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The Null tester and audio wires bullshit
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  • Shielding is different than quad. Many cables, even fairly pricey ones, have gaps or holes in the shielding. These have been tested, and Gotham and Canare test very high. You can see the test results on the Canare website. Gotham has the best shielding, which is why a lot of pros use it. Canare has had the quad cable from early on with a solid, flexible lightweight build which is why a lot of pros also use Canare.
    You only have to make one film where you pick up hum, a walkie talkie, a radio channel etc before you ditch all your cable and get quad.

  • You beat me to it.

  • It's not bullshit. It is how shielding works in balanced cables. This stuff goes back to the earliest days of 600 ohm balanced audio. The only other comment is that people seem to be confusing shielding quality with signal wire quality and transfer. The original video is not about shielding, only signal quality. The premise is that two wires that measure the same will sound the same. Nothing else. He was also not talking about microphone cable but interconnect cables.

    Sorry for the comment when I promised I would not! :-)

  • @RoadsidePicnic

    This sounds like bullshit at least considering balanced cables. If this guy so worried, just select cheap good shielded balanced cable.

  • https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=58458

    Q.

    Apart from the differences in construction which are well documented on this forum, what are the advantages of choosing one over the other? Does one reject EMI better than RFI [...]?

    R.

    In simple terms, the screen is intended to minimise RFI, while starquad is intended to minimise EMI. Both can be used together (and often are).

    In a standard balanced cable there are two signal cores which are twisted together, and this twisting is the critical element in rejecting interference from magnetic fields. By twisting the two signal wires together, both wires take turns being closer to and farther from the interference source, and so on average both wires will receive the same overall magnetic field strength and have the same induced currents which can then be cancelled out precisely at the differential receiver.

    And in general, this arrangement works well... except when the interference source is very close indeed. In this special case, the twisting 'period' or 'lay-length' is usually too long to maintain the required average exposure to the same strength of interference. And so we end up with an imbalance in induced interference currents.

    The solution presented in starquad cables is to add a second pair of signal wires twisted (very tightly) in with the first pair. So you have four signal wires (hence the 'quad' part of the name), arranged in a cross shape (the 'star'). The key to making this work is to wire opposite pairs together.

    In this way, the local interference source will be strongest in the nearest wire, but weakest in that wire's sibling, while the two wires in the second pair will both be equidistant and both receive a field strength which is mid-way between the strong and weak levels of the other two wires. Consequently, the two pairs both end up with the same exposure and so the induced interference signals will be cancelled out.

    Starquad cables are very good at rejecting very close sources of EM interference -- such as when laying mic cables in a cable duct with lighting cables -- but are essentially no better than standard balanced cables when the interference source is more than a few feet away. And the extra pair of signal wires increases the capacitance quite significantly, which can become an issue in very long cable runs or if you are trying to force AES3 digital signals down the cable.

    Broadcasters tend to use star-quad cable by default, but in my own location recording rig I have only one cable drum filled with starquad cables, and three with standard balanced cable with double Reussen screens! And I use the latter far more often!

  • It looks like this video and the first video make very similar claims. The cables look pretty close in the spectrum apart the problems introduced by a bad build. May I infer that if theres any non quantifiable variable in play about cables being unique it is also out of control of the supplier from batch to batch and from product design standpoint. Also it would be negligible in imparting any subjective quality when summed up with the other multitude of quantifiable variables in control of a given end user/operator in seting up all the audio capture/reproduction hardware. So all in all it's enought to use good build cable, designed to withstand the expected use cases, but no need to fancy things like rare metals whatever or 0.000001 oxen free anything.

    (Really interested in the tread as will need to be buying lots of cable soon)

  • @caveport Can't say I blame you.
    Anyone else: you can see the difference in some typical cables here:

  • @DrDave I disagree with everything you are saying. I'm out.

