Good read, if a little disconcerting at how recent those days still appear.
Cables became the biggest get rich quick scam in audio I suspect mainly because of the near ubiquitous use of thin cheap bell wire in combination with flimsy poor connecting DIN plugs etc up til the 1980’s (the audio equivalent of the much despised SCART cables).
Obviously thicker fancy sleeved wire terminated with heavy duty connectors must be better? Obviously. Weren’t we always told that it’s pointless to skimp on a few feet of wire and plugs when we spent hundreds (or thousands) on hardware?
Thankfully, due to the dawning realisation that reasonably gauged high purity oxygen free copper cable is above and beyond what anyone might conceivably ever need, those days are now drawing to an end.
I had Polk Cobra Cable in.1977. Cost was $40 for a pair of 20 ft. A lot more than .10 ft zip! I used it with a GAS Son driving Infinity Monitors. The Son did not blow up! Sounded excellent! Alas, I caught the upgrade bug and the Monitors/Cobra were sold. Next came the Time Windows and Mogami Blue Neglex 2477 OFC coax 12 ga. My friend who owned an audio store in CT had a 40 - ft sample. Which he sold to me for $40. I cut it in half, stripped the ends and was in business!
That was about 1980. TW's/Son sold and replaced with Quad 57's and Bedini 25/25. Mogami still in use! And remained so when I got the KLH Nines in 1992. The Nines/Mogami combination lasted until 2015. I lost the Mogami when I moved south that year. But saved the Nines! Now have 6 ft pieces of RCA all-copper 14ga zip connected to the Nines/Carver 15CB and Ohm Sound Cylinders.
Addenda: Newly acquired Time Windows and Son of Ampzilla connected by late 80’s Q Audio Time Stream cable! And the Speaker Lab 7’s/Bryston 3B with another 12ft pair of the Time Stream cable. Cost: 25 ft for $25 used! It looks like Cobra cable!
Well I think Platinum speaker wires are the best. The interstices between the atoms are very small due to the density. Unlike copper which can act like a sponge accumulating electrons Platinum allows far less accumulation. Have you ever turned on your system and heard a pop? This happens when the accumulated puddled electrons combine with the new in-rushing electrons and yields a wattage spike caused by the momentary surge of combined puddled and flowing electrons. Besides reducing the electron storage capacity of your speaker wire through proper metal choice pay careful attention to how you run it from amp to speaker. It is best to make the run slope, even a slight slope is fine, from the amp DOWN to the speaker. This prevents electron puddling and assures the electrons left over in the wire when you shut things off drain properly into the speaker where they will quietly bleed off. This is also important if you play at high volumes because if the electron drainage is not optimal you can get various degrees of back pressure and this can cause some degradation of your audiophile experience creating that subtle gritty and grainy noise in the background you sometimes hear.
I remember buying my first set of "exotic" interconnects called Goldens back around 1976. My friends thought I was crazy for spending $5.00 on them! People of my age have a little different perspective on audio cables.
I would have thought by this point everyone would know if you haven't spend atleast 10k,obviously that #is for the budget minded, on interconnects or you just aren't really experiencing the music. Personally I suggest selling off all your albums to pay for em. You can stream Pandora for free
@roxy54 : I too had Goldens IC's in '76. They were marketed by DiscWasher. And certainly looked and felt better than the $3 generic IC's! Later, in '78 I bought a full set of Verion Triaxial IC's. Designed by Mitchell Cotter - a friend of Saul Marantz, Sid Smith and Stu Hegeman (who're those guys? asks the younger generation). I still have the Verions!
roberjerman, Interesting. I never heard of the Verion Triaxial IC's; and I had forgotten that the Goldens were made by Discwasher. They did look great at the time didn't they? Black and round with (!) gold plated RCA's.
The way i see it is if the name is some kind of made up, long Fancy pants name. I pay no attention to it . Snake oil. Lets see some technical back up , they can't or the jig is up . So if electrical signal moves at the speed of light. And computers are 10 million times faster than the human brain . Do some math , how fast is light compared to sound? Far more can be done for placement and time alignment . Some of these goofs have half a million worth of stereo stuff in a room from hoarders and have the nerve to be able to comment . Or the stereo is slid to one side of a room . Or giant monitors jammed squarely into the corners with an arm rest of another chair obscuring the stage. Or a fish tank between them .
Any talk of how much they paid and how great their decision was is only feeding the guys with OCD and money, to do even dumber things.
Such a great spoof. However, it captures the truth so well. High end cable companies are perfectly setup to capitalize on subjective, facts. Like fashion, cable companies will continue to improve their wire. Cables don't wear out as fast as other components, so the science (?) will continue to support the latest and greatest new items. Perhaps a better upgrade than very expensive cable, check out the Blackbody Ambient Field Conditioner.
If you calculate the resistance of typical speaker cables at DC vs 20,000 Hz, for 2 meters of 8 gauge wire is 0.008 Ohms for DC and 0.016 Ohms for the skin effect at 20,000 Hz. Put this in series with a 4 Ohm DC resistance Magnepan speaker and compare the total impedance. Skin effect accounts for less than 0.02 dB at higher frequencies than anyone can hear. Therefore, if a cable company advertises by claiming to correct for skin effect: litz construction or flat ribbon cables, that should discredit them in general. PS. Don't feel bad, nonoise, I just saw an advertisement for tungsten innerconnect cables claiming crazier than what you just lampooned.
