Copper vs. Silver Interconnect Question

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by MattCPT, Jul 10, 2002.

  1. MattCPT

    MattCPT Stunt Coordinator

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    I know this is a very subjective topic with few ways to prove claims and or opinions, but I need to ask it before purchasing. I have read numerous posts here and at audioreview.com and I'm still unsure of what to do. I own a Yamaha receiver and Def. Tech. BP-30 speakers. Since I tiled my house my music has been bright/harsh. I'm looking into changing some things in my room to help the sound, but I'm also about to buy a DVD/SACD player and possibly a Denon 3802 since my current receiver is only Prologic. I'm going to need new cables for the DVD/SACD player. I'm currently using Monster 400 interconnects on my Rotel cd player but have never compared them to another cable. I have some questions I would love to have answered even if it's only opinion.

    1. Has anyone heard a difference between copper and silver interconnects or even speaker wire. And if so what are the differences you heard?

    2. Would one of these interconnects be better for a bright sounding system? I ask because I often hear silver is more revealing and wonder if that means the sound could be even brighter than it is.

    3. I'm looking at buying either entry lever copper interconnects / speaker wires or the mid-level silvers from LAT international, CAT cables or Audioquest. Does anyone have any opinions from personal use on these? If you have compared a specific cable to another type I would like to hear what the types where and what if any difference you heard.

    Thanks
     
  2. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well Matt you already know my position from a different forum regarding your situation. It is the changes you did to your room and quite honestly if you were to enlist the services of a trained professional, that'd be the A #1 priority to tackle. The proof of claims is quite simple: level match the two things you want to compare at three frequencies (0.1, 1, 10 kHz) using a VOM, and listen without knowing the identity. This is grossly oversimplified, however to my knowledge, both from personal experience and from perusal of literature as well as private discussions with people far more knowledgeable than myself, no one has yet been able to identify a particular cable, based on shall we say, its 'sonic signature' with any reliability whatsoever. That doesn't mean cables don't have different electrical properties or that they measure differently.
    If using tone controls, and/or graphic equalizers, be they parametric or 1/3 octave ones can't solve your disatisfaction cables won't either. Nonetheless, if I was hell bent on trying to rectify my problems with an interconnect, this is what i'd look to pick up to evaluate strictly from an academic point of view. I'd forget about the bs on silver vs copper vs silver plated copper. I'd choose two interconnects, one that had a very very high capacitance with a correspondingly low inductance and another one with just the opposite extreme electrical parameters. Myself I'd be level matching and all that however you're welcome to evaluate them in your own fashion.

    One other thought on your brightness situation. Try cutting a piece of foam out and temporarily taping it over your tweeter. If you absolutely can't do anything about the room, this just might have some positive effect for you. If you like it, go mess around with different foam materials...try closed cell vs open cell. who knows?
     
  3. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    The room as noted is composed of hard surfaces which may be good for bass but can make things sound bright. There are all kinds of qualities of copper and silver, shielding, dialectrics so I don't think there is an easy answer. There is no substitute for listening with your own ears in your own system and in your own room. As you know by this point, the room is one of the most overlooked factors. You can also try temporary area rugs that you put down when you listen and if you can't leave it there put it away when not listening. The Belden 89259 interconnects sold at places like www.diycable.com for $47 in kit form where you just solder tends to be a bit more laid back in most systems than Monster cable. I don't think that is going to solve all your problems. As Chu noted, freqency analysis of the room can bring to light problem areas. If you are not comfortable soldering, I likely have some of the Belden stuff made up laying around somewhere likely with the LAT International locking RCAs. I would try a few things in the room or Chu's suggestions first before spending money on cables.
     
  4. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

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  5. dougW

    dougW Stunt Coordinator

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    You may want to read an article that I wrote over at Cabley Synergy. The article is about both cable and system synergy. Since this site sells nothing, and is purely informational, I believe I can post that here.
    Doug
     
  6. Justin Doring

    Justin Doring Screenwriter

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    Monster Cable is pretty warm as cables go. The only warmer cable I can think of is Cardas.

    Denon receivers are pretty warm, so getting one would help brightness.

    Of course the speakers will make the most difference.
     
