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James Lehmann



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Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise!
      #190368 - 02/10/05 10:01 AM
Thought I'd start this thread with a quote from Hugh which came up in this thread about the Brauner Phantom C Limited Edition microphone which is delivered with a free Vovox microphone cable.

Quote Hugh Robjohns:

I'll be interested in your findings of the mic cable. I've been investigating the Vovox cables with some interest. I won't comment further here because I don't want to affect your impressions at all, but I will be interested in your findings.




As I just took delivery of a Phantom C with the Vovox cable included, and Dirk Brauner doesn't strike me as a man who would include any old cable with his microphones, I thought I'd set out to see what the score is...

The best way I could think of testing was to use a matched pair of mics into identical pre-amps so I fired up my matched pair of Microtech Gefell M300's and plugged them into my Metric Halo ULN-2 which is known for it's clean, transparent pre's. Also, the pre-amp trims are linkable giving a sure-fire gain match between channels. I connected one mic with the Vovox cable and another with a standard Belden cable of identical length and started the test on my own spoken word voice. I'm monitoring again through the ULN-2 on a Bluesky ProDesk system, Sony MDR-7509 and MDR-7506 headphones, and I recorded the tests into Logic 7.1 on a Powerbook.

The difference was so startling and apparent that I immediately switched the cables around, thinking perhaps that my matched pair of mics wasn't so matched after all - ran the test again, same result. Then I switched around channels on the pre-amp to be certain one wasn't underperforming - ran the test again, same result.

The Vovox cable delivers a clear and audible improvement in the sound - this is particularly evident at the bass end which just sounds gorgeous and extended, making the normal cable seem like it's got a Lo Cut on it! But there's also an increased sense of realism, presence and clarity that I was truly amazed to note could come from just upgrading a cable.

But don't take my word/ears for it - go and get one and try it yourself and hear the difference (preferrably before commenting on my findings!); I suspect even the harshest 'high-end cable-cynic' will have to cave in when confronted with the aural evidence here.

Only problem is now I need to upgrade all my mic cables - where can you get these things and how much are they? Even if they are quite pricey I would say it's gonna be well worth owning one for your main vocal or instrumental channel, so you can be sure you're hearing every last drop of quality and performance from your existing gear.


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Paul Blenn
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #190378 - 02/10/05 10:38 AM
Hello James. Yeah I noticed a difference as well. Not as marked as your findings but a definate something there without doubt. But they are stupidly expensive.
http://www.scvlondon.co.uk/

Something like £70 for a small 1-2 metre mic cable.

This does bring me to a question I was about to ask today actually.

What is the best cable to buy for studio wiring in terms of brand?

Paul Blenn

Edited by Paul Blenn (02/10/05 10:39 AM)


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John Willett
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #190403 - 02/10/05 11:35 AM
James,

Talk to Hugh - under controlled conditions with a proper test there was no sound difference between cables.

But the construction of the Voxox makes it sound different under certain conditions - different, not necessarily better.

I will have to do a big search to find out the answer posted on the other forum and if I find it I'll post it here - unless Hugh does it first.

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John Willett
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #190409 - 02/10/05 11:48 AM
Got it!

The Vovox has very poor common-mode rejection and it picks up RF interference very easily - it is this that makes the difference.

Hugh will give you the lowdown as an independant consultant did the tests.

Interesting quote from the consultant,though - "What is interesting is that they tended to distinguish the difference as "better". That does square with many other perfectly reputable tests of gear that show that when a difference is detected it is often singled out as "better" even though in measurement shows that it is really "worse". Hence many microphones and speakers are judged better than their peers even though they are analytically "worse"."


(Any IBSNetter here can look it up on "The Sound Of Cables REPORT")

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James Lehmann



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: John Willett]
      #190416 - 02/10/05 12:08 PM
Did you try the cable John? If so, did you notice any differences and what was your subjective impression? I'd be much more interested in your opinion than those of an "independant consultant".


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--
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #190423 - 02/10/05 12:31 PM
Looking at the Vovox wesite, they do shielded (protect) and unshielded (direct) versions of the cables. Does it say which type were tested John (or were both types tested?) and James, do you know what type you've got. I was thinking that if they tested the unshielded version, then it would be more succepitble to picking up noise.


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James Lehmann



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: --]
      #190433 - 02/10/05 01:02 PM
Quote Wonkey Wabbit:

Looking at the Vovox wesite, they do shielded (protect) and unshielded (direct) versions of the cables... James, do you know what type you've got.



Yes, I must say I wondered about the shielding as the cable looks very different and is housed in a thin material weave rather than the more conventional rubber; this also makes it a bit stiffer. I opened it up and found that indeed there's no shielding, so I think I have a 5m "Voxlink direct S" cable, which looks like it retails at around €70.

I also found this on the Vovox site: "It is not our target to develop cables with outstanding data sheet values, but sound conductors with the best possible sound transmission properties. The best measurement device for this purpose is definitely the human sense of hearing."


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Chas



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Paul Blenn]
      #190461 - 02/10/05 02:16 PM
Quote Paul Blenn:


What is the best cable to buy for studio wiring in terms of brand?
Paul Blenn



I'll need to be buying an XLR mic cable in the coming week or two, and would also like very much to know the answer to this question. Since I'll only be buying one, I can afford to get a good'un, but I don't see much on offer at the U.S. online merchants I normally use. I'm going to be miking oddball percussive sounds with AKG D 190 & D 330 BT mics into M-Audio FireWire and had hoped to get a nice long cable, for sound isolation purposes. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


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Stevedog



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #190466 - 02/10/05 02:35 PM
Mate of mine makes all his patch leads from old multicore wires. If you open them up you'll usually find the multicore individual cores are actually wrapped in a thin metal sheath completely covering the wires within.

The actual cables themselves look stupididly thin in situ but they have made a considerable difference to the noisefloor of of several efx units they are used to patch giving an overall *cleaner* sound to things.

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Doublehelix



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #190469 - 02/10/05 02:38 PM
I have always been one of those skeptical types, and so much of this stuff seems like mumbo-jumbo, that I have, for the most part, stayed out of threads like this.

I certainly don't doubt that you have head a difference James, and also don't doubt that it sounded better to your ears...I respect your opinions greatly. I guess I just can't see myself dropping that much dosh just to see if I like something better, especially when I am skeptical to begin with, and basically don't feel I have a problem that needs fixing!

That being said, quality cable is certainly a worthwhile investmet, and a dodgy cable is an ugly thing to behold! It is just the "miracle designs" that scare me away a bit.

It was a brilliant move on Vovox's part to convince Brauner to include a "free" ( ) cable with the Phantom C!

Personally, I am staying neutral on the issue for a while longer.


Quote:

What is the best cable to buy for studio wiring in terms of brand?




Of course these things are quite subjective, as you can see with the varied opinions on the Vovox cables, but aside from a few odd Belden cables, my studio is entirely wired with Mogami cable and Neutrik ends. I have quite a few of the quad cables for longer runs, and cables that might be in danger of excessive RF interference, and then the "standard" high-end Mogami mic and instrument cabling for the rest.

--------------------
James
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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #190616 - 02/10/05 08:44 PM
Oh no! Now you've stirred up the hornet's nest!

I'm still in a quandary about the Vovox cables.

My first experience of them was very similar to that which James has described, and I know of ten or twelve others (none of them easily fooled and all highly sceptical of such things) who all had similarly startling experiences.

However, as John has said, when I tried to repeat the tests in a more controlled situation at home I failed to find the same differences, and when I took the cables to an independent analyst, he also failed to detect any sonic differences.

We did, however, discover that the Vovox cables were pretty bad at excluding RF interference -- which is no great surprise given the construction. It is possible that RFI breaking into the cable could cause a wide range of upredictable but possibly audible side effects depending on the source and destination equipment...

But cable construction is a complex business with a lot of interacting factors involved -- and I'm not entirely sure that they are fully understood or appreciated.

I'm also not entirely sure that the differences James, myself and others heard are actually 'better' -- it could easily just be different. The ear is very easily fooled...

My own test cables are currently with a well known and highly regarded design engineer at present for his own testing... and I'll report back if he discovers anything interesting.

Hugh
(open minded but still very cynical)

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Studio Support Gnome
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #190660 - 02/10/05 10:04 PM
My own experience leads me to think along similar lines to JW and Hugh... I heard a difference... but I would hesitate to describe it as better.... and it is not utterly consistent either...

which in my view definitely makes it worse.... as a general rule of thumb.... of course it MAY suit a particular application.... but it won;t be in my list of things to always have on hand.........

I have thought up a new acid test for Mic cables etc...

wrap it around one of the "noisy" G5 machines (with the older "noisy" PSU) a couple of times and see what there is in terms of noise.

(although recent experience tells me that Certain Hospital radio studios are potentially even more "acidic" )

Max

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James Lehmann



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #190666 - 02/10/05 10:09 PM
Quote Hugh Robjohns:

Oh no! Now you've stirred up the hornet's nest!



Yes, threads about cables always seem to see folks adopting all sorts of contrary and sometimes extreme positions - I didn't think I'd be starting another one myself but as someone gave me one of these cables, I thought I'd test it and then almost ran to post my findings!

There's obviously all sorts of interesting things to discuss here, many of which Hugh alluded to in his post. I've already explained my own findings in some detail, and having gone back and re-listened to the recordings I made earlier today I stand by them.

At the moment it looks like it's only myself, Hugh, Paul and Max who have actually heard these cables here but the discussion will certainly open out if more folks could join in who have. Anyone else?

It seems to me another fundamental in all of this, aside from our own (important) findings is - would Dirk Brauner, one of the world's most respected independent microphone designers, include a Vovox cable with his microphones if he knows it compromises the performance of that microphone?


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Studio Support Gnome
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #190690 - 02/10/05 11:02 PM
Quote James Lehmann:

would Dirk Brauner, one of the world's most respected independent microphone designers, include a Vovox cable with his microphones if he knows it compromises the performance of that microphone?




ahhh well , perhaps the answer would be, Yes, if he likes the way it sounded when he tried it????

..

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Barish
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #190728 - 03/10/05 12:29 AM
This "superaudio" cable business is all snake-oil trade to me. Apart from the noise susceptibility and impedance factors, which do affect the signal quality not only in audio, but also RF and digital as well, I am not convinced that different makes of cables make a difference in the character of the sound.

There was a long-going thread about this in Dan Lavry's forum in REP a few months ago and it was caned to death there. All scientifically. By the person who designs and produces converters some of us save to purchase. If I can find it, I'll post the link.

All those companies, Russ Andrews and stuff. Good for them if they can find idiots who are prepared to pay £800 for a kettle cord, but to me the guys are selling snake oil big time.

They are for those who like to think themselves a bit more "special" than others because of the superior power of purchasing that they have, so to the ordinary punter, stay away from them I'd say.

B.


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Barish]
      #190758 - 03/10/05 07:43 AM
I absolutely agree with you Barish -- I'm equally as sceptical about such snake oil-based products.

And that's the exact frame of mind in which I approached the first test that was set up for me. That involved a DVD player spinning the hgih-res stereo tracks from several fairly damiliar DVD-A discs, connected digitally to a pair of Benchmark DAC1 D-As, the outputs of which were routed to a quartet of genelec 8050 speakers, two wired with a variety of 'conventional' XLR cables (some of which I brought along myself), and two with Vovox cables. All levels and gains were carefully matched before hand. So in this case the cables were being used to convey line level signals between well-defined impedances.

Without knowing which feed we were listening too, the three of us listening on that occasion all independently agreed that one particular source sounded 'better' -- the main benefit being a better bottom end. It turned out that the preferred feed was the one with Vovox cables.

We then changed everything: D-As, speakers, speaker positions, cables... and the perceived 'better' sound always stayed with the system wired up with the vovox cables.

I know this was a poor test in purely scientific terms -- hardly an accurate A/B/X arrangement -- but it the findings did appear be pretty robust at the time, and the actual switching was blind as far as we were concerned.

I walked away from that test completely fazed by the apparent results and vowed to investigate further. As I said earlier, trying to repeat similar experiments at home failed to produce convincing results, as did further experiments in a more technically controlled environment.

However, these later experiments focussed on comparing a single Vovox cable with a 'standard' cable, and although I could find technical differences (all expected and due to the construction details) I couldn't find any audible differences.

Later experiments using Vovox cables in the monitoring chain, feeding stereo, did produce more audible results again, and I am currently waiting for the opportunity to try more scientific testing on their effects on a stereo signal.

It is all most intriguing.... and I'm certainly not going to rush out and change all my cables for Vovox ones... but a lot of people who's ears I respect have heard something with these cables in independent and completely different circumstances, and that must warrant further investigation.

Hugh

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ZukanModerator
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #190763 - 03/10/05 08:11 AM
I hear you Hugh, but for me, if these test conditions cannot duplicate the same results, then it points to a cable working, as you have described, only in certain sscenarios nand with certain setups.

That for me is of no use as I need cables that perform technically and aurally as good as and in any environment. I also need cables that are consistent, irrespective of environment and setup, and durable and built with sensible technical merit.

A cable thai is being used in a live rig that has no adequate RF protection makes the whole concept of a well designed mic cable seem reduntant.

Vovox cables might have certain sonic characteristics in certain situations, but that for me is a poor basis for any recommendation.

