Unusual parallel speaker cables - DIY

While searching for an inexpensive, home built, speaker cable that would give me improved performance on my system I discovered something that surprised me. By combining two different speaker cables in parallel I got not only the best characteristics of each cable but vastly improved imaging and instrument definition as well.

I tried quite a few different (and low cost) combinations of wires and cables looking for something that made a positive improvement over standard 2 wire speaker cable. My speakers can be bi-wired so I included several variations of bi-wiring in my experiments as well. I ended up with two cable types that showed promise but neither one got everything quite right by itself. You would naturally think I might try bi-wiring with both cables but previous experiments using two different wire types bi-wired did not give the desired results. So what about putting both wires in parallel to just one set of speaker terminals? At first I thought, no way, you can't get the best of both wires just by using them both together. But then why not just try it? I did and was blown away by the result. First I'll describe the wires I used and what each one did on its own and then I will describe the sound of the combined cables.

The first wire I'll call the high frequency cable because that is where it showed the best performance. I had some tubular tinned copper braid wire that was about 3/4" wide when flattened. (If I understand the dimensioning of the braid correctly, that would make it about 1/2" I.D. when in tubular form.) Therefore it should be similar to Belden 8669. I laid out two runs of this 3/4" wide braid side by side (see photographs).


I reasoned that this configuration should provide low inductance without being high in capacitance (as would be the case if the runs were right on top of each other). This is similar to what Nordos does with their Valhalla cable; but of course they have other tricks as well as this one. Since I was just proto-typing this I used the simplest insulation I could. For each wire I laid the wire in the middle of 2" clear packing tape (laid out length wise along the wire). I then folded the edges of the tape over the wire to completely cover the braid. After finishing both wires I laid out another piece of 2" clear packing tape flat on a table. Then I placed each wire on this tape side by side. I then finished by covering the arrangement with a top layer of packing tape. At the ends I wrapped each wire separately with a few rounds of the same packing tape. I bunched up the braid into a tight bundle and placed that into a banana plug connector. Can you come up with a better insulation scheme? I'm sure you can. I don't expect the packing tape will provide a long term solution. This wire, used as a speaker lead by itself, provided very good high frequency performance. Transients were sharp and clear. The room ambient details were very good. Imaging was also generally good. The only problem with this wire was the lack of bass. I was surprised that the bass was so poor because the equivalent gauge of this wire is quite heavy. Perhaps it is the tinning on the wire that is causing the problem? The bass was so lacking that instruments and even voices lacked the fullness that would be provided by a balanced frequency response. The Belden wire is about $4.50 a foot, I already had this wire around so it cost me nothing. I'm sure you can find something cheaper. I suspect tubular braid is not required, so a flat braid should be fine.

The second wire I'll call the low frequency cable because this wire had very good low end performance but not as good of high frequency performance as the flat cable above. This is standard 2-wire, OFC, speaker wire, but of a heavy gauge (8 AWG). This was Audio Research 8 AWG OFC with a PVC jacket that I got for $1.00 a foot. This is not real high end stuff but one thing I did like was the distance between the two wires was small. I have seen a similar low cost speaker wire that had quite a bit of space between the conductors and this will tend to increase the inductance. This wire was pretty good all by itself. The bass and mid frequencies were very good. The high frequencies were good but not great. The imaging of this cable was not nearly as good as the flat braid. Neither were the room ambient details present.

Both cables were prepared like normal speaker wires with simple banana plugs on either end. The plugs were also low cost units at something like $5 for a set of 4 (flea market specials). Both cables were plugged into the speaker and the amplifier (also see photographs) placing the cables in parallel.


The results....well!

I had hoped that putting the speaker leads in parallel would give me the high frequency response of the braid cable with the bass response of the 8 AWG cable without anything quirky happening. In real life things seldom work out so simply and so well. However, when I tried this it worked! Not only did I get the frequency response I wanted, with both ends filled out, but I got a bonus I never expected, the imaging was fantastic. The best (but perhaps not the most accurate) description of what I heard was holographic imagining.

