Answered Best speaker cable for valve amplifier?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Rachel H, Jun 30, 2018.


    1. Rachel H

      Rachel H
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      Hello everybody

      I'm hoping somebody out there is a bit of a valve guru because I'm currently having trouble matching up my valve amplifier with a decent speaker cable.

      I have a puresound a30 valve amplifier and a pair of Tannoy revolution 8's which are attached via the 4ohm binding posts due to the tannoy's low impedance.

      My previous amp was an audiolab which was bi wired with chord clearway and was fine. Since I bought the new amp the sound coming from the speakers has been like I was holding a pillow over them.

      I had some QED silver anniversary XT, I tried that and the sound especially the treble has opened up and the music is now more revealing but sounds a little grainy and still not projected outwards as much as I know it should be (the amp and the valves have all been ok'd).

      Most opinion on forums seems to think that solid core copper is the way to go with a valve amplifier, I expect theres some clever mathematics to support this but nobody really goes into explaining why.

      I tried getting some advice from Hi Fi shops but so far dealers have only wanted to sell me the Chord Clearway that I already own and another place told me that nobody makes solid core speaker wire (and they were an audioquest stockist), so I'm really hoping someone out there either knows their cable or knows the in's and out's of valve amps, the help would be really appreciated

      Prices for a couple of meters of bi wired solid core cable seem to be in the £200.00 region, that for me would be expensive for something I never before believed made any great impact to the sound of a system, but I'm starting to feel like a little bit of a convert and I would be happy to pay a little more if it meant I could start listening to music the way I know this amp is meant to sound.

      Hoping someone can help and thanks for reading.

      Rach'
       
    2. Best Answer:
      Post #8 by Khazul, Jul 1, 2018 (1 points)
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    3. Paul7777x

      Paul7777x
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      If you need solid core, though I can’t see why it would make a difference, then 2.5mm or 4mm twin core house wire will do the job.

      About 70p a metre.
       
    4. mushii

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      Speaker cable is an issue on these forums that often gets short shrift, from many of the popular contributors. I will predict that most answers will be in line with the advice given by Paul above or any reasonable 2.5mm2 or 4mm2 stranded speaker cable between £2 and £10 per metre. Beyond that it generally starts to attract derision.
      I am not sure why valve amplifiers need solid core cable so my advice will be in line with the above. I am sure all of the regular suspects will voice their opinion.
       
    5. andy1249

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      Speaker cables are a red herring here, you need to start looking for replacement valves.
      The dont last forever, with heavy usage they dont even last long, and a change in tone is the first sign they need to be replaced.

      How do I know when it's time to change a tube on my amplifier?

      Valves nearing end of useful life may check out fine electrically, your first symptom is always a dropin sound quality.
       
    6. dannnielll

      dannnielll
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      As a regular suspect, let me voice my opinion. Wire is wire is wire. Low resistance wire is better than higher resistance wire, therefore thicker wire , not thicker insulation is desirable. Since your speakers are 4 Ohm types, this the most important consideration. Wire Resistance is determined by.
      1 the material used , silver is lower than copper, which is lower than aluminium ,is lower than steel etc all the way up to carbon, and then cotton fabric and things we would rank as insulation
      2. The length .. resistance increases with length. The resistance will double if the length doubles.
      3. The cross sectional area of the material .used. usually measured in Milli metres squared. .. if a length of wire of circular cross section of 2 mm sq were squashed in a very flat tape, by being put through a wringer it would still have the same resistance, for the same length, even though it's thickness, and width have changed.
      What wire?.. any will do , including and especially electrical mains cable, or the wiring available in Halfords for driving woofers in cars..
      There is no mathematics supporting solid as opposed to stranded cable. There is mathematics supporting an argument where each strand is individually insulated from its neighbours, .. called litz wire, but unless you are a bat, the loss of high frequencies is irrelevant. Sorry i am wrong, solid wire, as used in embedded mains wiring, is cheaper than multistrand, so this is a mathemtical argument to use it. .. see Pauls contribution above. While 2.5 mm sq is fine, 4 mm sq is better and . If you really want low resistance, buy the cable intended for electrical ovens ...6 mmSq or for mega performance 10 mmSq. This stuff will not cost an arm and a leg.
       
    7. Rachel H

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      Thank you all who have contributed so far, it's really appreciated.

      I can kind of understand everyone's feeling because a few weeks ago my thoughts would have been exactly the same as yours.

