Myths concerning how you should connect cables

J80FAB

Novice Member
Being a bit lazy so haven't done a search to see if anyone has brought this up before.

I'd totally forgotten about this until yesterday when I was looking at a Belkin subwoofer cable which has arrows on it & then I remembered something I had heard a good 10 years or so ago.

Now please don't laugh but surely it's not true and wouldn't make a difference which way you connect your speaker cable from the amp to the speaker for example.

The rumours I heard is that you should connect speaker cable with the end of words printed on the insulation (if there are any) going in the direction of the speaker rather than in the direction of the amp as it supposedly makes a difference to how the speaker cable performs & therefore the sound reproduction you get :rolleyes:

On the above mentioned subwoofer cable the arrows are pointing in one direction so I am assuming that you are being told to connect it with the arrows going from the amp towards the sub. But surely it wouldn't make any difference if you connected it the other way :confused:
 

Chris Muriel

Distinguished Member
As an electronics engineer (but not a "golden ears") I fail to see how it would make any difference.

Chris Muriel, Boston (normally Manchester)
 

def

Novice Member
Um yeah, I'm a bit confused about this too. I bought this from Maplin:

http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=33712

Assuming that as it can split optical signals, it can work the other way round (ie: let me connect 2 optical outs to one optical in on my amp, providing of course only one device is turned on at a time).

Turns out it doesn't work?! How come light only travels in one direction :confused:
 

J80FAB

Novice Member
Um yeah, I'm a bit confused about this too. I bought this from Maplin:

http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=33712

Assuming that as it can split optical signals, it can work the other way round (ie: let me connect 2 optical outs to one optical in on my amp, providing of course only one device is turned on at a time).

Turns out it doesn't work?! How come light only travels in one direction :confused:

My question was specifically directed at whole cables & interconnects rather than at a switching device.

However I've seen some similar optical splitters around from other retailers and it is claimed that it can be used as a 2 to 1 or 1 to 2 switching device so not really sure what's going on there.

If it only works in one direction there must be something inside that stops the light travelling the other way. Can't think of any other explanation :confused:
 

deaf cat

Active Member
I think it is something to do with burn in, not sure how it works and I have not tried swaping my IC leads around.

I did however notice a slight change in sound when the IC cable between pre and power was bent differently to what it was, and it took a few hours to get back to sounding how it did originally. I think it has something to do with the cable insluation and electrical things going on within the cable and insluation.
 

pyrotenax

Active Member
Cables have signal directionality. In one direction the sounds is slightly louder , has lower distorsion , is cleaner , smoother , sweeter , has deeper bass , and overall wider dynamic range.

The amount of directionality , or the difference between one direction and another varies from cable to cable.


*Taken from 'Sound Solutions' by Russ Andrews
 

J80FAB

Novice Member
Cables have signal directionality. In one direction the sounds is slightly louder , has lower distorsion , is cleaner , smoother , sweeter , has deeper bass , and overall wider dynamic range.

The amount of directionality , or the difference between one direction and another varies from cable to cable.


*Taken from 'Sound Solutions' by Russ Andrews

So I guess if someone produces a cable which they deem to be direction-specific it would be marketed as such and the user would be advised about this & instructed to connect it in one specific direction for optimal performance.

The Belkin subwoofer cable I mentioned does not have any info on the packaging about it being direction-specific but nevertheless has these arrows printed on the insulation which I can only assume recommend the direction in which it should be installed to achieve the best result.

Then again even if cables are direction specific surely other elements such as the positioning of speakers, setting them up via the amp (distance, individual speaker volume, etc.), seating position of the listener will also have an effect on the overall 'quality' of the sound.

So taking these other factors into consideration any benefits to be gained from installing cables in a specific direction may not become apparent to the average listener.
 

Peridot

Well-known Member
Cables have signal directionality. In one direction the sounds is slightly louder , has lower distorsion , is cleaner , smoother , sweeter , has deeper bass , and overall wider dynamic range.

The amount of directionality , or the difference between one direction and another varies from cable to cable.

*Taken from 'Sound Solutions' by Russ Andrews
:rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

Ignore that nonsense ... AV cables are not directional ... full stop.
 

mhuk05

Well-known Member
I make my own interconnects and terminate my speaker cable. They work in both directions :D

Unless there are additional electronics (resistors or whatever) at one end, I can't see how a cable can be directional. Anyone got any hard science to support a directional cable?
 

Peridot

Well-known Member
Anyone got any hard science to support a directional cable?
There is none ... there cannot be any. :)


I also make my own cables .... unfortunately my wife does not accept that the huge amount of money I save should be spent on equipment upgrades :rolleyes:
 

Chris Muriel

Distinguished Member
I make my own interconnects and terminate my speaker cable. They work in both directions :D

Unless there are additional electronics (resistors or whatever) at one end, I can't see how a cable can be directional. Anyone got any hard science to support a directional cable?
Resistors are bidirectional and thus shouldn't make any difference.
Diodes and polarised (usually electrolytic) capacitors would matter - but then it wouldn't be just a cable.

