Audioquest Slate is somewhat smoother than Type 6 which is also very nice. Audio Atlanta was offering older stock for $6/ft. Good deal.
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I'm still reading and learning on the subject, but found this from the empirical audio site (thanks, audioengr):
"Cables that connect power amplifiers to loudspeakers are in a low-impedance environment. Amplifier ouput impedances are on the order of .2 ohms for solid-state and 3 ohms for some tube amplifiers. Most speaker impedances vary
significantly, deviating from their published impedance by as much as 30 ohms.
Typical numbers are 3-4 ohms at low-frequencies and 30-50 ohms at midrange and tweeter frequencies. Speaker cables transfer power to the speakers and the currents can be high at times, approaching 20 or 30 amperes in some systems.
The requirement for power transfer means that the resistance and inductance must be low, similar to AC power transmission systems. Capacitance is of less concern since the drivers are very low impedance."
I only note that because of your posted concern about speaker cable capacitance, you may have already considered the above.
All that being said, several recording studios I've worked in recently have gone to the same cable for their control room monitoring needs - Canare star quad 4s11. Far less expensive than $10/foot, don't know if that would be something you'd want to consider or not.
Try to get your hands on ZU Wax or IBIS or Verastarr Ultra Reference, you will be pleasantly surprised, Excellent detail, solid soundstage, deep extended bass, tranparency above all else. Both offer a money back guaranty if not totaly satisfied, both offer excellent customer service. You can't lose. Happy listening.
You might want to try John Risch's design at AA to save $$.
I bought 47Labs OTA cable and am satisfied with it but it cost double of what you want.I got it used at 1/2 price.
I liked AQ cable,but not the one you mentioned.Canare did not work well in my system for IC's and I doubt I would try there speaker cable.
Bogdan might sell speaker cable and if the $$ is right I'd try it.
I would first try JR's to have a basis to work from.
I think the DH Labs stuff is a great value, and Q10 is excellent. I haven't tried Mapleshade but it looks intriguing. I also agree with the above that low impedance is critical, another reason I like Q10. Audio Advisor had AQ Granite on sale for less than half price a few weeks ago, don't know if it still is, but it is a lot better than Type 6 and a good deal at their prices.
Did you ever try the magnet wire?
I just finished a set of speaker cables which are single runs of Chimera Labs 25.5 gauge magent wire running through 18 gauge Teflon tubing. The wire was inexpensive (purchased a 100 ft. roll) and the Teflon tubing was under $10 (@ Fryes Electronics) for a 35 ft. roll.
They sound very nice (not quite as good as the 47 Labs OTA, but still in the same ballpark).
I also made an IC from the Chimera wire (CD player to preamp) which I am breaking in right now. The IC is a simple single run "nude" design. RCA's are Radio Shack (8 for $2.99) that have had their metal mass further reduced (cut off the strain relief tab and part of the outer metal housing which makes contact with the outside of the female RCA). An additional treatment is to polish and clean the contact areas of the RCA's. A lot of work, but it goes fairly quickly once you do a few.
The Chimera wire is a bit difficult to work with if you do not own a solder pot (I don't), but I was still able to achieve good results by stripping it with a butane lighter, polishing/cleaning the bare surface and then tinning the same with Chimera Labs solder. To be on the safe side I wrapped the ends of the wires (in the area where the insulation and the tinned surface join) with Teflon plumbers tape in the event that the coating was not completely intact in the transition area.
I have some Luminous Audio Renaissance speaker cable in a true bi-wire set-up & for the price it's hard to beat. Instead of going into details, I'll just list my review>
>if you'd care to read it, although there have been changes to my system since my review.
Dekay: For what it's worth, PLEASE try some different RCA plugs. Those "el cheapo's" from Rat Shack sound horrible in my experience. I built some experimental cables using those and they sounded horrible. I later went back to those cables and tried different RCA's and the sound was much improved. Sean
I have only compared the cheap modded RCA's (in DIY designs) to my 47 Labs RCA's and to some that were Kimber, I think.
