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Speaker Cable Advice Needed!

Discussion in 'Cables & Switches' started by jasonx32, Nov 12, 2004.

  1. jasonx32

    jasonx32
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    Right, will start off with what kit i'm going to run:

    Amp: Pioneer 2011
    Front LCR: M&K K7
    Surround L&R: M&K K4 Tripoles
    Surround Back L&R: M&K SS550 THX Surrounds
    Sub: M&K V125 (cable taken care of)

    The question is what speaker cable to use? Don't want stuff the thickness of a hosepipe and that i'll need to re-mortgage the house for.

    Run to fronts: 3 mtrs each
    run to surrounds: 10 mtrs each
    run to surround backs: 13 mtrs each

    ta in advance :hiya:

    jason
     
  2. ranger1873

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    I just replaced my QED qudos with the QED silver anniversary cable and added
    banana plugs :smashin: the sound is well good, very open and clear.

    The cost was £4ish per banana plug and £4.49p/m for the cable.
    hope this helps.......
     
  3. Nick_UK

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    Thick cables are a waste of money. I will challenge anyone to to a "blindfold test" and pick out the expensive cable over normal 5A twin flex. I've heard all the technical arguments, but I've never actually heard any difference in a subjective test. Thinner cables will only reduce your speaker volume by an almost imperceptable amount, which you can easily overcome with the volume control.

    I'm sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but people who pay a lot of money for cables are deceiving themselves. Just bought 12 Gold-plated banana plugs for £5.41 + VAT from Ebuyer.
     
  4. chr15

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    I run a simple QED 4 x way speaker switching unit for bathroom, front, back and side rooms (4 x speaker zones)

    Good 'old' basic 79 strand from an electrical wholesaler called TLC. 100m for £27.00 odd.
    see:-> http://www.tlc-direct.co.uk/Main_Index/Cable_Index/Speaker

    I did get some gold plated banana plugs from Maplins and soldered them on.

    The following month I was helping a friend do some speaker work in his house, 20m of cable cost him £100. I went home and got some of the wire I had used. In bore and strand size it was identical- the sheath was marginally thicker, that's all!

    Now I do know that zero oxide, 100% pure wire will make a difference in a audio lab and a true professional single room audio set up.

    But in the bath (with mid grade ceiling speakers) it isn't likely to benefit from expensive cable. Mine was 27p per metre, his £5.00 per metre
     
  5. Knightshade

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    Definately worth trying out the twin and earth route first. At worst you've spent £20 or so and possibly saved yourself £100. If you find you like it you could try Cat 5 cable. A bit more work but certainly worth the effort.
     
  6. chr15

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    I thought that Cat 5 / Cat 5E and Cat 6 all required 'baluns' to correctly replicate a audio source from amplifier / device to speaker!

    I also thought that using Cat 5 without convertors / baluns was about as effective as using telephone twisted pair or even bell wire!

    Could you please qualify your suggestion that Cat 5 is acceptable (I've got 12 quarter boxes of the stuff)

    Stranded cable such as 2 wire cord flex (the higher the amp rating, the bigger the number of strands, the better).

    Hence why £27.00 for 79 strand is better and cheaper than Electrical cord flex with similar strand volume.
     
  7. Londondecca

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    How about IXOS XHS606-S which is about £2.50 p/m
     
  8. Nick_UK

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    What a load of rot ! An extra bit of resistance caused by using thinner cable is easily counterbalanced by turning the wick up a little.

    How much current capacity do you think you need ? An 8 ohm speaker being fed with 100Watts will produce a current of 3.54 Amps in the cable. UK 5A cable (with its generous overload capacity) is more than capable.

    Of course, if you want to let people make a lot of money out of you for something which is not necessary, that's of course your choice :suicide: I would challenge you to a blindfold test, and I bet you could not pick out the cheaper cable.

    P.S. A balun converts an unbalanced line to a balanced line (or vice versa).
     
  9. Knightshade

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    CHr15,
    What would you call a balanced cable? Not being rude here but just so there are no misunderstandings.
     
  10. chr15

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    Guys- are you picking on me??

    Firstly, I am uneducated in the world of true audio and although I can accept critic there's no need to be rude (Nick). Continuing on the cable theme are you saying that all the cabling suppliers are guilty of a major marketing scam? Why sell very thick, copper prue low resistance cable at £10 per m +++ if per your suggestion single strands of solid Cat 5 will do just as well. Surely this is not the case.
    I was always lead to believe that the thicker the cable, the low the resistance the better.

    I'm running £2000+ of amplifiers (MF X cans plus pre and independent power amps) for the main room om QED £5pm cable. Your suggestion that twisted pair will work just as well does not wear well against industry advice.
    I'm sure that with regard to listening your correct, but then I have paid a lot of money for a amp setup and feel it would be stupid to run out to the speakers on feeble cable. The thciker cable will (I assume) allow the originate signal to be more pure at the terminating end (speaker) and the purer the signal in to the speakers (large 300w Tannoys) the better the sound, full stop!

