Solid core Versus Stranded Speaker cables


Ok for starters I have never tried a solid core Speaker cable until recently. I was very skeptical of the solids performance but I'm glad I tried it. As a matter of fact I tried it and found it to be the best cable I have ever used to date. After much searching, getting opinions from fellow audio enthusiasts and trial and error I happened upon a seller here on Audiogon, JW Audio who offered a 30 day in home trial period with full money returned, no questions asked and took a shot in the dark. That shot hit the bullseye dead center. After receiving the Cryo Nova 12 foot long cables, I was somewhat stunned when I seen the cable, it was nothing like I expected but I connected it anyway. Holy S....t did it make an immediate difference and it keeps getting better. My entire system (Krell) opened up like peeling the skin off a banana. Highs, lows, detail, soundstage, depth, clarity and details that I was missing were revealed. ( and I thought what I had was really outstanding )

Which brings me to the point of this thread. Not knowing what makes a solid core or a stranded speaker cable more desirable aside from the obvious flexibility issues I'm curious to know what my fellow audiocrazies use and why they prefer one over the other or if they even tried both. Anyone willing to give up their opinions on the pros and cons of solid versus stranded speaker cable? I will start that I am a convert to at least this particular solid core speaker wire and unless someone can better it with the 30 day free trial period I do believe it is here to stay.

gillatgh
Well everyone will have slightly different experiences, but I had a similar reaction many years ago with the other magnet wire vendor. But it did not take much time to realize that what I was getting was a bunch of midrange, which can be addicting, but not the full range of frequencies.
One of the benefits of small gauge stranded wire that is individually insulated, is the elimination of skin effect and smearing. Then if you add in multiple wire sizes you can accommodate more of the frequencies as they spread out differently in the wires, and then if you make the wires silver instead of copper you get an greater effect (to some). So it keeps going. Knowing when to get off the train is key. I have no self-restraint so keep trying more topologies I can afford.
I actually prefer silver ribbon or alloy materials, so there is no hope for me. Save yourself!! Get off the train now! ha
Clear Day Cables - solid core silver, small gauge... totally amazing stuff.  Replaced almost $2,000 Audioquest speaker cables at a fraction of the cost.
I was a big solid core devotee until I discovered that it's all system dependent. With my Tonian Labs TL-D1s, Tempo Electric solid silver SCs made for the best sound (even better than the Clear Day) but with my Clearwave Duet 6 monitors, Zu Audio Event SCs rule the roost (stranded cable). You won't know any different until you try.

All the best,
Nonoise
Skin effect in copper starts at gauge 18@20kHz. Current in thick stranded cable jumps constantly from strand to strand to stay on the outside of the cable (skin effect). Surface of each strand contains impurities (copper oxide). Insulated strands are much better. Skin effect still exists since strands are in magnetic field of the other strands but it can be arranged in helical twist on hollow tube or flat tape to reduce magnetic field to neighboring strands only. At least that's how Audioquest explains it.

I replaced very thick stranded Monster Cable with a solid wire (AQ Indigo) long time ago, and sound opened substantially. Stranded cable was muffling the sound.
Thanks I appreciate all your answers to this thread. I hope I will gather more explanations and gain a better understanding of the inherent pros and cons of these different type of cables. So far I have noticed an improvement in the high mids but also in the low frequencies when present. I'll be listening closely to assure my self that all frequencies are represented as my ears allow.
There is not a single high end pre amplifier manufacturer that uses a single inch of stranded wire.
There are very few high end amplifier manufacturers that use stranded wire.
A long time ago Alon Wolf showed the crossover for his Magico Mini, it used magnet wire. No stranded wire. The picture was quickly removed. Seems audiophiles want expensive wire in their expensive speakers.

Don't waste your time trying to convince people that stranded wire is garbage, and should be relegated to mid-fi and lo-fi. Enjoy the music, and proceed to remove EVERY piece of stranded wire from your entire system. It will only get better with each change.

Tweeter: 28awg or smaller
Midrange: 24 - 26awg
Woofer: Here you can go heavy, 14 - 18awg.

Massive improvements with solid core power cords. Just really difficult to work with, and lots of bending and positioning.

I do not mean to convince anyone of anything, just stating my experience so far.

