The arrows should point from the CD player to the amp, the same as the signal flow.
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The "arrow convention" was started by Bruce Brisson when he developed the "shotgun" interconnect while at Monstercable (he left to start MIT cables.)
Cable manufacturers now put arrows on everything! However the arrows were originally meant only for single ended shotgun type interconnects, and have nothing to do with "signal flow." The arrows always point to the end of the (single ended shotgun) interconnect where the shield and the negative signal conductor are soldered together to the ground 'ring' of the RCA plug. The other end of the shield is not connected to the RCA plug (it 'floats'.)**
I think the business about "signal flow" was concocted so technologically challenged audio salesmen could explain cable installation to their customers ;--)) It's too bad this nonsense got started, when it would have been just as easy to say "All arrows should point to the preamp." This would have insured proper star-grounding, with the preamp at the center of the star, and avoided the resulting (and common) mistake of installing the preamp-to-amp cables backwards.
Arrows on all other kinds of cables -- XLR, speaker, power, and data -- are utterly meaningless from an electrical standpoint, since audio signals (and wall voltage) are alternating current and interact with conductors the same way in either direction.
** If you want to check, and have a single-ended interconnect with removable connector barrels (and arrows ;--) you can slide the barrels back and you will see that only he arrowhead end has the shield soldered to the RCA connector. At the other end, the shield has been trimmed short, and usually covered with a piece of tape or shrinkwrap.
This explanation, while common, ignores the fact that we are transferring energy in one direction. The oversimplified view that we have electrons flowing in one direction and then they all flow back the other direction so it all balances out works for some very simple electronic models but falls apart when trying to use it to explain transmission lines (cables).
I'm not arguing that a perfectly symmetrical cable is directional, only that the explanation used is not applicable to what is really happening.
Grounding the shield on the cable at the "source" produces the least noise (hum). That is the reason for the "direction".Don, I'd be interested in the science on which you base this pronouncement ;--))
Clio, the cable you describe is either:
(1) the old (pre-shotgun) coax that was used to connect all the early RCA enabled equipment; a 'hot' conductor in the center with a 'ground' conductor/shield around it, much like today's CATV cable, OR
(2) some current manufacturers (like Nordost, I think) are offering air-dielectric single-ended interconnects that use teflon tubing and no shield.
The reason for floating the shield is because if connected to ground at BOTH ends, it can conduct a current -- such current can be the music signal, but it can also include that created by nearby electromagnetic sources (power cords, transformers) or by airborne radio waves. If you disconnect the shield at one end, it can still drain interference to the ground end, but it can no longer conduct the 'minus' half of the music signal.
In "pre-shotgun" days, one of the biggest problems people had (with the old coaxial interconnect) was with their record players -- especially after the introduction of stereo, which meant having TWO parallel coaxial interconnects (with shields connected at both ends) creating a nice BIG loop antenna, enabling you to hear both your record AND a local radio broadcast at the same time!!
BTW, the term "shotgun" simply refers to the fact that instead of having a single center conductor (for the 'hot' signal) and a signal conducting shield surrounding it, the new "shotgun" cable had TWO signal conductors in the center (doubled barreled shotgun ;-) with a floating, non-conducting protective shield surrounding them.
All cables are "directional" meaning that due to variations in the plug quality, soldering and/crimping etc. they will probably sound different when reversed. Usually this difference in inaudible or minute in scale. As I suggested even ones designed to run in one direction MIGHT sound better reversed. Also, they appear to require some time to readjust themselves when reversed, not being an expert on virtual photon exchange I would not attempt an explanation of this but it has been noted by various writers.
Jea48, you (and they) are talking about the crystalline structure of the conductor metal, and yes, it *can* sometimes have an asymmetrical geometry that lets electrons flow better in one direction than another (the basis of solid state devices by the way.) This is also the reason some cable manufacturers boast of "single crystal" wire which presumably has no impeding geometry.
