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Single Cat5 cable for speaker?

Discussion in 'Cables & Switches' started by ciarancummins, Apr 4, 2005.

  1. ciarancummins

    ciarancummins
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    Hi,

    Has anyone just used a single cat5 cable, with 4 strands for +,- and get good resulting sound?

    I am wiring a new house up for 7.1 surround and have installed CAT5 cable for the rear and surround speakers. I only used a single strand of solid core cable for each speaker and plan to split the colour/whites for each. I am probably going to buy the canton CD1's as I am new to AV setup. I had been reading up on the braided cat5 speaker cable and had planed on doing that, but a good friend of mine, who knows/likes his music, said the single run works "fine". I plan on using the braided cat5 for fronts, but due to lack of space in a chased wall channel for a fireplace mounted center, would like to just use a single cable for it.

    Advice appreciated,
    Ciaran
     
  2. Knightshade

    Knightshade
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    Should be fine. I know a few people who have done this and they seem more than happy.
     
  3. Reiner

    Reiner
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    Ask yourself this: would you use bell wire for your speakers? If yes then CAT5 will certainly be an alternative.

    Personally I think the idea of using CAT5 for speakers is somewhat exaggerated. Sure, it works, but the resulting diameter will be rather small and that mixed with long runs results in a very high resistance.
     
  4. ciarancummins

    ciarancummins
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    Thanks for the feedback so far. Would cheap speaker cable be better than this? I don't mind spending a couple of quid doing so, it's just that I have loads of free Cat5! I would never bring
    mysleft to spending 100+ Euro on 20m (lenght i need) speaker cable, to the CD-1's satellites, which actually cost less than the cable!

    When you say: "Ask yourself this: would you use bell wire for your speakers?" What are the disadvantages, problems associated with it?

    I feel that spending lots on cable is only important if you have Stg100 + speakers, true?

    Cheers,
    Ciaran
     
  5. gerbilly

    gerbilly
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    Use it mate it should work fine.
     
  6. Knightshade

    Knightshade
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    Ciarancummins,
    If you have loads going spare just run a couple of lengths to your speakers and see what you think. Nothing ventured nothing gained and all that. I would still like to use at least two cables (not twisted just laid side by side) this would give you a larger cross section of cable you may find this will make a little difference.
    Cat5 works very well for me. When you're comparing it to £4000 speaker cable and you really aren't sure if you can hear a difference I figure it can't be that bad. Having said that there are a lot of variations on the theme. Some work better than others.
     
  7. ciarancummins

    ciarancummins
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    Think I will go for that, might be able to run 2 cables for my center also. I would hate to find out later that I should have briaded 3-4 cables for it to work at all.
    Thanks,
    Ciaran
     
  8. gerbilly

    gerbilly
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    Ciaran if you can braid 6 for the front three if you amp allows banana plugs. Make sure your banana plugs are side entry as well.

    I would defo give it a try for the surround speakers though with either the one or two cat5 cables.
     
  9. Reiner

    Reiner
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    A small cross-section or a long run equals a high resistance, the combination of both is even worst. Usually you notice this as a lack of bass but I leave it to yourself to qualify if one sounds better (or worst) than the other, but it will most certainly sound different.

    My advise would be to get some 'normal' speaker cable from a handy-mart of electronics shop, nothing expensive, but with a cross-section of 2.5 if not 4mm2.

    Personally I don't buy into cable sound as such, a 4mm2 speaker-cable from brand X should sound the same as from brand Y, given they are both of the same material (typically copper).
    Thus spending a lot is not the requirement, buying the right cable (i.e. appropiate cross-section) is. IMHO of course. :)
     
  10. Knightshade

    Knightshade
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    I believe two cat5 cables would give you more than the 2.5mm. Each to there own I guess.
     
  11. Reiner

    Reiner
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    AFAIK the cross-section of one wire in a standard CAT5 cable is AWG24 or 0.21mm2, so times eight this would give you 1.68mm2.
    Even you use two CAT5 cables it's still "only" 2x 1.68mm2 compared to 2x 2.5mm2 of a 'normal' speaker cable.

