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Why cables from Radio Shack...?

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Why cables from Radio Shack...?

Old 01-21-00, 01:14 PM
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In this post, my opinions deal strictly with analog interconnects...

Why do so many users here and at other forums recommend Radio Shack cables to newbies? Do they believe that if you had to buy cables, that's the best starting point? I believe in high-quality analog interconnects. I believe they do make a fairly significant difference with decent gear. The most important buying decision is your own listening habits. If you rather not listen to your spouses and carefully position speakers away from walls (most speakers), adjust toe-in, and usually sit in the sweet spot to enjoy your music, take the time to buy cables. On the other hand, if you place speakers wherever it's convenient, and you like to mosh, read, do chores to your fave cds, then RS cables are overkill. A good way to buy cables is to find an independent audio store that sells cables bulk. Besides, those stores often loan out gear on a deposit, so you can try before you buy. And the difference is not night and day at first. I think too many newbies expect the same magnitude of improvement as jumping from Pro-Logic to DD. I was one of them. Improvements in soundstage, depth, dynamics, and definition takes some time and effort getting use to. You can't notice improvements if you don't know what it sounds like, right? Decide if you're a serious or casual listener. If you're casual, don't feel pressured to buy any cables. The least you can do for cables is not Radio Shack. It's those red/white ones that came with your gear. If people say RS cables sounds better than those guys, then I question why they can't understand the superiority of premium interconnects. Okay....now I feel intimidated among all the RS followers here...
Old 01-21-00, 02:19 PM
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Lush

Buy cables from Radio Shack because for the msot part wire is wire. I would say that 99% of the people on this forum couldn't tell the difference in the highest quality cables available and average RS versions. Most people don't have the perfect hearing or the high end equipment to notice the minute measurable differences in the cable. If you do, that's fine. Buy what you need to suit yourself. But, for the average consumer, paying hundreds of dollars for cables means cutting corners elsewhere. So, for the reasons above, I generally recommend average quality cables such as those available at RS or the low end Monster Cable.

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Old 01-21-00, 04:40 PM
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Dead, 2803 posts! Holy s***!

Anyways.....The ability to appreciate good electronics or cables is not biological. You could if you wanted to. It's a matter of knowing what to listen for. Also, you don't need separates or $4K cd players to reveal the differences. I just think either start with something good (Kimber PBJ range or a notch down) or don't do it at all. It is my opinion that people buy RS just to say that they don't have the worst connection possible. If it's just $20 for that peace of mind, then I guess that's ok. Whatever make ya happy, right? Later.
Old 01-21-00, 05:30 PM
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Lush,

You obviously haven't met Blade yet... he has over 4000 posts here at DVDTalk.

The ability to appreciate good electronics or cables is not biological.

Oh, I agree that much of it's not biological, though some is... we live in a very noisy society and many people have hearing damage that they are unaware exists. Unfortunately I'm almost certain that you will disagree with what I say the majority of it is... it's mostly psychological. Simply put, in a double blind test, most individuals can't tell any difference in cables at all. If they are told they are listening to more expensive or better cables, suddenly many can "hear" a difference though.


I just think either start with something good (Kimber PBJ range or a notch down) or don't do it at all.

Ah, $75-$100 for one meter or not at all. I will definitely disagree with you there. Let's see... two connections from the tape deck, one from the cd player, one from the VCR, one from the TV. That's likely $400-$550 for cables after tax/shipping! Many people here don't have much more than that in their reciever. Actually, I don't have that much more in my Yamaha 795.

Of course, the reason that they make different versions is because each person wants what *they* like and can afford. As I said before, if you are one of the people who can actually hear differences in cables, then I would say you should buy the lowest quality/cheapest versions which eliminate those differences. But, for most people, I would recommend inexpensive, basic cables because they would never hear any difference.

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Old 01-23-00, 03:05 PM
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Now I see why you said people cannot afford to spend hundreds of dollars on cables: I would only buy one or two of the $$$cables for the cd player or the DVD player. Oh god, I wouldn't spend $200 to connect the cassette player via the tape loop or $100 to connect the VCR! I don't care of the quality I'm getting from those components. I only connect things that matter with nice cables.

As for the listening tests...You are right about listening for things because one wants to hear it. When I do tests, I have to be very careful not to imagine things. If I can't discern a difference within 10 min, I'll give up, otherwise, I'll end up making up things just because the cable is pretty looking!

I usually buy my cables bulk, because it is cheaper, even for the same length when compare to pre-packaged. I buy 2ft usually, so I save there. I think that's why I'm so avid about upgrading cables. But I know not everyone have access to such places.

