Losing my mind over cable decision to match system

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by AlanZ, Feb 16, 2004.

  1. AlanZ

    AlanZ Screenwriter

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    I've successfully avoided the upgrade bug for about 6 months, so I think Im ready to upgrade the one thing I really have no clue about - cables.

    Here is my set-up:
    Paradigm studio/100 v.2 mains
    Paradigm studio/20 v.2 surrounds
    SVS PB2-ISD
    Outlaw Audio 950 pre/pro
    Outlaw Audio M-200 monoblocks x4
    Denon 2900
    Hitachi 51" widescreen HDTV

    Okay....I have outlaw interconnects in place already and Im more than satisfied with them. The two cables I really would like to upgrade are my component video cable (currently using RadioShack gold) and my speaker cables. I've been on the verge of ordering the Golden Helix speaker cables from Mapleshade for quite some time, but have yet to pull the trigger. Aside from that, the only other cable that really caught my attention was the Cobalt product. As far as video, I'm totally clueless. BlueJeans cable any good? I would like to keep the speaker cable around $150 and the video cable under $100.....but I'm flexible. Any thoughts? Advice? Testimonials?
     
  2. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    Can't say much about speaker cable, decently gauged zip cord should do you fine with that setup. I certainly would go for a quality video cable, and belden/canare pro grade stuff is about as good as it gets, and blue jeans is one of the many sources for such cables. I wouldn't spend more than that on any cables. The video cables are probably the most important, and hardest to do right, so spring for quality stuff from someone such as bluejeans.

    One look at that golden helix stuff and it looks VERY thin and pretty cheesy. I wouldn't spend that kind of cash on speaker wire anyway, let alone something that looks so pathetically high gauge.
     
  3. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    It's really no wonder that many people don't have a clue about cables. A large part of this is that audio manufacturers and the vast majority of magazines don't provide any sensible information to allow you to make informed decisions. There's a variety of reasons for that and among them are fears of consumer alienation and what almost seems to be an unwritten law that you don't talk bad about people in your industry. Lawyers almost never say anything bad about other lawyers, hospitals cover up and almost never give a negative comment about bad employees, cops have the blue wall of silence, and so on.

    Speaker cables: I will simply say that although there are electrical differences between cables, there has yet to be one...one...controlled test that has ever shown that listeners can discern between two speaker wires that are of similar lengths and similar gauges. That does not mean that you can tell the difference between say 12 and 16 gauge. One needs to have quite long lengths approaching 50 feet or so and then you've got a chance of being able to tell 16 gauge from something like 28 gauge. The reason you can tell a difference is simply due to the fact that there is now sufficient resistance to affect the high frequency area of the FR curve. For the lengths you're looking at the difference between something like conventional 12 gauge from say SoundKing or KnuKonceptz (a nice blue exterior) and the Mapleshade or for that matter anybody's speaker wire is going to amount to 'maybe' a 0.1 or so dB drop at 20 kHz. There is no human alive or that has ever lived that can discern a 0.1 dB drop at 20 kHz. No one. It's impossible. The rest of the Mapleshade advertising is pretty much meaningless. Let's deconvolute just one paragraph.
    Sounds like they know something doesn't it? Like maybe they've got some kind of a research lab. Poppycock. Here's how the heat-treated spec works. They locate a real manufacturer of wire (New England Wire and Cable comes to mind...they make wire for a few companies like Transparent, Analysis Oval, etc.). They find the manufacturer has silver plated wire that they make in a certain way (hence it has specifications!) (btw, RS sells hook-up wire that also has silver plating...so?) and that it can be ordered with a thin insulation (like the wire that's used on motor windings, your automobile alternator, etc.). They specify that they'd like it in certain colors. Manufacturer writes back and says how do these specifications look? A detailed list of specifications comes back. The company looks at it and says, looks good to me. The manufacturer has them sign off on the spec sheet and THAT becomes the vendor specification. The vendor then either buys the wire on rolls and it goes into a cable braiding machine that they own or subcontract out. Then they cut the wire to various lengths and have it terminated however you want. The crystal-modifying treatment is either bull droppings or it's something that the manufacturer does (I doubt that though) when they draw the wire. In any event, it has no, nada, zilch, forget about it, you must be joking, effect on the transmission characteristics of the wire.

    Video Cables. Your RS Golds are probably more than adequate for the lengths you're using ( a couple of meters ) as they've got sufficient bandwidth and neglible attenuation losses. If you want to overspec the video cable the various Beldens or Canares will give you peace of mind as will other, generic flavors. BJ Cables does enjoy a fairly good reputation for customer service FWIW.

    Problems you'll have with cables generally come from a couple of areas. Mishandling which for video cables can lead to shield delamination or poor coax/connector connections and general oxidation or atmospheric crud that can build up on the interfaces. Proper care (twist and hold the cable by the connector not the cable itself) and maintenance (get yourself some contact cleaner...check out the little kits over at www.caig.com) for the contacts once or twice a year will keep your system in pristine condition.

