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Speaker Cables Really Don't Make Much of a Difference?

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  • Speaker Cables Really Don't Make Much of a Difference?

    And this says it all!:

    Don't worry, if your parachute fails, you have the rest of your life to fix it.

    If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally ASTOUND ourselves - Thomas A. Edison

    Some people collect stamps, Imelda Marcos collected shoes. I collect speakers.:D

  • #2
    It's not news to those of us who pay attention to people like Roger Russell and ignore advertising piffel. It probably won't sway many audiofools.
    Last edited by billfitzmaurice; 03-26-2021, 10:15 PM.
    www.billfitzmaurice.com
    www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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    • #3
      Do they use super fancy special cables professionally? As in musicians, broadcasters, the film industry, clubs, etc... Not that I'm aware of.

      Comment


      • #4
        For the most part no. There are some studios that cater to the crowd that believes in that nonsense, so they do use them to attract their business.
        www.billfitzmaurice.com
        www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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        • #5
          I remember when I bought our old Yamaha receiver over 20 years ago, the sales person really put the hard sell on me to buy $50 per metre speaker cables, telling me that the money I spent on the receiver would be 'wasted' unless I bought the cables as well. That would have been an extra $300 and the receiver was $600!

          I thought it was bollocks at the time , still do, and I'm very pleased that the lack of difference can be empirically proved: thanks for the video!

          Geoff

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          • #6
            I saw this over on ASR first, my comment pasted from there:

            AC resistance? He means "Impedance". What he is plotting is the natural impedance of the cable, and that includes the 'inductive rise' that happens with increasing frequency- This first plot shown is NOT a skin effect plot. It rises just like that of a dynamic loudspeaker woofer or tweeter.
            More inductance can rolloff the top-end, this is true as he says.

            The reason the Kimber is more capacitive is that it has more spaced conductors, individually insulated, and braided. For this same reason, Nordost is also highly capacitive, as well as others of this same variety of multiple spaced conductors. This however is not necessarily a GOOD thing.
            More capacitance can make poorer or unstable amplifiers oscillate. He is right in this statement. Like higher L values rolling off the treble, higher C values can also rolloff the bass.

            Of course the balance of the C/L cable components are inversely proportional.

            For the most part- I agree with what he is saying; That wire is wire, and the performance of most wire will be close barring DCR or insertion loss via higher resistance cables. Since that usually is the case, I like making my own, and how I want them to look, albeit inexpensively. A good 2/12 from Canare, Carol SJ/SO, Belden Brilliance, or even more expensive Mogami should make just about anyone in this hobby quite happy. Dress it as you like! Avoid CCA wire, and go with copper.

            I will also add that when I was 25 in 2003 at Dayton DIY(43 now), I took a controlled audibility test for speaker cables involving what used to be known as cheap SoundKing speaker cable (from MCM or PE) and the (funny enough) Kimber 8C cable. Bob Cordell conducted the test with his developed gear on a pair of tower speakers called 'Moxy' built by a guy of the name Peter. Towers used Vifa XT25 tweeters and M series Vifa woofers, but I digress... I was instructed to position myself in the front row, and they gave me a relay box with a switch, and told me to listen briefly and see if I could discern any differences. I didn't even know what we were doing yet. After my time, I had to relinquish control of said box and let someone else do the (rapid-fire) switching behind me out of view. There was no way I could count the flips as operated.
            It was either 7 or 10 trials, I can't recall for sure, but I was able to accurately guess the cable playing the signal in all of those trials. For me, a piece of music containing a saxophone was what I settled on during my control period. The test was conducted with this music portion piece while I took the test. I know it's cliche, but it did sound like a 'veil was lifted' going from the KK to the Soundking, even if minutely so. Like listening to removal of grill cloth from a speaker. Shocked, the rest of the guys present tried to duplicate my result, supposedly hearing no difference. I was the youngest guy there.

            Just make them flexible, heavy enough, and preferenced as your own eye-candy. Also try to keep the number of conductors per connection to as few as possible. This keeps the C lower.

            Later,
            Wolf
            "Wolf, you shall now be known as "King of the Zip ties." -Pete00t
            "Wolf and speakers equivalent to Picasso and 'Blue'" -dantheman
            "He is a true ambassador for this forum and speaker DIY in general." -Ed Froste
            "We're all in this together, so keep your stick on the ice!" - Red Green aka Steve Smith

            *InDIYana event website*

            Photobucket pages:
            https://app.photobucket.com/u/wolf_teeth_speaker

            My blog/writeups/thoughts here at PE:
            http://techtalk.parts-express.com/blog.php?u=4102

