I don't know the cost of the 8TC, but I just picked up a set of Audioquest CV-8 for about $400 on close out, and blown away by the imaging and placement of instruments.
52 responses Add your response
I've listened to a lot of speaker cables at the 8TC price range. I'm going to say there aren't in fact many that beat the 8TC for imaging, but there are several that are weightier/fuller sounding. I had to go up to the Audience AU24E to get that in my system.
I'm going to go left-field with a cheaper option which is cryo'ed Mogami 3104 (from TakeFiveAudio). It's an absolute bargain; neutral, detailed, solid sounding. Depending on your system, you may also want to try Goertz MI3.
Without knowing the rest of your system, it is impossible to offer any more than heavily biased personal value judgements. Because system synergy matters big time, just because Brand X sounds good in another guy's system, there is no assurance that it will excel in yours.
For the same reasons, there are a myriad of competing offerings in a very crowded $$ market strata capable of meeting and exceeding the performance of the 8TCs ..... Depending on the system they are married up to.
@Akg_ca. and everyone. Thanks for your response. My system is as follows...
cd player....resolution audio opus 21
amps monos...hyperion ht-88
ICs..........grover huffman (new and broken in...latest version)
SCs..........supra ply 3.4 shielded
It's an old system that was in hibernation for years til a few months ago. Presently, system sounds quite constricted...quite thin and "smallish" sounding. Amps retubed recently.
From my memory, I am thinking thats it's the sonic signature of the hyperion 938s. I am hoping the improve the overall sound to something which I can live with. If it doesn't work...I will probably get a new pair of speakers.
PS Unable to get home audition for cables in my area.
"It's an old system that was in hibernation for years til a few months ago. Presently, system sounds quite constricted...quite thin and "smallish" sounding. Amps retubed recently."
If the equipment has been siting for years, it will probably need to be broken in again. Make sure it has been playing for at least 100 hours.
Given your description above, I'm not sure a new pair of cables will be able to take care of all that. Best Buy sell AQ. Maybe buy a pair from them and if they don't fix the problem, you can always bring them back.
Pc ... I use 8TCs. Thinking about going back to lamp wire. LOL :)
Cabling is one of the most contentious and potentially expensive subject A'gon topic.
It's really hard to frac the voodoo and hype from the truth.
Why not join me in my holy quest for better sound -- see DEQX. Check discussion in the "Sloped Baffle" thread.
The only cable that will beat the 8tc and is in the same price range or better are the MORROW AUDIO cables. Check them out, break in service is recommened. Once they break in they are very open and accurate and invisible really! Awesome cables I don't buy cables anywhere other than Morrow now, and I have Nordost SPM and Valkyrja. the Nordost are fantastic but very expensive. The Morrow MA3's or better are as good for a lot less $.
Thanks everyone for all your input. It would certainly be great if the Mogami 3104 (low price) is what I am seeking. As mentioned...I will be using speaker cables as a "tone control". If I can't get a fuller and bigger sound (image size and soundstage)...will probably be getting new speakers as a last resort. Btw...also want to avoid cables which are tilted towards the top end...ie...cool side of neutral. I always felt that the Hyperion 938 sounded constricted, thin and "small".
Anyways...anyone compared the mogami 3104, kimber 8tc and morrow? How about Grover Huffman?
I guess it's all relative. "Good" can be construed in different ways. It can mean 'sufficient' or 'decent' or 'OK' as in 'good enough'. Or like many companies products where they have a good, better and best quality of the same item where 'good' denotes their bottom line. I would imagine standard romex would not require the purest copper whereas the better speaker cable uses ultra or hyper-pure, perfect-surface, or whatever terminology the manufacturer uses for extremely pure, continuous cast copper. And of course there is the dielectric and other insulation materials used. And then again I'm sure many feel there is no difference so you pretty much have to go on faith or try it yourself.
As said, speaker cables are system dependent and subjective. Best thing to do is buy used or use the Cable Company lending library, or just take a punt.
My ATC amp and speakers are extremely neutral (not bright, not warm) and I'm very sensitive to lean and fatiguing noises. Honestly, who doesn't love big, solid imaging? So let's say our ears are in line and you can take my reports accordingly:
Romex/no-name bulk copper - complete crapshoot depending on purity of copper, stranding, insulation. Generally costs pennies but seldom good enough so the outlay vs trade-offs becomes wrong-headed
Supra Ply - great value, warm and airy sounding, imaging is quite good in terms of width but not depth; not very detailed in the frequency extremes
Belden (like Blue Jeans) - OK for a budget system and non-critical listening, I suppose. Does nothing bad, but does absolutely nothing great. Ultimately smudgy sounding and underwhelming in most degrees.