I forgot to mention that I also ditch the plastic screw on covers. Perhaps you are confusing these with the RS Gold RCA's which do sound like crap. These are not gold plated and once I get through with them they contain very little metal.
Try them modified as I use them (in a simple single run nude design and with HQ 25.5-26 gauge solid core wire) and they do not sound horrible as you describe it.
The downside however is that the designs are very fragile (you can fry gear if you are not very careful) and they do not offer shielding and/or RFI rejection. As I do not have an RFI problem I am willing to take the risk with the rest of it. I once tried a pair of completely nude silver IC's (zero insulation) which sounded incredible, but the much higher risk factor involved with these was too much for me to continue their use.
No one could sanely market such designs as looking @ them makes it obvious that they can be made up in a matter of minutes from basic materials (plus they will fall apart with general use). I sold all of my commercial IC's (other than the simplistic 47 Labs stuff) a few years ago and never looked back (the one exception being a Mapleshade digital IC that I did like the sound of, though without a DAC on hand it doesn't get much/any action these days:-).
Dekay, I actually got some magnet wire and Kapton tape and was going to make some per the audiotweaks description. Then I started reading about low induction, decided a parallel run would be high inductance and gave up on the idea.
I'm interested in Mapleshade because of their treatment process but a single run of 18 ga may be too light, especially for a 12 foot run. From what I can understand, by using long runs of light gauge, the amp can't control the woofer and the lack of damping gives the illusion of bass. On the plus side, I think there is some filtering of hash going back to the power amp by such a long run of light gauge wire. I think this is their theory behind their power cords/ line conditioners.
I did make some solid 18 gauge twisted pair that took me about 4 hours to wind along with sore fingers. It wasn't good quality wire and I wasn't impressed.
I originally had DH Labs Q10, external bi-wire which was way overkill so I sold it. Since then decided my system, and hearing perception, had far greater problems than any wire would cure so forgot about it. Once I get my system optimized and I get real familiar with the sound will try some wire again.
But I found hearing differences is not a quick-switch thing. You have to listen for a week, adjust to the sound and then switch out the wire. It could take a very long time to sort through wire where I'm confident in what I know what I am hearing. So I rely on people's help and measurements to try to narrow down the choices.
Jmslaw, I was also impressed with the Red Rose and found it was a high strand count wire. This was when I thought single strand was the way to go. Didn't realize it was so cheap, thanks.
I think Sean had a good point about terminations making a big difference in sound, maybe bigger than the wire itself. Is crimping to spades is the best way to go?
So Driver, what did you replace the Renaissance with? I read the Jan 2003 S-Phile that Acoustics Zen uses the same construction in their $1,188 / 8ft ($75/ft) speaker wire as LAT - "AZ's construction technique is based on "constant air twisting", in which multi gauge groups of conductors are arranged in a constant twist on the outside of air filled teflon tubing"
12 ft. is the maximum length recommended by Mapleshade, otherwise the (+/-) leads need to be separated by 6" to 12" for it to sound as intended. Pierre once offered to supply the cable to me in this form (non-twisted), but this was some time ago.
I have read much of the same info as you, but in practice I have found much of it to not effect the sound of simple solid core (non twisted/braided) wire in the manner described. I have been using single runs of 26 gauge speaker cable for quite some time now (with various setups) and it sounds wonderful. 22 gauge also works, but my experiment with 18 gauge was a disater (same as yours I guess) as were single runs of 30 gauge solid core.
If such light gauge wire is too scary for you to try @ this time, perhaps look into the new cables advertised here (Bogden or Bogdan) as they are receiving some favorable feedback and they are in your price range. Try searching the name here and @ AA for more info.
As far as round solid core speaker cable goes the best connector is no connector @ all, IMO.
I would second the Red Rose recommendation.
Another to really look at is the Coincident CST 0.5. I consider it THE BEST BUY out there in speaker wire. I use it myself in one of my systems, and I prefer it by a pretty fair amount over my AudioQuest Midnight(itself much better than Type 6). Please give it a try.
my limited experience with rat shack rca's as follows:
With bulk kimber PBJ, I ran one set with the cheapo $3/ 6pak, and then decided to do the rest in their gold plated. The cheap ones were on my tuner. I do have some teflon tape holding the ground connection tighter, as the looseness there is otherwise egregious. I eventually switched things around and found out that the cheap ones sound much better than the awful sounding gold plated ones, and have converted some of them. So now I am wondering about getting some Cardas silver or other expensive ones, if the sound improvement would be as great as the difference between cheapo and rat plated. Is it?
