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Author Topic: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?  (Read 13943 times)

Offline Sprool

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #25 on: 15/01/2012 18:26:28 »
The cryogenic line is interesting, I've heard this before, been thinking how it can make an impact from the physics/materials science angle but not sure I can concoct anything credible at this stage. Some rearrangement of metal crystalline structure to a tidier more efficient conductor pathway would seem to me to require a higher energy level to shuffle stuff around (like high temperature annealing to remove imperfections and make metal harder) and very low temperatures would do the opposite.
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #26 on: 15/01/2012 18:48:38 »
By way of balance, as this is a science website, I can see very little scientific justification improving mains leads. By all means add a filter if there is any problem with noise spikes from other household equipment and avoid "earth loops" i.e. Star connect the equipment earths and have a single ground path. Neil, if you think you get better sound from an amplifier with special insulation, cryogenically treated wire etc. then that's fine, but it is a huge stretch to scientifically justify any of this.

I can only vouch for my personal impressions during listening tests...and I can't explain the science to you I'm afraid..it's way beyond me !.........Of course being in the trade at the time...I paid trade prices and was also able to claim back the VAT too !........Now....in a different field altogether..i would not spend anywhere near the amount the retail value of the components were...but all I can do is defend my aural perception.....and not just my own .....my clients too who were able to take the cables home and try them themselves in their own homes with their own equipment and probably their friends and familys opinions too !  :)


 

Offline graham.d

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #27 on: 15/01/2012 20:16:31 »
Neil, I would be impressed if anyone could explain any improvement in sound quality by use of such cabling unless the equipment it was supplying was of such poor design that it was rendered particularly susceptible to the nature of it's power supply cable, which, from what you have said, seems unlikely. However, I do not doubt the honesty of your belief in your observations though would venture to say that the power of suggestion may have come into play. Proper double blind testing would be more convincing. I have to say that if your observations are correct then I am at a loss to explain such an improvement in sound quality. If you have a reference to the special cabling I will see if there is anything more to it that I can see that could provide such magic. I remain sceptical though.

As for cryogenic treatment of cable... the mind boggles. What is meant by a more efficient current pathway? I can only think that there is some annealing effect. What could this do to any advantage? It could, I suppose,
1. slightly change the resistivity of the material
2. slightly reduce the 1/f noise

In my opinion, any such change in these factors (and it would be very small), in mains cabling, should not influence the sound of any equipment being powered through it. Any impact from these factors will be hugely swamped by whatever is on the mains supply anyway and/or will be filtered by the subsequent power supply circuits.

It may be more effective to get a priest to bless the equipment before use!

I bet someone comes up with concrete proof that it all works now I've said all this  ;)
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #28 on: 15/01/2012 20:44:23 »
I have no doubt that Neil's observations are correct. It's just that the reason for them lies in psychology rather than physics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suggestion
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #29 on: 16/01/2012 05:33:38 »
Quote
Posted by: graham.d
« on: January 15, 2012, 20:16:31 »
Neil, I would be impressed if anyone could explain any improvement in sound quality by use of such cabling unless the equipment it was supplying was of such poor design that it was rendered particularly susceptible to the nature of it's power supply cable, which, from what you have said, seems unlikely. However, I do not doubt the honesty of your belief in your observations though would venture to say that the power of suggestion may have come into play. Proper double blind testing would be more convincing. I have to say that if your observations are correct then I am at a loss to explain such an improvement in sound quality. If you have a reference to the special cabling I will see if there is anything more to it that I can see that could provide such magic. I remain sceptical though.

As for cryogenic treatment of cable... the mind boggles. What is meant by a more efficient current pathway? I can only think that there is some annealing effect. What could this do to any advantage? It could, I suppose,
1. slightly change the resistivity of the material
2. slightly reduce the 1/f noise

In my opinion, any such change in these factors (and it would be very small), in mains cabling, should not influence the sound of any equipment being powered through it. Any impact from these factors will be hugely swamped by whatever is on the mains supply anyway and/or will be filtered by the subsequent power supply circuits.

It may be more effective to get a priest to bless the equipment before use!

I bet someone comes up with concrete proof that it all works now I've said all this  ;)



Quote
Posted by: Bored chemist
« on: January 15, 2012, 20:44:23
I have no doubt that Neil's observations are correct. It's just that the reason for them lies in psychology rather than physics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suggestion


It's been six years since I was in the business.....I wouldn't be surprised if there are  newer techniques of dealing with cables to make them more aurally attractive !!...especially attractive to the retailers and manufacturers bank accounts.

