won without much of a battle. Such is the case with the Streaming Wars.

As I have reported more than a few times I am not a big fan of Tidal. It’s a nice service with a decent library but sound quality always was an issue. Compared to my reference of CDs played on DMP there was not even a contest. In fact, the difference is so stark that I do my best to keep Tidal unavailable in Music Room One because it does not properly represent the system’s capabilities. Instead, we limit the options to my Mac Mini server or the best option, discs played back on DMP: still the gold standard for digital audio playback.

But now there’s Qobuz, the French company with their 40 million track library and quality streaming soon to be available in the States. Team members at PS Audio have been given accounts so that we might learn about this service and I must tell you, I am impressed. Blown away, in fact. While not quite as good as DMP it’s within spittin’ distance.

Qobuz allows you to not only stream but to download onto your local hard drive (they are encrypted so don’t get too excited about copying them onto discs) and sound better played back from the drive than streamed over the internet.

DirectStream and DS Junior owners can stream Qobuz through the Bridge in resolutions up to 192kHz 24 bits when available. Or, simply stream or download to your computer and connect via USB.

Finally, a streaming service that works like you’d want it to. No more fussing with MQA in the hopes it’ll be “better” than the original. Now you can enjoy a library that’s multiple lifetimes big and much of it at 192kHz 24 bits. You can bet Qobuz will be central to our upcoming Octave system.

The battle lasted about 10 seconds, but that’s good.

The war’s over.