You can certainly try it without causing any harm. Let your ears tell you if it what you are looking for.
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I've tried it. Unless you really need some type of "band aid" fix for a problem, its usually a really bad idea. If you have really revealing components, you should easily be able to hear 2 different cables.
"But since plain stranded cable has somewhat fallen out of favor, I wondered if I might be able to improve the definition and articulation of my bass with a different cable for the LF run."
Who cares. If they work for you, use them.
I think you are asking too much of your cables. Even though cables can sound different from each other, you have to remember they're still passive components and can only do so much. A well designed cable should give you excellent sound in all areas. If you're not happy with your bass, a much better solution would be to focus on your active components. Upgrading your source, preamp or amp is more likely to fix your problem.
"Richard Vandersteen also says its a bad idea."
He's right. I was using Vandersteen speakers when I experimented with using different cables on the top and bottom. Its kind of hard to explain, but the system just sounded wrong. You really have to hear it for yourself.
I've been bi-wiring and bi-amping for years using different cables/wires and find it a very useful tool for achieving the sound I want. Some have argued against it.....using wire as a tone control but who cares if it sounds good? You can certainly get mismatches which will sound odd if not outright bad but only experimentation will tell. For what it's worth, I found silver ribbon/foil wire to have the best bass definition and slam. Electraglide silver ribbon speaker cable (Goertz AG-2 I think) really took my 4 12" Peerless 1259 bass drivers to the next level in articulation, clearly placing bass instruments in space, with great clarity (Stanley Clarke was nearly in the room with me), and bass attack could be quite startling.
If you want to experiment on the cheap, try some wire from Ebay. I made some power cords using the Mundorf wire from Taiwan (is it real Mundorf? Don't know, don't care---it sounds very nice and is inexpensive)and they easily compete with higher end manufactured power cords (Wolff, Sunny Cables, TG Audio, BMI). Get some heavy gauge mil-spec silver plated copper and try them on your bass drivers. I highly recommend NOT using any connectors. Simply connect bare wire to both the amp and speaker terminals for the purist connection. I would avoid gold plated wire though as, in my experience, it tends to loose detail in the lower registers and trades both articulation and slam for weight. YMMV. Good luck.
Coherence is compromisedAfter more thought, Vandersteens comments, checking the Legacy site, I have to agree with Stringreen. Your speakers are voiced with well thought out crossovers to achieve max coherence. By mixing cable you could potentially effect speed, transparency, musicality and most certainly change ideal coherence through the frequencies. Will it damage anything? NO. Could it sound ok? Yes. Is it the ideal arrangement? Not close. Getting better sound is more a function of removing offensive artifacts than adding superflous components. Thank you Stringren for pointing out the path.
I bought mine on ebay a few years back before the price went through the roof. I'm sure you can still find it just might cost you more than you think.
To make a 12 foot biwire pair you will need about 50 feet of 14 gauge and 50 feet of 18 gauge.
I cleaned the wire and placed it into oversized teflon and then lightly twisted the positive and negative wires.
At the speaker end I also found that a rod type magnets on each side of the cable (attracting through the cable) also a plus.
If you are going to experiment using silver cables for your bass run, I'll offer a suggestion. Since silver is expensive, and you don't have your mind made up as to what will work best (I make that assumption based the fact you are experimenting), I would to borrow some silver cables if you can. Generally speaking, what people like or dislike about silver cables, tends to be in the high frequencies. For low frequencies, its very possible that using silver offers no advantage over copper.
If you try copper, as well, you may want to compare solid core vs stranded. Again, generally speaking, stranded seems to offer better bass performance over solid. Thats not the only factor, but something to keep in mind.
I don't agree that stranded copper provides better bass than solid wire.
Silver cable sound quality can be all over the map.
Use the highest grade soft anealed silver wire and it will beat most any high $$$ cables. I personally have owned or have tried in my system many of the top of the line speaker cables and I have no desire to switch from my DIY Silver 99999 soft anealed speaker cables.
Mtrot, when I initially brought up the coherence issue, I should have offered an explanation as well, sorry I did not. Since this has come up again, and you are asking questions pertaining to frequency, then hopefully this will help you to understand.
