Cables (oh no, not THIS topic!)

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WestCoastMLO

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Okay, I'll admit it... yes, I have been lurking on this thread. Even the title gives caution, but I wandered in, so now I am going to confess... I'm a Cardas guy. 😳 I started with zip cord in the 70's, graduated to heavy duty Monster zip cord, and finally got hooked on Cardas. There, I said it.. :ROFLMAO:

I think my challenge on all the cable wars that go on is they are almost like a political debate, either you believe, or you don't. I'm not an engineer and don't understand all the cable science, but to me, they do make a difference to my ears, in my room, with my system. Could I hear the difference in some type of a cable bakeoff? Likely not. Is it that I know my cables 'should' sound better because of their cost, therefore they do? Possibly...

Probably the biggest challenge I have is if I am changing out cables, it is usually because I am also changing out something else. I end up hearing some improvement and I honestly can't say whether it was X or Y that made the difference. I know, not very scientific...

However, you've got me thinking about this so I am going to do kind of a reverse test. I've spent a lot of money on cables over the years so I'm going to order a pair of Signal Cables speaker cables (either Ultra or Silver) and replace my Cardas Clear Cygnus speaker cables. I only need 1 m so it isn't a big investment, and just may save me a ton of money in the future. I'll bring in my wife as the evaluator as she has much better ears than me, and a music degree as well. Give me maybe a month or two, and I'll give your her honest feedback. Stay tuned....
The best thing about this - for me - is "do they make a difference to my ears, in my room, with my system?" Everything is relative. Unicorn cables may sound great in my room, with my system, to my ears, while they may sound horrible to you with your ears and setup. Find what works for you and be happy is my take away. Thanks!
 

Stefan_DR3

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If you can make huge changes by treating the room or investing in better speakers, why would you want to chase the small/controversial (and friggin' expensive in the case of Cardas) changes?

It just makes no sense.

You don't have to be. Because you can measure time, frequency and amplitude very easily. You can plainly see whether they make a difference. Whether that's all that matters in sound we may not know at this point - but that's certainly all that exists in a recording (because that's all that is mathematically represented by the encoding algorithm).
All that matters is he's happy. He's already spent the money so who cares if his Cardas cables give him a warm and fuzzy feeling? The reason can be electrical or psychological, both are a science.

Now if it comes down to paying the rent or feeding the family, then by all means perform a blind ABX test and start selling your cables starting with the most expensive first.
 

Nuri58

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If only 8 out of 10 test .... This would mean a small difference. So try doing this with the speakers - possible 10 out of 10. Point is where to spend the money. Treatment of the room, yes if possible (often not very possible). Moving the sub often possible with noticeable effect. And then back to what was mentioned LS or Amplifier (Dirac alone gave me a huge change far beyond any cable, but the step up from the AVR600 to the 850 was significant already before Dirac improved the sound picture further).
 

Len44

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Well, yes to all the above. But, let's suppose that two different cables are both very well insulated, very well grounded, etc. It is in that "...other things cable manufacturers do..." esoteric realm that is both interesting and concerning to me. I guess I would like to know the impossible -- that is, what exactly is it that some cable manufacturers do to make their cables so very "Special" (and pricey), compared to, say, Blue Jeans, Signal, and Anti. Curious minds want to know! Personally, I can't help but wonder if is somewhat akin to that famous lyric from Love Potion #9 -- "She bent down and turned around and gave me a wink, she said I'm gonna make it up right here in the sink..."
 

ttocs

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I guess I would like to know the impossible -- that is, what exactly is it that some cable manufacturers do to make their cables so very "Special" (and pricey), compared to, say, Blue Jeans, Signal, and Anti. Curious minds want to know!
Lately, I've taken the approach of assuming that what is said by a manufacturer about a product is what they really want me to know and appreciate, and what they don't say is detrimental to their cause.

Some cable manufacturers state some electrical specs thus allowing some amount of informed choice. Without numbers it's all a deep, dark, secret. I don't buy "Mystery" boxes. I have been acclimated to the fact that less and less info is supplied with products these days, but again, if there is no specific info that gives some idea of what to expect, I move on.
 

WestCoastMLO

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Well, yes to all the above. But, let's suppose that two different cables are both very well insulated, very well grounded, etc. It is in that "...other things cable manufacturers do..." esoteric realm that is both interesting and concerning to me. I guess I would like to know the impossible -- that is, what exactly is it that some cable manufacturers do to make their cables so very "Special" (and pricey), compared to, say, Blue Jeans, Signal, and Anti. Curious minds want to know! Personally, I can't help but wonder if is somewhat akin to that famous lyric from Love Potion #9 -- "She bent down and turned around and gave me a wink, she said I'm gonna make it up right here in the sink..."
Some of the things high-end cable manufacturers claim that sets their cables apart from the rest are typically in materials and construction:

