Can cables of any cost and quality provide bass response missing in my B&W speakers?


I'm sure variants of this question have been offered previously, but let me ask in light of the following:  I have a very modest main system powered by an Adcom 555II amp, Adcom GFP-750 pre-amp, and run into a pair of B&W CM-4 speakers (6.5in woofer, 6.5in. woofer/mid. and tweeter, and bi-wireable).  Any music with a moderate-to- heavy bass component (organ, bass fiddle, etc) just doesn't translate to my ear.  I'm using a mid-range pair of Monster cables, and in fact tried a second pair of Z-Series to no audible difference.  On the other hand I have a legacy pair of a/d/s 1090L tower speakers (2x7.5in woofers, 6in. mid-range, tweeter) that deliver thundering bass when needed regardless of cabling used, and powered by the same system.  Even tried passive bi-amping for the B&Ws by using an old Carver M-500t amp for HF input, and Adcom amp for LF input...no diff.  Is there any point really in looking at higher-end speaker wire of, e.g., thicker gauge, or exotic geometry, or multi-conductor "shotgunning", whatever, in order to induce greater LF response from the CM-4s?  Thanks for your patience.
compass_rose
Don't waste your money.  While different cables have different attributes, if you don't have much bass, no cable will magicly give you bass.
Unless your cables are exceptionally long (30 feet+) or skinny (larger # than 16 awg), its unlikely to give a greater quantity of bass (better quality is possible).  If the Adcom is in good shape, it should have enough power for your speakers.

If bass seems completely missing have you tried checking polarity?

http://www.audiocheck.net/audiotests_polaritycheck.php

Check your system and room setup and maybe other speakers are necessary. 

Have you connected the speaker cable incorrectly, that is connected them out of phase. 
Going by review data, the issue is really the speaker tuning. The CM4 measurements are almost tilted upwards. You could support it with a sub, move the speakers closer to the rear wall, or add some EQ.

The speakers seem, by measurement, to be more tuned for movies than music, which in an attempt to be more transparent, sacrifice a lot of bass.

Best,

E


Cables can vary considerably in frequency response, including bass response. Some cables are bass heavy, some are bass shy. Some sound rolled off, sound have midrange suck out, we don’t know why. (Rhyme alert!) One tip is try reversing the cables since cables are directional and sound better in one direction than the other. This applies to all cables. 
If bass seems to be missing try checking polarity, first. (+1 gnostalgick)
Then +1 geoffkait
Polarity is a good one. But first you need to verify the system is in correct polarity then try to find a source that’s also in correct polarity. If the source is CD it ain’t that easy to find one that’s correct. Most of them aren’t. Cable directionality is a 50/50 thing, Polarity of CDs is not, it’s worse.
@compass_rose - If you look at the spec of this speaker it would appear that they only provide a low frequency of 38 Hz

I would ask how low do you want to go? 

Unfortunately, no cable will assist in getting lower than 38Hz - you will need a subwoofer for that.

These speakers are approaching the limit of what a 6.5" woofer can deliver. Changing to a speaker with 8" woofer could get you down to around 28 Hz and a 10" woofer even lower.

I have Tannoy speakers with a 6.5" woofer (delivering low of 32Hz)  on my A/V system and they lack the bass of the speakers in my Audio system which has an 8" woofer - with a low of 28Hz

Having said that, one speaker cable that does perform exceptionally well and will allow your speaker to perform at their optimal level is the gZero6 from KLE Innovations.

I highly recommend them and have reviewed them at length - see...
http://image99.net/blog/files/228f7609149d575dd8dd8d956511e7c2-57.html

There are other models of cable, but the gZero6 offers the best bang for the buck for your speakers.

If you would like a speaker cable more reasonably priced - try the gZero2. It outperformed my Van den Hul d352 10 gauge cable - providing a more detailed, faster and deeper bass.

See...
http://image99.net/blog/files/fac35e44c003d559714cdd73d86febf9-51.html

Also, If you do order either cable - ask for their Classic Bananas to be installed. It will probably be the last speaker cable you buy

Regards - Steve
Hi Willie,

I don't think the specification is the whole story. 38 Hz is fine for a -3dB point but it is the rest of the frequency response that determines the balance.

WIlson's, Focal's and others have a bass bump (which is quite musical) in the bass, and everything else is below that. These B&Ws are curious in that the mid and treble are above the bass, making these speakers curiously lean, unless they are going to be used with a sub. These choices may have been done to improve the sensitivity.

