Completely confused by speaker wire.

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Joe Rivera, Mar 29, 2003.

  1. Joe Rivera

    Joe Rivera Auditioning

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    Hi,
    After reading a few articles about the importance of not using garbage speaker wire, I went out and purchased some Monster XP speaker wire for my system to see what kind of difference it would make.

    I am no pro - and have been completely thrown off by the connectors. My problem is that my speakers and receiver have these connectors where you push down the lever, insert the bared wire into the hole and let go of the lever - it then clamps down on the speaker wire and holds it in. Now this XP speaker wire came with these gold connectors which I apparently need a crimping tool to connect - and I don't even know if I can use them with the lever things on my speakers / receiver.

    If someone could clear this up for me that would be greatly helpful. I need to know if I am supposed to connect with these gold things, or if it even makes a difference sound wise. If so, I have to go out and buy a bunch more of them, since it didn't come with enough.

    Also - has anyone used the Monster twist connectors - so you don't have to use a crimping tool (which I'd rather not go out and buy for this one purpose).

    Sorry about the long post - I am dying to set up these new cables...but I can't more forward without some help!!!

    Thanks,
    Joe Rivera
     
  2. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Hi Joe.

    The spring connectors can only work with either bare wire or "Pin Connectors". Both Monster and Radio Shack offer these and I prefer the 2-piece Radio shack version (278-320) because the Monster "Twist Crimp" connectors usually pull out every few weeks.

    To use the 2-piece Radio Shack connectors:

    - Strip about 1/4 inch of insulation from the wire. Do not twist the copper strands together!
    - Unscrew the pin connector into the 2 pieces
    - Shove the wire up through the barrel shaped piece and fold the copper strands over the lip.
    - Screw the top part of the connector back down. If any copper strands are sticking out, unscrew and trim them off. You want no exposed copper to cause shorts.

    The pin connectors have little notches in them. Insert them into your clips past the notch, then tug gently so the clip grabs onto the notch.

    There you have it.

    Note: The radio shack part numbers are:

    279-309 10-12 ga wire
    279-320 14-16 ga wire

    I believe the Monster XP is 16 ga. If you are not sure, cut off about 2 inches and take it to the Shack with you.
     
  3. Joe Rivera

    Joe Rivera Auditioning

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    Thanks so much for your help Bob - I have one more question. Will I notice the sound difference if I go through the trouble of getting the pins? Or is using the bare wire in the spring connectors going to produce essentially the same effect. I want the best quality sound I can get - (and those Radio Shack pins sound much easier than this crimping nonsense) - but if it isn't worth the trouble, I'll just connect the bare wire, since I already know how to do that and it is free.

    I'm just beginning to learn about optimizing audio. I'm not even sure if I am attuned enough to notice the difference this new speaker cable will purportedly give me compared to my cheapo bulk speaker cable. I hope I can, and I appreciate your opinion on how to best achieve an optimized sound.

    Thanks again,
    Joe Rivera
     
  4. Mathew Shelby

    Mathew Shelby Second Unit

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    This is another either/or argument. Some people prefer the bare wire as they feel it gives a better connection. Others who move their equipment often use the connectors because they are easier to work with. Personally, I don't believe there is much of sound difference between the two methods.
     
  5. Jeremy Scott

    Jeremy Scott Second Unit

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    what is the difference between the thin speaker wire they usually supply with the systems and that monster cable?

    does it make it sound any different?
     
  6. Joe Rivera

    Joe Rivera Auditioning

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    You know - I was totally in doubt that it would make any difference. But, I found the wire severely marked down at The Wiz (which is going out of business...at least here in NYC). At 40% off I decided why not give it a shot. I CAN NOT BELIEVE what a difference it makes. I feel like I got a new receiver and speakers - I never knew all of the sound that I was missing. Now my DVDs and music sound amazingly rich and full - and surround me like never before. The difference is extraordinary. These wires are built to optimize sound - and I am convinced that, like I've read, wires are as important as the components.

    I was expecting a minor improvement, it turned out to be the best $50 I've spent on my system yet! I know my enthusiasm might sound over the top - but MAN if you could hear the difference! I would recommend going out and getting some good wire - and immediately trashing that thin crap that came with your system.