Wireworld Oasis - my first use of OCC copper - decent sound all round. Neutral-warm, imaging was fair but not as projecting as 8TC in direct comparison.
8TC - striking imaging and projection with voices in particular. Too clean/lean.
12TC - almost identical to 8TC but worse! Slightly less lean but imaging was not as good. I don't know why 12TC exists.
DNM Solid Core - these are a big boutique/niche favorite and are super cheap. But I found them to be the ultimate meh and probably set it in my mind that solid core is not my thing.
Clear Day Double-Shotgun - loads of members rave about these and even though I'm not into solid core or silver in general, they are nice. Silky, airy treble. Beguiling with vocals but didn't find it an imaging nor a bass champ.
Grover Huffman - brutal break-in - after that, it's extremely fast and rhythmic. Very unique presentation. Imaging a bit 2D, and overall it's quite aggressive sounding and bass is very lean. Best guess is the combination of so many metals makes for unrealistic/strange tone and timbre.
Acoustic Zen Satori - more OCC like garden hoses. Big, warm sound but too much of a good thing with trade-offs being speed, dynamics and ultimate detail. On paper, if you want warm and big above everything else, it's a candidate.
Cardas Clear Sky - just terrible. Did nothing well. Gives a lo-fi, sterile and bright sound. No idea who would like these.
DH Labs Q10 Signature - really strong bass and sub-bass. But everything else was muffled. It's like turning up the bass to max and treble to minus-max in a car.
Goertz MI3 - it's like a cross between AZ Satori and the Wireworld. Didn't blow me away but does very little wrong.
Black Cat Lectraline - I was very impressed with these. They're the best overall sound from all the above cables (suprising given they are also silver solid core). They did nothing bad, they did everything very well, in fact. Only problem was they picked up RF in my apartment so I couldn't keep them.
Mogami 3104 - you can get these terminated, cryoed (which I believe in) and cable-cooked from TakeFiveAudio. They do work non-biwired, also (each channel shotgunned, effectively). Great specs/measurements. Flexible, cheap. You can also get these even cheaper in bulk or terminated from pro audio places like Redco, or Ebay sellers. I don't care that people argue these are good cause that's what a lot of recording studios use. I find these a great surprise for their performance. They are very, very good. Everything is well-balanced and for me, they are the point of diminishing returns of all the speaker cables I've tried. If I ever downsized my system, I'd be happy to sell my Audience and get Mogami. They're good enough to also use with fancy pure copper or rhodium spades like from Furutech.
Haven't tried Morrow. I tend to be skeptical of fanboy brands on audio forums (e.g. AntiCables). I don't see anything remarkable about the engineering or design features of either of these, to be honest.
Try Mogami :)
Ok ... I am going to do an experiment and will report back results.
I am going to buy some off the shelf 12 gauge romex and make up a paid of speaker cables. I'll even make a set of jumpers out of the scrap wire. As I said, I currently use Kimber 8TC cables.
I'm going to end this debate once and for all. LOL :)
@Loftarasa. Wow...Thank you so much for taking the time to explain things and in such great detail. I really appreciate your help.
I will be looking into getting the Mogami 3104...:)
Just a quick question....how does the Mogami compare with the Supra ply which I am currently using? Would it be a step in the right direction towards a fuller and bigger sound? How about imaging?
Pc123v .... cool your jets until I finish my romex experiment. Pure copper ... ultra pure ... hyper pure. Dielectric properties of insulation. Reminds me of the Space Balls movie when the baddies went to "Ludicrous Speed." Voodoo. Snake oil. Bull sh*t.
The test will be my Kimber 8TC cables versus 12 gauge romex! I'm looking at a 15 foot run. I may try lamp wire too. Let the best wire win. :)
Pc123v - yes, I have/had both 3104 and Ply at the same time. Ply is nice. But too soft and polite.
3104 gives a bigger sound and is more detailed. It's still very neutral, though - no frequency band is hyped or muted. This makes for better long-term listening, with all kinds of recordings and music genres.
I would wholly recommend both TakeFive or Redco.
In Redco's custom cable widget, you have to choose "Multi-Channel" "Speaker Cable" -- to get the 3104, and that will get you ONE channel's (plus and minus for right or left).
Then do it all over again to complete your stereo pair (right and left).
07-13-14: Bifwynneyou might think that this is all bullsh$$ but some of it isn't!
