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Speaker cable confusion

Discussion in 'Cables & Switches' started by PoisonJam, Oct 9, 2005.

  1. PoisonJam

    PoisonJam
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    Hi, I am about to purchase a NAD C320BEE amp and a pair of Warfdale Diamond 9.1 speakers. I'm a complete newcomer to separates though and I don't understand the ins and outs of speaker cabling.

    I want 2M lengths for each speaker and I'm aware of some of the top cables within my budget. However, I don't understand termination. Is this cutting the cable and adding banana plugs? Is it necessary? Can I just feed the cable into the binding posts?

    I don't mind spending up to £10/mtr on cabled but a termination charge of £40-50 blows the figure out of the water. I'm not really interested in DIY as I don't have any tools.

    Can anyone enlighten me?
     
  2. Knightshade

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    You can just clamp the bare cable in the binding posts. Bananas and spade connectors just make moving around easier. This would leave the cable open to oxidisation. Not an issue if it's silver but copper would degrade.
    Most bananas and spades are easy enough to fit using either screw drivers or allen keys. A stanley knife and teeth are generally all you need to strip away the sheaths on the cables. They can be purchased from the likes of maplins or your local dealer and are usually between £1 and £3 per pair.
     
  3. asitis

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    :nono: Speaker cable is very much over-hyped for the contribution it makes to the overall sound quality that you will hear and paying that amount of money is just way over the top of what is actually necessary. It is a fashion. Not a necessity. Albeit a well indoctrinated fashion.

    :confused: For instance there are copper wires/tracks in the amplifier circuits that the sound signal will have passed through and also through many other copper wires in its making and mixing. So the speaker wires are just the last ones for the sound signal to pass through plus the speaker coils.

    :devil: I realise I am putting my head in a hornets nest here, as the hi fi journals have held so much sway with their publications, for so long, and brain washed the audiophiles, that this contribution here will called absolute piffle and shouted down by the score.

    :boring: But it was all covered in the REAL technical journals decades ago on a scientific basis by technical personnel/scientists.

    :lesson: For instance there is no technical justification in claiming the sound is improved by using oxygen-free copper over ordinary copper. Not only is there no justification technically, but test equipment has been run to prove that this is so.

    :nono: There aren't any minute rectifiers within the normal copper to cause distortion. Ask the shop you buy your oxygen free copper wire from to tell you where the TECHNICAL proof is of this for you to read. There is none.

    :cool: If you forgo the flexibility, and the looking nice, you could use just buy some flat twin house cable such as is used for a 13 amp plug and spend your money on something useful.

    OK, make sure you have good end connections because the copper ends can tarnish, though not usually when they are firmly clamped and not if they are soldered.

    :rolleyes: I will probably now go to other pastures, and get on with other things, as I expect a howl of closed view replies.
     
  4. Knightshade

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    Join with a rant! I like that.....
     
  5. PoisonJam

    PoisonJam
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    Surely if that were all true many consumers would be complaining that it isn't worth the money?

    I know if I spent even £20 on speaker cable and didn't notice the difference I could admit to myself it was a waste of money.

    Asitis, have you tried some decent cable or are you basing it solely on the science?

    Anyone else here brave enough to admit they spent a sum of money on aftermarket speaker cable and never noticed any difference?
     
  6. PoisonJam

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    Wouldn't the quality of the banaba plugs have an effect on performance too?

    I might just give this a shot unless the place where I'm buying the speakers from are willing to cut me a deal.
     
  7. asitis

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    I don't want to get too involved with science here but here are a few clues as to how to go about proving things. [The ears can be deceived. There are better ways -- and yes I have heard the saying that my ears are the final arbiter and I say it sounds better and you are wrong}

    Build two identical amplifiers of such high quality that the ear has no chance of detecting the very low distortion (can be done, fairly easily these days) such as ones producing such 0.01% or even less.

    The signal you send to your speaker is an electrical current wave -- it may be complex but no matter. So now arrange that one of the two amplifiers inverts its wave/s, so A becomes -A.