    Its like running a performance car on 2 star fuel, not appropriate and not correct! :lesson:

    Secondly, with regard to LAN Cat 5 / 5E and 6 twisted pair, solid conductor cable. The cable was designed for high frequency data use. My un-educated understanding was that for all services other than LAN and WAN baluns are required to correct the unbalanced signal from end to end. I can see why this is required for Av and TV purposes, but I'm not sure on audio.

    Are you saying that cat 5 (4 pair or 8 wire) could be used, without performance loss over industry standard speaker cable on the basis of speaker / amp termination +'ve 1 wire (say w/blue) and -'ve (say blue/white). Or would you twist pairs together to beef up the conductor surface between device and end point?

    Most of the Cat 5 for home companies on the net do seem to suggest that a terminating device (which I thought was a balun) be installed between the amp and the RJ45 point out and ditto the receiving end.

    I'm not trying to ruffle feathers here, I'm just trying to get away from vague opinions and have advice that can be validated as factual and correct!

    Chow
     
  11. CJROSS

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    Chris I know it may be surprising (it was for me discovering CAT5) but CAT5 is a perfectly acceptable & valid means of carrying current from an amplifier to speakers as its ability for L (load) R (resistance) C (capitance) criterias are all met, just like dealer bought cable, the physical factors of CAT5 ie the CSA (cross section aread), Its geometry (twisted or braided) & its dielectric insulation abilities are all factors which affect its LRC values (Its worth reading about each factor in LRC). Even having 2 cables with opposing polarity close to each other effect a cables electrical parameters ie its inductance. Even T+E mains cabling fulfils the criteria for LRC for loudpseakers, its of sufficient CSA and its dielectric ability is perfectly adequate to be used as a loudspeaker cable.

    Don’t take this the wrong way but the way you are rebuffing the views of some posts here will catch you some flak (IMHO), do a search above on CAT5 on this forum and the Hifi Forum, some very good reading, there is a great thread that invloves £60/m QED Genesis loudspeaker cable you should read. Get searching bro and get better informed before you make your opinion "cast in concrete" like the post above.

    ATB & Regards
     
  12. Knightshade

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    Hi Chris,

    It looks like this: http://www.avforums.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=8273
    Bit more to it than just running the cable. But as CJ says, it meets all the criteria. I honestly can't tell the difference between this stuff and £50 metre Atlas cable and that's on some pretty serious equipment and not a balun in sight. Just don't want to see others wasting vaste amounts of money like I once did.....
     
  13. recruit

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  14. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Heres another view of CAT5 speaker cables for the discussion :

    http://evildonut.34sp.com/diy/graphics/CJ_1_FFRC_GWS.jpg

    Later potential DIYers :zonked:
     
  15. jasonx32

    jasonx32
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    Thanks for all the replies and ideas chaps. Seems another can of worms has been re-opened r.e. cat 5 cable :rolleyes:

    No dis-respect to anyone who may have tried the cat 5, or who is currently using cat 5, but I cannot believe that it can transmit a quality signal from source to speaker as well as a half decent cable that is pacifically made to do the job from source to speaker. :lesson:
    I may well be wrong, but surely using significantly thinner cable will give a higher resistance than say using a proper speaker cable, and higher resistance = more work needed to do the original job as nick_uk did state in his post about turning the volume up :thumbsdow

    In some situations I can agree that home brew leads can work, but using the right bits to start with. I have made many a/v leads in the past, but using the right quality cable and connectors to good effect.

    Recruit, thanks for the tip mate, may well give some a try on the fronts, but for the runs i'm going to need will work out a little dear.
    Ranger, was thinking of going down the silver route as it's affordable and seems to get good reviews.

    Thanks guys.

    Jason :suicide:
     
  16. Knightshade

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    Guess it's like a lot of things. Just because it doesn't cost hundreds it's not any good....
    Something to bear in mind here my Linn CD12/Klimax control/Densen Beat 350's/Akurate 242 combination sounds stunning with cat 5 speaker cable. I'll grant you the interconnects are top quality (i've played around with home made ones but never been able to make them good enough) But speaker cable (unless you are prepared to spend a few hundred pounds a metre) doesn't really do it. By my reckoning if you have to convince yourself there's a difference, it's not worth it.
    Ah well, each to his own.....:)
     
  17. chr15

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    Sorry all, if I've been too much of a 'bull in the China shop' !!

    I'll follow your advice and check out some of the previous posts re: Cat 5 The picture links were interesting and I've noted that a whole cable (all 8 wires) have been stranded together, so two cables one speaker- All wires terminated under 1 x plug.

