Cable - audible differences?

Discussion in 'The Cutting Edge' started by soundmig, Dec 18, 2017.

  1. soundmig

    soundmig AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Part 3 of the series just dropped in Copper Magazine (a digital mag). Very interesting what they have learned (and not learned) via what seems to be a pretty scientific approach to RCA cables. It looks as if XLR cables will be installment #4 - will be interested in reading this one when it comes out.
     
  2. Joe Dawson

    Joe Dawson Active Member

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    I have been testing gauge vs perception and in my system found 10 parallel 18 gauge solid wires sounded best. I did not think it would be that touchy. Neither 8 nor 12 in parallel sounded right in my system. 10 wires 18 gauge wire in parallel is a very general approx. 8.2 gauge. Systems, especially amplifiers, are unique, so the gauge necessary will vary.

    keep on truckin

    joe
     
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  3. oldflame

    oldflame New Member

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    r-j has me chuckling and agreeing with both of his points. Knowing I shouldn't let appearance influence too much regarding audio reproduction, I do appreciate the looks of pretty, IC's and manly, bi-wired (!), runs of speaker cables. After all, if there's more on the floor it's gotta be better -- right?

    Originally, 20-some years ago, directional arrows were said to possibly indicate which RCA end was connected to the shield around the twisted pair inside. Now we are told it may indicate the direction the copper was drawn into wire. I can't, yet, understand how that could affect AC signals, we've all read the claims. Is there really any consistent info regarding cable direction?

    1) It seems that having all shields grounded at the pre-amp, for example, might be best ... theoretically. In some cases reversing the cable to one source component may eliminate hum.

    2) Does the arrow point away from the grounded end? Sometimes? Always? The opposite? Some cables may have jumped on the arrow bandwagon and both ends are grounded, or is it just random -- depending on production set-up? I don't get replies from some cable manufacturers and many sales personnel for major distributors have no clue, but rattle on about what seems like nonsense.

    3) I can understand why properly designed twisted-pair, with outer shield, may have advantages over coax similar to RG-6, or guitar cord. Is that generally thought to be true? Because it's 15' between my pre and power amps, I can't step up to the exotic blends of silver multi-litz, golden-section, twisted coax, PE or Teflon air-tube stuff, I'm hoping the old AQ Diamonbacks and newer Pangea Premiums are in the ball park and a step better than my 40 year old Radio Shack wires. I strive to achieve bang-for-buck, not the last 5%.

    After 50 years in this hobby, there's much I don't know, but it's maddening the snake oil is getting slipperier and more prevalent. I wonder how many people are so turned off with the sales hype & BS, that they are scared to dip their toes into hi-fi?
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
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  4. Wildcat

    Wildcat Spring ain't here... Subscriber

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    Actually, if your speaker cables look like fire hoses, and you put rocks on top of your CD player, you're finally doin' it right. :D

    High end dealers are not a place I would send the uninitiated, unescorted. My one local dealer I liked and trusted so much closed up shop back in the 90s. I really haven't been to one since, largely because I buy most things used now. I get my yearly "what's new" fix at AXPONA (Schaumburg, IL) every April and get to hear some amazing systems, and I'm good for the year. I have no desire to visit any of the high end stores in my area, to be honest. I don't want to lead them on when I have no plans to buy new equipment.
     
  5. restorer-john

    restorer-john Super Member

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    That's sadly true, but the dealers are not completely to blame. Both their customers and the dealers themselves created a private club-like mentality where the perceived exclusivity and the price of admission are kept high to keep out the 'riff-raff'. They liked the 'us and them' where the 'them' were the vast unwashed masses shopping at a big box store. There is nothing in between now- no mid-range, good value HiFi stores, IMO.

    I think the dust has settled and the stores that are still trading (not many of them) rely on word of mouth from their small, but loyal 'club members'.

    Is that the way it is in the US and the UK these days?
     
  6. Wildcat

    Wildcat Spring ain't here... Subscriber

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    I haven't been to a store to really notice what it's like, but just knowing how prices have change disproportionately over the decades, and knowing the price ranges of the brands the stores around me carry, I know I wouldn't want to send someone to any of these local stores on their own. It never used to be that way.

    I do know that a favorite store we had back in the 80s and 90s wasn't like that--they had the high-end stuff, but also carried a selection of lower-priced equipment with good sound quality that did not embarrass their reputation. I had no issues sending many friends over there--I knew they'd get treated fairly, their needs would be covered, and they'd get something musical they could enjoy. This store was the local dealer for the infamous Linn Sondek LP12, and also was the first in our area to carry Martin Logan stats, yet they also carried the legendary NAD 3020, Dual turntables, Polk speakers, and even Sherwood receivers for those who didn't warm to the NAD. I don't recall their whole cartridge line, but Grado was a big brand for them, on both ends of the pricing scale.

