Don't sully your TOSLINK with carpet fluff

Apropos of this, I was just looking through the review-site article announcements that constantly pitter-pat into my Dan's Data mailbox (I only do announcements via RSS these days, but plenty of sites still have a mailing list as well).

And lo, I found an announcement for a piece called "Do Expensive Home Audio/Video Cables Matter?", from Digital Trends.

Apparently - imagine my surprise - some guy who sells hi-fi gear says that customers should buy the more expensive cables!

Oh, and you should keep all of your cables "at least four inches off the floor" - there's a picture of a shiny little cable stand - for some reason.

The reason is not explained. Neither is anything else. Usually articles like this can summon up some BS about the skin effect or jitter or something - for cable stands, I think it's usually something about the dielectric constant of your carpet. Sometimes you get something quite impressively deranged.

But this article doesn't bother.

(Cable stands are, by the way, one of the things mentioned on that I Like Jam audiophile page I linked to the other day. Apparently it's now common knowledge among a certain class of audiophile that badness can leak from the floor into any cable, including optical cables and power cables. I'm not sure whether this is still a problem if you don't live on the ground floor of a building.)

Digital and analogue? What's the difference? Spend big bucks - and whatever you do, keep those wires off the carpet!

Even if you don't have a single analogue interconnect except for your speaker cables, Digital Trends are here to tell you, on behalf of that guy who sells hi-fi gear, that if you're not spending "20 percent of the entire worth of your system on cable and wire", you're doing it wrong.

(Fortunately, it was quite easy for me to unsubscribe from the Digital Trends mailing list.)

11 Responses to “Don't sully your TOSLINK with carpet fluff”

  1. Red October Says:

    As a clerk in an electronics store I can say that at least amongst some people a misconception can have a lot of sway. Twin-lead antenna cable, scarcely used these days since coax is roundly superior, has to be suspended a few inches off the surface it runs along, and twisted alongst its run. Most people weren't aware of this and stapled it flat (and then painted over it in some cases!). The other day I had a gentleman asking if he needed to put his new coax antenna lead in standoffs. I explained he did not. No idea if that's where it comes from, but I suppose some idiot could think that if keeping an unshielded antenna lead away from a surface was good, it must be good for all cables...

  2. Major Malfunction Says:

    I wouldn't be so dismissive.

    Cable stands would be just the ticket if you were a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle living in a sewer and had a desperate requirement to raise your cables above the inch-thick ubiquitous sludge and rabid-crazy cable-gnawing mutant rats.


  3. Bern Says:

    Speaking of ludicrously priced cables, I was in the local JB Hi-Fi this morning, and was astounded to see HDMI leads for $300 (I don't know if it was a 'premium' brand, as I'd never heard of it, but I assume so). The thing that really shocked me, though, was that they had 0.9m Belkin HDMI cables for $99. Yup, more than $100 a metre for the next best thing to el-cheapo generic cables!

    If'n I ever buy something that needs to be connected with HDMI, I think I'll hit up eBay or something...

  4. Erik T Says:

    Unfortunately, after unsubscribing to this clown's mailing list, you then give him a few dozen/thousand extra hits so we can all see his crazy firsthand.

    I don't see a solution to this conundrum.

  5. FuzzyPlushroom Says:

    Hahaha! I saw this from another site and immediately thought of you, Dan. Now I check your blog and you've found, and lambasted, it already. Good man.

  6. swalve Says:

    I think it's cargo-cult / magical thinking.

  7. Keris Says:

    Well, about the only use I can ever see for cable stands is to keep the cables organized and out of the way of getting crushed by furniture. I will not pay $150+ for this; a re-purposed plastic "space saver" closet hanger did the job for me. Now the bazillion cables running from this to that are organized and out of [very unlikely] harm's way. I think it cost me $20 for the whole job (four hangers and some weighted feet to bolt onto them).

  8. Chazzozz Says:

    Heck, if you're not worried about how they look then there's no need to spend money at all. Just visit any construction site where they're pouring concrete slabs and you'll see all sorts of reinforcement bar positioners that've been discarded. You may need to fossick through the rubbish pile a bit, but I think that'd be the worst of it. You could even hit 'em with a lick 'o paint if you want them to scrub up a bit.

    I agree that they may serve a useful purpose for keeping cables away from hungry furniture feet or reducing the Cable Clutter™ that seems to crop up everywhere.

  9. MQ Says:

    Actually, at least in my case, I think 20% for cable is about right. I bought a $US440 Onkyo 7.1 channel home theatre system and I am pretty sure I spent over $80 on cable by the time I ran all that wire up the walls, across the ceiling and back down again. And that was just plain 14 gauge WalMart speaker wire.

  10. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Holy crap, man! Do you know what that much oxygenated copper will do to your system's transparency, immediacy, musicality and hoist if your floor and wall heights aren't in the golden ratio?

    Don't panic, though.

    As long as you only listen when you're sitting in a La-Z-Boy carved out of low-radioactivity granite by an uncircumcised Belgian and you align your earlobes (NOT your whole ears!!) with the earth's axis of rotation (not magnetic North, obviously, except for when you're listening to a medium-density pressing of Jazz At The Pawnshop), and if you breathe no more than once every 2.7183 sidereal seconds, you'll probably be OK.

    If you sneeze, stop listening immediately. If you don't, your hippocampus will degauss in less than a kleptosecond.

    If you find that your fingernails still grow, they'll obviously drown out the more ethereal of the midrange transients. I suggest you lighten your PayPal account appropriately. That'll probably clear it right up.

  11. Neal Says:

    Apparently, it's possible to disbelieve great cables into mediocrity:
    “Many people don’t want there to be a difference in cables, so to them, there is none,” says Sarkin.

    Of course, it's crazy to think that it might work the other way.

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