On Cables

DaveC

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Nov 16, 2014
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You nailed it
dielectric of the insulation is important. theoretically, air is the best insulator. but it doesn't work with cables, which is why plastics FPTE, FEP or cotton are extremely good. they prevent charge packets from sticking to the insulation and affecting signal speed.

Yes, air is best but then the wire corrodes, one thing many are not aware of, including cable designers it seems. There is also a myth that corrosion of wire doesn't matter, which is not true. I'd avoid cables that use air or fabric dielectrics with no way of preventing corrosion.

Another issue with insulation is triboelectric noise, caused by the friction between two materials generating electrical charge. Unfortunately conductors and insulation have some space between them on the triboelectric series, a list of materials in order of how quickly they develop a charge. So there is charge generated simply by moving and bending the cable, and in the case of an audio system you have the speakers output vibrating everything, so this is a real issue a vast majority of cable designers neglect. A new cable I've been working on makes for some massive improvements in this area as well as having a dielectric constant lower than teflon. It will objectively be the most technically advanced cable on the market, and unsurprisingly, it sounds better as a result. It has a more relaxed and clear sound vs teflon, it removes the last bit of haze and hardness you get with pure UPOCC silver cables with teflon insulation.
 

microstrip

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How important is the “velocity of propagation” to the sound we here coming out of cables connecting our components?

The answer will surely be positive, but indirect. The velocity of propagation depends on many physical properties of the conductors, dielectric and geometry of the cable, that directly influence the sound. Please note that we are addressing speeds that can be typically 80% of the speed of light - almost six orders of magnitude more than the speed of sound!
 

MarkusBarkus

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For your technical pleasure...
 

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microstrip

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Yes, air is best but then the wire corrodes, one thing many are not aware of, including cable designers it seems. There is also a myth that corrosion of wire doesn't matter, which is not true. I'd avoid cables that use air or fabric dielectrics with no way of preventing corrosion.

Well, considering that most times the oxides of metals are semiconductors and signals travel mostly on the surface of the conductors, corroded wire will be non linear, having a characteristic sound.

Another issue with insulation is triboelectric noise, caused by the friction between two materials generating electrical charge. Unfortunately conductors and insulation have some space between them on the triboelectric series, a list of materials in order of how quickly they develop a charge. So there is charge generated simply by moving and bending the cable, and in the case of an audio system you have the speakers output vibrating everything, so this is a real issue a vast majority of cable designers neglect. A new cable I've been working on makes for some massive improvements in this area as well as having a dielectric constant lower than teflon. It will objectively be the most technically advanced cable on the market, and unsurprisingly, it sounds better as a result. It has a more relaxed and clear sound vs teflon, it removes the last bit of haze and hardness you get with pure UPOCC silver cables with teflon insulation.

Yes, unfortunately Teflon is the best typical insulator, but unfortunately very high in the triboelectricity scales - a lot of care is needed in design and manufacture to avoid mechanical induced noise in Teflon cables. Curious to learn about you new cables!
 
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DasguteOhr

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Yes, air is best but then the wire corrodes, one thing many are not aware of, including cable designers it seems. There is also a myth that corrosion of wire doesn't matter, which is not true. I'd avoid cables that use air or fabric dielectrics with no way of preventing corrosion.

Another issue with insulation is triboelectric noise, caused by the friction between two materials generating electrical charge. Unfortunately conductors and insulation have some space between them on the triboelectric series, a list of materials in order of how quickly they develop a charge. So there is charge generated simply by moving and bending the cable, and in the case of an audio system you have the speakers output vibrating everything, so this is a real issue a vast majority of cable designers neglect. A new cable I've been working on makes for some massive improvements in this area as well as having a dielectric constant lower than teflon. It will objectively be the most technically advanced cable on the market, and unsurprisingly, it sounds better as a result. It has a more relaxed and clear sound vs teflon, it removes the last bit of haze and hardness you get with pure UPOCC silver cables with teflon insulation.
I'll say that I built a lot of the cables myself. Anyone who has dealt with it knows the "Cable Cook Book from Allen Wright. I use the silver wire from a very well-known mc sut manufacturer. All signalwires are coated with varnish and packed in cotton. I am very satisfied with it.;)
20220925_234921.jpg
P.s bass amp is voodoo cable (silver)still no time to build another
 

PeterA

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Can this property be measured, and if so do the measurements correspond with what we hear and which cables are preferred?

And in terms of relevance for Ron’s 50 foot length, what cables do people recommend,
and how do they compare in this characteristic?
 

