• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Lets talk cables

JJB70

Major Contributor
Joined
Aug 17, 2018
Messages
1,108
Likes
1,840
Location
Milton Keynes, England
Most expensive cables I've ever seen were some HV cables to connect a new power plant to the transmission system. The power plant builder who was contracted under a turn key arrangement omitted to order the cables. By the time this was identified they could only source them from one vendor who realising the situation screwed them for $$$$$$$$$$'s. And they weren't acceptable to my employer who made an agreement to take them to enable completion and handover on condition they were replaced at the builder cost within a year of handover. The turnkey contractor then had to hire an An124 to airlift them to the UK, then pay to swap them out for the originally specified cables. Now they were expensive cables, so expensive even Michael Fremer would've been impressed (it was in the tens of millions of dollars by the end).
 

cjfrbw

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 5, 2018
Messages
303
Likes
261
Whatever rotgut or vaguely decent cables I have stockpiled over the years of fruitless query and expectation bias
IMG_0422.JPG
.
 

boonips

New Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2018
Messages
3
Likes
2
Someone loaned me a DC cable with that sheathing on it. I liked it! :) So I bought some to put on my DC cables. Givens one the good feeling you get when you say, wash your car and then drive it. :)
I buy my cables based on the WAF. I can put my gear where I want and have more cables exposed if she picks out the look. .
 

Shadrach

Active Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2019
Messages
252
Likes
329
I was hoping with all this expertise and discussion that the one question I can't seem to find the answer to would be dealt with.
Say there is an audible difference. How do you work out which cable is better?
 

Empirical Audio

Active Member
Manufacturer
Joined
Mar 10, 2019
Messages
224
Likes
61
Location
Great Northwest, USA
Both analog and digital cables made a difference in my system. I was in the cable business 10 years ago or so and I tried to make as many simulations and measurements as possible. I had access to some powerful modeling software, so I modeled power cables, speaker cables and analog interconnects. I now have access to some jitter measurement equipment that allows me to compare S/PDIF coax cables. Learned some interesting things:

1) 6-feet of PVC insulated stranded 14 gauge power cord has the same inductance as 30-feet of ROMEX in the wall.
2) many stranded copper cables have a lot of oxidation on the strands even before the cable is stranded/fabricated

I avoid un-plated copper stranded cable for this reason. Tin or silver-plated is best if you use copper. Solid copper also fine.

3) conductor metals have an effect on sound quality and it is related to the molecular structure/ductility. The more ductile the conductor metal, the better conductor it is for analog and is less likely to degrade with "working". Working is bending the conductors.

Here is a TDT plot showing two identical silver interconnects, one of which was immersed in liquid nitrogen to break-up the crystal lattice. The LCR measurements of each cable was identical before and after the immersion:

graphs2a.jpg


The red plot is the cable that was immersed in liquid nitrogen. Those will argue that these perturbations are very high frequency, beyond audibility, but believe me, the immersed cable was unlistenable. I threw it away.

As a result, I try to pick OCC pure silver for all of my cables, analog or digital, and they do sound better to me.

4) S/PDIF digital cable can add a little to the jitter or a lot. Depends on the cable. Here are a series of plots comparing various different S/PDIF coax cables:
https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=154425.0

5) it is wise to make the minimum length on any digital cable about 1.5m. This has to do with the reflections affecting the waveform when it is sampled and the resulting jitter. Here is my white-paper:
http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue14/spdif.htm


Steve N.
 

SIY

Major Contributor
Technical Expert
Joined
Apr 6, 2018
Messages
2,447
Likes
4,016
Location
Phoenix, AZ
I was hoping with all this expertise and discussion that the one question I can't seem to find the answer to would be dealt with.
Say there is an audible difference. How do you work out which cable is better?
Depends on the difference. If one makes the system hum and the other one doesn't, the latter is better. If one causes oscillation in the source component, either use as different one or replace the source component with a competent one. If there are tonal balance differences, definitely replace the source component.

And when someone presents charts and graphs to support extraordinary claims about wires and they don't have error bars or R&R data, put your hand firmly over your wallet. Ditto if extraordinary sonic claims are made without controlled listening data.
 
Joined
Sep 6, 2018
Messages
93
Likes
33
I was hoping with all this expertise and discussion that the one question I can't seem to find the answer to would be dealt with.
Say there is an audible difference. How do you work out which cable is better?
I used Nils Lofgren - Keith don’t go song. Pretty good quality recording. After 3.20 there is guitar playing high notes. With cheap cable sound is spiky, slightly metallic, makes u grinch a bit. With good cable sound is balanced and musical, no grinching......frequenzys are more balanced, bottom end is there to make sound full even though notes are high.....made me smile when I noticed it survived this section of the song........ofcourse you need good listening environment to notice this kind of things.....I also suggest that for testing you bring speakers closer to each other, like 1.5 m distance.....with wide stereo field its harder to spot.....
 