I'll stick to my Mogamis and Neutriks thnx.

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Samplecraze
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #190783 - 03/10/05 09:14 AM
I'm still interested in the differences between the shielded and unshielded versions of the cables. I can understand the unshielded version of the cable having a lower capacitance and thus the cable should have less effect on the signal than a shielded cable. I presume the unshielded cable still has a twisted pair configuration so will still have some noise rejection capacity? I also assume that there is still an earth wire running in there otherwise you wouldn't be able to use phantom power. Has anyone tried the shielded version?

Vovox do recommend testing the cable in its intended environment to determine whether unshielded cables will do or whether shielded cables are necessary. However, once you add the shielding (and extra capacitance) back in, does the cable become any different to a standard cable?

Without hearing the differences (on a future SOS DVD maybe?) it is difficult to determine how great the perceived benefits are when the cables "work". If they are the same as say the step up between a £200 A/D card and a £1000 one, then paying £70-£100 for a cable as opposed to £30 becomes very good value.


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Zukan]
      #190823 - 03/10/05 10:28 AM
Quote Zukan:

I hear you Hugh, but for me, if these test conditions cannot duplicate the same results, then it points to a cable working, as you have described, only in certain scenarios and with certain setups.




Exactly. I have been unable to achieve consistent results, and I find that both worrying and perplexing. However, so many people now have heard something perceived as 'better' when using these cables that I'm really keen to find out just what is actually going on.

Quote:

That for me is of no use as I need cables that perform technically and aurally as good as and in any environment. I also need cables that are consistent, irrespective of environment and setup, and durable and built with sensible technical merit.




Me too! Must be the marque of a professional And I can't say with hand on heart that the Vovox cables meet any of these demands.

Quote:

A cable thai is being used in a live rig that has no adequate RF protection makes the whole concept of a well designed mic cable seem reduntant.




Doesn't have to be a live rig -- inadequate RF protection is a problem everywhere these days. This remains my biggest concern with the Vovox cables. Vovox seems to argue that by sacrificing RF protection (through adopting a radical approach to cable construction), more audible properties are enhanced...I'm yet to be convinced of that, but I still don't understand why I (and so many others) appear to hear a benefit from using this cable in some circumstances.

hugh

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James Lehmann



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Zukan]
      #190870 - 03/10/05 11:38 AM
Quote Zukan:

A cable thai is being used in a live rig that has no adequate RF protection makes the whole concept of a well designed mic cable seem reduntant.



I agree if we're talking about a live setting, but I would imagine that the unshielded versions of these cables are not really designed for stage use - they're not really physically flexible enough anyway.


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John Willett
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #190876 - 03/10/05 11:52 AM
Beware, though.

I normally find that anything that sounds "impressive" is actually worse.

Something that does the job accurately and properly (I'm talking audio here) is very rarely impressive - it's only when you go back to something not good that you realise how good it was.

I remember listening to the £10,000 Sennheiser Orpheus Headphones when they first came out and thinking "nice, but nothing special" until I went back and listened to the top of the range dynamic headphones again, which suddenly sounded horrible in comparison - Then it sunk in how good the Orpheus were.

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BigAl
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: John Willett]
      #190915 - 03/10/05 12:46 PM
It can be very easy to convince yourself that something very expensive sounds better, even in some circumstances it may not.
But, sometimes sounding impressive doesn't actually mean sounding better or more accurate.
It's pretty obvious in the recording scenario that the human ear doesn't necessarily prefer more accurate representations of sound sources.

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Jurg Vogt



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #194513 - 11/10/05 10:06 AM
Hi,
as the person behind VOVOX, who developed the cables during a work of many years, I would like to add a few comments that might help to understand our products and some of the effects observed.

Shielding
Most of our cables are available in a shielded and in an unshielded version. According to my experience, shielding always has a negative effect on sound quality. Therefore, our goal is not to shield a cable as much as possible, but as much as necessary. In case of unbalanced cables, shielding is almost inevitable. For balanced cables however, our experience has shown that unshielded cables do an excellent job in most cases. It may be astonishing, but we sell about 90% unshielded balanced cables and 10% shielded ones only. I can refer on several musicians using unshielded cables live on stage, live records that have been made using strictly unshielded cables and recording studios working exclusively with unshielded cables.
The conclusion however, to explain differences heard with VOVOX sound conductors only with the way they are shielded (or not) would be wrong. Shielding is one aspect, others are at least as important.
The poor rejection of RF of our shielded balanced cables can be explained by the fact, that the shield is connected only at one end (we are generally using one additional conductor for ground). Again, we do this since it offers better sound quality compared to a shield connected to ground on both ends. Nevertheless, if someone is convinced to need better RF rejection, it is no problem to terminate the cables accordingly and to connect the shield at both ends.

Consistency of results
It is true, that the difference that can be heard between VOVOX sound conductors and other cables are not in all applications as pronounced. My experience is the following one:
- The effects related with the frequency range and the tonal character depend also on the other components of an audio chain. In case of microphone cables for instance, depending on the mic preamp we have observed results ranging from dramatic to very small.
- Further effects are related with the ability to transmit room information very accurately. These effects are quite independent from the audio chain, we have been able to reproduce them under all conditions so far. Of course, it is only possible to hear these effects in a stereo set up.
- Although the sound difference compared with other cables may differ depending on the application, we are convinced, that in any situation our cables are able to offer an optimal result. In my opinion, an ideal cable should leave the sound signal totally unaffected. Nothing should be added, and nothing should be lost.

Best regards

Jurg Vogt
President VOVOX AG


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RegressiveRock
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Jurg Vogt]
      #194519 - 11/10/05 10:19 AM
Well... One vote of thanks to Jurg for dropping in...

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Steve Hill
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: RegressiveRock]
      #194552 - 11/10/05 11:07 AM
Absolutely! And it's got me challenging the received wisdom of more = better when it comes to sheilding. I mean you can't get a mobile phone signal in my studio, partly because the outside walls are solid ironstone about 2 feet thick working as a sort of Faraday cage, so how much sheilding do I really need on mic cables? And am I compromising on sound quality unnecessarily?

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The Byre



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Steve Hill]
      #194616 - 11/10/05 01:08 PM
Good afternoon Jurg and Steve and the rest!

OK, a cable is a type of filter and it would be nice to be able to discount that effect completely, but there are other conciderations that have to be taken into account, particularly in a professional environment:

1. Price. We have 84 lines running from the control room to the studio, 64 are 7m long and 20 are 30m long. Then there are all the other cables and tie lines to concider to and from 4 multitracks, patchbays etc. We bought 10 x 100m rolls of Klotz cable and used it all pretty much straight away. Looking at your price list, you are, shall we say at the 'other' end of the price market to Klotz. At 169 Euros for a 10m length, that lot would come to about 20,000 Euros. Having good cable is all fine and dandy, but everything has a price and from what I see, your price is high.

2. Valve mics usually come with Tuchel (or rather those new horrible mini-Tuchel) connectors and the cable is already supplied with the mic. This is rather thin cable and is already fairly long at 10m. Unless you were to provide a replacement for this five-core cable, would not the ten meters of Neumann cable negate the advantages of the VoVox cable?

3. Studios need to be able to cut up and solder cables ad hoc as needs arise and so have to buy much of their cable on the roll.

4.
Quote:

The poor rejection of RF of our shielded balanced cables can be explained by the fact, that the shield is connected only at one end (we are generally using one additional conductor for ground). Again, we do this since it offers better sound quality compared to a shield connected to ground on both ends. Nevertheless, if someone is convinced to need better RF rejection, it is no problem to terminate the cables accordingly and to connect the shield at both ends.




Either they are better because they are just better, or they are better because they have the shield connected at one end only.

Either way, in a studio environment (or indeed just about every other environment) the shielding has to be pretty damn good. Why? Because there are other things going on. Studios are not laboritories or living rooms. There are line feeds all over the place (headphone feeds, synths, you name it!) and as you know, line feeds have a voltage 1,000 times greater than mic feeds. Up to 1 volt as opposed to 1mV max, usually not even that! If they are not shielded from the line feeds, the cross talk problems would be horrible indeed!

In a location/live situation they would be even worse as there you have the problems of thyristor interference from dimmers and all the other interference that may come with the gig like neons and all the RF from video cameras and monitors.
_________________________________________________________

As far as I am aware, there are only three copper wire manufacturers in Europe and they are Drakka, Pirelli and Alcatel. There are of course lots of confectioners, i.e. companies that buy in the wire and make it look pretty by coating it with something. And then there are all the chop-and-box shops like Monster cables, Bespeco, MTI and Klotz whose task it is to market the cable that they buy in from Drakka, Pirelli and Alcatel.

Becoming a cable manufacturer is an expensive business and costs many hundreds of millions. They sell audio cables on drums of 5,000 and 10,000 meters, depending on type. Every chop-and-box shop in Euope has to buy their cable off the roll from one of the big three. The larger ones are able to get their cables made to order.

Someone pops up at regualr intervals and claims to make better cables than the next guy. The problem is that there are only three wire manufacturers and if one wants to order a special cable, one has to commit to literally hundreds of tons of the stuff. I was involved in negociations with one of them for cable that had to be coated with a specific compound. The cable itself was 100% standard, only the plastic coating had to be changed to EU drinking water standard. This was for an electric motor manufacturer and the result was an order on call that ran for many years.

In other words, unless you have committed to about a thousand tons of cable for each type, you would have to be using standard cable from one of the three manufacturers.

--------------------
www.the-byre.com No longer Forum Member


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James Lehmann



Joined: 17/05/05
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #194658 - 11/10/05 02:00 PM
Welcome Jurg - it's always great to have manufacturers and developers willing to discuss their products first-hand on this Forum! Perhaps one of the smartest moves on your part would be to inform the members of this Forum how they can go about testing your cables in their own studios. This works to all of our advantages - we get to evaluate your cables with our own ears, and if they are indeed as good as you say they are you will know you are selling your cables based on proof rather than theory and hype, and you will gain a good reputation here by word of mouth.

I think it's now clear that this particular cable does exhibit different sonic qualities depending on a number of local factors. I can only say what I said at the start of this thread which is you really have to try one yourself and see if it works for you. After conducting my own tests I'm satisfied that in my enviroment, in my studio, with my equipment, this cable made enough of a sonic difference to justify the cost - I think I'll be purchasing a further two for my matched mic pairs. Of course, my humble situation is different to someone like Byre's so I can see where he's coming from with the volume thing, but there's nothing to say it wouldn't be worth testing one or two key lines even in a big installation.

I will freely admit I have not given much thought to cable quality in the past, beyond making up my own from reputable components such as Klotz, Belden and Neutrik, so I am suprised to find myself on here suggesting folks to go try something more esoteric and expensive, but I am simply following the evidence of my own ears and would encourage you all to do the same before drawing any premature conclusions.


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James PerrettModerator



Joined: 10/09/01
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #194742 - 11/10/05 03:50 PM
There was a fairly heated discussion on the Pro-audio email list recently regarding the need for a shield in a balanced circuit. One camp was arguing that, with a properly balanced circuit the shield was unnecessary while the other camp was arguing that, in the real world where you have all kinds of RF signals flying around, shields are the most effective way of preventing interference. So there are well supported arguments against shielding under certain controlled conditions but not under all conditions.

There are plenty of hifi nuts who don't like shielding but, in my limited experience, they have a very strange idea of what sounds good. So I would be really interested to know about the scientific reasons why the shielded Vovox cables sound worse than the unshielded cables. Are we hearing the byproducts of intermodulation in the input stages due to RFI or is there some other explanation? If Vovox really want to dispel my scepticism that they're just another bunch of hifi salesmen then perhaps they need to start by identifying what kind of input/output stages exhibit a difference and which ones are immune. They can then use this information to start to build up a picture of what is really going on with their cables.

Cheers.

James.

--------------------
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration.
http://www.jrpmusic.net


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--
active member


Joined: 29/05/03
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Perrett]
      #194788 - 11/10/05 04:47 PM
Slightly OT, but I went to a test lab demontration a few years ago showing the difference between STP and UTP Cat 5e cables. The UTP cables worked OK up to a field strength of just over their design limit of 3V/m and comms then stopped, but the STP cables (shielded) worked happily at their design limit of 10V/m and carried on until the strength increased to 17V/m. 10V/m is really only encountered in industrial environments with very heavy currents or standing next to powerful radio transmitters.

OK, you only need to distinguish between a 0 and a 1 for comms circuits, but it does demonstrate how much more robust a shielded cable is in a noisy environment given the same internal cable structure.

To be fair to the UTP cable, we also wrapped it (100m length) around fluorescent lights, operated walkie-talkies next to it, stuck transformers nearby and ran an electric motor next to it (all at the same time) and the comms still worked quite happily, showing that a good balanced cable is pretty good at rejecting noise on its own.

I'm not trying to say anything here except show by an analagous example that shieding can improve the noise resistance of even the best balanced circuits.


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*INACTIVE USER*



Joined: 01/09/04
Posts: 1217
Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: --]
      #194839 - 11/10/05 06:23 PM
Couldn't resist...

Quote:

- Further effects are related with the ability to transmit room information very accurately. These effects are quite independent from the audio chain, we have been able to reproduce them under all conditions so far. Of course, it is only possible to hear these effects in a stereo set up.




