I was listening to Bill Frissell "Nashville" last night. This disk has some of Nashville's best studio musicians working with Bill on a fantastically well recorded session. In the second cut there is the tinniest of cymbal, just shimmering in mid air. I'd never heard it shimmer before. As I continued listening I became aware that my system was pure magic and I took full advantage of the opportunity by playing some of my favorites." WOW, this is amazing" I said to myself with a huge Cheshire cat grin. As I was listening I noticed one of my vacuum cleaner hose speaker cables was hanging down while the other was bent slightly up. "This imperfection must go" so down on the floor working the two cables so that they align. ( I know it's sad, but I'm a perfectionist, I've tried to control it, but...) I'm talking maybe one inch or so, the effect on the coppers molecular structure is small, but I've now taken my closed hand and run it over the majority of length in each cable.
The cables looked good so back to my music. "Where is the magic?" I'd killed it completely, the presentation was flat, the shimmer gone. Oh all the information seemed in place, just no life!
My conclusion, the dielectric had over time created a field beyond the confines of the cable housing and I had discharged it, taking away the added benefit of the extended field. My cables are fully suspended so there is nothing within an inch and a half that can effect the extended dielectric. My amps stay on all the time which would retain the charge in the field even when the system is off.
Does this make sense? It's an easy experiment maybe some of you can try it to see if you have a similar result. I'm feeling like the casing of our cables has more to due with the performance than any of the other factors. The dielectric materials used have the ability to retain a potential charge that can be drawn on during high current demands, the cables dielectric in effect is doing the same job the capacitor dielectric is doing only with less efficiency. Plus some materials benefit in the shielding from other wave energy. Is this "the" factor in our power cord and cable discussions that were not giving the proper attention to.
Should we be discussing what materials best retain a charge and best shield wave forces. My reference to wave forces are of course RF, EMI but I've been thinking, there are far more than just that, there is Microwave, Ex-ray, Grama-ray, all emitted daily from the sun. Solar flares and the intense cosmic radiation have been tied to radio fades and power grid failures, I thing there is a lot to discuss here.
I realize I've exposed myself to great ridicule, but I'm far more interested in what I think I'm learning than playing a fool. Thanks for your thoughts, J.D.
Hi JD, I didn't find anything ridiculous in your post. Just interesting thoughts and questions. This week I am breaking in both a new Sony DVP-9000ES, and an Acoustic Zen MC2 coax. I had reason to unplug the coax and reinsert it 10 seconds later. I'll be damned if something didn't sound better. More detail. I guess that every cable connection has it's own very subtle difference, (chaos theory?) and in this case I was actually able to hear a change. I bet if I tried it ten more times I wouldn't be able to hear any difference, but being very familiar with my system must have helped in that particular instance. Anyway, it does go to show that even a small movement of a cable can sometimes make a perceptible difference. For the skeptics I do emphasize sometimes.
Very intriguing topic. I will watch how this progresses with much interest. I am sure it will be fun.
Jadem, thanks for the warning! I placed plastic balls as bearings onto concave brass rings and the lot (3) under my CDP to provide the much vaunted exit route for mechanical energy (following the earthquake trick used in foundations). BUT, my front gismo was annoyingly off centre + it looked squashed (my CDP is front-heavy and weighs +20pds). So I placed a second "gismo" in front, trying to create some symmetry, while the CDP was wobbling frustratingly and I was desperately looking for a third hand to keep it from rolling off the rack. Anyway, the 4th gismo "locked" into place & I couldn't budge it from the weight of the cdp front panel... at that moment, a song kicked in (ofcourse, the cdp was playing during the excercise...)
...STUNNINGLY clear top-end & dynamics. Incredulous, I repeated the song from listening position. Same. But, it looks awfully imperfect. Told myself, I'll enlist my wife's help to straighten this -- later.
I'm learning from your experience J -- leave things as is.
Fool, the Dakinis were dancing on your cables and YOU KNOCKED THEM OFF!!! They probably will NOT come back to visit you!!!!
There are a tremendous number of variables involved in home audio reproduction. A large part of this hobby is about controlling these elements. But sometimes you need to just go with the flow and let it happen. Stop worrying about the sound and instead simply enjoy the music.