  7. Erik Farstad

    Erik Farstad Supporting Actor

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    Matt, I'll share my experiences with you since I own Catcables, both silvercats and supernova's (sister company of Catcables call Quantumcables). Here's my equipment I used along with the above interconnects:
    Musical Fidelity A3cr Pream & Amp
    Cambridge Audio D500 CD Player
    Martin Logan SL3's
    AudioQuest Type 4 Speaker wire
    1. The differences I heard between my Silvercats and Quantum Supernova's (copper) is the Silvercats revealed a bit more at the top end. Some may equate this to being "bright" but I would rather say that they were more "forward or revealing" in presenting the trebles. The Supernova's were a bit more relaxed in the high end, but only VERY slightly. Which is better is up to the listener!
    2. For a "bright" sounding system...boy that's a tough one. Since I have VERY revealing speakers in the ML's I was originally fearful about using silver interconnects but they are currently my reference IC's between my CD player, amp, and preamp...and some say they would be too bright for my ML's but I think with my gear they sound like silk. So again, it's all opinion here too! :)
    3. This one's a bit more easy. Upon stumbling onto Catcables and the new Quantumcables sites, I am much happier with my IC's then the Monster's before them. First off, build quality is by far the most amazing thing I've seen. Add that to the increased dynamics, soundstage, and clarity the cats and quantums give and I'd say you can't go wrong. I've done many a A/B between my cat/quantums and my Monsters and in my opinion, with my setup, they are superior. Check them out for yourself for that will be the only way for you to see what they do for you! [​IMG]
    E
     
  8. brucek

    brucek Second Unit

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    MattCPT,

     
  9. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    brucek - soundstage depth and height and such factors on the way something imparts musical timbres of instruments in real space can't be measured scientifically that I am aware of. Even different cables of copper construction can sound different. Some systems are more sensitive to changes than others. All CD players have very similar specifications from something that you can buy or $79.99 or a $20k Linn CD-12. Looking at specifications can't tell you how something sounds. The same can be said of amplifiers. If an amp is rated at 120WPC in 8 ohms with .007%THD according to FTC rating requirements it according to just looking at specs should sound the same as any other amp with similar specifications. Specs are of very limited value and make be good as a starting point of a shopping list.
     
  10. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

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    Phil A,

    You have to understand that scientists are limited in explanation to what they can measure. If they can't measure a difference, or if what they can measure isn't a big enough difference they are taught to believe there is no difference. It doesn't mean a difference doesn't exist, it just means they have no way to justify/quantify saying it does. The fact that certain perameters aren't necessarily measurable(soundsatge depth/height) doesn't make a difference. With the measurable factors they have now it allows them to believe they are correct in their assumptions. Take for isntance this comment: "Silvers resistivity compared to copper is about 0.84. This is hardly significant enough to justify any audible difference for silver cables compared to copper." Maybe the resistivity has little or nothing to do with why silver sounds different than copper, but it's a measurable factor that can be put forth to bolster an opinion. Whether relavant, or not.
     
  11. Mike Matheson

    Mike Matheson Second Unit

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    Matt,

    Given you're looking at a new DVD/SACD player, perhaps choosing your player carefully will give you more control over the sound than differences you would hear via wire choices. The analog outputs of such players can vary a good bit in the character of their "sound".

    I also assume you're asking about interconnects specifically for the analog outputs of the player to your receiver rather than the digital outputs?
     
  12. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    I understand that the mind of a science oriented person differs. Just a year or so ago they decided T-Rex couldn't really run as depicted in Jurassic Park. They just discovered a skull in Africa that may have some rethink evolutionary theory. In the latter part of the 15th century according to scientists the world was flat. I'm sure over time they will be more scientific data on the way one hears and what may be more meaningful to consider. I just wanted to relay the point that measurements don't equate to quality of sound with a one-to-one relationship.
     
  13. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Mark & Phil...so you think that using cables is going to compensate for having gone to tile floors? Or switching to a different player or amp? That's like suggesting because my regulation basketball bounces higher on a wooden floor than it did on a synthetic one, maybe I should try a Wilson instead of a Spalding. You don't seriously think you're going to come close to that synthetic floor now do you?

    BruceK: assuming the values I was given are correct then we have the following resistivity values

    Copper: 1.7 X 10^-8 ohm-m
    Silver: 1.5 X 10^-8 ohms-m
    Silver Sulfide: 1.5 to 2.0 X 10^-3 ohm-m
    Silver Oxide: 1 x 10^+9 ohms-m

    so comparing silver oxide to silver we have about 17 orders of magnitude more resistivity. To put this in some sort of perspective its like comparing an inch to the distance light travels in a little over two months. Oh its conductive alright, but not terribly so.

