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Why some speaker cables sound different - in layman's terms

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oldric_naubhoff's picture
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RE: Why some speaker cables sound different - in layman's terms

lindsayt wrote:

CnoEvil wrote:

lindsayt wrote:

Now, how do you think these speakers sound? Oh, and by the way, these speakers do sell for top dollar.

Just imagine the unfulfilled potential they have!  twisted

Ah yes, but looking at the tweeters in these speakers they have a voice coil through which the signal passes that is made from the thinnest wire. Thinner than hair. If you unravelled the coil it would be a couple of metres long. The thinness of this wire explains why these speakers have a power handling of 50 watts continuous and 150 watts peak. Any more than that would burn out the voice coil like the filament of an old style light-bulb. The filaments of old style light bulbs are really thick and chunky compared to the wire used in this tweeters voice coil.

 

It will be the same in every traditional speaker. You will have long lengths of very thin wire in the driver voice coils. Or in the case of Quad Electrostatics you have a transformer with 2 lengths of very long thin wire in the transformer windings.

 

So I find it difficult to imagine that replacing the wire from the terminals to the crossover and from the crossover to the drivers would unleash a lot of potential, if any, when the signal passes through such thin wire in the voice coils.

hi Lindsayt. great point about the voice coil in speaker drivers. but there's one more thing worth mentioning, I guess.

have you ever wondered why it's so difficult to get any info on cable measurements from "exotic" cable manufacturers? in case of those manufacturers who do give such info you can see that "exotic" cable don't measure like the standard job. they would usually have much higher capacitance (see Cardas - colossal capacitance for a wire (weird, they changed their website and there's no measurements now), and Kimber with high capacitance as well) and lower inductance. I presume a very similar situation will happen in case of most "exotic" cable manufacturers.

as everybody knows high capacitance attenuates bass frequencies and low inductance lets high frequencies through unattenuated. hence you get those reports on "better speed/PRAT", "more detail" and "the  speaker boom has now disappeared". but also there's one more thing that few people fail to see. the wire is a part of the system and as such it also interacts with the rest of the components. especially the amp is prone to be influenced by bad cabling matching. unfortunately amps rarely like to "see" capacitive load and some may even go into mild oscillation from high capacitance wires. and peps will hear even more "excitement" from such speaker wire in this case, which is nothing else as excessive high freq distortion. lo and behold; full potential of your speakers has just been released.

rolling on the floor laughing

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RE: Why some speaker cables sound different

CnoEvil wrote:
IMO. You can't achieve the same from a Digital Graphic Equalizer, as a good cable is far more than just a tone control. A G.Eq can only change the sonic signature, but I don't believe it can preserve more of the signal, allowing more detail through, or give a "faster" sound.

I'm afraid that I disagree with you there Cno. Smile To explain why I disagree here's a brief description of how both digital and analogue graphic equalizers work.

 

A digital graphic equalizer changes the tone by modifying the digital audio signal before it has passed through a DAC. By effectively using computer software to change the tone of the music while it's still in the digital domain it's able to do so without effecting the phase and this is the reason why a digital graphic equalizer is much better quality than an analogue one.

 

An analogue graphic equalizer (or the analogue tone controls on an amplifier) changes the analoge audio signal after it's passed through a DAC. It works by allowing you to change its capacitance or impedance which has the desired effect of altering the tone of the audio signal that passes through it. Unfortunately it does this by altering the phase which is a bad thing as far as the sound quality is concerned.

If you read through the link that I posted on the first page of this thread you'll see that it explains why if there's a change in sound due to the speaker cables, then this will be a result of the speaker cables having a very large amount of capacitance or impedance. But from a technical point of view, that is functionally indistinguishable from using an analogue graphic equalizer to alter the tone of an audio signal. So your comment that a speaker cable can "preserve more of the signal, allowing more detail through, or give a "faster" sound" just doesn't make any sense when we look at it in a logical and scientific way. puzzled

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RE: Why some speaker cables sound different

steve_1979 wrote:

If you read through the link that I posted on the first page of this thread you'll see that it explains why if there's a change in sound due to the speaker cables, then this will be a result of the speaker cables having a very large amount of capacitance or impedance. But from a technical point of view, that is functionally indistinguishable from using an analogue graphic equalizer to alter the tone of an audio signal. So your comment that a speaker cable can "preserve more of the signal, allowing more detail through, or give a "faster" sound" just doesn't make any sense when we look at it in a logical and scientific way. puzzled

It's all academic until you actually make the comparison.

I'm talking about all the cabling preserving the signal, from start to finish (not just the S/C); but since I can't prove anything, it's nothing more than an opinion.