Old 01-23-00, 04:32 PM
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Lush:

I think there's another reason why home theater enthusiast don't prefer premium cables. I've got a stereo system that I've hooked up using premium cables which I prefer much more over the cheap RS stuff or even the low-end audiophile stuff.

With HT, however, the equipment tends to be pretty cheap(lower quality) compared with audiophile gear. As a result, the HT equipment is the limitation to good sound rather than the cables. Thus, adding premium cables to such an HT system will likely not make a difference because the HT equipment is the "bottleneck". Even a $2000 surround receiver would be considered cheap in the audiophile world because you're actually paying for 5 $400-level amplifiers with some integrated stuff. Compare that to a single good audiophile-grade monoblock amp that can run you in the thousands. So I'm not surprised that people with consumer-grade HT electronics can't hear a difference between RS cables and premium cables.
Old 01-23-00, 09:08 PM
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People who are buying Ultra-high priced equipment do it for one reason and one reason only "STATUS". These people think the more they spend the better the sound/video. This is pure marketing BS! Buying expensive cable also is just a matter of "STATUS"! People who buy into this type buying habits are the ones who just love to quote how much they've spent on all their equipment. When honest, calculated tests are done on equipment by major testing companies they always come up with the results that there is a very slight difference(if any at all)between the high priced and the moderatly price equipment.

All those who HAVE to buy the high priced equipment/cables are purely a marketing companies creation.

Gee, next thing you guys will be promoting are Bose speakers and there incredible specs!

With HT, however, the equipment tends to be pretty cheap(lower quality) compared with audiophile gear. As a result, the HT equipment is the limitation to good sound rather than the cables. Thus, adding premium cables to such an HT system will likely not make a difference because the HT equipment is the "bottleneck". Even a $2000 surround receiver would be considered cheap in the audiophile world because you're actually paying for 5 $400-level amplifiers with some integrated stuff. Compare that to a single good audiophile-grade monoblock amp that can run you in the thousands. So I'm not surprised that people with consumer-grade HT electronics can't hear a difference between RS cables and premium cables.

Now this is typical Elitist, mis-informed spew that is par for these types.

Old 01-23-00, 10:46 PM
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Certainly the importance of interconnects and cabling in a system should be avoided more than religion and politics in this forum- there are extreme believers and extreme nonbelievers and most of us are probably skeptics watching somewhere from the middle.

But no difference between equipment? Just seduced by marketing? No difference between a Sony STR-DE635 down at Best Buy and a Marantz SR-18 or Denon-5700? No difference between the $200 Sony speaker set at Circuit City and (nothing but) pricey B&W, Boston, Definitive Technology, Klipsch, (etc.) systems at your local home theater shop? No difference between the Fisher Dvd player down at Wal-Mart and the Sony DVP-S7700? Certainly marketing is part of ANY business in the world today, but to suggest that the ONLY differences are in marketing strategies and prices seems rather silly.

Of course don't believe everyting you read, whether it's in S&V, HT, SGHT or that "leading consumer magazine" (that might know about which pasta we should buy but not much about the differences in audio/video hardware.)
Old 01-24-00, 03:39 AM
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Did someone mention my name?



Lush,

To answer your original question, the reason you see people recommend Radio Shack here so ofter are:

-the belief (as few of us have actually enough testing to make a definitive statement) that "cables are cables."

-Radio Shack is practically everywhere in the US and therefore easy to find.

-We can recommend Radio Shack and know that the cables are reliably well made.

I personally fall into the cables are cables category. But what's most important is that you're happy with the sound you get out of your system. Not what other people think of it.

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Old 01-24-00, 05:14 AM
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[b]Frank S/b], I disagree with your statement(s) that "people who buy ultra-high priced equipment do it for one reason and one reason only "STATUS."

Your response is superfluous and may I add, misleading if not outright wrong. While I respect your opinion and I kinda know what you mean. You used the Bose example. Sure, anyone can figure that one out. However, if you are really serious about your statements then I suspect that you haven't taken the time or have the experience in listening to high end two channel or HT properly set up. Either that or your hearing is shot, no offense. You can't tell me that the 200 grand HT setup I heard from my contractor friend's latest project is equivalent in performance both sonically and visually to my friend's 2 grand system. Or that it's "all marketing." Are you kidding?

Anyways, your certainly entitled to your views ... but you can't tell me that "STATUS" is the only reason why people buy high-end equipment. No way.

