Speaker wire is speaker wire is speaker wire. Or is it?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Javier_Huerta, Aug 20, 2002.

  1. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    When I bought my last speaker set, the dealer tried to sell me a set of $90 interconnects and some speaker cable at $14 a meter.
    I kindly said "no", and walked away.
    I've been listening to many for and against arguments when it comes to interconnects. Frankly, I can't imagine how a couple of meters of wire can make that much of a difference.
    Furthermore, being an engineer I'd accept the fact that some cables could transmit energy from one point to the other better than others. But not in the audible range (I'm thinking megahertz here).
    I was wondering if someone could provide a link to actual data regarding this subject.
    Thanks! [​IMG]
     
  2. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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  3. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    Witn line level interconnects, the reasons for them sounding different is fairly easy to explain. An interconnect works into a fairly high impedance, around 100Kohms or more in some cases. This impedance combines with the capacitance of the cable to form a low pass filter, cutting off the higher frequencies. If the cable has a high enough capacitance (which depends on cable construction and length) and it's driving a high enough input impedance, the cutoff frequency of this filter could become low enough to enter into the audible range. The math is pretty easy to do: f = 1 / (2*pi*R*C). Take 6 or 9 feet of something like Radio Shack Gold Series interconnects which someone has measured to be around 50pF/ft and hook that up to say a 100Kohm amp (very common figure for tube amps), and see for yourself what the filter's cutoff frequency is going to be.

    Speaker cables are a different story and I don't totally understand the issues involved with power signals. I haven't really experimented with different speaker cables, so I have no opinions on whether they sound different or not. The best advice usually is to go listen for yourself, and set up a blind test if you're so inclined.

    Edit: I think the math here is all wrong, so please ignore this post. HF rolloff requires a preamp with high output impedance, not an amp with high input impedance.
     
  4. Jami Bradley

    Jami Bradley Auditioning

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    Not that I really understand this stuff, but...

    I spent many hours trying to figure out what kind of speaker wire (normal, OFC, silver, etc.) to get and what kind of interconnects (if any!). By the time I finished, I decided to ignore all these details and just get one size larger gauge wire than was recommended. I ended up with very flexible, 12 gauge wire from Home Depot and used no interconnects. Going to 12 gauge increases the cross sectional area of the cable so much it seems to dwarf all of the other "tweaks" like OFC :)

    I have been very happy, but I can't really compare with anything else. Installing the wires was a bit tiring, since I had bare wire - I would probable get connectors next time that have a lot of contact area with the wire and the terminals, just so my fingers could have a break!

    Good luck,

    Jami
     
  5. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    The quick prediction for this thread is both sides fight it out with the usual suspect stating WIre isn't wire and the other saying Wire is wire and you need to do some blind test to tell the difference and we argue about the blind test and we never get anywhere.

    The best advice is to buy some wire/interconnects and have someone switch them out in your own system. Note which one you prefer after about 10 switches then decide. I've done this and every time I've come up with differences. Sometimes positive sometimes negative.

    Before this thread goes the usual way, lets down continue down the same path of beating a dead horse.
     
  6. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  7. matthew_rm

    matthew_rm Second Unit

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    What if someone played a mono source with their mains. One wired with cheep stuff and the other wired with "high end" speaker cable? And then find out if the left or right sounds better. I think Im going to do that soon[​IMG] And later Biwire one[​IMG]
     
  8. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan Screenwriter

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    Whenever somebody calls speaker wire "cable" and patchcords "interconnects" I head in the opposite direction. This is like the middlebrow goons who call houses "homes". Just because we have to be exposed to advertising doesn't mean we have to talk like it.
     
  9. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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    My advice is if you're spending a lot of money on equipment, at least buy some quality cables. Yes, I said cables. Leave the expensive crap at the dealer. Get good, but inexpensive cables, like an Audioquest Type 2 or Type 4 for your speakers. These are very inexpensive compared to those high cost cables, but they're very good.

    If you want to hook up thousand dollar speakers with 25 cent/foot lampcord from a hardware store, go right ahead. But I'm not hooking up my $10,000 speaker system with cheap zipcord. I wouldn't do it even if I couldn't tell the difference.
     
  10. Bruce Chang

    Bruce Chang Second Unit

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    Sound King 12awg is a great cable. It could be had at www.partsexpress.com I'm using Nordost superflatline biwire cable and I don't hear a difference.
     