    I think part of the problem today is that the higher-end gear has gotten disproportionately more expensive than it used to be, so in a sense, that has created its own exclusivity, and the stores are more like boutiques. The point of entry is much, much higher than the average person's income than it was back a few decades ago, so people are not as keen on going somewhere that will cost them a kidney and a spleen just to get started on what these stores might consider an entry-level system.

    And I agree, @restorer-john -- there is not as much mid-level equipment as their used to be. Sure, there is a smattering of entry-level high end, but there used to be more choices back in the day in all levels of equipment. The highest echelons of product have also gotten way more expensive--speakers in excess of $100,000 are not uncommon anymore. In some areas, you could buy a small house with that much money. I can't think of a single speaker back in the 1980s that cost as much as a small house. (In other words, I recall no $40k-$60k speakers in 1980 that would compare to $100k-$150k in today's dollars, given US inflation figures.)

    All I can say is, thank goodness for the used equipment sites. :)
     
  7. oldflame

    oldflame New Member

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    So, does a standard exist regarding cable direction? Is there any common wisdom about this on AK? Reading the advertisements of several cable vendors, it seems we're on our own and that conflicting info further confuses this issue.
     
  8. Wildcat

    Wildcat Spring ain't here... Subscriber

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    The only standard in my own interconnects is that I have one end with a floating shield, so the "source" end is the end with the shield attached to it. Others have done the same.

    As for the bare metal itself being directional, I doubt there will ever be a consensus. Some claim to hear it. Others don't. Some can point out the science behind it, where others see it as snake oil.

    But I will say that if a cable is marked directional, I do my best to make certain to attach it as directed.

    There's a non-answer for ya. ;)
     
  9. oldflame

    oldflame New Member

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    Thanks Wildcat. Your's is also my understanding. I'm using your practice of have the arrows point away from the source to their destiny, the pre-amp. Of course, this orientation may differ between cable brands and also runs counter to star grounds usually being more desirable. The system is quiet enough and sounds good. Maybe I'll switch everything around some day, and listen for any changes.

    I have an old Tara coax IC which has an arrow. In this case both ends must be grounded. This cable is 18 years old; way before I remember grain orientation as a sales tactic, so I don't know why the arrow exists. Perhaps to convince it's a high-end offering, just like their more expensive IC's?
     
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  10. Hyfi

    Hyfi Super Member

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    All my 20 year old Tara Labs cables have arrows too.
     
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  11. Roadrash

    Roadrash AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    The only cables i have with arrows are my AQ Evergreens, and the Diamondback I bought for the L-09Ms. With the exception of the Evergreen from tuner to pre, they've been replaced with Furez cable with Furez locking silver over copper rca ends. They don't have arrows but they sure do sound good. Better even than the Diamondback did, but that's just my humble opinion
     
  12. Modlin

    Modlin Member

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    How many posters on this topic have engineering degrees?...electrical, electronics, materials...or science degrees in physics?
     
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  13. Roadrash

    Roadrash AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Not me. I'm a mechanic. I get paid to repair the nightmares engineers design.:whip:
     
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  14. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    Why is it an exclusive thread?
    And before you give your answer read the rules to this sub forum.:thumbsup:
     
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  15. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    LOL

     
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  16. Modlin

    Modlin Member

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    car mechanic?
     
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  17. Roadrash

    Roadrash AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I'm a fleet mechanic for St. Louis County, we work on eveything with engines and or wheels. I try to leave cars alone if I can, and I prefer to work on the trucks and heavy equipment. I took care of the police fleet in our district for 12 years and that kid of burnt me out on cars. I'm happiest when I get to fabricate, and or do welding repairs.
     
  18. Modlin

    Modlin Member

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    so in other words...you do work with specs/numbers ie. torques on bolts, size and length of weld to develop reqd capacity, reqd vacuum in engine etc etc...
    then why would you trust some fancy looking audio/electrical cables that DO NOT list any tech specs but only some elaborate, exotic words descriptions ?
     
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  19. UncleBingo

    UncleBingo AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Here: https://www.cirris.com/learning-cen...-topics/177-temperature-coefficient-of-copper
     
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  20. MannyE

    MannyE Exterminate! Subscriber

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    https://i.imgur.com/tgbhV6w.gif
     
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