The Intellectual People Podcast - Galen Gareis (Former Belden Wire Designer)

Former Belden Wire Designer Galen Gareis explains how cables need to meet certain standards and the design parameters around them. He also speaks about the actual science and the subjective side within hifi audio.

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Good stuff, long, must listen !
You know it's intellectual when the very first comment contains the word snake-oil. Plus you know the guy knows what he's talking about, he used to work for Belden, one of the largest spark plug wire makers in the US. 

Oh wow, just noticed "The Intellectual People Podcast" also covers such deep philosophical territory as, "Does Digital Sound Better?" and "Need a Unique Mail-Order Gift?"

While I appreciate the position Galen takes, and his bravery in actually putting design elements forward in cables, to me this is lose/lose position. Nothing to gain, as the two groups are firmly entrenched in their bunkers:

1) The measuremantilsts: no matter what measurements you show them, they will never buy anything more expensive than hardware store stuff. Period.

2) the subjective people: measurements mean nothing. Proof is in the pudding. Read: actual experience 

It was easy to imagine videos like this being made 30 to 40 years ago. Back in the late 1980's to early 1990's the idea of wire being an important component was rare and unusual. Stereo Review was after all one of the nations largest high end audio magazines, and their most respected reviewer and tester Julian Hirsch was a staunch proponent of measurement uber alles.   

According to old Julian, and all those unfortunates like myself who grew up reading him, wire gauge is all that matters. If they measure the same, they are the same. End of story. 

The story is of course a wet dream fantasy of all those thinking they can do high end on the cheap. Sorry, but your lamp cord just ain't a gonna cut it.  

Even back then we knew better. J Gordon Holt had been writing at the same time, only his view being the listener is the final arbiter of performance.  

We ran this race, Stereo Review came up a day late and a dollar short, literally- or maybe it was millions of dollars short. Stereo Review, deservedly defunct, can now be found archived on-line, having been dispatched to a much earned plot in the graveyard of bad ideas. 

What continues to astound me is here we are now approaching half a freaking century and yet still all these luddites and Rip Van Winkels are caught in a Rocky Horror Time Warp.  

Let's do the time warp again! Only this time maybe not get stuck in the past?
I have just submitted two weeks ago an in depth review of the Iconoclast by Belden top line IC (both RCA and XLR) and SC cables, and BAV (Belden Audio/Video) Power Cords to appear at I used them extensively with no less than six speaker systems of varying genres in a variety of configurations.

Briefly, these are the most impressive cables I have handled, and they are built according to a stringent set of criteria in terms of optimization of geometry, conductor material, AWG, etc., all vetted by measurement. They are the most serious effort at making a measurably idealized cable I have encountered.

Galen Gareis is a world-class authority (retired Principle Product Engineer from Belden) on cable properties. He is a humble man with an encyclopedic knowledge of cables, which becomes evident when you watch him discuss it. The Audiophile Society of San Francisco had a 3 hour video of Galen plowing through in-depth measurements, testing, etc. involved in Iconoclast cables; I believe it also is on Youtube. I encourage those interested in a cable suitable to build superior systems to pay special attention to Iconoclast by Belden Cables. I hope the community will enjoy my review. :)

Thanks for the feedback!
My Cabledyne Silver Virtuoso speaker cables were designed by an ex Belden engineer too, (worked there for over 20 years) and he didn't put out a video but they're some damn fine sounding cables. Maybe he should have. Maybe it was timing. Too bad the company is no more. 

All the best,
Are you now a cable engineer? How would you know any of what you spew in paragraph 2 other than reading it on the Iconoclast website? I have no problem with your opinion on the cables and also your belief in the veracity of the science, but enough is enough. 
Doug does not need to be a tailor to know what suits him
“Nothing to gain, as the two groups are firmly entrenched in their bunkers:

1) The measuremantilsts: no matter what measurements you show them, they will never buy anything more expensive than hardware store stuff. Period.

2) the subjective people: measurements mean nothing. Proof is in the pudding. Read: actual experience.


You’ve nailed it! 
You missed my point completely. If doug wants to be known as a journalist with any sense of objectivity, he needs to avoid being a propaganda conduit for the manufacturers. Simply parroting what Galen says, one of many cable "studs" by the way, is not journalism but marketing. This is exactly the type of nonsense that has rendered the opinion of most audio reviewers moot.
The community will clearly see the extent to which I went in working on the Iconoclast article, and the basis for my comments when the review is published. 

I guess you just dont understand. Has nothing to with hard work. What you wrote will not stand and I am completely shocked that you dont see the problem.
What seems to be the problem officer?
Briefly, these are the most impressive cables I have handled, and they are built according to a stringent set of criteria in terms of optimization of geometry, conductor material, AWG, etc., all vetted by measurement. They are the most serious effort at making a measurably idealized cable I have encountered.

and.... the liquid metal eliminates the frozen atomic lattice structure that brings about the problems with conductivity vs dielectric and how they play off one another. thus requiring such perfected geometry and so on.

The liquid metal eliminates almost all the problems encountered in audio ’wire’ cable design ----by simply not having them.

Well if you dont understand you probably never will but I will give it one more try. 

So Doug is supposed to be a reviewer who works for an ezine; both he and the zine are supposed to be objective. But, and I doubt Doug did a bunch of research on cable design before he wrote his article, he claims all of these attributes that read like they came off the Iconoclast website. More forgivable, but just as irresponsible, would be if he was "educated" by Galen on cable design.  

