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Different cables for Headphones - is there a benefit?
Cavaille
post Jul 16 2009, 13:51
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Guys, I have a question. I know that many people that came over from HeadFi-forum are here - so one of you may know the answer.

Im a person who listens most of the time to music via headphones. Ive owned many, many (crappy) headphones over the year but the HD-600 I own now has cables that can be replaced. Ive read on other forums that it would give a sonical improvement if Id replace my current standard headphone cable with a "better" one. Is there any truth to that at all?

For years now I have asked myself this question and once in a while I have a look at eBay just to do a bit of a search. But from being here quite a while I have some doubts. Would there be a benefit if Id replace the cable? Or is it sort of the same discussion as with different RCA cables? Are there any DBTs out there?

To the mods: I hope I placed my question in the right forum - if not, Im very sorry. In the latter case Id be very thankful if you could do the extra work of moving this question where it belongs.


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Silversight
post Jul 16 2009, 14:09
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I highly doubt there would be a benefit in replacing a cable, provided of course it is not damaged. It is in fact even less a discussion than with speaker cables, as you usually don't have a headphone cable of the same length as speaker cables, and due to inevitably leading to your head, the headphone cables probably won't lie in line with power cables.
Considering the higher amount of movement involved in headphone listening, you might want to pay a little attention to the connectors, but that's really a minor issue.


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Cavaille
post Jul 16 2009, 14:17
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QUOTE (Silversight @ Jul 16 2009, 15:09) *
I highly doubt there would be a benefit in replacing a cable, provided of course it is not damaged. It is in fact even less a discussion than with speaker cables, as you usually don't have a headphone cable of the same length as speaker cables, and due to inevitably leading to your head, the headphone cables probably won't lie in line with power cables.
Thank you very much for the quick answer. The cable is still good as new. Even after four years of usage... and it is a thin cable, can be broken easily I assume. The headphone cushions are starting to dissolve but that doesnt affect the cable. Is there a problem with cables lying in line with power cables?
QUOTE (Silversight @ Jul 16 2009, 15:09) *
Considering the higher amount of movement involved in headphone listening, you might want to pay a little attention to the connectors, but that's really a minor issue.
Hm... good point. A heavier cable also would put stress on the connectors...


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pdq
post Jul 16 2009, 15:26
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QUOTE (Cavaille @ Jul 16 2009, 09:17) *
Is there a problem with cables lying in line with power cables?

Running high impedance signal cables near and parallel to power lines can result in picking up some hum and noise. Headphone cables do not fall into the catagory of high impedance, and speaker cables certainly do not.
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odigg
post Jul 16 2009, 15:28
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QUOTE (Cavaille @ Jul 16 2009, 08:51) *
Im a person who listens most of the time to music via headphones. Ive owned many, many (crappy) headphones over the year but the HD-600 I own now has cables that can be replaced. Ive read on other forums that it would give a sonical improvement if Id replace my current standard headphone cable with a "better" one. Is there any truth to that at all?


I'm here from Head-Fi. I'll give you my take on this. I should state that I've never been a cable "believer" so my opinions may be tainted in this matter.

At various meets (large and just in a house) I'vee tried a variety of cables. The HD600 and HD650, in particular, supposedly benefit from cables to "open up the high end" and "remove the veil." I spent some time evaluating the stock cable and two other well reviewed cables for the HD600 and HD650. I would have like to have performed a blind test but it wasn't practical. Did I hear differences? I'd be lying if I said no. But the problem is that differences weren't consistent at all. One cable supposedly made one sonic difference and the other cable a different sonic difference, but I heard different things everytime I switched cables. Thus I concluded the differences were imagined since sonic differences should be consistent (like when I try two different headphones). Many of these differences are more *logically* attributed to just the different positions of headphones on my head when I swapped cables.

Finally, a *logical* answer to this. I've done a lot of volume matched testing between amps and DACs. With occasional exception (e.g. an amp with some bass rolloff), I can never tell a difference between amps. Same with DACS. If a complex device like an amp or a DAC makes no audible difference to me, I cannot believe a passive device (cables) can make an audible difference.

Some of these expensive cables are also extremely heavy. This can make the headphone experience a pain.

Finally, a number of cable "believers" fail blind tests. So they are biased to support audible differences and still they cannot hear them reliably.

With the rather astronomical cost of some of these cables, I'd probably just by a new pair of headphones! I know there will be an audible difference then!
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Cavaille
post Jul 16 2009, 16:37
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QUOTE (pdq @ Jul 16 2009, 16:26) *
QUOTE (Cavaille @ Jul 16 2009, 09:17) *
Is there a problem with cables lying in line with power cables?

Running high impedance signal cables near and parallel to power lines can result in picking up some hum and noise. Headphone cables do not fall into the catagory of high impedance, and speaker cables certainly do not.
Oh, thank you. Ive just looked: I seem to be lucky. No cables is running parallel to power cables. Thanks!