However, I was referring to the issue of the signal itself having a direction, which it can't, because it's an alternating current, constantly reversing it's polarity.
Herman -- energy is only "transferred" when it does some work. Until then, it's only "potential energy" (as in 'voltage' potential.) It really doesn't matter whether the voltage potential is of constant polarity (direct current) or variable polarity (alternating current), there is no "work" being done in the transmission line itself (other than some heat generated if the conductors are too small for current to flow through them unimpeded.) In direct current, the electrons do indeed flow in one direction, and thus "the load" (where the "work" is done) becomes an impediment to the flow of electrons through the entire system -- and which is why DC can only be transmitted a short distance -- and which is why Edison lost to Westinghouse and AC ;--)) Nevertheless, none of these things affect (or are affected by) the way the metal crystals in the conductor material happen to line up (or not.) As with all things, there are exceptions, the most common being ultra-high frequencies. Normal high frequencies (like in audio) just take the easy way out, and travel on the surface of the conductor(s) if there's enough of it.
Clio, the Mogami 2549 is ideal for making shotgun interconnects, using the two center conductors for the signal (hot and return), and floating the shield at one end.
Stan, the kinds of conditions you mention are "direction neutral" in the presence of an alternating current such as a music signal. They can sometimes alter frequency response due to capacitive effects, similar to the boundry interface between conductors and dielectric materials, but again, the physical orientation of such an interface between two materials would not change its effect (if any) on the frequency curve of the signal.
Ns, I know your mind is made up and you are locked into the one dimensional world of current flow, but the true analysis of the situation can only be done if you think in terms of energy i.e. an electromagnetic wave that travels from point A to point B. Whether it is audio, RF, light, or any other electromagnetic wave they all consist of alternating electric and magnetic fields. At some frequencies they can be easily launched through the air like radio signals and at lower frequencies they are more easily handled with wires since the antennas needed for low frequencies would be huge. If they do follow a conductor then they move the electrons on the wire, but the electron movement is an effect, it is not the cause. Until you give up on current flow as an explanation you will never grasp what is going on.
DC can only be transmitted a short distanceDC can travel just as far as AC at a given voltage. The advantage of AC is that it can easily be stepped up and down with transformers. It is more efficient to transmit high voltages over long distances. The AC or DC would be too dangerous at the higher voltages needed to make it feasible over long distances but the AC can be easily stepped down to a safe voltage level where it is needed and the DC can not.
energy is only "transferred" when it does some workNot true. An electromagnetic wave is a form of energy. It can be converted to other forms of energy such as mechanical energy which is what happens in a speaker, but can indeed move about without doing any work. Take the case of a high frequency signal injected into a transmission line. It will travel down the line until it meets either an impedance equal to the characteristic impedance of the line in which case it will be absorbed, or if it meets a mismatch some of it will be reflected, or in the case of a total mismatch (short or open) all of it will be reflected back to the source.
I don't mean to be disrespectful but I don't think you have a firm grasp on the underlying concepts.
I don't want to argue the theory, I was just reporting the results of various experimenters. In the article "an Idiots Guide to Cables" in the Nov/Dec 2008 edition of HIFICRITIC Chris Bell describes a series of experiments he performed with various DIY cables. He was attempting to match or exceed the quality of various high quality commercial products. He reached several interesting conclusions, among them that "conductors don't have directionality; however, I did find that there were sound alterations while reversing cables, due to tolerance variations with plugs and sockets." Having read much the same elsewhere I assumed that it was another case where the actual world varies from our theoretical expectations.
Herman, if you want to nit pick about the physics of energy transmission (which is NOT what my remarks here concern) then we can have that conversation privately, and not bore these folks. Is sounds like you accept that a cable (material) will conduct a signal the same way regardless of which end is used at the source and which at the load, or do you disagree with that?
