This is a question that has been discussed numerous times on this forum. The answer is yes and no depending who's talking. Since an AC signal is present and electrical energy goes back and forth, you wouldn't think that it would make any difference. There are a few valid engineering
reasons why it is directional depending on the composite of the wire. However, how it effects the sound and to what extent is best found by trying it. I doubt in a blind listening test you would be able to tell the diffrence.
they may be shielded but for speaker cables in most cases it's all crap.
It depends on the design of the cable. You would have to break-in the cables for awhile in the opposite direction. Lots of theories about directionality but does it really matter?
Yes it matters, simply because of shielding - not because of electron flow in the wire (not sure how that crazy idea got started). I don't remember which end is shielded but for it to work properly, the arrows have to be respected due to the right-hand rule. However, I would just try it backwards and see - the difference may be unaudible anyway.
if they're shielded than on the amp's end. technically this helps to avoid an influence of micro-phonics. if the level of micro-phonics or near-by power sub-station is very high the directionality is recommended. otherwise there will be no difference whatsoever.
breaking-in from the other side is total crap.
Shielded speaker cables ? Are you sure you're not confusing them with interconnects ? Why on earth would anyone shield speaker cables ?
My personal opinion : wire is not directional. Interconnects may be directional, due to shielding only being grounded at one end.
Speaker cable directionality is nonsense UNLESS there's some sort of network box on the cable (MIT does this I think). It's an AC signal ... that means it goes equally in each direction.
HOWEVER ... if it bothers you then just hook them up in the direction indicated and leave them alone. Why even bother to try them in the "wrong" direction, other than to satisfy your curiosity ? And you can't satisfy your curiosity by asking our opinions .. you'll only do it by experimenting yourself. (Which I have done, just to see if it does make a difference ... I certainly couldn't hear any).
If I were you I'd hook them up in the "correct" direction and then leave them alone and enjoy the music. I'm certain that they're not directional, but from your question I just know it's going to play on your mind if they're the wrong direction. Sooner or later you'll end up changing them.
For those who tried to answer my question, your input was appreciated.
There's no shielding or anything fancy, just the XLO-label shrinkwrap covering the spade terminations have directional arrows on them. My instinct (reasonably enough) is to follow what would seem to be "manufacturer's instructions", but what was intended to be the "amplifier end" has spades, which won't work with my amp. As I said, hooking them up in accordance with the labelled arrows would require me to cut off the spades, so there's no way to just try out which sounds best.
"Seandtaylor" seems to have posted without actually reading my question, as curiosity isn't even an issue, and it's actually impossible to just hook them up in the advised direction (unless I cut off the spades).
To everyone else who weighed in with advice, THANKS!!
Keep in mind that some manufacturers put arrows on their cables to cash in on the impression that "directional" cables are better. I'm with Taylor on whether shielding matters for speaker cables, however.
Oleander, while it might compromise the results, you might be able to find adapters to experiment with before doing any thing drastic.
This is so simple: yet no one gets it & practically everyone has an erroneous opinion & wants to argue theirs. There is absolutely a reason why the arrows are there; the conductor was drawn through the die in that direction. I was just talking with Ted Denney, president of Synergistic about this yesterday. If you had a way to visually map the patterns of electron flow (cable deigners are typically equipped to do this) the answer should become obvious. Naysay all you want to: I'll bet some of you would even argue with the manufacturers.
If you want to use the cables then have them reterminated to fit your equipment, or maybe even do it yourself if you have access to a quality compression crimper.
Bob-b---That is exactly why I said there are a "few" engineering reasons why wire is directional. Any electrical or electronics engineer will tell you there is a difference in flow direction (as in a direction) depending on how the wire is made. However, most manufacturers will also tell you to try it both ways and see if you hear a change. Personally, since flow is AC, I'm still a little foggy on why this would be the case since you have flow in one direction on the positive half cycle and flow in the opposite on the negative half cycle. It would be easy to comprehend this if it were a DC current going in one direction. However, it is not. So how can you have directionality? Speaker wire is no different than lamp cord other than composition. In AC circuits, you have a positive and a neutral for less than 120V. Power flows through the speaker coil to the common(neutral) and back through in the opposite direction just like any AC load. Lamp cord under this theory would be directional but I haven't seen any arrows on lamp cords as of yet. Maybe the bulbs would last longer if we got the direction right. I would just like for somebody to explain in plain English why there would be a difference. I do buy into the actual wire being directional to flow but apply this to an AC circuit.