      If it hadn't been for switching the chord cable over to the QED and hearing such an upgrade in the sound, i wouldn't even be asking the question.

      This is a quote from origin live: 'The breathtaking performance of Soli-Core is a no brainer for valve systems which are known to excel with well designed solid core cable', and they're not the only ones who seem to lean towards solid core for valve amps, a lot of other forum users seem to feel the same.

      Some forum users use comments like, 'The use of MIT Cable can make it impossible to bias the valves and in some cases over saturated the transformers and cause overheating'.

      I don't know, this is a tricky one to get to grips with.

      I appreciate the input thought

      Rach.
       
    8. dannnielll

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      I am sorry Rachel, but this is basically nonsense... . . I will try and explain some of the physics and engineering. The key parameters of any audio cable is its resistance,and i have indicated that in my previous posting. . There are two other parameters, inductance and capacitance, which can be affected by the shape of the cable. Under specific circumstances, these can affect the sound from an amplifier, but usually in a bad way....
      The inductance can be reduced by up to 40% by making the cable into a wide narrow tape cross section. But the effect on frequency response is negligible.Some cable manufacturers claim that low inductance cables will increase high frequency response, which it will but the native inductance is so low that moving the treble a smigin would compensate.
      The capacitance of a cable can be increased ,by putting the red and black leads close together, and or using a tape like conductors.
      If there is either excessive capacitance or inductance in the load of an amplifier, it can break into oscillation... That is produce an output voltage in the absence of an input signal.However in the gain frequency zone just before it breaks into uncontrolled oscillation, the amplifer will have a damped oscillation on certain signals .. this can be interpreted as brightness, but is in fact conditional stability. It is very easy to see with an ossilocope as "ringing" on the tops and bottoms of square waves. .. It's called rings as it has the same characteristic as the acoustic output of a bell.
      Valve amplifiers need not be, but are usually inferior to modern transistor amplifiers,and have less ideal characteristics , so are even more susceptible to this conditional stability. Note that i have said valve amplifiers, not valves as components, there is a big difference.... The objective measurements of gain, frequency response, phase shifts , noise, distortion are generally worse in valve stages. The only references I can find to your very expensive A30 amplifier is that it has 30 w RMS output, is class A operation and has little feedback. There is very little engineering information, but a damping factor of 2, distortion levels of a few percent at 6 watts output and reference to slew rate limiting are not convincing. A competent valve amplifier designed and made in 1968, will be better than a transistor amplifier of the same era, however that is 50 years ago!!!.

      . Class A is a circuit configuration not a value judgement. Negative feedback is a very positive feature of amplifier design since its introduction for valve amplifiers in the 1930s , when used carefully ,it can linearise circuit performance, improve frequency responses and distortion levels .

      You will see that this reads like heresy, but it is engineering. The valve proponents and the special and magic cable believers are not snake oil salesmen , but they are deluded.
       
      Last edited: Jul 1, 2018
    9. Khazul

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      Best Answer
      I guess with a value amp there may be some limited technical argument for thick solid copper bars (or a massive bundle of regular cables in parallel to minimise end to end resistance) to remove any loss of damping factor due to cable :)
       
      Last edited: Jul 1, 2018
    10. Abacus

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      Avoid anything made by Hi--Fi cable manufactures as they just rip you off by using a cheap cable with a fancy name and some gobbledegook.

      Go to a professional music store and they will supply you with the cables that are used in professional film and music studios, whose equipment makes even Hi-End Hi-Fi seem like a wind up gramophone.

      Just because you think you hear a difference, doesn’t mean to say there is one, just that the brain thinks there is because something has changed, (The placebo effect) hence all comparisons must be done blind to avoid this bias.

      Bill
       
    11. deantown

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      Sorry to jump on thread, but is DCSk 2x2.5mm cable and Fisual easy fix banana plugs a good combination to connect to Marantz CD and pm 6005 amp and Wharfedale Diamond 220’s. As I haven’t got a clue. Also would 10 metre be long enough?
       
    12. dannnielll

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      Only you know the lengths you need.. it your room. Certainly, 2.5mmsq wire is a good match for 100 W speakers. Brand name in my opinion irrelevant...

      If your Marantz CD player has a coaxial output, in addition to the RCA connectors, then feeding that directly into the amplifier coaxial digital input, is the smart move.
       
    13. Trollslayer

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      Rachel, Andy and Danielll know their stuff - Andy definitely knows a lot more about thermionic valves than me!
      Speaker cable is an easy thing to play with and that is often what people do. The speaker cable is the simplest part of the system so unless you have, say, 30m runs don't worry about it.
       