I've tried Romex 14AWG wire as speaker wire while I was awaiting my speaker cables. Yes, it delivered an electricak signal from the amp to the speaker so I could listen to music but that's about all it did.
The purity of the copper used does make difference. Better brands of cables use OCC copper & I found that does make a difference.
Insulation is another big factor. Romex from HomeDepot or Lowes or Ace uses PVC insulation which has a very high dieclectric constant which I found muffled the sonics & made the imaging imprecise.
Yet another thing that works against us when we use heavy gauge wire is that the wire vibrates (mechanical vibration) when there is a music signal passing thru it. Rick Schultz of Virtual Dynamics (Canadian company that used to sell OCC copper based heavy gauge interconnects, speaker & power cables) spent a lot of time figuring out how to damp that vibration. His cables ended up being ultra-stiff & ended up being a pain to us but some of his upper tier cables were really very good sounding. I used Virtual Dynamics cables thru-out my system at one point (I still have his Nite Platinum & Revelation 1 power cables) so I have personal experience. Using a heavy gauge cable without damping is going to make your music sound dull (as I experienced).
I believe that you do not have to spend mega $ on cables but you do need to pay attention to the materials used & the design.
There was an excellent thread on cable design started in March 2013 (where Almarg also participated). I think it is very worth your time to read that thread - it has great info on cable design & what to look for:
Bombaywalla, thanks. Your post went up as I was composing this one, the latter part of which addresses Bruce's posts above. But first:
Pc123v, have you tried both the 4 ohm and 8 ohm output taps on your amplifier? If not, I would suggest that you do that before changing cables or anything else.
Also, I would expect that tube-rolling in your amp is likely to have a much more pronounced effect on imaging, tonal balance, and most other sonic attributes than speaker cables. And likewise, of course, when it comes speaker placement, room acoustics, and placement of anything that may be located near or between the speakers (such as the system components).
Also, regarding tube rolling, I wouldn't be surprised if changing the relatively inexpensive 12AU7's the amp uses were to make as much or more difference than changing the more expensive power tubes.
That said, Audiogon member Kijanki has the same speakers as you do, although he uses a VERY different amplifier (a Rowland solid state design employing class D architecture). After trying some Audioquest cables, and finding them to produce objectionably thin sound with his particular amp/speaker combo, he settled on Acoustic Zen Satori, in a biwired shotgun configuration. He has been pleased with the added fullness and overall tonal balance it provided, although as far as I know imaging was never an issue in his application.
Also, based on many comments I have seen over the years and on my own experience with their interconnect cables, I would expect the suggestion of Mogami by Loftarasa and others to be well worth pursuing.
The rest of this post is in response to Bruce (Bifwynne). Good luck with your experiments! The results should certainly be interesting.
As you realize, 12 gauge Romex will provide adequately low resistance for most applications. The inductance of a speaker cable can also be significant, of course, and minimizing it will assume increased importance if the impedance of the speaker in the upper treble region is low (assuming that the goal is minimization of the sonic effects of the cable). IIRC your speakers are in the vicinity of 8 ohms throughout that region, not particularly low.
I don't know what the inductance of Romex is, but I suspect it is neither particularly high nor particularly low. If it were particularly high, I suspect that someone would have discovered by now that replacing it in the house wiring with something else would improve the dynamics of their amplifier.
Capacitance is usually not a major consideration when it comes to speaker cables, except in the case of a few cables (such as Goertz) which achieve ultra-low inductance at the expense of having ultra-high capacitance, which can adversely affect the performance (or even the health) of some amplifiers if the cable is used without a "Zobel network."
Other design characteristics of speaker cables, such as purity of metals, dielectric absorption, "characteristic impedance", "skin effect", "time alignment," etc., etc., are either:
(a)Arguably not quantitatively significant, or
(b)Not amenable to analysis or measurement that can establish a quantitative threshold separating what may be significant in some systems from what is likely to be overkill.
And as I recently said in this thread:
1)As seems to be generally agreed by most audiophiles, cable performance is highly system dependent.The bottom line: I would certainly consider the experience with Romex recounted by Bombaywalla, as well as the technical points he cited, to be highly credible. At the same time (not inconsistent with his comments), I would emphasize that a high degree of correlation between cable price and cable performance in any given system should not be expected.
When I listen to a reasonably priced pair of cables that sound as good or better than cables costing 1,000's of dollars more IE...NORDOST vs Morrow Audio I cant help but get excited about something that actually works! I have A 80 year old father AND 3 brothers with all different high end audio, amps used are McIntosh (solid state) or LSA (hybrid) and even AYON (tube), and they all use Morrow Audio Cables, in some way or another either wiring the whole system or just using there IC's. Bottom line is when these cables break in MAGIC happens! And it should not have anything to do with a warm or bright system. I think they would benefit any system, these cables will let you know what your components sound like, bad or good.