Of course, it is ONE reason. But it is an artifact of human society and habits. But this is the case for almost anything. It's the law of diminishing returns. It's like comparing a 225 grand Ferrari and a Honda Civic. According to your statements you are saying that the Civic and the Ferrari are the same. "STATUS" That people buying the Ferrari's or other more expensive vehicle have no reason whatsoever in doing so. That they are just suckers to marketing schemes. While they may do the same job ferrying groceries (or not) to and from home, anyone can understand the point of this example. Same thing with equipment and to a lesser extent cables. 'Nuff said.

I can only hope that you win some money in a lotto and see for yourself.

Cheers.

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< hither... > dither...
Old 01-24-00, 12:32 PM
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You need to pay more attention before replying to a post. I said difference between high-priced and moderatly priced (not low priced equipment). Yes, a moderatly priced system ($6-10,000) will sound as good as a high-priced system. But when people spend 100's of thousands of dollars on a HT setup they of course "will hear a difference", they have to, or why would they have spent that much money. Now of course I'm sure you'll quote someone with a 500' x 500' room that they have a system in well of course for a huge room like that you need to spend the money to be able to "fill" a room of that size. But we are talking about "Home" theaters for "real" people who have 16'x 16' or 40' x 40' rooms to setup and in those cases the equipment in the moderate range will sound just as good as the $250,000 setup you spoke of.

What kind of an idiot spends $15,000 on a DVD player unless it's for Status? Oh, yeah they like to tell you, you can change out components for technology changes but when the new "blue laser" optics come out your screwed! You can't change the optics on this player. And also this DVD (the model escapes me at the moment) has all kinds of problems playing DVD's and the manufacturer just says "it's the disk not the player". That the type Marketing/status BS that just makes me laugh.
Old 01-24-00, 01:17 PM
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Some of you have heard this from me before for those who have not.

If listening is not controlled it is human nature to bais the out come in the direction of thier views. The AES (acoustic engineering society) has done many studies on this and Dr. Flood Toole is well known for his research on listening and reviewing outcome. He has found that listening must be double blind and controlled to be considered scientific fact. With this said, I would tell you that I have participated in these tests before. I thought I was a great listener until I did! When you do not know what you are listening to and what the difference is. I found it very difficult to repeat the results I thought would be simple. This is one persons experience but you should consider this in listening you do.

My point- All engineers view high end cables as marketing only! The facts are that in measurement the difference is negligible to non-existent. This is not to say that cheap cables are not crap but that that you should be careful were to spend your money. Cables have the least impact on the systems performance. If you have the extra money, spend it on your speakers then your amp and then your interconnects.

Even though it is difficult to set this kind of test up, I will tell you from my experience that there is no one that can pick the difference from a quality $30 and $300 interconnect 10 out of 10 times in a blind test.


[This message has been edited by bfrank (edited January 24, 2000).]
Old 01-25-00, 04:22 PM
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bfrank, RIGHT ON!
Old 01-25-00, 05:02 PM
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BFrank, you're describing the eternal wars between the tweakers and the geekers. Check out Mike Knapp's new website, www.hometheatertalk.com because there's even a whole forum section dedicated to this this topic.

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Old 03-19-00, 10:03 AM
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Did someone mention my name?

Cables do indeed make subtle differences. The very idea of blind tests is ludicrous to me. I know what equipment and wires I am listening to and that is part of the listening experience. To remove any of that is to put me or any listener in an un-natural position.

Even the eye doctor tells you what to look for in the patterns. Why should a listening test be different? If you are told to listen to the bass response after a cable change you have something to focus on and then you can make your judgement. A "Broad" test like "Listen to this" with no direction is useless.

If you cant hear the differences in various wires thats OK, but never tell me I cant.

That being said, I would never spend more on wires than I would to upgrade a piece of gear. For instance if you have a 1000 dollar receiver, I wouldnt spend 500 bucks on wire, I would upgrade the receiver. But if you have a 3000 dollar receiver you may as well drop the 500 on wires because 500 wont buy you an upgrade in the receiver department.

Anyway, I believe in the differences that wires make. I can hear it. Testing for it places un-natural conditions on the listener and to me that makes the testing inconclusive at best.

Have a happy day!

Mike Knapp

Old 03-19-00, 12:46 PM
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So I guess you need to see what you're listening too for the placebo effect to kick in Sorry I'm not trying to argue, I'm just a skeptic, but then my equipment isn't really high-end enough to bother with high-end cables anyway.

