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Transparency vs. Brightness


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#1 of 18 dougW

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Posted April 04 2001 - 02:35 PM

Ok, some people have commented on Silver cables being bright. I want to give my opinions on the subject, and get your input.

I believe that generally speaking, silver as a conductor allows the true representation of the signal to flow fluidly from source to input, or from output to amp. Of course, it's widely known that silver is an excellent conductor.

It is my opinion, that when people are quick to throw off on solid silver wire, that in reality, it's an avoidance of things:

a. Perhaps they have a component or speaker that is causing harshness. When a pristine signal gets there via silver, it's not the cable that's bright, the cable is transparent. In fact, the brightness is a result of the other "piece in the chain" which is not in harmony with the system.

b. Their listening psyche is pre-conditioned to the older "dull" sound, therefore when they hear pristine, they instantly think bright.

c. Their mind won't allow their ears to hear "what their hearing".

d. Just plain resistant to change, be it good or bad. It's different, therefore it's bad.

I just wanted to share my own thoughts and get your input. Who knows, maybe something I said might help someone in an audition of a new wire, a new speaker, or a new amp to really listen, and try to distinguish between transparency and brightness.

Lex

#2 of 18 Philip Hamm

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Posted April 04 2001 - 11:59 PM

In my High school electronics class we learned that copper is a KICK ASS conductor. Gold is better - perfect. No mention of Silver.

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#3 of 18 Joe Casey

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Posted April 05 2001 - 12:59 AM

Actually, in terms of conductivity, which is the reciprocal of resistance, following is the order (highest to lowest):
Silver
Copper
Gold
Gold is used a lot in connectors etc because of the relatively low corrosive factor, whereas silver corrodes the fastest if not properly insulated.

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#4 of 18 Patrick Sun

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Posted April 05 2001 - 01:30 AM

What's the color of solder? Posted Image


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#5 of 18 dougW

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Posted April 05 2001 - 04:37 AM

Joe, great answer. Actually, to add to that though, even the corrosion from Silver is conductive, but not for copper to my knowledge, and gold is nearly corrosion free. So, yes, that explains the choice of gold contact points and the preference for Silver wire for maximum conductivity.

Copper has good all around properties, but not the best at either.

However, not sure anyone has really addressed the real issues of the thread yet.

Patrick, I think it's black. Posted Image

Thanks,

Lex


#6 of 18 Charlie G

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Posted April 05 2001 - 06:58 AM

Doug, can you explain to me how the difference of usually less than a tenth of an ohms resistance (between copper and silver) has any effect whatsoever?

No evidence of any worth has EVER been presented which shows that the few tenths of an ohm difference (if even that) makes any difference on the distortion of signal-carrying characteristics.

Similarly, while many people tout the supposed micro-diode effect in non-OFC copper as having an impact on the sound, again, nobody has ever produced any evidence whatsoever supporting this.

In fact, nobody has EVER measured any distortion whatsoever in any piece of wire at audio frequencies. Compare the outputs of a $600 silver interconnect to a twisted pair of aluminum wire, and except for a minor difference in level, even the most expensive measurement equipment in the world will be unable to measure ANY DISTORTION in either wire at audio frequencies (20-20,000hz). Actually the most expensive equipment has obviously never been put to this task, so there MAY be some difference, but it is insignificant.

Yet somehow, we can hear them! Even though the distortion introduced by a typical driver is many orders of magnitude larger than what could ever be introduced by different wire. Even though any theoretical distortion in the wire would be masked by the comparitively (orders of magnitude) high distortion in a power amp.

Charlie


Addendum - Whoops! It was a mistake to say 'interconnect' and 'twisted pair' in the second to last paragraph. That comparison is based on wire material alone (silver vs cheapo aluminum). The particular layout of the cable is important. High capacitance and crosstalk should be minimized. Resistance and inductance in any decent cable are so low as to be insignificant at audio frequencies.

Also, in reference to OFC cables. The biggest problem with the supposed micro-diode effect is that there is NEVER enough current in a interconnect to even allow rectification. It can not, and does not, occur. This rasises whether it is significant in speaker leads then. Even though there may be enough current (I'm not sure), there is still no evidence that it occurs.



#7 of 18 Greg Monfort

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Posted April 05 2001 - 10:31 AM




>I believe that generally speaking, silver as a conductor allows the true representation of the signal to flow fluidly from source to input, or from output to amp. Of course, it's widely known that silver is an excellent conductor.
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In a perfect world before oxidation sets in, it has a ~4% better conductivity than copper. IOW, considering our hearing is logarithmic, an inaudible difference.
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>It is my opinion, that when people are quick to throw off on solid silver wire, that in reality, it's an avoidance of things:

>a. Perhaps they have a component or speaker that is causing harshness. When a pristine signal gets there via silver, it's not the cable that's bright, the cable is transparent. In fact, the brightness is a result of the other "piece in the chain" which is not in harmony with the system.
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See above. Also, wire is only 'transparent' when its LCR is vanishingly low.
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>b. Their listening psyche is pre-conditioned to the older "dull" sound, therefore when they hear pristine, they instantly think bright.
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It's been my experience (including UL/CSA testing) that the connection is the dominant factor in how a wire 'sounds' assuming a low LCR. In testing, silver wire per se had no advantage over copper in the audio BW to 100kHz.