The best way to explain the sound I had was to say the instruments and the voices now had there own distinctive space and that there was space in between instruments. Each voice and each instrument was distinctive and they did not interfere with each other. Each instrument or voice had a fullness or body to it (more 3D than 2D). With any other combination of speaker wires I had an issue balancing the voice and the instruments. Either I ended up a center stage voice that dominated the sound (making it difficult to hear the instruments details) or the off center instruments dominated making the voices hard to make out. With this new combination of speaker cables all voices and all instruments were clear and could co-exist, even at similar levels, without interfering with each other. The room ambient details were also superior with this combined cable. In fact with exceptional recordings the sound stage seemed like it could wrap right around your head. With many other cables when the instrument or voice on the sound stage comes from the speaker position you had the clear impression that the sound emanated from the speaker. With this new cable combination even when the sound came from the direction of the speaker the sound did not seem like it emanated from the speaker. Instead it appeared to come from a musical instrument that happened to be at the same position as the speaker. It's hard to describe but that is how I can best express it.

One thing unusual about my set up that you need to know just in case it makes a different, the low frequency wires were 10 feet long and the high frequency wires were 8 feet long. Was this on purpose? No. I only had enough braid on hand to make 8 foot leads. This left the leads hanging above the floor for one speaker. I could shorten the longer low frequency wires so they also hang the same but I hate to cut a wire, especially when experimenting. I reasoned that the sound wavelengths are so long that any difference in path length should be insignificant. However, in case this assumption is wrong, I thought everyone should know what I did.

The difference between the two pairs of cables in parallel and a single standard speaker wire pair was quite significant so I would recommend others try this. If it works the same for you as it did for me you won't be disappointed.

If you try this and it works well for you (even a variation of this idea) please post your results so others can learn from your experiences.

Good luck.

I would check carefully that you do not have a contact problem somewhere. It sure looks as though the additional cable is adding weight and causing a significant bending moment on your banana plugs and binding posts. FWIW - this may be affecting contact resitance either from the banana to the speaker binding post or at the amplifier end. It may also be possible that internally you have a contact problem which is benefitting from the heavy weight or twisting applied to the binding posts.

Your binding posts look as though they have a screw on them and the bending moment may actually help make a better contact with the crossover jumper wire. I notice you use a solid stiff wire for the crossover jumper - I would add that unless you have severely squashed this jumper wire with vice grip tightness then you might experience high contact resistance on one side or the other due to the stiffness of the wire (my preference would be for stranded wire with a high number of thin strands to ensure good contact).

Imagine also that if this contact resistance were being affected by the music you play and the ensuing vibration of the speakers - once again if the added heavy cable weight is bending the banana plugs into the binding posts perhaps you are able to maintain better contact.

FWIW- I'd throughly check your contacts and binding posts internally and extrenally. Contact resistance or a cold solder joint will explain a lot in audio. Magic properties of wires notwithstanding.
BTW - I'd also get rid of the bananas - I don't like these - it is far better to crush a stranded speaker wire severely in a binding post than rely on a $5 banana pin connector that may or may not be the correct size/tolerance for your binding post...plenty of stuff is made in china these days and the engineering tolerances and QC is not quite up to German engineering standards...
BTW - not to blame low cost $5 chinese banana plugs unfairly but in all the messing around it may also be possible that you have bent one of the banana plugs imperceptably and this is what is giving you a contact resistance issue whereby all the contact is at one point or two tiny points rather than over a large surface contact area...a tiny piece of fluff from the carpet might be another explanation.
Hi Shadorne,

While I totally agree that the mechanical load on the banana terminals are not ideal, please keep in mind this is the results of rapid experimentation. There is no expectation that others would precisely duplicate the set-up.

Rather, my point was that excellent and improved performance was obtained in spite of less that ideal components.

Although, you may be correct that contact resistances are less with the added weight I do not believe that contact resistance is responsible for the overall excellent performance.

Anyway, for anyone else wanting to try this cabling method they can take your points into consideration.

I think Shadorne is right about those banana plugs. I would take up his suggestion and try to go direct. You may be amazed at the result.
Happy listening,
Shadorne and Detlof,

I may just look into your suggestion regarding direct connection of the speaker wires. I do have a question though, are you suggesting that the stranded wire goes through the hole in the center of the binding post and then is squished down by the binding post nut? If so how do you keep from cutting the strands of wire on the edges of the holes? Also, my configuration has two wires both about 8 AWG, how can that fit in the center hole?

Regarding the solid wire hooking up the two bi-wiring posts on the speaker, again this was a quick fix; I did have stranded wire in place but it was silver (came with the speakers) and I found that the solid 10 AWG copper jumper gave a little better results. Long term you are right it could cause a problem.