    Someday you'll upgrade your speakers. Maybe you'll get that killer amp you've been dreaming about. Maybe you'll get the latest DVD player with the blue technicolor laser. You'll come back here and ask the question...I've got newer components, they cost 5X what I had before, what cables should I get? So long as you haven't mishandled your existing cables, you won't need new ones.
     
  4. Charlie B. Ch.

    Charlie B. Ch. Stunt Coordinator

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    A lot of custom made speaker cables use Canare/Belden wires. The Canare Quad can be bought cheaply at $0.43 per foot at www.markertek.com. I personally can't hear any difference between speaker cables. But I bought the Canare any way just to appease my psyche. The Canare Quad is very well built and looks very "substantial," the only two qualities in which I think matter for speaker cable.
     
  5. AlanZ

    AlanZ Screenwriter

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    Okay, Im convinced that there is something to this cable thing after all - at least as far as component video cables go. I went ahead and ordered from BlueJeans Cable on Tuesday. Somehow there were able to get my order processed and shipped in time to have it here by today (Thursday). I have yet to figure out how they did this.....They are on the west coast and I am in Georgia....and it was shipped USPS.....not bad! Anyway, the build quality of this cable is so much more substantial than the radio shack cable it's replacing that it's embarrassing. How it is that I only paid $15 more than I did for the 'shack' cable is beyond me. Okay, so in the 30 mins I've had it here in the house, I've checked out some familiar scenes from Open Range (I still can't get over the picture on this dvd), SW#2:AOTC, and LOTR:TT. Color me impressed. I feel like I've come a little closer to the full potential of my Denon 2900. The cable swap definitely made a difference. Is it staggering? Course not.....but it is anoticeable improvement, and I can very confidently say that everyone who said a better quality component video cable would make a difference was absolutely correct. I won't be sending this back. Kudos to BlueJeans [​IMG]

    (If anyone is interested, I'll post some thoughts about the Cobalt Ultimate speaker cable that is on the way.)
     
  6. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I have bluejeans cables between my preamp and poweramp and as a 50' run between rooms for S-Video (no component on my old TV). Blue Jeans are my new favorites. Very well constructed, heavy duty, and reasonably priced.
     
  7. Keith Hyde

    Keith Hyde Stunt Coordinator

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    Nice HT Alan! Damn, got the goods...
     
  8. Keith Hyde

    Keith Hyde Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't know much about cable, but I was explained the "balanced", "double balanced" or "double shielding" by a guy at the nearby B&M.

    I had asked about the "special" sub cable and why it is directional. As explained to me, what makes it special is the cable shielding is connected to the RCA plug on only ONE end which is grounded through your AVR. I was told that the other end - at the sub - is not grounded. In theory this means any RFI taken on by the cable will be grounded through the AVR-end plug and off through your AVR, and not grounded through the sub end, thereby insulating your speaker from any possible affects of RFI that may degrade its performance.

    Also, for the sub cable I have heard that nice gold plated and TIGHT plugs are the way to go - which most of the high end ones are.

    Now whether this expensive cable works any better than a Rat Shack cable (which I am convinced by experience are 99% junk) I'd only have to guess, but its mine now and I might as well keep it.

    And if you go with the three seperate component video cables, be sure to braid them for that extra touch of class. They look super cool that way.
     
  9. Stephen Weller

    Stephen Weller Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, that sounds like a load. Think about it for a minute. To get the signal from the amp to the sub, you need a positive(+) and a negative(-). If either conductor is disconnected at either end, what you have is an antenna.[​IMG]

    EDIT: Maybe I jumped the gun. Is this otherwise a "conventional" RCA cable?
     
  10. Stephen M

    Stephen M Stunt Coordinator

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    Contrary to previous posts, I suggest you try the Mapleshade speaker cable. It has a money back guarantee if you don't care for it after 30 days. During that time buy some cheap cable from Home Depot or borrow any other brand you care to try. Pay no attention to this blind test stuff since the only person who has to hear a difference is you. You're not testing cancer drugs v. placebos. This is supposed to be fun not life and death! Follow the recommendations of Mapleshade to A-B each cable and enjoy yourself! [​IMG]
     
  11. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    I would take Stephen's advice. Since they have a money back guarantee go ahead and use it. So basically ignore Chu like alot of us and make up your own mind. Afterall its your money not his.

    Those bluejeans should fit the bill nicely as well. I plan to order from them soon. I just need to make heads or tails of their site. When I'm a bit more serious about it in a month or so, I'll make a post and ask what others would suggest. Obviously for me the Radio Shack golds proved to me they were inferior cables as were the s***Y GE component cables so take a listen and let us know which path you go with.
     
  12. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    It never ceases to amaze me Shane just how good your ears are or how you ignore scientific studies and accept the silliness that passes for information in many of the cable sites. By all means, buy what you want commensurate with how you'd like your wires to look. And just remember that Burger King will give you your money back too if you don't like their food.
     
