If cables don’t matter why are there so many brands?


Why you might need to swap your Physics degree for one in Neuroscience

Hey Mister ‘It’s only ones and zeros, physics degree, network/electronics engineer and fellow of the flat earth society’ – You’re wrong… possibly.

I’m not here for an argument. There are plenty of other places for that, but I’m going to suggest something else for consideration that might blow your mind – literally!

To my ears cables make a difference. How can that be? It’s just encased wire after all.

And why are there so many brands essentially manufacturing the same thing? What chance has the consumer got?

It’s like buying toothpaste! How can there be so many toothpaste brands, and not only that, so many different products within each brand, just for brushing your teeth! Is it all just marketing or is there something in it?

Well over many years I’ve had the chance to try plenty of cables and I’ve come to this (generalised) point of view – because everything else in the system is also relevant, including you!

In order of effect on sound:

  1. Digital cables – shielding could be the most important consideration here
  2. Loudspeaker cables – unshielded gave a more open sound than shielded
  3. Network cables – shielding again, but recent experience with fibre might change everything
  4. Interconnects – less of a difference when changing
  5. Power cables – I’ve always struggled here. After a point I’m hearing very little change

Of course your experience may be completely different, and there could be a reason that hasn’t been part of the conversation so far.

Your brain!

It’s a subject that even the smartest scientists agree on, in that we are only just starting to understand how this marvellous and complex organ works.

It’s certainly a complicated subject but as an example, something (we think) we know is that the brain uses memory assimilated data to fill in the gaps which normalises sound for consistency. Maybe that’s why we can struggle to hear any difference in lyrics once misheard… “Excuse me while I kiss the sky

I’ve also seen an experiment where ten students were give the same food to try. Five were told it would taste bad, the other five that it would taste good – the results were no surprise.

It will be interesting to put the research into context for our industry so I will be running a series of features that I think relate to the available subject matter.

Too much to handle right now? Absolutely! Time to head for the technical library. If you want to join the party here’s a couple of books to try:

This is your brain on music‘ – Daniel Levitin ISBN 978-1-84354-716-7 & ‘Why we love music‘ – John Powell ISBN 978-1-473-61376-8

So, ‘Mister Physics degree sceptic’ – maybe trade in your degree for one in Neuroscience and lets all go at it again … in a few decades.

For now why not enjoy what we choose and don’t pontificate so much about what might be.

We could all be wrong after all!