Do Coat Hangers Sound As Good Monster Cables?

Pretty much the same.

Pretty much the same.

Can you tell the difference between music that passed through a pricey Monster stereo Cable, and a coat hanger? A reader forwarded us a post from the Audioholics Home Theater Forum and its author says no. He says his brother ran an experiment on him and four other audio aficionados listening to a new CD from a new group blindfolded. Seven different songs were played, each time heard with the speaker hooked up to Monster Cables, and the other time, hooked up to coat hanger wire. Nobody could determine which was the Monster Cable and which was the coat hanger. The kicker? None of the subjects even knew that coat hangers were going to be used. This is, of course, “nothing new,” a Google of “monster cables vs coat hangers” shows that some users have been saying this for a while. Still, this is an experiment begging to be recreated under controlled conditions (say, for instance, a double-blind test). Science fair project! Read how it went down, inside…

I’m so sorry, but I do not buy into 90% of the hype brought to us audiophiles by the commercial sector of our hobby and the home entertainment industry at large. My brother, an audio engineering whiz kid has proven to me what is real and what is not. Let me rehearse with you an example of how he does this.

We gathered up a 5 of our audio buddies. We took my “old” Martin Logan SL-3 (not a bad speaker for accurate noise making) and hooked them up with Monster 1000 speaker cables [ed. Monster Ultra Series THX 1000 Audio Interconnects] (decent cables according to the audio press). We also rigged up 14 gauge, oxygen free Belden stranded copper wire with a simple PVC jacket. Both were 2 meters long. They were connected to an ABX switch box allowing blind fold testing. Volume levels were set at 75 Db at 1000K Hz. A high quality recording of smooth, trio, easy listening jazz was played (Piano, drums, bass). None of us had heard this group or CD before, therefore eliminating biases. The music was played. Of the 5 blind folded, only 2 guessed correctly which was the monster cable. (I was not one of them). This was done 7 times in a row! Keeping us blind folded, my brother switched out the Belden wire (are you ready for this) with simple coat hanger wire! Unknown to me and our 12 audiophile buddies, prior to the ABX blind test, he took apart four coat hangers, reconnected them and twisted them into a pair of speaker cables. Connections were soldered. He stashed them in a closet within the testing room so we were not privy to what he was up to. This made for a pair of 2 meter cables, the exact length of the other wires. The test was conducted. After 5 tests, none could determine which was the Monster 1000 cable or the coat hanger wire. Further, when music was played through the coat hanger wire, we were asked if what we heard sounded good to us. All agreed that what was heard sounded excellent, however, when A-B tests occurred, it was impossible to determine which sounded best the majority of the time and which wire was in use. Needless to say, after the blind folds came off and we saw what my brother did, we learned he was right…most of what manufactures have to say about their products is pure hype. It seems the more they charge, the more hyped it is.

This is for a short run of cable. If you’re going over 50 ft, then you may benefit from better shielding, but for most home people’s home theaters, this is not the case. Remember folks, just because something performs better spec-wise doesn’t mean it actually sounds better. Specs are one thing, psychoacoustics are another. Of course, a coat hanger doesn’t have a Monster Cable lifetime warranty, so if your coat hanger breaks, you’ll have to go out and buy another coat hanger.

Speakers; When is good enough, enough [Audioholics] (Thanks to Shane!)

RELATED: Monster Cables, Monster Ripoff: 80% Markups

Comments

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  1. fostina1 says:

    ya but you know how hard it is to get those little ends on the coat hanger.

  2. itsallme says:

    No wire hangers…EVER!!!

  3. Nighthawke says:

    @fostina1: Not really. A solid soldering iron with a hot tip and a steady hand.
    Fun part’s the RFI you can get with ‘hangers.

    One upshot to making your own is you can manage your clutter by cutting to length what you need.

  4. timsgm1418 says:

    yes mommie dearest….@itsallme:

  5. jeffjohnvol says:

    Proves what I have believed for years. Can’t wait to see the comments that try to dispute this. Next thing you know they’ll be disputing that McDonalds coffee tested better than Starbucks (conumer reports).

  6. AD8BC says:

    I wouldn’t use coat hangers for long runs…. but only because of the “skin effect” where, at higher frequencies, currents tend to travel on the outer skin of the conductor… so a coat hanger (or 14/2 Romex, for that matter) may cause signal loss… but only at long distances.

    Since standard speaker cable (including Monster, and cheap Shadio Rack cable) are stranded, there are many conductors, each with their own skin effect. So, in effect, stranded cables are more efficient… but again, this is only apparant in longer runs.

    This was a neat experiment though!

  7. MBPharmD says:

    No mommy not the wire hanger!

  8. jeffjohnvol says:

    for longer runs of cable, if you are truly worried about shielding, just run Coax. Its cheaper than monster cable, although not as thick on the center conductor. But if it can transmit HDTV signals, it ought to be able to handle whatever audio analog goes through it.

    • Anonymous says:

      @jeffjohnvol: Actually that’s the opposite. Analog signals require much more bandwidth than do digital ones… If someone is trying to get by with cheap wires then they would be better off if it carried a digital signal because analog requires more shielding to prevent EMI.

      Nice article on the coat hanger though… as I suspected.