  • @caveport It has already been done. Mic emulators can pass a double blind test. Also, I did not say that all differences could be eliminated, I said they could get down to the level of difference as the null box, or to the point where you can't tell them apart.
    Re: bias. I recently saw a post of a photo some guy took with his cell phone and he asked the group why the photo was better than his fancy camera. Instead of telling him it was because it was outdoors in really good light where the smaller sensor gave him a bit larger and sharper DOF, they all tried to convince him that the fancy camera had the better photo and that he was deluded (he wasn't, it didn't, the cell phone photo was tack sharp).
    So, are we going to just use our cell phones? No. Well, maybe. Sometimes. (But eventually, probably.) Would we use the cell phone all the time if some box told us it was the same? Nope.
    What about if we thought we could see a difference? If we were sure we could see a difference. But the box said uh-uh. Would we switch? Nope.
    Remember, the video clearly says that no two wires test the same (best quote ever, IMHO).
    T-Shirt material. Words to buy gear by.

  • @DrDave "Now, the fact of the matter is that with the right DSP, you could in fact come very close to matching two different cameras or two different mics, and the additional fact is that at some point soon we won't need the mics, the preamps or the cameras, because the differences will be smaller and smaller and they can be processed to be virtually equivalent."

    This statement is incorrect. Not all differences between cameras or mics can be eliminated by processing. One always has physical differences in the type of sensor or transducer construction which can make an exact match impossible.

    The topic is about human perception being unreliable and using proper testing to eliminate perception issues. Most people who pay way too much for expensive cables/interconnects already have a perception bias. This can make it hard for them to accept test results. There is a long history of audio manufacturers using proper test methods to evaluate their products, rather than using ears and human perception. Most people can't detect THD distortion until it gets up to 0.7%, well above the average hi-fi THD levels. To know what the levels are, we need proper testing.

  • you can't measure tones in the neural network.

    Actually you can measure neural networks (just special ways, can read nice books on training and evaluation of them), and to your surprise no one still proven and showed that brain closely resemble any type of modern neural network (in really it is very far from even most complex ones).

    But I talked not about this, but about acoustical and mechanical parts of ear.

    The null box measures the wire only, unless I misunderstand.

    Null box measure all it should measure. Measuring your perception is not the task of it. Same as it does not measure waves height at Honolulu.

    BTW, no one is stopping ppl from using cheap gear

    Well, capitalism is stopping you buying products with less margin in them, as banks do not provide loans to such manufacturers, you do not see them so much at expos or at any other media, they just do not have enough money to fund all this. And eventually most of them close or will be bough by firms who sell you more crappy and expensive stuff.

    People make some serious money on YouTube who say that a Stradivarius violin is the same as a cheap violin. These are very popular. And, in fact, in double blind tests ppl could not tell them apart. They have been tested many times, and the results are consistent. I would rather have the Strad even if in the test people prefer the clone. Is it bad science or is experience worth something?

    It is capitalism :-) Bad illness of humanity.

  • @Vitaliy, you can't measure tones in the neural network. You can measure in the wire and in the air. Of the four groups that I mentioned, that leaves the ear and the neural net, setting aside for the moment perception threshold (which is, like if you hear it, not unimportant). The null box measures the wire only, unless I misunderstand. If you feel the Wikipedia article on combination tones is wrong, you can revise it. It was revised just recently to include the as yet unsolved headphone experiment, and it was revised several years ago to include a whole section on organ pipes as well as correcting several important historical facts. The turnover in this field is pretty fast.

    The cat and the box thing, you mention, not sure what that means in terms of the science; if I found a cat and some cheap cable and some Gotham cable in my gear I would feed the cat and leave it and the cheap cable at home.

    For those interested in the difference beween ECT (outside the ear) tones vs inside-the ear tones this is an interesting paper as well as a good overview: https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/j/aoa.2011.36.issue-4/v10168-011-0049-1/v10168-011-0049-1.pdf

    BTW, no one is stopping ppl from using cheap gear. And instead of arguing with me I suggest ppl go to the Arri table at the next show and tell them their stuff isn't any better because you plugged a wire into it and and a cell phone cam and the colors came out the same.
    People make some serious money on YouTube who say that a Stradivarius violin is the same as a cheap violin. These are very popular. And, in fact, in double blind tests ppl could not tell them apart. They have been tested many times, and the results are consistent. I would rather have the Strad even if in the test people prefer the clone. Is it bad science or is experience worth something?

  • @DrDave

    You jump and mew like a cat that fell in the box trap. :-) You try to find the exit but where is none, so you just painted it inside and bang your head over it.