Last edited:

SIY

Major Contributor
Technical Expert
Joined
Apr 6, 2018
Messages
2,447
Likes
4,016
Location
Phoenix, AZ
I used Nils Lofgren - Keith don’t go song. Pretty good quality recording. After 3.20 there is guitar playing high notes. With cheap cable sound is spiky, slightly metallic, makes u grinch a bit. With good cable sound is balanced and musical, no grinching......frequenzys are more balanced, bottom end is there to make sound full even though notes are high.....made me smile when I noticed it survived this section of the song........ofcourse you need good listening environment to notice this kind of things.....I also suggest that for testing you bring speakers closer to each other, like 1.5 m distance.....with wide stereo field its harder to spot.....
And this, right here, is why you need to do evaluation double blind.
 

Empirical Audio

Active Member
Manufacturer
Joined
Mar 10, 2019
Messages
224
Likes
61
Location
Great Northwest, USA
I used Nils Lofgren - Keith don’t go song. Pretty good quality recording. After 3.20 there is guitar playing high notes. With cheap cable sound is spiky, slightly metallic, makes u grinch a bit. With good cable sound is balanced and musical, no grinching......frequenzys are more balanced, bottom end is there to make sound full even though notes are high.....made me smile when I noticed it survived this section of the song........ofcourse you need good listening environment to notice this kind of things.....I also suggest that for testing you bring speakers closer to each other, like 1.5 m distance.....with wide stereo field its harder to spot.....
I used to use this track as well and play it at shows, until I realized the warts in it. I have better tracks now.
 
Joined
May 21, 2018
Messages
94
Likes
51
I used to use this track as well and play it at shows, until I realized the warts in it. I have better tracks now.
That track is no way shape or form show material. On "warm" sounding systems youll enjoy it to a degree, the moment you get anything revealing you will hear the errors in actual performance of the artist (errors on guitar), spitting/swallowing noises.
I dont know if that is recorded in such a "revealing" manner for listener to marvel at the micro detail or is it just flatout fail on anything better than a mid budget hi-fi system.
my 5 cents.
 

Empirical Audio

Active Member
Manufacturer
Joined
Mar 10, 2019
Messages
224
Likes
61
Location
Great Northwest, USA
That track is no way shape or form show material. On "warm" sounding systems youll enjoy it to a degree, the moment you get anything revealing you will hear the errors in actual performance of the artist (errors on guitar), spitting/swallowing noises.
I dont know if that is recorded in such a "revealing" manner for listener to marvel at the micro detail or is it just flatout fail on anything better than a mid budget hi-fi system.
my 5 cents.
If you go to shows much, you will still hear this track getting air-time......:facepalm:
 
Joined
Sep 6, 2018
Messages
93
Likes
33
This is intresting.......if you say recording itself has spitting and warts.....then cheap cable had more honest reproduction of the material. Weird. Anyhow I have been using this ”better” cable and experience is very breathtaking, earth shattering lows etc. But maybe cheap one is more real? I keep using better cable though .
 

Empirical Audio

Active Member
Manufacturer
Joined
Mar 10, 2019
Messages
224
Likes
61
Location
Great Northwest, USA
This is intresting.......if you say recording itself has spitting and warts.....then cheap cable had more honest reproduction of the material. Weird. Anyhow I have been using this ”better” cable and experience is very breathtaking, earth shattering lows etc. But maybe cheap one is more real? I keep using better cable though .
This recording definitely has the dynamics and transients. The main risk of using a recording like this is that it might lead you down the garden path. You don't want to be using cables for tone controls.
 
Joined
Sep 6, 2018
Messages
93
Likes
33
Btw. I heard that song also from genelec 8330 sam with sub and all digital, glm calibrated, signal path was all digital from tidal hifi......experience was closer to my better cables than the cheap ones so dont know what to think here.....gene setup didnt make me grinch.....
 