      Last edited: Jul 1, 2018
    14. Trollslayer

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      BTW, you probably know this already but A/V cables are often the biggest ripoff, especially expensive HDMI cables.
       
    15. deantown

      deantown
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      Thanks for your reply dannnielll, as you can probably tell, I’m a complete newbie at this. So in you last paragraph yes there is a coaxial output on CD player but do I still wire the cd to amp from audio out on CD player to audio in on amp? And for your suggestion do I need a special wire as it is single black Input and receiver opposed to red and white rca I think. Sorry if this sounds stupid.
       
    16. Rachel H

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      Hi all,

      I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who's been posting. Ive really been thinking about some of the things that have been said.

      Thank you again to Dannnielll who posted late yesterday, I had to ask my boyfriend who's a physicist what all that meant, he doesn't really understand all the specifics of audio and sound reproduction, but he does find it really interesting. You said something that after a bit of thought struck a bit of a chord, it is just wire carrying a signal!

      So I found a video on you tube, audio-holics talking about speaker cable and the one thing which is in line with Khazul's very useful post is gauge. When I switched from my chord cable to my QED, the sound quality jumped, I mean really jumped, nobody could think that was a placebo effect, and the one difference was gauge.

      So I'm thinking maybe all I need is a nice fat wire, and I'm thinking that maybe it really is purely down to some weird kind of system matching, all I know is since getting this valve amp my system has taken a leap forward, even the noise floor has dropped on records by so much that its impossible not to notice, the only problem has just been this closed in sound that seems to be a result of the speaker cabling.

      I know I'm probably making a lot of you guys tear your hair out, and I'm sorry. I'm going to continue to monitor this thread because you're all being so amazing contributing the way you are, but I think I may just seek out some fat cable.

      When I started this thread I was kind of hoping someone might have been in my shoes and might just say use this or this cable, but while I'm not confident enough to use household or cooker cable I think I may just take Abacus's very useful advice and look at a music shop, thats something I never would have thought of on my own and see if that throws up a simple and cheap solution.

      I'll keep everybody posted on what happens, if all of this helps somebody else, then I guess it wont be so bad :)

      Rach'
       
    17. Trollslayer

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    18. dannnielll

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      Thanks for the vote of confidence, but as a matter of full disclosure, while I studied valves ,tubes in theory and did a few experiments as an undergraduate, I came into the electronics game, just as they were being phased out, and never designed with them.
       
    19. dannnielll

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      There are very few silly questions, but plenty of silly answers. .. for the distances you are using, probabky with the cd player sitting beside the amplifier, even the el cheapo black Phono cable with those nasty red and black or white plastic tops is good enough. But if you are prepared to just use one of your two RCA interconnects, as currently in use, that's fine also.. connect the CD coaxial digital out on the CD player to the coaxial digital input on the amplifier. It is likely that these two rcas have an orange insert rather than the red or white. Disconnect the red and white . My Yamaha reciever, which is lower spec than yours, can automatically look for a digital input, when CD is selected, before selecting the analogue red and white rcas ... You may need to check your manual. Depending on the model and quality of the CD player, the improvement will be either negligible or big..
      The idea is to use the digital signal from the CD player, to bypass the DAC in the CD player, and the noise in the amplifer of the CD player, and to use only the (presumably) better DAC and amplifier in the Amplifier.
       
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      Last edited: Jul 1, 2018
    20. deantown

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      I just bought second hand Wharfedale Diamond 220 speakers and Marantz CD 6005/pm 6005. My nephew gave me some speaker cable, which is probably the cheapest cable you can get, the sound is amazing. So I guess that Cable is probably not that important in a setup. Not saying I wouldn’t buy new cable with banana plugs later on, but it will be from amazon not some rip off merchants.
       
    21. dannnielll

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      No the loudspeaker cable is extremely important, .. see how loud your speakers are when you disconnect them.. .. beyond that and provided their resistance is low enough the brand, the colour and even the metal used is irrelevent.
       