    Combination and difference tones,

    image

    In reality most probably it is just non linear stuff. You can dug into human hearing biology to find that it is far from ideal.

    Now, the fact of the matter is that with the right DSP, you could in fact come very close to matching two different cameras or two different mics, and the additional fact is that at some point soon we won't need the mics, the preamps or the cameras, because the differences will be smaller and smaller and they can be processed to be virtually equivalent.

    If not capitalism we had around 10-25x less same-different microphones and cameras (and definitely just one mount for each camera category with exact same interface and contacts for all). And all this free power and resorces could be used to do real innovations and try really new ideas.

    Simple sample of matching.

    sa6369.jpg
    596 x 366 - 32K
  • In the vast majority of cases, objective measurements like the null test can conclusively resolve subjective disputes on the fine points of audio perception. There are, however, a few areas that remain obscured by their complexity and our inability to conduct exhaustive tests:

    1. Microphone cables: While most claims about premium cables are easily debunked, cheap microphone cables are often plagued by electrostatic noise (self-induced by friction between internal conductors and insulation). You can demonstrate this effect yourself, simply by snapping a length of the cable like a whip. With a high-gain preamp, you can hear a defective cable crackle when it's stressed. The problem is, ALL insulated cables exhibit the effect to some extent, but only when flexed, not under stationary testing conditions. I don't think anyone really knows how subliminally perceptible it is in practice.

    2. Transient distortion: Amplifier distortion tests are almost always conducted under steady state conditions, after initial transients have settled down and long-term behavior can be measured. The problem is that the initial transient of a sound can make a perceptible impact on its subjective tonal quality. The common simplifying assumption - that transients are comprised of indiscriminate noise pulses - can readily be shown to be incorrect (at least for naturally generated sounds). For example, the initial cycle of a guitar note (captured by a sampling scope) does not contain a discontinuous noise spike - it is indistinguishable from the cycles that follow it. The perception of an initial attack is a psycho-acoustic effect produced by the discontinuity between that first audible cycle and the silence that preceded it. If you then process the note through a high-gain amplifier, that initial transient will be distorted by the unconstrained open-loop behavior of the amp in the brief interval before its negative feedback circuitry closes the loop and enforces steady state behavior. These transient effects are subliminally perceived and extremely challenging to measure and quantify.

    3. Binaural sound fields: It is notoriously difficult to measure the binaural psycho-acoustic effects of real-world, three-dimensional sound fields. You can easily use two sampling microphones and compute head-related transfer functions to characterize how the brain distinguishes spatial cues from subtle phase discrepancies in the two signals. What you can't so easily do is manipulate the microphones the way humans subliminally move their heads in response to music, and integrate the modulating binaural sound fields the way the brain does to form a subjective impression of the entire acoustic environment. While there has been much research on generating 3D sound fields, its main emphasis has been on how to accurately reproduce and manipulate them to produce special effects. Qualitative evaluation of real-life sound fields is still a broadly subjective art.