Uhuh? If effects can only be attributed to factors outside the cable, and appear in a single configuration, we are not dealing with science but with voodoo. Sorry, but this single paragraph spoiled it all for me.

Quote:

In my opinion, an ideal cable should leave the sound signal totally unaffected. Nothing should be added, and nothing should be lost.




Absolutely. But if your cable sounds different in different conditions that are not reproducible, while there is no difference between cables from other manufacturers, then this doensn't plead well for your cable. This just means that it is not suited for the use.

Quote:

One camp was arguing that, with a properly balanced circuit the shield was unnecessary while the other camp was arguing that, in the real world where you have all kinds of RF signals flying around, shields are the most effective way of preventing interference. So there are well supported arguments against shielding under certain controlled conditions but not under all conditions.




Whatever you use as an input, all have a CMRR that is dependent on input level and frequency. And they all have a CMRR that goes down. While you can get very good numbers in the audio range, often there is not much left at higher frequencies. And the linearity of pre-amp inputs at HF is very rarely looked at. You can get all kind of effects like intermodulation or even bias changes.

Quote:

Slightly OT, but I went to a test lab demontration a few years ago showing the difference between STP and UTP Cat 5e cables.




If you test those cables, then you will see that the twisting is effective up to about 30MHz. And they are much more twisted than any audio cable I saw. But shielding takes over rather well at those frequencies.

--------------------
Expert in non-working solutions


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gerard



Joined: 07/02/05
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #195030 - 12/10/05 04:26 AM

this is a very interesting thread...

the whole data-sheet thing cracks me up... shielded cables affect the sound but on the datasheet give certain people a certain amount of faith/credence...

who cares, what does it sound like?

that is the most important thing...

i have some 5 dollar mics that sound amazing on toms... drummers who have recorded in mega-studios always comment on how they love the sound... i use what sounds good to me...

if i had the data-sheet mentallity i would have never have tried these mics...

expirement, use it as a tool.... if the vovox cables have clearly impressed you, everytime you try them you point to them as sounding "better" then they ARE BETTER!

ok, they can sound better but have lesser data-sheet specs... this is entirely possible...

you guys crack me up! heh heh...


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John Willett
Sound-Link ProAudio


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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: gerard]
      #195038 - 12/10/05 06:56 AM
Quote gerard:

. . . everytime you try them you point to them as sounding "better" then they ARE BETTER!




Not necessarily - very often you can listen to something and think it's better because it is more impressive. But the reality is, that it's worse because it's a distortion of the sound.

How many people go to a hi-fi shop and buy loudspeakers that impress them and when they get them home they soon get fed up because the loudspeakers ar tiring on the ears - they soon end up getting swapped, chucked or never listened to.

Very often the correct sound is not impressive at all on first listening, but you can listen for ages withiut it getting on your nerves.

--------------------
John - Sound-Link ProAudio
President - Federation Internationale des Chasseurs de Sons


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gerard



Joined: 07/02/05
Posts: 2608
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: John Willett]
      #195041 - 12/10/05 07:02 AM
heh heh...

if its sounds better to you then its better...

its that simple...

it may not be what a data-sheet whore gets off on, but if you say it sounds better then it sounds better period...

if you said it sounded worse then it would sound worse...

it cracks me up that the 2 or 3 or 4 people who tested them said everytime it sounds better... but it can't be better because of the data-sheet numbers...

well, if it sounds better then it is better sounding..

what is a data sheet? isn't that what listening tests are for? why do you read reviews in sound on sound when you can just compare the data sheet?

ok, it may not have the convetional spec of other products data sheet but as they said, it sounded better...

what's the hang up?

sounds like you guys are hung up on data sheets as opposed to using tools and products to acheive your creative ends...

from what everyone described the results of this cable to do it sounds like we should be discussing how to creativily use it?

just a thought...



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James PerrettModerator



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: gerard]
      #195097 - 12/10/05 09:11 AM
Quote gerard:


ok, it may not have the convetional spec of other products data sheet but as they said, it sounded better...

what's the hang up?





Some of us want to know WHY it sounds different - that's the kind of thinking behind many scientific discoveries that are important to our lives today. We would still be living in the stone age if people didn't ask why things happen.

Cheers.

James.

--------------------
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration.
http://www.jrpmusic.net


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Sheriton



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: gerard]
      #195102 - 12/10/05 09:21 AM
To use a bit of a PA analogy... A smiley face on the graphic will often sound "better" which is why a lot of inexperienced engineers end up setting it up like that. But it only sounds better from the point of view of not making your ears bleed if it's stupidly loud, and there being lots of bass and sparkly top end. You sacrifice vocal intelligability so from that point of view it's not better. I think the term "better" is a tricky one to use - it's easy to get caught up with how "impressive" something sounds and not listen objectively to every other aspect of what you're listening to.

--------------------
There's nothing we can't face... Except for bunnies


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #195155 - 12/10/05 10:51 AM
The real issue here is the subjectivity of it all, rather than real objectivity.

Audio -- pro or commercial hifi -- is probably the least well defined technical industry of all, and it's probably getting worse. We have very few means of asserting technical competence in many forms of equipment, and many of the technical measurements we do have can be proven to be telling less than the full story.

To make it worse, very few reviews are based on independent technical measurements, and very few of those purchasing or using the equipment understand the technicalities involved anyway.

For example, many amplifiers are sold purely on the basis of their distortion figures. Low 2nd, 3rd and inter-mod distortion figures must be a good thing... but it is easy to demonstrate that there is much more too it than that. I have used amplifiers with stunningly low distortion figures that sound excellent (to my ears), but I have also used amps with distortion figures a hundred times worse that still sound every bit as clean. And I have reviewed amps with extremely low distortion figures that sounded terrible...

I guess what I'm trying to say is that although test measurements and spec sheets are important, we may not always be measuring every facet that is important to human hearing.

As far as the cables are concerned, the issue is very much more complicated than most here realise. Interference is not simple -- there are many different forms of interference, operating over many different frequency ranges. A cable rejects these different kinds of interference in different ways, using different properties. And optimising one particular aspect will often compromise the performance of others. This is easy to demonstrate with the Vovox cable, which has lower inter-core capacitance than most but worse core-screen capacitance, and poor common mode rejection, partly because of its low twist ratio. (In general terms, the twist ratio of the wires is important in rejecting relatively low frequencies -- mains hum to low RF), while the screen is important in rejecting higher frequencies (RF).

Of equal importance is the nature of the sending and receiving circuitry -- and that changes dramatically in different equipment. Balanced cables only operate with their intended performance if the impedance of the two wires is exactly the same -- and that is often not the case in electronically balanced equipment, especially the budget equipment.

This may well be one reason why my own experiences with the Vovox cables have been rather variable. Those using the cables with microphones may well be getting more consistent results because microphone outputs and inputs tend to be better designed from the point of view of impedance balancing than line inputs/outputs.

Another issue which affects this interfacing issue greatly, but which is rarely considered, is out-of-band noise produced by the source. Again, not really a problem with most microphones, but a real issue with outputs from D-As.

Modern D-As generally use delta-sigma or other heavy oversampling technologies, all of which produce immense mountains of ultrasonic noise as an inherent byproduct. Some integrated chips are considerably better at how they control this than others -- some popular Crystal chips, are amongst the worst for this, some AKM's are amongst the best... But the point is that this out-of-band noise, if allowed through to the input receiver circuitry, can cause intermodulation and headroom problems -- which may affect the sound. The audible effect could be perceived as a bad problem, or equally it could be perceived as having a beneficial tonal affect (although it wouldn't be accurate or transparent). Different results will be obtained depending on how the receiving circuitry is affected, and that depends on how it is designed and what components are beign used. Hence the inconsistency.

Whether the out-of-band noise gets to the receiver is affected partly by the nature of the cable, both in terms of the way it conveys signal (the bandwidth of the cable, if you like), and in terms of the way it rejects the out-of-band interference generated by the source device.

The other aspect is cost, and the Byre is absolutely right in this. Vovox cables are relatively expensive and not at all suitable in their current form for wiring a studio complex. So they tend to be used as a 'tonal modifier' in specific applications. That's fine for those with money to burn and I'm sure the Hifi fraternity enjoy playing with such things, but for serious studio applications it makes little sense -- practical, technical or financial.

But even having said all that, the issue remains an interesting one, and I am still trying to get to the bottom of just what it is in this cable that produces the apparently pleasing qualities it seems to posses.

Hugh

--------------------
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


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Jurg Vogt



Joined: 11/10/05
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #195306 - 12/10/05 02:37 PM
Quote James Lehmann:

Welcome Jurg - it's always great to have manufacturers and developers willing to discuss their products first-hand on this Forum! Perhaps one of the smartest moves on your part would be to inform the members of this Forum how they can go about testing your cables in their own studios. This works to all of our advantages - we get to evaluate your cables with our own ears, and if they are indeed as good as you say they are you will know you are selling your cables based on proof rather than theory and hype, and you will gain a good reputation here by word of mouth.





Hi James, I fully agree with you: The opinions about cabling are so controversial, that finally everybody has to make up his own mind. And the best possibility to do so is by testing the cables. Our distributor SCV London would be pleased to loan sample cables for those genuinely interested in testing for themselves. Please phone Steve Fisher on 020 8418 1470 to arrange this.

Jurg Vogt
VOVOX AG


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BigAl
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Perrett]
      #195307 - 12/10/05 02:39 PM
QUOTE:"We would still be living in the stone age if people didn't ask why things happen."

I don't know if I would relate the many theories of science which have made the world a better place, and even put them on the same level as comparing a couple of audio cables.

--------------------
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John Willett
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: gerard]
      #195311 - 12/10/05 02:43 PM
Quote gerard:

heh heh...

if its sounds better to you then its better...

its that simple...





No it's not - and it's nothing to do with a data sheet.

Your ears can easily be fooled and something you think better on a short listen can often sound horrible after an extended listening.

I'm just saying "be careful".

--------------------
John - Sound-Link ProAudio
President - Federation Internationale des Chasseurs de Sons


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BigAl
Just The Bass Player


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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Sheriton]
      #195313 - 12/10/05 02:47 PM
In a similar analogy.
Record a band (or whatever) at decent digital sample/bit rate and it'll sound pretty good.
Now stick it through some compressor or valve which will add some harmonic distortion and bobs-yer-uncle - it sounds better.
Not as true maybe....but better!

But then again, pure 'true' audio which measures well with test equipment might not sound as nice to the human ear as something which has been artificially manipulated to sound 'worse' technically, but better musically from a human perspective.

Remember, we record with our ears, not our eyes.

--------------------
Jack of all trades, master of some.


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James Lehmann



Joined: 17/05/05
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #195339 - 12/10/05 03:32 PM
Quote Hugh Robjohns:

The other aspect is cost, and the Byre is absolutely right in this. Vovox cables are relatively expensive and not at all suitable in their current form for wiring a studio complex. So they tend to be used as a 'tonal modifier' in specific applications. That's fine for those with money to burn and I'm sure the Hifi fraternity enjoy playing with such things, but for serious studio applications it makes little sense -- practical, technical or financial.



I agree with the first part of that Hugh, but my view is that if someone tests the Vovox cable and finds that it does make an appreciable difference in their studio, then surely it would be worth installing one or two lines of Vovox on 'mission critical' sources like vocals etc. That's how I'm looking at it anyway, as even in my own modest set-up, replacing every cable simply isn't practical.

But once again I encourage folks to form their opinion by listening for themselves - especially now that Jurg from Vovox has provided some details on how to do this in the UK via SCV. I am sure that those of us contributing to this excellent thread who have heard the cables are very interested in the opinions of those who haven't yet but are open-minded enough to give them a try.


Quote James Perrett:

Some of us want to know WHY it sounds different - that's the kind of thinking behind many scientific discoveries that are important to our lives today. We would still be living in the stone age if people didn't ask why things happen.



And I fully agree with James' wise words here too!


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #195568 - 13/10/05 12:02 AM
Quote James Lehmann:

I agree with the first part of that Hugh, but my view is that if someone tests the Vovox cable and finds that it does make an appreciable difference in their studio, then surely it would be worth installing one or two lines of Vovox on 'mission critical' sources like vocals etc. That's how I'm looking at it anyway, as even in my own modest set-up, replacing every cable simply isn't practical.




Sure, but here is where I start to struggle with this conceptually.

If you plug the cable between, say, a mic and a preamp and it sounds better everytime, great. I have no problem with that. And it really doesn't matter whether the audio signal is delivered in a more accurate form than an existing cable (as Vovox claims) or if it is modifed in some pleasing way.

But what if you plug the cable between the mic and the studio wall box (which is then cabled back to a preamp in the control room via 50 feet of general purpose multicore mic cable), and it still sounds better?

How can adding a relatively short length of Vovox to another length of ordinary cable deliver a more accurate signal? Surely the existing cable would undo any good the Vovox cable does? And yet this isn't what people appear to be finding -- myself included -- adding the Vovox cable seems to make an improvement, regardless of the rest of the chain.

I like to think of myself as a logical man with a good technical grounding, but I can't understand what is going on here. I don't necessarily distrust my ears or the opinions of others I know to have reliable ears -- but I can't understand what's going on and that bothers me.

