speaker cable; what to do?

Hi All,

bryston 3B ST power amp
paradigm studio referrence 60v2
12awg "speaker" cable from home center
25-30 feet between amp and speakers

What should I do to improve stage, bass, image ...
Make speaker cables, move amp and use longer ICs between pre and power amps???

Probably lots of good advise you'll get.

How bout changing the caps in the signal path to your tweeters. If you search asylum's tweaker forum I think you will find info on point about doing it w/ Paradigms. There was a post here only a few weeks ago about someone "rewiring" a Paradigm 40 with good results.

Sincerely, I remain
Hi. The distance is not a problem since your gauge is big enough. I would not spend a fortune on cables (what is your budget?) since I personally don't think that they can make a gigantic difference. I did however buy all MIT Terminator 2s (speaker biwires and ICs) and find them wonderful. Although don't pay list or they won't be worth it - a true statement for most "expensive" cables I think. I tried all kinds and found little variation between them but the MITs edged them all out by just enough in soundstage, bass, warmth, and detail to warrant me getting them. I am running Paradigm Reference 100v2 (LOVE them) and Mcintoshes.
Good luck! Arthur
george: first thing, move around your components. second, ignore everything aball says (but for "good luck"). getting even "entry level" speaker cables of 8 feet or less will improve your system. after you've reconfigured your setup, spend as many hours as you can stand repositioning your speakers for maximal sound. THEN begin your journey on the upgrade path, listening to as many pieces as you possibly can. -cfb
Yes you really need to try some real speaker cables. Contact Bob Cohen at Cable Company www.fatwyre.com for suggestions regarding what to try out &/or for some of their loaner cables to experiment with. For a length that long, a networked cable would likely work better. Transparent makes the very expensive ones & MIT makes the affordable ones. Joe Abrams (membername = joeabrams) can help with great advice, recommendations, & great pricing on MIT. Be aware though that networked cables take a lot of bashing from the un-initiated; I laughed too until I tried some, but then I bought more.
Also try out some loaner upgrade AC cords from Cable Company, per their rec's. When you find the right cords for your setup, everything will improve including bass, stage & image etc.
Also get some good contact cleaner for all your connections if you haven't been doing so already. Kontact is my favorite; there are several others to chose from.
Cornfedboy has his opinion and I have mine. There is no point belittling anyone's opinion otherwise forums would not exist. Try different cables and see for yourself.

There is a difference but my point is that $8000 cables (Kharma Reference) did not sound hardly better (i.e. much less than 40 times - like maybe 1.5 times) than my $200 MITs. Consequently, I admit that Wal-Mart speaker wire does not sound far better than my MITs (perhaps 3 or 4 times) but this difference was worth the money I was willing to spend. That is the key and is obvious in all situations. I am an electronics engineer and have even tested cables with a precision oscilloscope and impedance calculations and find small differences. AS A LAST NOTE, THIS IS MY OPINION and am not belittling anyone else's no matter how moronic it is.

By the way, I agree contact cleaner and paste is a good idea.
oh man this is getting painful...
little difference between zip cord & Grand Reference?
...sure sounds moronic to me...
No doubt this is based upon extensive experience; & how does that scope sound anyway?
Hi George: Any way possible to shorten the speaker cable runs (considerably) without increasing the IC length (@ all and/or very little)? This configuration will give you better sound and will also make it much less painful to invest in better speaker cables. Also what is the budget? Sorry, I do not have any experience with cable runs this long.
I agree with ALL of the above. Now let me tell you truth : )

Keep ALL of your cables as short as possible ( within reason ).

If you must use long speaker cables ( more than about 10' at most ), use something other than a side by side design ( aka zip cord, lamp cord, monster type, twin-lead, etc..) for best results. That type of design is best suited for low frequency response at the expense of other frequency ranges. While You DO have to worry about the gauge, but you also have to worry about other electrical measurements such as inductance, capacitance, nominal impedance, etc... I would suggest something that was of a heavy gauge i.e. at least 12 gauge and of low inductance. Something along the lines of Audioquest, Axon, XLO, Kimber, Nordost, etc... all make good yet reasonably priced stuff. Each brand and model may have their own "flavour", so talk to someone that is knowledgable before buying or try with the option to buy ala "The Cable Company".

Make sure that all of your connections are clean and tight. This means on all of your component cables and at the amp and speakers. If you have nothing to clean them with ( Q tips and a high purity rubbing alcohol will work if nothing else ), then simply remove them and re-insert them into the proper places. This will break up any oxidation or corrosion that is taking root and re-seat all of the contacts to fresh metal. Careful routing of signal cables away from power cords should also be done at this time.