  • @Libertas That article you link to is a more recent, better-designed experiment. It also clearly illustrates that the science can do a 180 in a short space of time (which we knew anyway in the 60s because of Kuhn's book. OMG it is 50 years since I read that book). Note that they have to rely on psychophysics to reduce to one photon, for obvious reasons, just as you would need to rely on psychoacoustics in the null experiment (it doesn't).
    The larger question here is whether the null box is falsifiable using Popper's definition of falsifiable.
    The second larger question is whether getting your science from a YouTube video is mathematically the same as buying a lottery ticket. It's more like a raffle ticket, but it's the same. That says nothing about the individual video, just to be clear.
    Link to the Wikipedia article on Kuhn's book, many of you have probably read it, but if not, it is a must read book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Structure_of_Scientific_Revolutions
    I'm not going to go into the difference here between what I will call wire science, acoustics, the biology of acoustics, and psychoacoustics, but let me just say these are four separate things. Related, but separate. Combination and difference tones, for example, are audible, but they are not transmitted in the air or measure by the wire experiment. Not it is even now understood why they can be produced with headphones (through a wire!) in certain tests. We simply don't know why, but they are audible, even loud https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combination_tone
    Your typical audio engineer might (might not) agree with the wire test, probably would not agree that it applied to ADDA and definitely not agree that it applied to preamps. Yet all of these could pass the test. But let's take it a step further, you could use a mic simulator to pass the test, so we could use the same mic for everything, as well. And, you could also take two video cameras and reduce the visual threshold differences to the same percentage, so we don't need to use expensive video cameras. Same with the lenses. After all, they could all pass the test, and, even if they couldn't pass the test they could be made to pass the test with a filter or two.
    Now, the fact of the matter is that with the right DSP, you could in fact come very close to matching two different cameras or two different mics, and the additional fact is that at some point soon we won't need the mics, the preamps or the cameras, because the differences will be smaller and smaller and they can be processed to be virtually equivalent. We are definitely heading in that direction, and our gear will even be more worthless than the normal two year cycle for cameras (I'm still using the mics I bought in the 70s...)
    I actually don't see the difference between the GH5 and the G85, BTW. I do see a difference from the G7. Would I pass a blind test? No. Absolutely not. But I still see a difference. I totally see a difference whether it passes a test or not, and I'm OK with saying that. I'm OK substituting my judgment in place of the test I know I would fail. The only reason the wire video has legs is because it is about wire, not cameras and preamps.
    So we don't need the cameras, the mics, the cables, the speakers, the headphones. OK. I will buy your gear since we have now conclusively proved it's worthless. Sell it on eBay.

    But for me, it doesn't change the outcome. I will still rely on my experience, and I will still question the science. There's more to life than a wire and a box, and recording is an art.

  • Science can be objective even when reality is perceived in a subjective way. Some seem to hear a difference between flac and 320 mp3s. I don't think I hear a difference, most of the time. Of course the act of measuring (per se) has an effect on the quantum level, but does this affect our perception of reality? And if so, in what way?

    Regarding photons this is certainly legit

    Direct detection of a single photon by humans | Nature Communications

    https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms12172

  • These videos don't include combination tones, which is a major flaw, and I'll leave it at that. If ppl don't know why this is an issue, that doesn't bother me either.

    The bad study about the photon (bad even when published) is the perfect example of this. It was wrong, it was bad science, and people said, hey, this is the objective truth. They were all wrong, and they didn't know it. This is, in fact, how science works--one theory is superseded by another. It's a continual process. In a good science class, you learn this.

    And here we go again. Start thinking using your own head, stop following sensationalism of popular press.

    But the practical fact remains that I wouldn't use cheap cable even if the so-called "science" proved I couldn't hear the difference, and I won't be switching brands because the "science" proves that the Gotham wire sounds the same as Mogami. In addition, two ADDA circuits routinely test exactly the same (within the margins of the wire test) yet sound different. And, if you think all ADDA circuits sound the same, I'm just going to say I don't agree. Same for mic preamps.

    In reality you are agnostic. :-) I told you above - if you like good connectors and nice shield or such - it is fine, just do not proclaim that it is due to sound quality and it had been whole point of this topic.

    Considering ADDA stuff. If we'll do proper double blind test for two almost same measured things you will never tell us any difference. I saw it so many times, it is not fun. One guy destroyed his nice new note (just smacked it) after the test - so disappointed he had been and he could not tell any difference despite hot statements of opposite.

    Because, quite simply, they invalidate experience.

    No, they invalidate unfounded opinions.

    Idea of PV is to rise opinions to knowledge, not in reverse.

  • @libertas the article in the link was not accurate at the time (1996) and has been superseded by more accurate studies that show the opposite. It does, however, pop up at the top of a Google search.
    @Caveport I disagree.
    I'm going to again reiterate that I don't care what gear people buy. These videos don't include combination tones, which is a major flaw, and I'll leave it at that. If ppl don't know why this is an issue, that doesn't bother me either.
    The bad study about the photon (bad even when published) is the perfect example of this. It was wrong, it was bad science, and people said, hey, this is the objective truth. They were all wrong, and they didn't know it. This is, in fact, how science works--one theory is superseded by another. It's a continual process. In a good science class, you learn this.
    But the practical fact remains that I wouldn't use cheap cable even if the so-called "science" proved I couldn't hear the difference, and I won't be switching brands because the "science" proves that the Gotham wire sounds the same as Mogami. In addition, two ADDA circuits routinely test exactly the same (within the margins of the wire test) yet sound different. And, if you think all ADDA circuits sound the same, I'm just going to say I don't agree. Same for mic preamps.