QUOTE (odigg @ Jul 16 2009, 16:28) *
At various meets (large and just in a house) I'vee tried a variety of cables. The HD600 and HD650, in particular, supposedly benefit from cables to "open up the high end" and "remove the veil." I spent some time evaluating the stock cable and two other well reviewed cables for the HD600 and HD650. I would have like to have performed a blind test but it wasn't practical.
The "veil"? blink.gif With the HD 600? First time I hear about this. It never occured to me that someone could describe the "big" Sennheisers as not having enough "high end". Thank you, I always like to learn new things...

QUOTE (odigg @ Jul 16 2009, 16:28) *
I'd be lying if I said no. But the problem is that differences weren't consistent at all. One cable supposedly made one sonic difference and the other cable a different sonic difference, but I heard different things everytime I switched cables. Thus I concluded the differences were imagined since sonic differences should be consistent (like when I try two different headphones). Many of these differences are more *logically* attributed to just the different positions of headphones on my head when I swapped cables.
Thank you. That was what I wanted to know.

QUOTE (odigg @ Jul 16 2009, 16:28) *
Finally, a *logical* answer to this. I've done a lot of volume matched testing between amps and DACs. With occasional exception (e.g. an amp with some bass rolloff), I can never tell a difference between amps. Same with DACS. If a complex device like an amp or a DAC makes no audible difference to me, I cannot believe a passive device (cables) can make an audible difference.
I have a hard time telling differences between my external interface and the headphone amp connected to that interface myself.

QUOTE (odigg @ Jul 16 2009, 16:28) *
With the rather astronomical cost of some of these cables, I'd probably just by a new pair of headphones! I know there will be an audible difference then!
That is right. But forgive me if I dont buy a new headphone laugh.gif the HD-650 or the HD-800 are rather expensive. And for the most parts Im so very happy with my HD-600 and I wouldnt dare to replace it with another headphone... although... sometimes I dream about an additional headphone from Denon. According to tests they are good & they have closed earcups - that way I wouldnt disturb my partner anymore. wink.gif

Having now all the answers I needed I just decided not to buy a new headphone cable. beer.gif


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odigg
post Jul 16 2009, 16:56
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QUOTE (Cavaille @ Jul 16 2009, 11:37) *
And for the most parts Im so very happy with my HD-600 and I wouldnt dare to replace it with another headphone... although... sometimes I dream about an additional headphone from Denon. According to tests they are good & they have closed earcups - that way I wouldnt disturb my partner anymore. wink.gif


I've got two (D5K and D7K) of the famous Denons. They are my favorite headphones, but they are a little "hi-fi" with their EQ in terms of having a obviously north of neural bass quantity and impact. They are also semi-open and so a number of people have found they leak too much sound for their use. They are certainly quieter than the HD600, but definitely not as quiet as the Sony V6/7506 or other fully closed headphones.

My spouse doesn't mind the Denons (although she does mind me ignoring her as I listen to them) as she does not hear any sound leakage. But I'm a low volume listener. I used to sit next to her with the HD600 and she had no complaints smile.gif

And just to keep this on topic, the Denons have a great cable. All those noisy electrons love that thick, shielded cable, and the cable is strong enough to strangle somebody, which your spouse might do when she finds out the price of the D5K and D7K.

This post has been edited by odigg: Jul 16 2009, 16:57
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Cavaille
post Jul 16 2009, 19:39
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QUOTE (odigg @ Jul 16 2009, 17:56) *
I've got two (D5K and D7K) of the famous Denons. They are my favorite headphones, but they are a little "hi-fi" with their EQ in terms of having a obviously north of neural bass quantity and impact. They are also semi-open and so a number of people have found they leak too much sound for their use. They are certainly quieter than the HD600, but definitely not as quiet as the Sony V6/7506 or other fully closed headphones.
Erm... those headphones are very expensive. I thought about the D1001...

QUOTE (odigg @ Jul 16 2009, 17:56) *
My spouse doesn't mind the Denons (although she does mind me ignoring her as I listen to them) as she does not hear any sound leakage. But I'm a low volume listener. I used to sit next to her with the HD600 and she had no complaints smile.gif
Oh, my boyfriend does mind. Im listening a lot to classical, organ and filmmusic (sometimes there you have... modern music like musique concrete, atonal music, dissonances) and since this music is completely incompatible to the stuff he hears it must be very ennerving for him to listen to it. laugh.gif

QUOTE (odigg @ Jul 16 2009, 17:56) *
And just to keep this on topic, the Denons have a great cable. All those noisy electrons love that thick, shielded cable, and the cable is strong enough to strangle somebody, which your spouse might do when she finds out the price of the D5K and D7K.
Denon cable? Wait... arent they the ones who sell this 500,- Euro network cable? wink.gif - just kidding. It certainly would be nice to finally have a sturdy cable and not this... bell wire from Sennheiser.


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