Silver or silver plated copper terminations OTOH can carry ~25% more current than a copper only one, so this is possibly a factor in the difference in 'sound' (if any) of speaker wires, but not interconnects.
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>c. Their mind won't allow their ears to hear "what their hearing".
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True, we tend to hear what we want to hear and reject the rest.
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>d. Just plain resistant to change, be it good or bad. It's different, therefore it's bad.
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Not bad per se, just not for them.
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>I just wanted to share my own thoughts and get your input. Who knows, maybe something I said might help someone in an audition of a new wire, a new speaker, or a new amp to really listen, and try to distinguish between transparency and brightness.
Lex
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Brightness is due to a rising FR. If the wire's causing it, then it's either too small a gauge, acting as a choke, or a less than optimum connection.

GM







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#8 of 18 dougW

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Posted April 05 2001 - 02:09 PM

Charlie, I did agree with this statement:

Quote:
Yet somehow, we can hear them!

Ok, that statement alone could be taken out of context as a quote, I admit. But I wanted to agree with something.

Charlie and Greg, I have also heard that coathanger can make great audio interconnects, but that doesn't mean I want it on my system. Personally speaking, with over a 30K system, I want "good stuff" for my system. Does it matter if a benchmark says it's no different that what I get at Radio Shack? Not particularly.

Have their been artificial ears developed which can emulate what the ears hear, and the interaction between the nuerons of the brain, and the process of hearing? Not to my knowledge.

That's the belief that I personally hold, that indeed these differences are small, but they are there to the trained ear. But they are so small or intangible that no device can accurately measure them. I don't particularly believe that all people have the capability of hearing these differences. I do on the other hand believe that these Golden Ears do exist. Personally, I feel that my system has more "air" than it did prior to installing Silver interconnects as both a digital interconect and as analog pre-pro to amp connections. Can that difference be measured in quantitative terms? In fact, as to whether any difference exists to what the ears hear? I am sure that it can't be, at least to my satisfaction it can't. So, you either choose to believe or not to believe, what your own brain and ears tell you. Or you believe what some instrument tells you who's measuring capability for hearing these minescule differences would be perhaps like trying to measure a pin drop from 50 feet onto carpet. (Ok, the analogy is strange perhaps. Work with me though!)

While I respect both your scientific knowledge and analysis capability, I respectfully disagree that no difference exists. Question is, which one of the reasons above is mine? Posted Image

Lex

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#9 of 18 Charlie G

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Posted April 06 2001 - 06:40 AM


I disagree. It is extremely easy to fool your ears, or to make yourself hear differences that do not exist.

It is quite a good deal harder to trick an oscilliscope.

Now, I AGREE we do not play our music through oscilliscopes. But, when talking about an upgrade and there is a) No measurements or other real evidence whatsoever that it makes any differences, except for hearsay of 'Golden Ears', and b) The price difference is enormous, then I think we MUST apply some degree of skepticism.


The simple fact is this, at the receiving end of a piece of interconnect, a specific voltage is presented at the input of some amplification or buffer stage. For there to be ANY DIFFERENCE between two wires, there MUST be some difference in the potentials at any specific point in time. This difference IS quantifiable (distortion).

If the level of this distortion, once amplified and sent to the speakers, is below the range of of what the speaker is capable of producing (ie, you're listening at an average of 85db and the distortion would be at -100db relative to the signal), then it DOES NOT affect the output. Plain and simple.

Charlie



#10 of 18 Jack Gilvey

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Posted April 06 2001 - 06:52 AM

There's probably still much we don't know about how measurements correlate to perceived sound quality. There's probably more going on in a wire carrying an audio signal than in a wire carrying current destined to toast a piece of bread.
Just speculating,though.

It is true, though, and people will admit, that they want the price of their wires to be in line with the price of the rest of their system. Differences are secondary.

Somebody said, "If it sounds good, but measures bad, we don't know what to measure yet".
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#11 of 18 Joe Casey

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Posted April 06 2001 - 07:05 AM

I'd have to agree with Jack on this one. I currently have 2 systems, one of which is 'higher end' than the other. Both systems appreciated better cables (not the company) to differing degrees. Obviously, system synergy has something to do with this also. I then tried biwiring on both systems, but could only discern a difference in the higher-end system. This is a raging debate that has brought me to the following conclusions:
1. Just because something can't be measured does not mean it doesn't exist.
2. Basing ones conclusions on pure theory without actually trying it out is hypocritical.
3. This is a hobby and can be a passion for some. If adding a higher-end cable to a system enhances ones musical experience, I don't think anyone else has the right to refute the experience.
4. And yes, more expensive equipment tends to be fed by more expensive cable.

