Audiophile Cable Synergy: Real or Snake Oil?

Is Cable Synergy Real?

  • Yes. Cables make or break the sound of a system.

    Votes: 3 7.7%
  • No. Cable Synergy is snake oil.

    Votes: 36 92.3%
  • I go wireless, no cables.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    39
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
PS Audio recently announced a partnership with Audioquest cables citing their products have a "synergy" together. Paul McGowan and his son Scott claim to have done countless listening tests to find the best cables for EACH of their products.

Here is the letter they sent out in their newsletter to this effect:
One of the most common questions we get at PS Audio is, what cables should I buy? For years we've recommended one of our favorites, AudioQuest. Inevitably, the next question was, well, which AudioQuest cable? And we didn't have a good answer. So, I teamed up with Darren Myers and my dad, Paul, and we spent the last six months hand-curating a select series of AQ cables that sound best with each PS Audio component. The differences we heard were remarkable. And now, we can confidently tell you which cable is the perfect match.

We were so excited about the pairings that we decided to partner with AudioQuest and offer this curated collection directly for sale from PS Audio. You can read more about our collaboration with AudioQuest, and watch a little video we made, here www.psaudio.com/connections

If you'd like to know which cables are the perfect match to your PS gear, let me know. I'd love to help.

All my best,

Scott
synergy-thumb.jpg


We explore this topic using logic to see if it really makes sense. I included a dialogue with PS Audio's consent via a recent email exchange we've had and I've even invited Paul McGowan to come on our channel to discuss further but he politely declined.

Don't forget to vote in our poll.

Read: Is Audio Cable Synergy Real or Snake Oil?
 
S

Speedskater

Audioholic Chief
Four exceptions:
1] cables that have attached black box EQ networks
2] phono cartridge to pre-amp cables
3] microphone and musical instruments
4] poorly designed or chosen cables
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
I had a set of AV cables (the cheap molded kind with a Red, White and Yellow plug on each end) connected to my VCR and when I bought my first DVD player, I used them because my VCR was being serviced and my stereo integrated amp doesn't have digital inputs of any kind. My disappointment was immediate and severe- I almost asked if I could return it because conventional thinking was that cables really didn't matter but being the inquisitive type, I decided to connect it with the cables I had made for my CD player, from cable and plugs from SoundQuest. I had been working in 12V audio when I made them and it was the brand I used in my shop, mainly because they were fairly priced, easy to solder, well shielded and durable. Yuge difference! Night and day! No such difference had ever been heard before. No, seriously, the sound from the cheap ones was terrible, so I returned all of the others I had bought because I wasn't going to sell them to anyone if they were so bad.

I wasn't convinced that most cables are better, but I definitely decided that some are worse.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
Four exceptions:
1] cables that have attached black box EQ networks
2] phono cartridge to pre-amp cables
3] microphone and musical instruments
4] poorly designed or chosen cables
I bought a six foot pair of Ixos cables with XLR ends for a system I was installing and when they arrived, I was pissed! No-name XLR ends, translucent white braided mesh covering the black, white and green wires in a box that must have cost more than the cables. I connected them and they sounded no better than the Audio Technica mic cables that I had used as a temporary measure while the Ixos were being shipped.

I would bet that most decent twisted pair, shielded cables with reasonably priced ends will sound the same. I tend to use Neutrik, but have also used Switchcraft and Amphenol with Belden or Canare wire but unless the signal is coming from something like a phono cartridge and can affect the response via differences in capacitance and length, I'm not buying silver wire in a transparent tube at the low, low price of $30/foot.

In personal experience with instrument cables after playing electric for over 45 years and having worked at a music store, coiled cords are known for having a warmer sound but that's probably due to the damage done in coiling them- I don't know and I don't care because I always hated coiled cables. Cheap jumpers for effects are worth every penny, especially the ones that are sold in a bag of five for $5. Anything with a molded right angle plug will fail, usually the first time it's yanked. That said, I replaced my cheap jumpers with Planet Waves cable and plugs, then made a 10' cable with their plugs for my guitar- drastic difference in the high frequency content and it was due to the quality of the cable, not some magic, potion, curse or anything else. The cheap cables just suck.
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Spartan
Wow. My skin crawled and my blood boiled. Not surprised he declined your offer of debate. In my heart I believe that these guys know they’re full of sh........shnake oil. He seems like a nice enough guy, but possibly a pied piper for people with more money than sense(common not hearing lol).
It’s really sad actually, and I believe your statement about leaving room in the shopping cart was spot on.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
The synergy between these two snake oil companies is the synergy of sales and marketing bullshit!
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Ninja
The sound of synergy sounds more like “what’s the margin on that?,” to me.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Must have been exhausting what with all those listening sessions with all the variety and quantity of snake oil cabling to try in all those possible synergistic combinations. LOL.
 
