A question about the logic of interconnect cables


This question has always been with me...without a satisfactory answer to date.

Why do we not use the same internal wire ( for interconnects) that manufacturers use which feeds their outputs or inputs internal to their product?? It would seem to me that this wire's quality (regardless of what we use eternally) is a limiting factor in the first place

Example..I have an ARC Tube Preamp and ARC tube amps...why do I need "special " interconnects when in fact, the wire used to feed the output of my XLR preamp output is the same identical wire beyond the xlr input of my amps?

I would appreciate some logic here.....Thanks
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I am not technically trained so I can't give an authoritative, scientific answer. However, I too am curious as to the answer. Here are some speculative, albeit uninformed, thoughts.

1. Some high end manufacturers do not believe you need any "special" wire". As long as there is good contact at the terminals, no film of dirt or oxidation, and sufficient wire gauge, then that is generally sufficient.

2. The wire inside the component may not be as good as some "special" interconnects. So the better interconnects may subtract less during transmission, so to speak, than the component's internal wire. For example, the interconnect may be better shielded than the wire inside the component.

3. The signal is passing through terminals which may alter its charcteristics. In other words, the signal inside the component before it reaches the output terminal may not be the same as the signal after it passes through the output terminal on its way to the power amp. So the interconnect may be optimized for the different signal characteristics than what is ocurring in the component. This is a variation of number 2 above. Number 2 suggests the wire in the component may not be as good. Number 3 suggests it is the terminal which are having an effect, therby necessitating a different wire.

4. There are good marketing people who make you believe the interconnect is "special", when in fact it may make no difference.

I shall be interested to see what others say.
The best amps and pre's do not have much wire inside.. point to point soldering and interconnect RCA female terminals are connected/soldered inside directly to a board without wire. Bottom line is interconnects DO AFFECT sound, just try a few different ones and listen and you will see.
Thanks for the info...and I don't mean to belabor the point BUT..if all what is true above and RCA plugs. XLR connectors do affect the signal ..then why are we not soldering our cables board to board?

You very well could solder your cables board to board, but how practical would that really be?

I've seen, the odd time, a component with seperate power supply, modified in such a way, but woe to he that has to move the components around, etc.

-not to mention the elaborate ritual that would surely be made of a/b testing of various cables....for what minute degree of improvement?
why are we not soldering our cables board to board?
Practicality, as suggested above.
Otherwise, it's an excellent thing to do.
Practicality come in when you wan to, say, change a cable, or lengthen, or move the components apart or change one of the components...
...and you know, soldering & de-soldering boards will ultimately make a mess of those boards.
Plus, if the wire used is an expensive designer "cable" (say, Prada :)), you lose much of its resale value!

That's it, really.
To Markphd

Thanks for your response.. Your point about about some high end Mfgs not believing you need any special wire speaks volumes to my point. I have often felt that there should be some some scientific evidence of the benefit of one cable over another.

If one cable sounds different than another..WHY?? or are we in a big time PLACEBO effect here?? Not seeing any reportable documentation on HZ or db differences ( or any other measurements)by any of the high end cable guys suggests to me that the entire market has a credibility problem. Extravagant claims prevail in every magazine I have read.

I have tried Valhalla, NBS and MIT products and in my opinion, NBS sounded better...but this is after I went down the Valhalla expense path.
The question makes a good case for integrated systems, doesn't it??? Or better yet, powered DSP speakers with a digital interconnect to source.
I have yet to see a manuf. offer an exotic power cord with their gear. I mean wouldn't they know what makes their equipment sound best?
So many unanswered questions....
>>I have yet to see a manuf. offer an exotic power cord with their gear. I mean wouldn't they know what makes their equipment sound best?<<

Cables are system dependent. This is indisputable.

Now, for every manufacturer to take the time and test their products with every cable/component permutation is impossible.

Lastly, how would you expect any manufacturer to anticipate every listener's likes/dislikes/preferences?

Hope that helps.
there are two other reasons a smart manufacturer does not offer an after market power card.

1) it would raise the price of the component

2) it might offend other manufacturers.

it is not smart to offer an after market power cord with a preamp or amp designed by another manufacturer.

in the case of a power conditioner, it makes sense for a manufacturer of such a product to sell it with an after market cable of his design, e.g., shunyata and audience.
>>2) it might offend other manufacturers.<<

LOL

I'm sure that's a concern.
The internal wire inside components does matter, but it is prohibitively expensive to use pure gold or silver wire in most components. That being said, you can have the wire inside some components upgraded by professional modders. I know of one person who had an amplifier rewired with pure silver wire and said the improvement was stunning. In fact, the improvement led him to question whether paying for megabuck interconnects was even worth it.

As for what the point of using interconnects is, I think they provide an invaluable way to tune your system. Some people say the best interconnects allow the purest signal transmission, and that they aren't tone controls. I think this is bogus. Every wire in your system is a tone control. Anyone who says differently should consider the concept of relativity and the fact no one really *knows* what a component is supposed to sound like. The only way you can listen to any component is with cables, and they all color the sound in their own way. Changing interconnects allows you to color the sound the way you like it.

Tomer
Audiofeil; "Now, for every manufacturer to take the time and test their products with every cable/component permutation is impossible."

"Lastly, how would you expect any manufacturer to anticipate every listener's likes/dislikes/preferences?"