      • GiacintaNoppit says:

        @AllighieroAntilochus:

        Actually, that is not true. Analog only needs the bandwidth of the signal. IF it is filtered, there can be some awful things regarding phase shift and ringing, and so on, but not just analog audio.

        12 gauge Romex (house wiring) cable is just fine. Coax is OK for speaker cable, but frankly, I wouldn’t use it. TWINAX, as used to be used for computer networking (Thick Ethernet) would be better because there are two conductors and a separate shield.

        Don’t be ripped off by those saying you need special cable. You don’t. You just need audio paths that are reasonably flat to 100 kHz for fantastic slew rate. Low noise is good too, now that the source isn’t the noise limiting factor.

  9. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Of course, a coat hanger doesn’t have a Monster Cable lifetime warranty, so if your coat hanger breaks, you’ll have to go out and buy another coat hanger.

    Bravo. We’re still laughing.

  10. Not surprising – I used to use Monster Cables for my guitar before I started buying good ones. The ONLY discernible advantage to them was that you could take them back into the music shop and get a new one when they shorted out, no paperwork or cash required. But the fact that my current cable preference doesn’t seem to have that shorting problem really makes this whole point moot.

    • SamiJ says:

      A moot point is one that is open for discussion — it doesn’t mean that the point has been made.

      • icruise says:

        Actually, I believe it can have both meanings, but the mostly widely used meaning is “irrelevant” or “without significance.”

  11. swimman1 says:

    Specs and statistics are like bikinis. What they show is very interesting, but what they hide is vital!! I’m going out to get more coat hangers!

  12. DeeJayQueue says:

    I feel sorry for the people with hearing so good that they need to spend the beaucoup bucks on vacuum-sealed cabling and super high-fi speaker setups. I’m fine with my Polks and lamp cord, thanks.

  13. laserjobs says:

    @AD8BC: Do you know anything? There is no skin effect between 20hz-20khz!!! Resistance in long runs is the only thing you need to worry about and that is solved by thicker coat hangers or wires.

    Work out the skin effect at 20khz LOL!!!!
    [en.wikipedia.org]

  14. Trai_Dep says:

    But they lack the beautifuuul labels at the end of the wire. Solution: Post-It notes!

  15. StevieD says:

    Duh, for really short distances copper wire is copper wire.

  16. Wormfather says:

    @itsallme: Mommy Dearest FTW!!!!11!!1!

  17. sir_eccles says:

    “so if your coat hanger breaks, you’ll have to go out and buy another coat hanger”

    Dry cleaning isn’t free you know!!!

  18. stevegoz says:

    My dog can tell the difference.

  19. soulman901 says:

    Coming soon, MONSTER CABLE COAT WIRE HANGERS!!!
    Now you can pay 1000% markup for the same purpose, to hang your coat!!!
    “Gee whiz, my coat certainly looks better when it’s hung on one of these monsters”

  20. Techguy1138 says:

    Not knowing the piece of music, aka, being from a new band. Greatly influences the ability to tell sonic differences.

    Bad comparison.

    • Anonymous says:

      @Techguy1138: What a terrible “test”. This sounds totally made up. I doubt it was actually even tried as there are many holes in it. Even if it was a true test…it doesn’t prove anything. Monster cables are not the scam…this internet and media hype is.

  21. vastrightwing says:

    $0.39/foot 14 gauge lamp wire would cost a whopping $3.90 for 10′ and would sound “the same” as Monster. Actually, walk to a construction site and ask one of the workers if they can give you some left over house wiring. That would also sound the same. And as an added bonus, it’s free!

  22. AcidReign says:

        The only place an expensive cable MIGHT help you is if it’s a cable that gets moved a lot, stepped on, etc. A guitar cable fits that category. Stereo speaker cable, not so much. Unless you’re moving that setup from party to party…

        Having said that, I have a 20 year old, cheap (Peavy) 25-foot main guitar cable that STILL has no shorts in it. If I were to play gigs these days, though, I’d definitely go wireless on my axe.

  23. cmdr.sass says:

    @stevegoz: That’s no way to talk about your wife.

  24. Techguy1138 says:

    At least he proved to the people here that Monoprice cables are a complete ripoff.

    Why pay for expensive copper when you can use potmetal?

  25. jarchie219 says:

    Stranded wire is stranded to make it more flexible. The individual strands are not insulated and touch each other. Except for ease of installation, there will be no discernible audio difference between common stranded and solid wire.

    See the above referenced wikipedia article. Toward the end it discusses Litz wire. With that, some small difference might be detected with sensitive instruments (or freakish ears).

  26. radio1 says:

    You know, if Monster Cable can get people to buy their product, who are we to care?

    Really?

    I mean what is the outcome? You’ve got your 4 friends there, they can’t tell the difference. So you make them look like idiots, they think you’re a jerk. And maybe, just maybe, 1 of those 4 friends will wise up. The other 3 will get defensive and like you a little less.

  27. Hawk07 says:

    I can understand being economical when it comes to home wiring and not going with Monster, but come on, coat hangers? Lol…

    A good set of non-brand audio cables is about 5 dollars.

