DIY Anti-IC project

I'm sold on Speltz Anti-Cable and Anti-IC products; they're great. First tried a set of biwire cables for my Magnepan speakers (bought the wire bulk from Speltz @ $1.25 per foot and using in twisted format with no termination), then a 1/2-meter set of Anti-ICs for between preamp & amp (TAD-150 and 60 respectively). Later I decided to install another set of the ICs between CD player and preamp, and inquired about buying the IC wire in bulk form in order to make'em myself (construction of these looked easy enough), but was told this particular gauge of wire is not available for purchase separately.

So, I was on the verge of ordering another 1/2-meter set, then one night while listening had a brainstorm: Why not construct a set of "super" Anti-ICs from the heavier gauge Anti-Cable speaker wire? Since my amp sits on top of the preamp, a 16" pair would be more than enough length, and then I could use the 1/2-meter set I already owned for between CD & preamp. So, I ordered 10' of bulk Anti-Cable from Speltz and (4) Neutrik RCA connectors from Parts Express ($1.75 each). I spiraled the cable around a 3/8" dowel rod, and used a single run of wire through the middle to complete each cable. Upon substitution of my newly-concocted "Anti-IC Plus" interconnects for the standard Speltz version, there was an immediately noticeable improvement in bass depth and impact, along with increased dynamics throughout the range and a bigger and more open sound stage.

I would not have written about this if the difference were less than subtle, in fact, I am one that is not a big believer in "cables can make a difference" (old-school engineering mentality) - But for the cost of $20 for the materials needed to make these interconnects, I urge any DIY'er to give it a shot - You'll like'em. (Email me for a photo of the finished cables if curious.) -Gary
Just a clarification on the statement regarding my view of cables in general: While I certainly do believe that "cables can make a difference", I don't believe one has to spend ridiculous amounts of money for whiz-bang audio wires that perhaps sound no better than those costing but a fraction (Speltz products being an excellent example in the latter group). -Gary
I'm with you, Gary, good cables need not cost a small fortune. I'd be interested in having a peek at your cables:


Please post some pictures. You can do this under your virtual "system" page. I think its a great idea. After all, there is no magic to the speltz cables, just a great idea and cheap even when they cut and terminate for you. I have the Speltz speaker cables and am a strong believer in the concept. My ICs are in close proximity to other ICs and AC, so I have been wondering if such a bare unshielded wire would work. But, as you have demonstrated, its cheap to try. Why not? Thanks for the info.
You'll probably find a further improvement if you use a better grade of wire, like high-grade copper Litz wire, though it involves more work because of the number of individual strands that must be terminated.
Isn't the purpose of using the Speltz method the use of solid single copper conductor and not a multi-stranded one?
I think the most important difference between Speltz and standard cables is that the Speltz cables have no insulation (beyond the coating of the wires) and no jacket.

A designer/modder friend of mine believes that the insulation and jacket found in standard cables smear the wave form, thereby introducing distortion into the signal. This is why Speltz cables often sound better than other cables.

He did a comparison of a number of different types of wire using the no-jacket and no-insulation method, including the wire Speltz uses, and found that high-grade copper Litz wire is clearly superior.
Jim, Speltz's wire is of a fairly high grade-copper; have your buddy make a set of interconnects using Speltz's heavy-gauge speaker wire as I have done and see how those compare :)
Ggeers222, I like the pics too.
Litz wire can be used for the wiring inside preamps. I don't think magnet wire is near the same quality.
Folks, for photo requests, email me directly - thanks. -Gary
Lets not forget say 5% to Jim and Nancy for their idea?LYCBYG,cheers,Bob
I never have time to even read forums like this, let alone actually reply to one, but a customer pointed out this one, and it caught my interest.

Shortly after I introduced the Anti-Cables 5 years ago, happy customers continuously asked for interconnects from me. Naturally, the first thing I tried was the #12 gauge Anti-Cable speaker wire as interconnects, but it didn't fly. Very dumbed down (low resolution). Transients time smeared. Slow and dark. I suppose if a system had an overly excitable high frequency zip, using thick copper interconnect wire may be a good way to counteract the imbalance. For example, the Cambridge Audio 840C is spouted as the best CD player under $5,000, for only $1,600.