Take a look at the first chart here:

https://www.soundandvision.com/content/bw-cm-series-surround-speaker-system-measurements

Placement matters, of course, so close to a wall these speakers may greatly improve. Definitely not speakers to leave far from the walls.

Best,

Erik
Thank you all for your considered responses.  A few points to address: (1) Polarity of speaker leads rigourously maintained...checked and double-checked to be sure; (2) Speakers each back into a wall, and positioned ca. 12-18in. away; (3) Actually tried affecting bass response by dusting off a retired Carver C1 preamp with tone controls, and with bass fully engaged, a discernible gain in oomph noted...however, using same setting with aforementioned a/d/s towers, the pressure waves would crack drywall!; (4) Original query concerned music playback mainly...I have a sub which I utilise for DVDs/film streaming to capture LFE, but found it too boomy for music listening.
So, "sounds" like I'm bass-limited if I want to stick with the CM-4s, though they do offer superb resolution and articulation compared to the 1090s.  But, being an empiricist at heart, and with a relatively low-cost outlay (raw cable, bare-wire termination), I can order up lengths of speaker cable of varying properties, and just run simple listening tests to see if any improvement in bass response can be achieved; however, I do share the opinion of "stereo5" that cables can't provide what speakers apparently lack, full stop.

Uhm, your B&W speaker's bass response is going to be a limitation on the design of the woofer (i.e. xmax, free air resonance, etc.) as well as the design of the cabinet/port.  That being said, you can get stronger bass when you use speaker wire with larger solid-core conductors.  You could try looking for some older Audioquest Midnight speaker cable.  This is often available on ebay or usaudiomart. 

http://www.audioquest.com/archives/speaker_cables/spiraled_hyperlitz/images/midnight_c.jpg

The Midnight is a 10awg cable and uses three 17awg conductors for each leg and has very strong bass transmission.  Alternatively, you could also try something like Audioquest Type 8 if you want something newer.  Type 8 may give you better resolution overall, but maybe not quite as strong bass.

 "auxinput"...I certainly understand the limitations to bass response conferred upon the speakers due to design specs, however I purchased the CM-4s new many years ago based not only upon reviews but actually listening to them in the dealer showroom.  Really not sure why what was perceived by reviewers and myself re: more than adequate bass and what I'm experiencing currently.  But do take your point re: 10 AWG (or bigger) cable to supply the woofers.  Thank you for suggested cables to check out.
One lives in hope.
A brief point to note: for many years I had a classic Yamaha M-85 brute to service the speakers, and FWIW always thought the CM-4s delivered passable bass...unfortunately the amp went Chernobyl on me a few years ago, hence the Adcom.
Compass, you actually hit on something. I was going to mention it but thought it was not worthwhile.

The reviews I read say they have a minimum impedance of around 3.9 ohms in the bass. That should be fine, but if your amp was weak for some reason then a softening in the bass is what you would get.  This can make a speaker seem more "discerning" - I call it more demanding.

I would say changing amps is a better idea than cables.

Best,

E
@compass_rose - my point is not really to just get a larger cable.  It's to look for solid-core conductors.  I had a Beldon 5T00UP speaker cable, which is a larger 10awg cable, but it used a stranded bundle of copper.  When I switched to the Audioquest Midnight, which is also a 10awg cable (but used large individual solid-core conductors), I had a significant increase in bass power, definition and quality.
auxinput...so, how about just using No. 10/2 Romex cable...single Cu conductor, solid, unstranded?  I have about 50ft left over from running 240V service for a wall heater...always curious how simple electrical wire would work in home stereo setup.  Also, there is a stranded version as well - THHN #10, 19-strand pure Cu...cheap enough at Home Depot...not being sarky, a legitimate query.
Audioquest+1, my experience no cables can do what a subwoofer can do in terms of bass...
Of course, this is completely anecdotal, but the deepest and most prodigious bass I have been able to get out of my speakers has been with Cerious Technology Graphene Extreme speaker cables.  I was not expecting or prepared for how much difference they could make. 

Prior to that, I was using an old set of thick, heavy stranded copper cable by Esoteric, which I would have thought would give great bass.  The thing I like about the GE cables is that I don't even have to turn the volume very high to have the deep bass.  And everything else is great with these cables as well, including mids, highs, imaging, and sound stage. 

