Paul on John Darko's podcast

@Paul and John cover a variety of topics, but fun stuff on audio-cable epiphanies.


I respect both @Paul and John.
But 45 minutes of happy beating on those who may not spend as much on cables as both of them probably would like to see?!

There are very few who will dispute cable quality, but: inside the electrical equipment most manufacturers apply standard flexible single insulated wiring in a very condensed populated and noisy DAC environment.

But on the outside where noise sources are at a much farther distance, those cables all at sudden have to cost a truck load of money? I bought audio grade cables, elementary Atlas cables, total EUR 530, to hook up my EUR 1800 SGCD.

Get real guys! It is a huge cost issue, which within the 45 minutes of rant was never mentioned.

I would have much rather liked Paul and John to discussed the quality, benefits and downsides of DSD file format. That would have been very lively and much more interesting 45 minutes. Paul and John seem to be as opposed to each other on that subject as Mike Moffat is opposed to DSD, or perhaps even more extreme: MQA.

Paul got me hooked on DSD, or rather the care that studios like BLUE Coast Records and other Sonoma recording system engineers apply to recording methology. DSD is just a medium and can sound as bad as any other format. But, because nobody can tamper with that format like you can totally mess with every detail of PCM signals, typically DSD recordings are performed with greater care.

And yes, music choices are limited, not John DARKO’s taste I guess. Like I, many people do like the well recorded music that is available in DSD/SACD.

So I would certainly like John DARKO to have the same discussion with Paul Mc Gowan about DSD as he had with Mike Moffat (of yes: Schiit) about DSD. A different angle on that subject. Like independent audio interviews should be, rather than searching for your own truth with those you know are more likely of the same opinion.


Nothing against Schiit, in the Audio industry they are certainly one of the best, if not THE best price / quality ratio performers. Just a petty their Yggdrasil does not do DSD, for the above mentioned reasons. Aren’t both Schiit and Blue Coast Records Californian outfits? Petty they don’t work together on this matter. That is what I appreciate about PS Audio.


Cables is up there with religion and politics. Best just to sit in the fence. My friend Bob is a fanatical audiophile who has spent heavily on cables & fuses and swears by them; “Massive Improvements, etc”. On one of his recent trips to see family over Christmas I looked after his house and fed his tropical fish, etc. I ordered a selection of fuses ( see photo ) from Radio Spares in the UK and I swapped out the audiophile fuses for standard quality fuses at a cost of a few bucks.

On Bob’s return, I kept quiet about the fuse(s): Bob played his system and he didn’t notice ‘any difference’, even after two hours playing music. Yet when he spent several hundreds of pounds on the Audiophile Fuses he proclaimed the improvements as VAST; so why didn’t jump out his chair and say to me - “you’ve changed the rail fuses on the left channel mono amplifier and the direction of the fuses is out of whack”…?!

When I told him what I had done and I placed a jiffy bag with the fuses on the sofa he suddenly could hear an imbalance in sound….! All true… But that said, if the addition of expensive cables and fuses makes a persons system sound better to them, and more than justifies the expense to them, then who are we to judge.


@Dirk All true. If you think it is an improvement in your listening experience then it is better for you in your world. In the end we will be pushing up daisies and our survivors wont know or care about the improvements we heard in our stereo system imagined or real.
I don’t purchase anything that costs more than I can afford to lose so the cost is not an issue at all. With that said, I almost never price shop as when you pay junk prices that’s most likely what you are going to get. Then you have to purchase the better one that you passed up price shopping so now you paid more than you might have and you have a piece of junk laying around that is practically worthless to deal with.
Bravo on the fuse trick. That is cunningly awesome.


Hi Dirk we do not disagree. No judgement from my side.

I spent my money on audio grade cables too, for me the balanced analog interconnects were the big thing, like you mentioned, that is what made me happy.

Rather my comment was about Paul and John hammering those who I expect for mostly cost reasons avoid the cable quality discussion.

John claims that he is an advocate for new people entering the audio hobby.

Well, most of those including me are happy if they can ever afford the speakers and electronics.
Although cable quality does matter, which I agree with. But like I said it’s budget, there must be a balance.

Most people who don’t care about cable quality are those who are perfectly happy with Bluetooth transmitted sound, like me when listening in my car. Or those who proudly, put their Raspberry PI’s together and feed the sound into a reasonable priced amplifier, if the cable doesn’t cause hum or hiss, hey the thin standard twin flexible cord that I got 30 years ago with my first stereo will do very fine. All those people will probably rightly claim that cable quality does not matter at all to them, I would do so too.
However these are also the people that likely will get into the audio hobby by spending their last cent on electronics. So why the 45 min rant about people not having cable quality very high on their agenda, I don’t know.

It’s like you proudly walk into a shop with your saved money to eventually buy a separate DAC and the sales guy tells you, “Hey I am happy to sell you that DAC, but you are stupid if you don’t add a cable that costs half or equal the DAC, so turn around, dream on and come back when you got the money for the cable”.