I have spoken to Jurg several times and I plan to meet with him next month to try to learn more about his approach. Watch this space.

Hugh

--------------------
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James Lehmann



Joined: 17/05/05
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #195594 - 13/10/05 06:06 AM
Quote Hugh Robjohns:

But what if you plug the cable between the mic and the studio wall box (which is then cabled back to a preamp in the control room via 50 feet of general purpose multicore mic cable), and it still sounds better?

How can adding a relatively short length of Vovox to another length of ordinary cable deliver a more accurate signal? Surely the existing cable would undo any good the Vovox cable does? And yet this isn't what people appear to be finding -- myself included -- adding the Vovox cable seems to make an improvement, regardless of the rest of the chain.



Hugh - I had considered the situation you describe but assumed that the benefits of the Vovox cable would only be apparent when connecting, say a mic directly to a pre-amp.

But now you are saying that you and others have also experienced differences by simply adding a length of Vovox to one end of an existing run of ordinary cable!?

I'm no electrical engineer but that does seem truly baffling!

I, for one, will be fascinated in the outcome of your meeting with Jurg from Vovox, and I hope you'll continue to post your thoughts here in this thread for us to debate and discuss. Perhaps you're considering a piece in the SOS magazine about it, but then knowing how meticulous you are in your writing I can sense your strong desire to hunt down some definitive answers before going into print! Anyway, IMHO this topic has been one of the most interesting and eye(ear!)-opening we've had on this Forum lately.


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gerard



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #195602 - 13/10/05 07:05 AM


is this the first "effects cable"?

do they make 1-foot lengths to do this? heh heh...

if it had an interesting sound i would consider having one to expirement with...


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Anonymous
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #195696 - 13/10/05 10:54 AM
I've stayed out of this thread until now because I've not tried any Vovox cables but I do have a few fairly esoteric cables (some relatively mass produced, some hand produced in very small quantities) - bought because they made a difference in the context in which I use them (I'm not into wasting money on things I can't hear) - now it's getting reasonably abstract and moving into things in which I do have some experience so here's my two penn'orth.

I do believe that cables can make a difference - even in small pieces. I don't belive that it's magic and I don't believe the rubbish cooked up by most hi-fi manufacturers/dealers to explain the effects. I do however believe that there's more going on than at first meets the eye (or ear) and that whilst claims of "huge improvements" and the like are, ime, very overdone, there are things going on which need further serious, objective scientific investigation. The only trouble with that is that for a serious, objective scientist to stand up and admit to hearing a difference that he doesn't understand and can't quantify, is a big step when he risks incurring the cynical/sceptical derision of the majority of other scientists who won't even accept that the phenomenon can exist let alone being prepared to incvestigate it. So hats off to Hugh for sticking his neck out and saying that there's something in it all - even if it isn't some kind of "special" magic that many hi-fi nuts might want to think it is.

About ten years ago I was heavily involved in the design of a new mastering room for the company at which I worked. After a lot of mucking about with various "hi-fi" tweaky things in the existing rooms, enough people were sufficiently convinced that, with some of these tweaks, something was happening that was repeatable, potentially useful, and worth exploiting.

All the people involved in the experimentation were approaching things from a standpoint of really extreme cynicism about the snake-oil world of hi-fi yet all agreed that some, not by any means all, but some of the things we tried actually made a difference. (On the other hand, some things made no difference at all, or actually caused quantifiable problems, some we barely stopped laughing about for long enough to listen to them.)

One of the "discoveries" (it was a revelation for us anyway!) was that cables, even in short runs and partial sections of longer runs, can make a difference. Why this is, we never quantified to everyone's staisfaction (whilst we were very curious, there was a day job to do that took priority so testing was a slow/fitful process) but no-one argued that there was a difference (we put it down to some kind of electronic properties of, or more likely interactions between, the "hi-fi" cables and others/the equipment/the physical environment). Some argued that the differences were too small to be worth the money needed to get them but that's another matter.

The engineer for whom the room was being built is someone who when mastering an album will sometimes spend hours choosing for each individual track just the right combination of playback machine/ADC/dither type/etc., even before he starts on EQ/Dynamics processing so critically listening to very small changes was the order of the day.

Various cables were chosen for specific roles in which they worked noticably "better" than others (we assumed, for good mechanical/electronic reasons such as those already discussed elsewhere in this thread rather than blaming some kind of made up hi-fi voodoo), and after further messing about, we ended up making a number of patch cord sets in different types of cable. This was because even though the majority of the installed cable in the room was of the same type (again carefully chosen but very much with an eye on the economics of a commercial scale installation) during the course of our testing we'd found that even a 50cm XLR patchcord made a noticable (more so than changing the ADC) difference in some circuits. In other circuits any difference was either inaudible or not sufficiently obvious to be repeatably assessed.

Again, we made no pretence that this was magic, or that it existed in all circumstances, or that it was some kind of night and day change. However, in some setups it made a completely repeatable, clearly audible (to anyone with reasonably good ears/perception - not bat's hearing, just half decent musician's hearing) difference. Staying cynical, we ascribed the differences to good/bad/varying designs between input/output stages in the various bits of gear but it was interesting that a simple patchcord forming just part of a longer run made a difference.

In some cases the suggestion that RFI levels play a major part in the "sound" of an interconnect would appear to be bourne out by some other things we found with some expensive "hi-fi tweaks" involving little stone/wooden blocks which were attached to the sides of cables using velcro or, for the really expensive ones, string made of raw silk Closer investigation of the ones that worked (not all did!) revealed them to be made of/include within them some very pure ferrite material. Whilst these generally worked better than the average ferrite clamp/ring it wasn't magic - they were just very good quality examples of readily understood products - but the prices were astonomical for what they were! (We found an industrial source of equal (and better) quality ferrite compounds and bought those for a fraction of the cost of the, albeit prettier, hi-fi "magic" products.

This, however, didn't fully explain the effects of the strange little Japanese blocks which sat on top of the power amps. When we put them on the amps none of us could hear a difference. After messing around taking them off and putting them back on in different places we decided it was all rubbish and gave up - leaving them on top of the amps as we went on to other things. A couple of hours later, whilst doing some more mundane listening, this time to different speakers, someone came to get the blocks to pack them up for return. As they were lifted off the amps, there was a big change in the sound. Even people who weren't paying attention to the speaker tests looked up or turned around. The blocks went back on but again there was no change and everyone thought they'd imagined it. We left the block in place and half an hour later took them off and again, even people who didn't see the blocks being removed noticed a change. We played around with them over the next week or so and ended up buying them. We couldn't work out what was happening or what they did but things sounded so much worse when they were removed that we decided to take a punt on them. Even if they did nothing, they were a talking point (Subsequently, I've come across a few respected, experienced and generally pretty cynical engineers who use these blocks (and in some cases some pretty scarily expensive cables), some on their amps, some on things like ADCs who all agree that they do something. Even if no-one accepts the manufacturer's pseudo-scientific sounding gibberish "explaination", none can come up with a properly scientific one so who knows - maybe not all hi-fi nuts are as mad as they seem (though most are!)

I really hope Hugh gets to the bottom of some of this. Partly because it might be another bit of ammo to use against the people who say that all cables are just bits of wire and must sound the same , and partly because I hate hearing things I can't explain!


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BigAl
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: ]
      #195719 - 13/10/05 11:45 AM
I find this stuff fascinating and like many would like to know WHY these cables (or whatever) make a difference, if of course they make at difference at all.
I do get very cynical and supicious about theories like your block one.
If they were used in a mastering studio, which 'master' of the track(s) sound best in the final product - with or without the blocks. At the end of the day, that's what counts and who knows how both may sound out in the real world.
I've actually been reading up on some articles about unshielded cables (in particular), and if anyone's interested, a quick search on google highlights a few interesting reads.
The human brain is weird and wonderful and many other factors can alter your perception when listening to music.
One which springs to mind is when mixing for video. I remember years ago doing some stuff at the BBC and the engineers were going on about instrument levels and the perception that when the camera zooms into one of the performers, all of a sudden, he sounds a bit louder. I was convinced with a simple demo.
There is also the perception that believing something being better or seeing something in the chain can convince you that it is better, when in fact there may be no change.
Even switching the lights out (complete darkness) can almost convince you that something has changed in the sound.

And what about the university experiment after some boffin thought he had a ghost in his lab, after seeing something move and 'feeling' a prescence.
They carried out a controlled experiment where individuals were put in a darkened room and the resonant frequency of the room was played to them via a set of headphones. During that time, every one of them said they felt a prescence in the room.

Obviously the last bit is nothing to do with the main crux of the thread, but maybe it highlights that we can be influenced by many things which at face value appear unexplainable.

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The Byre



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: BigAl]
      #195768 - 13/10/05 12:57 PM
Quote:

Obviously the last bit is nothing to do with the main crux of the thread, but maybe it highlights that we can be influenced by many things which at face value appear unexplainable.




Medics call it the placebo effect, ecomomists call it the snob effect and sound sound engineers call it the Neumann effect.

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PrinceXizor
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: The Byre]
      #195775 - 13/10/05 01:14 PM
What, all my gear has Neumann scrawled in grease pencil on it. Everyone whose anyone knows that my gear is now the greatest EVAR!!

As an added bonus, a noise can on your car exhaust adds at least 15HP (I was told this w/ a straight face once. I hope the UK isn't as infested as much as we are with the aero wing/exhaust can/etc. folk).

P-X

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rodabod



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #195815 - 13/10/05 02:22 PM
These aren't the cables with the Zobel networks in them are they? I can't tell from the website.

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Chas



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #195858 - 13/10/05 03:49 PM
Since there seem to be a number of deep cable thinkers closely following this thread, may I humbly take this golden opportunity to ask all of you for your recommendations of a superior microphone cable to run my humble AKG dynamic mics into my humble M-Audio FireWire Solo? (My default setting was to simply get an AKG MK 9/10 mic cable, but they don't seem to export them to the US... maybe I'm missing something, but Sennheiser is eager enough to sell me headphone cables...).

Thanks in advance.


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ZukanModerator
Zukan


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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #195865 - 13/10/05 04:00 PM
So, this is one of those '[ ****** ] happens' kinda scenarios huh?

I am still not convinced of the value of such a product for the simple reason that the environment it is tested in has to be duplicated for it to 'maybe' exhibit the same reults.

So, you prepare for your gig and the Vovox comes out. Hell, it performed magic in the studio.
Using the same pre, the same PA, the same everything.......and the magic disappers.

To me a product must exhibit consistency for me to part with money as an investment in the product's attributes.
To gamble on a result is not something I am too happy with, particularly at £30 a pop (no pun, ok then a little pun).

I am not dismissing the cable by any means, but investing in a product that can only work in an isolated incident does not fill me with great confidence, certainly not in a commercial booking.
I need reliability at all times and this thinking has been the vein of my buying strategy over the years.

If, as I like to throw spanners everywhere, you use the cable in a static environment and the magic appears and all is well in the garden for weeks and then suddenly something about the environment changes, I dunno cables are being laid outside or a huge sat dish is installed on the roof, and suddenly magic disappers.

So, what happens then? Vovox refunds the money?
You lose a client during a perfect vocal take?

Or are we back to '[ ****** ] happens'?

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gerard



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Zukan]
      #195872 - 13/10/05 04:07 PM

ok, well... lighten up dude...

its just 30 squid...

think of it as a funky cool stomp box...

in the big picture, its very cheap for something that can give you an interesting sound...


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Zukan]
      #195895 - 13/10/05 04:34 PM
Quote Zukan:

I am not dismissing the cable by any means, but investing in a product that can only work in an isolated incident does not fill me with great confidence, certainly not in a commercial booking.




I hear what you are saying, but you could apply the same arguments to microphones. I'm sure you have a range of different mics, and some mics work well with some sources and not with others, but sometimes you'll put up one mic certain that it will do the job and then discover that actually a different mic works better in that scenario... It's the same kind of deal.

hugh

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ZukanModerator
Zukan


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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: gerard]
      #196152 - 14/10/05 07:47 AM
Quote gerard:


ok, well... lighten up dude...

its just 30 squid...

think of it as a funky cool stomp box...

in the big picture, its very cheap for something that can give you an interesting sound...





Eh?
Read my post, very 'light' ....maybe the humour wasn't that funny..mmmm...must read more books about humour....

Mind you 10 metres of this cable would cost a little more than 30 squids.....



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ZukanModerator
Zukan


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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #196160 - 14/10/05 08:04 AM
Quote Hugh Robjohns:

Quote Zukan:

I am not dismissing the cable by any means, but investing in a product that can only work in an isolated incident does not fill me with great confidence, certainly not in a commercial booking.




I hear what you are saying, but you could apply the same arguments to microphones. I'm sure you have a range of different mics, and some mics work well with some sources and not with others, but sometimes you'll put up one mic certain that it will do the job and then discover that actually a different mic works better in that scenario... It's the same kind of deal.

hugh




Not really the same Hugh.

I know that the source material will dictate the mic used and even, if we want to be pedantic, the pre, mixer et al.

But that is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about a cable that performs in certain situations in certain environments, and the question that needs to be asked is 'Can it perform universally and consistently with the same setups for different people in different environments?'