It is entirely possible that  from a retailers position we wanted to hear a difference to sincerely convince the advantage to consumers who wanted to hear a difference also. In most cases, all demo tests of cryo cables were done blind against their non cryo counterparts. This was essential but I do understand your scepticism and it's possible that (as a retailer) I was susceptible to the clarity and definition that a cryo treated cable affected my bank balance !

Hey..look what I just found http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=9648.0 seems I brought his up before !!

There are quite a few links out there...here's another http://www.nitrofreeze.com/cryogenic-audio-electronics.html

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=36908



« Last Edit: 16/01/2012 05:48:16 by neilep »
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #30 on: 16/01/2012 06:02:49 »
Hmmm
The question remains whether there was actually a "trial", or the manufacture's website is made up of opinion.

And, if there was a trial, how was it actually controlled.  There have been many questions about a possible association between funding source and trial outcome.

Article finds positive association between commercial funding and trial outcome (medical)
http://fampra.oxfordjournals.org/content/18/6/565.full.pdf

Article does not find an association between funding source and trial outcome (medical).
http://w02.biomedcentral.com/1472-6963/2/18

Keep in mind the distinction between wall power cables, and speaker wire cables.  I would think you would have to look far and wide to find any benefit of going with $1000+ external power cables.  Speaker wires might be another issue.

If I was really concerned about fine points of resistance in my speaker wires, rather than sourcing questionable cryo-treated wires, I'd hunt down some surplus cable-TV wires...  not the little ones...  I mean the big ones... say coax cables about 1" in diameter.  [8D]  They aren't too flexible, but are well shielded, and have a large enough conductor that you won't be worrying about resistance.
 

Offline Geezer

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #31 on: 16/01/2012 06:57:19 »
I only use superconducting cables on my audio equipment, and my listening studio is an underground anechoic bunker (RF and audio) that's powered entirely by submarine batteries. Unfortunately, none of this seems to make the slightest difference when I play my (vinyl) Led Zeppelin collection.

EDIT: To my ears, Cream sounds pretty much the same too, but Mrs G claims Barry Manilow sounds much better.
« Last Edit: 16/01/2012 07:09:55 by Geezer »
 

Offline syhprum

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #32 on: 16/01/2012 13:36:22 »
Inside the amplifier from which the speakers are fed you will find a common or garden electrolytic capacitor with compression joints connecting its output transistors via thin conductors to the output terminals.
Inside your speaker case you will find inductors and capacitors feeding the moving coils of the speakers commonly with a resistance of 15 or so ohms.
How can it make the slightest difference if the two are interconnected by 1 ohm or so of common cable or 001 ohm of fancy flexible oxide free 100 amp cable.
All you have to take care of is that connections are made securely (you could solder them!).
the power level in the speaker cables is such that no conceivable amount of electromagnetic fields could be audible. 
 

Offline graham.d

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #33 on: 16/01/2012 14:03:35 »
Syphrum, a lot depends on the speaker design and the nature of any crossover circuits. However, generally there is more reason to have a low impedance connection between the amplifier and the speaker drive units, although I would not go for the need to have this "magic" cable. The amplifier will have a very low impedance output which can damp overshoot in the speaker. Putting series resistance in the way can reduce this effect. I don't know whether this is audible, but at least I can see some scientific justification here.
 

Offline syhprum

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #34 on: 16/01/2012 14:28:38 »
If this was a real concern the solution would be to use 4 wires, two to carry the power to the speakers and two to return the feedback to the amplifier directly from the speaker teminals.
This is the normal practice when a regulated PSU has to be fitted someway from its load.
there is no reason why the amplifier cannot be arranged to have a negative output resistance so that the resulting resistance is zero at the speaker terminals.
 

Offline graham.d

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #35 on: 16/01/2012 15:27:38 »
I believe a "Kelvin" type connection is indeed used in some modern speakers where the power amplifier is in the speaker cabinet. There are even some speakers with optical feedback from the cone! I think a negative output impedance would be very difficult to control in any open loop way and would lead to oscillation. In theory you are right that you could use a 4 wire system on any speaker arrangement. There may be some care needed to avoid the amplifier oscillating, though this should not be a huge problem providing the amplifier's gain rolls off before the MHz region. It would be a lot cheaper than the hyper low impedance cable but it may be that manufacturers would not like to add this sort of complication where it relies on more things for the customer to get wrong.
 

