Yesterday I tried two different cables I got from my Japan trip on two widely popular IEMs: one was the Triple.Fi 10 and the other was the Shure SE215. I bought them in Japan just to see what sort of an improvement I can get from these cables. The sound changes was quite shocking. The cable for the Triple.Fi 10 (pictures later) altered the tonal change of the 10 to be more UE900 like, though not quite. Gone is the typical treble attack of the 10 continued by the dry mids and the suddenly fat bass, replaced by a smoother tonality curve from top to bottom with almost non existant treble attack. The soundstage widens and the sound becomes softer and more refined. The 10 becomes a softer and slower IEM too, losing quite a bit of snap, attack and PRaT in the process. It’s as if you’ve mated an UE900 tonality with a Westone 4 smoothness. Meanwhile the cable for the 215 adds some bass body to make the bass less of a roll off in a stock 215, and like the TF10 cable smooths out the rest of the frequency, most notably the mids, enlarges the soundstage, though it adds an unpleasant metallic and peaky high frequency.
The Sceptic’s Response
Now I know that some people are already thinking about what objective response they should be typing in reply to that first paragraph I just wrote. But this time I would place the burden of proof on the skeptic: Can you proof that changing audio cables indeed doesn’t make any difference to the sound quality?
Answers such as “I can’t hear any changes” need not apply as it doesn’t proof anything either other than that your ears may not be sensitive enough to pick up the differences or that you already started the audition with a closed mind that simply refuses to believe that cables do make a difference.
The next answer that is quite likely to be proposed, that the electrical measurements done by the EE graduate do not show any difference also falls short from being a solid argument by the same logic of the first answer.
I look forward to a healthy discussion but any argument given that follows a similar logic as the two above would be conveniently ignored.
What’s Really Happening?
How do these audio cables make a difference? I absolutely have no idea, but my ears tell me that there are differences. Of course my empirical observations are far from being the standard of truth, but combined with hundreds and thousands of testimonials from other audio enthusiasts out there, there may be something more than a simple case of placebo being observed here. Of course it’s hard to prove that this is more than a placebo, but so far we also haven’t seen any convincing proofs that these are indeed false phenomenons.
There are a lot of things observed in nature that we have no idea why they are so but still we accept them as truth. Like how the bicycle is able to stabilize itself when moving but not when stationery, or why small objects follow the quantum mechanics theory of physics instead of traditional newtonian physics. One thing that we know for certain is that our understanding in science is simply not enough to explain all the phenomenon observed in nature, and just because science has yet to come up with an explanation for it doesn’t mean that it’s an act of magic or worse, trickery.
The Boutique Cable Designers
Which brings me to another question: how do the cable designers come up with all these aftermarket, sound customising cables? For instance we have a lot of DIYer in our community who build cables for the TF10 and the Shure IEMs, but none were able to offer the revolutionary changes I heard in the TF10 and the SE215 cable I listened to last night. This makes me to think that the designer for the two cables I got in Japan somehow was able to engineer cables to a level of superiority unmatched by the common DIY builders.
How do they come up with these stuff? The easiest explanation that we can come up with is either by the purity grade of the cable and/or the material used for the cable. Still a lot of manufacturers these days offer high grade 99.9999% pure cables that anyone can buy and use to build a cable (which a lot of the DIYers have tried to use for headphone cables but with different results) so that can’t possibly be the only secret ingredient boutique cable designers have up their sleeve.
Continue to the next page…