It's difficult to say as you have had results that are probably fairly close to mine with the cheap non plated RS RCA's.
I wonder though if we are all talking about the same RCA's. The ones that I use come in an 8/pack (small plastic bag) and the plastic colors are Red/White/Blue & Yeallow.
These cheap RCA's when slightly modified sound not that different from my 47 Labs RCA's. I do prefer the 47 Labs, but can no longer afford to replace the ones that I have broken (5 center posts to date), which is why I came up with an alternative.
The Bullet plugs look interesting (approx. $33 for a set of 4) and if you can solder the flimsy RS non-plated RCA's you should have no problem with the Bullets.
Here is an old post (@ AA) by Mr. Risch in regard to more traditional RCA's that he likes (might be helpful).
Dekay,-- Thanks for insights. Until I saw your initial post I almast disbelieved my own exerience.
I used the cheap rca's that came 3 red and 3 black, in small plastic bag. I think they may be the same on the inside but with a different useless plastic jacket. I don't feel the need to shell out $33x4 for an upgrade unless it really makes a difference. Its not as though I have a $10,000 set up anyway, I'm plugging them into an old dyna pas pre-amp. Nonetheless, the fools gold plated ones wrecked the sound, and that's what got me thinking. That's one reason I was thinking of staying away from gold plate altogether and trying silver. (Have you listened to the bullets?)
Dekay: I've still got some of those "generic" plastic RS RCA plugs somewhere around here. The ones that i used looked more like this but without the strain relief. Rather than the "notched" or "crowned" ground sleeve, it used a solid sleeve. I'll have to find them and drop you an email for specifics.
As to the RCA's that Jon recommended, i've used the Dayton's from Parts Express for quite a long time. I sent Jon a couple sets of these ( the first ones he ever saw ) along with some supplies for him to make some cables with several years ago. While i know that some folks are "anti" gold plating and teflon, these really are very decent plugs for the money. These RCA's from Dalbani #15-0205 are also a very good buy. You'll have to enter the part number on these manually as Dalbani's website does not do direct links all too well. They have slightly different construction from the Dayton's and more suitable to larger wires due to increased barrel size. Some might find them to be slightly easier to solder to and work with though. For BIG diameter cables, i've found the Axon's from Zalytron to work very well. These are a bit more expensive, but more / bigger metal also costs more to produce. Just to clarify things, Zalytron does NOT show these RCA's on their website, so you'll have to contact them regarding price and availability. Sean
Cellorover, where did you get the Supra cable? I can't find it.
Thanks Jmslaw, I heard the Red Rose wire and was impressed. And this was at the time I thought solid core wire was the best way to go. I didn't realize it was so cheap.
Driver, if you don't mind, what did you upgrade to? The LAT is a great bargain considering it has the same construction as the $1,188/8ft pair Acoustic Zen cable reviewed in Jan, 2003 Sterophile:
"AZ's construction technique is based on "constant air-twisting", in which multi-gauge groups of conductors are arranged in a constant twist on the outside of air-filled teflon tubing".
Correction, I made some 12 (not 18) gauge twisted pair wire. Hence the sore fingers note as 12 gauge is tough stuff, even in copper.
Sean & Wise:
The ones that I use are #274-321, however they look different than the part depicted @ RS online (the plastic cap is a different shape anyway).
I have never seen the ones with the soft plastic strain relief.
I hope now that I will be able to find more of the type that I have been using as they are needed for a few projects. I just gave two of them to the new kitten as "tings" to play with (might be crawling around on my hands & knees looking for them in a few days:-).
There was a few post about the Bullets at AA.One thing I have to say id the Forward to Back of the soundstage is not as good using it as when cables are used without it(OTA).I am going by memory of experiences.