  28. AD8BC says:

    @laserjobs: Good point, I was just writing off the cuff here… it has been a while since I last had to actually use that knowledge….

    although I could swear that there was an effect at 60 Hz…

  29. Nytmare says:

    @radio1: Thanks so much for your helpful comments on an article you don’t care about. Personally I’m not so selfish with my anti-ripoff leanings and learnings.

  30. Primate says:

    The results may have been different if it was music the subjects were familiar with so they could look for certain subtleties in the music.

  31. MYarms says:

    Everyone hears and perceives audio frequencies differently due mainly in part to the physical shape of your ears. Also after hearing things a certain way for long periods of time (like for example in a studio or high end sound systems) your brain tends to trick you into believing that everything sounds the same. I have to wonder if it is possible that these “audiophiles” have just been simply tricked by their brains into believing that a simple coat hanger could possibly transfer sound as well as a speaker cable.

    Sounds like a pretty cool experiment though.

  32. Nighthawke says:

    @MYarms: Paging Mr. Spock….

  33. JeffWagg says:

    This just in: Monster announces new line of Clothing Suspension Frames. The 1000X model is available for only $100, and it’s guaranteed should it ever break. Fashion magazines are praising its “more lifelike shape” and “resistance to environmental free radicals.”

  34. orielbean says:

    Monoprice cables are awesome. Monster cables are overpriced. They are not the same brand, not even close. Do not conflate the two!

  35. shadow735 says:

    You are paying for coolness, Monster cables look way cooler then a coat hanger, plus they are easier to attach and stay attached then a coat hanger is.

  36. walterny says:

    Those that actually think Monster Cables really do anything more than any other cable ought to read this. It explains such things as Monster Cables and Barack Obama:

    When it comes to shopping, researchers at the University of Iowa have found that sometimes ignorance really is bliss. In what they term the Blissful Ignorance Effect, researchers at the university’s Tippie College of Business found that people who have only a little information about a product are happier with that product than people who have more information.

    “We found that once people commit to buying or consuming something, there’s a kind of wishful thinking that happens and they want to like what they’ve bought,” said assistant professor of marketing Dhananjay Nayakankuppam. “The less you know about a product, the easier it is to engage in wishful thinking. But the more information you have, the harder it is to kid yourself. This can be contrasted with what happens before taking any action when people are trying to be accurate and would prefer getting more information to less.”

    Nayakankuppam conducted the research with Himansha Mishra, a former UI graduate student now teaching at the University of Utah, and Baba Shiv of Stanford University. Their paper, “The Blissful Ignorance Effect,” will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

    The researchers used three experiments to arrive at their conclusion. Two of them were consumer test-style experiments in which subjects were asked for their opinion of chocolate in one and hand lotion in the other. In each experiment, one group of subjects was given lots of information about the product, the other group much less. In each instance, the subjects who had little information were more optimistic about the chocolate or hand lotion than those who had more information.

    In the third experiment, subjects were given the opportunity to pick a video to watch. They were told one of the movies had received uniformly good reviews from critics, while the other received mixed reviews. Although more of the subjects selected the movie they were told had received uniformly good reviews, those who selected the movie believing it had mixed reviews were more optimistic about their choice.

    Nayakankuppam said that the Blissful Ignorance Effect demonstrates that people have a need to be happy with their choice, and will often engage in whatever distortion is needed to justify the purchase. That means playing up the positive aspects while downplaying the negatives.

    Nayakankuppam said prior research has shown that before people make a buying decision, they generally like to take an objective, clear-headed view of the products they’re considering. During this phase, so-called accuracy goals play a larger part of a person’s thinking because they want to buy the product that best meets their needs at a reasonable cost. His research, however, shows that once a decision has been made, the Blissful Ignorance Effect takes hold and the buyer makes that emotional commitment to a decision.

    He said the data suggests a shift in peoples’ motivations. While they have a need to be accurate before taking some action, post-action it is the directional need to justify a conclusion that is more important, he said.

    “Once we’ve committed to something, we want to be happy about the decision and that drives our perceptions about it,” said Nayakankuppam. “It’s your decision, it’s a part of you, and that creates an emotional attachment. It’s sort of like your kid and you want to like it no matter what.”

    In that way, he said the less we know about something, the easier it is to create our own conceptions about it. For instance, he said that if we don’t know the chocolate we’re eating has hundreds of calories, we can convince ourselves that it isn’t expanding our waistline.

    Although the research used inexpensive items like chocolate and hand lotion in its experiments, Nayakankuppam said the Blissful Ignorance Effect could apply to bigger ticket items, too, such as cars or houses. However, since people tend to do more research before buying expensive items and thus would have more information, the effect would be more limited.

    STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

    • icruise says:

      I’m not sure why people have to bring politics into every damn topic. It’s a distraction and prejudices roughly half of your audience against what you’re going to say.

  37. Lemme get this straight:
    I have my expensive speakers (B&O).
    I have my custom built amp (built by my uncle, in the 70′s, when custom hi-fi was the pc).
    I am going to use coat hangers to wire this stuff?

    Not for nothing, I think I’ll stick with monoprice. No Monster, but monoprice isn’t expensive and fits the actual jacks very nicely.

    PS- the wire hangers in Mommy Dearest were a lot heavier gauge than the ones you get from the dry cleaner. Hard to find good wire hangers for beating your children anymore. Progress… BAH!