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            • #7
              What's really key is that exotic/expensive cable constructions don't improve performance, and since they tend to result in higher capacitance and inductance they're very likely to degrade it.
              it did sound like a 'veil was lifted' going from the KK to the Soundking, even if minutely so. Like listening to removal of grill cloth from a speaker. Shocked, the rest of the guys present tried to duplicate my result, supposedly hearing no difference. I was the youngest guy there.
              High capacitance and inductance are going to have the greatest effect at higher frequencies, while the average 25 year old's hearing extends a few kHz higher than the average 40 year old. I'm not the least bit surprised with what you experienced.
              Way back before Monster came along and started this cable nonsense a favorite speaker cable was 300 ohm twin lead TV antenna wire. That's because the wide spacing between the conductors resulted in extremely low capacitance. We used the heavy stuff for roof top antennas to get a large enough conductor gauge.
              www.billfitzmaurice.com
              www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Wolf View Post
                I will also add that when I was 25 in 2003 at Dayton DIY(43 now), I took a controlled audibility test for speaker cables involving what used to be known as cheap SoundKing speaker cable (from MCM or PE) and the (funny enough) Kimber 8C cable. Bob Cordell conducted the test with his developed gear on a pair of tower speakers called 'Moxy' built by a guy of the name Peter. Towers used Vifa XT25 tweeters and M series Vifa woofers, but I digress... I was instructed to position myself in the front row, and they gave me a relay box with a switch, and told me to listen briefly and see if I could discern any differences. I didn't even know what we were doing yet. After my time, I had to relinquish control of said box and let someone else do the (rapid-fire) switching behind me out of view. There was no way I could count the flips as operated.

                It was either 7 or 10 trials, I can't recall for sure, but I was able to accurately guess the cable playing the signal in all of those trials. For me, a piece of music containing a saxophone was what I settled on during my control period. The test was conducted with this music portion piece while I took the test. I know it's cliche, but it did sound like a 'veil was lifted' going from the KK to the Soundking, even if minutely so. Like listening to removal of grill cloth from a speaker. Shocked, the rest of the guys present tried to duplicate my result, supposedly hearing no difference. I was the youngest guy there.
                I recall you mentioning having done something similar in a comparison of some capacitors of different types and brands but of matched capacitance values.

                ...and they said that it couldn't be done.


                ;-)
                "Our Nation’s interests are best served by fostering a peaceful global system comprised
                of interdependent networks of trade, finance, information, law, people and governance."
                - from the October 2007 U.S. Naval capstone doctrine
                A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower
                (a lofty notion since removed in the March 2015 revision)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Wolf View Post
                  A good 2/12 from Canare, Carol SJ/SO, Belden Brilliance, or even more expensive Mogami should make just about anyone in this hobby quite happy. Dress it as you like! Avoid CCA wire, and go with copper.
                  That is excellent advice.

                  For some applications, for use with the amplifiers that are in need of it, the amplifier stability can be improved at frequencies well above the audible spectrum by adding an inexpensive suitable Zobel filter to the load end of the cable. In some cases a Thiele and Zobel might be usefully added to the source end.

                  Since amplifier instability seems to be a problem rarely complained about, it might be an unusual problem. Where it does occur, instability can burn up an unprotected amplifier and or the tweeters, and the excessively high temperatures have been known to cause a fire. Toward avoiding the problem, the passive filters are cheap solutions. Alternatively, since class D amplifiers do not suffer the problem, it might be another good reason to use some good class D amplifiers (eg. Purifi Eigentakt 1ET400A modules).

                  Adcom GFA-7805 didn't like AlphaCore Goertz cable's capacitive reactance.
                  https://www.stereophile.com/content/...r-cable-issues

                  Elliot on terminating loudspeaker cable.
                  https://sound-au.com/cable-z.htm

                  Tom Chritiansen on amplifier stability.
                  https://neurochrome.com/pages/stability

                  Clean/transparent, adequately wide bandwidth, quiet, load invariant, efficient...
                  https://purifi-audio.com/eigentakt/

                  (I don't yet have any Purifi Eigentakt, but am beginning to want some.)

                  :-)
                  Last edited by JRT; 03-27-2021, 11:32 PM.
                  "Our Nation’s interests are best served by fostering a peaceful global system comprised
                  of interdependent networks of trade, finance, information, law, people and governance."
                  - from the October 2007 U.S. Naval capstone doctrine
                  A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower
                  (a lofty notion since removed in the March 2015 revision)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by JRT View Post
                    I recall you mentioning having done something similar in a comparison of some capacitors of different types and brands but of matched capacitance values.
                    ...and they said that it couldn't be done. ;-)
                    I do find that comparing caps is not as 'easy' as it used to be now that I am 43. I did a lot of cap ear-analysis back in 2009/2010 and still do a little. As for identifying a cap or knowing one to the next, that is a much more difficult chore than just hearing that differences exist.
                    The statistical result of the cap challenges I brought forth to the masses was that the picking a cap correctly in an ABX was not any more likely than chance guessing. When you have a few of each case, they all balance out to have nothing higher than average.

                    I also did a coil-rig swappage challenge a few years ago. That was interesting, as my findings presented variables I didn't expect, and the results of choice or preference weighed heavily.

                    I made some that didn't have the experience believers, solidified some that already did, and made some skeptics both appreciate or deny that audibility of component changes are present. That was more my goal than proving to the masses that, 'this is just so, deal with it.'

