What About Loom Theory?


Can someone please direct me to information regarding loom theory? I've seen it referred to a number of times on AudiogoN—people saying they endorse it and so on—, but no one seems to say what it is.

If you know the loom theory, would you please articulate it or direct me to somewhere where this theory is articulated?

Thanks,

Aaron
aaronknock
I think you misread it. It's not loom, but looney theory. It's basic premise is that if you do it once, do it multiple times in order to achieve greater synergy. It only applies to cables. For instance, if you have a power cable, then have your interconnects and and your speaker cables by the same manufacturer. I strongly caution you that this theory doesn't apply to any other components but cables. For instance, there's far more synergy to be gained by mixing and matching preamps to different manufacturers' power amps. Also, never have the same brand loudspeakers as you do power amps. It really is looney.
Zero response from Google on "loom theory" so I have no clue.
Though I doubt it is looney theory. LOL
Maybe some new fantasy from the same folks who added Quantum ti the cable vocabulary.
In other words just 'spin' to boggle your mind.
Assuming you are referring to use of cables and power cords from a single manufacturer, as Onhwy61 inferred, see this thread. The thread initially focused just on power cords, but eventually broadened in scope to address all cables.

As is usual in audio, there was no consensus.

Regards,
-- Al
"Loon Theory," yes. Self explanatory...
Nordost is one company that promotes this philosophy in regards to selecting cables for a system. You can see their explanation for it in their document entitled Foundation Theory, under the section heading "Interconnects and Speaker Cables". They say that it applies to power cables as well, and they also state that a more expensive cable is not always better in specific applications.
Ok, well so far it seems like "loom theory" is pretty much synonymous with "system synergy": a synergy achieved by matching loudspeaker cables and interconnects, or, power cables, or all three together perhaps.

Thanks for the info. If anyone else has anything to add, please do.
I'm not sure it's "loom theory" as much as "loom speculation" which hypothesizes that one can/will achieve better sound if all cables are from the same manufacturer.
I'm sure you can get great sound that way but I know from experience that it can also be achieved by mixing and matching brands. So where does that leave the "loom theory"? Pretty meaningless IMO. Probably not worth any more time than already expended here.
Ah, thank you, Bill_k. I think you've satisfied my inquiry.
There is no technical justification in the Nordost explanation, just a digestable analogy.
Wouldn't it be any cable manufacturers interest to "promote" the "loom theory"?
Having experimented with numerous cables for years,Tara, Kimber, Stealth, Nordost, Shunyata, Audioquest and others as mix and match and otherwise, I am a firm believer in the loom theory. Every cable has a character. Some provide better leading edge, some better tone, some lusher mids, some fuller bass, others more impactful bass, etc. As there is no perfectly neutral component, there is no perfect cable. Among the above brands, there are no slackers and none with any major weaknesses that I've heard. But for my system, there was one that I preferred as a complement to the sound of my components. Whenever I inject another brand in the mix it interferes with the overall sound that I'm after. Now-- if a source component needs a boost in one area or a little bit of tempering on another (e.g.-high end too brittle or too prominent), I have, in the past, put the appropriate cable in that spot. But for me the better solution is to gather the components that best provide the sound you seek and then wire the system with a loom that does no harm to or complements that sound. This goes for cables. I have not experimented with power cords in the same way so I cannot say that they form an essential part of the loom.
Others may decide to color each component. I guess I just don't have the patience for that.
"Loom theory" is not unlike saying you should have the same tire model on all four wheels of your car.
Like anything else in audio, the only way to know if it works for you is to try it.
Listen to a loom that you think might work and then try to change a few cables here or there and see what it does to the overall sound.
The loom theory works for me----and my loom is not Nordost.
If there really was something to the loom thing, then why doesn't it apply to the rest of our systems? Why not have all our components from one manufacturer and reap all that synergy stuff. Now if the objection to that is something along the lines that no single manufacturer has the expertise to make entire systems, then what makes you think an interconnect maker knows how to design a digital cable or even a power cord? Just because they look similar does not mean they are they operate the same. An eel can look like a snake, but one is a fish and the other is a reptile.
nordost would be foolish to not recommend a loom! Come on people....think!
The original poster asked for an explanation of what loom theory was, so I provided the only documented source that I know of where it is explained. I'm not promoting it or saying that it's the answer for everyone, just trying to answer the poster's question.
Onhwy61
I have no experience with the loom theory as it applies to digital cables or pcs---only with interconnects and speaker cables. You make a valid point in that some manufacturers are known for their preamps, others for their amps, others for a source and many of us mix and match components. Once the sound of the component combo worked for me (and the system is only as good as the weakest link at this point), that's when I try to preserve/maximize its strengths and minimize its weaknesses with a single loom. This will not work for everyone--but it sure is easy and it did work for me. The only area where I thought of varying was the ic between source and pre and that's because I am not completely satisfied with the sound of my cdp. But no cable preserved its clarity while providing better heft. I tried other cdps which did give me what I was seeking. I will eventually upgrade my source to one of those--- a Wadia, MSB or ARC source, but for now I'm ok with my BelCanto and my loom.
Q: >> what makes you think an interconnect maker knows how to design a digital cable or even a power cord?<<