I am looking to refine my knowledge of the subject and everyone in this hobby has valuable information to share. Just like you cousinbilly, I appreciate any and all input even if it contradicts. Audio performance is very much subjective to the listeners ears and there is no hard evidence that determines right from wrong or good or bad. I value yours and anyones input. Thanks

Please educate me. would kimber 12vs consider stranded wire? Thanka
Stranded.
I believe 12vs is what Kimber calls "veristrand" copper construction. Multiple strands of different awg groups per strand wrapped in polyethylene. Then multiples of those strands wound in a helical pattern.

N




For the Kimber: if each individual strand is coated, it behaves more like a solid core. You want to stop electron transfer between individual strands. This jumping from one strand to another cause minute arcs. Think Tesla coils but on a tiny scale.
Just moved from solid silver ic's and solid copper red enamel speaker wire to multi strand Ic and speaker wire and really enjoying it. Things are not as incisively detailed but the music is relaxed and seems to be alive in a way that I don't want to get 'philey geeky tryn to xpress

I really don't get the logic with heavy gauge on bass and ridiculously small gauge on midrange, and even smaller on tweeter... you're trying to put more resistance on tweeter/midrange to act like an additional crossover?
I apologize if my explanation on "Veristrand" was insufficient. For an illustration please visit...

www.kimber.com

Go to: Products
Go to: Base Series
Go to: 12vs

I hope this helps.

N
audiofreak

Great Avatar! Also, I am waiting for a set of Clear Day Double Shotgun's and 3 wire Jumpers to arrive to audition from Paul. I'm in line when he gets a next loaner set back. Looking forward to it. I have Audioquest in my system now. 

N
There was a time when I switched to solid core speaker cables and was quite pleased. A long-time Vandersteen dealer showed me the cables and told me that although Richard didn't publicly endorse cables these were the ones he often used. Amazingly, the price point was significantly less than others I was considering. Long story short, I tried them out and preferred them despite the fact that they were a third to half the cost of the others I auditioned. A win win! I have subsequently switched to wound cables again but for fairly priced, high performance cables I highly recommend these solid core cables. There is a decent explanation on their website, too:

http://www.goertzaudio.com/contents/en-us/d16_MI_Speaker_Cables.html
I believe cable performance is system dependant as well as personal taste. I have had success with several different combinations.

cousinbillyl if your still in copy, and anyone else interested.

Did you have a chance to check out the Kimber website? It has a great illustration of the internal view of the 12 vs series cable. 12 negative grey and 12 positive black windings coated with polyethylene. "Within each of those, are (7) different guage copper conductors. They are twisted together-touching- bare copper on bare copper.....

N
Just my experience, but I am a believer in solid copper.

I am a fan of audioquest cables.  I have enjoyed the Oaks immensely.
AQ is my first choice, Always! The reason? They weld wires to DIN/RCA, eliminating wire-solder-metal interfaces. Solid core works to me but on the other hand "golden ratio" from Cardas sounds even sexier, plus Cardas headphone wires are fantastic with my HD-650...
For speaker wires I have it easy because Naim Audio insists on using NACA wires for NAP250s and although I did buy a few dozen feet of AQ speaker wires, it is still on my "to do list" to actually try them.
Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't it sooo much easier to just follow the suggestions from your favorite manufacturer than going thru the pains of constant doubt and swapping, not knowing if its the wire or solder joint or skin effect, or non-WBT bananas :-)  Depends on the mindset, of course. I still have some fond memories of living in a society where everybody knew what is right and which direction to look (all together in one direction of course).
I "laughed my evil laugh" reading an article in my wife's mag (ART Today or such) that it is liberating for The Artist to have some defined boundaries, set by (totalitarian) society, that somehow it "channels" productive genius! Funny how real life crashes such theories. My point here is: I guarantee there is not a single person on this Planet who tried Nordost Valhalla interconnects resoldered for Naim's DIN plugs! I am free to check if they can beat Naim's Hi-Line, but am I going to pay for this non-returnable freedom? Sorry, but No

Having contacted my favorite manufacturer their recommendations still leave the decision to me. Although making suggestions on which cable is in their opinion most "synergetic" with their brand it is also made known that the final word has to come from the listener as every cable has its minor differences and every ear is different. So manufacturers recommends are no different than everybodys who answers these type of threads.
I tried 10 gauge solid copper wire. Hated it!
Not often discussed... The benefits of both solid and stranded?   Litz cables. Solid core gets rid of the harshness, but has a way to dull the leading edge a bit.  Stranded with its weaknesses, makes the highs harsher, giving the illusion of greater detail.