  38. SinA says:

    I’ve gotten similar results by looping my monster cables and stapling them with triangular pieces of paper that say “We <3 our Customers”

  39. mindslight says:

    … and this way your home theater system can be used to perform abortions, too!

  40. laserjobs says:

    Nobody can tell the difference between cables unless they are just to small a gauge for the distance. Here is why:

    Amplifier <1% distortion
    Speaker Cables <1% distortion
    Speakers >1% distortion

    The speakers will always be the where any difference is heard because they create much more distortion than any other component involved in the system. Think about it, the signal losses created in the mechanical system are going to be much greater than any of the electrical system. Maybe Monster can start selling uniform air in a can to fill your room for more accurate sound.

  41. Trai_Dep says:

    @walterny: Goes to explain the 20% of dead-enders that still think Bush is doing “a heck of a job”.

  42. LTS! says:

    Does the fact that this is referring to an experiment in 2004 matter?

    These days wire hangers just do not have the same electrical resistance and will melt under high load whereas Monster cables will still melt your credit card.

    But really… 2004!!!!!!

  43. Intersection says:

    I did a did a similar test when I was setting up a video art project a few years ago. Over a 50′ run of the video cabling, the best video signal was over cheap Radio Shack coax cable with those crappy screw-on analog video adapter tips. Monster didn’t even come close.

  44. walterny says:

    @Trai_Dep:

    Yea, it does doesn’t it. Even explains how they voted in the first place.

  45. walterny says:

    @LTS!:

    If it was a study about differences in eggs matter because it was done in 1984? Montser cable is still the same as are hangers.

  46. aeproberts says:

    If the signal is analog then it can make a difference but for digital signals it makes almost no difference at all. Either the 1 and 0 are getting through or they are not.

  47. ClankBoomSteam says:

    Great. Now Target will start selling coat hangers for $80 apiece.

  48. galtthedestroyer says:

    short answer: cables and pretty much everything else DO make a definite difference in your stereo system. if you enjoy music then do yourself a favor and read on.

    I’ve been a hobbyist and salesman for stereo equipment before. YOU might like to believe that salesmen are evil and dangerous. that they are your enemy. truly, they are regular guys like you. the ONLY customer that will buy some outrageously priced gear and NOT test it to make sure it’s worth it, is the rare guy that’s too rich and too busy to care. everyone else will go home to listen with their buddies and IMMEDIATELY RETURN it if it doesn’t make an improvement.

    I have scores of customers to whom I gave the double – blind pepsi challenge. every time they could hear differences in different equipment.

    there are certain things that can hinder the improvement of a system. there are certain brands that aren’t worth the copper from which they’re made. also, there are smart respectable people in this hobby that I even look up to, that I find doing or saying the dumbest things. so make sure you ALWAYS try things for yourself. make sure you always consult as many sources as possible. make sure you never treat your opinion as the final word no matter how much you think you’ve cemented it in truth. reason: there are so many variables in the equation / so many links in the chain of any stereo system that it’s very difficult to pinpoint any one thing down to test it. that’s why many engineers in many industries are paid lots of money to create better audio equipment for various applications.

    1. a system is a chain who’s weakest link can bring down everything else .

    2. certain brands and certain items from certain brands are mostly worthless. monster is a great example for cable. their surge protectors are a good value though, and their warranty is NOT BS. audioquest has some cables that are way out in left field, and they usually sound like crap. but their simple cables with multiple individually insulated conductors are worthwhile. ( ‘multiple individually insulated conductors’ is a trend in many brands that sound good, yet CAT-5 cable WILL sound like crap. it’s engineered for a different purpose.)

    3. if a good system isn’t set up properly then you’re sabotaging your own sound / your own experiment. e.g. A/B switchers MAY NOT be used in an experiment!

    4. it does not take a lot of money to make a worthwhile system. but “a lot” is ambiguous. currently a fun stereo would start at about US$2000, and can be built in pieces over time.

    5. different people have different preferences. any stereo has trade-offs. different people will choose different trade-offs. to eliminate more trade-offs, more money must be spent!

  49. cde says:

    But now try finding a 50ft+ coat hanger….

  50. cde says:

    @LTS!: Because so much has changed in the wire hanger industry in 3 years…

  51. Orv says:

    @laserjobs: Uhm, the Wikipedia article you point to shows examples of skin effect at frequencies as low as 60 Hz. Skin effect is usually not *important* at these frequencies except in very large conductors, but it’s wrong to say it doesn’t exist. 60 Hz skin effect is important in power transmission lines, for example. It’s also important in induction motor design.

    @AD8BC: Stranded wire in itself doesn’t avoid the skin effect unless the strands are individually insulated. This isn’t usually true of speaker wire. “Litz” wire has individually insulated strands, but it’s problematic for use as speaker wire because its high capacitance per foot can make some amps oscillate.

  52. holy crap, BoingBoing totally ganked you guys.

  53. pfeng says:

    Criminey. You think Monster cables are so overpriced / overrated, check out Pear Cables. $2750 for a 3-foot pair speaker cable, for example! [www.pearcable.com]

    I’d love to see them up against a coat hanger. Unfortunately they consistently out of scientific testing!