One test recordings I use is an instramental track of The Clashes "Rock the Casbah".In it Joe Strummer says "The Sheik he drove his cadillac" and it is usually so forward it's scary.The following is a background line "Sherif" which is usually way back of the plane of the speakers,which it is.The first line just is not as forward as it usually is.
It is one of the few crits I have of the Eichs,but it is a crit.
I would like to try some Cardas RCA's to compare.
I haven't played with the "bullets" as of yet, but i have looked at them. Ehider had some on some cables that i saw when he visited the Chicago Audio Society last week.
Personally, i think that the idea behind these are a joke. Does anyone actually think that the "single point of contact" offers any advantage over increased surface area / lower series resistance of a larger ground connection ? On top of this, does anybody think that the signal flowing out of that pin-point area of contact on the ground side of the connection is only going to flow through the female RCA jack at the point it makes contact or will the signal make use of all of the contact area on the female RCA ?
Besides all of that, i was told that these connectors are pretty flimsy and are supposedly lacking in ruggedness / reliability. At that price and with the lack of credibitlity behind the idea ( at least in MY mind ), i'll pass on them for now. Sean
I guess it's all relative. I have the Eichmann Bullets currently in use. 47 Labs wanted $100 for enough connectors to make a pair of ic's with their OTA (and it may well be worth it, I don't know as I didn't want to shell out the money knowing the 47 Labs connectors can very easily be broken). I replaced a pair of budget Ultralink RCA's on some 47 Labs OTA
with the Eichmann's and it was no contest. When you look at the cost of the Cardas and, especially other well know RCA's like the WBT's, $30 for the Eichmann's strikes me as a bargain, particularly when the OTA terminated with the Ultralinks was very competitive with Silver Audio 6.0's terminated with the WBT RCA's. The Eichmann/OTA combo was audibly superior. I think the copper Eichmann's are a bit of a bargain.
I was able to locate two packages of the RS RCA's that I use yesterday. The price has gone up $1 per pack and the stores said that they do not know which version will arrive with the next shipment from their warehouse.
Both shops had stored the cheap RCA's in black plastic sliding drawers (I had to ask for them). Don't know how standard this is from one RS to the next, but they were no longer hanging on the peg board in either of our local RS's as they used to.
Less contact area makes sense to me (the same principal as replacing the heavy jumper bars on biwirable speakers with wire/cable) and the end/all is the elimination of unecessary chunks of metal in the signal path. Sounds good in theory and according to the experiments that I have made it also sounds good in reality.
How much of the outer metal housing do you cut off? I can see ditching the strain relief tab, and soldering the ground to the outside of the ring, but if the ring is cut back, it must be hard to keep the plug intact? I was just using them pretty much straight, but without the plastic cover. Still not much metal mass there.
Cdc-- I usually pick it up in Europe when I come over. Their US importer is in Californian, but I get the idea he likes car stereos. I am over here now and am bringing back almost 100 feet for some other people. It sells for 10 euro (now about $12 per meter). I will be back this weekend. I have a pair of 9 footers if you want to try them. Let me know.
I leave small 1/8" tabs on opposite sides which can be pinched "in" prior to attaching the RCA in order to increase the grip.
I am not even certain if this makes a difference in the sound (as I have not A/B'd like IC's with and without this mod), but usually do it anyway in order to further maintain the concept of reducing metal mass in the signal path.
Perhaps this is something that you can experiement with when you have time to kill?
Polishing/cleaning the contact areas is easier and it definately does improve the sound.
I am in the process of switching over from 47 Labs cable/RCA's to my DIY cables so it is difficult to judge things on a whole @ this time. Currently I have one channel wired with the DIY cables while the other channel is still wired with the 47 Labs cable and their RCA's.
This may seem a bit odd, but I did so specificaly in order that I may compare the two cable types with mono source material over the next week. If the DIY cable is good enough I may end up selling the 47 Labs cable as I am in the process of downsizing (will just be keeping the bare essentials for decent/involving sound).
We seem to have sidetracked CDC's thread to a certain extent, so if you wish please feel free to email me directly in regard to other simplistic DIY cable designs (ones w/o shielding/braiding/twisting, et cetera).