    Now add these two output output waves to get (A - A = 0) which is nothing -- even if you connect a speaker to nothing you can't hear anything. OK. So no ears are needed in this test.

    Next substitute the various pairs of test wires for the output leads of just ONE of these amplifiers and carry on subtracting the signals and see what you get. If the test wires cause distortion, the output subtraction is no longer zero! And you can see the distortion signal on an oscilloscope. However, if the subtraction is still zero, the test wires CAN NOT be causing any distortion.

    One well known hi fi amplifier maker actually tests his amplifiers this way and it was he who first came up with the subtraction scheme. He compares production amplifiers with his known, well tested and measured, standard.
     
  8. Knightshade

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    Technically yes. In the real world? Probably no. But I would use spades rather than banana plugs. I prefer a good solid contact. Something you don't always get with banana plugs. A good contact will make more of a difference than different quality plugs.
    They will undoubtedly cut you a deal. There is a massive markup on cables.

    There really is no need to spend more than £3 per metre on cable. Once you get to a reasonable quality and cross section of copper you won't be able to tell the difference in a blind test.
    If you don't fancy making your own cable then something like ATLAS 1.25 @ £1.49 per metre will work perfectly well.
    I usually get spade connectors from here: http://www.homegrownaudio.com/spade_connectors.htm
    Anywhere will probably do but these are well made. I've compared these to Furatech spades and can't tell the difference. At the end of the day the cable in your wharfdales won't be as good quality as what you are buying. Sad i'm afraid but true.
    Sadly yes. Nordost Valhalla best part of £4000 for a 2m pair. I was unable to tell the difference between this and CAT5 cable in a blind test. I can do it with interconnects but not speaker cable....
     
  9. PoisonJam

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    OK, I just didn't get how the spades worked. Obviously the banana plugs just plug into the terminals, with the spades do you screw the binding posts down onto them so to speak? As in jam it behind them.
     
  10. Knightshade

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    Yes. But with more screwing and less jamming.......
     
  11. PoisonJam

    PoisonJam
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    You knew what I meant :p

    Just saying screwing didn't actually sugest where I was screwing them....

    Thanks for all the help though :smashin:
     
  12. Knightshade

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    No Problem,
    Hope i've saved you some money.:smashin:
     
  13. craynerd

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    have a point to add to that question, i also understand what u must do with the bannana plugs but in some amps are the spades not able to be used, since i have the Denon 2106 and the connectors unscrew to leave a hole (for banna plugs or bare wire) however there is no room around the hole since it is surrounded by a plastic case. Therefore am i right u couldnt use spades on my denon 2106...?

    I also have a thread out with specific wiring for my denon2106...complete nooby and need help connecting! ...if you can be bothered to give me some specific advice there!

    Chris
     
  14. av2diefor

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    To fit banana plugs you must pull off the plastic cap on the end of the speaker connection, not unscrew it.

    Hope this helps, had me baffled years ago.
     
  15. Knyght_byte

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    all i know is that i once decided to replace the cable on a pair of Wharfedale Diamond 7.3's that are in my mums living room......they were running on bi-wire Gale cable, that cost something like £3/m......i had bought something in Sevenoaks and was determined to get something free chucked in, but didnt need anything myself so i asked them for a few metres of cable to upgrade the Wharfedales....so they gave me something worth £10/m biwire.......took it home, wired it up, went out......came home later, mum calls me in to the lounge, and asks why the hifi sounds different, says it sounds more open in the midrange than it used to......

    she couldnt see the cables because they run behind furniture....

    so thats a blind test.....with a £7/m price difference.....

    but obviously there was no difference in the sound, she was imagining it wasnt she?.....err...given she had no knowledge of anything having changed, there would be no reason for her to imagine it....so please stop spouting crap about cables not affecting the sound quality at all....maybe the difference is slight...but there is a difference sometimes......i would imagine there isnt much point in spending more than a tenner a meter, but its been proven to me it can be worth it...maybe some cheaper cables are just extremely well made, but there are so many its difficult to try them all....
     