  13. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    The look has nothing to do with it at all. The sound is what matters the most to me.

    My opinion is simple: try it out for yourself. If you see the differnce in the product and are willing to pay the difference go for it.

    Your opinion: I've read all these studies and never heard the wire in question so it can't and won't sound different and I won't even try so since I won't try you shouldn't either. Hell I begin to doubt you actaully own an audio system and Bose Wave Radios don't count.

    This isn't life or death Chu. He can return what he doesn't like and be done with it. For us to make up his mind for him is just ridiculous expecially when we both have not heard the wire in question. THAT'S THE RUB.
     
  14. JamesDB

    JamesDB Stunt Coordinator

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    Right-on Chu,

    I am not meaning to start a fight, but after 12 years in the prosound industry I just hate to see people getting ripped off by these cable companies thinking they are improving sound and picture. One could have put that money into a better upgrade. Chu is right.. if you ignore the science of it what is left? Looks, and psychological warmness. To me admittedly both are worth some money, but then call it what it is and not deceive customers.

    Look at it this way... we regularly make cable runs of over 100ft while struggling with stage lighting hum and other radio crap in the air. Changing my cable runs from one brand to another has never and I mean never made any difference in the quality of sound we get on our RTA's and arrayed speaker reflection modeling software. How then can a company possibly claim that under the much more favorable conditions of HT where cable RF shielding is not bombarded with 200000 watts of crap stadium lighting, 50 taxi radios outside, the $100 cable will be better?

    James

    PS. Honestly those reviewers.. including Secrets of HT and HF (which I am getting more disappointed in because of this), who claim differences really make me wonder if the rest of their review aren’t kick-back biased.
     
  15. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    It's not life or death. It's about something called verifiability and honesty. Whether your pocket is being picked for a quarter or for a grand, it's still being picked. Now point to one verifiable study Shane. Can you? The wire is just a part of a circuit Shane and it's not terribly difficult to vary some parameters and determine it's effect on say the FR or phase errors. Then you can put those results in perspective with what people can hear.

    They don't? Oh my!
    Really, return the diploma to the school that issued it. You're giving it a bad name.
     
  16. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    Dude, Chu has personally saved me sooo much money over the last two years it ain't even funny. If it were not for him and other cable-voodoo debunkers I would probably have upgraded my cables ever time Monster decided to put a differently shaped thumbrest on the connector.

    Alternate reality Me: "Ooooh! The Monster 3000gxt-7 subwoofer cable! I need that for my kenwood HTiB." (I thought HTiBs were the only way to get surround-sound a few years ago :b)

    This forum has also kept me from buying a surge protector/filter that costs as much as my TV.[​IMG]

    Luckily I'm young and must have missed the whole "green cable" debacle. I can't believe someone fell for that.[​IMG]
     
  17. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    I'll let you guys beat the dead horse. I've listened and made up my mind on what I've heard. To blindly tell someone 'Don't make up your mind, let me do it for you" is pretty ridiculous especially considering the return policies that exist out there.
    I personally don't give a rip. I'm sure you can point to a study to back up your stuff but if I did you'd pick it apart and find something even small to disagree with and all of a sudden my test is "not good enough". Tests are only good enough to bump ones chest. I'm sure there are plenty of tests that say that Tube amps measure terrible. Yet plenty of folks buy them because they sound better. Measurements only tell part of the story. I don't use them to make my final decision nor the first decision. I am in a way using them to make a decision on a subwoofer but they only tell one side of the story. If the SVS I'm buying sounds like crap then it will go back(this is once its properly calibrated etc). Obviously I'm not going to hook it up and then go "yep sounds like crap, time to box it up".

    Cables, I calibrate then check them out with music.

    Like I said go on beating your dead horse and I'll go on listening to some better sound music. I'm sure its about time for you to bring up beer isn't Chu?

    That's what usually happens when these threads deteriorate like this.
     
  18. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    Your silly insult did exactly that.
     
  19. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    Color it what you want Robert but it might imply that one has an agenda at work rather than is out to share information. While I know your stance on the issue from past dealings, I do know you've tried the comparisons in your home(not necessarily with these more than a specific set of cables but Chu has NEVER said anything in regards to that. IF he wishes to discuss what tests he has run in his own house then I will retract my belief that he has such an agenda. An science guy who has actually tried to test it rather than do a bunch of reading is one thing to me, but someone who has a degree in the subject but has never actually tested this particular aspect under his own conditions is another. Do you follow?
     
  20. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    Apparently you're unaware that Chu has posted in the past about audio equipment he's owned (and no, it wasn't "Bose Wave radio" stuff). If you're going to argue that his arguments are invalid because he hasn't personally conducted listening tests, at least get your facts straight about his interest in audio. Again, saying he has no such equipment is just being insulting.
     

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