Spend the necessary amount of time placing the speakers for optimum performance. There are a LOT of different approaches on how to do this, so do some reading on the various websites that are available. Speaker placement is one of the biggest factors in the overall tonal balance and spacial characteristics of your system.

Disregard all of the comments here ( mine included ) and enjoy your tunes and system : ) Sean

$500.00 or less for two channels. I run a bryston 3B ST with the Reference 60v2s. LOVE THEM as well.
Glad you love them. That is the main point, afterall. Also I meant zip cord was 3 to 4 times Worse than my MITs. I got it swapped around. Maybe that is why Bob contributed nothing in his post.

In all wires running near each other, capacitance can be a problem especially when electromagnetically coupled with the wires' inductance - something that will invariably occur in any pair. The capacitance is between the wires and inductance is in series. This coupling will cause slight signal phase variations in the current due to flux variations due to frequency changes, known as ringing, so there will effectively be ghost frequencies "contaminating" the sound (visible on an oscope). Whether these are audible or not is the question since they generally will be only at very high frequencies, but regardless, it is always good to have runs of wires separated by at least a couple inches where possible to eliminate capacitance. However, with increasing length, the capacitace decreases and inductance increases so there is an optimal length acheivable (not too long and not too short).

All of this is true UNLESS you have well shielded cables - the main design objective of all good audio cables. Best way to not have contamination is to not let it "in" in the first place - something zip cord cannot do hardly. This is the condensed version of wire dynamics and illustrates why copper zip-cord wire is not much different than copper Valhalla wire. The cost difference is mainly in the shielding and somewhat wire quality with the main objective to lower inductance (and resistance although that is more of a efficiency solution than audio-noise solution) and to shield from the flux of neighboring cables. MIT attempts to correct some of these phase effects, that nevertheless happen - nothing is perfect remember!, with their passive element boxes in the cables but I am not convinced that they do a whole lot since excellent correction of these problems is only really acheivable with ACTIVE elements (as used in balanced amps and preamps with balanced connections) but then you have a catch-22 situation because active elements add noise themselves.

I left out many details but it does not matter since your ears can tell you everything you need to know. I said all this to objectively support my argument above (not to mention the well-known Law of Diminishing Returns...). Just listen and see what you budget will allow. For MIT, I find audio advisor to have good prices on new stuff but Ebay is the best in general if you ask me.
George, although my personal opinion of MIT cables differs from Aball's, he apparently knows your speakers and I don't. My advice is don't ignore anything said above, except that which I take it you have already ignored. If you are interested in cables, read through some of the threads here and visit Audioasylum's cable asylum. Lots of do it yourself (DIY) ideas there.

You don't say anything about your source (e.g., cd player), but as was said above, start first with speaker placement. The position of your speakers, their relation to each other and to everything else in your room that will reflect soundwaves, including, but not limited to floor, walls and ceiling, will have more of an impact on bass, soundstaging and imaging than anything else you do. Just experiment.

If you can't move your speakers because of the configuration of your room or the veto power of someone else with whom you share your room, you may have to be satisfied with the bass, imaging and soundstaging that you have now. And if that is a significant compromise from the best sound that your speakers are capable of delivering, I would not waste my money chasing after cables. No cable is going to make up for a real problem in the way your speakers interact with your room.

Have fun.

Thanks everyone for responding! :)

My sources are an Arcam CD92, Magnum Dynalab 101 Tuner and a Beogram 3404 TT. Speaker placement is good: 6-7' apart, 8-9 from couch, 2 from rear wall and 7 from sides. Changing location is not an option. I like the sound now, but I'd like to squeeze as much out of the system as possible. MORE MORE MORE! I'm sure everyone relates to that! :)
From what I've hear so far, I should hear a positive difference with better cable i.e. anything other than the home depot 12awg zip cord I'm using currently.
Moving the electronics closer isn't really an option for a couple of reasons; the "honey do" list is too long to warrant a battle at this time. :) So upgrading the speaker cable is the way to go. I could move the power amp but that puts the long ICs out of my budget.

Again. thanks for the help. Please feel free to comment on my ramblings. I like the abuse :) :)

George: Why not try 30' runs of the MIT T2 cable from Audio Advisor (I will never deal with them again after three transactions, but many have had good dealings with them). They should run about half your budget and are returnable within 30 days if not satisfied. From what I have read the network cables are good for long runs and from what I have heard the MIT's soften the HF's a bit which you and your's may or may not like in the system. The T2's do offer a sizeable sound stage.