Speaker cables make little difference, what about interconnects?

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by EdNichols, Jun 9, 2004.

  1. EdNichols

    EdNichols Second Unit

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    There is another thread that is surveying speaker cables and it appears that for the most part that Sound King or Home Depot 12 ga. sounds about as good as any and it is cheap. What about interconnects? What would be the best value for the dollar here?
     
  2. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    If you mean connections between an amp and a preamp or prepro there's even less 'attenuation' of the signal. Look for a shielded coax, most are around 15-20 pF/foot, with the type of connectors you prefer.
     
  3. John F. Palacio

    John F. Palacio Supporting Actor

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    Best value per dollar would be the "Radio Shack" variety or what comes with the equipment.

    I would recomend, personally, to go with something like "Blue Jeans Cable" or "Better Cables" as they offer better connectors, better wire assemblies, better construction and probably better shielding. Doubtful if they would sound any different.
     
  4. EdNichols

    EdNichols Second Unit

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    Do you mean that the pencil thin wire stuff that comes with the equipment is nearly as good as some of the high dollar thick wire stuff? Surely the gauge wire wouldn't be the same in the cheap stuff and that would effect the sound.


    Chu, what does PF/Ft mean?
     
  5. Craig Robertson

    Craig Robertson Supporting Actor

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    pico-farad per foot. a measure of the cables capacitance.
     
  6. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    The gauge is irrelevent (truly) and only relevent insofar as if it's too thin then the connections might not have enough 'meat' to be durable.
     
  7. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    Just curious, does this only apply to audio? I recall using thin, cheapo interconnects for the component video output of my first DVD player the picture was kind of ugly. I got some Radio Shack Gold thicker interconnects and it cured the problem (the RS guy told me to get the audio/video cables rather than the more expensive "component-specific" cables on the next shelf, as he said they were identical except for the colour coding--saved me 60%).
     
  8. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    IMO, analog interconnects can make a subtle, but noticable difference. It is a heated debate, that I truly don't want to rehash, but to me, there is a difference. The question is simple, how much are YOU comfortable spending on interconnects? If $50 is your limit, you should spend no more than that.

    Bluejeans is probably your best bet for bang-4-your-buck.
     
  9. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Only audio PaulDA. For video you've really got to use a copper center conductor, solid or stranded, that's shielded. The composite stuff is pretty cheesy. If you're into silver, or silver over copper, then just do that. Here the gauge can affect bandwidth and upper frequency limit, but for a few meters, it's amazing how thin that can be. Usually an RG59 type works well and has the added benefit of greater flexibility and less weight.
    In many home environments you don't even need coaxial type interconnects and can get away with braided stuff. Live vicariously and buy a spool of 30 gauge teflon coated silver wire and braid some audio interconnects.
     
  10. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    Thanks, Chu. On a related topic, I've got two hi-res players that I want to connect to my multichannel input on my receiver. I'm planning to use a couple of Radio Shack switchboxes that I've got lying around (though I won't be able to try for another month, we're closing on the house in mid-July). Am I correct in assuming that these passive switchboxes shouldn't introduce anything detrimental into the signal path? I've never tested them, just used them with old gear when I ran out of inputs. They seemed fine. I'm just curious about the workings of such things.
     
  11. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    As someone with extensive experience building custom cabling, I’ve dissected a few of those “stock” cables with the red/white RCAs. Surprisingly, the one I’ve seen aren’t all that bad from a structural standpoint. The center conductor was of a decent gauge (i.e., enough “meat” to be reasonably durable, as Chu put it) and the shielding was excellent – spiral wrapped, the center conductor fully covered.

    From a functional standpoint, the only thing really bad about them is:
    • That the outer jacket is a little thin compared to the better cables. The latter would take more abuse, but that’s not really an issue with a set-it-and-forget-it residential application.
    • The RCA connectors are really cheesy.
    • Due to the small diameter, they do not qualify as a 75-ohm cable, and really shouldn’t be used for video signals.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  12. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    I'd open the boxes up if I could and just take a look inside. Might need a little contact cleaner to spruce things up a bit. Good luck on the house. Hope you get good neighbors.
     
  13. frank manrique

    frank manrique Supporting Actor

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    quote:

    "I would recommend, personally, to go with something like "Blue Jeans Cable" or "Better Cables" as they offer better connectors, better wire assemblies, better construction and probably better shielding. Doubtful if they would sound any different."

    Well, I bought a set of Better Cables component video cables (6 footers) a few years back...and the green channel was bad from the way go (never mind they are too stiff and bulky to work with); it has an intermittent problem. Rats!
    By comparison, Rat Shack cables work like a champ...and are a lot cheaper to boot...even in long runs...

    Meantime I've found two other sources of very affordable--but well engineered--cabling interfaces: one is in a nearby electronic parts warehouse (found 250' spools of 10 Ga., extremely flexible, clear jacket speaker cables for a bit over $100, and 300' spools of 12 Ga. of similarly highly flexible, clear jacket speaker wire for about the same price!), and the second one from CableWholesale.com. They offer a tremendous amount of analog and digital interfaces at terrific affordable prices (you ought to see their incredibly well constructed optical Toslink cables for less than $20!).

    The first time I got burned was when I purchased so-called "high-end" interconnects back in the early 80s; I paid well over $200 for a pair of 20' audio cables from a certain--but since defunct--cable company......only to find out, to my own chagrin, that those miserable cables were microphonic! [​IMG]
    So much for high-end cabling... [​IMG]

    -THTS

    "...hi, my name is Frank...and am an SVS bassaholic..."
     
  14. John F. Palacio

    John F. Palacio Supporting Actor

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    Wire gauge is irrelevant in interconnects. The signals are low current (unlike speaker connections) The thickness is mainly a result of the insulation and the outer jacket.

    Shielding, capacitance, inductance and connectors are the main factors in the quality of the interconnects.
     
  15. Kwang Suh

    Kwang Suh Supporting Actor

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    Although my ears are not golden enough to differentiate between audio cables, I still like to get cables that have durable connectors. I used to use the cheap cables all the time, and I found that they'd break all the time (and I wasn't moving them around).

    As for video, I've seen large differences with coax and svid cables. I've never used the ultra cheap component cables.
     
  16. Drew_W

    Drew_W Screenwriter

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    Why not build your own? It's really not that expensive for the quality you're getting.
     
  17. MikeNg

    MikeNg Second Unit

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    I rarely hear people mention Liberty Cable, but if you can find it the Z-series interconnects are very well constructed. I run the Z-400's for all my analog, coax, and video. As far as whether they make a diff in sound when compared to less expensive brands, I've successfully fooled myself into thinking so. :b

    Link to EBay auction taken out by moderator

    Since we're on the topic of interconnects, logic tells me that digital interconnects should make no difference whatsoever. So why would anyone want to spend more than what you can get at Radio Shack? Aside from construction quality I guess...
     
  18. Drew_W

    Drew_W Screenwriter

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    I should add that I don't at all agree with the claim that "speaker cables make little difference".
     
  19. John F. Palacio

    John F. Palacio Supporting Actor

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    Kwang Suh says:

    Excellent observation! There's no doubt that a cable manufactured from quality components will not only make a more positive electrical connection, but last longer and also look better.
     
  20. Craig Robertson

    Craig Robertson Supporting Actor

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    add me to that list as well. my read of the speaker cable thread was not that there's no difference, but that, factoring in price/convienience and sound quality (whether real or subjective), "brand X" was the posters choice.
     

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