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Mains flex as speaker cable

Discussion in 'Cables & Switches' started by Stereo Steve, Jan 27, 2004.

  1. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    Just setting up my new installation and all my old bits of QED SA are now too short so I need a fair bit of speaker cable and not keen on spending huge wonga as the budget 50p a metre stuff I have temporarily used is not far off the QED.

    So, I'm thinking of using somethign like 6mm two core and earth (not using the earth) instead as it's pence a metre. According to TNT Audio, solid cables are better than twisted and this stuff is solid, plus it's already marked red and black.

    Anyone tried this or would 2.5mm be a better choice. I guess I need to give it a go really but was wondering if anyone wanted to comment.
     
  2. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    From sniffing around the web, it appears that bi-amping with 2.5mm two core and earth may be the best cheap solution. I'll have to bi-wire at first which I'm not expecting to have any benefit but I'm currently a liitle short on amps!
     
  3. deckard

    deckard
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    I used some of this a few years back for quite a while and was pleasantly surpised by it! In fact I still use humble two core mains cable for my rears...:blush:
     
  4. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    Been reading up on it and it seems the prefered option is 4 core cable, using 2 opposite cores for + and - to reduce inductance. Can't seem to find any anywhere though.

    Been reading some interesting stuff about ABX blind tests where they tested a $400 speaker cable against 16 guage zip wire and out of 7 people, nobody could consistantly tell the difference. This makes me think there is a lot of rubbish written on the subject so I'm not looking to spend more than £50 on my whole system really. I will try a blind test of some QED SA and two core and earth maybe tomorrow.
     
  5. Mylo

    Mylo
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    Give it a go, you may be pleasantly surprised. I am currently using 7awg cable for my set-up. It was a bitch twisting the 2 cables together but it sounds excellent to my ears. The only drawback is the twisted pair is 20mm diameter.:eek:
     
  6. alexs2

    alexs2
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    You may be interested to know that at a recent HiFi show,a major manufacturer was using a set of nice orange cables for speaker connections,and the sound was reportedly excellent....the cables...?......Black and Decker mains extensions from the nearest DIY shop.
     
  7. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    Yeah, heard about that, Quad wasn't it? Pretty funny. I'm confused as to the inductance issue. Most sites recommend 4 core cable, commoning the opposite pairs for + and - but most speaker cable is flat, side by side (like QED SA). So, are these cables fundamentally flawed or is the twisting thing a myth?

    Could somebody with a little knowledge please explain in laymans terms what benefit twisting has and why I shouldn't use twin core and earth which costs £11.99 for 100m? Also, would using 2 such cables fixed together on the flats and commoning opposites make the cable less inductive? eg:

    (-R--B-)
    (-B--R-)
     
  8. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    Yeah, heard about that, Quad wasn't it? Pretty funny. I'm confused as to the inductance issue. Most sites recommend 4 core cable, commoning the opposite pairs for + and - but most speaker cable is flat, side by side (like QED SA). So, are these cables fundamentally flawed or is the twisting thing a myth?

    Could somebody with a little knowledge please explain in laymans terms what benefit twisting has and why I shouldn't use twin core and earth which costs £11.99 for 100m? Also, would using 2 such cables fixed together on the flats and commoning opposites make the cable less inductive? eg:

    (-R--B-)
    (-B--R-)
     
  9. alexs2

    alexs2
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    The main benefit of twisting the cables is in terms of intereference rejection,and something that manufacturers like Kimber say quite a bit about.....I use a lot of Kimber in my system,interconnects,mains and speaker cables,as well as a number of XLO cables.
    I couldn't comment on the actual measured properties of the cables,but have never experienced problems with mains-borne interference,and their mains cables do a superb job of cleaning up the inputs to a number of high current amps in the house.
    Whether or not you find a benefit in sound quality from moving to expensive cables or not depends on many things,not the least of which is the subjective aspect of buying something,and then looking for the difference.
    Personally,I've used 2 core flex,mains cables,very heavy guage triwire cables and finally the stuff I have now(Kimber 8TC),and the current cable is by far the best....in my system.
    You will find that certain cables just don't work well with certain amps,and with others there is simply no difference to hear.

    There isn't anything inherently flawed about one approach as compared to another,if the results work.
     
  10. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    can anyone explain why twisting cables help?
     
  11. alexs2

    alexs2
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    I know it's a manufacturer site,but a trawl through Kimber's website will certainly give their opinions on cable geometry....well thought out at least.

    www.kimber.com
     
  12. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    I contacted Kimber a while ago and asked them this question. They did not give a direct reply but pointed me to a Kimber lecture that I was unable to run. I still can’t find anything on their site, have you got any direct links? I must be looking in the wring place.
     
  13. alexs2

    alexs2
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    I've actually just noticed that they've completely changed the layout and moved all of the online stuff off.....the only thing I can find is their reference area,which is just that...references and no online stuff.


    Pity!...and my apologies.
     
  14. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    anyone else know the answer?
     
  15. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    It's probably just one of those technical mysteries that can't be answered, in the same way as I can't establish any clear benefits to phase plugs in speaker design.

