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Cat5 speaker cable

Discussion in 'Cables & Switches' started by Stereo Steve, May 4, 2004.

  1. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    Not sure if this should be here or in DIY but anyway....

    I have already made some basic cat 5 FFRC cables out of bog standard cat5 and have been well impressed. However, I know plan to make some proper cables from the Maplin VB20W stuff that's recommended. I plan to vary it a bit and have 4 cables per speaker, one for each terminal. Both reds and both blacks will be joined at the amp end, effectively biwiring. That's not the reason though, I want to do this so I can easily biamp in the future.

    So, my question is, do the cables really need to be twisted together as I have some fairly long runs and it makes it difficult to calculate requirements. Is the plaiting just for tidyness? I mean, the conductors are all twisted inside so how about if I run all 4 cables together and tape them every 6"? They'll be in ducting under the floor so looks are not important. I may just plait the ends for appearance,.

    I'm just a bit worried that the twisting is a key element that I am going to remove.
     
  2. eviljohn2

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    The plaiting should be key to it as all the conductors cross at 90degrees. With them just twisted the cable could develop significant capacitive properties (possibly a bad thing).

    Having just reread your post, you need to consider the difference between plaiting and twisting the wires. Straght runs may well be fine, you could always try it unless anyone else has something more helpful to add :)
     
  3. buns

    buns
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    I think that the plaiting together is a key in the design......

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  4. eviljohn2

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  5. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    The TNT guy says to twist them together, about a twist a foot.

    I'm thinking of twisting them in pairs (red and black) and then taping the pairs together.
     
  6. Mylo

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    How about a geezers help John? Our Mil Spec wirers (sp) twist wires together using low speed electric drills. Going to get a lot of twists per foot though.:D
     
  7. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    OK, just checked the site. I was getting confused with the mains cable (I've made one by the way :smashin: ).

    The only key benefit I can think of with twisting the cables is to keep them together, I very much doubt we're talking chalk/cheese differences here anyway so just make them the way you feel happiest with, they're your unique cables after all :)

    mylo:
    That definitely seems like the sensible way to twist long lengths together, but does that actually braid them together?
    Also, admittedly off topic, but the new 4Ft Fingers album was released yesterday ;)
     
  8. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    To braid them you'd need to use 3 circular saws and a g clamp.
     
  9. Mylo

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    No silly Steve;) a bench vice is easier than a G clamp.:rotfl: It is with my 10mm cables anyway.

    I'll look out for that John, cheers.:smashin:

    Edit, you need a minimum of three wires to braid don't you?
     
  10. buns

    buns
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    Well i thought you need a multiple of 3 for a braid... multiples of 2 I interpreted as involving a twist at some point

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  11. eviljohn2

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    :eek: :eek: :eek:
    AFAIK, braiding is only possible with 3. They start off parallel and clamped at one end, then the outside left cable is moved to the centre, then the outside right, then the outside left, then the outside left and so on.

    At least that's what I did with my mains cable as shown here (not my site!): http://imageevent.com/sidandcoke/sidsposhpowercord
     
  12. buns

    buns
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    I have 6..... I use 3 pairs. I have previously done 9 which was a braid of 3 braids.... great way to spend time when you are bored :eek:

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  13. Stereo Steve

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    Yeah but I wanna go for 4 cables so I can bi-amp in future and just use one cable per terminal. I think I'll just twist them in pairs.

    Anyway braiding is hard work and I am lazy and it also uses more cable and I'm skint.
     
  14. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    Sounds good to me :thumbsup: pictures and a report when you've finished would be great too. Especially compared to your T&E so I can find out if it's worth all the effort!
     
  15. Stereo Steve

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    I just tried with some old cat5 and pairs twist quite nicely. A 2m pair ended up at 1.98m with a twist about every 3 inches. Keeps it together nicely. I found if you try to grab both ends and twist, it comes unraveled again but if you work along it, twisting them together it stays that way, I guess because you are turning the cables as you go whereas twisting from the end gets them all sprung up.

    Right, now off ot order 200m of the stuff from Maplin. That'll do my main 5 with 4 runs and should have a load left over to do the fronts in my office. Not bad for £75.
     
  16. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    By the way, I already discarded the T+E and have some temporary Cat5 cables I knocked up one evening. The T+E was absolutely as good as any cheap cable I have in the spare room, QED SA, Monster classic, Cable Talk 3.1.

    The cat5 though was noticably better, even my bodged up trial run. I'm not sure if you play a guitar but with the cat5 you can clearly tell when they are using new strings (if you know how that sounds on a steel guitar) whereas with any other cable I have you couldn't. I blind tested this with a mate and it was easy.

    So, I plan to make up some proper ones with the recommended cat5. Doubt I'll hear much difference but from reading an American forum, standard cat5 is 'naff'. Maybe their ears playing tricks on them I guess.
     
