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Fun with Audiophiles (and their expensive Serial ATA cables)

Hardcore analog studio recording engineering make sense to me at least half of the time, if not more. This is because most of them, even if they don't match my taste, talk about real things. They talk about the difference between two parallel walls and slightly angled walls. They talk about soundproofing. As I've dug into the hidden details, I've found that most of the time they aren't totally making stuff up.

Audiophiles, on the other hand, have been nothing but trouble. I've only allowed myself to get in trouble once because of audiophiles.

I don't mind things looking expensive. Nor do I mind paying more for what's actually better. For example, paying more for properly booted Ethernet cables, so that it won't get caught in a tangle and end up with the prong part broken off so that it never quite stays in anymore. I purchased a number of somewhat expensive 1/4" guitar cables with lifetime guarantees some years ago and they are all still perfect... whereas the cables I'd purchased that didn't have said warranty all got scratchy within a year.

I even understand that there are real honest-to-god concerns related to cables, even if they carry a digital signal. While you can run Ethernet over barbed wire in trade-show demonstrations... there's a difference between Cat 3 cable that might work and proper Cat 5e or Cat 6.

My new motherboard came with some rather nice Serial ATA cables. They have more secure connections. That's always nice. But apparently somebody's trying to market Audiophile Serial ATA cables. I'm expecting that, if I looked hard enough, I'd find evidence that the writer who wrote (but then deleted, after he realized he everybody was viewing his site to giggle at him) was paid off by whoever's trying to market said cables.

But, honestly.... I have enough storage-related nightmares. If I discover that a cable is actually sufficiently marginal to corrupt the data flowing over it or cause the transfer rate to drop so low that it can't even handle 44.1 kHz audio... I'm going to go balistic on wherever I picked up that cable. And, furthermore, if the analog section of things is so marginal that any EM leakage from a Serial ATA cable is hurting the signal, it's crap.

Really, in this modern day where I can order cables from a number of well-regarded sources that are assembled from legitimate supplies... say the cables that real audio or video engineers use to string audio a few hundred feet across a studio... audiophiles are great shibboleths. If you speak highly of those sorts of products, I can safely assume that you are a drooling moron with more money than sense... and therefore ignore your site.

Anyway, on the same site, the likely-payola'd-writer-and-reviewer wrote about how his expensive cables fell apart on him. Now, I had assumed that those over-constructed cables were going to at least be sturdy. But, apparently not. See, the audiophiles seem to believe that vibrational energy causes distortion. Connectors were generally carefully designed with just the right amount of give, such that a connector will always come loose before you yank an expensive amplifier off a table or break the circuit board.

And then I remembered the only time I've really gotten screwed over by the audiophiles.

Remember the earliest days of gold-plated connectors? Those were sure to get popular, simply because they looked fancy, even though the cheapest connectors I own show no signs of corrosion. Well, I had just picked up a new computer with a SoundBlaster AWE 64 Gold. And, unlike prior soundcards, it had RCA connectors for audio. So I found myself needing a 2x RCA to 2x RCA cable and went to Radio Shack to pick one up.

So I ended up deciding that, since my sound card made a big deal about the gold, I might as well get some gold-plated cables.

I ended up destroying the AWE 64 Gold far before it's time because the cables gripped too hard. And so it only took maybe 10-20 connect-disconnect cycles before it stopped working. And I was pissed because the SoundBlaster Live! that followed it had a 44.1 kHz to 48 kHz converter stage and was arguably not as high fidelity.

SerialATA cables are a bit un-optimal in terms of the connector because you can break the wafer part off which can ruin a drive. I'm betting that this audiophile-grade SerialATA cable has worse durability properties. This is why you don't listen to audiophiles. You waste money and break stuff.

Still, I like viewing audiophile websites on occasion, to see what new stupid things they've invented...