    Silly boy that I am I was thinking that one 1 x pair would be used and that 1 x wire of the pair was terminated on each +'ve and -'ve. I'm now 8 x times happier with the idea.

    I do see where your coming from and although it seems to be a good solution and a vast cost saving (cat 5 is £30 for 305m), would you not agree that if you start to go over the £1000 amplifier / £500 speaker bracket and then £50+ inter-connects, then it is more prudent to spend money on pukka ofc/ low resistance 'designed for purpose' cable type.

    If you can afford a audio set up that runs to £3k+ surely you can afford 7.5% of value to spend on the cable.

    I'll see if I can find anyone who has done a side by side comparsion and Jason I'm sorry about hijacking your post.
     
  18. Daneel

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    No

    It's not about afford, it's about waste. My system, as are many of those giving you this type of advice, is in excess of £3k and we are happy with cheap cables as they do just as good and somestimes a better job than the uber expensive stuff.

    If you want thick, good cable try here. I got some of the 12 guage stuff a few weeks back and it's nice, I need about 150 feet in total and buying in 1000 feet reels drops the price by half. I can't source the stuff in the UK though :(

    Have a read of some of their articles while you are there.
     
  19. Knightshade

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    Hi Chris,
    I understand your reasoning. I was once exactly the same. But now I'd rather save a few hundred and get a better amp or CD!
    Even when spending ridiculous amounts of money on stereo equipment, I gripe at forking out hundreds for some wire which is more often than not, Belden wire re-branded!
    Something else to bear in mind, most sub £1500 speakers won't have high grade cable in them. So you won't get the 'so called' best out of the £20 per metre cable anyway! Annoying but sadly true. Don't misunderstand me I'm not putting down expensive speaker cable. Some cables are outragously good. I own some interconnects that I wouldn't part with for anything!
    I guess it comes down to this: Cat 5 = 90% to get that extra 10% (to be honest on a sub £20000 system you're not going to hear it anyway!) you have to spend almost as much again on cabling! I can't see the logic in that.
    A friend of mine showed me the Nordost Valhalla mains cable the other day, £1800! He said it was very good. I laughed.... and calculated that I would need to spend about £16000 on cable! Plus another few thousand on power conditioners!
    Justifying it to the wife is also another issue to bear in mind.....:rolleyes:
    ATB
     
  20. Nick_UK

    Nick_UK
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    How long are your cables going to be ? For anything less than about 30 metres, the resistance of 5A flex is negligable. I think we've already established that a 100W amp driving an 8 ohm speaker will produce a current of about 3.5A in the cable. All UK cables are very generously rated. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, although your mind will always tell you that the more expensive cable is going to sound better. I agree, you shouldn't run a performance car on 2* petrol. However, you won't turn a Ford Fiesta into an E-Type Jag by running it on 5* petrol either.
     
  21. CJROSS

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    Jason, a little fact for you to check out, go and find out the Cross sectional area of copper that a range of “half decent speaker cable” use and then compare that to the CSA of 3 CAT5 cables or more, ie 3-6 CAT5. Forget an individual CAT5 cable or one solid conductor, think of it this way, if you use 24 solid conductors to feed the current, then the amplifers load will be divided by 24 of those conductors as it sends the current along the cable. So the resistance issue is not a concern.

    You are wrong Jason, not being snotty but your missing the fundamental parameters of sending current down a given size of CSA copper for supplying a loudspeaker. See comment above. Anyway I find this an interesting subject as CAT5 is not that removed from Kimber cable who use indvidual condcutors in a RFI cancelling weave, all Kimber does is to increase the number of conductors and thus CSA to cope with a load. Or in most cases its overspecced for what it does.

    Erm the right bits ? that will be copper then, with insulated dielectric sheathing ? we also do not need to worry about connectors etc, am I missing something here why this is not CAT5 ? or multiple CAT5 ? Heres another shot of 4m of 2 No. CAT5 cables used in another system of mine :

    http://evildonut.34sp.com/diy/graphics/CJ_2_FFRC.jpg

    This works as well as QED SA, Cabletalk 3.1 etc etc.

    Well if your worried about the price you seem to be cutting off your nose here to spite your face IMHO, I don’t particularly care what you use or what you spend Jase but at the end of the day you are dismissing T+E and CAT5 simply because they are not sold by a loudpspeaker cable manufacturer or they are not “proper loudspeaker cable” [have you heard of a recent demo at a hifi show where Quad used a B+Q 20m power extension cable to drive their loudspeakers ?], their electrical parameters are perfectly adequate to do what you need, but please don’t deride them when they work wonders in a large range of audio systems. From sub £1000, to £10,000 and above. (Ive tried a few cable too)

    Enjoy whatever you use, but do yourself a favour go down to Maplins and buy some CAT5, it works out @ 38p per metre when you buy over 10m, then try as a speaker cables (don’t even bother braiding it) then you will be able to say its no use for your application. Please don’t take this as a pro CAT5 crew having a go at you, more educating you in its abilities.
     