As for the arrows, they simply indicate at which end of a single ended audio frequency cable the shield is tied to ground. This helps to select a common piece of equipment (usually the preamp) as the single grounding point for all the signal cables.
Placing arrows on other kinds of cables commonly used in audio, as if to imply their design is soooo sophisticated that their performance will be affected by their orientation, is a silly marketing ploy used to raise their perceived value in the eyes of unsophisticated consumers ;--)
I do know of one high end cable manufacturer whose glass digital data cables do render different analog results depending how they are installed. I won't even go there, God forbid I've lost my grasp on that technology as well ;--)
I've always found it amusing when a psuedo-scientist makes a claim about physics which is clearly wrong, backs it up with even more bad science when challenged, and then reverts to something like "you're nitpicking." How something sounds to you or me is debatable but this is science. It's not open to debate. It's not nitpicking. What ever happened to admitting you are wrong? Your claims about AC, distances DC and AC can travel, and energy transfer are just plain wrong. If we are to share ideas and hopefully shed some light on concepts that some are curious about we do them a disservice by letting false claims go unchallenged. And what about
If you disconnect the shield at one end, it can still drain interference to the ground end, but it can no longer conduct the 'minus' half of the music signal.???? I missed it before but that makes absolutely no sense. You can't separate the positive and negative alternations of a signal with a cable any more than you can have a magnet with one pole.
That's it. You are wrong and it just gets worse every time you post. Sorry to everybody if trying to set the record straight has hijacked the thread.
"As for the arrows, they simply indicate at which end of a single ended audio frequency cable the shield is tied to ground. This helps to select a common piece of equipment (usually the preamp) as the single grounding point for all the signal cables."
This is what Audio Note recommends with their interconnects as one end of the shield is tied to ground. Regarding the audible effects of directionality with this cable design, I recall once several years ago that I disconnected all of my cables to clean all of the RCA plugs and jacks. When I re-installed them something sounded wrong. As it turns out I had reversed one of them by mistake. Reversing it back to its original orientation was audibly much better.
Nsgarch - electric current is a flow of charge and not a flow of electrons. Electrons move very slow - at about 0.1mm/s (drift velocity).
I'm afraid that's incorrect. Current flow is indeed a flow of electrons. Electrons ARE the charge carriers, which is why we call this field "electronics" instead of "protonics."
The measure of current is ultimately the measure of how many electrons pass a given point in a given amount of time. If you have 6.241 times 10 to the 18th electrons passing a given point in one second, you have one Ampere of current flowing.
???? I missed it before but that makes absolutely no sense. You can't separate the positive and negative alternations of a signal with a cable any more than you can have a magnet with one pole.
He's not talking about the positive and negative alterations of a signal. He's talking about the shield. Specifically, a shield covering a pair of conductors.
With such a cable, you can either connect the shield to one end or both ends. If it's connected to both ends, then the shield carries some of the signal current. If you connect it at one end, it's not, however it still provides shielding. It's sometimes referred to as a "telescoping shield."
What if my pre amp (or TT or phono pre) has no ground pin on the power cord, just the power amp?
Consider yourself lucky. Provided of course that the chassis meet Class II specs and don't actually require the safety ground. The safety ground is the biggest source of ground loop and other noise.
What orientation now for the shielded IC's?
Same as you would otherwise.
The safety ground isn't a ground in the traditional sense. It's just connected to neutral back and the service panel and serves as a path for fault currents should there be a failure in the AC mains in the equipment which might otherwise cause the chassis to go hot and create a shock hazard.
It doesn't serve any purpose with regard to component grounding.
Even if your piece of equipment is floating there is still return - most likely capacitive. Cell phone is getting this return thru your body (just a few pF). Radio signals are in fact induced in in the cable (since shield most likely does nothing to stop it) but because of skin effect they travel on the outside of the cable - shield (field inside cancels). As long as this shield is related to system ground shield will protect against electromagnetic and capacitive pick-up.