I'm worried about this "Scientific Way" that people keep talking about......which seems to be able to confirm both sides of the argument, depending on whose version you believe.

This brings me back to my original position of trying it out...like you did with the "Bit-Gate" affair!.

What is your view on the blind test of cables (by Hi-Fi+) that was linked to ealier....there is often a big request for this to take place; and when it does, there hasn't been a single comment about it on this thread (except by me). 

This argument isn't going anywhere, and neither of us are convincing the other, so I'm not sure what the point is

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RE: Why some speaker cables sound different

CnoEvil wrote:

 

It's all academic until you actually make the comparison.

I'm talking about all the cabling preserving the signal, from start to finish (not just the S/C); but since I can't prove anything, it's nothing more than an opinion.

I'm worried about this "Scientific Way" that people keep talking about......which seems to be able to confirm both sides of the argument, depending on whose version you believe.

This brings me back to my original position of trying it out...like you did with the "Bit-Gate" affair!.

What is your view on the blind test of cables (by Hi-Fi+) that was linked to ealier....there is often a big request for this to take place; and when it does, there hasn't been a single comment about it on this thread (except by me). 

This argument isn't going anywhere, and neither of us are convincing the other, so I'm not sure what the point is

 

I don't usually take part in any cable threads  but I read your link the the HiFi + blind test and it was very interesting, but I suspect it has been largely ignored because if you believe in the infallibility and accuracy of blind tests then the HiFi + test seems to confirm that cables do indeed sound different and more expensive cables can sound preferable to less expensive ones Smile

I use Nordost SPM speaker cables and the specs given are capacitance = 7.9pF/ft , inductance = 0.12µH/ft and resistive impedance is 1 ohm / 1000 ft .

I have no idea what effect these specs mean but I love what this cable does or doesn't do .

Nordost Valhalla specs are capacitance = 11.8pF/ft , inductance = 0.096µH/ft

Perhaps someone could explain the relevance of these specs for me if indeed they have any puzzled  excellent!  

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RE: Why some speaker cables sound different

Electro wrote:

I use Nordost SPM speaker cables and the specs given are capacitance = 7.9pF/ft , inductance = 0.12µH/ft and resistive impedance is 1 ohm / 1000 ft .

I have no idea what effect these specs mean but I love what this cable does or doesn't do .

Nordost Valhalla specs are capacitance = 11.8pF/ft , inductance = 0.096µH/ft

Perhaps someone could explain the relevance of these specs for me if indeed they have any puzzled  excellent!  

Nordost also quote their VOP.....Valhalla S/C is 95% of the speed of light; I/C is 87% of the speed of light.....which I suspect is very impressive.

IMO. All round knowledge comes from both research and practical experience, where going out there and trying it is vital. It is all to easy to take on board only what fits one's view, and ignore the rest....and we are all guilty of that to some degree or another.

I still can't answer your question though.

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RE: Why some speaker cables sound different

Electro wrote:

I use Nordost SPM speaker cables and the specs given are capacitance = 7.9pF/ft , inductance = 0.12µH/ft and resistive impedance is 1 ohm / 1000 ft .

I have no idea what effect these specs mean but I love what this cable does or doesn't do .

Nordost Valhalla specs are capacitance = 11.8pF/ft , inductance = 0.096µH/ft

Perhaps someone could explain the relevance of these specs for me if indeed they have any puzzled  excellent!  

very low capacitance and very low inductance. in both cases lower than basic stuff. way to go Cool knowing this stuff now I would consider Nordost myself if I were changing my cables (which are low capacitance and low inductance too, but not as low).

the question remains; is it worth the premium? but you already answered it for yourself.

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RE: Why some speaker cables sound different

CnoEvil wrote:

What is your view on the blind test of cables (by Hi-Fi+) that was linked to ealier....there is often a big request for this to take place; and when it does, there hasn't been a single comment about it on this thread (except by me). 

I don't deny that it's possible to hear a difference between some speaker cables. Smile

 

As I said earlier, I've actuallly heard a slight difference between speakers cables on one occasion myself. It was a sighted comparison but I would swear that there really was a subtle but real difference in the way the music sounded when using the expensive audiophile cable. It was just a touch thinner sounding.

 

 

CnoEvil wrote:

This argument isn't going anywhere, and neither of us are convincing the other, so I'm not sure what the point is

It's been an interesting and fun (IMO) debate but I agree that it's probably run it's course now. Hopefully a few people reading understand how it's possible for a speaker cable to make a difference to the sound if it has very high capacitance or inductance properties.