Are you guys suggesting that I might have a contact resistance problem with the banana plugs that is responsible for giving me the excellent performance I have been getting, or are you suggesting that the performance could be that much better without the banana plugs?

Thanks for the feed back.

Ha! Love it! Kudos! I love seeing someone with curiosity do experiments to test things out.

You got it! You found out that seemingly little changes can yield sizable results with cables! That's the same kind of tests I conducted for years to learn the benefit of cables.

Now, try doubling the home made cables and biwirig with double sets! I bet you'll hear another huge difference!

Excellent summary as well!

Enjoy! :)

I have seen contact problems many times in electronics. From batteries to
transformers to plugs and sockets - anyplace that you have a connection. In
some cases it is subtle and contact can be intermittent depending on the
voltage applied. I realize your setup is temporary but the contact resistance
might be part of the experiment. When you twist or add weight to a banana
plug in its socket then the leaf spring designed to create a large contact
surface area may be partially defeated - I can't say either way if it might be
part of what you observed but contact resistance will certainly be an
important part of your connection to your speakers. The very fact you are
going to quite extraordinary lengths to make a contact between amp and
speaker and that you observe a big difference might be a red flag that is all.

It is definitely preferable to squash the wire in the hole in the binding post
and to use wires with a high number of strands - this is better than most
banana plugs which rely on a spring force IMHO. If you cut a few wire strands
in the process then I would not be as concerned as the worry that a banana
pin might not be
making ideal contact. Remember surface area is key....when you change
the way the spring in the banana works by twisting it then you may change
the contact resistance by as much as a factor of 10. If you use a banana that
is not specifically designed for the socket that it goes in then this too can
alter contact resistance by a factor of 10.
Update on parallel speaker wire connections.

As per your suggestions I have made some improvements to the method of connection of the wires to the speaker and the amplifier.

For the amplifier I was able to get the 8 AWG low frequency wire in the hole in the post of the binding post. So now the low frequency wire is a direct connection. Although I couldn't get both the low frequency and high frequency wires in the same hole, I now only have one banana plug in the binding post. I think the mechanics of this connection is better. (See photo.)


The speaker connections proved more of a problem. The hole in the binding post of the speaker was too small to get the 8 AWG wire in it. I came up with an unusual solution that solves several problems at once. I split the bare wire strands into two roughly equal groups. I then twisted each group. I brought the twisted groups up on either side of the binding post. I then crossed the groups over on the far side of the binding post. I crossed the groups a second time and then fed the groups on either side of the second, upper, binding post. On the top side of the second binding post I twisted the groups back together into a single bundle. To this single bundle I added a twist-on wire nut to (a) keep a little tension on the wires on the top side of the upper binding post and (b) keep all the loose strands neat, together and insulated. I was then able to tighten the binding post nuts down quite snug.


By doing this I have much better electrical contact to the binding post from the wire. Also, I am able to add the recommended stranded jumper wire without adding anything new to the mix (it is the same copper as the main speaker wire and in fact an extension of the main speaker wire).

Finally, as with the amplifier, I had to add the high frequency wire via standard banana plugs. But again, with only a single plug per binding post the mechanical loading is much better.


Did this bring another night-and-day improvement? Unfortunately no. However, I would say there was a minor improvement in the bass response. Also, it seems like the sound is delivered with more ease. It is the same basic sound as before but it is like there is no strain or harshness to the musical at all.

The fact that there was no large improvement this time is not a surprise to me. I had such a big improvement with the parallel, flat cable/standard cable connection that I thought I must be getting most of the benefits of the wiring. However, any little improvement is welcomed!



p.s. Let us all know if you try this and it works well for you!
Nice I like the way you did the speakers.
This is your binding post.

You could also consider to order the appropriate WBT banana plug and make your connection even more secure.
As a follow up I have added locking bananas for the high frequency wires (OK, they are inexpensive ones).


On the plus side I was able to make the connections without any solder. However, to do this I had to make some modifications because of the heavy gauge of the wire. First I unbraided about an inch of the strands. I then stuffed as many strands as I could into the connector and crimped that. The remaining strands were brought up around the outside of the connector and then I added a crimp ring (gold plated F59 crimp ring) around the outside and crimped it in place. Overall it made a nice connection.

The sound, even a little more refined.

I still love these cables. They have made a tremendous difference in my system.

{System: Totem Hawk speakers, SimAudio Moon I-5 integrated amp and SimAudio Moon Equinox CD player.}