    They all seem to be used arbitrarily. :suicide:
     
  16. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    It would seem that if people are selling products using 'twists' they should know why they might work? Perhaps I am just asking too much
     
  17. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    I think it's something to do with 'skin effect' so that all the cables have the same exposure to the outside of the overall cable as all the others. Or something. I've decided I'm going to get 2 lengths of 2 core and earth, twist them together as best I can and then join the reds and blacks from each cable and organise a blind test against the lengths to QED stuff I have. I know it's not Kimber but it's reasonable stuff and if I can't tell the difference then I'll stick with the mains. The reason for using two lengths per cable is that I will have some quite long runs and I'm not sure 1.5mm will low enough resistance.
     
  18. Mylo

    Mylo
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    My cables are twisted for one good reason. Two runs of 10mm cable would be a nightmare. One run of 20mm cable aka 'towrope' is easier to route.

    Mr Beekeeper, as an Engineer have you got a theory for the twisting done by manufacturers?

    Cheers, Mylo:smoke:
     
  19. ReTrO

    ReTrO
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    I think the theory behind twisting is to cancel out RFI (Radio frequency Interference) from RF sources.


    Personnally I use Chord Carnival and Van Damme Pro Studio cable, which is pretty similar stuff in that it's 2.5mm2 copper stuff.
    4 core in each case for bi-amping.
     
  20. deckard

    deckard
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    Isn't it braiding, a la Kimber, that creates RFI rejection rather than twisting?

    Twisting does something to the inductance doesn't it?
     
  21. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    Yeah, I believe so, which is the theory behind Cat5. It's twisted and braided to do both. I have heard mixed reports about Cat5 and can't really be bothered to make them up as I'm not convinced that cables play a huge part in the sound. Going to try my two core and earth ones everyone is up and about! I'm pretty sure that I won't be able to tell the difference although i plan a blind test in the future.
     
  22. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    don't get balanced cables (like Cat 5) with their Common mode noise rejection (twisted) mixed up with these unbalanced signals:lesson: ;)

    now what about unbalanced?
     
  23. SimonO

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    Common Mode Rejection is always banded about along side unbalanced twisted pair signal cables (usually by the marketing people)... But I've never read a technical explanation of what type of interference it's aimed at or how it would work...

    What I have noticed is that many unbalanced twisted pair signal cables also have a shield..!
    :confused: ;)
     
  24. jlcd

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    See my post 'Speaker Cable for Sale' in Classifieds
     
  25. GlenW

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    I am pretty new to this and have just chosen my speakers ( not purchased yet, this weekend) and will finalise the receiver this week as well and was starting the research into speaker cables.

    Have I got it right that I can go and buy some standard cable used in houses and use it for my speaker cables? And the results are good. If it is how do you do the connections to your speakers and receiver, do you use banana plugs or ??

    Can any one explain to me what bi wiring is as well? I gather it is just just running 2 wires in parallel.
     
  26. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    Glen, see my post FFRC opinions. I found standard two core and earth flex to be as good as QED Silver Anniversary. This is what I used.

    http://www.screwfix.com/app/sfd/cat/pro.jsp?ts=56070&id=19193

    Just use the red as red and the black as black and snip the earth off at the point you strip back the sheathing to. I terminate by just exposing 6-7mm of copper and claming in the amp and speaker connectors. You can use bananas or spades if you wish for convenience of dismantling. I will be using bananas on my new leads.

    Biwiring is the practice of using 2 reds and 2 blacks. At the amp end, the reds are both connected to the red speaker out and the blacks to the black. At the speaker end (if you have bi-wirable speakers) you have 2 red and 2 black posts. You connect them up seperately using one pair for tweeter and one for the bass. You could do this using 2 runs of flex. I don't recommend it though as I doubt you will hear any benefit. I never have and many others agree. Feel free to try and search on google for a better explanation

    As an aside, read this for some insight.

    http://www.tnt-audio.com/clinica/spkcbl_e.html

    Have fun and don't spend too much money, only to chuck all that expensive cable out and go for a DIY solution in 3 years time as many others have.
     
  27. GlenW

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    Thanks Steve, I might just get those bigger speakers now that I know I dont have to spend so much on cables. I will read the article in detail tomorrow.

    Cheers

    Glen
     
  28. Stereo Steve

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    One idea is to start with something cheap like mains flex and then get hifi shops to lend you some lengths of expensive wire and see if you can tell the difference before buying. I bet you don't until you get really expensive if at all.
     
  29. Ajax

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    Steve,

    I layed out the grand total of £2.90 on 10m of mains cable tonight and tested it against my cabletalk3.1 £2.50 a metre job. I can honestly say that the mains cable sounds more open, greater atmosphere and tighter more controlled bass! Fabulous stuff.

    Cheers,

    Ajax.
     
  30. Stereo Steve

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    That's one up for the little guy Ajax. Try Cat5 if you have time. It's a revelation.

    Funny, I've just posted in the Speakers section about how it's funny that people in here argue over cheapo rubbish cables when flex is as good or better for no money.
     

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