 

I do have one last question for you though. Smile

 

All of the expensive audiophile speaker cable companies like to use impressive sounding scientific jargon to explain why their cables work better. But there never seems to be any specifications that tell you what the capacitance or the inductance of their cables is. puzzled

 

Maybe I'm wrong and you can give me an example of an audiophile cable that sounds different to a standard cable and the company that makes it also tells you what the capacitance and inductance specifications are?

 

Peace and respect. beauty, eh

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RE: Why some speaker cables sound different
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RE: Why some speaker cables sound different

Thanks Cno. It seems that some cable companies do give the specifications after all. Smile

 

Those Cardas Golden Cross cables have a high capacitance. I don't actually know at what point having an excessive amount of capacitance would be enough to make an audiable difference and of course you also need to take the length of the speaker cables into account aswell. But if they do sound different to regular speaker cables (they may not) then they'd have slightly less bass which would make them sound a bit leaner.

 

Ideally what's best is a cable that has as little resistance, capacitance and inductance as possible. That way it isn't going to alter the tone by causing a phase shift.

 

Standard normal speaker cables have low resistance, low capacitance and low inductance which is why they all sound the same as each other - they don't introduce any phase shifted tonal distortion.

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RE: Why some speaker cables sound different

steve_1979 wrote:

Those Cardas Golden Cross cables have a high capacitance. I don't actually know at what point having an excessive amount of capacitance would be enough to make an audiable difference and of course you also need to take the length of the speaker cables into account aswell. But if they do sound different to regular speaker cables (they may not) then they'd have slightly less bass which would make them sound a bit leaner.

 

Cardas Clear Beyond is generally seen as some of the best cable available....and is very neutral. Here are the specs for it: http://www.dedicatedaudio.com/inc/sdetail/183/20371

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RE: Why some speaker cables sound different

CnoEvil wrote:
Cardas Clear Beyond is generally seen as some of the best cable available....and is very neutral. Here are the specs for it: http://www.dedicatedaudio.com/inc/sdetail/183/20371

The cable you've linked to has a capacitance of 446 pf/ft which seems rather high.

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RE: Why some speaker cables sound different - in layman's terms

oldric_naubhoff wrote:
.

as everybody knows high capacitance attenuates bass frequencies and low inductance lets high frequencies through unattenuated. hence you get those reports on "better speed/PRAT", "more detail" and "the  speaker boom has now disappeared". but also there's one more thing that few people fail to see. the wire is a part of the system and as such it also interacts with the rest of the components. especially the amp is prone to be influenced by bad cabling matching. unfortunately amps rarely like to "see" capacitive load and some may even go into mild oscillation from high capacitance wires. and peps will hear even more "excitement" from such speaker wire in this case, which is nothing else as excessive high freq distortion. lo and behold; full potential of your speakers has just been released.

rolling on the floor laughing

 

Hi, 

This is incorrect. A cable is generally modelled as a series inductance and resistance, and parallel capacitance and conductance across the pair.

As such a high capacitance will attenuate the high frequencies  - hence bass is less affected than high frequencies.

Regards,

Shadders.

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RE: Why some speaker cables sound different

steve_1979 wrote:

CnoEvil wrote:
Cardas Clear Beyond is generally seen as some of the best cable available....and is very neutral. Here are the specs for it: http://www.dedicatedaudio.com/inc/sdetail/183/20371

The cable you've linked to has a capacitance of 446 pf/ft which seems rather high.

That's why I linked to it.

Cardas welcome questions, so why not ask them if you're curious: http://www.cardas.com/welcome.php (go to tech support)

I have always found Brian Von Bork to be helpful.. 

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RE: Why some speaker cables sound different - in layman's terms

Cables Nice one... Am using an expensive cable. May be am mad spening £700.00 on 2.5 meters pair. It was a 60day trial. Never looked back again.

I use the cables with B&W 684s could not tell the difference from other cables. Use the expensive cable with my sonus faber speakers the cable was  just in another league of its own. Cables do sound different. I can bet my life on it. Yes & blind tested too!!

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RE: Why some speaker cables sound different - in layman's terms

Native_bon wrote:

Cables Nice one... Am using an expensive cable. May be am mad spening £700.00 on 2.5 meters pair. It was a 60day trial. Never looked back again.

I use the cables with B&W 684s could not tell the difference from other cables. Use the expensive cable with my sonus faber speakers the cable was  just in another league of its own. Cables do sound different. I can bet my life on it. Yes & blind tested too!!

Good man!

With the Electro in place, you will have a very enviable system!

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