Here is a follow-up on my wire search:
Brands tested, (all were 12 foot lengths, terminated with spades except Mapleshade has bare wire):
12 gauge ZIP cord from Home Depot .31/ft
Canare 13 gauge star quad .41/ft
Luminous Audio Technology Prestige $4.99/ft www.luminousaudio.com
Mapleshade Clearview Golden Double Helix $14.16/ft
LAT International SS-800 $11.42/ft and cryo treated SS-1000
Audioquest Granite $11.67/ft on sale ($27.00/ft regular price)
* Room is highly reflective 4-8 dB bump at 4k-8k.
* Speakers: Nautilus 804 Amp: Musical Fidelity A3.2cr
* Cables cooked with Audiodharma cable cooker (most wire sounded tizzy and really bad when first put in system after being cooked) (told by LAT International cooking cables is virtually worthless). Thanks to generous loan by Audiogon member.
*Differences were heard for first few seconds after wires were changed. After a few seconds, couldnt hear the differences. With new wire, I would play through a variety of songs the first night, noting perceived differences. The next night, compare different brands on just a few specific songs which I thought would show the most obvious sonic differences.
* Some nights there were no audible differences between ZIP cord and other wire. Other times the differences heard were not the same. For example, comparing ZIP cord to Audioquest, one night there were differences in depth of bass. Another night it would be definition of bass or pereceived volume level of bass. Sometimes ZIP cord sounded grainier. Other times it didnt sound grainy at all. I dont know if this was how my hearing was tuned that night, volume level, power conditioning issue, air humidity or what. I tried to make sure connections were very tight with all wire.
* I would not listen to music for 1-3 days between listening sets to let my ears relax back to neutral and to be interested enough to pay attention so the same songs over and over again. After only 5-15 minutes I could get ear fatigue and comparing sound after 1 hour of listening was worthless.
The speaker wire seemed to improve the sound by about 1/5-1/10 that of solid state amplfiers. Since I have $1,600 in amplifier, spending 1/5 that amount seemed justified. I would not spend more than this because for an extra $1,000, I would upgrade my amp to a Pass X-150, Clayton, Edge, or Roland Model 2 which would give more improvement to the sound than $1,000 worth of wire as best as I can tell, not having heard really expensive wire.
Note that wire could change the sound by more than 1/5-1/10 that of a power amp as a tone control. But I don't see the ability to improve the sound quality more than 1/5-1/10.
12 GAUGE ZIP CORD FROM HOME DEPOT
I have been living with this for a year. It pleases on its own terms. Meaning it does nothing to annoy me. Whatever graniness, loss at frequency extremes, or leading edge transient losses it has are not that obvious to me without direct comparison to better wire. Better wire brings me closer to the music.
CANARE 13 ga. STAR QUAD
I got this wire after getting enthused about hearing differences between Audioquest and ZIP cord. I wasnt sure if I needed to spend that much money. Didnt really hear any difference / improvement over ZIP cord.
LUMINOUS AUDIO TECHNOLOGY PRESTIGE
This wire is solid strands of 18 gauge wire wrapped around a hollow tubular core. It is a large diameter, plain, dull gray PVC covered wire with TINY, cheap spades that had to be bent to fit on the amps ¼ - 5/16(?) binding posts. This wire did nothing for the sound, before and after cooking. I dont know why as it is the same construction as Acoustic Zen cables ($74.25/ft) reviewed in January 2003 Stereophile.
It was hard to use and I didnt like the looks so I was glad to see it go. It probably wasnt too fair to compare this to wire that cost 2-3x more money and Luminous Audio does have some $12/ft Renaissance speaker wire.
MAPLESHADE CLEARVIEW DOUBLE GOLDEN HELIX
18 gauge twisted pair specially treated wire with no dielectric. An extra twisted pair of 18 gauge differentiates this from standard Godlen Helix wire. There must be something to treating wire because this was better than Canare or Luminous audio. It was perhaps the sweetest sounding wire of all that breezed through piano recordings with the least amount peakiness. It may have picked up more small nuances than any other wire as well. No dielectric may also be the reason for the smooth, natural sound. Although dull sounding systems, or personal taste may not lean to this type of presentation. Mission speakers, for example, may benefit from a silver plated wire.