  17. CJROSS

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    Steve just to give you some historical info on CAT5 types I have used, my current standard set is the Maplins VB20W stuff at 6m long, I have also a 5m set in a cupbaord of the more expensive Teflon sheathed “Plenum” (The GTI version as it were) that a few of us on the HFC Forum made up a couple of years ago, these were imported from the US (my 5m set worked out at £50 for the cable alone – which is extortionate by FFRC terms) I can not tell the “superior” Plenum/Teflon CAT5 from the LSZH Polyethelin VB20W cables TBH. The AudioAsylum (US) dudes get all in a fuzzz about PVC covered CAT5 and multistrand is a defo no-no (which the VB20W is not BTW), and Ive seen comments over here from some cable worshippers that VB20W is inferior to some Belden supplied CAT5 you can get from RS, but to these ears both of the versions I have made up sound identical, the Plenum/Teflon derivaitive should be a clear winner but it aint to me, ie there is no difference whatsoever. YMMV though. But thats IME of the 2 vastly different “quality” CAT5 cables.

    One last thing, I don’t know who you plan to make up your final 4x CAT5 cable, but there is a couple of ways to do do it, ie Colour Code method where every CAT5 cable is split into white & coloured conductors (ie 2 break outs pre cable) for +&-, then joined into 2 bunched white & coloured feeds at the cable end, this is different to how TNTs mode goes FWIW where they use individual cables, do a search for CAT5 on the Hifi Forum here for what Im talking about, I had a discussion with GaryG about it a while back for some further info.

    HTHs
     
  18. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    I have ordered the VB20W and have 150m coming tomorrow. I was planning to use all the conductors in each cable for a terminal. Do you think it would be wise to pair the cables up and use all the whites in 2 for tweeter + and all the colours for tweeter - and then all the whites in the other pair for mid + and all the colours for mid -?

    Not sure it would make any difference but maybe there would be technical grounds for doing this.

    The FFRC is probably as far as I will ever go with cables, I have better things to spend money on and would never pay over £10 a meter for speaker leads.

    From now on where I don't use FFRC I'll use 3 core ring main cable.
     
  19. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Its up to you Steve, if you have “opposing polarity” in closely spaced conductors then its effects its electrical properties, a few hi end cable makers do this IIRC, Ive always used the CC mode of FFRC that differes from the TNT mode more of this here :

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=107477 Excerpt :

    Whether you can hear a difference between modes well that’s a different story, for safety I always use CC mode, you cant really go wrong in hooking up terminals.

    All I can say about FFRC - CAT5 is that is has stopped me dead in my tracks with wanting to experiment with different speaker cables, on sound terms & its as good as my ears can appreicate in speaker cable terms.

    HTHs & ATB
     
  20. Ajax

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    Hello,

    After taking Steve's advice and trying some mains cable I had a bash at the FFRC. I moved house about 4 weeks ago and needed around 32m of cable. I was unwilling to spend the thick end of £200 on it so made up some of the FFRC with the Maplin cable. I constructed it with NO twists or braids but did use white for + and coloured for -. It sounds great, and for the grand total of £30 it can't be beaten in my opinion. So many thanks to Stereo Steve for his original Mains cable post.

    Ajax.
     
  21. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    Great new Ajax although I'm not comfortable with taking the credit, there are many guys on here who have been discussing it for ages. The important thing in that another person has discovered the FFRC thing and will no longer waste money on expensive zip wire in a fancy jacket. I almost feel ashamed that I have several lengths of QED SA and Cable Talk 3.1 in my lock up. Still I'll put it on ebay and somebody will snap it up.

    Go forth and spread the word. Once people try cat5 they'll probably never look back.
     
  22. owain_thomas

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    Just spent the day looking through this and other threads to find the best (and cheapest) way of wiring up my new DIY speakers.

    Initially I used the Gale 315 strand bi-wire which was in my existing system. With this I found my new speakers to be incredibly detailed (had the whole "hearing things I never had before" experience) but a bit on the bright side, some music was just plain fatiguing when played at high volume.

    After a lot of wading through some very informative posts on here and elsewhere I had a go with some 2.5mm T+E I had lying around. It was no better than the Gale stuff, but certainly no worse, kind of backs up what Steve and others have been saying. For the price this seemed to be the obvious answer for a new system.

    After seeing the enthusiasm people seemed to have for the Cat5 cables I thought I might as well give them a go and see if I could tell any difference. A quick trip to Maplins (well a longer than necessary trip to two Maplins due to a "stocking error" at the first one, if you want the truth!) and I got hold of 10m of VB20W low smoke, zero hydrogen cat5 (for £4.40 odd). Got home, cut this into three and started braiding. I wired it up as per CJRoss' instructions: One cable length to the tweeter, two to the mid/bass. I went for the colour-coded version, solid colours to positive, white and colours to negative. After taping the cables together and twisting the bared ends together I stuck them into my system.