A: Careful listening plus understanding the materials, design and theory behind a manufacturer's offerings.
Here is a summary and further elaboration of my comments in the thread referenced in my post above:

1)The sonic effects of a power cord will depend to a significant degree on the sensitivity of the component the cord is used with to variation of AC voltage; on how much the current draw of the component fluctuates as a function of the dynamics of the music (that fluctuation being very small for preamplifiers, source components, and Class A amplifiers, while being large for Class AB amplifiers and larger still for Class D amplifiers); on the AC line voltage that is present at the particular location; on the magnitude and frequency characteristics of RFI which may be generated by the component and fed back into the power cord; and on the sensitivity of other components in the system to that RFI.

2)The sonic effects of a speaker cable will depend to a significant degree on the impedance of the speaker; on how the impedance of the speaker varies as a function of frequency; on the criticality of woofer damping to the particular speaker; on whether or not the amplifier utilizes a feedback loop from its output; on the sensitivity of the amplifier to spurious energy that may be introduced at its output and couple from there into that feedback loop; and on other speaker-dependent variables.

3)The sonic effects of an analog interconnect will depend to a significant degree on the output impedance of the component driving the cable; on whether the cable is balanced or unbalanced; on the susceptibility of the components that are being connected to ground loop effects; on whether the signals being conducted are line level or phono level; if they are phono level on whether the cartridge is a moving magnet or a moving coil; and on other variables.

One interesting example: If an interconnect having relatively high capacitance is compared with one having relatively low capacitance, and if everything else is equal, the higher capacitance cable will produce a duller and more sluggish response in the upper treble region if used as a line-level interconnect (especially if it is driven by a component having high output impedance), due to the interaction of cable capacitance and component output impedance; while the exact opposite result will occur if those same two cables are compared in a phono cable application and driven by a moving magnet cartridge, due to the interaction of cable capacitance and cartridge inductance.

4)The sonic effects of a digital cable will depend to a major degree on the risetime and falltime of the signal that is provided by the component driving the cable; on the propagation velocity of the particular cable; on the happenstance of how well the characteristic impedance of the cable matches the output impedance of the component driving it and the input impedance of the destination component; on the jitter rejection capability of the DAC that is being used; on the susceptibility of the components that are being connected to ground loop-related noise; on the data rate of the signal that is being conducted; on the relationship between cable length, signal risetimes and falltimes, and cable propagation velocity; and on other variables.

One interesting example: It is easily possible for digital cable "A" to outperform digital cable "B" in a given system when both cables are of a certain length, and for cable "B" to outperform cable "A" in that same system if both cables are of some other length. The happenstance of the relationships between cable length, signal risetimes and falltimes, cable propagation velocity, component susceptibility to ground loop-related noise, and the happenstance of how closely the impedances of both components and the cable match, all figure into that.

Given all of these component and system-dependent variables, happenstances, and dependencies, it is hard to conceive of how, as a general rule, a single-manufacturer loom would necessarily stand a greater chance of being optimal than a mixed set. For that matter, it would seem likely to have less chance.

