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LaserMark4

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There seems to be so much hype about speaker cables these days..... is it smoke and mirrors or real science?

Now that I have all the components, pieces and parts purchased for my dedicated HT, I am about to break down all the equipment I have loved testing in place for these past months, and finish the final hard construction of the room (including a small front stage, room acoustic treatments, seating, lighting, in-wall wiring, etc).

Since my equipment stack will be in an adjacent room, my "speaker cables" will be about 25 feet in length. My ML's will actually be hidden behind speaker fabric enclosures (yeah, I know, I am covering up these beauties but that's the HT design). Since the cables and wiring will be behind the walls and enclosures, and will not show on the HT room side, I would like to take non-stop cables from the amp/adjacent room, through the walls, and all the way into the speakers as one continuous wire. I have planned on using the same wire as Blue Jeans recommends for traditional speakers (10 ga. Belden 5T00UP 2-wire on a bi-amp configuration).

But then recently, I ran across this article that says ELS speaker cables have different requirements over conventional cone speakers: ELS Speaker Cabling. They stress the need for cables with lower inductance and capacitance, and a medium impedance-- specifications which are distinctly different than for conventional speakers. They suggest a coax cable over a traditional 2 wire speaker cable.

So what's the consensus? Do ELS speakers have different speaker cabling requirements than conventional speakers?
 
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DrJRapp

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Funny you should post this because I'm going thru that actual exploration right this moment. I just finished wiring the right channel Summit with 20' of IXOS Gamma 7 low inductance/capacitance wire. This is a high end but not super premium biwire configuration cable that can be purchased over the internet about $5.00 per foot. It consists of 2 pair of OFC conductors and 3 inductive core "dummies" woven together so that the conductors are never parallel to each other (which increses inductance). What I replaced was a dual pair of 10 ga silver plated copper "garden hose" that cost me $1.25 a foot.

I'm not a believer in superpremium speaker wire....you know the kind that costs half as much as a pair of Summits for 6 feet!

Since I've wired only one channel, I can essentially a/b from side to side. So far, I hear no difference, but the new cable needs some burn in time for a real comparison. I'll be back.
 

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sleepysurf

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I, likewise, since getting the Summits, have contemplated other (cost-effective) cable options. I am currently using Blue Jean Cables 10g Belden 5000 series, and am very pleased with the sound. I can't find a source for the Innersound cables referenced above, and suspect they are no longer available (probably were priced thru the roof anyways).

Actually, if a SPECIFIC cable design were significantly better for ML's, I would have expected ML to recommend or sell such a product. Since they don't, I suspect ANY decent cable will suffice. Most telling would be to see what cable type ML uses internally, to feed the stat panels. Anybody know?
 

DTB300

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LaserMark4 said:
There seems to be so much hype about speaker cables these days..... is it smoke and mirrors or real science?
Cable Debate:eek::confused: ....Never ending, no real answers, only you can decide what sounds good or not, and at what price to pay. Some swear by Radio Shack wire, some swear by thousands of dollar wires. What sounds good on my setup may not sound good on yours.

Try many different cables and see what you hear in the way of differences. The Cable Company is a great place to get multiple sets to try out and return what you do not like. Many places like Blue Jeans, Signal Cable, Heartland Cable, Elemental Cable to also try out.

Burn-in will also get many different opinions. In my testing, most did change, but just slightly in the presentation.

But again this is all my opinion on the matter, and if 10 others answer you, you will probably get 10 different opinions.

The bottom line that I like to preach about cables: Set your price point, try them out, find what you like.

Dan
 

LaserMark4

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sleepysurf said:
Actually, if a SPECIFIC cable design were significantly better for ML's, I would have expected ML to recommend or sell such a product. Since they don't, I suspect ANY decent cable will suffice.
I guess that has been my take on it too. It does seem this is a highly volatile issue.

Here's some very good white papers on cables from Blue Jeans: - an especially good one is "What Is Impedence, Anyhow?: Here It does seem like their opinion is that definitely not all cable is created equal.

From the original article on ESL cabling, the original premise of the article was the first time I heard this concept: "Electrostatic loudspeakers (ESLs) are different. The load they present to an amplifier and speaker cables is quite unlike that of conventional magnetic loudspeakers. To a loudspeaker cable, they appear as a capacitor, while magnetic loudspeakers appear as a combination of a resistor and inductor. It therefore is not surprising that cables for ESLs have different requirements than those for magnetic loudspeakers. Cables have inductance, capacitance, and impedance. Cable manufacturers juggle these parameters to get the cables to sound the way they want. Let's look at these elements more closely and see how they should be optimized for ESLs."

Not so much trying to get a debate specific cables, but rather if folks agree that ESL speakers drive differently than conventional. But as sleepysurf said, wouldn't ML recommend or mention this difference in their support/advice materials??

Any of you real technical EE wiz'es have an opinion on this?
 