How about putting a very appropriate cable with the DAC in the box if it influences the sound quality that much and the manufacturer is so concerned about it. For them those cables cost a very small fraction than for consumers.


That would be my pleasure to have that discussion, but when you’re a guest on someone’s podcast, you go with the flow and answer the questions put to you. If you wish, I’d recommend heading over to John’s site and letting him know. I am happy to blabber on
whatever subject he’d like. John’s a good guy and I enjoyed our time together.


I daresay we all have things that make differences in our systems that, if someone were to change them without our knowledge, we wouldn’t notice right away, if ever. Does that mean those things didn’t make a difference or that they are all in our heads? I don’t think so.


You have a good point my comments are probably more about John than about what you said. But I believe this is an appropriate thread to react to the podcast/interview.

And to your defense, to John you can only react through a Google/YouTube registration I have not found a place to comment on his own WEB site the way PS Audio comfortably offers that option.

When I find that option on Johns WEB site I will post it there too.

Your WEB-site and this forum are truly good the best is you read what we write. So thanks for that.

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If I had spent hundreds of pounds on a pile of fuses, then yes, I certainly would expect to hear my system sounding negatively to how it sounded with the supposedly super-dooper fuses in situ: - ‘or what was the point to spending all the money buying them in the first place’.

If Bob could tell me that he heard the superior benefits of said fuses after only a few bars of music ( Massive, A different level, etc! ) then why didn’t he at the very least say something like “not sure what it is, but my system isn’t sounding as good as I’ve heard it”! But no, after two hours listening to music in a familiar environment - he didn’t notice anything detrimental with his system/room.


So, you’re an ABX guy? Lamp cord and so on?

No. No. No.

Ok. Just trying to understand where you’re coming from. So you are saying that if someone snuck into your system and played this somewhat cruel trick on you - changed something that you consider makes a “big” difference (we have to make some allowances and adjust for audiophile hyperbole here, as with your friend) you believe you would know it right away?

I should mention that I’ve done something similar before - back in the late 80’s, asked guests if they thought they could tell the difference between a CD and an LP, and then let a friend dangle after definitively pronouncing the LP a CD.

Whats ABX Badbeef?

A/B testing, with a third unknown variable, to see if you can really tell if fuses/cables/tweaks, etc. “truly matter”. Usually done blind. I’m sure the ABX’ers can explain it better and its applications and uses for stuff that actually matters.

Except if you were from the Detroit area, 'ABX was a good radio station : )


Thanks. I like to listen and compare. Unfortunately that proofs very hard to be accomplished these days, at least with your choice of options. But it is fun when you bother to take time for it.

Comparison testing is the only way to make a rational choice, unless you can do the listening in your own environment and it simply blows you away. I do often refer to listening I did while a dealer allowed me to wind down, become comfortable and then listen multiple pieces of music. Another, but less reliable way than comparison testing. For me a good enough compromise. Never, ever do this in a hurry.

It is just very hard or even impossible to find a place where you can compare equipment or accessories at your own choice in a system representative of your own.

So in that respect I do like John Darko’s video’s, he typically compares, and that says a lot.

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Cruel trick…? Come on, you don’t know anything about Bob and I, a friendship that goes back four decades. Cruel trick; that would be me defecating in the fish tank! As per you take a nothing thing, a situation/circumstance that doesn’t agree with you, ‘that wasn’t directed at you’, and now I should explain and justify myself to you. Mark, you can do that with others - but you are wasting your time here. Lets leave it at that. Cheers.


It was a simple question in response to your argument to my response, nothing more. No need to get testy about it. I don’t think I could tell if someone secretly swapped out say, my new HDMI cable, which took me 2 seconds to prefer over the old. When you’re listening for a particular thing, and comparing, it is easy to hear. But if you aren’t, and you don’t know a change has been made…

To be fair, the type of listening mode you are in can highly influence the likelihood you are going to notice these differences quickly. It’s tricky stuff.

I’ll give some personal examples that some might consider embarrassing, but I’d be willing to bet many would/have fallen victim to similar situations:

In my previous living situation (apartment), I used to swap connections out between my Martin Logan 60xt’s(full range floor standers with dual 8in woofers plus a mid-range driver) with my b&w 685 s2’s(single 6.5in woofer) depending on time of day as the 60xts were just too much for an apt for the neighbors in the evening. On at least one occasion I failed to notice that I hadn’t swapped back to the 60xt’s for some time before having an oh $#!? moment. Relaxed listening conditions, lower volumes, and no expectations of change can do that.

I’ve also failed to notice that I hadn’t turn my subwoofers back on after returning from vacation. That might have been a full hour of listening before realizing. Again, when you have no expectations of change and are in a relaxed listening mode you don’t always notice things right away.

Both of these situations would have been instantly obvious via abx testing or some other form direct back and forth comparison. Heck, even if you just said “hey Steve, I changed something in the system. Can you tell?” That would have snapped me into critical listening mode and it would have been noticed very quickly.

Best, and cheapest, sound improvement I’ve made on my system was getting the speaker placement right. Worlds of difference. Costs $0…