  54. pfeng says:

    @pfeng: should have been “consistently back out of scientific testing”

    Also, sadly, they’re far too expensive for MY kids to do a science fair project about the issue :)

  55. guspaz says:

    I’m not sure I’d like to use a bare-metal unshielded cable/wire… More likely I’d go to the local electronics store and have them cut and crimp a cable for me for a fraction the cost of anything you’d get in a big-box store. Sure, it’ll cost a bit more than a coat hanger, but it’d still be far cheaper than BestBuy.

  56. urban_ninjya says:

    As a public service announcement..

    Making a speaker cable out of coat hangers does not make you MacGyver. Do not attempt to:

    -Fix you car’s alternator
    -disarm bombs
    -make a snake trap
    -make a ladder
    -weld a leak on a propane tank
    -make a temporary fuse for your blown fusebox
    -make a gas mask
    -make a hang glider to escape from persuing terrorists
    -override a broken airplane autopilot that’s programmed to crash into the bermuda triangle
    -make your own condom
    -trap a carrier pigeon so you can send a note explaining your capture
    -go fishing for sharks
    -lift the keys off a key chain on a armed guard
    -short circuit a retina scanner to gain entry into a military base
    -stop a nuclear reactor from overloading
    -making home made thermite to escape from being locked in a bank vault.

    Other than that.. do what you will with your coat hangers.

    with your wire hangers.

  57. seth1066 says:

    My dry cleaner read this article and now wants $40 extra per shirt to get put them on hangers. He says they sound as good as Monster and makes the claim his product outperforms the cable because it doubles as a coat hanger.

  58. m4ximusprim3 says:

    @seth1066: The sad part is, he’s right. Damn these double edged swords!

  59. guruscotty says:

    Yeah… think I might open a shop with what I’ve got stocked in the back of my closet. I mean, these are the really good coat hangers.

    Not those cheap foreign jobs – these babies are made in the USA.

  60. Orv says:

    @guspaz: The point isn’t that you should use coat hangers. It’s that what you use doesn’t matter much. Obviously coat hangers aren’t very convenient, but lamp cord and SO cord are both quite easy to handle, are cheaply available at your local hardware store, and will sound just as good as those expensive Monster Cables.

  61. rolla says:

    watch, monster starts marketing wire hanger cables as the next best thing…and charge 100 bucks

  62. Televiper says:

    The real point is that good sound comes from thick cable. Monster cables provide a good level of thickness along with the flexibility, ease of use, environmental sealing, and elegance you’ll never find in any coat hanger. If you can find cable that’s just as thick as Monster cable you’re going to get the same performance. Saying that, I don’t believe Monster cable is worth the price it’s sold for.

  63. Orv says:

    You only need thick cable if you’re running high power levels or long distances. I suspect most people overestimate how thick a cable they really need. Check out a concert PA system some time and you’ll see a lot of 12/3 SO cable. Sometimes it’s still got the three-prong power plugs on it. ;)

  64. Televiper says:

    @Orv: People listen to a lot of other people talking. I have to wonder how many people drag out things like Monster Cable, and commence wiring up a system with extremely poor grounding.

  65. dh86sj says:

    As a musician, most of my perceived value in a cable is in the connectors. 90% of the cable issues I have are with the connectors. The cable itself, not so much. When a connector shorts it doesn’t matter what kind of cable is attached to it, the cable is dead. I’m sure if monster was evaluated against bargain cables in this department the value proposition would become a little clearer. Or I’d eat crow. But at least we would know.

  66. TechnoDestructo says:

    @shadow735: I think you and I have very different ideas of what looks “cool.”

    Coat-hanger cables would look like something you’d see on Max Headroom. Nothing has ever been cooler than Max Headroom.

  67. WV.Hillbilly says:

    This all akin to guitarist Eric Johnson using a rubber band on his effects box because he doesn’t like how the screws affect his sound. Also he claims to be able to hear the difference between different brands of 9 volt batteries powering those effects.

    Lamp cord works just as well. Wire is wire.

  68. tc4all says:

    I haven’t read all results, but there are several important points. One, Monster Cables are not considered great or high end cables by anybody I know. Secondly, yes, you need to be listening on a system that can show the differences. You need to know what live music sounds like. Finally, you need to listen to music with full range sound and little or no compression. That is, no MP3s and very little rock, and no rap. A proper test disc will help you isolate sounds so you can hear bass, treble, soundstage, tone, clarity, complex music etc., all of which can be affected by wire choices.

    Fun test though and yes some wires are very overpriced, and yes you can make some pretty good wires on your own, but true high end wires can transform the music from your system to a new level or closer to real sounding then before. Bad wires can transform it to nasty, flat, etching noise.

    Just the facts as I know them to be.

  69. JT says:

    “… if your coat hanger breaks, you’ll have to go buy a new coat hanger.” BWAHAHAHAHAH!!

    Ben, you kill me!

  70. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    For the most part, electrons don’t care whether they travel over Monster cables or coat hangers..it’s all the same to them. There would be some voltage drop with coat hangers or lamp cord, so you’d have some I^2XR losses. Conceivably, there are also some capacitive and inductive reactances present that could potentially affect the frequency response of the AC voltage getting to the speakers, and there is capacitance between parallel conductors which could also (slightly) alter frequency response.