They used to offer a 30-day money back guarantee, not sure if that is still the case.
Save your money and try 9 or 10awg with simple bfa plugs... Plenty of options, belden 5t00up, van damme hifi 6mm, furez 10awg.... Move your speakers a few inches left right back or forward.  If that doesn't do it, tweek sub, or audition alternative speakers.
A point of interest I want to make about Polarity of speaker leads.
Just because the amp has red on red and black on black, and the speakers are the same doesn't necessarily mean all is correct. Sometimes one needs to change the leads on one speaker and listen. I learned that lesson the hard way with a pair of Legacey Signiture speakers many years ago.
@compass_rose - RE:

auxinput...so, how about just using No. 10/2 Romex cable...single Cu conductor, solid, unstranded? I have about 50ft left over from running 240V service for a wall heater...always curious how simple electrical wire would work in home stereo setup. Also, there is a stranded version as well - THHN #10, 19-strand pure Cu...cheap enough at Home Depot...not being sarky, a legitimate query.
Yes - it will work, but do you want the best out of your system?

How well it works depends on the origin of the wire. Not all Romex is equal

Good Cables are designed to combat many EMI/RFI effects within the cable itself - Romex is not - the result is a "smeared" sound that lacks clarity, details, dynamics AND (guess what) bass extension

But give it a whirl and then try a good cable - the difference should amaze you.

Despite many opinions to the contrary - a thicker gauge is not always better - I was using 10 gauge - I now use 16/13 Gauge (i.e. Signal/Neutral conductors) AND I get better bass performance than the 10 gauge.

It’s all about the cable geometry - i.e. how the conductors are positioned with respect to each other AND the gauge of the signal and neutral conductors - it is best if the neutral is a heavier gauge than the signal.

It’s taken me a couple of years of tinkering with cables to come up with this approach on my Helix cables, I even tried Romex (not good), so I speak from experience.

The cables I recommend in my post above are extremely good performers. There is little difference between them in sound quality. One is commercially available, the other is a DIY project.

But feel free to try the Romex - you may not hear the difference, which would save you a bundle

Regards - Steve



Re: smaller gauge...there has been a huge boom in Duelund 16awg tinned CU speaker wire recently, sort of a knock-off of old Western Electric 16awg electrical wire (cloth-covered), which is still coveted and resold at remarkably elevated prices.  Also available at a fraction of the Duelund cost is Belden 9497, seemingly same specs - 16awg, individual strands tinned, but manufactured as a twisted duplex, available for example on Ebay @ $0.99/foot.  I plan on buying enough for double-runs to each speaker as part of on-the-cheap speaker cable evaluation.  Anyone have any experience with any of the above?  
Cheers.
Re: Cerious Tech Graphene Extreme cables...there is a terminated pair being sold on AudioGon for $450/8ft.  Seems a reasonable price, but would love to try something as exotic as these on a money-back trial basis if little or nothing is gained in speaker performance.
Yeah, it looks like it will cost a couple hundred more $ to buy a 8 foot set direct from Cerious.  But at least you can get your money back if they're not worth it to you, and you will never know unless you try them.

In response to the idea of using 10/2 romex, there are one or two companies that are doing very large awg solid-core speaker cable like this.  However, in my testing, I have found that the awg of the solid core will dictate the frequency response.  Smaller conductors (such as 22awg) will transfer high frequencies but not low.  Larger conductors will transfer low frequency waveforms well, but not higher frequencies.  When I tested using conductors down to 18awg and 16awg, I found a roll-off of high frequency response.  It become very "low fidelity" and I also found that there was a boominess or "blare" in the lower midrange.  (solid-core silver may be different, but then again, silver has it's own problems).

If you look at the Audioquest Midnight, you can see that it uses a combination of 3x17awg, 2x19awg and 2x21awg conductors to support the full frequency range.  The Type 8 uses four different conductors (16/18/19/20) to support the frequency range.

One note, if you get the Type 8, I would not recommend doing a bi-wire configuration because you are splitting off two of the conductors away from the woofers.  With this cable and your speakers, you want as much conductor for the woofers as possible.  You could, however, get two sets of Type 8 speaker wire and use one set for the lower/woofers and the second set for the mids/highs.

I have read a lot of "raves" about the Duelund 16awg.  I did take a look at it.  It uses oil/silk fabric wrap, which is excellent for dielectric, but it's still just stranded copper.  I haven't tried it, but I would suspect that I would still like the Audioquest Type 8 better than the Duelund.  I have used very expensive OCC copper STRANDED Furutech cabling, and it still doesn't sound as good as low end solid-core (it just doesn't sound right in my opinion).