  16. Mr Cat

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    I'm gonna be selling my sonic link cables at the end of this week...keep an eye out in the classifieds, I've just bought a power amp and need to bi-amp...

    my cables are bi-wired tho - with a 2*4 termination config.

    cheers
     
  17. Londondecca

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    Out of interest, which papers covered this area
     
  18. PoisonJam

    PoisonJam
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    What about views on speaker stands (I'm already convinced on this one having my Atacama Nexus 6s' for a while now), equipment racks (not convinced of the ~£200 prices!) and interconnects?
     
  19. gerbilly

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    I disagree I swapped Silver Anniversay Biwire £9.99 per metre for some CAT5 and also for Van Damme Biwire 2.98 per metre and to be honest the SA didnt sound any better.
     
  20. PoisonJam

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    Well I'm all wired up so to speak :)

    The Warfedales came with spikes to put on the bottom, I wouldn't think I need these with the Nexus 6s' would I? My current speakers are blu-taced down, I imagine the blu-tac is absorbing a little of the vibrations too, so can't be doing any harm? :)
     
  21. PoisonJam

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    Oh last question (hopefully!)

    I asked for some QED Silver speaker cable and he cut the Bi-Wire cable automatically. I asked him why and he said "the speakers are bi-wireable"; to which I replie "but my amp isn't!".

    So he said he'd give me it for the price of the regular single and it would still benifit me. I asked him to explain how when the Amp only has one output so both would be recieving the exact same signal. He put forth an argument and I just decided to take the ccable anyway incase I ever upgrade the amp.

    Anyway, amidst all this, I forgot to ask how thew hell can this be done? Can I feed both +ve cables into the binding posts on the amp and the same for both -ve cables? Will they fit?

    More importantly, will this actually benifit me or was he talking crap? I don't see how it can!
     
  22. asitis

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    Knyght_byte:
    :rolleyes: We do not know how well you mother's amplifier was working both before and after the speaker wire change because it was not subjected to a proper electronics engineer's test. For that it has to be monitored using an oscilloscope with which you can look at the audio waveforms that are being sent to the speaker/s.

    For instance audio amplifiers working into a capacitive load [there are capacitors in crossover networks] can be unstable at a frequency too high to be heard but that same instability can cause a distorted audio sound. The amplifier will not have been tested (usually) with your speakers. The amplifier designer will, however, if he is any good, have put in it measures aimed in a general way at preventing it but that is not infallible bearing in mind all the speakers on the market and the amplifier production spreads.

    If your amplifier were unstable, changing the leads could have stopped that. But also it might be that your original leads were rubbish. We just don't know.

    Home experiments are alright but they are, just that, home experiments. A great deal more care than that is needed to prove expensive leads are better than cheap ones.

    As has been pointed out above, mostly you just need some twin, (side by side) wire, that has a decent cross section of copper.
     
  23. asitis

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    LondonDecca:

    I will dig into my files and see what I can find. Most of the hi fi discussions started in the seventies and were still going in the 80's after which someone in the 90's (?) built a test equipment to measure incredibly small signal values in order to search for signals and disprove once and for all the 'oxygen free copper' myth.
     
  24. Knightshade

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    Knyght_byte, Not in the habit of spouting Crap.
    LINN CD12/Klimax Kontrol/Klimax Solo's on Revel Gems
    Interconnects: Nordost Valhalla, HGA Silver Lace
    Nordost Thor Power conditioner.
    Speaker Cable - Nordost Valhalla, Valkyre, and Atlas Ikor, oh and CAT5.
    No way to tell between the speaker cables. The only thing they have in common is they are all well made. Like I've already stated: Once you reach a certain grade/quality of cable spending more is just a waste of money.