Radio signals are in fact induced in in the cable (since shield most likely does nothing to stop it) but because of skin effect they travel on the outside of the cable - shield (field inside cancels).
Shielding basically works by two means; reflection loss and absorption loss. Reflection loss is due to the mismatch in the impedance of the shield and the interfering wave impedance. The interfering wave essentially bounces off the shield. Absorption loss is due to eddy currents induced in the shield.
Reflection loss is the primary mechanism when the interfering wave is largely E-field (electric field). Absorption loss is the primary mechanism when the interfering wave is largely H-field (magnetic field).
Mr Simple Q, I see your point about the "minus half of the signal" but I don't apologize for misinterpreting such unconventional and confusing terminology. When most everything else he said was wrong it was only logical to assume that this was too, and it is in purely technical sense i.e. his statement made no sense. In 25+ years involved in electronics I've never heard that terminology. Make that statement to any electronic engineer or technician and they will have no idea what he is talking about.
As for current, it is indeed the flow of charge. It does not have to be electrons and slow drift speed is a reality as stated. Do a little googling for a more complete explanation.
Garch, I got your email. I do not care to debate you here or via email on a subject you clearly don't understand.
Mr Romgard, sorry for getting off track here. To answer your original question, there is no standard for this so there is no set answer. Some cable designers intend the arrows to point one way and some the other.
Amazing what such a simple question will bring out.
Simply-q: Current flow is indeed a flow of electrons. Electrons ARE the charge carriers, which is why we call this field "electronics" instead of "protonics" .... The measure of current is ultimately the measure of how many electrons pass a given point in a given amount of time. If you have 6.241 times 10 to the 18th electrons passing a given point in one second, you have one Ampere of current flowing.Both of these statements are correct, although Simply_q's statement is more narrow in context, applying to the specific situation of electricity propagating through a conductor.
Mr Romgard, please disregard Rrog's statement. There is no industry standard for arrows. The meaning of the arrow varies depending on the manufacturer as I and others have stated.
General rhetorical question......Why do people post definitive statements about things they don't understand or know very little about?
I know, some smart ass will say that applies to me..ha, ha, and I'm not saying I know everything, but if you care to do some research and educate yourself you will find that at least in this case I do have the facts.
In the early 80's, at Christopher Hansen's audio showrooms in Beverly Hills, I had the pleasure of meeting Bruce Brisson right after he left MonsterCable, and had begun making his famous MI330 interconnect and Music Hose speaker cable. He was there to train Chris's technicians to prep the epoxy-coated wire and terminate his cables; since he was still in the process of putting together a manufacturing facility. He was very clear that the arrows printed on the cable should point to the end where the shield was tied to ground. This was only the the second interconnect product on the market, at that time, to carry such indicators on the jacket (the first being the IC's Bruce designed at Monster.)
Neither product had any printed text on the jacket to indicate what the arrows meant, and it was Noel Lee of MonsterCable (great marketer that he is) who first came up with the "signal flow" idea, which was mentioned in the packaging but never printed on the cables themselves.
The only other (consumer audio) cable makers at that time were Straightwire, which made the standard coax stuff and Kimber which had his famous braided design. Audioquest followed a few years later. Mogami (preceding all of them) remained in pro-audio field.
Unfortunately, and probably due to Noel Lee's playing fast and loose with the science (like some on this thread) no standard was ever adopted. But for the first post-Monster decade at least, arrows appeared ONLY on shotgun-type single-ended interconnects.
Today, arrows appear on every kind of audio cable and power cord, mostly meaningless for any practical purpose. There are a least three manufacturers (Purist, Magnan, and Aural Symphonics) who each use different, and unconventional shielding topology, and who also mark their cables with arrows. Those people are very open, if you care to contact them as I have, about how their cables are designed and how the arrows relate to each of those designs.