  1. Oxygen-free copper
  2. Silver / silver plated copper
  3. Teflon
  4. The type of solder used (silver being preferable and also more expensive)
  5. Use of gold for connectors
  6. Whether the cables have any electronics built into them
  7. Special wiring / wrapping / twisting
  8. Types of insulation
  9. Exotic materials: unobtanium, neutronium, adamantium, unicorn hair, etc...
For example:
  • Monoprice Premium Braided Speaker Wire 14AWG - With Gold Plated Banana Plug Connectors - Affinity Series, 1 Pack, 6 Foot Red/Black
    4.2 out of 5 stars 230 - $12.79

  • Amazon Basics Speaker Cable with Gold-Plated Banana Tips - CL2 - 99.9% Oxygen Free - 6-Foot - 4.6 out of 5 stars 1,308 - $13.31

  • Blue Jeans Cable Canare 4S11 Speaker Cable, with Welded Locking Bananas, Conventional (Non-Bi-Wire) Terminations, Grey Jacket, 6 Foot (Single Cable - for one Speaker); 4.5 out of 5 stars 43 - $41.75
  • SVS SoundPath Ultra Speaker Cable - Banana-Banana - 6ft (1.8m) - (Single) - 5.0 out of 5 stars 9 - $45.00

  • AudioQuest Rocket 33 Full-Range Speaker Cables with 300 Series Silver Banana Plugs - 8 ft. (2.44m) - 2-Pack - 5.0 out of 5 stars 4 - $399.95
  • AUDIOQUEST MYTHICAL CREATURE SERIES DRAGON ZERO FULL-RANGE / TREBLE SPEAKER CABLE - 6ft - $21,100.00
  • Kimber Kable Custom Select KS 6068 - Silver - 6ft - $22,800.00
  • NORDOST ODIN 2 SUPREME REFERENCE SPEAKER CABLE (PAIR) - 1 meter - $32,999.00

I'm not sure if someone can really hear a $32,986 difference between the Nordost and the Monoprice cables. Maybe? This is fun:
 
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spkrdctr

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A good thing for the test would also be to pretend that you are changing the wires but you really don't. See what the listener says then!
Absolutely! You should NOT just switch back and forth. Run the tests without changing them and then changing them. Mix it all up for the ten times. Man, I appreciate you guys chiming in with what I didn't say. I appreciate it.
 

spkrdctr

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Some of the things high-end cable manufacturers claim that sets their cables apart from the rest are typically in materials and construction:

  1. Oxygen-free copper
  2. Silver / silver plated copper
  3. Teflon
  4. The type of solder used (silver being preferable and also more expensive)
  5. Use of gold for connectors
  6. Whether the cables have any electronics built into them
  7. Special wiring / wrapping / twisting
  8. Types of insulation
  9. Exotic materials: unobtanium, neutronium, adamantium, unicorn hair, etc...
For example:
  • Monoprice Premium Braided Speaker Wire 14AWG - With Gold Plated Banana Plug Connectors - Affinity Series, 1 Pack, 6 Foot Red/Black
    4.2 out of 5 stars 230 - $12.79

  • Amazon Basics Speaker Cable with Gold-Plated Banana Tips - CL2 - 99.9% Oxygen Free - 6-Foot - 4.6 out of 5 stars 1,308 - $13.31

  • Blue Jeans Cable Canare 4S11 Speaker Cable, with Welded Locking Bananas, Conventional (Non-Bi-Wire) Terminations, Grey Jacket, 6 Foot (Single Cable - for one Speaker); 4.5 out of 5 stars 43 - $41.75
  • SVS SoundPath Ultra Speaker Cable - Banana-Banana - 6ft (1.8m) - (Single) - 5.0 out of 5 stars 9 - $45.00

  • AudioQuest Rocket 33 Full-Range Speaker Cables with 300 Series Silver Banana Plugs - 8 ft. (2.44m) - 2-Pack - 5.0 out of 5 stars 4 - $399.95
  • AUDIOQUEST MYTHICAL CREATURE SERIES DRAGON ZERO FULL-RANGE / TREBLE SPEAKER CABLE - 6ft - $21,100.00
  • Kimber Kable Custom Select KS 6068 - Silver - 6ft - $22,800.00
  • NORDOST ODIN 2 SUPREME REFERENCE SPEAKER CABLE (PAIR) - 1 meter - $32,999.00

I'm not sure if someone can really hear a $32,986 difference between the Nordost and the Monoprice cables. Maybe? This is fun:

The video is the truth. You can NEVER do an A/B comparison on any decent quality equipment except for speakers. To defeat your ear/brain connection, the difference for an A/B comparison has to be HUGE. With speakers it can easily be huge. If it isn't around an 8db difference or more in change most people will not hear it. The brain fixes it. Now some people can tell there is something wrong or maybe just different in smaller db changes around 5 or 6 db but most system setups have much larger peaks and troughs in the volume of certain frequencies than 6 db. The best thing that can be done dirt cheap, and I mean cheap that will get you 80% of the way there is a good db meter and a frequency sweep test disc. This will allow anyone to tune in their system to a decent level that is far better than 80% of the systems out there. Then if you want to go even more precise you have to get REW and all the fancier more expensive stuff and put time into room treatment etc. Those guys (Lots of you guys on this forum) end up reaching into the stratosphere of performance and can have amazing sounding systems. So, I guess in the end it just matters how far you want to go with your system.