I recently did something to my system and the magic disappeared. It really bothered me, but I resisted taking corrective actions. A few days later the magic returned. What happened? Who knows? Maybe it was something physical with me (diet, allergies, stress, etc.), or maybe the sudden cold spell and the fact that I refuse to turn the heat on in my house in late May. My aluminum/ceramic speaker cones could be hot/cold sensitive. Realistically, it could be anything. My advice is not to worry about it and be happy that, if only for a little while, you experienced bliss.
Whenever I move cables, even a little, it takes awhile for it to "burn in" again. I know this is weird but seems to be the case - I think it is a burn in issue related to the movement of the conductor flow. It probably has to do with the dielectric too. Hang in there, your good sound should return...
The "Dakinis", not to worry Elizabeth. They ran off to my reference bose system.
I have a feeling the quality of dialectrics is very important in all audio cables as well as PCs. I cannot theorise why as well as you do J.D. But I am trying the 47Labs cable kit at present, which has a 0.4mm OFC solid core conductor and thick high grade teflon dialectric. It sounds nothing like another cable I have that uses 0.4mm OFC solid core conductor, but with a thinner and lower grade teflon dialectric. Of course I expect the copper quality is different too, but I would have expected copper quality to only affect the cleanness or lack of grain in the sound, from past experience. One cable is a real contender and the other does not belong in a high-end system.

I have also experienced how re-routing cables internally inside components can change things very significantly. I have also experienced how if you take a cable off a system and roll it up, and then put it back in the system it takes quite some time to get back to the sound it had before. Just how much of this is due to the physical changes I am making to the conductor, dialectric or the electrical fields is difficult to guage.
Thanks Redkiwi for picking up on what I'm trying to learn here. All my electronics books were written just after the discovery of electricity, back in my collage days, so I'm at a considerable loss. They talk about dielectric constants Ke and dielectric strength V/mil. The Ke of air is 1 and ceramic is 80-1200 with a V/mil of 20 and 600-1250 respectively, where glass for instance is 8 and 335-2000. It would appear from reading further that the V/mil is the number of most importance here, but for the life of me I can't remember learning any of this, so I have no idea if I'm right on that assumption. I'm hoping you or anyone else can help straighten me out.
Anyway, on further exploration I see that glass with it's V/mil of 335-2000, and Mica of 600-1500 are far and away the best. Polystyrene was 500-760, but Teflon is not listed. (I think it's function back then was to sit on the bottom of a frying pan) So my first question is what are the values of Teflon, and how much is it improved with thickness? Is it one to one or ..? Second thought was has anyone tried fiber optic glass tubing as an insulator? Are there other ways to achieve the values of glass, but in a flexible manner? Has anyone tried glass tubes? I was thinking it would be fairly easy to use a gauge of wire as required and pull it through a tube. With a simple gas torch one could bend the glass 90 degrees. A solid interconnect could be built I guess. This sounds like a real pain though, I can just see an earthquake in California, or New Zealand for that matter and all the interconnects popping, not good!
All I seem to have is questions, maybe more where they came from. Anyone who can help in this brainstorm please feel free. J.D.
all this reminds me of a coversation i had with jeff rowland, maybe 10 or 12 years ago, about his using hex-head stainless steel screws inside his amplifiers. his reponse, gleaned from a japanese audio guru who used tiny hammers and tuning forks to test the "internal resonances" of various components: "nothing doesn't matter." only now do i begin to understand what this means. -kelly
I believe that the dielectric strength is related to the amount of voltage that it takes to force a charge thru the thickness. If air is 20 V/mil that is 20 volts per millimeter. (I don't think the value is right because it takes a few thousand volts of static charge just to jump a 1/4 inch). Dielectric constant (Ke) "is a direct measure of its ability to store electrons as compared to air". Teflon has a Ke of 2.0 and Poylpropylene is 2.1 while air is 1.0001. The more electrons that can be stored, the higher the capacitor value will be for a given physical size. The higher the 'K' factor the more the electric field is distorted in the space around the capacitor. For best sound one need to use the lowest 'K'. So with this in mind we should take bare copper/silver wire and let it hang out in the dry air. There are a few designs that use small spacers and for the most part the dielectric IS air. I hope this helps to lead you to sonic bliss!
To clarify my above post ... An IC could be made with bare wire and spacers. Air is a better dielectric than any other insulator.
Would it make sence that a high K or larger potential storage would be benifitial to a power cord, allowing for a greater discharge potential during extreme current demands?
Jadem6, It is doubtful that the dielectric could make much of a difference in the power delivery of a cable. A farad can deliver one ampere for one second. If a cable is highly capacitive it might muster up 1 uF of capacitance. This is not much current compared to what the power company delivers. Instantaneous current from the power company is determined by wiring and transformers out on the pole and the wiring going to and inside your house. Every connection is a potential source for degrading that current delivery. If you want to improve peak energy storage, the place to do that is in the DC power supply inside your gear.