Offline Mazurka

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #36 on: 16/01/2012 15:45:10 »
When I first heard a very faint  "shhh" noise marking the end of a drum loop on a dance track I was listening to, I relaised that my (second hand) pre/power amp combination was better than the music I was listening to.  I decided that audiophilla was not for me...

So far have my standards slipped, i no longer complain about MP3 as a format (that much).

Thanks Neil, you saved me regurgitating what my audiophile vinyl loving brother tells me...



 

Offline Sprool

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #37 on: 16/01/2012 16:28:08 »
I'll stick my neck out and bet a pound that hi fi audiophiles who spend £1000 on a power lead, £11k on a CD player and same on an amp and speakers don't listen to much drum'n'bass or disco tracks in MP3 format ;)
 

Offline Geezer

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #38 on: 16/01/2012 17:44:40 »

there is no reason why the amplifier cannot be arranged to have a negative output resistance so that the resulting resistance is zero at the speaker terminals.


I actually tried that forty years ago. I had applied the same technique to drive DC motors with great success, so I "extrapolated" that the same idea would work when driving speaker cones.
 
Didn't work for toffee!
 
I figured the only way to get it to work was with some sort of independent positional transducer - probably optical, but I had neither the time nor the means to muck around with it further.
 
Still, it's an interesting idea to make the cone be exactly where you want it to be rather than where it figures it ought to be. Whether this will make the slightest difference to listening enjoyment is or not is unknown, but it's probably unlikely. However, that's not the point of audiophile systems. I figure if you spend enough on it, you've pretty much got to enjoy it.
 
I think the right appproach is to treat the entire "ensemble" (recording media, amps, speakers, the room acoustics) as a sort of musical instrument. If you happen to like the sound it produces, you are good to go.
 
I also suspect we are influenced by the aroma the equipment gives off. To that end I plan to put a new fragrance on the market called "Eau de Mullard EL84".
 

Offline imatfaal

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #39 on: 16/01/2012 17:55:18 »
Right now all I need is not to have a blown left speaker cos I had System of a Down / Toxicity on tooo loud this morning. 

For wanton idiocy - I had a valve/tube based ipod dock for about 5 weeks.  It was nicked and I spent the insurance on something else and re-used the boring old cheapo old i had for years
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #40 on: 16/01/2012 18:44:09 »
Some systems can be too revealing !...So many ' bottom-lines '...however the fundamental main source of the sound is the media that it's been recorded on. Everything else in the equation is designed to just faithfully reproduce it to the level that was recorded and laid down by the engineer in the studio. He/She had an intention as to how the recording should be heard and that is what the audiophile trys to achieve. So........ transparency is the goal here. A badly produced cd on a very revealing system can reveal all the flaws that are not intended to be heard....however and I can attest to this very much...a revealing system can amaze you by treating your ears to a three dimensional sound-stage and by revealing sounds and instruments that you never heard before...never knew that were there.

MP3's are as you all probably know  are compressed and the compromise is made by missing out frequencies that can't normally be heard by the ear...however, there is argument that these frequencies that can not be heard do have an effect on the ones that can be heard and this is mentioned a fair bit by the audiophile who remains at a loss when confronted with a medium that does not produce the entire frequency spectrum.  I prefer Cd's myself and regularly enjoy the warmth of vinyl too. But I also love my ipod too.

Some CD's are notoriously produced to sound harsh...I believe some of the early OASIS cd's were designed to sound quite raw and on a revealing system displayed themselves so.

I know this whole thing is a contentious issue but when dealing with an audiophile...it's their passion !!..their hobby !....I suppose it's all down to how much in love with music or sound reproduction.

If I was a top serious  chef I'd buy a £100 knife and equal quality set of pots and pans etc......know what I mean ?
« Last Edit: 16/01/2012 18:47:27 by neilep »
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #41 on: 16/01/2012 18:48:31 »
Right now all I need is not to have a blown left speaker cos I had System of a Down / Toxicity on tooo loud this morning. 