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#12 of 18 Charlie G

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Posted April 06 2001 - 09:09 AM


Just to make it clear, I am NOT saying there is no difference between cables. Cable geometry and the particular characteristics (LCR) of a cable DO have an effect on the distortion imposed on the signal.

I was talking about specific wire materials, that I do not believe there is any evidence or measurements that show that a tiny (4%?) decrease in the resistance of a wire has any appreciable effect on the signal-carrying characteristics in the audio band.

And as for the 'if it sounds good, but measures bad, we don't know what to measure', that's nonsense. It could just be that we like the sound of 'bad' things in some applications. Also, I did not say that silver measures bad, I said if no difference can be measured in this specific situation (ie two wires present EXACTLY the same potential to the input buffer at every single point in time) there cannot be any difference.

Charlie

#13 of 18 dougW

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Posted April 06 2001 - 09:38 AM

Let's face it, every statement against higher quality wires as making a difference, can be turned around into a statement saying they do. So, we can make these generalizations about why they don't make a difference or why they do, all day long.

I, of course agree with Jack and Joe on this. In the end, just because it can't be measured, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. As I said, no device has been built that can 100% emulate the process of human hearing and the interaction with the brain. So, how you going to prove to us that these differences don't exist?

Lex

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#14 of 18 Jack Gilvey

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Posted April 06 2001 - 11:43 AM

Quote:
And as for the 'if it sounds good, but measures bad, we don't know what to measure', that's nonsense. It could just be that we like the sound of 'bad' things in some applications.
Yeah, maybe, I'm just not as comfortable as you are assuming that we know all there is to know about perception.
We'll know someday, maybe.
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#15 of 18 Charlie G

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Posted April 06 2001 - 02:18 PM



dougW, what is a better question is why you think that failable human hearing and perception, along with the errors introduced in the speaker and amplifier will reveal a difference that a high-resolution scope directly on the interconnect can not.

We do not need or even WANT a process that 100% emulates the interaction of the ear and the brain. Since everyone hears things slightly differently and people's perception of sound is EASILY altered by thier preconceptions about what they should be hearing. Electronic measurements are now, and will always be the only accurate method of comparing the performance of audio components. PERIOD. There are things we CAN NOT measure now, that is true, however simple things like interconnects are not one of them. (That is not to say that anyone has ever done comprehensive testing on them -indeed no-one has, which is why I say there is no evidence in support of silver wire- but it is possible.)

You say 'You cannot prove there is no difference.' whereas I would say 'You (or anyone) have not shown that there is a real difference in the first place.'

Charlie

#16 of 18 Greg Monfort

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Posted April 06 2001 - 03:40 PM

>(That is not to say that anyone has ever done comprehensive testing on them -indeed no-one has, which is why I say there is no evidence in support of silver wire- but it is possible.)
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I said I have, for UL/CSA approval. I retired before I had to deal with ISO, thank God! Posted Image

While I can't divulge the details, I'm satisfied that silver wire for a given gauge/number of strands has no audible impact over 99.44% pure copper. The connections show current carrying capability differences, something of no consequence in typical interconnect runs. How the termination is made and whether or not it was silver plated had the most influence. These became crucial on long runs.

BTW, single strand solid core had the best electrical properties regardless of the materials tested.
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>You say 'You cannot prove there is no difference.' whereas I would say 'You (or anyone) have not shown that there is a real difference in the first place.'
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Yes, this is the crux of the matter with these 'religious' topics. I have no doubts that different interconnects can make an audible difference. I know I've heard them, but it was due to the quality of the connection, whether or not stranded or solid wire was used, and wire gauge size; not whether the wire was silver or copper.

GM


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#17 of 18 dougW

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Posted April 06 2001 - 06:11 PM

Well, to avoid a pissing contest, I am going to just leave it at that folks.

We've all got our opinions. Posted Image

Lex

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#18 of 18 BruceD

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Posted April 07 2001 - 04:16 AM

Greg,

Could you comment on which specific connectors (name and model numbers would be nice) and which methods of connector attachment (crimping, soldering, etc.) measured the best? I'm talking about connectors like RCA, BNC, etc. not the actual cables (interconnects).

I'm thinking about building interconnect and speaker cables and would be interested in whatever you can share about your findings.

In my business life I depend on UL to test and certify the network hardware devices I bring to market and have great respect for the work these people do.

Did you build your own interconnects and speaker cable? If not what do you use today and why?

Thanks,
Bruce






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