    To test the difference I used cat5 to my left speaker and original Gale to the right, I then used the properties for my Maudio soundcard to switch between L only and R only. While doing this with some tracks it is hard to compare as the two channels are very different, but over the course of many different records it was clear that the cat5 was consistently better: It has a much fuller sound, the treble is not nearly so bright or fatiguing, it just sounds BETTER! :thumbsup: The difference isn't subtle either, it certainly passed the test of my wife being able to notice the difference, now I've just got to find a way of making this purple plait LOOK a bit better!

    I'll be off to Maplin tomorrow to get another 10m of this cable to link up the other channel, hangover permitting :zonked: They represent great value at less than £10 for a 3m stereo pair of biwire.

    Thanks to all on here who've posted info on this topic, it's opened my eyes and saved me a ton :thumbsup:

    Regards,
    Owain
     
  23. Stereo Steve

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    Nice one. My wife also noticed an immediate difference, even though I hadn't told hear what I was changing (and I'm always changing something behind the hifi). I find the best way of describing the difference is actually being able to guess the age of an acoustic guitars strings (guitarists will know how the sound of new strings changes) whereas before, it was just an acoustic guitar.
     
  24. alnug

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    Hey all, I’m new to the forum so please be gentle lol.

    I’d like to give my opinion of the FFRC (solid core and stranded core) and do a comparison of this with the Cable Talk 3.1 and QED mk2.

    My system is a Denon UD-m31 and Quad 11L speakers. Ok so my system may not be top end but even with a modest system such as this the FFRC made a huge difference.

    Having hooked up the system with Cable talk 3.1, I immediately knew something was amiss…u know the felling where you know that the system just does not sound right! The vocals were recessed and lacking in depth, bass was murky and it seemed as if everything was swished around. I was quite disappointed as I bought the Quads because they were a VERY nice and natural sounding speaker. Here began my quest to find speaker cable!

    I decided to go out and buy some QED original mk2 about 2m just to see if I could hear any difference and sure enough there was….although not much. The bass was now not as boomy and vocals were slightly more pronounced and generally there was not as much ‘murkyness’. Looking at the 2 cables although both stranded core with a similar cross sectional area, I noticed that the individual stranded of the QED used smaller and more individual stranded and maybe this was why they differ.

    This led me to look for a radically different design as I knew that the cable was altering my sound! Searching the NET I found reference to the FFRC. Big things were said of the FFRC about clarity, transparency, separation etc…….I just HAD to have a go.

    Knocking up some FFRC with standard patch LAN cable, the difference gave me a right shock! Vocals now seems to come out of the speakers now and gave the feeling of being there, all the murkyness cleared up and you get a nice clarity to the sound…..you can tell this immediately with piano solos, the notes now can be heard as individual as opposed to being intermixed with the next note. The difference was amazing but all was not excellent. I noticed that the highs were very high and I guess would cause some people fatigue and bass was very reduced. This I guess was down to the strands of copper being very small…..incidentally stranded patch cable is a big NO NO for FFRC in some American forums. I then made up the FFRC with the Belden 1583Enh with LSZH jacket which had a solid core. The highs were now tamed and bass returned but not to the levels of the QED or cable talk, the transparency, clarity and separation was still there and the sound seemed a lot wider? (dunno if that’s how it’s expressed!! Lol).

    My explanation for this clarity and separation is down to the insulated strands of copper used in LAN cable, maybe this causes less mixing of the signal…I don’t know…and maybe the thickness of the individual strands affect bass performace. Certainly this is exactly the same as what Kimber use for their cables i.e individually insulated strands and some of their cables even have variable individual strand size, which they say is to extend bass response……so I guess I’m not far off with the explanation. The Kimbers are highly regarded and have won many awards, so you could either spend megabuck on Kimber or try the FFRC which costs fractions less!

    All I know is that I can now enjoy my music, which in the end is all that matters, I’ve been told that this cable rivals the likes of more expensive cable in the £10-20 range..and I can’t disagree to that, it really does bring out the response in your system. If you like your music to be clear with a fast edge and generally involving you should try the FFRC…if you’re a bass junky then I guess the cable is not for you…but then again if you’re a bass junky there’s no need for special cable anyway lol.

    Hope this has been helpful, I know I won’t be buying anymore cable as this is the sound I want, maybe you should try it!

    Incidently I have more of the Belden cable and I can sell you some for a cheap price or I can even make up some of the cable for you, if you can’t be bothered lol I am in the UK, message me or post back on the forum and I will respond. Thanks…….maybe someone else can finally be satisfied!



    ==============================================
    Denon UD-m31 (small but almighty GOOD!)
    Quad 11L (needs no intro)
    FFRC (WOW)
     

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