  22. jasonx32

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    CJROSS,
    Thanks for the info!
    I now think that it may well be worth trying some cat 5 and seeing how I get on with it as for that sort of price per mtr it seems silly not too.
    Will report back my findings!

    Jason
     
  23. chr15

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    Boys- What did I start??

    Screwfix.com

    100m = £16.99
    305m = £25.95

    If you have only 2 x runs, and tripple it up (24 conductors) 3 x cables per output. 4 x outputs (2 x Left and 2 x Right speaker ) 100m gives you about 8.5m runs (x4 tripples).

    I do think that we all have to be careful here, assumptions are just that. As a ex Data cable person the minute you talk about Cat 5 or any of the advanced flavours (5E and 6 and now gigabit cable) in the true generic sense its a 4 pair cable with each wire terminated seperately on an RJ45 panel, plug or socket!

    Hence why I wasn't happy with the Cat 5 suggestion until I saw the pictures of the termination method. :clap:

    So next question is would Cat 5 sheilded and better still 'stranded' copper rather than solid core be more appropriate? :lesson:
    Stranded is available and is correct for all flexible cat 5 needs (patch leads and socket to device flyleads.
    Note that as Cat 5 has moved on, the cores have become brittle and do not like breaking MBR (min bending radius), they will snap. So if you plan to 'plat' cables together, do it gently !! :eek:

    Or is this getting boring??? :boring: :boring: :boring:
     
  24. Knightshade

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    Hi Chris,
    I wonder if stranded would be better for the low frequencies? Certainly be worth a look.
    I think a few people have tried more expensive Teflon coated cat5 but as I remember the difference was minimal.
    Miss the old cat5, that lovely pliable cable that's been unavailable for a few years....
     
  25. thewombles

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    I have wondered for some time what would CAT 5 cable be like. After discussion in the office over the pros and cons of of solid cat 5 and stranded cat 5 based on physics, we agreeded solid cat 5 would be best.

    For those of you are interested please read

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

    and on speaker cable in general

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

    Given I have loads of off cuts, need to buy banana plugs anyway lets have a go at making a pair these for bi-wiring.

    Another good site I have found for the DIYer for all types of cables is
    www.the-missing-link.net

    I am not afiliated with any of the above sites just found them when I was browsing on the subject of CAT 5 for speaker cables.

    Regards :)
     
  26. RST

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    Cant believe people are still buying silly audio cables for their speakers. NickUK is correct - you really wont hear any difference between 5A wiring cable and any oxygen free, rare earth alloy, gold plated ,audiophile cable.

    Basically you're sending an AC signal of limited frequency range between your amp and speakers. Assuming your impedances are matched there is no problem. Capacative and inductive effects are neglible at audio frequencies and if you're over 30 and/or used to listening to loud music your hearing is unlikely to be able to pick up the minute differences that cable will make to the 20Hz - 20kHz theoretical frequency range (assuming your kit can reproduce these). Think about all the DVDs you could buy with the money you save!
     
  27. CJROSS

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    Chris Im not sure why you think solid conductor CAT5 is “brittle” its far from brittle, in fact a single solid core condcutor is very pliable IME, Im reffering here to Maplins standard CAT5 LSZH code VB20W :

    http://www.maplin.co.uk/images/Full/19868i0.jpg

    Ive braided all the CAT5s cables I have ever used very very tightly with no problem, where some caution should be taken is in the “break outs” of CAT5 cables, ie where you combine the individual condcutors, the best way to “re-inforcing” these breakouts is to simple put smaller diameter heatshrink over them and heat till it is tight over the break outs see pic below. Where CAT5 cables become “stiff” is when you increase the CSA of copper in each case ie combining 3 or more CAT5 cables, thus it is like any other large diameter speaker cable, stiff due to CSA of copper.

    http://evildonut.34sp.com/diy/graphics/CJ_1_FFRC_GWS.jpg

    Both cables above show break outs with heatshrink stiffening, it works fine without these touches TBH but if your concerned finish them off like this. One thing about multistrand CAT5 it would IMHO be more succeptable to damage than solid conductors, ie especially when stripping back the individual insulation on each condcutor. Stick to solid core its more robust IME.

    HTHs
     
  28. Nick_UK

    Nick_UK
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    This argument has been going on for about 30 years but, as they say "there's one born every minute" :laugh:

    Glad to see there's still a few sensible people out there :thumbsup:
     
  29. CJROSS

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  30. Knightshade

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    Interesting reading. Glad to hear we're not alone in the world....:D
     

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