Stereophile definition - coherent 1) Pertaining to a multi-way loudspeaker's sound: seamless from top to bottom; showing no audible evidence of a crossover or of different driver colorations in different frequency ranges. 2) Pertaining to the soundstage: Phantom imaging that reproduces within the stereo stage the original lateral positions of the performers.
Ill use 60Hz as the fundamental frequency for the explanation which is definitely in the range for a kick drum or bass (guitar or upright). Along with the 60Hz, something called overtones or harmonics are also created. 2nd order is 120Hz, 3rd order is 180Hz, 4th order is 240Hz, 5th order is 300Hz, and so on. How high do they go? I dont know, but in my research, I found several saying up to 5kHz, and even higher for that bass note. These overtones or harmonics give the instrument its timbre or characteristic sound. Look at the graph in the link below (at the paragraph titled Spectra and harmonics). It is for a 400Hz note from a flute, but gives you a visual for what Im saying. Notice that the 3rd order harmonic at 1200Hz is just slightly lower in amplitude than the 400Hz. Not all graphs will be the same, since the amplitude of individual frequencies and how fast they taper off will be determined by a particular instrument.
Now we play this 60Hz note on your system. As the frequency of overtones increase, they reach a point, determined by the crossover in the speaker, in which they will NOT be produced by the driver producing the fundamental frequency, but the next driver, or drivers depending on how high they actually go.
Every cable or wire will have electrical properties, capacitance, inductance, and resistance. These properties will vary with all the different manufacturing techniques and materials. Its this variation that contributes to a slight altering of signal transfer between components, or as in your case, amp to speaker, resulting in a difference of the sound. Its true you might stumble upon two that would be real close, but for the properties to be identical, the cables must be identical.
So when you use identical cables, the signal feeding the driver or drivers producing the overtones is identical to the signal feeding the driver for the fundamental frequency, resulting in accurate timbre. Using different cables will alter the overtones that are NOT feed to the driver producing the fundamental frequency, therefore degrading the timbre accuracy of the sound. As I said before, I think it may be possible to stumble into two cables that would be real close and work OK together, but that would seem to be a huge undertaking with a multi driver 4-way speaker. A 2-way might not be as difficult.
LFD Hybrid Speaker Cable 3 meter From Dr. Bews the maker of the fine LFD amplifiers comes this novel and superior speaker wire.
extracted fom the Gene Rubin website:
" ... This cable uses PC-OCC multi strand and LC-OFC ribbon that is relatively expensive and labor cost is high (its a pain to make), but its the only way the makers have found to make a really good sounding single wired speaker cable.
LFD have been trying to manufacture this super single wired speaker cable from copper for nearly 10 years. The LC-OFC ribbon gives the very good bass and the PC-OCC multi strand gives a nice mid-band/top, either cable made as a single wired speaker cable have issues at the top end or the bass. It might be a mad idea, but it works!..."
"This wire will make your LFD amp sing! Works well with every amp I have tried it with!"--Gene Rubin
Mtrot, your original post said you wanted to improve bass definition. Here is an article from Audioquest on Bi-wiring that talks about bass definition. The first page and a half is definitely worth reading.
I don't have time to read all the posts here, but I'll relay my experience.
I am bi-wiring (bi-amping actually) my speakers with Morrow SP-2's on the high end and Mapleshade Golden Helix on the low end. The results are terrific! The SP-2's have good sparkle, but are a bit laid back. The Mapleshades have terrific power, punch, and definition and loose nothing in the bass to the many other speaker cables I've tried.
My experience (with silver coated cables at least) indicates you DO NOT need heavy gauge to get rippling bass.
ssglx, I agree with you about silver coated cables . I am using Dh labs Q10s on the top and Synergistic Research #2 (I think it is number 2 , it could be #3 ), I cant remember for sure . Its the one made for bass It goes real low . The bass defenition is not as good as the Dh Labs q10 which i was using , but goes much deeper . The DH labs q10 were split out ,like bi-wire only on both end . I used the 12 guage on the bottom and the 14 on top. The Q10s gave me the good bass definiton ,which i think was attributed to the silver coating.
For me it was a trade off for Bass definition versus low end grunt. The Synergistics give me that low end grunt .
I do Not use a sub when playing music .
Click on my system to see the speakers and specs .
I hope my reply helps you .