O

Otto Pylot

Audioholic Intern
The floor in here is getting very slippery with all of this snake oil.
 
S

Soldierblue211

Audiophyte
Four exceptions:
1] cables that have attached black box EQ networks
2] phono cartridge to pre-amp cables
3] microphone and musical instruments
4] poorly designed or chosen cables
I'd like to add hdmi at different lengths and specs having recently gone through some issues recently.
 
O

Otto Pylot

Audioholic Intern
I'd like to add hdmi at different lengths and specs having recently gone through some issues recently.
Yep. I just stick to the basics. Up to 25', a Premium High Speed HDMI cable (QR label for authenticity) works just fine for all things 4k HDR. Over 25', a hybrid fiber cable (Ruipro4k for example).
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Yep. I just stick to the basics. Up to 25', a Premium High Speed HDMI cable (QR label for authenticity) works just fine for all things 4k HDR. Over 25', a hybrid fiber cable (Ruipro4k for example).
But where's the SYNERGY? :)
 
S

Soldierblue211

Audiophyte
Maybe when the Covid-19 stuff lifts, Gene would you do a trip to PSaudio or invite to a public forum for demonstration. Not a debate, a demonstration of what they know to be true! Arrange a 2 for one listening session. Have AQ bring power and speaker cables for some blind testing lessons to school/educate you and or others on the benefits of their techniques. If their claims can not be proven with evidence from established testing equipment... wouldn't a demonstration of the claim using a scientific methodology be the next logical step. We're not discussing Fermat's last theorem here, this should be something easily demonstrated repeatedly. They would also need to establish a base line to demonstrate the improvement and have other cables to add variables to the equation. And to ensure the validity of the listener's ears... portable hearing test on site. Ensures that each listener can actually hear what they say they can hear. Would love to hear an opinion piece after that visit. Just a thought...
I forgot... actual present day testing equipment on hand to test each cable to demonstrate each cables provable qualities.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
I'd like to add hdmi at different lengths and specs having recently gone through some issues recently.
HDMI cable differences aren't about performance quality WRT minute differences making sound or video better in ways that are described in ways that cause people to say "Wait, what?", they're about meeting the spec and actually working. There's damn near nothing that an HDMI will or can do to make the audio or video better and there has been nothing printed that makes any engineering sense about using batteries on cables- AQ doesn't use an active shield, it's not even a full circuit.

4K resolution, 60 frames/second, 4/4/4 subsampling, HDR, wide color gamut and other aspects make long distance transmission very difficult over more than about 30 feet with Copper wire.

The things that can make longer runs possible right now:

Verify the resolution and other video characteristics that your source material produce and compare them with what your equipment is capable of. If you have a source that can produce higher resolution than your AVR or display (TV or projector), you'll need to set the source to the limits of the AVR or display.

Find the highest resolution that looks good enough within the limits of the equipment- in other words, don't try to make it do something it can't.

HDMI is very similar to the old saying "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It sounds bad and annoys the pig".
 
Out-Of-Phase

Out-Of-Phase

Audioholic General
Synergy - the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions.

Years ago, I owned a separate power amp that was wired internally with 'Straightwire' brand wire. The amplifier manufacturer claimed there were sonic benefits. This was proven (they claimed) through many subjective listening evaluations versus 'regular' wire.

Audiophile Synergy. :rolleyes:
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
I've even invited Paul McGowan to come on our channel to discuss further but he politely declined.
That's not surprising. I've heard him call non cable believers a bunch of "clucking chickens" who have no clue. He's refused to discuss this before.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
Maybe when the Covid-19 stuff lifts, Gene would you do a trip to PSaudio or invite to a public forum for demonstration. Not a debate, a demonstration of what they know to be true! Arrange a 2 for one listening session. Have AQ bring power and speaker cables for some blind testing lessons to school/educate you and or others on the benefits of their techniques. If their claims can not be proven with evidence from established testing equipment... wouldn't a demonstration of the claim using a scientific methodology be the next logical step. We're not discussing Fermat's last theorem here, this should be something easily demonstrated repeatedly. They would also need to establish a base line to demonstrate the improvement and have other cables to add variables to the equation. And to ensure the validity of the listener's ears... portable hearing test on site. Ensures that each listener can actually hear what they say they can hear. Would love to hear an opinion piece after that visit. Just a thought...
I forgot... actual present day testing equipment on hand to test each cable to demonstrate each cables provable qualities.
Paul will refuse, but still maintain cables make a difference then call you a clucking chicken.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
Synergy - the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions.

Years ago, I owned a separate power amp that was wired internally with 'Straightwire' brand wire. The amplifier manufacturer claimed there were sonic benefits. This was proven (they claimed) through many subjective listening evaluations versus 'regular' wire.

Audiophile Synergy. :rolleyes:
Ever hear of Synergistic Research?

 

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