    Mark, you continuously side step the issue that science does a pretty good job at being able to test for differences. Anyone who has had eyeglasses has experienced this. Its done in the photographic, food, perfume, cosmetic, and audio industry. You just seem not to be able to reconcile that under level matched blind conditons, these differences seem to go up in a puff of smoke. For you, the test is wrong because you can't fathom that there are other factors in play and just might have to come to grips with the finite limitations of human hearing. I may be mistaken, and if I am please excuse me, but I believe you were offered an opportunity to participate in such a test, using your equipment, and in your room with your music. Speaker cables I believe would have been used and of course you'd have had the opportunity to use yours. Certainly you're familiar with their nuances? All the edges were given to you. But you decided not to participate so what does that say for being open minded? If we can find reliable differences then we could get on with trying to understand what made it so.
     
  14. dougW

    dougW Stunt Coordinator

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    Chu, whether Mark was offered a chance to blind test cables, has nothing to do with the issues at hand, his opinions, or yours; and your bringing up a past challenge can really only be seen as a flame seeking statement, even with the cursory "excuse me if I am wrong". Mark has as much right to post his opinions as anyone else, Irrelevant of past offers of comparison, and the validity of his statements should not be challenged by a "what if".

    Doug
     
  15. MattCPT

    MattCPT Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree that my choice of DVD/SACD player is more important than cables. I'm looking at either the Sony 755v or the 900. I'm not sure if the D/A converters on the 755 will help it sound better, or if the build quality and option to turn off the video section while playing audio in the 900 make it worth the extra $400. I do know that whatever player I get and whatever changes I make to my room I will still need cables, and I want to buy the best ones for me. I believe that their is a definite difference in quality. I have had radio shack cables that separated after being attached / unattached a few times from old equipment. I don't know how much of a difference a cable will make in sound, but if there was a reasonable priced one that delivers smooth and detailed high frequencies as well good mid and low frequencies without adding to the already bright sound that I have then I would buy it instead of an overpriced one that doesn't give me any gains or a cheap one that will break or even worse degrade the sound of my music. I'm still open to experiences that people have had with one of the cables I listed. Thanks for all the replies up until now.
     
  16. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Chu, if you read my original post I agreed that your approach to isolating the frequencies causing the problem was the correct approach. Less harsh sound cables may make up for 5% of the problem and is not a complete solution. Changing the electronics too may help with a small fraction of the problem as well but is not a complete solution. As I noted the room is too often overlooked. I've seen some really good systems sound awful in the wrong room.
     
  17. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

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    Chu,

     
  18. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well Phil, where did I miss where it said 'I've already tried acoustical treatments'? Hey look, you want to play with cables, knock yourself out. But to do it in lieu of more rational and sensible approaches that directly address the problem, to me is audio malpractice.
    Mark indeed should post. But I'm sorry if you don't see the little scientist diatribe as equally baiting dougW. Indeed I should have risen above it.
    I treat MattCPT's concern and situation with total seriousness and offer what, with effort upon his part, will likely result in satisfaction, coupled with a greater understanding of how his system interacts with his room and his ears. The easy answer is to go hire someone but I'm very loathe to spend someone's money for them. The problem is simple, the answer is also, although its implementation will take time. If this is not MattCPT's cup of tea, I have no other suggestions other than sticking foam over his tweeter. For me to do otherwise, would be tantamount to a doctor giving me bunion pads when I've got pneumonia.

    The ultimate decision lies with the buyer. The best consumer, however, is the one who is educated on the issue. He carefully researches and reviews the evidence presented by each side and examines the weight of each argument. Armed with information, this consumer should be able to approach the purchasing decision or solution with complete confidence.
     
  19. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

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    Chu,

    What was said in my scientist diatribe that isn't factual?
     
  20. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well Mark, when your approach, whatever that is, can lead to consistency, you'll have something to talk about. Sighted comparisons lack the correlation of unsighted ones which makes them terribly unreliable. You're dead wrong about these tests not being used to to determine differences. Questions that are asked are likely to be of the following nature.
    which one tastes sweeter?
    which image is sharpter?
    which fabric is softer?
    which mouthpiece sounds better?
    which lipstick goes on easier?
    which speaker does has a wider soundstage?
    differences, preferences...in some cases they can be used interchangeably so this may be an issue with semantics and splitting hairs.
    actually i've got some great scientific footing that i'm standing on. oodles and oodles of history, applications, studies, outcomes based upon the tests that correlate well, solid statisticians to aid in interpreting results...
    and it probably irks us both when we offer our comments. his problem won't be solved by cables...that's no opinion, that's fact. well scratch that, he could certainly run several hundred feet of 30 gauge copper, but that's a misapplication of things. he's welcome to try them but to do so initially is waltzing around the problem.
    btw, if you ever get that doctor's name, i'd love to have it [​IMG]
     

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