Folsom

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Can this property be measured, and if so do the measurements correspond with what we hear and which cables are preferred?

And in terms of relevance for Ron’s 50 foot length, what cables do people recommend,
and how do they compare in this characteristic?

Measured? Sure. Applicable to what you hear? Directly calculable to audio results? Ha. LCR tells you about what you'll hear in a pretty direct way but it isn't the end of the signature.
 

DasguteOhr

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Can this property be measured, and if so do the measurements correspond with what we hear and which cables are preferred?

And in terms of relevance for Ron’s 50 foot length, what cables do people recommend,
and how do they compare in this characteristic?
From experience I can say that the ratio of the output resistance of the preamp to the input resistance of the power amp is not less than 1:20 for the cable length. Example preamp 500 ohms - 10k input impedance poweramp. if it is lower, there is usually a loss of sound. use a cable with little attenuation, a cable with a coaxial structure is recommended. an older sunaudio coax(under 60pf /1m) works well with the length.when not xlr true balanced. 46940-2-46940b.jpg
 

shakti

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May 9, 2015
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My interconnect run is 50 feet long. It just does not make sense to me to throw a dart at a list of expensive cable brands and hope that I magically pick the one I would like best sonically were I to have the opportunity to audition each of them, side by side, in my own system. For this long run I will be starting with whichever Mogami or Belden cable David recommends. (Gary Koh recommended Mogami 2791 for me for this purpose.)

I don’t have a problem with spending money on expensive cables. The problem is there is no intellectually honest or theoretically valid way to figure out, in advance, which expensive cables will sound the best to one’s own ears. There is no intellectually honest or theoretically valid way to figure out, in advance, which, if any, expensive cable will sound better to one’s own ears than a Mogami or a Belden cable.
50ft is indeed a long run.
Personally I am using 30ft long interconnects between preamp and mono amps.

During the last years my set up has seen a lot of changes and I am always using interconnects out of my back yard box to connect the gear.

Starting point is always a professional microphone cables, like Sommercable cargocap or similar. To understand the Pre and Amp connection better, I place the preamp temporary close to the amps (using another long Sommercable between phonostage and Pre)

To my surprise Pres and Amps are very different in their reaction on short and long cables. For instance the combination of Audionet Stern and Audionet Heisenberg worked best only with interconnects under 10ft, longer cables made the music less engaging. For 30ft cables I had to carefully search a matching cable and finally the only satisfying cables was with a network box (MIT 350 proline reference) .

I had the chance to try out a Soulution 720 preamp, which does not change the sonic signature on longer than 30ft cables. The sonic difference between MIT and others on 30ft is much smaller. so I changed the preamp.

In had the most problems to find a matching cable in the time, I was using the Velodyne 1812 subwoofer in parallel, which meant in my former set up 2 pairs of 30ft cables to be driven. Depending on the input impedance of the components the preamp has to deliver a lot of Amperes.

Do you connect your Gryphon subs directly to the PreAmp?
Are they connected in parallel to your VTL Amps, or are they in series to the VTL.

Or do they get the signal from the speaker signal?

This will make a big difference to the load your Preamp will see.

Anyhow, my recommendation is to go for any prof cable recommended in the required length As a start.

change for a temporary time the position of the preamp to listen to alternatives in shorter length to understand if you miss anything.

In have good experience with MIT and Transparent cables in long length, the most classic high end cables do fail above 15 to 20ft (at least in my set ups)
 
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Kingrex

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I'll say that I built a lot of the cables myself. Anyone who has dealt with it knows the "Cable Cook Book from Allen Wright. I use the silver wire from a very well-known mc sut manufacturer. All signalwires are coated with varnish and packed in cotton. I am very satisfied with it.;)
View attachment 98373
P.s bass amp is voodoo cable (silver)still no time to build another
You don't think varnish is a type of insulation?
 

DasguteOhr

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You don't think varnish is a type of insulation?
no. is oxidation protection for silver. But there are cables that are only painted exsampe vdh mcs 150 tonearm wire
 

MarkusBarkus

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...I have always understood varnish to be a thin insulator. Although, there are different types of wire varnishes and application techniques, I believe they are considered insulators.
 
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DasguteOhr

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...I have always understood varnish to be a thin insulator. Although, there are different types of wire varnishes and application techniques, I believe they are considered insulators.
Yes. otherwise any e-motor or transformer will not work.;)
 

Kingrex

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Electrical termination of cables with the characteristic impedance of cables is well understood since long - usually second year students of Electrical Engineering measure it in the Laboratory work. However, due to the involved propagation speed it is only relevant at high frequencies, well outside the audio band.