Third paragraph reads like a biography written about Hitler by Goebbels. Now I am not saying either Galen or Doug are Nazis or even bad people (obvious but necessary to point this out in this day and age) but what he wrote is nothing more than a honeyed synopsis on Gavin to add credibility to the cable and the company. 

So this comes off as an ad because it is an ad. I have no problem with any reviewer stating that he loves a cable but this is way over the top and lousy journalism from a supposed objective source of information.

So I am faced with this type of ad and what am I or anyone supposed to think? I can only guess that this type of journalism is written only with gaining favor with the manufacturer in mind. Why not just have the manufacturer write the review?

Perhaps its just me because no one has piped in, but I have had enough to this type of stuff. Hurts the industry and should insult everyone's intelligence. At least it should cause a very long pause.  

audition_audio starts with a wrong assumption in regard to me once again, and develops as string of baseless conjectures.

I have for 14 years regularly conducted reviews of cables, and of my own accord, not for fulfillment of requests of the magazine, issued interviews with cable designers to learn as much as I can about cable design. The reviews are typically technical. I can produce the Interviews, if you wish. At one time Constantine Soo, Publisher was shocked to learn I had issued a technical Interview with almost all reviews I conduct, never published, and he discussed the possibility of publishing them. Seeing as how I have corrected audition_audio’s baseless insinuations prior, and he/she keeps producing them, I am stating publicly that I have every one of these interviews to prove that I have delved into cable manufacturing more than average.

In the case of Iconoclast, perhaps audition_audio is unaware that a particular aspect of Galen’s intent in making cables is to make design information available to all, thus lengthy technical videos are on youtube for all to see. Go look at them and tell me I’m wrong about my statements about the depth of design knowledge. I watched some of those videos. Perhaps some people here are threatened by the information about the company and the cables. Anyone can watch the videos and see for themselves the depth of expertise.

I am being mischaracterized once again by audition_audio as though my interests are questionable. My intent on contributing my initial post about Galen and Iconoclast was because, 1. It may seem obvious to most that this IS a thread about Iconoclast, and 2. I have what I feel is an important article to share with the community. My intent was to call attention to my writing, which in the article addresses the old objectivist/subjectivist debate regarding cabling. The post was an ad for my writing, not the cables. The discussion about Iconoclast and Galen were to substantiate that this would be a serious look at cable design in an obvious article about how cables sound. audition_audio had no clue about that, but instead of asking questions, he/she jumps to conclusions and piles on.

I requested previously that audio_audition kindly refrain from attempting to diminish my reputation by making insinuations, but he/she does not refrain. I have corrected him/her publicly repeatedly, but it persists. It would be nice if audition_audio would learn to ask questions instead of letting imagination run wild. :(

Why am I not discussing with audition_audio? Because I’m not inclined to talk with people whom I have corrected, and still attempt to damage my reputation.
This entire debate is a living proof of what I state at the beginning of these thread ---- the position of Galen is a lose / lose proposition.

The "objectivists" hate cable. They believe they do nothing, just as most of the things audio.

They basically have the following attitude:

1) Cable manufacturers that do not mention anything on technical aspects of their building process: snake oil. Hate.

2) Cable manufacturers who explain all technical aspects, and provide measurements: hate even more. Big time snake oil. Why? Because it rattles their own theory and the foundation of their beliefs.

This is why this is all lose / lose. No matter what technical explanation one provides, objectivists will never be happy. They will always say things like: beyond audible effects, measurements are done wrong, no impact on sound, blah, blah, blah....
No Doug your article is an attempt to draw attention to both your writing and the cables. An attempt to sell both. I am done and I will try to refrain from commenting in the future because you obviously dont see the problem and never will.

Some very interesting comments for sure!  
Guys, I think maybe the point here is missed...Galen, knew cables sounded different and went about trying to "measure" why, but more importantly challenge himself to design a cable that both measured well and sounded great.  To his credit he states that the better copper wire (Ultra Pure OFC) sounds better but can't be measured...even though the basic measurements are the same - got it? An engineer admitting to audiophiles what we have been saying - "I don't care about measurement, it sounds better!" Many engineers would never admit this- ...Lot's of variables go into design (not just resistance, capacitance and inductance) and the variables are interdependent...i.e. change one and the others change. So which ones are most important? If you read his papers and watch the video I think he would suggest TIME. Then it seems he challenged himself to design a cable by measurement and then see if the design parameters resulted in a good sounding cable by, he used measurements and his ears. And sent his cables to a lot of audiophiles for listening tests...I really can't fault him for his approach. Why don't you just audition them like every other cable you are interested in? See if you like them? 

I wouldn't fault Doug for listening and posting his listening results. He liked them - compared to other very well respected expensive cables. Just because he listed the manufacturers design goals - which btw, MANY cable reviews I read state some, if not all design goals and approaches, doesn't diminish what he heard when he tested the cables on multiple systems... I appreciate when reviewers write their opinions as it broadens my choices and thinking when frankly, I can't begin to test as many things as dozens of various reviewers can. 
Interestingly, referring to time.... The liquid metal works best (compared to all other potentials in the 'cable' world) in the time domain.

re reviewers, one reads their works and then becomes familiar with how that person does things, and from that, one can gain useful information for one's own self search in the audio world. It's a simple equation.
Have any Audiogon regulars heard them?
Yes. At least one, @douglas_schroeder . He wrote a review about them. See above
I read the very positive review but I haven’t heard much else. I was wondering if others could corroborate.