One manufacturer I know of, Cardas, and maybe others, does build a shotgun-type single-ended interconnect which CAN be used in either direction. This is because the interconnect has TWO concentric shields, insulated from each other, with each shield tied to ground at opposite ends of the cable. I think those have arrows on them too!
Tbromgard, those are the historical facts. The answer to your original question UNFORTUNATELY depends on the construction of the specific cable you are using. Any of the better-known brands will follow Bruce Brisson's original shotgun design (so point all arrows to the preamp.) If you're not sure, call the manufacturer, and ask specifically what the conductor layout is, and if the cable has a floating shield. If they hedge, or don't seem to know what a floating shield is, or God forbid!, tell you the arrows point in the direction of the signal flow, then you might want to consider replacing your cables with ones from a more reputable manufacturer ;--)
Sorry your thread got hijacked.
I assume you are still using the older Cardas ics.... The arrows point away from the source.
Even though there is no audible difference, I usually recommend that customers hook up the cables so that the signal flows the same direction as the printing. - BrianWhy do you suppose that is? Could it be the way the wire conductor came off the spool?
I suggest you try the ics both ways. just make sure the direction of both cables is the same, arrows or printing...
I ran across this white paper about a year ago. It may be of interest to you EEs and such.
Smoke and mirrors.
"We have presented a new distortion model that accurately predicts the audible behavior of the various metals in common use for audio applications."
Pretty neat trick given that to date no one has established actual audible differences among cables save for the well known effects of resistance, inductance and capacitance when they're severe enough to cause differences within known thresholds of hearing.
Herman, Then let's see your facts about arrows and cable orientation because every cable I have had experience with in the last couple of decades uses this standard. Maybe you found some fly by night cable company working out of their garage that got their arrows mix up.
Tbromgard, The arrows point in the direction the signal is flowing. If there are no arrows the writing on the cable follows the direction of the signal.
Even though there is no audible difference, I usually recommend that customers hook up the cables so that the signal flows the same direction as the printing. - Brian
This has been recommended by cable manufacturers because the cables break-in to the direction they are installed. If you disconnect the cables and install them in the opposite direction the cables will sound different because you will be breaking them in to the new direction. Once the cables break-in again they will sound fine.
.... The arrows point in the direction the signal is flowing. If there are no arrows the writing on the cable follows the direction of the signal.
You can't just throw out a blanket statement like that.
Older Nordost Blue Heaven ic cables, the arrows pointed to the source.
If memory serves me right an early ic cable of Ray Kimber's made for the CDP to preamp, the arrows pointed to the source.
Here is what Audioquest was saying in the 90s.
Fact: All cables are directional, from hardware store electrical cable to the finest pure silver cables. Some cables should be used with the writing going in the same direction as the music (toward the speakers), some should be used in the opposite direction. If you are missing the instructions as to which way to orient your cables, check with your dealer (Audioquest puts instructions on every spool of cable). If necessary you can determine which direction is best yourself, simply listen to the cables in one direction and then the other. The difference will be clear, in the correct direction the music is more relaxed, pleasant and believable. While cable directionality is not fully understood, it is clear that the molecular structure of drawn metal is unsymmetrical, which does provide a physical explanation for the existence of directionality.
Here is the instruction from a box for the Lapis cables.
Tbromgard, The arrows point in the direction the signal is flowing. If there are no arrows the writing on the cable follows the direction of the signal.As Nsgarch wrote in an excellent earlier post, this is not always true.
In the case of a user choosing to utilize the star grounding technique of making the preamp the one grounded component in the system, and assuming the user is utilizing a make and model of cabling that connects the shield at one end and indicates this with an arrow pointing to that end, then the user would connect the source interconnects *and the amp interconnects* with the arrows pointing toward the preamp. The preamp>amp interconnect arrows would not be pointing in the direction of signal flow.
NsGarch and Simply_Q, I see that you have run into Herman's 'this is beyond your comprehension' explanation. Of course Herman is still working on the math that he told me to do, which, actually, does prove that there is no directionality for AC carrying cables. Perhaps the math is beyond Herman's comprehension also.