                    As to the Zobel or Boucherot cell terminated cables, I have seen some Kimber Kable with boxes at the output that do just this, as their cable is so capacitive. I've not experimented with this directly for the fact that the components place the compensation largely outside of the audible band, and I tend to stay at 10' speaker cable or less- AND- I currently run Crown Drivecore XLS1500 amplifiers, so I'm also Class D to boot. When I built my 3-pair speaker switcher, I included fail-safes such as the zobel across the input and the avalanche devices at the output in case of an inductor arcing under switching conditions. I feel this was solid piece of mind. The amplifiers that are being used with this gear are therefore always terminated and the switch comes afterward.

                    As to it all 'could be done', I've only had to prove it to myself. Process accomplished.
                    Later,
                    Wolf

                    "Wolf, you shall now be known as "King of the Zip ties." -Pete00t
                    "Wolf and speakers equivalent to Picasso and 'Blue'" -dantheman
                    "He is a true ambassador for this forum and speaker DIY in general." -Ed Froste
                    "We're all in this together, so keep your stick on the ice!" - Red Green aka Steve Smith

                    *InDIYana event website*

                    Photobucket pages:
                    https://app.photobucket.com/u/wolf_teeth_speaker

                    My blog/writeups/thoughts here at PE:
                    http://techtalk.parts-express.com/blog.php?u=4102

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Okay, FWIW. if two speaker cables have essentially the same resistance, inductance and capacitance, it doesn't matter what materials were used or "treatments" they were subjected to, they simply will not make a difference in how your audio system sounds. I also need to say that at an Iowa event where Wolf performed his capacitor comparison test, I did hear a difference in a couple of capacitors but it was limited to slight sibilants differences.
                      Paul

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                      • #12
                        So there are differences in cables and caps. hmmmm lol

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think it is pretty hard to discern differences in interconnects.

                          I believe that speaker cables do make a difference.

                          Back when I exhibited at audio shows, I combined with a well-known cable manufacturer. All his cable was stranded stuff, and dressed up nicely. I challenged him to build a pair of bi-wire cables with the requirement that all strands be small gauge, solid, and individually insulated. He brought a custom set to the next show. We hooked them up and went back and forth a few times with his standard cables. Everyone in the room heard an improvement with the experimental set. The sound was as though a veil was lifted, with a more refined and focused image, and a slight improvement to the sense of speed.

                          He told me that he had nothing available to build with except phone wire!

                          Probably the most transparent and fast sounding cables I've heard were expensive XLO. This is high-dielectric insulation, individual small-gauge strands, and wound in a crossing helix with great spacing. The spacing is the hardest thing to achieve.

                          I can get close with DIY cables made from 3-4 jackets of Cat6 wire for bi-wiring. I tend to separate the whites from the colors for signal and ground.

                          I should also admit that the placebo effect is also real. Fancy looking cables with a high price but still stranded large-gauge wire DO fool many that the sound is good.

                          However, it is very important to understand that differences can only be heard with certain passages of music that highlight the improvement. Typically this is transparency and speed in the treble, and a slightly larger and more focused image. My go-to test is Ramsey Lewis, Ivory Pyramid, track 4. There is a passage where the cymbals get very delicate, and airy, and hear-through. The electric guitar solo sounds sharper and more 3 dimensional. All I have to do is explain to someone what to listen for, and then they will prove to me that they can identify A vs B in a blind test.

                          The lower in frequency, the less it matters, and only then does wire gauge matter. To that end I use 20g on tweeters, 18g on mids, and 14-16g on woofers.
                          --

                          Philip Bamberg
                          BambergAudio.com

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                          • #14
                            That tells me that said manufacturer's original cables had high capacitance, while the bi-wire high frequency cable had lower capacitance. It's not that the bi-wire cables were good, it's that the other cables were bad. It very much duplicates Wolf's experience. As for the idea that differences can only be heard with certain passages of music, electron waves don't know or care what's being played. They treat all sources equally. I use lighter gauge wire on high frequency sources than woofers too. To do otherwise is just a waste of copper. Since there's a 3dB reduction in power density with each octave increase in frequency there's nothing to be gained by using high current capacity wire on tweeters.
                            www.billfitzmaurice.com
                            www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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                            • #15
                              Strange how a speaker manufacturer for one of the most ubiquitous studio monitors says this about speaker wire while not being in business of wire at all:

                              From the manual --> https://www.manualslib.com/manual/34...0m-Studio.html

                              Page 2 - PRECAUTIONS - 5th bullet (last) point

                              Page 2 - SPEAKER TERMINALS

                              The speaker terminals can accept up to 8 AWG wire.

                              Common zip cord can corrode over time - I have plenty of it in 12 AWG that I have been replacing with 12 AWG Oxygen Free Copper (OFC) which does not corrode over time as far as I can tell - I have some OFC cable from 30+ years ago and it still looks clean and shiny while the zip/lamp cords look like they have darkened to a rust color/oxidized.

                              Just use the thickest most pure copper conductors you can and be happy.

                              12 AWG is good stuff . . .




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