  11. Blake R

    Blake R Stunt Coordinator

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  12. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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    For the record, I do hear differences between ITC's and Speaker cables. However, how much of a difference I hear varies and it's not necessarily cost related either or for the better. I happen to be a personal fan of DH labs T-14 cables for bookshlef speakers but overall I like the DH Labs Q-10's. Especially when you have a sub for the lower octaves. I love the Harmonic Tech Prosilways MKII's but I get similar satisfaction from a pair of Canare LV-77's. Go figure huh?

    In the overall scheme of things, the differences are subtle and not necessarily very critical to the enjoyment of music for the casual listener. If I walked out of the room for about 3 hours and came back to listen, I don't think I could tell what cables are in my system. However, as the listening session gets more critical and subtle nuances don't sound a certain way with personal source material, you may realize the subtle differences in certain cables.

    In short. If you spend a lot of time between the L & R speakers and seek to bond with your recordings to the most subtle of nuances, I say that the differences betweeen cables can be realized and to some degree quite obviously.

    However, if you are a casual listener and don't spend a lot of time in the sweet spot, then I wouldn't bother with the back and fourth ramblings of the "audiophile" because what they seek from their musical experiences can be compared to the casual driver and the race driver. Although they both drive cars, the objective and level of satisfaction are on two totally different plains of enjoyment.

    For me? I don't know anymore if the details matter to me as much as they used to. My personal CD collection is not as large as I'd like and I think I may be debating equipment a little more then I need to and more attention needs to be applied to my CD collection.
     
  13. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    Javier,
    You own electrostats right? These can and do present a very different kind of load to an amplifier. As such they "can" be more affected by speaker wire than others.
    Try some out and see for yourself. Search the tweaks forum for a surprising test I did with speaker wire/bi-wiring. nevermind, got the thread for you...
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...hlight=reQuest
    I hope we can stay on course with electrostats and speakerwire and not degenerate into the common mode. [​IMG]
    -edit- grammar
     
  14. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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  15. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    John et al: thanks for your insights. I can see now how a "patch" [​IMG] cord could make a difference when compared to others (I actually use the Radio Shack Gold interconnects -oops, I used the "i" word!). Speaker cable... I'm not that sure.
    I'm sorry I brought up such a heated subject without a preface: the thing is, I can't test speaker cables around here without buying them first -and, after I do so, I can't exchange them. Store policy. And besides, all I could get would be some Audioquests or Monster Cable. Nothing really fancy. If I didn't find any difference between them, I'd be stuck with a $100 cable I'd have no use for.
    I assume from all the opinions that cables do vary, but a) not always for the better and b) the difference is not that noticeable. Which, if I understand correctly, means I should better concentrate on improving my system (adding a good sub for my ML's for example) and then, when I'm satisfied with the overall sound, try a tweak one at a time.
    Thanks for your thoughts, and thanks a lot for not turning this thread into a bashing session for either side or the other. [​IMG]
     
  16. Kevin Farley

    Kevin Farley Second Unit

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    We just went up from $8/50ft cable to 20$/50 feet cable (still radio shack) and the difference was NOT subtle. My wife and I looked at each other amazed. The sound was much richer and smoother; harshness in the midrange and high end was greatly reduced. I've studied electrical engineering, and learned a lot about cable. There are finite, discrete differences in capacitance, resistance, and inductance in different cables, and the results are very audible. Many dealers will allow you to try out some cables with a money-back guarantee. Some cable is very inexpensive, like the PBJ interconnects from Kimber, etc. At least, approach it with an open mind, and try it out. Then you will be satisfied one way or another.
     
  17. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    As I have been away on vacation I was unaware of the existence of this thread, and thus unable to join in. Now that I've returned, I'm going to continue with that strategy.

    Larry
     
  18. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    First on interconnects, I posted the following in the tweaks section. To it, I'd like to add the following. Some companies desire to follow a theme with their cables, Alpha Goertz is an example. Speaking to the Alpha's their interconnects are based upon the same theme as their speaker cables, flat metal sandwiched between a dielectric. It can be looked upon as a capacitor that's been unwound. While this effectively reduces impedence, capacitance is quite high which 'theoretically' is opposite of what you want in an interconnect. Now in normal lengths, a meter or two, this is typically a non-issue, even with this piss-poor approach to designing an interconnect. However what it does indicate, is that in most normal cases, one can have widely different values of capacitance and still not hear any differences.
    Now for my repost from tweaks...
     
  19. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    deleted...oops!
     
  20. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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