Salut, Bob P.
Jea48, I know the story behind the Kimber Cable you mentioned. There was a screw up during manufacture of that cable and they went with it due to expense. When other companies had an error like that they blew the cables out through their dealers or Audio Advisors. Kimber elected not to do that.
I am very familiar with Audioquest products and orientation of their cables. Bill Low always had direction clearly marked for their cables, but....they always said try it the other way and see if you like it better. In that respect it was a matter of personal taste of the user not whether or not the cable had a specified or recommended direction built into the cable by the manufacturer.
I personally tried Audioquest interconnects reversed on many occasions and I preferred the direction recommended by Audioquest everytime. When discussing this topic with Bill he always said the marked direction is the right direction.
I believe there is an industry standard for cable direction although there is an exception to every rule and an ocassional fluke as in the case of the Kimber interconnect.
Nsgarch, Whether an interconnect is shielded or not once the cable is installed in a system the cable will break-in to the direction in which it is installed. If there is no way of distinguishing a direction you may find yourself breaking in cables everytime they are disconnected and wondering why your system isn't sounding right.
I also took the liberty of contacting several cable manufacturers and the response was the same from each manufacturer. They all stated if there is an arrow the cable should be installed with the arrow followinging the direction of the signal and most agreed it is an industry standard.
Hi Bob, sorry, I forget what we were discussing?
I never said that to simply Q, I pointed out an error in his statement about current not being the flow of charges.
Mr Garch made several statements that are fundamentally wrong including "DC can't travel as far as AC" and "there is no energy transfer unless work is done."
When I pointed out that he was wrong he insisted I was "nitpicking." This is physics. These things adhere to the laws of nature. When someone's reponse to being corrected is to brush it aside as being unimportant in the first place then the logical conclusion is they don't know what they are talking about.
Just like Rrog. Several people here have given concrete examples to the various implementations of arrows (including the aformentioned informative post from Mr Garch about his experiences in the early 80's) yet Rrog continues to insist that all arrows mean the same thing.
While looking for our last exchange I came across a thread where you were discussing high current amps and if I had seen that earlier i would never have responded to Garch. In it he makes even more outlandish staements than he did in this thread and you and others tried in vain to make him understand. When he said
1. Watts are a product of volts times current.you should have realized he did not grasp the fundamentals and given up on him like I have now. Statements 3-5 as well as the conclusion are so fundamentally flawed they would appear to be indefensible yet he defended them to the end. What's really sad is somebody with even less knowledge thanked him for his misinformation.
Let's face it. Some people no matter they are confronted by facts to the contrary are incaple of admitting they are wrong.
I think a couple of you are not understanding the point that on *some* interconnects the shield is tied to ground at one end only, and on these ICs the arrows printed on the cable point to the end where this is so.
Break-in is not the issue with these interconnects. It's about which end is grounded and which end is not. The correct installation of these cables will reduce noise in a system.
when you posted "I'm afraid that's incorrect. Current flow is indeed a flow of electrons. Electrons ARE the charge carriers, which is why we call this field "electronics" instead of "protonics." in response to
Nsgarch - electric current is a flow of charge and not a flow of electrons. Electrons move very slow - at about 0.1mm/s (drift velocity)
I took that to mean you disagreed that current was the flow of charges since I don't see any other way to read that statement. If that is not what you meant then I apologize.
I took that to mean you disagreed that current was the flow of charges since I don't see any other way to read that statement.
I don't see how you could have taken it that way.
The original poster claimed that current was the flow of charge, not electrons. I said that was incorrect, that current was indeed the flow of electrons and reminded him that electrons were the charge carriers. In other words, in the context here, electrons and charge were one and the same.
If that is not what you meant then I apologize.
By the way, what happened to the rest of your post? When I read it the fist time, I recall your saying something about positive charge carriers in materials other than metals.