Almarg's post is brilliant. I really enjoyed reading more engineering science on cables, but more pointedly, yeah I didn't know much about these Hyperion amps, and tube rolling would seem an obvious thing to consider, too.
I've heard the Resolution Audio Cantata (guys who made your Opus CDP) and it sounds really lovely.
I'm going to end by saying that I'm looking suspiciously at the Grover ICs you use, too - if my comments on his speaker cables might also apply....then we'd be getting into IC recommendations and a whole other thread :)
Look anyone can wire up there system with BELL telephone wire or multi stranded lamp cord, or even some thick ass romex crap, there is a reason all these cable manufactures stay in business AND ROMEX stays in Business supplying electrical wire to Building developers. Materials used, shielding, terminations makes the most difference in sound and the effects sound different on every system. If you don't like spending a lot of $$ on cables (and who does) try SIGNALCABLE.com they make the MAGIC power cord and upgraded cables for Sennhieser headphones and SPKON cable for REL Sub and digital and normal IC's and speaker cables. I use a mixture of Nordost , Morrow and Signal cable. Hey it works! :-)
Ok,let's take inventory of what we know and what we surmise about romex.
I can't verify these stats, but let's start with resistance. Based on this link:
Someone posted the following regarding standard Romex:
"At 25 deg C, ohms per 1000 ft
#8 .6405/1000 ft
#10 1.018/1000 ft
#12 1.619/1000 ft
#14 2.575/1000 ft
"The insulation type doesn't matter. Current carrying capacity is different in conduit or open air(higher in open air). Basically figure 15 amps for #14, 20 amps for #12, 30 amps for #10, and 40 amps for #8.(these are the in conduit ratings)
"I got this out of the 1963 ARRL handbook."
So ... as regards resistance, standard romex presents a very low resistive load. In in the case of standard 10 gauge solid copper romex, just a smidge over 1 ohm for a 1000 foot run. That's nothing. My run will be 15 feet.
Al seems to concur, "[a]s you realize, 12 gauge Romex will provide adequately low resistance for most applications."
Moving on to capacitance, Al says that "[c]apacitance is usually not a major consideration when it comes to speaker cables, except in the case of a few cables (such as Goertz) which achieve ultra-low inductance at the expense of having ultra-high capacitance ...."
Last is inductance. Al says he doesn't know what the inductance of Romex is, but he suspects it is neither particularly high nor particularly low. I'll do some more web checking.
So in summary, romex looks like a medium that presents a very low resistive load and probably low capacitance. Not sure about inductance, but may not be a major factor.
I think I'm ready for the test. I'll need some auxiliary supplies to ensure a fair test; namely a pint of Knobs Creek.
I'll be back. Get your anti-snake venom ready.
"Not quite identical, HDM. 3104 is four conductor, so one can shotgun each plus/minus per channel to lower resistance, etc."
I believe resistance would remain unchanged but capacitance would be lowered marginally. You'd have to compare to see whether there would be audible differences.
My point was mainly that the 3103 as a two conductor cable is a bargain relative to the 3104 at approximately half the price (under $3 ft.) and, of course, the 8TC.
I'd expect the choice of termination would have much more effect on sound quality than shotgunning but that's another discussion altogether.
I know that Gene at Takefive typically uses the Vampire HDS spades with the 3104 which are another very high quality low cost product that delivers the sonic goods.
There are some very positive comments on 3103 and 3104 on Arthur Salvatore's website in the speaker cable section.
Paralleling two 2-conductor pairs that are not physically close to one another (each pair carrying + and -) will cut resistance and inductance in half, and will double capacitance.
If the two pairs are contained within the same jacket, as in the case of the Mogami 3104, resistance will also be cut in half. I suspect that inductance and capacitance would not change precisely by the same factor of 2, but inductance would still be considerably reduced, and capacitance considerably increased.
Loftarasa, thanks for the nice words. Your posts have been impressive as well.
Slight correction to my previous post: The reference to "paralleling two 2-conductor pairs" should have said "paralleling two IDENTICAL 2-conductor pairs."
HDM, thanks for the providing the reference. A statement in it that is worthy of note is: "Connecting the conductors as diagonal pairs greatly reduces mutual inductance, even though cross-talk interferance [sic] is negligible."