IMO, YMMV.

Regards,
-- Al
Hi Al:
The principles you refer to are unassailable and indeed important variables in cable selection. One other principle that my ears taught me over the years is that a Nordost cable has a different sound than a Cardas cable and, absent an extreme mismatch, that sound will be consistently audible with a large variety of different components.
>>Given all of these component and system-dependent variables, happenstances, and dependencies, it is hard to conceive of how, as a general rule, a single-manufacturer loom would necessarily stand a greater chance of being optimal than a mixed set. For that matter, it would seem likely to have less chance.<<

This may be the case, but given that very little is necessarily true in audio, that gives the claim much less interest or force. Where do we stand if we throw out the word "necessarily"?

It kinda sounds like the claim is saying: because there are so many variables and possible combinations the odds of any single set of power and signal cables working optimally in all possible systems are better for a randomly chosen set of wires than a specific loom. How could we test that?

Or, does the claim say that a loom of power and signal cables selected from the same manufacturer has less chance of working better in a specific system than a random set chosen by, say, a monkey? :) 
 
The audiophile world is filled with anecdotal musings. In some ways it is a positive, but it is also a great flaw.
Jtimothya, the intended meaning of the concluding paragraph of my last post would have come across more clearly if I had worded it as follows:

"Given all of these component and system-dependent variables, happenstances, and dependencies, it is hard to conceive of how, as a general rule, a single-manufacturer loom would stand a greater chance of being optimal than a mixed set. For that matter, it would seem likely to have less chance. These conclusions presume that the mixed set is optimized by a combination of experimentation, research (including exploration of what cable types other users of the same components have found to be optimal for use with each of those components), and development of as good an understanding as possible of the technical factors that are involved."

Gpgr4blu, thanks for your comment. I have no doubt that your observation about Nordost vs. Cardas is correct, based on a great many anecdotal reports I have seen, and on their very different design approaches and technical parameters. My compliments on the fact that you have carefully qualified your statement by indicating that your loom experimentation has not encompassed power cords and digital cables. I would emphasize to others that the technical factors, design considerations, and component dependencies that are involved in the transmission of analog audio signals are pretty much completely different than those that are involved in the transmission of digital signals and AC power.

Regards,
-- Al
>>These conclusions presume that the mixed set is optimized by a combination of experimentation, research (including exploration of what cable types other users of the same components have found to be optimal for use with each of those components), and development of as good an understanding as possible of the technical factors that are involved.<<

Sure, that's where the case must go, but for how long does the choosing last and across what universe of choice does it roam?

The problem with choosing multiple different cables from multiple different vendors is the evaluation process and the prospect for confidence in its results.

Let me come back to another silly car tire analogy to enhance my point about evaluation: Trying to assess the sonic characteristics of a single cable by inserting it into an existing system strikes me as being about as cogent as assessing Bridgestone Blizzak snow tires by mounting one on a car otherwise shod with Pirelli Sottozeroes. Sure, something will be different, but not in a usefully describable way to anyone interested in Blizzaks.

Given possible combinations within a mixed set, when does combination exploration stop? Given an indefinite amount of time and a universe of choice of all cables (to be generous say that is cut in half by recommendations and research), then it may be possible that a mixed set selection could be better in a specific system than a loom chosen for that system. But likely better? I don't see how that conclusion arrives.

(At the end of the day, I suspect that a person who chooses from a set of looms is likely more confident of their choice than someone picking a combination set from a multitude of vendors. But that's just my opinion.)

I believe the case can be pleaded based on some personal experience, but I do not believe it can be established by an argument appealing to the multiply varied electrical characteristics of the wide world of components and their interactions.

A different theory has some (not all) people choosing mixed sets of cables for a couple different reasons that have nothing to do with a belief that mixed sets are somehow more likely to be better: a) they pick individual cables with different colorations because they want to "tune" the sound of a system using or b) they cannot afford to buy a complete loom all at once.

For the OP (perhaps long gone?) here is a link to an article that tries to lay out the loom case. Yes, the article was sponsored by Nordost.
Thanks Al. I always read your posts with interest.