Solid copper or stranded copper for speaker cables? What is your choice and why?
I had old copper speaker cable made by Audioquest (don't know the model). The cable contains only two solid copper wires, one is thicker than the other. As I recalled, Audioquest claimed back then that thicker wire primarily carries lower frequency signal and the thinner wire is responsible for the rest. I actually have not seen this type of design nowadays, BUT when listening and comparing it with the stranded wire (either 12 or 10 gauge) cable, I found the dynamic range is greater, and the bass is tighter and has more weight. What do you think?
I choose speaker cables by how they sound in my system.
I learned long ago that high end cables make a huge difference in the sound of my system over just wire. Also, there are many parameters that determine the sound quality of what you use, like wire composition, metallurgy of wire (purity, crystal length… etc) diameter, strand count, geometry, dielectrics used, etc.
If you’re just starting out playing with conductors, and you would like to pursue it. I recommend going down to Home Depot and buying a 12 gauge three wire extension cord. Cut off the plugs and use this as speaker wire. These are multi-stranded. Obviously just use the black and white conductors. This would make for a good standard to which you can compare other wires. It is surprisingly good sounding. Better than lamp cord and inexpensive speaker wire. Although generally very inferior to purpose built high end audio speaker cables.
Oh yes. I have hear speaker cable made of solid core, square stock, multi stranded and combinations. Which one sounded Best depended on all the other parameters taken together.
There are always pros and cons with each type (of most things in audio). I'd think a hybrid of both (or multiple sizes) might be the sweet spot. But also "as always", it's subjective, and there are variables that are unique to every situation.
Multiple stranded (MS) cables sound more detailed, deep, and focused (smaller sound images) with less sound stage and less bass. So, it is good for string and brass instruments and acoustics/classical music. Generally, MS sound makes feeling bright, excited, and happy.
Solid-core cables sound punch, more energy, and big/thick sound images and stage (the wall of sound) with more bass. SC cables are good for percussion instruments and Rock/fusion music. Generally, SC sound makes felling sad, and down.
We, cable designers, mix wires to make balanced sounding cables (and to sound close to the original music). To make a good cable, we need the best reference audio system to hear cables. A problem is all their audio systems sound veil and un-natural. The veil sound means the signal is broken and distorted and those systems can’t be a reference system. Sadly every audio systems in the world are sounding veiled and un-natural. In the land of blind, the one-eyed man is king. I only know what they are doing wrong. Alex/wavetouch
Check out Magnan speaker cables. This company has came out with a concept of multiple wires smaller than a human hair, in a flat-shaped cable. They sound pretty amazing and extremly neutral. For those looking for solid copper speaker cable I would recommend WhyNot speaker cables which are probably the best on the market. Both concepts have advantages and inconveniences and system matching is always an issue. To solve your dilemma, you should test both in your system and decide which one to keep.
I've always made my own: lamp cord; common speaker wire; monster cable; solid strands of thick copper, stiff, hard to bend; cat 5 and now cat 8.
It's hard to know what you are convincing yourself about 'better'.
So, off to research, something's gotta be real:
What made sense, and what I settled on, is multiple individually insulated, small diameter solid core, i.e. Cat 5. Easy to make myself, flexible enough, put high quality connectors on. Small diameter reduces the 'skin effect'. Many say that's a joke at the lengths we use. Believe in Santa or not?
Now, CAT 8, Pure Copper, insulation for: each strand; each pair; 2 layers of outer insulation, whoopee. Looks cool, personal involvement is rewarding, Sound better?
I've never been willing to spend big money on cables. I've moved my friend's very expensive cables here, listened, better? Even he doesn't hear anything obvious here.
Based on all that, I would never use large diameter solid core again. There was definitely a dullness.
I do think experiences/results vary based on the efficiency of your speakers. Mine are highly efficient horns, 16 ohms (so amp is using 16 ohm windings). Perhaps I could/would hear real differences with different speakers.
I also keep my cables the same length l/r, even though at the lengths involved, many say that's absurd.
If you want the sonic benefits described by @elliottbnewcombjr (resulting from cables made from multiple strands of individually insulated, solid core wires) then you can either braid CAT wire or check out offerings by Harmonic Technology such as one of the variations of their Pro9 or Pro11 speaker cables (made from OCC). Either option should sound good.
I went with OCC cables from RAMM Audio. I really like the topology of these cables. Six individual conductors each with six OCC wires. Great shielding, A bit of a hassle to deal with all those wires when connecting to the terminals but well worth the effort. And being DIY, the cost was reasonable.
As some has suggested, listening at home is the ultimate test. Just keep in mind that if you have an old version of a cable, it not necessarily a valid representation of current offerings by that manufacturer. See what's new, and give it a listen.
