Interconnect Cable Blind Listening Test

Evaluating four different types of cables for differences in audio quality

  1. RobHolt
    Following on from the lathing tests, here is the next in the series - Interconnects.

    Lots has been written in magazines about the 'sound' of cables and even more can be found on the internet. How much is fact and how much is fiction?

    Well, here you get the chance to listen, compare and vote for some different cables without any expectation bias or some pushy salesman steering you down a particular path.

    I've chosen four different cables for the test:

    - Chord Silver Siren. This employs a silver plated copper twisted pair, teflon insulation and a silver plated outer screen. A 1m pair cost around £150 so a moderately expensive cable.

    - Chord Calypso. Entry level 'specialist' cable of coax construction using a stranded copper centre conductor, polythene insulation and copper braid screen. Cost - £30 for a 1m pair.

    - Cheap 'bootlace' cable with plastic moulded plugs of the type supplied free with budget audio. Thin copper inner screened with a wrap-around copper screen. Cost - Free.

    - One of my own cables built from commonly available parts for a few pounds.

    Each cable in turn was placed between my WD phono stage (Rega P9/AT33 source) and the ADC. The same track - UB40 Madam Medusa on 12" single - was recorded through each cable and the files are presented below, with identities disguised in order to enable blind testing.
    No changes other than swapping the cables was made during the session.

    You can choose two versions, one a short 2 minute excerpt and the other a full 10 minutes.

    Please listen and vote for your preference.
    I would suggest that identifying differences is more important at this stage that feeling that you have to justify a preference to others. Simply vote for the one you prefer and perhaps say a few words as to what differences you heard.
    You can also vote 'no difference' if nothing can be detected.
    Names are hidden this time so the voting is anonymous to protect the shy ones here, but please comment if you can.

    Full length files (care - 100mb)

    Cable 1

    Cable 2

    Cable 3

    Cable 4

    Very short files (5mb)

    Cable 1

    Cable 2

    Cable 3

    Cable 4

    Part 2 - poll result



    Cables revealed

    Well 22 participants is pretty good - thanks to all who voted and commented.

    Seems we have a large majority in the 'no difference' camp and a spread across the others but no strong opinion expressed by the latter group, with most of those describing the difference as very small.

    Cable 1 - This was the free bootlace and is pictured below:


    Cable 3 - This was the Chord Calypso:


    Cable 4 - This was Chord Silver Siren:


    Woops... we missed out number 2 :)

    Well number 2 was my own brew and as mentioned in the first post, this was made from commonly available parts.
    Very commonly available parts in fact and hence the reference to 'crap alloy' above.

    Cable 2 is in fact cable 1 (the free one) but with the screen peeled away, the positive conductor cut and the following objects inserted in series to bridge the signal gap:

    - Piece of twisted aluminium foil from a chocolate bar
    - Old brass wood screw complete with tarnish
    - Length of tin\lead solder, also with a little surface corrosion
    - An old Yale door key
    - A few inches of plastic coated cable tie

    All just twisted together in series.


    The spin-off arguments might be interesting.

    Still want to replace the few inches of cheap wire inside that amplifier?

    Still convinced that you should pay extra for caps or resistors with copper/silver lead-outs?

    Is that inch of carbon track in the cheap potentiometer really sounding worse that the £30 posh Alps?

    What do you mean you just paid £100 for an audiophile quality switch?!
    Sergeauckland and Ian like this.