Saturday, January 20, 2018

Cables made a difference with my cheap DVD player

I rearranged my living room this week. My DVD player is now closer to my amplifier. So I was able to switch to budget AudioQuest cables in place of the longer mass market (but seemingly decent) cables I’d been using. And I was rather stunned to notice a difference in the sound.

By “difference”, I don’t mean a huge and dramatic difference, like moving from a TV speaker to using even decent budget speakers. It was more subtle than that, and I might not have even noticed it so readily if it hadn’t been for the fact that the first DVD was part of a set I’d started watching before the rearranging. So it was easy to note that a given character’s voice now sounded a bit more natural, for example. Or that small background special effects are a bit more clear. Or that the DVD is, overall, more enjoyable to watch.

In a way, I guess I’m surprised by the difference. At the same time, I’m also suprised that I’m surprised. I have spent enough time with audio to know that a cable change like this makes a difference, so why am I surprised when I notice the change?

I guess I was surprised in the first place simply because I never really attached much importance to TV sound. I’ve bought into the “the video dominates the experience” line of thinking. Indeed, I remember reading for the first time of someone who confessed to having a good system for music, and a second system for TV applications that he’d bought as a package deal at someplace like Best Buy. He argued the Best Buy system was “good enough” for TV sound, and his arguments made sense. His arguments have stuck with me for 15+ years.

Add to this the fact that my DVD players have always been on the cheaper end of the spectrum. I’ve figured cable differences probably don’t make much of a difference when it comes to such players. Apparently, I was wrong.

Last night, I did some experiments. Just to confirm. I found that my AudioQuest cable is much better than either of the mass market "good enough for TV!" cables I tried.

I guess I’ll have to take cabling my DVD player more seriously in the future. Even though I cringe at the thought of spending money on good cables for a DVD player. And, unfortuantely, buying more cables will be a reality at some point simply because I don’t have enough cables.

And I have to admit I’m now wondering about other components that I’ve run through my audio system that—I figured—really didn’t have enough capability to be worth fussing over. For example, would VHS tapes be more enjoyable to watch if my cheap VHS VCR had AudioQuest cables? It will be interesting to try, if nothing else...

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