Nordost cable evaluation.

I shall now "eat my hat".

Quite a while ago Sean was expounding on the virtues of flat wire speaker cables. I was skeptical. Rather than trying to talk me into submission Sean simply offered to send me some wires to check out. It being summer, I have been very slow getting around to testing these wires, but today I did it.

There is not the slightest doubt that Nordost Flatline Gold MK II, three meters, is dramatically better than a similar length of AWG 14 stranded "speaker wire". I was concerned that I would not be able to hear a difference, or that extensive listening would be necessary, but it was immediately obvious that the Nordost cable was better.

To test the wires I threw together a temporary system consisting of a pair of Dynaudio Gemini monitors and a pair of Kenwood LO7M power amps. I used a Tandberg 3008 preamp (which has a MONO switch and BALANCE control) and a HDCD recording of Mozart Piano concertos played on my Denon 2900 (Mod) player. One speaker was connected with a Nordost cable, and the other with ordinary AWG14 speaker wire. After checking that all signals were working properly, I pushed the MONO button, and swept the balance control left and right. In a matter of seconds I knew the Nordost cables were better. The sound was just clearer, and more "open". It was not subtle.

Of course I confirmed the results by swaping channels around, in case(for example) one power amp or speaker was working better.

This doesn't mean that the Nordost cables are the best: after all they were compared only with elcheapo 14AWG stranded. But it does convince me that speaker cables are not all created equal. I guess I need to upgrade.
Thanks for alerting me to the fact that you posted this Ed. As most of you know, i haven't been on the puter nearly as much as i usually am and i probably would have missed this had you not contacted me directly.

I'm glad that you were able to perform such a test AND hear a noticeable difference. Being familiar with both zip cord and Nordost, i had little doubt that the sonic differences would be easily detected by anyone that was fair, honest and had half their hearing. Given that most would consider you amongst the "cable naysayer's" group prior to this test and that your stance on cabling was pretty well covered in previous posts, your willingness to share your recent observations that run contrary to your previous posts and publicly declared points of view demonstrate that you are capable of being all of the above. That is, you are fair, honest and have at least half your hearing left : )

I only want to add one thing here. That is, most of the reasons that some things that shouldn't make a difference but really do has to do with the stability of the circuitry being used. The more stable that the circuit is, and the less of an impedance mismatch that there is at any point within the circuit, the less of a difference there will be amongst cabling. As i've commented before, most gear is not very stable, therefore cable changes can and does often make both audible and electrical differences in a system.

Other than that, by no means was my sending Ed the Nordost speaker cabling for sake of comparison an endorsement by me of those specific products. I picked that cable because i knew that the sonic characteristics of Nordost run just the opposite of zip cord, hence the contrasting sonics are easily identified.

As most regulars will know, i'm a big fan of Goertz Matched Impedance ( MI ) flat speaker cabling, which is both very different electrically and sonically than the Nordost. Whether or not someone prefers one over the other in their own system is basically a matter of personal preference and system synergy. Having said that, i can pretty much guarantee that the Goertz is a more suitable match electrically, even if one doesn't prefer the sonics that it generates within their system.

If you don't like the sound of your system with the Goertz installed, that's just it i.e. you don't like the sound of your system. As such, you may have to resort to using another electrically inferior cable to "band aid" or "colour" the sound of your components in order to tailor the sonics to your specific liking. Nobody can say what is right or wrong here in terms of personal preference, but it's not hard to measure and verify what is more accurate electrically. Sean
Pleased that it worked for you Eldartford.

Sometimes it's difficult to set aside time to experiment, at least you gave it a try and it was successful.
Interesting analysis Sean - I wanted to post a question I've had for some time in this area that perhaps can't really be answered (I'll beat you to it - so why ask it? Perhaps someone can provide some illumination on this).

Anyway, I often wonder if the 'electrical' properties of a cable (in reference to the system components) might have much more significance in desirability/sound than the cable's "cutting edge" technology (teflon, gold, silver, solid crystal, 'golden ratio', DBS, you name it, etc etc) that most are marketed by.

Now take that a step further - many companies as far as I can tell, like Transparent, offer entry level priced cables all the way up to the un-godly priced crazy stuff, but yet they don't do much to explain what's inside, and many of their entry level cables (take a $250 IC compared to a $500 to the $1,000) don't seem all that different except for some nylon black braiding on the outside and the ever-mysterious network box. Other companies, like Cardas, actually say on their website what the electrical properties of the cable are.

SO - the question - for those of us that are mainly 'layman' and don't really understand electrical engineering (let alone what the corresponding properties are of the componentry we happen to be using) how in the world could you know how to use a more scientific approach to mating cables and components that is best?

And then, are we really supposed to just keep buying cables and listening to them to see what's best? I kknow that's what most of us do but it seems awfully silly if there was a better way - and sooo expensive !

And lastly (and this may be mainly rhetorical), why should I pay twice the amount for a cable to upgrade to it's "biger brother" when all it does is to add nylon braiding AND the company can't even tell you why it's better...?

I know, nebulous question perhaps, but this whole cable thing can be frustrating...especially when you do in fact often hear differences between cables that are positive but can't ever possibly "try" or have access to all of them out there, and have no other criteria to select on besides "sexy" technology that purportedly reinvents the wheel with every new product.