Tag Archives: speaker

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.

Perceptual confusion

Regular readers of this blog will know I often am critical of a few well known speaker brands. This doesn’t sit well with owners of those brands and for that I apologize. I single out a few brands because, to me, they represent great examples of perceptual confusion—conflating two ideas together that don’t necessarily match.

Take Sonus Fabers for example. These are excellent speakers and ones I heartily recommended to my son Lon when he wanted new speakers for his house. They are beautifully built, great looking, wonderful value, and good sound too. So, what’s the beef? Why do I not recommend these to most audiophiles? They aren’t what I consider highly resolving speakers on sonic par with (say) a Von Schweikert, Magneplanar, Wilson, or Infinity. They are not. Which is not say they aren’t great speakers, ones I would not hesitate to recommend again and again.

The difference is I would not recommend them to someone interested in achieving audio nirvana. That’s not what they do.

Nor do B&W (for that matter). Their persona is one of technical accuracy, designed and engineered by teams of white coat scientists with million dollar spectral analyzers. They are, indeed, that. And, if that’s what you want, then there are none better than B&W. But, if recreating the illusion of an orchestra in your home through the disappearing act of musically perfect speakers and electronics is your goal, then I would not be recommending them.

This rant is not about downgrading two fine speaker brands. Not at all.

I have the ultimate respect for both brands and the customers of those brands.

My purpose is to help align expectations and reduce perceptual confusion.

It’s always tough to sort through the perceptions and positioning of products to suss out the essence of what you really are after.

But, when you do, life gets a lot easier.


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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