    However, the kicker is, unless you have incredibly discriminating ears (maybe you’re a career concert pianist or professional musician), you’re not going to be able to hear the difference.

    So yes, technically, Monster cables could sound better, or they could in fact, sound worse…but 99% of people would never notice. Because audio quality is often subjective, it’s easy for snake oil salesmen to convince people that their cable would be “more sonically pure” then the competition.

    Apparently then, I’m the audio equivalent to a caveman, because lamp cord sounds perfectly fine to me. If spending $100 on speaker cables convinces you that your stereo sounds waaaaaay better than anyone else’s, by all means..spend the money. I won’t.

  71. Phanatic says:

    Skin depth? Please, folks. Skin depth kicks in at *high frequencies*, and we’re talking audio. The skin depth of a 20 kilohertz AC signal in copper is something like 18″. Coat hangers or stranded wire, it *doesn’t matter* at audio frequencies.

    And EM noise? We’re talking about *high-level signal* here. These are currents that are driving your speakers. Would you want to use unshielded wire for interconnects? No, you wouldn’t. But for a 2-meter length of *speaker wire*, what sort of interference do you think you’re going to see that would cause an audible difference at the speaker driver? A friggin’ nuclear bomb going off in the next county, yeah, that could do it. Cellphones and microwaves in the same house? Not a chance.

  72. nobody says:

    I should be ashamed to be so nitpicky here, but I don’t think this experiment qualifies as “double-blind.” For it do do so, the test’s administrator (the poster’s brother) must himself not be aware of which wire is which.

  73. ekdikeo says:

    This is utter crap. If you can’t hear the difference between good cables and poor cables, then either (a) you are hearing impaired (b) judgement impared (c) you’re using crap equipment to reproduce the sound.

  74. arachnophilia says:

    this is why audiophiles don’t like a/b/x testing. objectivity is not their strong suit.

    what, may i ask, is “crap equipment?” if i have to have the ultimate top of the line best sound equipment in the world, hearing like a dog, i can’t listen to rock or rap, and we have to be using a test-disc… well. let me tell you how this applies to real life.

    it doesn’t. it’s about the music, not the equipment. and if it takes superhuman abilities and precisely the right alignment between mars and venus to hear the difference, well. let me tell you, i’ll go right out and buy $7000 cables in that case. or not, because the radioshack ones sound exactly the same once you disengage the “costs more = better” congnitive dissonance, and blind tests constantly prove this to be the case. copper wire = copper wire. at best you will get slightt variations in oxygen content and conductivity, but not enough to really matter a whole hell of a lot.

    the old joke is that an audiophile is someone who listens to the equipment, not the music. i’d rather listen to music i love through equipment that is frankly good enough, than listen to test discs all day through top notch hi-fi gear. call me crazy, but my budget is limitted, and i’d rather buy music.

  75. Brian165 says:

    1.) I’m not a supporter of Monster Cable or over-hyping. 2.) I am a telecommunication engineer. 3.) There ARE differences between cables, but for these low level signals need more sophisticated test procedures to see them – and I assure you that difference are there. Cable A and cable B being just as loud across the same frequency range just scratches the surface of what a layman would consider a technical comparison. 4. These small signals get amplified, so the minute difference get more significant, as well as the effects of speaker cable length can come into play.
    “Bat” ears isn’t the reason that audiophiles and others can hear differences – it’s brain processing. The wonderful miracle of hearing that lets people all hear volume equally, but one person hear a sound in a forest and can’t tell where the it came from, one person can tell it came from behind them somewhere, and another that can tell you it was a semi-dry twig 30 yard behind and 10 yard to their left and be correct. Something along those lines if I could make myself better understood, and why many only see hyperbole in audiophile critiques because it’s not unlike describing the color red to a blind person. A coat hanger is a humorous object and cheep item ( on purpose ) to use. If you consider the some coax cables use a solid core, for many advantages reasons, and look at it as a comparison between a particular cable design and the raw basics of another cable design, it’s less funny, and more interesting ( to some ) as to why they both work, if one does indeed work better ( for those that tell a difference and have a preference ) and if another composition and/or diameter of solid core wire ( coat hanger, if you will would be even better at accurately passing audio range signal.
    I’ve worked with a variety of cables for my stereo and in professional applications, there’s a varity for very scientific reasons, that why your cable for your TV isn’t made from coat hangers,
    and audio interconnect cables could be – for some.

  76. barty says:

    @Intersection: Like most things, RS farmed out their coax production. So generally speaking, it was pretty good stuff. Not to mention the impedance of most coax is much more consistent (look at the dielectric material inside a piece of coax, then look at the one in an audio cable) and the shielding is usually better too.

    @ekdikeo: Ahh, you’ve fallen for the “pure copper” marketing hype too. At short distances, wire is wire. As long as it isn’t naturally a poor conductor or is excessively corroded, I’d challenge anyone to notice the difference between different styles of speaker wire. I’ve used lamp cord on numerous occasions and I can’t tell a bit of difference compared to the same gauge and length of more expensive “speaker” cable.