Okay, I'll take a stab at it. If the wire is drawn thru the die in such a way as to align the molecules so that electicity flows better in one direction than the other, as Bob B. so eloquently point out, then it has a "phasing" orientation, just like a speaker does. A speaker operates on AC, but it is clearly marked + and - for phasing. Perhaps the wire is molecularly oriented to better carry the signal in the "drive" direction, and less oriented to go in the "reverse" direction. This could have some effect on "back EMF" generated into the amp, by the drivers, because the + terminal is connected to the amp's output device, and the - terminal is connected to ground. And it could also have some effect on the perceived "speed" of the cable on transient response.
How does that sound for a theory?
Put on Beatles record. If you hear 'Paul is dead', your wires are reversed.:)
what is the theory about which way the wire was drawn anyway, does the wire become like a diode?
Oleander: Just turn your wires around and don't worry about the arrows. It won't make a whit of difference. (It can't: The signal flows in both directions.)
I hope the same amount of power (w = v x a) travels both ways. Phase has nothing to do with power flow. It is simply an orientation to keep both speakers going the same direction or the power flow in the left is moving the same direction with the speaker in the right. I use Tara labs that use separate wires (completely, no common jacket-8 wires for biwiring)) for pos and neg. Both of them have arrows on them. Which one would go where because the power is not going the same direction down both wires and any given time. I personally think on speaker cables that this is a bunch of crap. I will continue to speak out against this until someone can prove how it will make a difference on AC.
Oleander .. sorry for the misunderstanding ... you can get banana-spade adaptors, as other posters said.
You seem to have replied without reading my post .. if you hook them up the wrong way around won't you always be a bit curious as to whether it would sound better the "correct" way ? Won't you end up switching them around eventually, just to see(hear)? I think you will since you started this thread, so it shows that you're concerned about it, and I doubt advice on this thread will completely put your mind to ease.
So my advise was to put them the right way around now, whatever it takes, or else it will just play on your mind that "perhaps the sound could be better".
I don't think it will make any difference, but does my opinion really convince you to the point where you don't need to try it for yourself ?
Twl .. phasing of speakers is done so that the cones don't move in opposition, causing cancellation. How can wire possibly have a similar effect ?
Bob .. your answer is interesting, but I have yet to hear any difference for myself, so perhaps, even though the crystal structure of the wire might not be completely even due to the drawing process it's probably a third or fourth order effect (after inductance, capacitance, resistance etc etc) and so not really worth worrying about.
Power does not travel bidirectionally; it flows from the source (the amp) to the load (speaker). Voltage & current parameters, while in fact altentating, are not in question here - it is the delivery of POWER from one place to another. Same thing happens within AC power lines; the power flows from the generator to the load (admittedly with some small amount of reflections which are academic to this discussion).
I correctly predicted that some naysayers would even argue with the manufacturer/designer; I suppose y'all know more about their products than even they do? Fine - I am not here for that. I do not have to prove anything to anyone; I've heard the effects with my own ears & verified by the designers that's good enough for me. Don't believe it, if you don't want the optimum from your rig, then you don't & you won't get that. But don't come up here disseminating misinformation to someone who wants to know the truth & obscure it with your misinformed opinions. I am only here to help Oleander get a truthful answer to his question & to get the most from his rig. If you don't want that for yourselves then I don't care, but he does. Good day to you all.
Bob .. I think you'll find that most "naysayers" would like a good explanation. I'm a naysayer because
1) I was not able to hear a difference with "directional cables". None whatsoever. I do believe that cables themselves make a big difference, so don't immediately brand me a luddite.
2) Nobody has given me a good explanation. Rather the believers are as much to blame as the naysayers for making this a "religious" argument based on faith in their own listening abilities, and half explained pseudo-science.
3) The cable industry is so full of (dis)information because there's tons of money to be made from gullible people.
I find your argument about power totally unpersuasive. Sure power is dissipated in the speakers ... so what .. how does that make a piece of wire directional ? Give me a good explanation (or an HTTP) and I'll stop disagreeing on this issue.