If we have no idea whether FRI or any other 'anomaly' is directly related to the 'sound/presence' of the cable, then how do we know that using the exact same equipment, mic, pre etc., but in a different environment would yield identical results?
That is my problem.

The other problem I have is that, for example, you love the 'sound' this cable produces, so you mainline your booth remotely to your control room with 10 metres of this cable, you plug the mic in during a paid session and absolutely nothing magical happens.
Do you, unlike a mic, remove the cable from the chain and fit it with another (assuming all other channels are taken up)?
What do you tell the paying band?

'Sorry guys, wrong cable'. (dik looking syndrome)
'Sorry dudes, cable's magic's gone.' (bigger dik syndrome)
'Sorry peeps, hang in there while I change this cable. (total dik syndrome)

I am not entering a diss debate here, but unless the cable performs universally and identically every damn time with a certain setup, then I am not convinced of it's consistency.

The argument of 'It's only £30, so chill' is a weak one. This £30 changes dramatically if you need 10 metres of it or many shorter lengths.
It does matter.

I would love this cable to perform the same every single time, even on specific equipment, but if we do not know what influences it then how can we be certain that the environment itself is not a huge influence?
Because if it is, then that will change the minute you change location or add existing mainline cables to the environment etc..

Of course, I could be pissin' in the wind and this cable is the next wonder product, but before I go spending money on metres of this cable I would like a little insight into what the influences are.
I run a commercial business that houses a commercial studio and for me it is not about a foot odf this cable, so cost and reliability factor in heavily.

For others it might be different.

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James Lehmann



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Zukan]
      #196183 - 14/10/05 08:37 AM
Quote Zukan:

before I go spending money on metres of this cable I would like a little insight into what the influences are.



Only one way to find out Zuke and that's try one out yourself!

Also I think the swapping cables situation needn't be quite as negative as you've made it look. I mean, there's absolutely no harm in swapping one mic or pre-amp for another during a session if you feel it will be beneficial for the recording - I'm sure we've all done this at some time or another, it's normal session procedure. I can't see that this would be too different with a cable apart from the funny looks you might get from folks who are blissfully unaware of what you have established, ie that it might work much better.


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wave1



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #196195 - 14/10/05 08:53 AM
hey 0vu, any links for "strange little Japanese blocks " - i can't even imagine what to google for.....


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ZukanModerator
Zukan


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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #196209 - 14/10/05 09:18 AM
I hear you James, but if your studio is wired up and you are working remotely, it might cause issues.

I think you're spot on with 'Try one'.

I think I will go down that road.

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Guy Johnson



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Zukan]
      #196218 - 14/10/05 09:35 AM
I remember you could get 'bricks' made of laminated steel, (nicely finished with wood) as found in transformers, that you put onto HiFi equipment, which was supposed to 'soak' up stray RF and what-not, etc, et al. . . .

G

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Pangloss
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #196226 - 14/10/05 09:50 AM
I'm enjoying this thread and I'm tempted to try one of these cables now.

One quick question - would it be possible to get the best of both worlds from the RF interference/cable capacitance trade-off by running your unbalanced cables through the centre of some earthed metal trunking? That is to say that the cable is separated from the trunking by a certain distance by, say some foam cladding? If that would work it seems like it might be a good compromise.

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'These are my principles and if you don't like them...well, I have others' (Groucho Marx) www.ownlittleworld.net/tunes.html


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Zukan]
      #196234 - 14/10/05 10:03 AM
Quote Zukan:

I know that the source material will dictate the mic used and even, if we want to be pedantic, the pre, mixer et al.




Your world is a little more predictable than mine, then Can you really say you've never put up a mic or selcted a mic pre or compressor that you thought would be ideal, only to find it not quite to your liking and so have had to replace it with something brighter/darker/tighter or whatever? I know I have...

Quote:

But that is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about a cable that performs in certain situations in certain environments




Perhaps we should qualify this a little better. I personally, have found some inconsistency in using these cables for line level connections. However, most other users -- especially those using them for the more carefully defined mic to mic-pre interfaces -- seem to find them completely consistent. So while I remain a little confused about the whole thing, plenty of others find them a reliable and worthwhile improvement. Indeed, Dirk Brauner, who is no fool, believes in their beneficial properties to the extent that he is including them with his mics now... and that adds to his costs rather than improving his profits !

Quote:

If we have no idea whether RFI or any ther 'anomaly' is directly related to the 'sound/presence' of the cable, then how do we know that using the exact same equipment, mic, pre etc., but in a different environment would yield identical results? That is my problem.




Mine too -- but we are both wearing our cynical engineering hats. And the difference between us is that I have actually heard a distinct difference that seemed to be beneficial when using this cable. So I'm approaching it from the, "I heard a difference and now I'm trying to explain it" while you are doing the entirely sceptical naysaying.

I agree that the apparent inconsistency I have experienced is frustrating and limits the practicality of the cables for some of us until its properties are better defined... but I am reasonably convinced that these cables can 'improve' the perceived sound quality in some situations, and we just need to define what those situations are, rather than poo-pooing the idea out of hand.

Quote:

The other problem I have is that, for example, you love the 'sound' this cable produces, so you mainline your booth remotely to your control room with 10 metres of this cable, you plug the mic in during a paid session and absolutely nothing magical happens.




Does that really matter? Sometimes I'll put a mic up in front of a vocalist and something 'magical' happens when we record a take. Sometimes that magic simply isn't there. Does that mean I shouldn't have invested in my expensive mics that I know, sometimes -- in the right conditions -- can deliver magical results?

Quote:

What do you tell the paying band?
'Sorry guys, wrong cable'. (dik looking syndrome)
'Sorry dudes, cable's magic's gone.' (bigger dik syndrome)
'Sorry peeps, hang in there while I change this cable. (total dik syndrome)




The degree of 'dikiness' is only what you perceive it to be. If you can get the results using wax string and paper cups, what does the band care? Most band members wouldn't know what you were changing anyway!

Quote:

I am not entering a diss debate here, but unless the cable performs universally and identically every damn time with a certain setup, then I am not convinced of it's consistency.




I'll not argue with you -- maybe others who have had more consistent results will. I just think you are placing a little too much emphasis on this supposed sonic consistency. I don't think such a thing exists when we are talking about different musical sources.

The EQ or compression settings you used on a drum track yesterday won't be the same as those settings you use today. The position of a mic in front of a vocalist yesterday may well be different from the optimum position today....

Quote:

I would love this cable to perform the same every single time, even on specific equipment, but if we do not know what influences it then how can we be certain that the environment itself is not a huge influence?




Sure... but on the other hand, unless we go into this with a completely open mind and try using the cable for ourselves, how will we learn which situations it works well in and those in which it makes little difference? Dissing the whole idea is hardly constructive.

As I've said repeatedly, I'm not trying to be evalgelistic about this. There are a number of issues about it with which I still have problems... but the fact remains that in what appeared to be well controlled and fairly exhaustive experiments, sonic benefits were clearly heard by myself and several other people, and many others have found similar results in completely independent trials and tests... None of us can fully explain it, but we all heard it! That makes me feel uncomfortable, but fascinated and determined to learn more.

Quote:

before I go spending money on metres of this cable I would like a little insight into what the influences are.




But that's precisely what I'm trying to find out!

Hugh


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ZukanModerator
Zukan


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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #196249 - 14/10/05 10:43 AM
Well, I will now attempt to be open minded and I think testing the cable is the only way of knowing whether the consistency will show up or die a death.

I am not against 'things that sound great for no apparent reason' type of arguments as I own items that improve the sound of a device for no apparent reason.
But the difference with these types of 'items' I own is that they display consistency in any environemnt using the same set up.

I will try to test these cables and see if I can replicate the same results using the same gear but in different locations, as there does not seem to be any technical tests we can perform at the moment to validate or even to give a name to the effect being talked about here.

Tech hat off and general 'I am joyous to be alive' type of attitude has now taken place.

So, that leaves one question: 'Do these cables come in varying lengths or do I have to make one up?'

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The real musiclover



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Zukan]
      #196259 - 14/10/05 11:00 AM


Sings... "So, you got a Vovox microphone cable.... that don't impress me much, uh uh ah ah ah, so you got the lead, but have ya got the...."

How much are they? Someone said £70, did they not? I hope you get at least 200 metres for that money.

Quality cables are significant items in any studio that intends to record music to the highest quality, but there is a limit.

I'm sure they are good cables, at that price they ought to be, apologies if they are not that expensive.


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ZukanModerator
Zukan


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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: The real musiclover]
      #196268 - 14/10/05 11:07 AM
Sung to which tune?


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The real musiclover



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Zukan]
      #196271 - 14/10/05 11:10 AM


Need you ask? Shania, innit? My ex.


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ZukanModerator
Zukan


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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: The real musiclover]
      #196275 - 14/10/05 11:16 AM
I don't listen to Shania.....

I watch her, but never listen to her..

So, why did she dump you?

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The real musiclover



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Zukan]
      #196282 - 14/10/05 11:25 AM

I dumped her.


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ZukanModerator
Zukan


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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: The real musiclover]
      #196289 - 14/10/05 11:34 AM
Not what she told me this morning as she was getting dressed.


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The real musiclover



Joined: 01/09/04
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Zukan]
      #196321 - 14/10/05 12:19 PM


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Dark Fader
sith lord


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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Zukan]
      #196329 - 14/10/05 12:30 PM
Quote Zukan:

Not what she told me this morning as she was getting dressed.





That must have been just before she showed up at mine wanting some proper lovin'

And I wondered why she smelt of kebabs.

--------------------
...rubbish at words 'n' stuff.


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ZukanModerator
Zukan


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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Dark Fader]
      #196356 - 14/10/05 01:14 PM


We ethnics like to keep our stringed vests on at all times.

--------------------
Samplecraze
Stretch That Note


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ghellquist



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #196432 - 14/10/05 03:20 PM
Beeing a sceptic is difficult at times. Here persons I trust say that things make a difference, that really should not matter. Hmm!

Just maybe someone could make some test recordings here. I sort of think that if the difference can be heard on a normal 16bit 44.1kHz wave file, I will gladly pay for it. If not, well, some other time.

If they do make that kind of difference on a line level signal it should be really easy to run a mono signal down the two channels of just about any sound card.

If the "magic" only happens when connecting microphones, it might be a bit more difficult, but still doable. Two mics close, a cable, two channels. I know, the mics will not catch exactly the same thing, but run for a while and then swap cables.

If the "magic" only happens in situations which could not be checked by listening to the wave files (in random, double blind tests), well, not this time then.

Gunnar


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James Lehmann



Joined: 17/05/05
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: ghellquist]
      #196452 - 14/10/05 03:54 PM
Quote ghellquist:

Just maybe someone could make some test recordings here.... Two mics close, a cable, two channels. I know, the mics will not catch exactly the same thing, but run for a while and then swap cables.



Done it. I considered posting my own test files but I realised that as this particular product can behave differently depending on where it is connected and to what I feel my own test in my own studio will be largely irrelevant to other people's circumstances. You will certainly hear a difference in my test files but this sort of difference may not be the same as in your studio.

If you're genuinely interested, why not try to arrange a test yourself? It's really the only way to make your own mind up about this.


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Jupiter_4
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #196614 - 14/10/05 10:12 PM
I have tested so many cables over the years and they do sound different; clearly if you have a really good preamp and speaker you will hear more of the difference. I can totally understand wanting to know why somethings are different or better but do not measure different or better. What I do not understand is why people say that if it does not measure better then it is not. The new Maserati has less power to weight ratio than the BMW M6 yet is quicker round the track, no point in arguing that it isn't because it is less powerful - but it is great fun to find out why, esepcially if you go for a test drive. Somethings defy logic. Like me preferring and buying a brand new Boxster over a three year old 911. Now I know that the 911 is faster amd more iconic and has more street cred but the Boxsetr is more fun to drive - and so it is with cables, and guitars and synths etc etc etc. why not test drive some cables with your ears only, ok and an amp and speakers and a sound source?


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Glenn Bucci
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Paul Blenn]
      #973126 - 29/02/12 04:20 PM
I purchased a Brauner Phantom mic which of course came with the Vovox cable. I liked the feel of the cable, and the quality I felt with the cable to the connector. I did a A/B/C test against a standard cable, and the Blue Dual 22 AWG cable.. My test was on a vocal track going through my Portico pre into my Rosetta 800 into Cubase. I found the definition with the Vovox cable to offer the best sound out of the 3. I don't know why it sounded better. I had my wife also listen and she came to the same conclusion. So I ends buying a 2nd Vovox cable for my studio as well. I had no noise or interference with the cable at all. Any new cables or replacement cables I will buy will now be Vovox. I was convinced.

--------------------
revelationsoundstudio.com


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RegressiveRock
Just half a pint of cherryade for me


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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Glenn Bucci]
      #973184 - 29/02/12 08:59 PM
Quote Glenn Bucci:

I purchased a Brauner Phantom mic which of course came with the Vovox cable. I liked the feel of the cable, and the quality I felt with the cable to the connector. I did a A/B/C test against a standard cable, and the Blue Dual 22 AWG cable.. My test was on a vocal track going through my Portico pre into my Rosetta 800 into Cubase. I found the definition with the Vovox cable to offer the best sound out of the 3. I don't know why it sounded better. I had my wife also listen and she came to the same conclusion. So I ends buying a 2nd Vovox cable for my studio as well. I had no noise or interference with the cable at all. Any new cables or replacement cables I will buy will now be Vovox. I was convinced.