You will notice there always seems to be a half a dozen of these used on AudioGon. After guys figure out the 840C CD player has an artificially excitable top end zip, they sell them. One of the ways to deal with this CD player's "coloration" is to use cables to help color it back towards neutral. This are things I have tried, and it works.

I am more interested in making cables that neutral and transparent and allow you to hear how good the components really sound, but in doing so sometimes you can hear more then you might want to hear in a particular system.

Occasionally, I custom make Anti-ICs for customers that need to add a bit more musical "body" in their system. I do this by using a heavier gauge signal wire, but this does come at the expense of doing some time smearing of the music's transients (which quickly makes music sound like a "stereo system" to me). To give you some perspective, using #12 wire (as Gary has), is using 16 times more copper then even this "heavier" gauge version of mine... Wow!

With both speaker wires and interconnect wires, there seems to be a sweet spot for the wire gauge size, I call it "current density". Use to much copper for the amount of current the wire is caring and the music gets time smeared. Use to little copper for the amount of current the wire is caring and bass weight, dynamics, and musical body get lost. I spent two years finding the generally accepted current density sweet spot for the Anti-IC.

It's quite interesting the results Gary got using #12 interconnects in his system. I do understand it leaning towards bass, but a bigger soundstage I have no explanation for... interesting.

I think it is great that Gary is experimenting. This is a great hobby, and experimenting is a lot of fun. I am continuously experimenting myself, as this is how we learn.

I am truly grateful for having such great customers.

I apologize in advance if I don't have a chance to chime in again.


Paul Speltz
Hey there Paul - I thought this may get back to you sooner or later... All I can say is, c'mon over and listen to my system - Comparing my home-brews to my stock Anti-ICs installed between my tube preamp & amp is no contest - I don't hear any dumbing-down of resolution or slowing of transients; only an improvement in these attributes - I do believe that you have done a lot of testing to find the best balance in overall performance, but my "experiment" has proved quite worthy in my system (not trying to save money, either; I think Speltz products are one of the best deals in high end audio). Maybe it's because mine are very short runs; who knows - My original concept was to create a non-cable "buss bar" between amp & preamp, and I think I've done it. But as they say, your mileage may vary :) -Gary
I found a similar result fiddling with DIY Pre-Out Amp-In jumpers. Using a single strand of solid copper from AudioQuest Type-4 was OK, but the same RCA's with a single strand of solid copper CAT-5 wire of same length was the best; clearer and faster sounding. Could it be 'too much skin for the skin effect'? (insulation left on for both types)

One would think that wires less than 3 inches would have little if no effect, but it was quite apparent on my MAC 1900 receiver.
As the "link" between Gary and Paul, I thought I should add my comments to this thread. I have no reason to doubt anything that Gary wrote. OTOH, I thought Paul's response was very reasonable.

If you boil it down, I think this discussion can be summed up in one word: BALANCE. I'll use an example to make my point. I use a DIY speaker system using very high quality vintage drivers including Western Electric.

The WE driver runs full-range and I use a capacitor to high-pass the tweeter. After experimentation, I found that a .56uf cap sounds best in this system. If I bump up that cap value by JUST ONE NOTCH (let's say .68uf), the system becomes out of balance and too bright!

If increasing a single value on a tweeter capacitor can have this much impact on a high end system, you can imagine what cables and other component changes can do to the BALANCE of a system.

I've been making interconnects and speaker wire from high quality Litz wire for some time. My customers have tried them against many very expensive commercial cables and so far my cables have always outperformed them for a tiny fraction of the cost.

