Speaker Cable Malarkey (“Ghost” Cables)

I have an interesting phenomena on my hands. I recently ran 15’ runs of 12 gauge and 14 gauge to my mids and tweeters, respectively. Coming from much smaller gauge wire for my tweeters (and shorter runs) of 23 gauge wire, I noticed a significant change in the highs - they were more tamed and subdued. The mids were less dynamic too.

My solution was to run more cables in a shotgun configuration - another 12 gauge to the mids and a 20 gauge to the tweeters. After I hooked it all up I felt that the highs were harsh and brittle which may have been from a lack of cable break-in. In any case, I disconnected the 20 gauge at the speaker and left the other end attached to the amp because it is hard to access and I just wanted to see what “removing” the 20 gauge would sound like for the time being.

Here’s the thing, the treble was tamed a little bit but no where near just the 14 gauge alone as before. The 20 gauge wire isn’t connected to the speaker terminals but it’s still being energized by the amp and it is somehow altering the sound like it is connected.

What is going on here? 
It’s called complex impedance interactions of parallel runs and... well.... interactions from the additional mass.

A bit of lenz law, a bit of this ...a bit of that...capacitance here, a bit of capacitance there...

Even the skin pigment in a cable can cause a change in the sound.

Long long story and the measurements can only be a small bit of the tale.

eg, the ’uncoupled at the tweeter’ run is still altering the load the amplifier sees, specifically in the transient domain...which cases the feedback circuit to modify the signal to compensate. In most amplifiers, that is.

Like some sort of unwanted extra long outrigger on an ocean going speedboat. the extra long outrigger is not responding to the waves near the boat, and thus improperly interferes with the boat’s correct operation.

the drivers and crossovers are a similar load, actually, magnitudes more complex than the wire but...... we listen via transients and that’s where the effect lies, so your entire hearing system is wired into hearing just that part of the signal ---so of course you hear it.

We don’t hear like an engineering measurement at all. The two systems (’standard measurement techniques’ and hearing) literally don’t jibe.
In addition to the possibilities Teo mentioned, the cable that is disconnected at the speaker end may be acting as an antenna, picking up RF (radio frequency) noise, and injecting it into the feedback loop of the amp, assuming the amp has a feedback loop. Thereby affecting the amp’s sonics, in ways that aren't predictable.

-- Al
Interesting. Would there still be an effect if the wire was disconnected at both ends? Would the effect be different?
Mapleshade has a product called Ground Plane Ribbon or something like that, that is a ribbon cable that is attached at one end and runs parallel to the speaker cable about two inches away from it. Assuming Pierre still sells it there’s an explanation how it works on the web page.
Plot twist: Does this 20 gauge wire that is only connected at the amp need a break-in period?
Not two inches! Four inches!! A rare miscalculation from Audiogon's reigning theoretical physicist (codename: codenamegeoff)

Sorry wrong codename

Sorry wrong link


Plain as day: four inches!!
Plot twist: Does this 20 gauge wire that is only connected at the amp need a break-in period?

Now that's a great question.
Plot twist: Does this 20 gauge wire that is only connected at the amp need a break-in period?

Since that wire would be conducting no current, aside from the infinitesimal amount that might result from antenna effects, it's hard to imagine how any breakin effects would differ from the effects (or more likely, the lack thereof) that might occur if the wire were sitting on the shelf of a manufacturer or dealer.

-- Al

I just disconnected the 20 gauge “+” wire at the amp. So for the tweeter, it’s physically connected with 14 gauge solid core wire only. There are two 20 gauge solid core conductors running parallel and close to the 14 gauge with only one wire and one end of that wire connected at the amp ONLY (the “-“ wire).

The result is virtually the same as having the 20 gauge fully connected at amp and speaker terminals. For reference, the sound is no where close to just 14 gauge without the 20 gauge in the circuit or nearby the 14 gauge.

This is sort of blowing my mind right now! You don’t even need to connect a wire into the circuit to get its positive effects - it just has to be nearby the other run. Wow!

How does that work? And what the heck does that mean for multi-strand or shotgun wire and the way you wire them together and/or what connectors you use? “Hey, how do you connect all the wires together in a shotgun run?” “Oh, I don’t even bother to connect most of them in the circuit.” *Gasp!*

Welcome to the complexity of quantum electrodynamics.