    So why will I use Gotham wire and my preferred converters and preamps and ignore the YouTube videos? Why is that?
    Because, quite simply, they invalidate experience.

  • http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/Quantum/see_a_photon.html

    Great share, I was wondering about this recently, It seems like a legitimate research review.

  • @LPowell I also am an audio engineer as well as a video editor and have 40 years experience and agree with Ethan Winer's YouTube videos. Human perception is flawed, which is why measuring is essential to get the most accurate information about audio performance.

    The whole 'quantum entanglement' issue raised earlier has no relevance to this argument.

  • Some of the responses seem to be missing the whole ponit of the null test: to determine if there is, in fact, a residual signal to move up the next stage of the audio path. If there isn't, there is no factual or logical basis on which to make a claim to the contrary.

  • Thanks for linking to Ethan Winer's YouTube videos. I am a retired professional audio engineer and I agree with everything Ethan Winer says in these videos except for one debatable point: IMO, Paul McGowan of PS Audio does not "mean well", he is an experienced salesman marketing expensive high quality audio gear laced with homespun snake oil audiophile myths.

  • BTW the Photon is established science. The article you link to is 22 years old. Just sayin.

    I tell you as guy with much better education in this - science has huge issues with photons, and it is obvious as soon as you step outside simple school books with statements.

    Considering 22 years, I do not care. I care that it has logic and explanation, and few latest publications I saw had been complete bullshit made to get grant money and bad press not understanding that they write.

    But they aren't going to be defeated by a video that says "all wires test different."

    You try to pull words you like from whole thing and try to use them as you like. And it is not good thing to do.

    It is not "scammers", most of this cable sellers are nice established capitalists, they just put capitalism main values into extreme :-). Much more profits without adding any real value. Cameras companies are closely following this guys lately, did't you notice?

  • Well, I know that most people who buy cable aren't really interested in the science, and the guys who make the YouTube videos aren't scientists.
    For sure, the scammers are the problem. But they aren't going to be defeated by a video that says "all wires test different." They will use that to sell their overpriced gear.
    BTW the Photon is established science. The article you link to is 22 years old. Just sayin.

  • The fact that a photon has unusual properties does not alter the fact that a single photon can be registered by the eye.

    I really do not understand your point. I see few recent single photon claims, but better read something more logical

    http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/Quantum/see_a_photon.html

    AFAIK, the limits of hearing have only been tested in a challenge and response environment, not at the molecular level, nor at the quantum level as in the case with the photon. So that would be like saying that Canada does not exist because Americans cannot find it on a map.

    I am slightly lost with fuzzy changing arguments. :-) May be it is nice idea to start ignoring all audio measurement using some string theory declared limits? :-)

    Lastly, our view of science is basically unchanged since Kuhn's view of science cycles. There will be another cycle, and this version of the science will be replaced in a few years. Just as it always has. And the reason that we "see" entanglement, which was previously completely unknown, is that we are looking in different places. There's no reason to believe that the perception of sound does not operate in as yet unknown ways, and the use of a null box doesn't prove it because it uses circular reasoning. It only tests what it was designed to test. You could just as easily say that quantum effects do not exist because this box does not "see" them.

    You sometimes tell such strange things. It won't be another cycle, but it will be revolution that will change science from foundation, as science is always serving ruling class in fundamentals and resisting anything that can hurt ruling class (despite always telling otherwise and telling about objective things).

    I can say that entanglement is mostly bullshit made to get grant money by very smart people using few clever tricks. Scientist like such things. Thousands of them promised easy humanity energy solution using thermonuclear energy in tokamaks, tens of billions had been spent without any real result.

    What the "box testers" are saying is that audio effects only exist with the box. They then look in this box and say "See, nothing outside the box." They then go on to say, well, there are things outside the box but you can't see them so they don't exist. I have a problem with the methodology.

    I have problem with your problem :-) I know you need to believe in certain things but you don't need to become preacher of this :-)