The other half of the dielectric story has a negative side. It is true that the higher the 'K' the more energy it can store. It also means that the field is non-linear and it will not return 100% of the stored field when requested. In a capacitor this is called dielectric absorption. It is mechanism responsible for producing a small portion of a signal delayed in time. In a power cable this would have very little effect but in a coupling capacitor it is quite detrimental.
A couple of comments.
First, Jadem6 says to have experienced a difference in the sound mainly by running his hands over the cables. This is believed to be the main difference since the cables, although in different positions (right vs. left), are elevated from the floor. Right? Did he run his hand over both, right and left, cables? If everything is correct, then we can safely assume that the biggest change was the discharge of the built up electrostatic field around the cables. This can be quickly done by hand or over a period of time just by resting.
Although Jadem6's amplifier is always on, we could safely assume that there is no voltage across the conductors when music is not being played. Voltage is what creates electrostatic fields. If one shorts the positive and negative poles of a capacitor, then both plates are mostly at the same voltage potential all the time. In such instance the capacitor would have zero capacitance. This is easy to check with a meter.
So could we be suspicious that the constant "good sound" is due, not to the electrostatic field but, to the thermal state of the amps devices? A good test would be to disconnect the cables from the amp while leaving it on. Then, after many hours, plug the cable back in and listening to see if the sound remained "good". If it does, then thermal state is the reason. If it doesn't then we could continue analyzing capacitance. I would only suggest that the cable be connected and disconnected with as little mechanical change to the conductors as possible. In other words, do not bend it. This is only because we would not be able to safely quantify the amount of difference, if any, that would be due to a change in the physical state of the conductors.
Second, Bmpnyc said to hear an improvement on the sound when the cable was disconnected. Well, assuming that what Jadem6 and Bmpnyc call "better sound" is the same, then they experienced contradicting results. But for the results to be contradictory one must also assume that the "biggest" change that Bmpnyc's cables experienced between original state and reconnection is the change of the electrostatic fields. Notice that I am highlighting the word "biggest". This is because I believe that we naturally tend to focus on the "bigger" things. Only once those "bigger" things are removed can we focus on the next "bigger" thing.
So, electrostatic state may or may not have been the "biggest" difference. Bmpnyc talks about a "chaotic" connection. For which I understand that no two connection qualities would be the same. This could be the biggest reason for the change in sound. But, the fact that the cables were disconnected also suggests that there was the possibility that the electrostatic fields around the cables stabilized.
If Bmpnyc's experience was mainly influenced by electrostatic changes on the cable, the a cable would "sound better" after the electrostatic charges have dissipated. I would tend to disagree with this. Even though I believe in the chaos theory, I simply think that what Bmpnyc called more "detailed sound" isn't what Jadem6 calls "better sound". Some times harshness and forwardness is confused with detail.
Bmpnyc, I believe that you are on to something. It is just that I feel that it may have to do with thermal state.
As far as making a cable with glass, I have an idea for you. There are hollow-tube shaped fiberglass insulators available. These are used for insulating pipes. While these would not be purely glass (they also would have air), they are very flexible and would also help separate the conductors from other things in the proximity. I will have to remind you that glass can easily be electrostaticly charged. Simply run your hand over a TV screen when it is turned off. Also notice that the field is much stronger at the glass than a couple of millimeters away. In other words, the charge on the air is much lower that the charge on the glass.
If you feel that "better sound" comes from having a higher electrostatic field build up, you may need to consider the following: This field build up is caused by voltage (potential differences). In other words, the cable's electrons are being excited by changes in voltage between positive and negative poles (at the amp). Since the surrounding bodies to the conductors are at some voltage state (perhaps their own floating ground stage), the fields around the cables are caused by the different in voltage between the conductor's energy and the bodies' state. This could be represented in an schematic with two capacitors, one between the positive cable and a floating ground and the other between the negative cable and another floating ground. If you analyze the effect of these two capacitors on the signal, you will see that they would in fact work as low pass filters. What this whole paragraph means is that the "quantity" of electrostatic field that is giving you your "desired sound" may be rolling off the top end of the music. Subjectively, this could be considered "smoother sound". But if your cables use Teflon or PE as dielectric and are separated from the floor, you do not have a large "quantity" of electrostatic field. So, I am suggesting that glass may not be what you are looking for but. Glass may give you a large field (quantity). What you may be looking for is field stability. After all, by dissipating the electrostatic field with your hands, you changed the "quantity" and the stability of the field. I am assuming that after many hours of operation, the electrostatic fields are stabilized.
PVC may give you a larger electrostatic field potential around a cable but most audiophiles feel that it does not sound good enough.
Also, thicker Teflon will have the ability to create larger electrostatic fields that thinner Teflon. This is because the thinner Teflon has air around it. So, if we use the above mentioned schematic representations, the thicker Teflon would sound more "dull" or "smoother", depending of who is listening to it.
Please e-mail me to let me know what you may find out from further experiments. I am doing experiments of my own about the same topic but have never been in this forum. I only came to it because Sqjudge pointed me to it.