Post removed 
 I would definitely try the 10/2 you mentioned. Nothing to lose. 
 And whatever you do don't go blowing a bundle on some magical cable that supposed to have amazing base… Cables make very very minimal difference at best. Since this is a signal carrying cable I won't say that it makes no difference, but it will be very minimal. 
 I will say that power cords make absolutely no difference as long as they are large enough gauge to carry the appropriate amount of current. 
Nothing does bass like a 12inch woofer with a BIG magnet! Get a pair of JBL 166's (like mine!) for rockin' BASS!
Wire has NOTHING to do with bass quality - unless it's REAL teeny!                     Remember: BIG woofer/magnet and BIG amp!

kost - please don't enflame this conversation as you have done with many other conversations.  We have already determined and stated that bass is a limitation of the speaker's woofer characteristics and box design.  OP is simply asking if there is any way cables can improve things.  While I agree that cable has somewhat of a limited effect here, it can make the existing bass signals a bit stronger.

roberjerman - see my statement.  Obviously, as stated before, OP speaker is limited on woofer/cabinet design.

@ compass_rose

In light of comments here, I guess I should clarify that my recommendation of the GE cables was not mean to claim or imply that they would somehow magically transform your speakers into bass dynamos.  It's just that you specifically asked about cables that might help your bass situation, and I believe these might.

And I wouldn't recommend them at all if bass was the only thing they did well.  In addition to the deep bass, I noticed great sound stage and imaging, vocals are very nice, and the highs are clear and pure.  There is what I would call an "immediacy" to the music.  I think you would enjoy them even if they had no affect on the bass.   If you have the money to give them a try, don't let anyone talk you out of it just because, in their learned opinion it just cannot be true.  You have a 30 day period to try them.  And, no, I have no affiliation with this company; feel free to check my posting history and you will see that I have not posted on these cables in years.
Well, very spirited discussion indeed!  To settle a couple of points raised:  my existing Adcom back-end can very successfully drive the a/d/s L1090 towers...unfortunately the original data sheet on the speakers was lost in a move, so I can't determine speaker efficiency vis-vis the B&W CM-4s, which are rated at 90dB/W/m, but I would presume the former to be a bit more efficient than the latter.  I'm still going to carry on evaluating some raw speaker wire, but definitely coming round to the view that the CM-4 constitutively lack strong bass presence, and perhaps best to work in the sub in a more blended fashion to support music playback of all genres.
One last thought from the OP here: a thread on AudioKarma caught my eye just today, where a commenter has both the CM-4 and a/d/s L1090 speakers, and also finds that the CM-4 is rather thin in bass, especially doing an A/B test v. L1090.  Exactly my finding as well.

http://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?threads/a-d-s-l1090-info.761221/
2 Jl audio F113 problem solved
I agree with a lot of comments here. Attenuating your speaker’s capabilities through cabeling doesn’t seem like the best solution. I would add stereo subs to handle 35hz and below. Pretty impressed with my SVS subs, great price, look and sound of course any quality sub will work great. Speaker placement can be a factor and something to look out for when you add subs so you aren’t sitting in a null or peak due to your room characteristics. This can be controlled to some extent by EQ but even better then stereo subs is a sub array (4 or more subs.) Getting involved in the physics of sound and measurement is fun but also gets complicated quick. Be careful chasing the white rabbit, you never know what you’ll find.
Compass_Rose. 

Others here spoke of "polarity."  But,  what I can gather from what they spoke of?  Was to check the "phase" to make sure both speakers are wired the same.  You may find if you reverse both speaker's leads - red to the black, and black to the red-  that will reverse polarity.  If one pair of speakers was designed with reverse polarity one pair will produce less bass.   Simply reverse the leads to BOTH speakers.  Then listen.  Correcting the polarity should produce more bass.
Get a good sub, end of story......
@compas_rose: This is in response to the question you asked in this thread on 12/22. Please bear with me while I get to your question.
I want to start by saying that if you want to purchase speaker cables that are professionally manufactured in my opinion one would have a hard time doing any better than the Cerious Technologies Graphene speaker cables, they seem to work well with all types of amps, a heck of a lot of bang for the buck and I highly recommend them as others in this thread have already stated. If you wanted to spend more money consider the new Cerious Technologies Graphene Matrix speaker cables, although I have not heard them I've heard from good sources that they are excellent.

