Cable wars must surely be the biggest single cause of conflict and injury between audiophiles and the reason I’ve not got involved in one in a good old while…better just to keep quiet, watch from a distant hilltop and let the troops on the virtual front line battle it out ad-infinitum, though casualties will inevitably be high. Here’s my guide to the elements taking part in this ongoing conflict. 

FUTILE

Like most conflict and war, it would seem that cable disputes are utterly pointless in that neither side is willing to shift (in the main) from its entrenched position, and the likelihood of their being a DMZ (demilitarised zone) being effected as a buffer between the warring armies is slim.

You think I’m exaggerating when I refer to these discussions as war don’t you…well I am a bit, but folk in both camps do get rather heated when the topic of cables comes up and what at first may seem like an innocent enough comment on a Facebook Group can soon turn into an incendiary mortar, resulting in a Charlie Foxtrot (look it up) situation and heavy casualties on all sides.

THE ARMIES 

There are two armies at play here, both of which have various factions within them, which leads not only the inevitable main battle ensuing, but also to various infighting and squabbling between the troops on the same side of the fence, thus furthering the Charlie Foxtrot state of affairs.SOLDIER

So broadly we have the following:

The Anti Absolutists Faction (AAF) – cables cannot and can never have an effect on the sound in a system unless said cable is unfit for purpose, to say otherwise flies in the face of science fact so shut up everyone else. This group will often start flinging the Molotov Cocktail of Double Blind Testing into the fray so beware!

The Pro Absolutists Faction (PAF) – of course cables of different construction make a difference in a system, I have heard it with my own ears and whilst I can’t quote you any hard science as to why cables affect the sound, they do, so shut up everyone else. These will often pick up the Molotov Cocktail of Double Blind Testing (MCDBT) before it has chance to do any damage, flinging it back at the AAF as a useless methodology

…this back and forth with the MCDBT can go on and on and has become known as the Thousand Year Cyclic Cable War (TYCCW).

Now within these two broad factions (AAF and PAF) there are myriad sub-factions vying for position and wanting to take pot-shots at anyone who threatens their position. Let’s take a look at some of them:

IAARO – It’s All A Rip Off. These are an interesting sub-group of militants and they’re a dangerous lot to have around as they can been seen as having a foot in both camps. Basically their position can be one of two mindsets; the cables make a difference, but all cable companies and anyone associated with them are thieving imperialist scum, bent on bleeding the proletariat audiophile dry of every penny he has…or, the cables make no difference and all cable companies and anyone associated with them are thieving pond-life looking to line their own filthy capitalist pockets. Same end conclusion, but very different ideological starting points.

Now, within IAARO you have two further subgroups. First off you will have the people who cannot afford to spend large sums on cables so want to rail against those that can afford them (SBIAAROA – Skint But It’s All A Rip Off Anyway), and then you have those that can afford to spend large sums but feel it is pointless to do so…this one’s sort of quasi political, let’s call them the AIQWBIAAROA (Actually I’m Quite Wealthy But It’s All A Rip Off Anyway). But beware dear reader for all is not what it first seems from early reconnaissance, those who cannot afford to spend large sums on audio cables (SBIAAROA) will often take the quasi political stance of the AIQWBIAAROA in an attempt not to feel “beneath” anyone else… and so knowing your enemy becomes ever more complicated. Difficult isn’t it?

YAAD – You Are All Deaf. This is a sub-faction of PAF whose stance is one that belittles anyone who cannot hear a difference in cables. They can be seen as broadly thinking of themselves as a superior kind of human-being.

YSIC – Your system Is Crap. Another sub-faction of PAF who take the opinion that the only reason you don’t hear the differences in cables is because your system is not resolving enough.  These can be seen as feeling superior to others, but it’s not to do with biological superiority and more to do with having achieved a technologically superior position, either by having loads of dosh, or being very canny with their purchases. Now, members of the YSIC brigade can fall-back to a position more akin to YAAD if they feel threatened, often by someone who clearly has a superior system but comes from the AAF position.

IKS – I Know Science. This subgroup has members in both PAF and AAF and so you need to tread very carefully for fear of setting foot on the Landmine Of Ineptitude (LOI) – it can go off at any time when you let your guard down and don’t seem to know everything about everything.

The IKS have been known to cause thousands of innocents to become caught up in this war through no fault of their own.

The IKS lot from the PAF will spout endless formulas and mathematical jiggerypokery  at unsuspecting victims in a sort of virtual waterboarding exercise until the victim gives in and accepts that of course cables make no difference because he is now evangelically in the IKS camp.

Now, the IKS lot from AAF will spout their version of science (which the IKS from PAF will call quasi-science or snakeoil) until the victim relents and declares his undying allegiance to IKS. This section will often take the IKS stance but twist it somewhat and use the “IKSBTSHBFY” argument – I Know Science But The Science Hasn’t Been Found Yet.
You would expect that the majority of the members of IKS would be electrical engineers or physicists, but it would seem that anyone with a passing knowledge of Ohms Law can twist the science (or quasi-science) to his own ends. On both sides of the IKS coin you are batting your head against a brick wall if you dare argue with them, for these are the religious foot-soldiers of this war and because of this they are absolutely sure that they know everything about everything and if they don’t then it’s not science or it’s not worth knowing…or it hasn’t been discovered yet.

YAD – You Are Delusional. Not to be confused with YAAD under any circumstances and a very different beast. Again this combatant may come from either PAF or AAF and the basic viewpoint is that whatever you think you are imagining it to suit your own ends.

The Peacemakers (TP) – these can be seen as the United Nations of cable wars and they can fall into either the PAF or AAF camps. TPs basic point will be that whatever you choose to believe, hear or spend your money on, or however ridiculous your standpoint may be in terms of the arguments that have been presented, it is your own personal choice what you do. Whilst initially TP could be seen as a force for good in the cable war they tend to do little but stir up trouble between the warring factions… who now all have a common enemy to point their artillery at.

So there you have it in its broadest terms. I’ve chosen not to go into the factions within factions within factions as we would be here until the end of TYCCW.  However, if you ever feel compelled, for whatever reason, to enter the fray and jump onto the roundabout that is cable wars, make sure you have your flack-jacket and body armour on you at all times and remember…it’s only a bloody music centre!

Stuart Smith

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