Great post Al, and welcome. You are correct that all I did was to rub my hand over maybe 50% of the length of the cables. I have two cables, but only for bi-amping so two wires are in each cable. I wanted to share my experience because it's simple to test by others on their own systems. I was hoping to hear if others would experience the same thing. If so it might be interesting to figure out what was happening and see if it was a measurable issue. I will write you soon, maybe the three of us can work on some of these experiments together in that it appears we both are talking with Sq off site.
Thanks again for the post and welcome! J.D.
Prozac is supposed to good for OCD
Just got back from a hectic weekend, and it's great to see all of these interesting ideas. Unfortunately my TV seems to have blown up, so I'll have to think about this some more later. Al, I don't think the change in sound I experienced was a shift in harshness, but I can see that it is possible. I haven't touched a thing since reinserting my interconnect, and the sound has been consistant, a nice balance between a cohesive soundstage and detail.
Hi Bmpnyc, I agree this thread is most interesting and hope it continues.
I read Jadem's post (though haven't gotten to the others). He describes why systems that supposedly burn your cables in before hand are of little use; particularly in mail order, where after going through the burn-in machine are then coiled up, shipped via freight where they are subject to much vibration as well as downtime factor, uncoiled during unpackaging, and then routed into the system.

All this movement blows off virtually all the good a pre-burn in does. The systems can be of some benefit when taken off the machine and soon installed in the system with as little movement as possible; but the only way to really burn in your cables is to install them in your system, route them in a way you are happy with, then leave them alone to cook without any movement.

Time unplayed is also a factor. The more consistantly the cables are played, the faster the burn in occurs; so it's not simply a matter of how many hours you rack up. George Cardas also states that after about two weeks of non being played, most of the burn in effect is reverted close to original condition. He also recommends about 15 minutes of warm up time before each critical listening.

Jeff Delman
Value Audio
Not quite on topic, but similar vein: where can we get good dielectric? Anyone know? Recently I stripped a mega$ pc, thick & appropriately heavy, to find it was filled with minuscule lead-shot and wire+insulation in the middle. The lot secured by heavy-suty heat-shrink matl on either side.

I want to try this on pcs I have laying around...

Thanks, Greg.
Not quite on topic, but, Jadem6, there is no Cymbals in 2nd or any track. In fact no percussion of any kind in the whole cd, but what you might have heard could be faint mandolin sound. Did not mean to argue, but I did not hear no Cymbals and I have (i think) pretty high resolution system!
Hi degauss your system (the cables in the path of the electrical signal and listen again. Your highs will come back.
J.D. Fascinating thread. Before reading all the posts I initially postulated that a blood-pressure change from getting up and walking over to the cables and back changed your seratonin levels. The quip about Prozac and OCD may seem cru(el)de, but there's no question that aural/musical/pschic nirvana is fleeting, and affected by physical movement as well seratonin levels. Relax, and enjoy the music! Ernie
Ernie, I think you are on to something. With the, count them 23 pills I take each an every day to keep me alive I'd guess moving my hand would change my body/ sound. Maybe I should start taking my blood pressure during listening to help understand yet another variable.

Nilthepill, I'll check it out. Right now I have no pre-amp so I have no music. Warning to all.... do not leave your power supply running when a leak forms in your house just above the supply. This makes for a char-boil set of components, but I must say the background is quite black and dead silent!

Jeff Delman I agree. I wish we had a way to physically measure this phenomenon. Does anyone have a thought of how to actually document the change?