Shadrach

Active Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2019
Messages
252
Likes
329
I used Nils Lofgren - Keith don’t go song. Pretty good quality recording. After 3.20 there is guitar playing high notes. With cheap cable sound is spiky, slightly metallic, makes u grinch a bit. With good cable sound is balanced and musical, no grinching......frequenzys are more balanced, bottom end is there to make sound full even though notes are high.....made me smile when I noticed it survived this section of the song........ofcourse you need good listening environment to notice this kind of things.....I also suggest that for testing you bring speakers closer to each other, like 1.5 m distance.....with wide stereo field its harder to spot.....
Really! So you listen to them then.:p:D
I love all those words like balanced and musical and full; not quite sure what grinching means, or sounds like.
I tell you what, suppose we were to measure the signal that comes out of the back of the amplifier and then measure the signal that comes out of the other end of the wire. The wire that doesn't make any alteration to the signal, that's got to be the best one hasn't it?:p
We wouldn't have to listen then at all would we (?) and that's got to be a good thing given you can't remember what the wire you just heard sounded like. Course, the only wire likely to do that is no wire at all.;)
 

RayDunzl

Major Contributor
Central Scrutinizer
Joined
Mar 9, 2016
Messages
6,869
Likes
3,040
Location
Riverview, FL
The wire that doesn't make any alteration to the signal, that's got to be the best one hasn't it?
I would say there isn't one, at least not at room temperature.
 

Hugo9000

Active Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2018
Messages
139
Likes
262
Really! So you listen to them then.:p:D
I love all those words like balanced and musical and full; not quite sure what grinching means, or sounds like.
I tell you what, suppose we were to measure the signal that comes out of the back of the amplifier and then measure the signal that comes out of the other end of the wire. The wire that doesn't make any alteration to the signal, that's got to be the best one hasn't it?:p
We wouldn't have to listen then at all would we (?) and that's got to be a good thing given you can't remember what the wire you just heard sounded like. Course, the only wire likely to do that is no wire at all.;)
I'm going to guess that "grinching" is where the sound is reproduced "two sizes too small," like the Grinch's heart... :D
 
Joined
Nov 22, 2018
Messages
228
Likes
162
Say there is an audible difference. How do you work out which cable is better?
You don't. You keep both & work out which is better for particular recordings, in the context of your ancillary hardware.

Or you decide the differences are minor & start playing with DSP to adjust the recordings.
 

March Audio

Major Contributor
Manufacturer
Patreon Donor
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
3,648
Likes
3,229
Location
Perth Western Australia
Both analog and digital cables made a difference in my system. I was in the cable business 10 years ago or so and I tried to make as many simulations and measurements as possible. I had access to some powerful modeling software, so I modeled power cables, speaker cables and analog interconnects. I now have access to some jitter measurement equipment that allows me to compare S/PDIF coax cables. Learned some interesting things:

1) 6-feet of PVC insulated stranded 14 gauge power cord has the same inductance as 30-feet of ROMEX in the wall.
2) many stranded copper cables have a lot of oxidation on the strands even before the cable is stranded/fabricated

I avoid un-plated copper stranded cable for this reason. Tin or silver-plated is best if you use copper. Solid copper also fine.

3) conductor metals have an effect on sound quality and it is related to the molecular structure/ductility. The more ductile the conductor metal, the better conductor it is for analog and is less likely to degrade with "working". Working is bending the conductors.

Here is a TDT plot showing two identical silver interconnects, one of which was immersed in liquid nitrogen to break-up the crystal lattice. The LCR measurements of each cable was identical before and after the immersion:

View attachment 23895

The red plot is the cable that was immersed in liquid nitrogen. Those will argue that these perturbations are very high frequency, beyond audibility, but believe me, the immersed cable was unlistenable. I threw it away.

As a result, I try to pick OCC pure silver for all of my cables, analog or digital, and they do sound better to me.

4) S/PDIF digital cable can add a little to the jitter or a lot. Depends on the cable. Here are a series of plots comparing various different S/PDIF coax cables:
https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=154425.0

5) it is wise to make the minimum length on any digital cable about 1.5m. This has to do with the reflections affecting the waveform when it is sampled and the resulting jitter. Here is my white-paper:
http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue14/spdif.htm


Steve N.
TDR plots have no relevance for audio frequencies.

Useful for RF and impedance specific transmission lines and identifying problems/damage in cables and connectors, but otherwise your plot shows nothing relevant.
 
Last edited:

Sal1950

Major Contributor
The Chicago Crusher
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
5,365
Likes
2,691
Location
Central Fl
With cheap cable sound is spiky, slightly metallic, makes u grinch a bit. With good cable sound is balanced and musical, no grinching......frequenzys are more balanced, bottom end is there to make sound full even though notes are high.....made me smile when I noticed it survived this section of the song........ofcourse you need good listening environment to notice this kind of things.....I also suggest that for testing you bring speakers closer to each other, like 1.5 m distance.....with wide stereo field its harder to spot.....
Can you guys hear these differences with your eyes closed?
Please post the statistics on the outcome of your tightly controlled DBT's
TIA
 
Top Bottom