    There is also AWG26 CAT5 cable which has an even smaller cross-section per wire.
     
  12. Knightshade

    Knightshade
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    Guess my maths is a little off..... ;)
    If you're being fussy, use Cat6 which is AWG 22. The thing is we can argue about wire gauges and surface area contacts all day long. But if it works then I fail to see the issue?
     
  13. gerbilly

    gerbilly
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    Reiner seems to argue that any cheap speaker cable will do, then he is critical of the use of CAT5 which is cheaper and works effectively on budget systems and high end systems. ?????
     
  14. ciarancummins

    ciarancummins
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    Thanks for the advice. I'm impressed by the cross section calculations. Think I write it down and impress my nerdy-techy friends when they ask about the sound! I have went with the double cat5 run. I have looked at the cable, and I think it pretty thick wires, dont know the AWG??

    I figure by keeping all the cables the same type it will help with balancing out the sound when setting up with the YAPO with the Yammy.

    Thanks again for feedback, been an interesting read.

    Ciaran
     
  15. Reiner

    Reiner
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    I never said/implied it wouldn't work - but so far I fail to see the benefit of using CAT5 cable, and as you say two of them give you a smaller cross-section (compared to a 2.5mm2 speaker cable) which does, based on my experience, make an audible difference though I wouldn't qualify it in terms of better or worst, just different.
    As well I would think that speaker cable is easier to connect than all the individual wires of CAT5 cable, though it's not a big issue of course.

    I am only critical towards claims that is has sonic benefits over standard speaker cable.
    If anyone is happy with using CAT5 cable then that's absolutely ok with me. :)
     
  16. Roguey

    Roguey
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    I really cant understand why you would use CAT 5e cable for speakers. Like the other said above the cable size isnt there. Normal speaker cable isnt that costly anyway, and will probably give you a lot better results. Only reason you use it for is for low quality speakers dealing with low amounts of power.

    If you use one cable per speaker then other point is that CAT 5e cable has twisted pairs and you maybe get all kinds of problems from that too.

    It networking cable, use cable which is designed for power ie. speaker cable. I know my poweramp says use cables bigger than 1.5mm if not bigger. I have 2.5mm at the moment and that will be going upto 10mm per cable
     
  17. gerbilly

    gerbilly
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    Roguey

    I didnt beleive this cable would work as a speaker cable either until I tried it.

    I used Silver Anniversary Biwire which cost 9 quid per metre. I bought 100 metres of CAT5 for 15 quid. I now have between my Marrantz amp and my speakers 6 lengths of CAT5 twisted together.

    There is a noticeable improvement with the sound and bass.

    Dont just diss it totally mate, it is dirt cheap to make. Try it and then criticse if you still think it is crap.
     
  18. Knightshade

    Knightshade
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    Hi Roguey,
    Over the years i've been lucky enough to have access to a large amount of speaker cable. I've also spent several thousand pounds on speaker cable, interconnects, etc.
    Nothing at all wrong with the vast majority of it. Some of the best I found was Atlas Ikor (£70 per metre unterminated) and Nordost SPM (I think) (£700 per metre) Both were outstanding. I very nearly bought the Nordost cable. Fortunately a friend of mine told me to try out CAT5. As i'm in the industry it cost me nothing (apart from some sore fingers) to try it out.
    I was more than a little sceptical untill, after a little tweaking of cables, I settled on 6 pairs twisted and terminated with high quality banana plugs (Silver Soldered).
    I blind tested this with the Nordost cable and Atlas I couldn't really tell the difference. I was able to pick the Nordost and the Cat5 out against the Atlas cable some times.
    Then it struck me! What was I doing? Needless to say some free cable now connects all my equipment together.
    It's not a compromise Roguey, It's up there with some of the best cable money can buy. All IMHO of course.....:)
    6x 250w amps into Linn Akurate 242's isn't exactly low power......;)
     

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