@Almarg...Thank you so much for your advice. Yes...have tried both 4 and 8 ohm taps...no audible difference. System is in my bedroom...12 x 14 x 10...smallish and unable to maneuver speakers much. I think I could squeeze out a bit more "fullness" by repostioning my speakers a little but that leaves the smallish image size problem. Retubing was done about 5 months ago...didn't improve matters much. Last resort is to upgrade my supra ply speaker cables...it's about 10 years old and I got them free...so I don't really mind changing them. I hope to get a fuller and "bigger" sound...esp image size. Hope the speaker cable I eventually choose will give me that. If sonic signature of my present system remains more or less the same...I guess it will be time for me to look for new speakers.
@Loftarasa...hmmm...Per your description/comparison...I think the mogami is more appropriate for my system than the 8tc. Thank you for all your help!
"I think I could squeeze out a bit more "fullness" by repostioning my speakers a little but that leaves the smallish image size problem."
If you are looking to increase image size, you can control that somewhat with cable choice. Its better to do that type of thing with components, but for small amounts, you may be able to do it with cables. Generally speaking, the cable design that seems to yield the biggest, roust type of image, is a well designed stranded cable. The 8tc is a good choice for that. Cardas is a little better even. I have some Golden Reference that gives a nice, big image. It may seem like an odd choice, but a pair of MIT avt1 or 2 will image like that, as well. But whatever you go with, don't expect miracles. There's only so much a cable can do. That said, I do think your Supra Ply's may be working against you a bit. It wouldn't be a bad idea to try something different.
IME, cryo generally makes treble smoother and bass deeper :)
The best (and most expensive) speaker cable I ever owned was a British one called Townshend Isolda. It is luscious sounding, with massive soundstaging and very deeeeeep bass. I learned some time later that it was originally a copy of the copper ribbon Goertz MI3, but with a built in Zoebel network (I think Al talks about it in an earlier post) and that it was cryo'd.
Going on memory, when I heard Goertz MI3 natively, it was fair-good, but not WOW! like the Townshend. I can only attribute this to the cryo, I guess.
Put another way, I also had some cryo 3104 from TakeFive and it's the basis for my recommendation. I've not heard non-cryo 3104.
Reading TakeFive's page on their cryo, I see some of the characteristics called out that I mentioned: http://www.takefiveaudio.com/mall/shopcontent.asp?type=cryo
However, they also indicate it doesn't seem to always work on every cable out there.
@Loftarasa and all...for the 3104...TakeFive offers a "bi wire" option. Not two separate cables. It's 2 leads at the amplifier end and 4 leads at the speaker end. If I were to go with that...I will connect 2 leads to the mids and 2 leads to the woofer (separate module...I have the Hyperion 938). I would then use jumpers to jump from the mid to the tweeter.
Another option would be to get the 3104 in a standard configuration...ie...2 at the amp and 2 leads at the speaker end. I would then have to get 2 sets of 3104 jumpers and jump one set from the mid to the tweeter and one set from the mid to the woofer. This would be a more expensive option...ie....I would have to get an extra set of jumpers and one set would have to be longer than the standard length of inches and 2 set of jumpers will be connected to a separate module.
PS Thank you for your patience again...my knowledge in hifi is very very limited.
Mogami 3103 and supra ply 3.4 are very problematic cables. The Mogami sounds very dark, heavy, slow and atmospheric with rolled-off highs. When i put it in my system it sounded like i thrown blankets to the speakers. I really felt sick with this cable on. The Supra Ply 3.4 has many problems ,too. The first big problem is the lead voacals which sound laid back and very muddy. You will not hear a thing of what the lead singer sings with this cable. The second serious probelm with this cable is its stereo image. It is not balanced and it draws the vocals to the left side. It's like the plane is leamning towrds the left side. That is very annoying.
I briefly used Mogami 3104 (double-wrapped into single Left-Right BFAs) with a Naim source and Linn pre/power separates. The sound was "okay" but nothing overtly special. The sound improved substantially when I swapped-out the Mogami for AQ Bedrocks. The Bedrocks were moderately priced; more expensive than the Mogami wire, but substantially lower priced than the 8TC
Another thing to consider would be upgrading the ICs, or using Kimber 8PR or 8VS instead of the 8TC. I'm now running Kimber 8PR in a system that has an Auralic source with an Ayre integrated using Nordost Valhalla balanced interconnects (purchased used). A lot of the fullness and detail in the sound goes away when I swap-out the Valhallas and use AQ Cheetah IC instead. The Cheetah is very good, but the Valhallas are MUCH better.
I don't necessarily recommend purchasing Valhallas, but mention this as you might be able to get closer to the fuller sound you seek via different ICs.