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    22. Rachel H

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      #2 Best Answer
      Hi all,

      I finally got my new speaker cable, and to help explain my findings, I would like to take excerpts from daniiielll's post from earlier in the week, to try and illustrate the hard road towards audio cable/valve nirvana :)

      daniiielll: I am sorry
      Rachel H: That's okay Danny Boy, I'm sure you don't have an inflated ego, I know you're going to answer the question I posted and prove you're a member of the human race, I'm sure you don't just log in and sneer at people.
      daniiielll: Rachel...this is basically nonsense...
      Rachel H: Don't say that Danno', people are going to think you're here simply to compensate for your tiny audio cable, I'm sure everyone knows it's at least average!
      daniiielll: . . I will try and explain some of the physics and engineering.
      Rachel H: Oh God, wouldn't you rather just keep it between you and your wife?
      daniiielll: . . There are two other parameters, inductance and capacitance, which can be affected by the shape of the cable.
      Rachel H: err...yeh...too much information...Please, save it for the bedroom, can you just stick to the original question?
      daniiielll: The only references I can find to your very expensive A30 amplifier is that it has 30 w RMS output, is class A operation and has little feedback.
      Rachel H: Are you asking for a loan, or..?
      daniiielll: There is very little engineering information, but a damping factor of 2, distortion levels of a few percent at 6 watts output and reference to slew rate limiting are not convincing.
      Rachel H: U-huh, well I'm really sorry to hear that m'lud!..and this has what to do with a speaker cable?
      daniiielll: A competent valve amplifier designed and made in 1968, will be better than a transistor amplifier of the same era, however that is 50 years ago!!!.
      Rachel H: err...well...I haven't heard about many improvements in vinyl over the past 50 years...but okay...and about a speaker cable..?
      daniiielll: Class A is a circuit configuration not a value judgement. Negative feedback is a very positive feature of amplifier design since its introduction for valve amplifiers in the 1930s , when used carefully ,it can linearise circuit performance, improve frequency responses and distortion levels .
      Rachel H: That's nice, and what about my question, the best cable for a valve amp?
      daniiielll: You will see that this reads like heresy, but it is engineering. The valve proponents and the special and magic cable believers are not snake oil salesmen , but they are deluded.
      Rachel H: yeah thats really great, and the cable, just anything about the best speaker cable, you know..the cable, just any advice on a cable, the #*%&@*£ cable?????
      Rachel H: Helloooo!

      Soooooo...after the really useful advice I got on the forum, I got myself some really fat stranded cable, to match the resistance of the amp and speakers.

      Now my very expensive 50 year old unconvincing backwards tech is singing. I have a bubble of sound around me again, music being projected out in 3D as it's supposed to be which all seems to prove just one thing...

      Sorry guys, but size matters! :D
       
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    23. Trollslayer

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      Meow!
      Glad you've got things sorted :smashin:
       
    24. Rachel H

      Rachel H
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      Thank you (yaaay) :D
       
    25. mushii

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      Kinda harsh when you came to the forums and asked for advice. You may not agree with the advice, but you got what you asked for, in spades. Especially when somebody has taken the time to explain the physics and engineering behind their advice and not just the usual beardy wierdy claptrap about needing solid core cable because the valve pixies don’t like the stranded stuff (which you eventually bought) and and introduced distortion sprites into your system to make it sound bad.
      Anyway enjoy your new cable and improved sounding HiFi.
       
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    26. Trollslayer

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      Mushii, Rachel is joining in with us and I welcome her.
       
    27. dannnielll

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      There is a Benny Hill sketch, involving Benny dressed as a boy scout, seeing an old woman standing at the side of a busy road. He takes her hand and with determination brings her accross the busy junction. Once there she turns on him starts beating him with her handbag, and then turns and wants to go back...
       
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    28. larkone

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      :facepalm::facepalm::facepalm:
       
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    29. deantown

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      Methinks Rachel knows a lot more than she let on with her original question. In fact I would go as far as saying she’s probably an expert in this area (compared to me she is).
       
    30. Rachel H

      Rachel H
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      Yaaaaaaaay :D

      There's hope for you yet, now you understand that you gave me the complete opposite of what was needed!!!!

      Look, for what it's worth, I wasn't actually trying to be nasty, I was hoping you had a funny bone, but even if you thought you were being helpful explaining a valve amp (albeit in a way that was subjective - and when you admit you never worked with valves so much) some of the remarks you made were a bit off, unnecessary, personal, y'know...and you didnt answer the question I started the thread with!

      Just sayin' :)
       
    31. Rachel H

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      Shhhhhhhhh!...dont give away my secret identity!!! :)

      Yeah, okay I have a thing for records and I love record players...I can talk about turntables, arms cartridges etc, but this speaker wire thing really threw me, not too proud to admit I don't know everything :p
       
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