Perhaps another way of looking at the cable issue is not only the stranded vs. solid core subject, but the purity of the conductors being used.  As I upgraded power cords, and interconnects in my system, I moved toward purer conductors with as much of an air type dielectric as possible so pure conductor has a greater influence on the sound than the dielectric surrounding it.  

Most of us have experienced the debate about well...silver is bright and copper is mellow  blah, blah, blah.  IMHO, silver, copper and gold or hybrids of those sound a certain way mainly due to conductor purity (lack of grain boundaries in the metal) and dielectric quality where the dielectric is predominantly air freeing the cable to direct the signal from component to component and then ultimately to the speakers.

If you want to experiment with this and minimize the financial impact of doing so, go to used cables.com.  They have an extensive lending library enabling you to listen, in your system to various cables.  Your ears get to be the arbiter of truth!

IMHO, I still say cables are system dependant. So many variables. 

I do have a question, does anyone know if MIT is solid or stranded?

N
nutty,
Probably the best example of that was the near insistence of Wilson Audio dealers to  mate Wilsons with Transparent Cables.  That assertion was supported by the professional press as well.

In my case, as a long-term Vandersteen speaker owner I was motivated to go with Audioquest speaker cables as they were said to have a special synergy with Richard's designs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speaker_wire

note the paragraph:

The effect of speaker wire upon the signal it carries has been a much-debated topic in the audiophile and high fidelity worlds. The accuracy of many advertising claims on these points has been disputed by expert engineers who emphasize that simple electrical resistance is by far the most important characteristic of speaker wire.

.
In the end, as with all things audio, trust your ears!  If you are a cable skeptic, borrow several designs that lie within your wire budget, from The Cable Company library and hear what you hear.  Act on what your ears tell you to be the truth, not manufacture's advertising copy. 

I have not done any experiments/testing with speaker cable, but I will say that solid core has won every test I have done for both interconnects and power cords. I hand-build all of my power cords and interconnects. Test with both stranded and solid core. Shielded/non shielded. Braided. What I have found with stranded is that the sound becomes a little messier/muddier. What I believe is happening is that the outer strands of a bundle are first to be charged by an incoming signal/waveform. It take a little time for the charge on the outside strands to reach the innermost strand (which are charged by contact). By this point, the outer strands have already discharged, so the innermost strands have somewhat of a delay on the charge/discharge. This creates a sort of delay or echo on the original waveform. This can make the high frequencies brighter or harsher.

When handling solid core, the gauge of the wire is critical. There is a fine line on a balance. I have found that 20awg is the best overall to use in any situation (either power cord or interconnect). As you increase the size of the wire awg, the bass waveforms becomes punchier and push harder. At the same time, the high frequencies start to roll off and you get a very lo-fi type of sound. If you go smaller than 20awg (such as 22awg), you start to lose bass/midbass body and the higher frequencies become too overstated. I have experienced this both on power cords and interconnects.

Power cords with 18awg or 16 awg will not have enough high frequency detail. I tried a power cord using 22awg solid core and I got extreme amounts of high frequency detail, but there was not enough bass/body. It made the audio sound very thin. In interconnects, 18awg rolls off too much highs. I have tried combining a 20awg with a 22awg for interconnect and it did give more high detail, but it ended up pushing too much high frequencies and it just did not have enough punch/bass.

Finally, braiding seems to be the best way to arrange the wires. I have tried twisting and it doesn’t do anything. There’s a somewhat unexplainable characteristics that happens with braiding. It calms down the upper mid/high frequencies so that they are not so bright. It also seems to reveal a bit more midbass body. Shielding (like braided copper shielding) will achieve somewhat the same thing, but it tends to want to roll off the high frequencies instead of just calming them down.

On my interconnects (which are all XLR), I use 2 braids of 20awg to give a total 17awg interconnect. For power cords, I use 6 braids of 20awg to get a final 12awg cord. All using Neotech 20awg OCC copper Teflon coated solid-core hookup wire. (Yes, OCC is better than OFC).

The Kimber stuff is probably the best equivalent that is on the market. It is stranded, but each varistrand bundle is only 7 strands, so there really is only one inner strand. The braiding also helps.

Right now, I’m using 12awg stranded OFC copper (basic monster cable) for speaker wire, but I have been curious about trying the Neotech NES-3002 speaker wire. It uses all OCC solid core wire that is individually insulated. Based on the number of wires in the pictures, it seems to use 21awg solid core. Shown at the bottom of this page:

http://www.vhaudio.com/wire.html

You can click on the picture to see wire detail.