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DrJRapp

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sleepysurf said:
Hmmm, that Ixos Gamma 7 design looks interesting! Did you terminate them yourself? I found this source for bulk pricing at $3.83/ft...
http://www.soundcityoutlet.com/products/1248.html
Yes, I chopped them up and terminated them today. For the Theater i I used their 11ga pair. Just a hint....the wire braid and braided nylon sheath tend to unravel and move around a bit. What I did was use a plastic wire tie around the bundle about six inches from the end, then cut the nylon back to it.
 
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patlad

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Kimber inside!

sleepysurf said:
Most telling would be to see what cable type ML uses internally, to feed the stat panels. Anybody know?
As far as I know, the Ascent are wired with Kimber.
 

ralflar

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Those links are interesting.

The discussion reminds me of a time in the early 90s when the debate about low inductance cables first (?) came up. At the time we "rolled our own" cables from 36 conductor flatband IDE cable plus a Zobel network to terminate the speaker side. Splicing the cable and recombining/terminating the odd and even conductors took a while, but you ended up with a cable that cost only pennnies per meter.

I still have a pair of those self made cables and perhaps should try them with the Logans to see if I can hear a difference.

Like sleepysurf and others here I use Blue Jeans' "10 White" Belden cable. It also is twisted which should help keep inductance low. Like Kimber, only much cheaper.
 

ralflar

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Jerry,

and Sleepy, too,

Thanks for the links, that cable sure looks a lot better than the flatband computer cable of old. Some people will think $25 per stereo meter is too much to expend on an experiment, others will disagree. I am not sure which camp I belong in, yet. The Ixos gamma sure looks better than the flat computer cable I mentioned in my previous post.

Jerry, I would not count on cable burn-in making a difference. If it did, it would mean that the cable's electrical properties changed. IMO, if they did to the extent that the effects became audible, the effects could be measured. I am unaware of lab tests which show that they can.

I guess that was 2 out of the 10 different opinions mentioned by DTB300.
 

JonFo

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LaserMark4 said:
I guess that has been my take on it too. It does seem this is a highly volatile issue.

Here's some very good white papers on cables from Blue Jeans: - an especially good one is "What Is Impedence, Anyhow?: Here It does seem like their opinion is that definitely not all cable is created equal.

From the original article on ESL cabling, the original premise of the article was the first time I heard this concept: "Electrostatic loudspeakers (ESLs) are different. The load they present to an amplifier and speaker cables is quite unlike that of conventional magnetic loudspeakers. To a loudspeaker cable, they appear as a capacitor, while magnetic loudspeakers appear as a combination of a resistor and inductor. It therefore is not surprising that cables for ESLs have different requirements than those for magnetic loudspeakers. Cables have inductance, capacitance, and impedance. Cable manufacturers juggle these parameters to get the cables to sound the way they want. Let's look at these elements more closely and see how they should be optimized for ESLs."

Not so much trying to get a debate specific cables, but rather if folks agree that ESL speakers drive differently than conventional. But as sleepysurf said, wouldn't ML recommend or mention this difference in their support/advice materials??

Any of you real technical EE wiz'es have an opinion on this?
While not an EE, I’ve played around enough with this to have some insight.

One thing I’d ask everyone to think about is the stuff that’s on the other side of the binding posts in the speakers. The Crossovers have huge resistors, Inductors and capacitors in them, ultimately (for the ESL) terminating in a large transformer. The impedance, capacitance and inductance values of pretty much any cable are going to be fractional (I mean tiny) relative to the values the signal will encounter in the crossover.

This is like debating whether a room illuminated by 500 200w light bulbs will be made any brighter or dimmer by turning on or off a small flashlight.
If the room is dark, of course the type of flashlight and its output matter, but if every time you actually use it all the light bulbs are on, does it really matter?

Stuff to ponder…
 

roberto

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this debate will never ends...

Hola chicos...well, IMHO we can listen the difference between cables...some are full of noise and crap, (expensive or cheap) others are transparent and musical, no matter the capacitance, inductance or the impedance. Most good cables are design thinking of these problems. Ones have very good highs, others very good bass, others offers incredible stage...so choose the one that you liked most, in your own sytem. When you are going to buy or make a change in the system, please spend some time doing it...at least three days listening a material that it is easy for you to understand the stage, the air between intruments and the 3 dimmensional sound...then make the change...with this, you will allow to identify easier the change(s) right away...but don´t start changing one to the other. Remember that our immediate memory only last 15 seconds when it is well trained. This is why we have to work with it the other way...happy listening,
Roberto.
 

Beat_Dominator

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Sterophile's new Recommended Components issue lists Radioshack 18ga. wire (6.99 per 30ft spool) as a Rec. component..... that pretty much says it all to me :)
 

DrJRapp

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ralflar said:
Jerry, I would not count on cable burn-in making a difference. If it did, it would mean that the cable's electrical properties changed. IMO, if they did to the extent that the effects became audible, the effects could be measured. I am unaware of lab tests which show that they can.
Supposidly they can be seen on an O-scope but not measured. This is VERY simplified but it should give you an idea of what's going on.