Blimey GB,

Now that's less of a thread revival: more of a thread resurrection!

Reg

--------------------
Google less; read more!


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Mixedup
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: RegressiveRock]
      #973260 - 01/03/12 09:40 AM
No doubt he was caught out by the mysterious 're-ordering forum index' bug that crops up from time to time.


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VampyreRecords



Joined: 04/03/12
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #973901 - 04/03/12 02:00 AM
Just wanted to say a lot of very interesting reading in this thread guys! I have made many notes


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ef37a



Joined: 29/05/06
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #973905 - 04/03/12 07:00 AM
I am also in the very sceptical camp and think this..
"Insufficient suppression of RFI can also result in more subtle signal degradation. RFI which enters the signal path, even at
very low levels, can cross-modulate with ultra-sonic harmonics of the desired signal in downstream amplifiers, producing
subtle in-band artifacts usually called "distortions". Jensen and Sokolich called this phenomenon "spectral
contamination".[3]" Taken from a paper by Bill Whitlock of Jensen Transformers (a goldmine of sense and reason in matters of signal transfer)should be considered.
Is it not perhaps possible that these subtle artifacts are interpreted as "better" in much the same way as valve distortion or the "Aphex Effect"?

The "it sounds better so what is your problem" (dude!) faction are merely a distraction to the debate. I think Bach is "better" than Punk regardless of the fidelity with which they are reproduced (i.e. I will listen to pretty ***t G. Gould but not even the most audiophooled Sex Pistols!).

What are needed are differential tests, "straight with gain" al la Quad. They threw up some VERY interesting results for power amplifiers decades ago.

Re the source of the copper for all these "super" cables. Has any reviewer ever sent a sample off to be analysed?

Dave.

Edited by ef37a (04/03/12 07:02 AM)


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Guy Johnson



Joined: 02/05/03
Posts: 4340
Loc: North Pembrokeshire
Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #973928 - 04/03/12 11:38 AM
I don't care either way at those prices.

--------------------
Facebok Page for acoustic music PA-ing in smaller venues


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ef37a



Joined: 29/05/06
Posts: 6772
Loc: northampton uk
Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Guy Johnson]
      #973934 - 04/03/12 12:06 PM
Quote Guy Johnson:

I don't care either way at those prices.




Indeed, it would be interesting to know from the current "testers" so far if they can see any justification in the construction? Or is it just "What the traffic can bear"?

The high cost of high end mic pre amps for example can be seen* in the quality of construction and in many cases the need for component selection, individual FETs, transistors, valves. The market is very small and the process cannot be economically automated. The same is not true to anything like the same extent for cable, it is all machine made.

*Tho' there are some devices I think that are exctracting the urine a bit!

Dave.


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: ef37a]
      #973944 - 04/03/12 01:06 PM
Quote ef37a:

The same is not true to anything like the same extent for cable, it is all machine made.




To be fair, I don't think the physical construction of Vovox cables (from individual screened wires) lends itself very well to total machine manufacture.

hugh

--------------------
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


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ef37a



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #973946 - 04/03/12 01:16 PM
Quote Hugh Robjohns:

Quote ef37a:

The same is not true to anything like the same extent for cable, it is all machine made.




To be fair, I don't think the physical construction of Vovox cables (from individual screened wires) lends itself very well to total machine manufacture.

hugh


Ah! As I said, has anyone taken some apart and checked it out?
Are there links to decent close up photos?

Dave.


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: ef37a]
      #973950 - 04/03/12 01:29 PM
I have. I don't know of links to photos, but the brochures on the Vovox side include accurate cross-section images:

http://www.vovox.ch/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=2&It emid=6&lang=en



The 'link protect S' version of the Vovox cable has two individual screened cores for the hot and cold connections, with a third ground wire. I can't remember for sure, but I think the screen wires are connected at one end only. The lay length is pretty long. As a direct result, rejection of EM interference is pretty poor, and RFI isn't much better.

The 'direct S' versions have three unscreened wires with a long lay length. There is no significant rejection of EM or RFI at all.

hugh

--------------------
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


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Jeraldo



Joined: 10/09/05
Posts: 2338
Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #974018 - 04/03/12 09:01 PM
This thread is interesting to see as I had missed it the first time around.

1. I'm interested in knowing the conclusions of James, Hugh, and others who have tried the cable. Does it still seem to sound different, and if so, in what conditions?

2. Im my own experience, this different "sound" can happen with cables at all price points. The bulk Mogami quad always sounds different to me, and I use this as line interconnects. It has a larger and more focussed lower end, more body, and a much smoother upper end. The source sounds bigger. The cost? Room ambience. It was (is) definitely different, but not necessarily better nor worse.

It was an "effect," as a couple of meters in the middle of everything else would make the same difference.

In spite of this, I didn't run out and replace my mic cables, nor the rest of my interconnects.I could have, since the cable is the same or only a little more than Belden, Canare, and a dozen others. I did find myself preferring the 8 or so lengths of the cable to the rest of the various line level connects I had.

More things moved in to the box, and now I haven't nearly as much use for a myriad of line level cables.

I chose to view the Mogami quad as a "colour," only because it was opposite of how most other cables sounded, not because it was not neutral.

So Hugh, James, and others, what's your current opinion of the cables, now that it's years later? Though there is no significant rejection of RF, were RF problems encountered? And did third party analysis turn up anything interesting on the "control" or Vovox cables?


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Jeraldo]
      #974025 - 04/03/12 10:10 PM
Star quad inherently has much higher capacitance between the hit and cold wires, and between them and the screen. That would tend to lower the hf roll off and affect the phase response, which would tend to reduce the sense of room and accentuate the impression of the low end. The strength of the effect would depend on interface impedances.

My experiences with vovox cables have been variable. On some systems I've heard a clear difference relative to other cables, and on other systems I've heard no difference at all. I've tried various subtractive comparisons and found nothing reliably repeatable, other than the poor rejection of common mode interference.

Hugh


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Jeraldo



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #974040 - 04/03/12 11:59 PM
Thanks for that, Hugh. Interesting.

Regarding the quad, true, but Canare quad sounds pretty much like everything else non-quad, yet Mogami has this very different sound. I haven't looked at the cap figures, though, and it may be that Mogami is much higher.

However, if that were the operative factor, would only a meter or three have such an impact (with Mogami, and on live level sources? Caveat acknowledged about the devices on each end of the cable.


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ef37a



Joined: 29/05/06
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Jeraldo]
      #974057 - 05/03/12 07:35 AM
Ogami W2549 lists a core to screen capacitance as 76pf/mtr

A similar Cannare product is nearly twice that at 120pf and for comparison a Belden mic cable showed just 42pf/mtr but none of these values should have the least effect upon any competently designed line output amp* at sensible lengths and even 100mtrs hung on a 300RZout mic only gives a turnover frequency of about 44khZ?

But in any case if capacitance were the problem here surely the effect would have been noticed between standard and star quad cables?

The TL07* series of amp might be embarrassed by high capacitive loads but the very common NE5532 should not be and it is in any case a trivial matter to arrange for the latter to have a virtually zero output Z and so not even a low pass filter is formed at even the daftest audiophool frequencies. I have a theory, be back after the wrap!
Dave.


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ef37a



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: ef37a]
      #974059 - 05/03/12 07:49 AM
Capacitance cont..

It is known that certain capacitor dielectrics, polyester give more distortion than other materials such as polystyrene and so is it just possible that the dielectric in cable could produce distortion and "colour" the sound?

The theory has a big weakness tho' there needs to be a significant voltage across the capacitor for even a tiny level of distortion to be detected (i.e. not much out of noise), in the order of 10Vrms (+20dBV).

Dave.


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Jeraldo]
      #974094 - 05/03/12 10:39 AM
Quote Jeraldo:

I haven't looked at the cap figures, though, and it may be that Mogami is much higher.




I haven't either -- but capacitance is an obvious first port of call. There are numerous other factors that affect cable 'sound' though, including the nature and diameter of the dialectrics between the core and screens. And then there is the issue of RFI and how the cable deals with that... and how the equipment it is connected to deals with it.

There is so much RF flying around these days, and a surprising amount of equipment really doesn't deal with it very well. I am quite convinced that this plays a big part in the impresion that different cables sound different -- even over short lengths (which could suffer RFI issues even if the capacitance/dielectric issues can be discounted).

However, gaining access to a suitable faraday cage to test the hypothesis isn't easy...

hugh

--------------------
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


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Guy Johnson



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #974098 - 05/03/12 10:45 AM
Container Studio!

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Facebok Page for acoustic music PA-ing in smaller venues


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ef37a



Joined: 29/05/06
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #974131 - 05/03/12 12:01 PM
Surely the acid test of any "improving" hardware is a third party one?

If the supposed improvements cannot be carried forward into recording and folks can say "Yes THAT recording with X sounds better than that one without" We is all hissing in the wind?

Give me the .wavs! (well. not me personally! I have long since left the quality critique domain!)

Dave.


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Jeraldo



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #974462 - 06/03/12 07:23 PM
Thanks, Hugh. It's a rare thing to have an engineer give an open minded (at least to my mind) assessment of cables, and the identification of important variables beyond capacitance has been interesting and informative.


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James Lehmann



Joined: 17/05/05
Posts: 2011
Loc: Europe
Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #975736 - 14/03/12 06:30 PM
Wow! I pop back to SOS for the first time in eons and someone's dug up an old thread of mine from 2005!

Quote Jeraldo:

So Hugh, James, and others, what's your current opinion of the cables, now that it's years later?



Well, I still think there is a repeatable difference and I still think I like it. It's not like I've gone crazy and rewired the entire studio or anything, but I have purchased a 5m VoVox pair for mission-critical stereo work to go with the original VoVox mic cable I got for free.

It was remiss of me not to post some WAVs with this thread originally. Fact is I did do some basic testing, but it was a few years later, so I'm happy to post the files again, as there still seems to be some residual interest in this.

I'm a voice-over artist - this is a spoken word only test...

Vovox Cable WAV
'Normal' (Belden/Neutrik) Cable WAV

First some preemptory Q & A...

Do the files null?
I don't know - I haven't tested this but I doubt it since the sonic differences (at least to my ears) are so apparent. Feel free to try it and report back! Of course some obvious reasons these particular files probably won't is that however good manufacturing tolerances are these days I suspect there's no such thing as a perfectly cloned microphone. And also that I cannot say my positioning was accurate between them to less than a millimeter. Did I swap around the mics and rerun the test? Yes. Did I swap around the pre-amp channels and rerun the test? Yes. Were the results and sonic differences pretty much identical and thus attributable to the principal variable of swapping the cable? Yes. Will I be re-testing this one day with a single microphone and a splitter to eliminate at least some of these outstanding variables? Yes - watch this space!

Why didn't you make this test blind and ask folks to choose?
Because it's irrelevant which one you 'prefer'; for the purposes of this argument the only interest is in establishing whether or not there is a sonic difference between the two WAV's.

Can we trust you not to have messed with the files?
I have no connection or financial interest in Belden, Neutrik, Vovox or any of the other cable/equipment-makers here. I'm just a regular gear-head like you are. I have absolutely nothing to gain from posting the results of my test and it's not even like I need to justify a large outlay on the so-called 'boutique' Vovox cable as it was included free with my Brauner Phantom AE microphone. So why on earth would I bother skewing the results?

Do you honestly expect this to be the last word on this?
Of course not - I'm not that naive, this is a recording forum after all and we're all here to exchange views and share expertise! However, I'm an empiricist so I'm firmly of the view that if at all possible, in audio as in anything, it's very helpful to provide evidence to back up one's POV. So with respect to this thread I think it's reasonable to ask anyone wishing to dispute my opinion (which is that switching cables does make a difference to the sound) to do so either in reference to the WAV's I've provided or to ante up WAV's of their own test.

Testing equipment was as follows:
Mics: Matched pair of Microtech Gefell M300 SDC's
Pre-amps & Conversion: Metric Halo ULN-2
DAW: Logic 7
Format: 24-bit/44.1k WAVs
Processing/Normalising etc: None
Room Type: Living room, ie no special acoustic treatment
Pop shield: I honestly don't recall if I used one or not, I think not but if I did it's a Sennheiser
Tracking Cans: Sony MDR-7509


--------------------
I used to be a rocker, but now I've gone off it and just sit in one. (JL)

Edited by James Lehmann (14/03/12 06:50 PM)


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Jeraldo



Joined: 10/09/05
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #975935 - 15/03/12 04:29 PM
James:
Many thanks for coming back with your commentary and your comparison files.

The difference is very apparent, although depending on market and tastes, I'm not sure one would be consistently preferred. No doubt, though, there is certainly a difference.

While voice is always the ultimate test of naturalness, I can't help but wonder what an orchestra recording might sound like with a pair of these vs a pair of something else.

To me, the difference is solely in the mid frequencies that determine the quality (hardness, softness, etc.) of the voice. I felt the recording a bit sibilant and a bit heavy in the lower end (proximity effect?), and those qualities may reduce the apparent differences of the cables. That upper and lower end is no bad thing, however, as it will be preferred by as many as not.