    Stick with the stands they're excellent.
    Equipment racks are a bit of a nightmare. Everyone I've ever bought has been crap. Ended up building my own for the past few years. Also worth getting in touch with local carpenters and seeing what they can do. Often cheaper than buying ready made and you know it's good. Interconnects are important. But I don't know your system so I can't advise. Just try as many as possible. I really like the Home Grown Audio interconnects. They suit my system well and they have the usual 30 day return policy (might be more?)
     
  25. Knightshade

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    To be honest you can get the same effect by running non biwire cable to the speakers and then removing the cheap tin plates between the terminals and replacing them with speaker cable. The benefits of Bi Wiring are always being argued about. I've never found it's made the slightest bit of difference. Some people claim it transforms their systems. Worth noting that some High end speaker manufacturers have only a single pair of terminals claiming that bi wiring is a waste of time. But equal numbers make their speakers to be bi wired. Choice is yours.
    You should be able to get both cables in at the amp end but if you can get single wire.....:)
     
  26. PoisonJam

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    I'm not sure what you mean here. Surely if I only choose to use 2 of the 4 wires of the bi-wire this would be single wire anyway? Basically I just want your opinion on whether I should do what the seller suggested or not? :)

    I never actually thought of the other downside: the untidyness. It's a lot harder to hide a thicker wire obviouslt :thumbsdow

    Thanks again peeps :smashin:
     
  27. craynerd

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    YES v confused now!

    The screw thing doesnt actually come out of the end of the socket??? the plastic case it tappered to hold it in!
     
  28. Knyght_byte

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    ok, i listened before i changed the wire, and the amp was playing fine, i changed the wire, i noted it seemed to open up in the midrange, and it kinda sounded like the bass was a little tighter........then my mum, who had been listening to it the day before, noticed the change, and she had no idea it had been swapped over......the original gale cable was in good condition, but for some reason it seemed to have a more closed in mid range.....and thats the sound they have had since they were run in a few years back.....no kinks in the cable, decent strand thickness etc, regularly trimmed to get rid of any oxydized endings (didnt get banana plugs for some reason).

    now, you say home experiments are just that, well, guess what? i listen to my hifi in a home, not in a audio laboratory.....and it made a difference, maybe the gale cable wasnt the best, but then by what you are saying any cable is as good as another, so that wouldnt matter?.....

    if you personally cant hear differences, well, then i guess im destined to need to spend a little more on cable than you do, or at least listen to as many types as possible and hope i find a cheaper one that gives me the sound i want......

    oh and btw, how on earth would an exterior cable STOP an amplifier being unstable? thats completely impossible.....if the amp is unstable then its unstable, any exterior cables, regardless of cost, drawing power from the power section would only make it more unstable and quite possible damage/kill it (or in this amps case turn it off, Aiwa XA-003, has a trip switch). A different cable isnt going to repair the amp for you...lol. (and thats a simple rule of electrics, with my dad being a tool wholesaler and Air Force electrician in the past he's given me some knowledge, along with my own when learning mechanics a few years back...)
    (oh, and most stereo amps wont output above 20Khz which for someone my age is still just about in the hearing range....altho almost to the heading south part of that figure now...lol)
     
  29. Knightshade

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    Yes it would be single wire. Just seems a bit wasteful to me.:) There wouldn't be any harm in doing what the seller suggested. Be interesting to try it both ways and see if you can hear a difference. Doubling up on the cable thickness should alter the sound.

    Zip ties and self adhesive cable holders (Like you sometimes get in computers) come into there own here. It's difficult to avoid it looking like Medussa on a bad day.....
     
  30. PoisonJam

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    Heh, I know my way around cable ties ;)

    I actually build custom computers (my website) and I specialise in making inaudible systems (ignore the budget quiet system featured). I have a keen ear for it and I suppose this stems out to the interest in HiFi too.

    I have built a few machines for recording environments after using my own inaudible PC as a reference. Naturally, I have made a few media centre systems too.

    I didn't want to interfere with the cable as I was worried about interference. I'll give what the dealer suggested a try and let my ear decide.
     

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