Bottom line though everyone should have access to a db meter and a frequency slow sweep disc as it will show you the amazing nulls in your room. Then you can set about to fixing it.
 

ttocs

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Resistance
Capacitance
Inductance

These characteristics are helpful to know and are of primary concern. These characteristics, when known, aid in deciding which tuning preference I want to alter when choosing a cable with different properties to what I'm currently using.

The side effects of cable choice can show up as the amplifier running hotter or cooler, extended or contracted frequency response, and other frequency anomalies. I have experienced each of these.

One item that keeps being mentioned in cable talks and relates to cable design is noise. I've never experienced added noise - that I've ever been aware of - in speaker cables. So this particular design characteristic is something that I think about, but, so long as I'm careful with the logistics of cable management, I'm not concerned about. It appears to me that this one issue is the one that a lot of cable designs are aimed at dealing with.
 

twich54

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and since we still need to 'hear' a difference, a little lite reading .........

 

WestCoastMLO

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and since we still need to 'hear' a difference, a little lite reading .........

Fascinating! Thank you for sharing!
 

BDH55

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If you can make huge changes by treating the room or investing in better speakers, why would you want to chase the small/controversial (and friggin' expensive in the case of Cardas) changes?

It just makes no sense.
'IF I can make huge changes'... yes, it would make sense to do them first. That said, my room is a) difficult, and b) pretty well damped. Berber carpet with a heavy pad, plus an area rug, several overstuffed chairs/loveseat, and some bookcases (maybe 'too' over damped?). And all my walls are completely covered with sports memorabilia. As far as 'investing in better speakers'... I upgraded my Summits to ESL 15's, and my Stage center to an Illusion last year, so I'm not sure that I'm prepared to go beyond them unless I change brands.

Could I do more? Sure, probably... but I'll need to either learn REW (I think), or bring in a pro to advise me. I will continue to learn from you as well as everyone else up here though... 😉
 

BDH55

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Lately, I've taken the approach of assuming that what is said by a manufacturer about a product is what they really want me to know and appreciate, and what they don't say is detrimental to their cause.
Always a smart plan! (y)
 

BDH55

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Glad to see there is enthusiasm for my 'reverse test'. I went ahead and ordered a pair of Signal Cables Ultra Speaker Cables yesterday, so I imagine they will show up in a few days. They are six feet long and will be replacing a pair of 1.5m Cardas Clear Cygnus which are slightly shorter. While I didn't know it when I ordered them, the Cardas cables were 'Loudspeaker Cable of the Year' in 2019 awarded by Hi-Fi+ (for what that's worth). Both cables are terminated in spades, but I will put spade to banana adapters on both of them to make it easier to swap cables. I won't have her in the room when I do the swap, and if she looks closely, she will see both cables running between my amps and speakers.

I appreciate the suggestions regarding her not knowing what I am switching and also, telling her I am swapping them when I don't. Since all we will be swapping will be the speaker cables, I guess the signal path doesn't really matter but it will be Source (vinyl, SACD or stream) ==> Parasound JC 2 BP preamp ==> Parasound JC 1 mono blocks ===> ML Renaissance ESL 15 speakers (my new subs aren't yet integrated and won't be a part of this).

Also, once the Signal Cables come in, I am going to slide them into my system without saying anything to her, and just let things run for several weeks to see if she notices any change. The reason I am going to do this is about a year back I made some changes and was surprised that when she came down to listen one night, she asked me what I had changed.

I'm open to any other ideas on how to do this for the most meaningful results. Also, if the results conclude that she cannot tell the difference, NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO TELL HER HOW MUCH I SPENT ON OUR EXISTING CABLES!!! :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
 

amey01

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... but I'll need to either learn REW (I think), or bring in a pro to advise me.
This seems to be the underlying (but unspoken) theme of all these threads - people want to upgrade their system, but can't be bothered learning or doing physical things. So instead, they hand over $32,000 for some Nordost and kid themselves they have made an upgrade.

REW is not straight-forward, but it is free, and there's stacks of "how-tos" online. It doesn't get (much) easier than that.
 

RCHeliGuy

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Personally I love a combination of adamantium and unicorn hair ;)

Sadly I know a guy who has$10K speakers and $25K in interconnects and speaker cable elevated off the floor on ceramic mushrooms. No room treatments at all. He has no bass, but swears everything is so much clearer with those wires.
 

BDH55

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This seems to be the underlying (but unspoken) theme of all these threads - people want to upgrade their system, but can't be bothered learning or doing physical things. So instead, they hand over $32,000 for some Nordost and kid themselves they have made an upgrade.

REW is not straight-forward, but it is free, and there's stacks of "how-tos" online. It doesn't get (much) easier than that.
As far as learning to use REW... maybe I am just being lazy, but while REW may be free to obtain, it is not free to learn as my time also has value. I'm not saying that I will never learn REW, and in fact, since I am bringing in subs, I may have to learn REW. However, since I feel our system is sounding pretty good, I would rather spend my time listening to music (or dealing with one of the other hundred things on my to-do list), than messing around learning a new piece of software...
 
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