I currently made, own, and use Duelund Tinned-copper in cotton oil impregnated wire 16 gauge, 12 gauge, and the Heavey Duty Western Electric wire 10 gauge.

I prefer the sound of the Dueiund wire and I run the 12 gauge on the lower speaker terminals and the 16 gauge on the speaker upper terminals. I would say that the WE is a warmer fuller sound where the Duelund is clean, transparent and more detailed.

I also use the  KLEI™Classic Harmony Banana Connector (new product) on the speaker cables I made. Originally I ran the speaker wire bare, however, I believe the cables sound better with the bananas I mentioned.
You might find this SAudiogon forum interesting: https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/how-much-difference-could-a-simple-banana-plug-make

I'm liking what I'm hearing!
I did a side by side 10 gauge and 16 gauge both same length and the 10 was blowing while I can barely hear the 16 side. Make sure when buying wire make sure it's not aluminium covered with copper. I went to Mono price company and bought 12 gauge 4 strands. That does good for me with my B&W's 683
Aluminum wire is prohibited by code from any home or commercial wiring, so if you are buying at a reputable store you don't have to worry. You need not go to Monoprice to buy stranded 12 gauge.

As for the issue at hand, it is a basic law of physics wire cannot change pitch. However, coat it with snake oil and it can do anything.  Of course, the price of snake oil varies. It's also extremely slippery.


oldguide
Aluminum wire is prohibited by code from any home or commercial wiring, so ...
Actually, aluminum wiring is very much allowed in the U.S. under the NEC, although I don’t trust the stuff. It’s also almost universally used for electric distribution - almost all of the overhead electric wires you see on utility poles are aluminum.
Strictly OT, but FWIW...“cleeds”...back in the day CCA was in fact the “go-to” residential conductor wire...however, because of well-documented hazards  with this wire (mainly due  to its adverse expansion- contraction properties under normal electrical demand loads) this wire was banned for residential construction years ago, and is only found in legacy buildings.  Whenever one is looking at an old building with “sound bones“, take a screwdriver and pocket-knife with you and unscrew any switch or outlet cover plate then scrape gently at the “neutral” wire...if it’s “shiny” metallic and not obviously copper, walk away!  
Cheers.
compass_rose
Strictly OT, but FWIW...“cleeds”...back in the day CCA was in fact the “go-to” residential conductor wire...however, because of well-documented hazards  with this wire (mainly due  to its adverse expansion- contraction properties under normal electrical demand loads) this wire was banned for residential construction years ago ...
Sorry, but you don't know what you're talking about. CCA still meets the US NEC. See, for example:  NEC Table NEC310.15(B)(16)

The problem with aluminum wiring isn't so much the wire itself, btw, but issues with termination. While I still don't care for the stuff, you're simply mistaken that it is "banned" for BCBW use.

But we are way OT here.

compass_rose


the issue is with the model of B&W. This is a funny brand, in that, some models are thin in the Bass. If you can audition something in the 800 series. Happy Listening!

Something else that might improve bass depth and clarity would be to decouple the speaker cabinets from the floor. You can make inexpensive decouplers with Moongels wrapped in adhesive felt drawer liners. These worked wonders in my system. If you hear a worthwhile difference, you will find many competent commercial decoupling systems that work well.

If your power amp is ~ 20 years old, it is likely that replacing the four large electrolytic filter caps also will help with bass and overall performance. Obviously, replacing caps is a more difficult and expensive project to consider. 

All other above suggestions are well worth trying also. Good luck in solving your problem.
Post removed 
Whoa, it’s a fair cop, totally wrong about Al residential wiring re:NEC...just retailing anecdotal hearsay when our then 50s-vintage house was getting totally rewired in late 70s....however, Al cable from mid-60s-early 70s was really not reliable for long-term use in residential construction, and building inspectors were obliged to report use of when homes changed ownership.  Insurers demanded this, and would in many cases refuse policies unless homeowners made necessary upgrades.  From what I now understand there is now an Al alloy in use much superior to early wiring, but given price of Cu cable today, find me a developer who would order his subs to use Al-based wiring.
 
re:jafant...You’ve clocked it, mate, the CM-4s don’t come close to the 800 series...but neither does the price...it is what it is.
Oddiofyl +1, My audio mentor said music is not pure with sub on 2 Chanel stereo.and I believe Him, Now I wish I did not believe Him , good sub like my Rhythmik did made my system more weight, more aliveee, more open ,can’t listen without one....