In my own experimentation with Mogami quad used as line level interconnects, I find the difference substantially more pronounced than evidenced here.

Oh, is that you doing the VO? Very nicely done!

Once again, thanks for comments and files.

Edit: if I had to listen to long portions-say a book or documentary- of this VO, I would prefer the VoVox! I suspect the quality of cables would be less important with lesser talent and lesser recording technique than you have here.


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James Lehmann



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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Jeraldo]
      #976210 - 16/03/12 03:04 PM
Yes. Don't forget that that the mics I used were Gefell M300 SDCs - very fine mics, but not what I would normally reach for when recording V/O (that would be SM7B or M930), but they're the only matched pair I have and that suited the needs of this particular test.

Despite what I stated earlier about planning to repeat the test with a mic splitter, I am still scratching my head as to how this would work because of course the mic needs to be connected to the splitter with a single cable before it can be split into two pre-amp feeds; this somewhat negates the point of pinpointing the cable variables, although IIRC Hugh has said that he's observed the VoVox effect simply by adding a length of it to another cable, which only serves to deepen the mystery!

I think the close-proximity matched pair of mics method like the one I used is probably the best realworld test of microphone cable effects outside of a laboratory - ideally one would provide a second set of tests with two identical cables as a control so folks could evaluate the differences between the mics themselves, and even the pre-amps. As I said, I did test all this for myself at the time and rapidly concluded that changing cables was having a far greater effect on the sound that either of the other variables, so I just posted those WAVs.

--------------------
I used to be a rocker, but now I've gone off it and just sit in one. (JL)

Edited by James Lehmann (16/03/12 03:11 PM)


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Jorge
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #976437 - 17/03/12 06:11 PM
This thread, 7 years after it began, has still not resolved the controversy of whether Vovox or usual high quality balanced cables sound better. The controversy will probably not be solved by physics or technical arguments alone. Most of us would agree that the laws of classical physics and the electronics and acoustical principles derived from those laws adequately describe and predict the audio phenomena we are observing. The difficulty is that many different, sometimes conflicting, principles can be invoked to explain an observed phenomenon, and changes in physical parameters do not necessarily correlate in a simple way with perceived changes in sound. The bottom line here is whether the audio engineers and the listening public with the most discerning ears can perceive a difference and whether there is a consistent and reproducible preference for one or the other. Being a believer in both science and reproducible subjective excellence at minimum cost, I don't see much role for gorgeous new audio equipment that incorporates some impressive sounding engineering innovation but performs no better and costs a fortune.

So I propose a publicly observable, transparent, objective randomized trial method to compare two products, say Cable 1 and Cable 2, in a controlled manner while addressing readers' perceptions of conflicts of interest and potential biases. This design is based on medical randomized clinical trials, which address some of the same problems we have here including subjective outcome measures, subtle differences, variability among judges, strong industry financial interests and potential for conflicts of interest among investigators.

1) Conduct a blinded experiment in which the participants do not know which cable is which. A third party not involved in any other aspect of the experiment prepares the cables so they are indistinguishable even to the person doing the switching, for example Cable 1 is Vovox and Cable 2 is Belden. This key code is hidden from all others involved in the experiment and the code is not broken until the end. For each trial, 2 scenarios, A then B, are compared. The switcher can choose any of 4 possible permutations:
Cable 1 as A and Cable 2 as B
Cable 1 as A and Cable 1 as B
Cable 2 as A and Cable 1 as B
Cable 2 as A and Cable 2 as B

2) For each trial, the switching person randomly (using a random numbers table) connects one of these 4 permutations and records which permutation was used in a database but does not otherwise participate in the experiment.

3) Invite "Golden Ears" listeners from various settings, independents, cable manufacturers, SOS staff and readers, etc. For each trial, have everyone choose and submit their preference, A or B or no perceived difference, as well as describing qualitatively what they perceive as the differences. Tell them that on average, in a randomized trial, half the A/B combinations will compare the same cable as both A and B.

4) Let everyone discuss, even argue, all they want about each trial and the entire experiment, WITHOUT BREAKING THE CODE.

5) A separate person, blinded to the code key, does the statistical analyses and hypothesis testing and tabulates the results in real time as the experiment progresses. Possible results are cable 1 is preferred to cable 2, cable 2 is preferred to cable 1, or neither is preferred to the other. He or she tells the switcher to stop once there is a consistent statistically significant difference or it becomes clear that the results are not converging to a difference. Appropriate statistical procedures for tests of difference or noninferiority are available, as are procedures to adjust p-values for repeated looks at the data. The statistical and experimental methods would make a nice AES paper, if this same idea has not already been published (I have not looked).

6) Everyone eats a large lunch with no alcohol and comes back satiated and happy. You can promise alcohol with dinner if anyone objects.

7) Show everyone the tabulated results in terms of Cable 1 and Cable 2 (but still not identified which is which). Repeat the discussion #4, still before breaking the code. Many participants may have their own biases, but no one will know which cable his or her bias favors. To the extent possible, try to get consensus on as many results as possible. When consensus cannot be achieved, characterize the differences qualitatively.

8) Only after discussion has concluded, break the code publicly so all can see.

9) Record the controversy that erupts after the code is broken and see if the conflicts of interest that then become apparent can explain some previously unsuspected bias in the results.

10) Publish your results in SOS. You could even post a set of .wav files for SOS readers to vote on A vs B vs same and see if your readers replicate the consensus results of the Golden Ears crew. Obviously, variability among readers in listening devices, ears, listening skills, etc will be large, but that is the real world and you can get data on what you expect will be the major variables.


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James Lehmann



Joined: 17/05/05
Posts: 2011
Loc: Europe
Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #976502 - 18/03/12 08:27 AM
Good post Jorge, and I'm sure we all agree some more rigorous tests (ie more than the very rudimentary one I've done here) would be very informative.

I think the key though is not to confuse establishing whether or not there is a difference between cables vs establishing which one a given individual might prefer.

For me, establishing that there is an identifiable difference between cables should come before trying to select a preference. Preferences are highly subjective - I like more LF, you like more HF, ad infinitum - which like anything in audio often just comes down to taste. I like apples, you like oranges. Preferences don't really prove anything in absolute terms other than being useful for statistical patterns and predictions.

I think it would be very worthwhile to first assemble more convincing evidence to support or refute the following (over-simplified) assertion: "changing cables changes the sound". There appear to be plenty of folks out there who (quite surprisingly) feel able to support or refute this without reference to any solid evidence at all, as well as those who are (quite reasonably) more cautious and remain on the fence in attendance of a wider body of evidence that would help them make up their mind either way. I'm probably still on the fence myself, albeit clearly leaning one way based on what limited evidence I have been able to assemble.

So it's a two stage process. First an A-B-X to establish differences, then an A/B to establish preferences.

A proper A-B-X listening test is useful mainly to establish whether or not people can repeatedly and blindly identify a random sample (X) as being file type A or B. The available responses are: X is an orange, X is an orange, X is an apple... etc. "I like apples" or "I don't like oranges" doesn't come into it! A-B-X can prove or not (well make statistically likely or not) that there are differences between the two files. I am very interested in the results of this.

After that a simple A/B is all that is required to express a preference and for this there is no right or wrong and really very little scope for 'argument' in the strictly logical sense; otherwise once again we end up with, "The apple I like is better than the orange you like", although of course internet Forums are full of exactly this kind of essentially futile discussion that we all get carried away with sometimes! I would be less interested in the results of this - it's already clear from the many replies to my threads that some folks prefer the Belden and some prefer the VoVox cable, just as in other threads some folks might prefer a GAP-73 while others prefer a Forssell or Gordon pre-amp.

--------------------
I used to be a rocker, but now I've gone off it and just sit in one. (JL)


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
SOS Technical Editor


Joined: 25/07/03
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #976553 - 18/03/12 02:00 PM
Quote James Lehmann:

I think it would be very worthwhile to first assemble more convincing evidence to support or refute the following (over-simplified) assertion: "changing cables changes the sound".




It's an utterly pointless exercise in my view. It is perfectly well understood that cables can change the sound if the interface design -- whether deliberate or through incompetence or cost-cutting -- permits that state of affairs.

No one will argue, for example, that different cable constructions can have a significant effect on the tone of electric guitars when playing through a guitar amplifier, and the primary reason is that the interface operates in a high impedance domain which readily exposes variations in cable capacitance and other parameters.

However, what I would argue is that if you can hear changes in sound quality when changing cables between line level equipment, then you are using poorly designed equipment. The interface should be designed such that any adequate cable of reasonable length should not interfere with the transmission of information in any detectable way.

If it does then something is fundamentally wrong with the design. So if you want to buy duff gear, and then spend a fortune trying to make it sound 'better' with exotic cables, carry on. I have no problem with that.... but I won't be doing the same thing, nor wasting my time with double blind experiments of the bleedin obvious!

However, I would point out that you can not 'test' a cable in isolation. The characteristics of the source and of the receiver MUST be closely defined and controlled since they too are essential elements of the entire interface.

Hugh



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Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


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alexis



Joined: 10/01/03
Posts: 1800
Loc: San Antonio, TX USA
Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #976559 - 18/03/12 02:54 PM
You all have thoroughly confused this newbie (as measured by total hours behind a DAW)!

After 5 years or more of reading (and SOS is my audio bible!), I had come to believe the Holy Grail of audio recording and monitoring equipment was accurate reproduction, with any effects to be added after the fact and totally at the discretion of the engineer. For example, SOS reviews of preamps will often have as a "Con" - some phrase like, "not the flattest/cleanest response, but the effect can be useful in certain circumstances". Similarly that's why, for example (I believed!), we don't use hi-fi speakers to mix with - dispassionate (and sometimes cruel) accurate sound reproduction is the goal, regardless of whether it sounds "better", or flatters the sound.

Now I read that some highly esteemed and respected (by me!) SOS-ers are saying they could see buying these cables because they "sound better".

How do I reconcile these two points of view? If (as an absurd example to try and make a point) a frequency analysis of the cable showed it magically added high frequency harmonics like an exciter, wouldn't that make it unsuitable for use, even though it "sounds better"? I thought "better" wasn't even a relevant concept when discussing recording equipment ... only "accurate" was ...

Thanks for sorting me out - my terra firma of basic audio recording goals and concepts seems a little shaky to me right now!

--------------------
Alexis -Cubase7.5.20 64bit;i5-4570 3.2GHz,16GB RAM;W7SP1 64bit on Samsung SSD840 Pro256GB;Seagte 1TB SATA600 Audio;UR28M;Motif8;UAD2Solo;Jamstix 3.3;BCF2K;TC Helicon VoiceOne;RevoicePro2.5


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ef37a



Joined: 29/05/06
Posts: 6772
Loc: northampton uk
Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #976564 - 18/03/12 03:22 PM
Agree absolutely Hugh.
Can I just point out tho' that it is the middling value (about 7-10k but VERY complex)of the source impedance of the guitar/lead/amp setup that is the root cause of the sound changes?

The high load impedance comes about more as an historical hangover from the days when all guitar amps were valved. Loads down to 200k or so tend to go unnoticed unless an A/B is done.

Just trying to keep the myths and misinformation to a minimum!

Dave.


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Jorge
member


Joined: 13/12/03
Posts: 376
Loc: New York, NY
Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #976575 - 18/03/12 04:27 PM
James and Alexis, I would think that in some cases the question of whether a change in cables produces a change in sound could be answered for a given hardware configuration by subtracting signals and looking at and listening to the difference signal. Only if the difference is not negligible relatively to the source signal should we even entertain the possibility of audible differences. What is "negligible", ie, how much and what kind of differences are too small to be audible to trained/untrained listeners? I don't know the psychoacoustics literature to answer that. Depending on the answer to that, you may be able to rule out audible differences by this sort of simple electronics method in some cases. More simply, from the perspective of faithful transmission of a source signal, if the difference signal between the original source signal and the signal after transmission over the cable being tested is negligible, the transmission is nearly exact. I agree with Alexis that this is a main goal for our cables.

Hugh, you are essentially saying that whether or not changing cables changes the signal/sound is dependent on how robust the hardware is to variability in cable parameters. This is a very important consideration for line level signals and I agree completely. With microphone cables, however, it seems to me that the output circuitry of different microphones is much more variable than that of line level devices, and the signals are orders of magnitude lower, resulting in lower S/N ratios than for line levels. Does your point carry over to microphone cables? In other words, do you think that the sound quality of high quality microphones should not vary audibly with changes in cables from normal studio quality cables to novel innovative cables?

Hugh your point about not testing a cable in isolation is key and shows that the simple test procedure I proposed is probably overly simplified and impractical, at least for microphones. It is easy to imagine significantly different results for different microphones, microphone / preamp combinations, or even different voices.


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
SOS Technical Editor


Joined: 25/07/03
Posts: 21733
Loc: Worcestershire
Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Jorge]
      #976604 - 18/03/12 05:58 PM
Quote Jorge:

I would think that in some cases the question of whether a change in cables produces a change in sound could be answered for a given hardware configuration by subtracting signals and looking at and listening to the difference signal.




Been there, done that. No significant difference in audio performance found. The only difference I've found consistently is the poor rejection of external interference.

