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FFRC opinions

Discussion in 'Cables & Switches' started by Stereo Steve, Jan 31, 2004.

  1. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    My recent post about using mains cable for speakers rekindled my interest in this subject. I used to use QED SA which I felt was OK, however I am currently in temporary accomodation while my barn is converted and have bought some lengths of 50p/m stuff from my local electrical store (the guy said it would blow my mind). It was very similar to the QED although I felt I lost 'something'. I bought some 1.5mm two core and earth and tried that and it sounded a little better. I then dug out the QED stuff and it sounded identical to the flex.

    So, remembering I had a drum of cheap CAT5 in the shed I decided to knock up some TNT FFRC cables for a larf. I braided a couple of 3 metre lengths to the bi-wire recipe (3 CAT5 cables per side) and held it all together with electrical tape. I twisted the ends as I don't have any terminations handy and wired it up. I didn't expect any impovement. I was blown away.

    My wife, not at all interested in AV and quite content with her Teac mini system immediately said 'that sounds great' and it did. Much more punchy and revealing. The music became instantly 3 dimensional. I ran through some CD's and there are things on there I have not heard before. Things like tom-toms played by hand on Jack Johnson CD's were suddenly there. I switched back to the QED and they were gone again!


    I put on some Knoplfer and his guitar sounded like an electric guitar does when you actually play it with the amp in the room (like you can 'feel' it). The seperation and transparency were also markedly better.

    Now, I'm very wary of snake oil and also the way we can convince ourselves of certain things (especially having spent large moola) but this is for real. I've never had any knowing experience of any speaker cable over £10 a meter so I'm not saying that FFRC is better than those but it's definatley a distinct improvement over your standard cheapo stuff.

    The main benefit is that it costs about £1 a meter.

    Try it and see.
     
  2. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Steve a thread you may be interested in below : FYI Ive used CAT5 for a few years and never felt the need to repalce it, it has handled some very big upgrades in source components in its stride. Does me just fine, Ive seen vibes on this DIY cabling going from the sublime to the ridiculous, all I know is that to my ears it’s a very good cable re. Performance V Cost. £1/14 per metre for what this stuff can do is fantastic, not everyones cup of tea though.

    One last thing that there are a couple of varieties of FFRC the orignal is called the TNT mode, there is another called the Colour Code mode this has opposing polarity of the conductors directly against each other in each CAT5 cable, this in turn has a different effect to the TNT mode due to different LRC values. Ie if you have opposing conducting very close you effect these values. Both FFRCs are different in this respect again more on this in the link), I have also tried Teflon (Plenum coated imported from the USA) CAT5 & LSZH Polyefiline insulation up against each other and could detect no difference whatsoever, in the US the CAT5 dudes are mad on Teflon & hate PCV (never tried PVC myself) : I currently use Maplins VB20W in my main system. The Teflon stuff is waiting for me to split my system up at some point.

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

    ATB
     
  3. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    Thanks CJ. The cables I made were done on a whim and used bog standard Cat5, probably with PVC jacket that I remembered I had in the shed. Also, I used no terminations. The fact that they sounded so good gives me hope for the proper ones I intend to make. A few questions if you woulnd't mind sparing a minute.

    1. The lengths will be quite long (unavoidable), up to 9m to the fronts. Do you foresee a problem and what steps should I take. Also, is it absolutely essential to have similar lengths or would one at 7m and the other at 9m be OK?

    2. Is the tighter plait a benefit? Obviously this uses more cable, bearing mind question 1. I'm not bothered about the cost aspect. I made mine with quite a lose plait and the proper cables will be underground so looks are unimportant.

    3. I intend to order up a reel of that purple stuff that's recommended and terminate them properly. I had already considered the CC recipe as I had made my first cable and realised I had no way of knowing which was which at the other end (reach for tester). Should I go for the biwire one or just use 3 cables with coloureds for + and whites for - and terminate as a standard cable? I'm no believer in bi-wiring.

    4. Are those Ixos bananas screw fixing and is this adequete or should I consider soldered joints (novice solderer).

    Thanks in advance

    PS: Stumbled over this link. Other users comments seem to echo my own unscientific drivel.

    http://www.audioreview.com/Cables/FFRC/PRD_124836_1584crx.aspx
     
  4. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Hey Steve, the length issue is an emotive one, I know a guy over on HFC who uses a set of cables (Not FFRCs but easily could be) where one length is 1m long and the other 7m long he can hear no difference between sound arriving at “different times” as it where, one thing to consider here is that the electrical signal travelling along the 7m or 9m wire (IIRC here and Im happy to be corrected) travels at such a speed to be undetected by human perceprion something like 0.0001 second per metre, so your difference would be 0.0002 ie 2 thousands of a second, in fact I cant remember the actual difference but it could be even less than that IIRC ie 10 or 100ths of a thousands of a second. (and that would be with you sitting in a perfect apex with ears at the same distance between speakers etc etc).

