Sound Advice – Getting the most out of your system

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Ed Selley, Aug 26, 2016.


    1. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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    2. Don Dadda

      Don Dadda
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      Very sensible info :thumbsup:
       
    3. pendlebum

      pendlebum
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      I'll get straight to it - what are the cables in the first image of section 2 please? Just what I need!!

      Thanks,

      Matt
       
    4. cobhc2008

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      Looks like Chord Sarsen. £8/Metre unterminated and £10 per banana plug...
       
    5. Ed Selley

      Ed Selley
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      What he said :thumbsup:.
       
    6. Chester

      Chester
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      Hi Ed. Yep, constructive and wise words there. Some questions though:

      I'm not sure what you're trying to convey with the first two room photos? Are you suggesting this approach is fine, or doing this is going to cause issues, and if it's the latter, what are the problems being introduced here? As an example, of particular note is the radiator behind the HiFi rack in the second photo, and the attention to (or lack of) cable management.

      Regarding cables: I've often heard (and was advised working in the trade in my youth) to dedicate around 10% of the overall system budget to cabling. Would you agree, or what kind of advice would you give here?


      Finally, thanks for yet again emboldening the word 'backup' and continuing to get that message across. I also totally agree with you on the subject of networks where wired Ethernet is highly desirable over WiFi. Whilst some network switches can introduce issues, a good quality one does not need to break the bank either. I consider the managed 8-port gigabit switch I use high-end for home use at under 50 quid. (Note: I wouldn't say the same as a business use case; different kettle of fish!)

      To further substantiate your time and effort message, can I go a little further and mention planning. Planning a system implementation, ensuring you've got the correct cable lengths and types, getting out the tape measure and checking that items will fit on a support or adjacent equipment will allow for the correct separation required (so plenty of RTFM!), jotting down notes. All of this can make for a far easier installation and less heartache during the process because the mistakes can be corrected at the planning stage, rather than whilst one is trying to shoe-horn it all in.

      The pay back might not seem worthwhile at first, but I'm behind you 100% when you say that time and effort can truly reward in terms of real Return on Investment. And that doesn't necessarily mean cash.
       
    7. Ste7en

      Ste7en
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      First two photos look like most demo rooms I've been it in all honesty. Likewise the cable 'management'. Which is deliberately non-existent so you can easily switch out individual components.

      Personally I'm a bit of a tweaker so I'd probably spend more than 10% of the budget on cables.
       
    8. BlueWizard

      BlueWizard
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      Obviously Wire and Cable are one of the most hotly debated topics on the Internet. Out of curiosity, rather than gather people's advice on the matter, I asked them what they did in their own systems. I conducted the same survey in the USA AVSforum and in the UK AVForums. Systems ranged from very modest up to about £25,000 and US$60,000.

      The results are pretty clear. You can scan through the entire thread at the link below, but I will post Charts showing how much people actually spend on ALL wire and cable in their systems -

      WIRE: Not what SHOULD you Pay, but what DID you Pay?

      USA -

      [​IMG]

      UK -
      [​IMG]

      Notice a vast majority are UNDER 5%.

      That's what I usually recommend; when you are putting together a system, BUDGET about 5% of the total cost for ALL Wire and Cable.

      Notice I said BUDGET. Set aside or plan on that amount, but when it comes time to actually buy - spend more, spend less as you please, but 5% should give you enough budget to get quality cables in proportion to your system.

      That said, notice that many are in the range of 1% to 3%, with very few going the extra mile for expensive cable. While a few are well over 5%, there are also a few at less than 1%.

      Ultimately, I leave it up to the individual, but urge restraint. Beyond a certain point, what you are really buying with more expensive cable is cosmetic appearance. Expensive cables look cool. Unfortunately, in most cases, no one can actually see those cool looking cables including yourself. Though you make take some comfort in knowing they are there.

      So, start with 5% budgeted, when it comes to buying - spend more, spend less as you please - but most, including myself, will urge restraint it the area of wires and cables. It is very difficult to demonstrate any real value for expensive cables beyond appearance.

      With Speaker Wire, generally wire of sufficient size of high quality copper or OFC (oxygen free copper) copper. In the USA, common sizes are 14ga (2.08mm²) or 12ga (3.31mm²) and in the UK, the most common is 2.5mm², which is roughly 13ga (2.62mm²).

      For short runs, 16ga (1.31mm²) or EU 1.5mm² should be more than enough. Though typically the extra cost to go one size larger is very low, so most people choose 14ga or 2.5mm² simply because it is reasonably affordable.

      Common 14ga has a working current of 15 amps, though technically, the working current can be as high as 20 amps. So even the smallest of the listed cables is more than adequate for a very vast majority of Stereo/AV uses. If we translate the 14ga current into power, then at 15amp, that is roughly 1800w, and at 20A it is 2400w. I don't think your amplifiers are that big.

      Let's take a 200w amp and see what the maximum current is under full load to an 8 ohm speaker.

      Current = SqRt(Power/Resistance) = SqRt(200w/8ohms) = SqRt(25) = 5 Amps.

      Remember common 14ga wire can be rated as high as 20 amps working current. The failure current is easily twice that amount.

      In RCA or other shielded wire, you want between 50% and 100% Shield coverage, and wire of sufficient size. Though in low signal shielded wire the current is very low, so 22ga (0.326mm²) and 24ga (0.205mm²) are common. In ultra-cheap cables, shielding can run as low as 1% to perhaps 10%, and the internal wires are very thin and fragile. However, to meet the reasonable standard, very ordinary reasonably price RCA (& similar) cables don't really cost that much.

      Digital cable only has to be a very basic minimum standard of quality. Digital is not as susceptible to noise as analog cable, and it is not that hard for the digital signal to make it through. So, much like RCA, ultra-bargain cable could potentially be a problem, but really very common moderately priced cable is more than adequate except in very unusual circumstances.

      However, I won't downplay the value of good cosmetic appearance. It cost money to dress up cable with Jacket and Pants (its a thing, look it up) and high quality connectors. Just understand what you are paying for and what you are getting.

      Steve/bluewizard
       
      Last edited: Aug 30, 2016
    9. High Fidelity

      High Fidelity
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      Spending 10% or more on cables is for those with more dough than commonsense.
       
    10. Ste7en

      Ste7en
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      Well, that used to be the case :(
       
    11. Daft Joe

      Daft Joe
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      Some I talk to say the most important thing that effects the sound is Speakers then bass traps & acustic diffusers. I'm going to have a go at room treatment this week I will do some of it as I don't want the room to look like a brain washing room.

      Good article here Bass Traps 101 - Your Ultimate Guide to Bass Trap Placement
       

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