Here are a couple of plots I've just done using an Audio Precision test set. I've plugged a Vovox XLR cable into channel one and a cheap Chinese ready-made XLR cable into channel two. Both are approximately 10m cables.

The AP only tests up to 80kHz, but there is a very subtle difference in the frequency response above 20kHz. I have expanded the scale enormously of this plot to +/-1dB extremes, with 0.1dB increments. The Chinese cable (purple plot) shows a fractional reduction in level, although we are talking about much less than 0.01dB which I really don't think is in any way significant or even humanly detectable as far as the audio quality is concerned. If the HF response continues significantly into the stratosphere it might have implications in terms of ultrasonic interference in susceptible receiving equipment.



I performed a range of other tests, all with insignificant differences. For example, the signal-noise ratio measured 116.535dB in the Vovox cable and a better (but insignificantly so) 116.924dB for the cheap Chinese cable.

However, the one test that did provide dramatic differences was an examination of the averaged frequency spectrum with no signal present:



The Vovox cable is the brown trace and the cheap Chinese cable is the purple trace. As you can see the Vovox cable has much worse interference from induced mains hum -- over 20dB worse at 50Hz -- and with a lot of strong higher harmonics extending up to 2kHz that are absent from the Chinese cable. And this is with the two cables deliberately looped next to each other and as far away from the mains wiring of my test bench to minimse EM induction.

I think it is entirely possible that some if not all the perceived differences are due to this kind of interference, either through its directly audible contribution, or through its influence on the receiving circuitry. Bear in mind this spectrum plot doesn't reveal the state of RF interference which may also be significant.

Quote:

With microphone cables, however, it seems to me that the output circuitry of different microphones is much more variable than that of line level devices, and the signals are orders of magnitude lower, resulting in lower S/N ratios than for line levels. Does your point carry over to microphone cables?




Yes. There isn't that much difference between mic outputs, really. Some use transformers, most use electronic output stages and of those, some drive the line differentially and some single-sided in impedance-balanced configurations. But they all have source impedances of around 150 ohms and feed receovers in the order of 1500-2400 ohms. It's not a difficult interface to design.

However, we pick and choose mics for their specific sound characters and increasingly we are being encouraged to change the mic preamp input impedance specifically to change the sound of the mic... so why not change it with a 'characterful cable' as well?

Quote:

In other words, do you think that the sound quality of high quality microphones should not vary audibly with changes in cables from normal studio quality cables to novel innovative cables?




As with mic preamp impedances, some mics -- especially those with output transformers -- do suffer from audible changes in character. Most transformerless designs either don't at all, or are far less variable.

hugh

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Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


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ef37a



Joined: 29/05/06
Posts: 6772
Loc: northampton uk
Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: alexis]
      #976610 - 18/03/12 06:38 PM
Alexis, If I catch your drift you are confused about "high fidelity" and accuracy and recording?

A hi-fi system should indeed reproduce the signal it is fed without adding or subtracting from the original. Put another way, an output signal, attenuated to exactly the same voltage as the input should be indistiguishable from said input in distortion, noise, F response or sound and decent power amplifiers at least have been able to do this for several decades.

Loudspeakers are still a problem, put two top end jobs side by side and they will sound different (so one or both must be "wrong"!)Same goes for microphones.
In the recording arena take the simple (!) task of recording an acoustic jazz trio with a co-i pair. Received wisdom is to find a spot in the room that sounds best and plonk the mics there. But who decides where is best?

Dave.


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Jorge
member


Joined: 13/12/03
Posts: 376
Loc: New York, NY
Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #976617 - 18/03/12 07:03 PM
Wow, Hugh. That was an impressively clear and thorough response!
Your noise finding is not entirely surprising. It seems to me that a 3 conductor twisted cable should inherently have less complete common mode rejection than a 2 conductor twisted pair cable, based on the less symmetrical geometry of the hot and cold helical balanced signal conductors when a 3rd conductor (ground) is twisted in with the other 2.
I can't read the vertical scale on the noise plot.


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alexis



Joined: 10/01/03
Posts: 1800
Loc: San Antonio, TX USA
Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: ef37a]
      #976627 - 18/03/12 07:48 PM
Quote ef37a:

Alexis, If I catch your drift you are confused about "high fidelity" and accuracy and recording?

A hi-fi system should indeed reproduce the signal it is fed without adding or subtracting from the original. Put another way, an output signal, attenuated to exactly the same voltage as the input should be indistiguishable from said input in distortion, noise, F response or sound ...

Dave.




Thanks for that, Dave! What was confusing me is that I thought it would be anathema to choose a cable because it sounds "better", without at least confirming that it doesn't "corrupt" the input signal ("distort"? ... sorry for the probable incorrect verbage).

I guess what Hugh has shown in his 1st graph is that, except for what he suggests is likely insignificant handling of the highest frequencies, it doesn't distort the input signal, at least relative to the Chinese cable.

Regarding his second graph, I'm not sure how there can be such a large difference in output between the cables when no signal is present - but still have the results plotted in his 1st graph ... unless maybe the scale in the 2nd graph is an order of magnitude or more expanded/more sensitive than the 1st?

So, Hugh's testing suggests there is negligible difference in frequency response between the two cables when presented with a signal, but nevertheless he and others "hear" an "improvement" using the Vovox.

I'm not sure how that would work ... would that mean there is another quantifiable parameter, as yet untested in the comparison between the two cables, that affects what we hear (I assume any difference in voltage at the end of the cables is adjusted, so that the differences in "loudness" are eliminated as a variable in comparing how they sound)? Or is it possible that even a miniscule amount of additional distortion in the Vovox cable from mains hum interference (Hugh's 2nd graph), when added to signal, acts as some sort of acoustic enhancer that subjectively makes it sound better? I assume these possibilities, or others involving repeatable measurements, are more likely than one that the Vovox simply sounds "better", but for a reason that cannot be measured ...

Hugh - did you say in an earlier post that you heard the improvement using the Vovox cable in some locations but not others? Did you generate your graphs in a location where the same Vovox cable sounded significantly different/better than the Chinese one?

Finally - if someone made an unshielded cable from scratch and A/B/C'd it with the Vovox and the Chinese cable, would a blinded test show the Vovox and home-made unshielded cable sound similarly "better" than the shielded Chinese cable? In other words, could the difference in how it sounds just come down to a difference in shielding?

And really finally now - why the emphasis on the country of origin on the shielded, non-Vovox cable in Hugh's post?




I'm sorry if I'm asking questions that have been answered already. I did read all the above posts, but much of it was over my head, and I think it's not at all unlikely that I missed the answers to my questions up there - apologies ahead of time!

Thank you!

--------------------
Alexis -Cubase7.5.20 64bit;i5-4570 3.2GHz,16GB RAM;W7SP1 64bit on Samsung SSD840 Pro256GB;Seagte 1TB SATA600 Audio;UR28M;Motif8;UAD2Solo;Jamstix 3.3;BCF2K;TC Helicon VoiceOne;RevoicePro2.5


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
SOS Technical Editor


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Posts: 21733
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: alexis]
      #976646 - 18/03/12 09:14 PM
The freq response plot was measured with a test signal at 0dBu. I also ran tests at -40 and -60dBu to replicate mic leve signals, but there was no difference... So it's not a level dependent change.

The spectrum plot was taken with no input signal, but the cable still properly terminated and the residual noise floor shown is around -160dBu, which I presume to be the AP noise floor. The electromagnetic interference from local mains wiring peaks to around -130dBu for the Vovox cable. Sorry you can't read the scale; the image zooming function seems to be broken!

I ran a variety of distortion and intermodulation tests, at a variety of levels, none of which revealed any significant difference between the Vovox and Chinese cable performance.

As I have said, I have heard differences in various Vovox demonstrations, but I'm not sure I'd say it was a definite improvement... Just different. Moreover, I've never been able to repeat the differences reliably on my own equipment.

I didn't mean to emphasise the origin of the comparative cable specifically. The point was that I was comparing the expensive special Vovox cable with a very cheap mass produced cable using ordinary unpretentious wire. It was something that I had lying around which happened to be the same length as the Vovox.

Vovox claim the sonic benefits of their design are due to a combination of the very non-standard construction, the shielding (or lack of it) and the insulation materials and conductive cores used.

I did once make a comparison cable using single core screened wires twisted together and observed the same poor interference rejection properties, so I think it's fair to say that most of that aspect is down to the specific construction.

Hugh

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alexis



Joined: 10/01/03
Posts: 1800
Loc: San Antonio, TX USA
Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #976661 - 18/03/12 10:52 PM
Thank you, Hugh! I'm sorry I said you had posted it sounded "better" instead of "different" - I got you mixed up with someone else way up in the thread!

And thank you immensely for the detailed response. It helps me understand these ideas and concepts so much better. At this point, I'm kind of wondering if Vovox is charging premium prices for essentially eliminating shielding from their cables?!

I believe I have some residual questions from your plots and testing, and your kind response. Hopefully they'll make sense to me as I think about this more, but if you or someone else wanted to spend even more time on this and give some further insight, I'd of course be grateful for that as well!

1) Hugh concluded that it wasn't a level-dependent change because the test signals were at various dBu. What I was wondering is if whether the difference in construction between Vovox and other cables would result in a different/perhaps higher signal level being outputted from the Vovox cable (for a given equal input), and thus sound louder (and possibly better?). Has anyone measured how much signal is lost from traversing a Vovox cable vs. other?

2) Hugh, you mentioned you'd never been able to reliable hear a difference on your own system, just other systems. I wonder if the comprehensive testing you did (and showed above) would have had different (and less equal) results if they were done on a system that the Vovox cable sounded "different" on?
3) Finally, and this is probably a silly thought (so I stand ready to receive ) - if one wanted to determine whether the Vovox cable's greater interference induced from the mains hum (low in amplitude though it may be) could be responsible for the audible differences between the cables - could the Figure 2 cable signals be mathematically "differenced", the resulting plot used to generate a "differenced" signal from some sort of generator, which could then be "added" to the non-Vovox cable ... all to see if the resulting sound made the normal cable sound more "Vovox-like"?

Thanks again, Hugh and everyone else!

--------------------
Alexis -Cubase7.5.20 64bit;i5-4570 3.2GHz,16GB RAM;W7SP1 64bit on Samsung SSD840 Pro256GB;Seagte 1TB SATA600 Audio;UR28M;Motif8;UAD2Solo;Jamstix 3.3;BCF2K;TC Helicon VoiceOne;RevoicePro2.5


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: alexis]
      #976711 - 19/03/12 09:47 AM
Quote alexis:

At this point, I'm kind of wondering if Vovox is charging premium prices for essentially eliminating shielding from their cables?!




To be fair, the man behind Vovox is a very intelligent scientist and is very earnest about the sonic advantages he believes his cable designs offer. He is aware of the interference issues, but believes the arrangement gains more than it loses... My view is different and others can decide for themselves.

1) What I was wondering is if whether the difference in construction between Vovox and other cables would result in a different/perhaps higher signal level being outputted from the Vovox cable (for a given equal input), and thus sound louder (and possibly better?). Has anyone measured how much signal is lost from traversing a Vovox cable vs. other?




There is no significant loss and cables can't make an audio signal louder. The frequency response plot above reveals clearly that when a 0dBu signal is fed in to one end, it comes out the other end at the same level for all audio frequencies, and is no different in loss from the cheap cable I used for comparison on the second channel of the AP test set.

Quote:

2) Hugh, you mentioned you'd never been able to reliable hear a difference on your own system, just other systems.




Yes, in organised demonstrations, both private and public.

Quote:

I wonder if the comprehensive testing you did (and showed above) would have had different (and less equal) results if they were done on a system that the Vovox cable sounded "different" on?




I inserted the cable into a signal path around an AP test set. That was then 'the system' and revealed no significant measurable changes. I suppose it would be possible to test a demonstration system, but that's not practical here and now.

Quote:

3) ...could the Figure 2 cable signals be mathematically "differenced", the resulting plot used to generate a "differenced" signal from some sort of generator, which could then be "added" to the non-Vovox cable ... all to see if the resulting sound made the normal cable sound more "Vovox-like"?




Yes in theory, but very difficult to do in practice because the EM interference varies with proximity to the cable amongst other things and you'd have to match the phasing precisely, which would be difficult.. It would be easier to run the cable through some form of external mumetal shielding.. but that would be impractical and hugely expensive... and it could probably be argued that the proximity of other metals might equally affect the sound...

hugh

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Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


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alexis



Joined: 10/01/03
Posts: 1800
Loc: San Antonio, TX USA
Re: Just tested a Vovox Microphone cable - be prepared for a surprise! new [Re: James Lehmann]
      #976958 - 20/03/12 03:09 AM
Thank you, Hugh! I'm very grateful for your taking time to help understand this. As an ex-engineer (though not in the sound/music field), I'm so intrigued why some property of the Vovox would make it sound "different", but isn't able to be quantified/graphed, etc. Sounds like the answer will have to wait for another day!

Thanks again -

--------------------
Alexis -Cubase7.5.20 64bit;i5-4570 3.2GHz,16GB RAM;W7SP1 64bit on Samsung SSD840 Pro256GB;Seagte 1TB SATA600 Audio;UR28M;Motif8;UAD2Solo;Jamstix 3.3;BCF2K;TC Helicon VoiceOne;RevoicePro2.5


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