Commonly applied in communications and digital circuits, the concept has been applied several times to audio - Meridian used 75 ohm IC cable with a 75 ohm terminator in the 90's and DartZeel uses 50 ohm cables in their 50 ohm DartZeel interface.

Occos also did it with speaker cables, using a resistive insulator to manufacture a cable with around 6 ohm characteristic impedance that would match the speaker impedance.

In general, the characteristic impedance of IC cables (50 ~150 ohm) is too low to match the input impedance of common electronics, that is typically higher than 10 kohm. Wereferred to it in WBF before - see https://www.whatsbestforum.com/thre...idnt-hear-with-other-cables.21439/post-418996

I don't disagree but I feel its a narrow answer. Impedance is very important when it comes to speaker cables and the amp, cable, speaker relationship. Bruce explains is much better than I do. He is helping me with a customer with a 62 foot speaker/ interconnect run.

I also am not comfortable with dissimilar metal contact. I have not prooved the theory, but there is a large sonic gain when you ditch the duplex and mail cord end and bolt the wires together. There are small impedance losses with the duplex and cord end. But your saying they impedance does not matter at 60 hertz. So why the sonic change? I say the metal platings have a lot to do with it. Of course we have to consider high frequency noise. A properly grounded system can shed noise. Noise is at mega to giga hertz frequency where the impedance matters more.

With all cables there are give and take. More so with longer runs. I still feel it would be best to know the speaker and amp before assuming a speaker cable is the least limiting cable. And I think the selection of interconnect and power cords should be based on more than brand name. Then the question of do you want any shielding or not? There is more to just ground loop issues with metal encased power cables steering me to non shielded in wall wiring. Same for interconnect. Mine is shielded but I don't know that is ultimately the best configuration. Its what was available and sonically is hard to distinguish from my Genesis and Found Music interconnect.

FWIW, In my single ended 15ips tape run, when I first terminated the Mogami, I tried 2 of the wires to the hot pin thinking the wire was quite long. 36 feet in my system. It was a very hot, loud and probably distorted sound. I immediately change the hot to a single wire and abandoned the extra wire. It immediately went to a more proper performance where its hard to differentiate from any 5 foot interconnect in my system. I assume there are a few reasons this may have occurred.
 
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Cellcbern

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I don't disagree but I feel its a narrow answer. Impedance is very important when it comes to speaker cables and the amp, cable, speaker relationship. Bruce explains is much better than I do. He is helping me with a customer with a 62 foot speaker/ interconnect run.

I also am not comfortable with dissimilar metal contact. I have not prooved the theory, but there is a large sonic gain when you ditch the duplex and mail cord end and bolt the wires together. There are small impedance losses with the duplex and cord end. But your saying they impedance does not matter at 60 hertz. So why the sonic change? I say the metal platings have a lot to do with it. Of course we have to consider high frequency noise. A properly grounded system can shed noise. Noise is at mega to giga hertz frequency where the impedance matters more.

With all cables there are give and take. More so with longer runs. I still feel it would be best to know the speaker and amp before assuming a speaker cable is the least limiting cable. And I think the selection of interconnect and power cords should be based on more than brand name. Then the question of do you want any shielding or not? There is more to just ground loop issues with metal encased power cables steering me to non shielded in wall wiring. Same for interconnect. Mine is shielded but I don't know that is ultimately the best configuration. Its what was available and has seemed to perform well enough.

FWIW, In my single ended 15ips tape run, when I first terminated the Mogami, I tried 2 of the wires to the hot pin thinking the wire was quite long. 36 feet in my system. It was a very hot, loud and probably distorted sound. I immediately change the hot to a single wire and abandoned the extra wire. It immediately went to a more proper performance where its hard to differentiate from any 5 foot interconnect in my system. I assume there are a few reasons this may have occurred.
I haven't heard negative impacts of contact between connectors with dissimilar plating. I have achieved subtle system tuning improvements by deliberately mixing different plating types (e.g., gold over copper IEC plug to platinum and palladium over copper IEC inlet).
 
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microstrip

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I don't disagree but I feel its a narrow answer. Impedance is very important when it comes to speaker cables and the amp, cable, speaker relationship. Bruce explains is much better than I do. He is helping me with a customer with a 62 foot speaker/ interconnect run.