    Now the safety aspect of long speaker cables is the resistance they create when supplying a load along their length, ie translated into the amount of “welly” your amp needs to drive the current along the length, so it boils down to amplifier power IMHO, and as you may know some amplifiers are designed with a tied LRC value of a known cable for example Naims amps & 5m of NAC5 cable, but if it’s a reasonable amp then you should have no problems, I run a 6m pair of FFRCs from a 30 Watt amplifier and I have never had a problem with the amp running out of puff, but I also use a high impedence high sensitivity speaker so my load may be a bit more benign than yours. But start of with 3 CAT5 and see what you think (You can always increaes the number of conductors – I know of a few guys trying the TTT TNT cable which is in essense 6 CAT5 cables per side and preffering the 3 CAT5 FFRCs.

    Again brading is purely up to maker, I have a very tight braid to increase the RFI properties of the cable, but like you I route mine under the floorboard and this has a real beneficial affect IMO in that it keeps your speaker cable away from any static charge in a carpet for example. As long as its braided it has a anti RFI design dude, also remember that within each CAT5 cable the conductors are twisted very tightly so this enhances RFI cancelling. Think of Kimber Kross-weave without the monies.

    Glad to see you have spotted the inherit danger of the TNT mode, hence the CC mode. Funnily enough though the TNT recipe has the treble feed as a opposed polarity in one cable did you notice that, the beauty though of the FFRCs is their ability to be used very easily as a full length bw design or as a single cable : If it were me I would run the 3 CAT5 cabling as a pair (ie 1.5 CAT5 cables per +/- bass feed) then make jumper cables from each + / - feed to their respective treble feeds like this :

    [​IMG] Note these are not FFRCs but the principle is the same.

    I find 4mm “screw bullet” banana plugs very acceptable like the Ixos 204s, but I doubt very much to my ears that banana plugs soldered or not make a hearable difference to me. One thing to look out for if you don’t solder is that every 6 months that you check to see how much your cable has oxidised, mines hardly does but it’s a simple task to take the cable back a half inch to “green” copper. One last thing to remember if using bananas is to get side entry + rear entry plugs “stackable” (like the Ixos 204s) this makes screwing onto big cross section of copper like the CAT5 stuff very easy and rear stacking of another banana plugs say from a high level feed of a subwoofer cable into the back of your speaker banana plug, very easy & tidy into your amp binding posts.

    HTHs
     
  5. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    I think I'll avoid the biwire option and make up a standard CC recipe with red and black at each end. I'll keep the plait loose as I have some long leads. The amp is a Rotel 1055 reciever which puts out a real 75w per channel. Speakers are Ruark Prelude R. For the the rears (Ruark Epilogue R), I may just use 2 runs of cable. I do intend to get some power amplification as a next move to ease my move to a pre/pro settup later.

    By the way, I see you use those little jumpers. I have connecting strips (missing a couple) for my speakers. Do you recommend retaining these or removing and making a jumper?
     
  6. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Steve, those are a friends speakers (SF Signums) but the standard advice for people with brass jumper playes in place is to remove them and fit cable jumpers, you can make you own for example (I think the solid cores in Twin & Earth are easy to manipulate for short jumper cables) or you can buy some from the like of RA who supplies kimber 4TC jumpers for £10 a set IIRC. The whole point of “cable jumping” is to use a high spec/qulaity main set of leads for bass feeds, then feed your treble feed into that cable with either same cable or similar. Rather splitting your budget for the 50/50 for the treble feed cable as well. If your speakers have biwire terminal then you should biwiere but with cable jumpers and a good set of cables like the FFRCs for example.

    But yes 99% of people I have read about on the net, feel replacing the brass jumper plates with cable jumpers is a positive move sonically. BTW next time by a set of speakers with single set of terminals on the back, simpler cross-over networks have fans in the highest places : ala Dynaudio & Sonus Faber to name a couple. Hell even my humble little Castles are single wired.

    ATB dude
     
  7. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    Interesting. The biwire posts weren't a consideration when buying the Ruarks, I just loved the sound. I'll knock up some jumper cables. Guess I could use a CAT5 cable and a couple bananas, heat shrunk would look tidy. Just adding up how many bananas I need to order and it's getting scary!
     
  8. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    One thing I have noticed with these cables is that if the volume is turned down to a point where you could have a conversation, the sound seems to dissapear into the speakers. At proper volumes the presence and punch is very much greater and with the added clarity they destroy all cheap cables I have ever had.

    Just got a CD on now and listening to it, it's totally unintrusive, silky smooth. Not sure I like it actually but I guess you can't have everything. I'll certainly be keeping them though.

    Anyone else noticed this. Could be my botched up first attempt with cheapo CAT5 causing it.
     

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