Jacketed cable terminations....

Discussion in 'Accessories, Cables, and Remotes' started by DaleBesh, Aug 14, 2003.

  1. DaleBesh

    DaleBesh Stunt Coordinator

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    I am not a big cable freak. The most exotic cables I have are the Kimber 4TC on my front L&R.

    I recently read a review of cables at www.audioholics.com
    They had some fairly good suggestions on how to judge cables....especially general construction and build quality.
    One thing they said was to beware of jacketed (heat shrunk) connectors. Because of the difficulty in seeing the actual solder joints, and assembly.
    Well, I had a couple of Bettercable coaxes around with jacketed connectors. So I cut off the shrink material, unscrewed the connector barrel, and to my surprise the quality of the solder joints was below par.
    The solder flow was 'good' and a good mechanical connection was apparent. But way too much solder in my opinion.
    On one end the solder ball for the outside ground connection was pressed up against the center conductor insulation.
    I compared a standard Monster Cable, and there was a world of difference. Very consistent quality, much less solder but nice secure and neat junctions.
    I am not a big MC fan, but there seems to be some vaild observations going on here, and maybe it offers further support for 'doing your own'.
     
  2. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well maybe it does but a lot of people don't have great soldering skills. I've seen the reference you speak of and what's unclear to me is if the BC product is hand made. I think one reason why you'll see consistency in Monster's products is because the manufacturing process is automated. Done properly, and it's not that difficult nowadays what with many places having or going for ISO certification, consistency is very tight. Hand made will always have way more variability and be much more expensive. Getting back to the BC product, even with those deficiencies, I'd still rather suspect it'd perform competently.
     
  3. DaleBesh

    DaleBesh Stunt Coordinator

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    Like I said, I've used BC's and have not noticed anything negative about the performance if that was even noticeable to all but the most golden-eared.

    I am well aware of the costs involved in delivering hardware from ISO certified suplliers WITH manual assembly.

    And I would not recommend hand termination of cables, in particular RF, unless the person has the associated skills. Then it goes beyond just solder but crtical dimensionnig of the cuts that are made to strip insulation, etc.

    Beyond just workmanship there are other factors like materials and the overall design.

    In the case of the exotics, there is the cost of engineering, better materials, plus using the best soldering techniques, automated, or manual. Not to mention advertising budget. Whether the sound equals the given price is an individual choice.
     
  4. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well the whole cable assembly process lends itself well to automation and with a video cable, well I'll just say there's a difference between defining competence and the perception of what constitues better materials. I forget where I ran across a video cable bundle from some manufacturer that sure looked a lot of what BC was using. I think someone mentioned it on the tweaks forum.

    I was really hoping that somewhere BC would've publically commented on the finding as it seems to not be an isolated instance. Kind of like finding a sloppy weld on a car.
     
  5. Mark Rich

    Mark Rich Second Unit

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    If the cable is working properly what does it matter what the solder joint looks like? If its a solid joint but not jewel like, who cares. If the joint ever fails you are protected by the warranty.
    The author of that article probably did more harm than good by suggesting people should remove the heat shrink and take a look at the solder joints. This stupid suggestion has probably resulted in lots of voided warranties.

    There are numerous reasons for heat shrinking the connector and cable ends.
    To disguise the brand of connector used.
    To disguise the cable used.
    To provide strain relief.
    To prevent people from messing with the connection by screwing and un-screwing the connector covers. With a plastic barrel and cover like the Bullets this is important.One wrong twist (with very little pressure) and you can break the connection because these connectors do not have the wires supported by the connector body.

    Knowing BC has used over priced Canare cable in the past i'd guess the primary reason for them heat shrinking the ends is to disguise the cable.
     
  6. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well now the question then becomes whose cables are they oem'ing now and making them overpriced isn't it? The mechanical shortcomings of the Bullets should be sufficient reason to condemn their use or recommendation. Me, I think I'd expect a good solder joint from a company with the name Better and I'd expect the one I saw and that others have reported from a company called So-So Cables especially at the prices that're being charged. As far as disguising the cable's identity, that's as simple as finding an OEM supplier that's going to turn the ink off during a production run.
     
  7. DaleBesh

    DaleBesh Stunt Coordinator

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    I tend to agree. When I bought the BCs I expected them to be 'better'. No pun intended.
    At the same time I can not say it has any negative effect on performance. Quality is very important to me, even if the end result does not exhibit any significant differences. I like to not only get what I paid for, but pay for good workmanship and pride in a product.
    Most good quality cables are not jacketed, and work just fine without any obvious problems realted to strain relief, and perhaps they are even hoping you check out their solder connections.
    Most of my audio cables are Outlaws, and they also look hand-soldered, but the quality is superior.
    On the other hand, I have seen a visual improvement with BC's Serpent component cable over a less expensive brand.
    But the Serpents look very much like cables being sold under other names. They look like Canares, but using BC sheathing, etc.
     
  8. Mark Rich

    Mark Rich Second Unit

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    Re Outlaws:
    In China you can afford to hire experienced workers to hand solder cables for pennies an hour. In the USA,Canada and Europe good luck finding and affording them. I'll support the other guys and keep people working for a living wage.
    Outlaws use locking connectors which cannot hide the solder joints due to the design.

    Like I stated above there are a lot of reasons for using heat shrink over the connectors. Not everyone uses it hide things though I'll admit some do. Cobalt and Signal are two that come to mind. You are getting disguised Canare cables and paying a lot more than their competition charges.
     
  9. DaleBesh

    DaleBesh Stunt Coordinator

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    You are probably right about the Canares. That is my own ignorance about the many options available with Canares at the time of purchase.
    And yes, the Outlaws are locking, but jacketed connectors are really in the minority even among those that attest to having audiophile/video quality. But if it is a feature that is important to you, then by all means indulge.
    There are obviously hand soldered 'custom' cables assembled in North America also, while there are also automated plants in other countries. But I will gladly defer to your knowledge on the subject.
     

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