    As far as interference is concerned, insulated, unshielded speaker wire will conduct just as much RF as a bare coat hanger. The only difference is you have to be careful that the two lengths of coat hanger don’t short out each other.

  77. cerbie says:

    Cables will be more important for just passing the signal around than for the active load of a speaker…and even then, the wire is less important than the connectors. At short distances, shielding is good for GSM noise, and little else (having had a few bad experiences with that on headphones, I’m on the paranoid side).

    If you can hear a difference there between cheap stuff and high-end on a short speaker cable, a little deoxit on the connectors ought clear things right on up (or, maybe you really do have an awe/pity-inspiring system! :)).

    P.S. Google “Patrick82″ for some quality audio tweaks :P :P :P

  78. consumeristlegs says:

    @galtthedestroyer:

    I’m pretty sure that you didn’t actually do a double blind test: i.e. the pepsi challeng was single blind, not double blind.

    [en.wikipedia.org]

    You’ll note that in the single blind section, they speak of how single blind tests are: “especially risky in psychology and social science research”. Take note that audio perception most definitely falls into the “psychology” category, and that the ability to differentiate audio at a very subtle level is pretty clearly a “social science” issue (i.e. the listener is attempting to be “correct” in order to fit in with the audiophiles…)

    So yeah, while I don’t think you’re a blood sucker as a salesman, I do think that it’s possible that you are heavily biased when it comes to audio performance :)

  79. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    Coat hangers are cheaper.

  80. Dave! says:

    Okay, I don’t doubt there’s much difference from one cable to the next, but does anyone at Consumerist read shit critically???

    From the article…

    “We gathered up a 5 of our audio buddies.”

    “Of the 5 blind folded, only 2 guessed correctly which was the monster cable. (I was not one of them).”

    “Unknown to me and our 12 audiophile buddies…”

    Five buddies, plus him. Then only five blindfolded people, presumably the buddies (5) and him? Then 12 buddies??!

    Is it just me or is this either (1) sloppy? or (2) fishy?

    Sheesh.

  81. crazyemu says:

    Wait, wait… you have to read his follow-up post:

    “Hey guys! Quit ganging up on me! You all grossly missed my point in my previous replys in this thread.

    First of all, I’m a new (61 year old) kid on this block who has been involved in hi-fi for over 45 years.”

    No wonder he couldn’t hear any difference…

  82. Yankee01 says:

    @radio1:

    Best comment. What a bunch of tools. My wife gets to buy $175 shoes, I get $125 cables. You guys hook up your stuff with coat hangers and put bras on your heads and wait for Kelly Brock to come out of your shower.

  83. Red_Eye says:

    If you’re already listening to a distorted compressed MP3 on the speakers then monster cables aren’t worth squat.

    Personally I can hear a difference between a 192k mp3 and cd quality, but I’ve never heard a difference with a monster cable product. And no I am not a spokesman for the hanger association.

  84. tkluck says:

    Actually the music makes more difference than any hardware or doodads.
    A great performance on an old 78 is more enjoyable than perfectly reproduced elevator music. That’s why they still sell the Toscanini Beethoven Symphonies.
    Nothing wrong with being a gear head and enjoying the hardware for it’s own sake. Face it though, nobody really “needs” a Ferrari.

  85. arachnophilia says:

    @Red_Eye: i can hear the difference in 192kbit mp3s and cd (and, ahem, vinyl) as well. i’m one of those people they talk about with bat-hearing, and i can hear well above the normal adult human hearing range. so i actually notice when mp3s compress the higher frequencies we’re not supposed to be able to hear.

    but frankly, i don’t care that much. i understand mp3s are compressed, and i’m really listening for the music, not the defects. it IS the music — one of the coolest recordings i have is rachmaninoff playing the rach 2 and 3. it was recorded in the 30′s, and the CD version is basically just taken off a 78. the strings have that dull 30′s sound to them, and the whole thing’s had some noise reduction applied to it, but that performance! you hear it, and it’s all that matters. i’ve heard other performances of the same concertos, and they’re just not as good, even if the recording is far better.

  86. chartguy says:

    Were you testing the wires or the listeners’ ears?

    If you had invited some of the reviewers who have praised various cables, and ran the test, it would have been more meaningful.

    Vinyl records have always sounded better to me than CDs. I’ve talked to professional recording engineers, and they agree. CDs are too narrow bandwidth. Sure, CDs don’t have the pops and scratches, but I’ve yet to hear a piano recording that sounds anywhere near as accurate as a vinyl record.

    I’m no golden ear, but I listen to a lot of music, and often live in small venues. I know how music sounds. The brain adapts. If you listen to CDs long enough and often enough, that sound becomes what you think is correct, even though it doesn’t reflect the original performance. It sounds like your other CDs, so it must be right.

  87. Anonymous says:

    I tried it with a plastic hanger and it didn’t work…any idea on what I did wrong?

  88. DoctorMD says:

    “Tippie College of Business found that people who have only a little information about a product are happier with that product than people who have more information…
    …Once we’ve committed to something, we want to be happy about the decision and that drives our perceptions about it.”

    Oh so thats why Mac satisfaction ratings are always so high.

  89. emjsea says:

    @radio1:

    No, your friends never liked YOU in the first plast. Dude.