    Joe
     
  7. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Over in the "Tweeks and Connections" fourm you will find lots of talk about wires and cables.

    MY VIEW:

    Yes, the included wire with most systems tends to be low quality which does influence the sound.

    You can get good oxygen-free 12 ga speaker wire by the spool from places like www.partsexpress.com or Home Depot that will come very close to the much more expensive brands.

    Expensive copper will not make inexpensive/un-accurate speakers sound better. Since Home Theater sound is highly-compressed and artifical, it really does not matter. A music system with accurate speakers - the wires have a larger influence.

    The wires are like the glass you drink wine from. Cheap stuff is like a paper/stryofoam cup. Going to a drinking glass or a cheap wine glass makes a large difference. (The inexpensive 12 ga I mentioned is the wine glass). But the difference between a $3 wine glass and a $85 wine glass - is a subtle difference, but lots more $$$.

    To keep the wires in perspective with the accuracy of your system, follow the 10% rule:

    Budget 10% of the cost of the devices you are hooking up for the wires

    Salesmen will try to sell you $400 worth of wires for a $500 set of speakers. This is because they make commission and lots of profit on the wires, not because your equipment 'deserves' good wires.

    The order of importance for good sound are:
    1. Good source (CD over tape, DVD over Video, etc.)
    2. Accurate Speakers
    3. Proper placement and adjustment of speakers in the room
    4. Exotic wires over good 12 ga

    But men get a few hundred $$$ in their pocket and start obsessing that wires dominate the quality of their sound. Not true. It's at best a third-order improvement.

    CONNECTOR VS BARE WIRE:

    While audiophiles agree that bare-wire is best, none of them ever claim they could hear any sound change if they switched to plugs or pins. The pins are superior IMHO because they let you do a neat, clean connection without little strands of copper sticking out to cause shorts. It is SO much easier and safer, it's a no-brainer: use the pin or banana connectors.
     
  8. Jeff_Garcia

    Jeff_Garcia Agent

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    shouldnt be the receiver be in that list too? how would a bad receiver work on accurate speakers vs a good receiver work on non-accurate speakers? do you think that the majority of the people would notice the sound difference?
     
  9. JeffPh

    JeffPh Agent

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    I just used the pin connectors to hook up my system and I have a few tips.

    1. Don't expect pin connectors to fit like banana connetors...they will fit kinda loose, the grooves in the pin will "catch" to keep them from coming out.
    2. If you're using heavy 12ga (like the Home Depot stuff), you'll need to taper the wire jacket to fit up in them.
    3. The screw together ones (Radio Shack for example) are easier to use than the crimp on ones, and I feel they give you a better connection.
    4. Make sure the connectors don't touch after they are plugged into the speaker. Because of the "loose" fit, the connectors can lean against each other, creating a short(?)...I wrapped one connector on each speaker in electrical tape to avoid this.
    5. There's been alot said about speaker cable quality...I think the Home Depot 12ga works great, and at 34 cents a foot, the price can't be beat.
     
  10. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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  11. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    If the bare wire fits in the clips tightly, you don't need pins. Also, if you convert to crimp on or screw on pins, there are now two joints where there was one before. (From the wire to the pin and from the pin to the terminal or clip).

    IMHO garbage wire, if of the same material and gauge, works just as well as boutique wire. The probable difference is that the garbage wire might not look as attractive, may be stiff to work with, and if in a transparent covering is more likely to be seen to turn green from oxidation or reaction with the covering.

    Video hints:
    http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/video.htm
     
  12. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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  13. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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  14. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Yes, of all the equipment the speakers have the greatest influence on the sound. We agree.

    I'm seeing more and more people are getting high-end display systems then thinking something is wrong when they watch their highly-compressed CATV feed on their new HDTV. This made me realize that many of us assume a high-end, digital source (DVD/CD) exists, and this is a big assumption.

    I put "Good Source" first in my list to change this from an assumption to "you need this first".

    While it is my opinion, I could argue that a high-end speaker system like a set of MartinLogan electrostatics with a Cinanova amp and a cassette tape player would sound/perform worse than a more modest speaker system, but a CD or DVD as the source.

    Does this clarify things Greg or did I muddle it up?
     

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