Larry Hepinstall
Orge Systems
Off topic ever so slightly, but Paul Speltz declares "the 840C CD player has an artificially excitable high end zip" ?? In the many reviews of this player since its introduction, none has ever mentioned such a characteristic - In fact, most reviewers and owners alike remark on how neutral and and open upper ranges are reproduced - I wonder if Speltz has actually heard one of these himself, and if so, what associated equipment comprised the particular system? (Maybe one using his own cables?) Ron T.
Thanks all for your responses & inquiries - Of those who proposed building their own set to similar specs, I've gotten feedback since that their results are as positive as my own where sonic values are concerned. As mine have broken in even more, their virtues are as strong as ever. A little bit of labor goes a long way; there's no "magic" involved when using the same materials as the OEM - You just need to go ahead and give it a go; have some fun and save a bundle while you're at it. Cheers - Gary
I read Mr. Speltz's post again, and I suppose he would argue that those major manufacturers whose flagship interconnect cables utilize a relatively high aggregate gauge of copper (or silver, or whatever) is likely to time-smear music transients and make a customer's proportionately expensive rig sound more like a "stereo system" than music... It would be interesting to hear reactions from the designers at Cardas, AudioQuest and Tara Labs (to name only a few) to such a statement suggesting that their garden-hose-sized IC's are likely "worse" sounding than their much cheaper (skinnier-gauge) offerings. Ron T.
Pic of these can be seen in my "System #1" virtual system post.
Update: My home-brew "Anti-IC Plus" interconnects are out; the new "Avatar Blu" interconnects are in. In fact, these cables also replaced my Speltz-made standard-issue Anti-ICs (which are for sale if anyone's interested).

The Avatar interconnects are made from a very thin gauge solid core copper (in this case NOS genuine Bell Tel wire with a manufacture date stamp of 1978) in a twisted-pair configuration, and closely resemble the Morrow Audio MA-1 interconnects (testimonials by purchasers rave about the MA-1 on Morrow's site). Yep, I like to clone good cables for a fraction of retail cost - As long as I don't try to sell my creations to the public thereby undercutting the manufacturers who offered the "same" product first, why not.

After an ear-opening listen to the prototype pair I'd made with gold RCA plugs and silver solder, I've since replaced all interconnects (Speltz and otherwise) in each of my stereo systems with the Avatar cables - Their main attributes are superior bass depth and tightness, a very open and natural-sounding midrange, plus an overall more coherent soundstage presentation than anything I've heard in my systems. These results are in part due to the very low capacitance of the wire, plus minimum high-frequency skin effect due to its thin gauge. As a bonus, there are zero hum or RF issues even though the twisted pair is completely unshielded.

I've given sets of these to a few of my trusted audio pals, and the reports of improvement in each case are much the same - I'm being begged for additional pairs. Mind you, Speltz Anti-ICs are great cables (especially for the price), but now I've found something even better.
Where do you get the wire used in the avatar blu IC?
Don't have any idea where this same wire can be sourced today; I obtained my spool of the stuff back in '78, the year it was manufactured. There's a mystique surrounding the very pure copper that was made by Bel Tel all those years ago, and the very thin gauge indeed belies what its capable of in terms of full frequency spectrum presentation. (I never would have believed this if not hearing it for myself - That's why I asked several of my friends' trusted ears to back me up on my findings.)
47 Labs Stratos OTA cable was developed by a phone company. 26 gauge - tiny solid core copper wire with a huge sound.
Sounds like the CAT5 speaker cables by Chris Venhaus of VH Audio, doesn't it?
Lewinskih01, those are some really wild lookin' cables! And you've just jogged my memory that about 20 years ago I made speaker cables from old 1/2"-thick 50-wire round SCSI cable - The separately-insulated wires were silver-coated copper, and I separated these 25/25 at each speaker terminal. The pair was about 6 feet long. The sound? Wretched! Thin, shrill, and practically bass-less... All that trouble to strip those 200 wire ends and for naught. So who woulda thunk after all these years that Speltz's solid-core Anti-Cable would be the cat's meow? Or that a single solid-core 26-gauge phone wire for an interconnect would be the lion's roar? :)
"Gary -

These might be magical.

Have to switch back to the Opera Billie ICs to confirm (though I have a good ear, my aural "memory" is short-lived), but this is my thought from within about the first 30 minutes of listening tonight.

I'd been listening the the Opera ICs since I got the equipment set up last Thursday. I think I know what things sound like with the Operas based on the last week's listening.

There are two output jacks from the Cyber 50 pre-amp. Have had the Avatars running from Output 2 but unconnected to the amps from day 1. Listening to the Opera Billies from Output 1.

Plugged the Avatars into the amps tonight.

Thought things really came alive... the music opened up and seemed to float.

More air & space, separation & detail (and on bass) without harshness. More stage depth.

I have to go back and run the Billies again but the initial impression is very, very favorable...and this is right 'out of the box'.

Maybe 3 hrs as I write this."