Chris Muriel, Boston (normally Manchester)
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Hello all

Back in the seventies when OFC (oxygen free copper) cables appeared the next big thing was LC-OFC (linear crystal-oxygen free copper) - where the cables where 'drawn' in one direction during the manufacturing process.

Soon after LC-OFC cables arrived folk started claiming you had to install them so that the electrical signal passed through the cable in the direction the cable was 'drawn' and manufacturers added directional arrows to ensure you knew which way around to install the cable.

Like pretty much every claim ever made about an electrical cable you will find very polarised views on the idea of directionality - mind you even as a 'non believer' I find it most amusing to find myself ensuring all cables in a system are installed 'the right way around' :)

Joe
 

Mr Incredible

Distinguished Member
Do any interconnects have a floating ground for the shield? One of the more common solutions to "hum" is to snip the earth from the shielding at one end of a cable. The theory is that as long as one end is earthed any induced RF interference in the earthing shield will earth at the grounded end. If this is the case then I'd like to ensure all units are grounded at the same end to ensure they are grounded at the same potential. I doubt if there is any physics to back this up!! But for a single ended earthed unit, perhaps direction will tell you which end to earth?

Sorry guys, too much chocolate and a caffeine overload!! :)
 

Guvna

Active Member
Peridot - AV cables can be directional. I have a QED Scart - Scart 3m RGB (no audio) and if you connect it with the arrow pointing in the wrong direction (pointing to the DVD from the AMP) you will not get any picture whatsoever.

It's a £70.00 cable with no electronic gadgets inside for synching etc.
 

Alan Mac

Active Member
Peridot - AV cables can be directional. I have a QED Scart - Scart 3m RGB (no audio) and if you connect it with the arrow pointing in the wrong direction (pointing to the DVD from the AMP) you will not get any picture whatsoever.

It's a £70.00 cable with no electronic gadgets inside for synching etc.

That “directionality” has nothing whatsoever to do with the conductors themselves exhibiting directionality, which is what was being discussed.

A mains lead can only be connected one way round but that does not mean that the “flow of electricity” is directional in the mains cable.


Alan
 

Figment

Novice Member
Different area, but computer IDE ATA cables are one-directional. Not sure how that works either, but they are.
I think you will find that this has nothing to do with current direction but simply with termination.
Same with some telephone cable connectors, they look the same but as i found out, with certain phones some will work and others won't. It is simply because the wires inside are connected to different terminals.
IE. don't assume that pin 1 at one end connects to pin 1 at the other.
This is what makes them directional I believe.
 

Arfa

Active Member
Do any interconnects have a floating ground for the shield? One of the more common solutions to "hum" is to snip the earth from the shielding at one end of a cable. The theory is that as long as one end is earthed any induced RF interference in the earthing shield will earth at the grounded end. If this is the case then I'd like to ensure all units are grounded at the same end to ensure they are grounded at the same potential. I doubt if there is any physics to back this up!! But for a single ended earthed unit, perhaps direction will tell you which end to earth?

Sorry guys, too much chocolate and a caffeine overload!! :)
This was similar to my understanding as to arrow printed on cables. I presumed they employed some sheilding or screening, which was grounded at one end. Thus that end had to be connected to something that was earthed to ground up any RFI picked up. Of course many tuners, cd players, etc are not earthed, just double insulated so it wouldn't work to connect the cable shield to them. Whereas most amps are grounded, so the cable shield should be connected to them.

Malice: I think you may be partly getting confused with ground loop issues, where you have to devices, earthed separately, but connected together via an interconnect.
 

slingshot

Active Member
Well I always spend ages making sure my arrows all point the same direction, mind you can never tell when I've got it wrong (yes I've tried no difference to me).

There's a good chance some cables are directional, the debate is if anyone can tell by listening. I have a friend who works for the wiring and harness division of a large company and makes cables for a living, not the odd DIY stereo audio pair but huge reels used in comms, cars, warships, computers and so on.

Anyway when they are producing the cables they have to be careful that all components are all placed in the machine the correct way round, if for example someone get's the braiding, insulator or dielectric wrong the whole lot's binned because it doesn't come upto spec (and someones usually given a bollocking too).
 

J80FAB

Novice Member
Peridot - AV cables can be directional. I have a QED Scart - Scart 3m RGB (no audio) and if you connect it with the arrow pointing in the wrong direction (pointing to the DVD from the AMP) you will not get any picture whatsoever.

It's a £70.00 cable with no electronic gadgets inside for synching etc.
Is it directional in this particular instance because it is not fully wired ?

It would seem that connections for video in/out for some of the pins (as shown in the attached diagram) have been removed leaving only one of the video in/out connections resulting in the cable working in one direction only.
 

Attachments

Dankeech

Member
At least if you plug all your cables with arrows in the same direct (out from source as an example), then you would be able to find your way around your mess of cables at the back of your system easier. That's the advantage I can see in my experience.

Dan.
 

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