To add to DrBarney1’s post (and I agree with his math), it is possible that in some circumstances skin effect in a speaker cable can actually be beneficial. While it will have negligible effects at audio frequencies, as he indicated, it seems conceivable that the resistance rise it causes at RF frequencies could reduce RFI that is picked up by the cable and introduced into the feedback loop of the amplifier (assuming the amp has a feedback loop). RFI that might otherwise have audible consequences as a result of effects such as intermodulation or AM demodulation, that may occur within the amp.
And in connection with that possibility I note the following statement in the article:
Hiraga pointed out that while theoretically the skin effect appears to be negligible for frequencies below 200kHz, subjective listening tests suggest otherwise. Apparently, he started experimenting as early as 1972 with Litz-type speaker cable, which consists of a large number of individually insulated fine wires twisted or braided into a uniform pattern in order to maximize conductor surface area. He substituted Litz wire between an amplifier and an Onken 5000T tweeter and discovered that as the number of strands increased, so did the impression of detail and definition, accompanied by the perception of additional distortion. The obvious conclusion was that one should not shoot the messenger since the Litz cable was allowing more of the message to get through.
Perhaps the "obvious conclusion" that is stated is not so obvious, and instead "the impression of detail and definition, accompanied by the perception of additional distortion" was due to the effects of RFI that I referred to. Those effects resulting in inaccuracies that were subjectively preferable, and were maximized by a reduction in skin effect.
No doubt the brickbats descending on some pricey mega-cables (or many others) are well deserved, but, wading into better cables years ago with no knowledge or expectations, my ears instantly recognized a favorable difference, since reconfirmed many times as I've gone up the ladder. (Notwithstanding my remaining opinion that cables are perhaps the biggest snake oil area in audiophilia--some of the prices are beyond ridiculous.) I've recently transitioned from very well-known and respected cables that made a nice difference in my system to a brand with a very radically different approach, Omega Mikro. Their cables are "planar", i.e. extremely thin single ribbons of copper with minimal dielectric, almost no dielectric in some models. The company's emphasis is on the importance of timing, not the standard criteria seen in most cable designs. Pricewise, compared to performance, they are a bargain. They've elevated my already excellent system to a new level--clean, pure, highly resolved, complete music. They require careful handling and a bit more attention in selecting, but once it you are set for enchanting sound. Jim Heckman
Jimski - I am a beta tester for almost 20 years for GroverHuffman.com cables. He uses an air dielectric (patented) with flattened ribbon conductors. The shielding is immense with a combo of copper braid dipped into a solidified solution made of copper, nickel and tungsten powders to eliminate EMI/RF and other nasties from the cables. The worst cables I've heard have also been in the $5k to $70k region. High Fidelity magnetic cables were the worst offender sonically and pricewise, heard at audio shows and in private homes (who's owners switched to GroverHuffman and Nordost cables). Some good sounding, affordable cables include my friend's and Triode Labs. I'd rather listen with Blue Jean cables than many of the really expensive cables. I admit that the finest audio system I've heard used ultra expensive MasterBuilt cables (which may have derived from NASA or other military uses adapting for audio).
Beyond a certain point, with respect to materials and assembly costs, a $5,000 cable is not better than say a $300 cable. What you hear are small differences-- like flavor notes between a varietal of wine. Is a $500 bottle of wine "better" than a $50 bottle. No. Just different. If the market decides they prefer one over the other then demand can drive costs. But for the winery to claim they have some kind of unique patented magical grapes and that this is why they have to charge $500 for that bottle is 99.99% booshwa. Cables are, without question, one of the greatest scams in audio. Many of their claims defy basic science, and their pricing has absolutely nothing to do with costs and everything to do with selling a myth of their own creation. So what to do?-- buy them, listen, live with them a while, and if you can afford them-- then just enjoy the music. Once you get into the hundreds of dollars you're going to be buying well-made cables-- no better and no worse than cables costing ten times as much, just small system dependent differences. The rest is just a marketing story that was made up in order to sell them to you.
I’m not sure I would reference NASA as the source or inspiration for the MasterBuilt cables, you know, what with the fire 🔥 in the capsule, crappy Shuttle solid rocket 🚀 seals and lousy Shuttle 🚅 thermal tiles.
fleschler, I'd never heard of Grover Huffman cables. They do look interesting, and certainly nicely priced. Once again I have to marvel at how apparently many of these almost invisible companies there are that may well be selling superior products at relatively bargain prices. As for RFI and EMI affecting the signal, I was surprised that with the nearly naked Omega Mikro ribbons, the music is very clean. I'm not trying to sell them--pls don't misunderstand, just commenting out of interest--but I'd have guessed those factors would have affected the signal in view of the very minimal dielectric. Don't know how that works. As for Masterbuilt, I recall seeing them in a room at a show where the cabling alone was $200k. Jim Heckman
O yes, also Omega Mikro recommends single-ended cables, in contrast to my component companies that recommend balanced which I'd thought were superior. Not trying to start another thread here, but again just curious. Their RCA-ended cables did best my pretty high end balanced. Jim Heckman