Boy, i had to open my big mouth on this one, didn't i??? After typing out several different responses, i find it very hard to cover all of the bases in a "somewhat" easy to follow along with manner. I kept having to go back and alter / add bits of info every time i did this, making the posts less and less coherent while trying to fill in all of the blanks. I know that if i don't fill in all of the blanks, someone is going to step in with a pointer to demonstrate all of the flaws that i leave behind and rap my knuckles with a ruler. None the less, i'm going to give this a try in a bit. I may opt for a "section by section" series of multiple posts as i think it will make things both easier to digest AND allow for questions, corrections and updates as we go.
It really is very hard to try and post something like this as it is easy to get side-tracked on specific parts of the subject while overlooking / neglecting to mention other important aspects or variables that can arise. This is where outside help & questions can make a big difference.
Other than that, i would like to add one comment to the Twl / Pabelson / Roger Russell debate taking place. That is, i would think that most of Russell's info and opinions are based on his results of testing using Macintosh electronics and McIntosh speakers. Given that their amps have an inductive output transformer on every amp made back then, and their speakers use multitudes of drivers with a complex crossover circuit, i can see how subtleties in speaker cabling could get lost in the mix. After all, if you swamp a circuit with a million different parts / ingredients, the percentage that each individual part / ingredient plays becomes less and less of the end result.
As such, the use of a single full range driver with no crossover as driven by an amplifier that is directly coupled ( no output transformer ) will be FAR more revealing of sonic subtleties than a more complex amplifier / multi-way speaker interphase ever could be. This is because there is less to get in the way of the signal, resulting in a "purer" look at the actual characteristics of the cables under test.
As a case in point, Stehno, Twl and i have all run single driver "full range" speakers before. With that in mind, we've all come to the same conclusion. That is, speaker cabling that has a high strand count sounds measurably worse than cabling using a very low or single strand count. Is this simply a coincidence? Given the differences in our systems and our various responses to different types of gear, i think not. In fact, Stehno and i have both agreed that there was a specific speaker cable that we had both tried independently of one another and had absolutely identical, albeit horrible, results with. I'm pretty confident that if Twl had tried this speaker, using completely different amplification and a different speaker design, he too would have had a similar response. The fact that this cable has gotten fabulous reviews, both in glossy rags and here at Agon and over at AA, makes me cringe everytime i think about it.
What i'm getting at is, would Roger Russell have a different point of view and / or achieved different results if the variables were altered? Quite possibly. Will we ever know that? Probably not. As such, Roger is simply reporting his results and opinions based on the testing that they performed under those specific conditions. Whether or not those conditions and the results obtained are worthy of "universal application" is up to what one wants to believe as an individual. My beliefs, speaking as an individual and based on testing that i have conducted and experienced, are completely contrary to what Mr Russell states in that article.
The fact that Dunlavy's speaker cable test results basically mirrored those of McIntosh's may have something to do with the fact that Dunlavy's speakers used something like 30 parts in each crossover network. Like i said, the more ingredients in the pie, the less you can tell what each ingredient as an individual part is contributing to the total flavour as presented to us. As such, keeping the amplifier / speaker interphase simpler may be the key to a higher level of "positive" results during blind listening tests when comparing various speaker cables. That, and finding suitable participants with good ears. Sean