Having worked in a metrology lab for an aerospace bearing manufacturer, an R&D department for a major gas &oil company, and in gas & oil operations with electronic controls and monitors protecting millions of dollars worth of equipment, if it's good enough for that duty, it's good enough for my stereo.
Belden, Canare, or other high quality cable.
FWIW, in industrial applications we almost never use solid conductor wire. They have a tendency to fatigue and break at junctions. Especially if your wire strippers put a good nick in the wire when you are working with it. Thermocouples being an exception, but those have been replaced by thermistors and RTDs, for the most part.
Back in the CAT5 days, the DIY SCs involved a lot of braiding, stripping, and bleeding fingers. As you pointed out one method could be to simply use them as-is, but it seems another opportunity might be to twist four individual CAT8 cables and then connect them in a star-quad geometry for lower inductance.
Using 22awg wire the individual CAT8 cables would result in a 13awg cable size per bundle, or 10awg if connected using star-quad geometry. This source would be enough for a pair of almost 30-foot cables for only $140 or, a pair of 15-foot, bi-wire cables (two full runs per side), each cable at 10awg.
I still make my own cabling. I have specialized tooling to make cables of all types. My preferred base conductor material is round, high purity solid copper or silver 20 awg for analog. The Cu I like the best is OFC highly conductive, Ono cast (OCC),..... Silver is rated at "fine", no use in a higher purity silver.
I have found I prefer the sound balance across the spectrum using 20 awg solid. The way the base material is finished will make a difference. Polished works the best, there are 2 choices: chemical or mechanical. I prefer chemically polished, less dust.
The design I use is a gas suspension using polyethylene tubes that are sealed at the ends. For speaker cables I use 6 strands in separate tubes twisted around a seventh tube. I usually bi-wire my speakers. Hard to beat the performance at any price, but there is better.
My speakers are also low’ish efficiency that I drive with big power amps so my HT speaker cables are bi-wired Pro9’s with two full runs/side or 6awg to each speaker.
How did your friend’s cables sound? I suspect pretty good. I have long suspected the advantage of stuff like OCC copper for speaker cables is virtually non-existent so the copper in CAT8 should be plenty good. The Monoprice CAT8 source uses polyethylene insulation, which is also good but maybe topped by a foamed insulation product like in the HT cables, although I doubt that benefit is clearly audible either.
Milhorn checking your website , I saw you compare your power cable to Zentara power cable , Zentara cables are use at Chasing the Dragon label by Mike Valentin? Your cable must be good to compare them with Zentara cables?
It’s long been an audiophile consideration that stranded wires (in the same sheath) caused smearing by the interference of the multititude of surface effect interactions. I’ve always felt the simpler the cable, the cleaner the sound. It has always shown itself to be true for me from my listening tests over the years.
I don’t use bare wires touching each other in the same sheath, like lampcord.
Both Cat 5 and Cat 8 are small diameter solid, individually insulated,
Cat 8 wraps twisted pairs with insulation, thus 4 twisted pairs, next those 4 pairs insulated, then outer sheath.
you can get Cat 5 or Cat 8 with pure copper, some 6 nines. (99.9999).
originally I thought I was the first person using Cat 5. Then my friend shows me this crazy 'make your own' Cat 5 like you noted.
What? Why? maybe I didn't read enough about why, I just found it laughable when Cat 5 was already assembled.
Milhorn, checking your website , I saw you compare your power cable to Zentara power cable , Zentara cables are use at Chasing the Dragon label by Mike Valentin? Your cable must be good to compare them with Zentara cables?
All PCs in the world sound similar to JPS and Zentara regardless of cost. No other PC in the world sounds like WTPC.
I won’t tell you the performance of my Wavetouch power cord (WTPC). You should judge sounds of them (JPS, Zentara, WTPC). It is like a find hidden object puzzle.
Harsh sounds always win to delicate/soft organic sounds at quick sound comparison. A’philes’ ears are trained to be numb and blocking harsh sounds by a brain since a’philes have been hearing the sound similar to JPS and Zentara. It could take an hour to get used to the sound of WTPC. To soften your ears, listen to the original music before hearing each PC’s sound.
Easier to use, more reliable, and nicer to dress up with cable sheathes, heat shrink, ends, etc. In a decade stranded cable will still be performing great, but solid, may or may not be or may degrade without even knowing. No way I would consider that an option.
The wire is important but so is how the shielding is on the tech flex. Find some that reduces electronic noise (costs about triple standard tech flex) and use that on the positive wire run. Makes a significant difference. Don't need to use it on the negative run.