Interesting to see this thread resurrected. No one is ever going to win this arguement.
Old 03-19-00, 01:09 PM
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This has always been a controversy.I used to have a small fortune wrapped up in interconnects and speaker cable which was about $750.00.I finally realized that the big difference in improvement came with better speakers,equipment and better recordings.Bell Labs knew this about cables over 30 years ago and things have not changed with cables since.
Old 03-19-00, 07:17 PM
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Knapp, do you understand the principle behind blind tests? You would still be given directions on what to look for as in your "bass response" comment. It's just that when they switch the cable, you don't know which one they switch to. Otherwise a person will be tainted by predisposed opinions.

Even better, tests should be done in a "double-blind" method. That's where even the guy switching the cables doesn't know which is which. That is how all approved medical testing is done. Otherwise a doctor's (or manufacturer's) opinion would get in the way of true scientific fact or even slight body language or "freudian slips" might sway the patient's (or listener's) psyche.
Old 03-19-00, 08:02 PM
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Taco,

If a doctor gives me a sugar pill and tells me it will cure my headache, and it does cure my headache, how do I interpret that?

What everyone is calling the "placebo effect" is a very real part of life. It must be accounted for to be sure but why try to eliminate it? It is present and it is unavoidable, learn that and use it.

Comparing wires to pharmaceuticals is not fair anyway. If interconnects were used to save lives then I would condone some stringent testing. Lets use a better analogy, COLAS. Coke and Pepsi taste different but there are those that cannot tell them apart and there are those that do not prefer one over the other. This is like wires, there are those that can hear no difference at all, and those that can.

Perhaps my wires are not changing the sound. Lets suppose that they are not. I see them, I like the way they look and then subconsciously I find more pleasure in my listening. What harm is done? None really, in fact what has happened was beneficial to me.

You may feel I was ripped off with the sugar pills, but my headache was cured and so placebo or not, they have delivered as promised.

The opposite side of the coin is the "reverse placebo" effect that will have skeptics swearing they can hear no difference when all they see is a cable changed. They "know" all wire is the same and so dismiss any other factors that may challenge their belief system. They are also pre-disposed to a certain position. We all are.

Any tests done on human beings will give false results. Stress and other factors will effect the outcome. Someone holding a gun to your head during a simple math test will make a rudimentary equation seem un resolvable. You could easilly work the problem any other time but the stress of the test has had an effect on the outcome.

Testing is not natural to us. I listen to my wires and know full well what I am listening to. I do not always hear a difference. Sometimes I prefer the less expensive wire. But I always take into account the psychological effects that play a role in my listening session. I take them into account, I do not try to eliminate them. If I eliminate one set set of variables, another is set substituted. It really is a no win situation.

So I just listen, with all the baggage, and I try to account for it as best I can. I do not create artificial listening environments to judge the performance of things. So, shoot me!

Mike

[This message has been edited by Mike Knapp (edited March 19, 2000).]
Old 03-19-00, 08:42 PM
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Attn: Mike Knapp

I just seen your DIY Subwoofer at the Hometheater Forum and I must say that I am impressed.How much are those Shiva drivers going for?.I have been kicking around the idea of building one myself.Sorry this is off the topic.
Old 03-19-00, 11:47 PM
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Not sure about the Shivas...about 130.00 ea. I think.

Guess what? I use 12G OFC speaker wire from Home Depot on the sub. It is a great value and Im not really interested in how the sub images!

Mike
Old 03-20-00, 02:08 AM
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Wow, Mike Knapp hanging around here... it must be a slow day on HTF.

I say to go with what your budget can afford. 12 gauge home depot wire and radio shack gold series interconnects sound great to me and keeps my wallet happy as well.
Old 03-20-00, 07:34 AM
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Idex,

I was walking by and I smelled a "wire war" going on!

BTW, I am no longer a moderator at HTF. I left about 2 months ago and started my own site, linked in Patmans post above.

I still hang out there some but I am kinda busy now with my place.

Mike

[This message has been edited by Mike Knapp (edited March 20, 2000).]
Old 03-24-00, 12:20 AM
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Mike, I agree with your arguments and that there is a placebo effect to take into account when testing anything. That's why with a double-blind test method, the doctor (and you) would not know if he was giving a sugar pill. That way the doctor could only tell you that it "might" be the real medicine and it would tend to minimize the placebo effect.

Testing of wires, in anything other than strict scientific methods, will always be subjective in nature. As you state, personal opinions will get in the way. Even if a "real" test proved a certainm wire was best, there will always be someone who likes a different brand better.

Maybe it's kind of like the people that still like old LP's better than CD. I can remember when CD's first came out, everyone claimed that they were "too perfect" and gave you headaches (hand me a sugar pill!). I don't think anyone here would want to go back to VHS only (esp. the pre-HIFI days)!
Old 07-22-00, 06:01 PM
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