For wanton idiocy - I had a valve/tube based ipod dock for about 5 weeks.  It was nicked and I spent the insurance on something else and re-used the boring old cheapo old i had for years

Good album !!
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #42 on: 16/01/2012 18:49:41 »
I'll stick my neck out and bet a pound that hi fi audiophiles who spend £1000 on a power lead, £11k on a CD player and same on an amp and speakers don't listen to much drum'n'bass or disco tracks in MP3 format ;)

I love drum ' n bass !....Adam F ?
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #43 on: 16/01/2012 20:09:33 »
Gold plate a fuel cell? Never! You need platinum plate, and rhodium alloy for the interconnects ( as Pt is cheaper than Au these days) along with solid PTFE insulation, and glass housings so you can see the reaction.

I am using an old Power Wedge 214 for my computer, mostly because it has 8 outlets, although I did remove the one isolating transformer ( crispy) from it. Needs better mains filtering though, am looking to add more brute force to it some day, have plenty of old filter modules to put in, along with decent chokes.
 

Offline imatfaal

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #44 on: 16/01/2012 23:20:08 »
Right now all I need is not to have a blown left speaker cos I had System of a Down / Toxicity on tooo loud this morning. 

For wanton idiocy - I had a valve/tube based ipod dock for about 5 weeks.  It was nicked and I spent the insurance on something else and re-used the boring old cheapo old i had for years

Good album !!

Have you seen the Lego version of chop suey. Brilliant. Will find a link when I am not on my phone
 

Offline Sprool

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #45 on: 16/01/2012 23:40:38 »
£100 kitchen knife? Really Neil, you have to go up market :)
http://japanesechefsknife.com/SPECIALS.html
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #46 on: 17/01/2012 05:08:01 »
£100 kitchen knife? Really Neil, you have to go up market :)
http://japanesechefsknife.com/SPECIALS.html

Cripes !!..Kill Bill Meets the Food Network !...Thanks Sprool !  ;)
 

Offline Sprool

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #47 on: 17/01/2012 09:04:09 »
'tis a thing of great beauty though but my budget will not stretch to such luxuries. It would make an ideal cable splicer for Nordstrand, I'm surprised they haven't entered into a business co-op yet.
 

Offline graham.d

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #48 on: 17/01/2012 13:35:06 »
Neil, I agree that MP3 is imperfect; it is highly compressed however. I don't think anyone would try to say MP3 sound is HiFi, but it's fine for listening to some music, perhaps in the background or in the car.

As a matter of interest there are compression systems that are designed to encode voice at 600 bits/second and do it so that the voice retains its tone qualities and (say) emotional content. It is far from HiFi and makes a complete mess of music, but the voice and a variety of background sounds are tolerably good. The person's voice can usually be recognised for example and, of course, the words understood. Such "vocoders" are used by the military and by fire/police/ambulance services to allow smaller bandwidths for digital data transmissions over radio, though, more generally 2400b/s is used for near toll quality (good telephony standard) with added error correction (to maintain the radio range) to make it 3600b/s overall.

To get back to HiFi, all studio work now is digitally recorded, as far as I'm aware (unless specially made), with at least 20 bit words and at a rate of 176 kwords/sec. A reason for this is so the multiple tracks can be mixed and remixed without causing any audible deteriation in sound quality. If you go to a live concert you will also find much of the sound equipment will be digital nowadays - certainly the best stuff. Many wireless microphones use some degree of compression - not generally well advertised - and the latest ones send the data in digital form. Listening to such recordings on vinyl seems a complete nonsense - though I don't suppose that would be an option nowadays. Generally I like 90+ dB signal/noise ratio rather than the 50dB or so (plus the occasional pop) you get from vinyl. Also, sounds recorded on vinyl are usually "companded" - a form of analog compression - the amount varied from company to company. If it is not companded they cannot cope with the dynamic range of many classical music pieces; the quiet parts would be buried in the noise or the loud parts overmodulated so that the stylus could not track the groove modulations without distortion. If anyone wants to purchase my numerous LPs (Classical, Popular, Jazz, Folk - no C&W though) I would accept any reasonable offer :-) None have been played on anything but a Shure V15 cartridge with an SME arm - I also still have a pair of IMF TLS50 speakers which are surplus to requirements now and take up a lot of space - very good for organ music!
 

Offline Geezer

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #49 on: 18/01/2012 02:14:26 »

no C&W though


Well, she-hit Graham! Ain't you ever heard of Sydney Devine?
 

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Re: Why are kettle (IEC) leads for high-end audio so expensive?
« Reply #49 on: 18/01/2012 02:14:26 »

 

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