  90. avillarrealpouw says:

    @AD8BC, laserjobs, Phanatic:

    Where is the demonstration that skin effect translates to distortion? Laserjobs and Phanatic are right, in practice, to say that skin effect is not existent at less than 20 kilohertz.

    There are no problems due to the increased resistance that the skin effect produces that the simple use of larger calibers of cable will not fix.

    Remember, the whole design of a speaker system depends on the cables having much less resistance than the speaker’s coils.

    Exactly how much cable do you have to place between your amplifier and your speaker to have an audible difference of 3db between low and high tones? If you are worried about these distortions you should take a very long look into your speakers, walls, drapes, furniture, speaker placement, windows, books, and just a passing glance at your speaker cables.

  91. Ten98 says:

    I’ve known for a long time that speaker cable makes absolutely no difference to a hifi setup, and find it hilarious the amount of money that “audiophiles” will spend on what is effectively a length of wire. I’m glad that someone’s finally taken the time to prove it.

    I don’t think anyone’s really suggesting for a moment that you use coat hangers as audio interconnects, but what this does prove is that ANY metal, if it’s thick enough, will transmit audio flawlessly.

    The “quality” of a cable is utterly irrelevant, what matters is resistance. With any reasonably conductive metal and a thick enough gauge, resistance over a short (under 100M) distance is rendered negligible.

    I use household electrical cable for my speaker connects, it’s thick, cheap and easy to work with.

    Anyone spending real money on speaker cable is truly wasting their time, you could only hope to perceive a distance with an oscilliscope.

  92. brian99 says:

    Nobody ever seems to discuss what volume level these A / B comparisons are made at. I have a Krell amp & pre and Krell Res 2 speakers. When I use what I would consider expensive AQ speaker wire (10 Foot Gibralter Bi-Wire) they sound great at any level. At one point I loaned my AQ to a friend and in place used some bulk 16 gauge 4 conductor generic wire ($.50 a foot maybe?). At normal listening levels I don’t think there was a difference to be heard. However, when the volume was turned up it was terrible and even my wife just sitting in the other room came out to ask me what was wrong with my speakers.

    So at low levels I guess this theory holds some truth. My electrician measured 13 amps being drawn by my Krell amp at high volume. If you honestly think that coat hanger will do the signal justice at that level you are sadly mistaken. I am sure on an Oscilloscope at 1 volt output and 100mA the coat hanger did just fine.

    Then again why would they use Monster Cable against the coat hanger like the Monster was “reference” caliber wire? If you are going to try and disprove the effect of high end speaker wire at least use a high end speaker wire in your comparison. Does Monster even make that?

  93. keenconsumerist says:

    A home theater would probably benefit better from a coat hanger rather than a good cable but what would you do if you have huge rooms and you need a 100ft frequency.. Then you must have better shielding for better protection.. But in anycase, I would rather use something that performs better since im not really a picky sound quality person. Although coat hangers are quiet cheap of a replacement!
    ___________
    News & Updates on Air Force Ones, Jordans, Nike Dunk & Nike SB.

  94. toiletduck says:

    This works because most coat hangers are made of annealed copper cladded steel. Audio cables are made of the same thing most of the time, only a much smaller size.

  95. Anonymous says:

    Goes to show that Monster Cable products are crap. I’ve never read a review that said they were any good, I don’t know what “Audio Press” the author refers to. I like my VanDen Hul cables, they were only $6.00 a foot, and they sound better than any coat hanger, or Monster Cable for that matter. Also, Interconnects are not speaker cables, seems to me a so-called “audiophile” would know that.

  96. RodolfoRabulous says:

    Mythbusters has this experiment on its radar. It’s in one of the many HOPE videos available on Youtube of Adam speaking.

  97. Jason Rouse says:

    Yeah most of these cables are way over priced. The only time you can make a case for any difference is when they are analog. If they are digital (like HDMI and USB) their is no point. They either work or they dont.

    Buy you cables at [www.monoprice.com] and save a bundle. That’s what everyone I know does.

  98. Anonymous says:

    1. I’m pretty sure skin effect is a factor at low frequencies. That’s why they space the conductors apart on each phase of extra high voltage (tower) power lines.
    2. Speaker level signals are not affected by interference, so there is no need for shielding. We are talking many volts and a low impedence (8 ohms) here not 50 millivolts and 10k impedence (line level).

    But monster cable is still a rip off.

  99. Anonymous says:

    I believe like you there is too much hype on cables especially in this case of a $30,000 price tag http://www.nordost.com/productdetail.asp?ProdID=33
    but what you have conducted doesn’t sound like a true abx test. with test like these you can only test lowest denominator and to me it doest sound like the coat hanger but the switcher. There is a difference between coathanger and wire cause I have done this test with high grade copper wire and and domestic coming out of a SSL4040 Gseries and 6 people in the room pointed out the difference.

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  101. nacoran says:

    It’s a conspiracy. The audio industry has secretly been buying up coat hanger manufacturerers and switching them to plastic.

  102. FishtownYo says:

    Shoot, I just donated all my wire hangers to Planned Parenthood and actually bought Monster cables with my tax deduction moola. Dang, I knew those hangers could of had a better use.