The question is that although the influence of impedance of amplifiers and speakers is accepted and easily explained, we can't back our feelings with technical data concerning cables. Cable impedance is only relevant outside the audio band, surely influencing the behavior of noise.

I also am not comfortable with dissimilar metal contact. I have not prooved the theory, but there is a large sonic gain when you ditch the duplex and mail cord end and bolt the wires together. There are small impedance losses with the duplex and cord end. But your saying they impedance does not matter at 60 hertz. So why the sonic change? I say the metal platings have a lot to do with it. Of course we have to consider high frequency noise. A properly grounded system can shed noise. Noise is at mega to giga hertz frequency where the impedance matters more.

The same reason I referred before - noise and RFI. However in the diversity of high-end gear it is not easy to study such effects systematically. And if doing it subjectively, we risk that in many situations people will prefer the sound with noise.

With all cables there are give and take. More so with longer runs. I still feel it would be best to know the speaker and amp before assuming a speaker cable is the least limiting cable. And I think the selection of interconnect and power cords should be based on more than brand name. Then the question of do you want any shielding or not? There is more to just ground loop issues with metal encased power cables steering me to non shielded in wall wiring. Same for interconnect. Mine is shielded but I don't know that is ultimately the best configuration. Its what was available and sonically is hard to distinguish from my Genesis and Found Music interconnect.

The selection of cables is a compromise with several variables, such as availability, time and cost. Fortunately our beliefs and availability shorten the list, otherwise we would spend a lifetime trying cables, with little time for music listening.

FWIW, In my single ended 15ips tape run, when I first terminated the Mogami, I tried 2 of the wires to the hot pin thinking the wire was quite long. 36 feet in my system. It was a very hot, loud and probably distorted sound. I immediately change the hot to a single wire and abandoned the extra wire. It immediately went to a more proper performance where its hard to differentiate from any 5 foot interconnect in my system. I assume there are a few reasons this may have occurred.

I think that when using long wires the grounding system of gear will strongly affect the performance of cables - what is clear in a system and room can be very different in other system and room.
 
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bazelio

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I think the selection of cables is a difficult and frustrating morass. Just because a cable is expensive doesn't mean it necessarily offers the best sound for your ears between your particular components in your particular system.

The idiosyncratic ears of a particular audiophile will find there to be an optimal cable to use to connect any two components, but it is not possible to predict in advance, based on input impedance and output impedance, or based on cable resistance/capacitance/inductance characteristics, or based on the design of the dielectric or of the cable sheath, which cable this will be. One must try different cables between each pair of components, and attempt to be largely design agnostic and brand agnostic, and to judge primarily by ear.

In other words, ideally, we would have in inventory a wide array of different models and different brands of cables. We would cycle each of these cables through every pair of components, and see which cable sounds best to each of us between every pair of components. In practice this is very difficult to accomplish.

My answer to this morass is to start with very basic cables, like Mogami or Belden. Over time I look forward to experimenting with different expensive cables between the phono stage and the line stage.

My interconnect run is 50 feet long. It just does not make sense to me to throw a dart at a list of expensive cable brands and hope that I magically pick the one I would like best sonically were I to have the opportunity to audition each of them, side by side, in my own system. For this long run I will be starting with whichever Mogami or Belden cable David recommends. (Gary Koh recommended Mogami 2791 for me for this purpose.)

I don’t have a problem with spending money on expensive cables. The problem is there is no intellectually honest or theoretically valid way to figure out, in advance, which expensive cables will sound the best to one’s own ears. There is no intellectually honest or theoretically valid way to figure out, in advance, which, if any, expensive cable will sound better to one’s own ears than a Mogami or a Belden cable.

At the medium price level I look forward to exploring Iconoclast and Absolute Fidelity cables. At the very expensive end I look forward to exploring Cardas Clear Beyond and Masterbuilt Ultra cables.

Ron, with the pro audio cables, you can actually afford to experiment. And I think it is worth doing so. I've played with various Mogami, Belden, Canare, Hosa, and Gotham. Probably others that I'm forgetting. For interconnects, for what it's worth, Tang and I are both impressed with Gotham. But, I suspect cable capacitance will have a non-zero effect on the final sound you are able to achieve at 50'. But for digital (AES) - and you can easily hear a difference - Mogami Gold beats the others for me. And for speakers, Belden. This after many trials and errors and yet only 3 figures spent all said and done. So, though listening to cables is a lot less fun than listening to music, it's a worthwhile thing to do at some point and doesn't have to be price prohibitive.
 
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