If I had a low-powered SET amp or bookshelf speakers this wire may have been my first choice. But like a MOSFET vs. bipolar amp, it wasnt the best IMS. Was the bass underdamped? Was it lack of ultimate bass depth? Was it my bias against such a skinny piece of wire? I decided it just lacked authority when compared to AudioQuest. The speakers did not come alive fully and that is something I value over ultimate naturalness or finest nuances in music. Single driver speaker lovers obviously are willing to compromise in these areas and this would be a great wire for that taste / system setup.
* The (+) wire was about 6" longer than the (-) wire. I don't know why but it must be done for a reason.
* I tried holding the wire and also looking at it under a magnifying glass while music was playing to see if it would vibrate from magnetic charges running through the wire. I could see no vibration. I couldn't tell if I was feeling vibrations through the floor or the wire when holding it. So this crude test proved inconclusive but wire vibratrion supposedly affects the sound
I want to say that both Mapleshade and Luminous Audio TRULY offer a no-hassle return policy. Other dealers refund your money after an argument but Mapleshade and Luminous Audio Technology just say okay with no questions asked. Some mfgrs cant realize their wire isnt perfect in every system, for everyones taste, or that more expensive wire may be better and feel obliged to argue if you dont feel the same, ughh.
LAT INTERNATIONAL SS-800
The LAT and Audioquest brought similar improvements to the sound but with a different tonality. I liked the LAT's looks the best. It is a ~1/2" dia. wire, deep translucent blue color, with large, high quality gold spades. These spades clamped very firmly to my speakers and amp. Even Nelson Pass is big on tight connections affecting sound quality.
A positive description of LAT would be it makes the music more vibrant. Cymbals stood out more and I could hear echos, reverb of instruments in the hall where they were played, and artifical recording "echobox" affects more clearly. There was also more air and space around instruments and voices. This was similar in effect to the Harmonic Recovery System box I had in my system. With the HRE as a reference, I would call the effect the wire was making as inaccurate phase shift.
Transient attack was quicker in the upper frequencies as well.
I tried some cryo treated SS-1000 as well. It was like the SS-800 but better. I heard no bad effects from the treatment. Music had more body and was more solid. Transients such as drums were cleaner. The decay of notes dropped even further into a black background. The basic tonality of the wire was still the same. I would estimate the improvement as 25% to (optimistically) 50%, in the realm of how wire can improve the sound, over the uncryo'ed SS-800.
To my ears, the LAT's tonality was not as accurate as the Audioquest Granite. I don't know if it's the silver plating or the woven construction. DH Labs Q-10 is silver plated but not woven. If I liked the sound of LAT International, I would definitely A/B IMS to the DH-Labs before deciding which I liked better. I used to have the Q-10 and it was similar the LAT but bigger bass as I remember.
This was the second best looking wire. The green color reminds me of a lizard so not really appealing. It is a double helix design so is twice as wide the LAT. Spade were very good but not quite up to the strength and locking ability of the LAT.
First impression when switching from the LAT was the music was louder. Music had a big, bold sound similar to Classe amps. There was definitely more bass and a slight muting to the upper frequencies. But since the B&W tweeter is plenty revealing and my room is reflective, this effect was welcome. Soundstaging was not quite as crisp as the LAT. But the big improvement was the more accurate tone of instruments. This is something I value highly. I kept going back to the Audioquest as the most accurate reference to the music.
The bigger bass was also good because I could move my speakers further out into the room. This helped soundstaging over the LAT.
My girlfriends opinion was the Audioquest sounded "faster" than the LAT. Maybe something to do with the bass.
The Mapleshade may be the best wire for speakers not needing a lot of current. While the LAT and Audioquest wire gave similar improvements to clarity of the music the AQ was more tonally accurate and had more bass. I heard no improvements with Canare or Luminuous Audio Technology wire. Maybe they were there just much smaller than LAT or AQ.