Gee, wouldn't it nice to know exactly WHAT cable they DID use to tout the claims/specs they're marketing?
Thanks all for your feedback.....one thing I have done is when I go to Hi End Shows like the CES in Las Vegas, I make note of major mfgs like ARC, Magnepan, Krell, Conrad Johnson etc. to note what power cords they use....after all, they are showcasing their products to the media , their immediate retail customers etc....they seem to use their supplied products...nothing else.

But when it came to interconnects, there was no definitive favorite other than ARC claimed they used their own.

Speaker cables, with biamped Maggie 20.1s were noted to use Valhalla one day and MIT the next....hmmmm.
Conrad Johnson supplies a "high end" power cord with their CT6. It isn't a name brand though. They said it did make a difference and is why they included it.
I'd hazard a guess that most manufacturers don't make aftermarket powercords because they know high-end PC's are a big con. As for "offending" other manufacturers... what have you been smoking?

To answer the original question; any wiring within a component is very short and well shielded from external interference by the component casing. It wouldn't be prohibitively expensive to use silver for such short lengths as someone suggested above; such wire is obviously deemed unnecessary over good copper.

However, if we choose to mix brands in our setup and have varying distances between components, it does make sense to buy high quality shielded cables to get the signal from point A to B as pristine as possible.

I posed a similar question a while back, asking if eliminating interconnects altogether by using fully integrated systems (like the Arcam CD/Pre/power) was an advantage.
>>I'd hazard a guess that most manufacturers don't make aftermarket powercords because they know high-end PC's are a big con.<<

All guesses are somewhat hazardous and yours is erroneous as well. Please read my prior post about manufacturers and aftermarket power cords. It will help you understand more clearly.

Thank you.
Hang on Audiofeil, you've just stated my comments are erroneous but then pointed me back to your previous post which is just assumptions - unless you're a component designer for an established brand, that is.

I'll back my statement up with some evidence...
Cambridge Audio, for example, supply all their components with a standard power cord, yet make a point of NOT including interconnects. That clearly means they have no issue with a standard PC, but know buyers will want to select their own IC.

Now an assumption of my own; I believe that if you were able to look inside most hifi R&D test rooms, every component being tested (and every piece of test equipment too) would be powered by standard good quality 3 pin PC's, not fancy expensive aftermarket PC's.

I know from personal experience that the PC's on recording studio equipment (even in major studios) are all standard off-the-shelf cords; I think these folks might know a little about what affects sound balance.

In fact, if I was a component manufacturer, I'd be embarrased to think my equipment's power supply and components were so fickle that changing a PC could affect it's sound.
True I'm no EE, but there's still room for common sense in audio isn't there?
I was talking to Richard Vandersteen and asked him similar questions as above... As far as power cords are concerned, he agrees they do make a change in the sound, but insists that his powered speakers were designed using the included cords, and as far as he is concerned, that's the intended sound. His internal wire comes from various manufacturers. Tweeters have different electrical requirements than do midrange speakers or woofers, and Vandersteen said that he uses the ones he uses after many listening tests. The result is that for instance his model 5A's as it is shipped from the factory is Vandersteen's statement. Sure it all can be modified, but don't call it Vandersteen.
i have discovered a designer of amps and preamps who also designs cable, including power cords. the company is morrow audio. i suspect if i am diligent, i will find additional instances of electronic manufacturer's who design power cords.

perhaps many designers recognize the fickle nature of the purchasers of their products and want to be able to sell them an amplifier and an after-market power cord.
Mrtennis,
Blue Circle also sells amps/preamps and powercords.
Given that once a customer buys the equipment, he/she is likely to then try a range of cables to integrate the new component in the system, and since the ideal cable arrived at will likely be driven by overall system balance and the other equipment as much as by the new component, it seems obvious to me that including expensive cabling with the component is potentially a large waste of money.

But that assumes you believe in the importance of well designed and selected cabling. If you don't, then why are you bothering to ask the question?
I'll back my statement up with some evidence...
Cambridge Audio, for example, supply all their components with a standard power cord, yet make a point of NOT including interconnects. That clearly means they have no issue with a standard PC, but know buyers will want to select their own IC.
Carl109, your only evidence is that the Cambridge Audio or Creek gear do not respond to sonic changes with varying power cords. That's an indication of the electronics here, not that power cables are a con.

This would be like someone expecting that putting 91-octane gasoline into a Toyota Corolla would make a performance improvement compared to the 85/87-octane that was "recommended" by the manufacturer. The user would detect no change and therefore there is evidence that higher octane gasoline was a con. NOT!

I posed a similar question a while back, asking if eliminating interconnects altogether by using fully integrated systems (like the Arcam CD/Pre/power) was an advantage.
There are pros/cons of integrated vs. separates but it's not going to be because of the use or not use of ICs....other than a cost issue. I would suggest that you consider moving up to the next level of performance in your electronics choices before you put any attention to cables. Until then, you will continue to convince yourself that cables are a con.
hi jafox:

suppose a machanic working for a toyota dealership tells you not to use premium gas ?

or suppose a manufacturer tells you not to use an after market power cord or not to use a power conditioner with his product, or not to replace the tubes, as cj does ?

do you follow the lead of the manufacturer or do you ignore the manufacturer ?