If you were ever to observe how a piece of wire is made, then perhaps you could understand burn- in better. Copper (or other conductor) is pulled thru a die of the desired size. This leaves the crystaline structure of the metal in disarray. The wire then needs to be heat treated to near the melting point to allow the metal to reform...OR, an electrical current needs to be run through it for a sufficient time for molecular structure to rearraing itself. Due to cost, few cable manufacturers bother to do either, leaving that up to us. Once again...very very simplified but should give you the big picture.

Very fine wire is manufactured a bit differently, it's spun.

Can one hear the difference..well that's another story!
 
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LaserMark4

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roberto said:
Hola chicos...well, IMHO we can listen the difference between cables...some are full of noise and crap, (expensive or cheap) others are transparent and musical, no matter the capacitance, inductance or the impedance. Most good cables are design thinking of these problems. Ones have very good highs, others very good bass, others offers incredible stage...so choose the one that you liked most, in your own sytem. When you are going to buy or make a change in the system, please spend some time doing it...Roberto.
One challenge is that for a lot of HT rooms these days, standard 6-8' cables that have been traditionally used in the living room/audio listening setups go out the window with multiple cable runs of 20-40 feet. Hence, the challenge to find a good wire and good termination/connector options.

ralflar said:
The discussion reminds me of a time in the early 90s when the debate about low inductance cables first (?) came up. At the time we "rolled our own" cables from 36 conductor flatband IDE cable plus a Zobel network to terminate the speaker side. Splicing the cable and recombining/terminating the odd and even conductors took a while, but you ended up with a cable that cost only pennnies per meter.
Rolling your own definitely sounds cool-- with a lot of patience required I'm sure past about the 8 foot length. (I got like 750 feet- :eek: ) Definitely a unique approach, but makes sense.

But all the input has been good food for thought. It does seem interesting to me that the jury still seems to be out..... all the way from $.20/ft Rat Shack to $50/ft per cable. I guess I keep leaning toward the common sense advice and approach of Blue Jeans which is also an affordable approach as well.

Then maybe throw a bit more in on the interconnects which also seem to be important.
 

ralflar

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DrJRapp said:
Supposidly they can be seen on an O-scope but not measured. This is VERY simplified but it should give you an idea of what's going on.

If you were ever to observe how a piece of wire is made, then perhaps you could understand burn- in better. Copper (or other conductor) is pulled thru a die of the desired size. This leaves the crystaline structure of the metal in disarray. The wire then needs to be heat treated to near the melting point to allow the metal to reform...OR, an electrical current needs to be run through it for a sufficient time for molecular structure to rearraing itself. Due to cost, few cable manufacturers bother to do either, leaving that up to us. Once again...very very simplified but should give you the big picture.

Very fine wire is manufactured a bit differently, it's spun.

Can one hear the difference..well that's another story!
I am sceptical that the very low currents found in audio signals can achieve an effect similar to heating a wire close to melting, even over several dozen hours of use. Also, the mechanical stress the wire is subjected to when it is pulled generates heat. Changes in molecular structure should surely be observable. In fact, if it can be seen on an oscilloscope then it has been measured, just not recorded, and apparently not published either.

Anyway, this sounds too much like the beginning of one of those arguments. It is not my intention to start another one. Thanks for the info, Jerry.
 

ralflar

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LaserMark4 said:
One challenge is that for a lot of HT rooms these days, standard 6-8' cables that have been traditionally used in the living room/audio listening setups go out the window with multiple cable runs of 20-40 feet. Hence, the challenge to find a good wire and good termination/connector options.


Rolling your own definitely sounds cool-- with a lot of patience required I'm sure past about the 8 foot length. (I got like 750 feet- :eek: ) Definitely a unique approach, but makes sense.

But all the input has been good food for thought. It does seem interesting to me that the jury still seems to be out..... all the way from $.20/ft Rat Shack to $50/ft per cable. I guess I keep leaning toward the common sense advice and approach of Blue Jeans which is also an affordable approach as well.

Then maybe throw a bit more in on the interconnects which also seem to be important.
It was not so bad, I think it took me about 2 hours to roll them. Tonight I found them in the old parts bin, a photo is attached. As you can see this kind of cable is easy to deploy.

With the stereo kit I had at the time - nothing to brag about - these cables may have sounded better than the garden hose super flexible copper cable I had used until then. They certainly sounded no worse. The flat cables were supposed to sound leaner and faster in the bass, and cleaner and more detailed in upper midrange and treble. After I had made the cables I thought that was true, and liked them very much. I may have imagined it because I wanted it to be true. However, I used them for years.
 

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