Thursday, March 6, 2008

Patriotic Moment...

Chills. Awe. Shivers. Just go watch this!

Monster Cables, Debunked...

“Monster” is a cable brand, found in nearly every electronic store on the planet. The price of their audio cables – even speaker cables – is simply mind-boggling. It would be easy to pay more for the cables than you did for the speakers!

As an electrical engineer, I could never make any sense from the claims, always expressed in hyperbolic, impressive-sounding pseudo-engineering jargon. The physical principles of a cable, at audio frequencies (things are a lot different at radio frequencies), are really quite straightforward. I have long been skeptical that there was any perceptible difference between cables costing $50/foot and those costing $0.05/foot.

But the folks at Engadget note a test in which some engineer took this skepticism just a bit further:
We've always believed that the perceived quality boost that comes from using high-end cables is really just a trick of the mind (read: justifying the ridiculous cost of premium cables to yourself) -- if you've dropped enough cash, you can probably hear anything you want. Still, our belief is one thing -- cold hard proof is another, and it looks like a group of 12 self-professed "audiophiles" recently couldn't tell the difference between Monster 1000 speaker cables and plain old coat hangers. Yeah, coat hangers. The group was A-Bing different cables, and unbeknownst to them, the engineer running the test swapped out a set of cables for coat hangers with soldered-on speaker connections. Not a single one was then able to tell the difference between the Monster Cable and the hangers, and all agreed that the hangers sounded excellent. No wonder Monster has to rig HD displays. Still, we bet people still fall for the hype -- oh hey, if you're looking for the ultimate in sound, we've got half a meter of oxygen-free, triple-wrapped double-insulated Sonically Shielded AmpliSized Egyptian Llama cable here that we'll part ways with for just a couple grand.
Heh. I have a new-found respect for those coat-hangers!

And case closed, in my book.