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Speaker cable make up

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by sticker, Jul 9, 2003.

  1. sticker

    sticker
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    Still trying to figure what speaker cable to get for my new speakers (to come). What I don't understand is the pro's and con's of different cable make up's. Can the more knowledgable on this forum explain the following pro's & con's.

    1) Solid cable
    2) Multi strand cable
    3) Single core
    4) Multi core
    5) Combinations of the above.
    6) What is the impact on thicker cable over longer lengths
    7) What is the impact on bass and treble
    8) Seperation of + & - cables by extra spacing


    There seems to be a huge amount of contradiction by various makers. What is bull/marketing and what is reality?

    Of course I realise is what sounds good to me is what counts, but I would like to understand why......if possible :confused:

    Regards
    John
     
  2. Andywilliams

    Andywilliams
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    Hi sticker
    Do a search (speaker cable) you will probably be reading all night.
    Gonzo.
     
  3. sticker

    sticker
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    Did a search but gave up reading after 2 hours :( was hoping that someone like nic rhodes, beekeeper, alexs2 etc would be able to summarise and save my legs getting burnt (got the laptop on my legs!!!!)
     
  4. PGL

    PGL
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    Made my own up from TNT Audios Triple T Cat 5 design.
    I think that on my system (as that's ultimately what counts i.e. on your own system) it sounds the dogs bo**ox and it was nice and cheap. Just takes a little patience to make it up. It compares favourably with more expensive cables, which I won't name to avoid the usual 'my cables better than you cable' ping pong :). For the money you could always try it and if you're not happy you've not lost too much. Have a look at the site and see what you think.

    Triple T Link

    :)
     
  5. Garrett

    Garrett
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    What’s your budget and what sort of sound are you after. They usually reckon on 10% of your total system price to be spent on cabling. There are one or two mags out there that describe how the cable can affect the sound quality.
    Maybe you could try some once you short list them.
     
  6. sticker

    sticker
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    Thanks for your replies guy's.

    I have looked at the TNT website and I'm weighing up whether to try these out. I'm really tight for time at present, so these would have to be pretty speedy to male. Advice would be gratefully accepted. :)

    Budget is a good question, BUT the system I'm looking at having put together in the next month or so is around 12K but will require about 84 metre's of cable. Working on the 10% that's £1,200 at around £14 per metre. Fo that money there are plenty around both at the low end and the top end. I've demo'ed quite a few but it's impossible to demo them all in such a wide price band.
    To add to the confusion various makers contradict one another, so I want to understand what makes a good cable and not waste my time demo'ing all the available cable. I want to have the best bangs per buck, if I can have a complete cabling system for £350 that has 99% of the quality of the £1,200 system then I'll be happy :p

    I know a lot of people have doubts about paying more than £1 per metre and to be honest I can't say I can disagree, with them but then I haven't got my eventual speakers in place yet (which are high end)

    As I say I want to understand the dynamics and physics of what makes a good speaker cable to narrow down the choices. If I can for example knock out of the equation all cable that are solid or multi core then I'll save myself a lot of time and have a better chance of getting the best cable for the best price.

    Regards
    John
     
  7. gazzerr

    gazzerr
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    John,

    What speakers are you going for? What did you demo?
     
  8. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    IMO, most of the claims made about speaker cable are a con, but plenty of people disagree with that.

    The main factor that clearly is relevant (even if you are sceptic like me) is the impedance of the cable, which is dependent on its resistance, capacitance and inductance. In practice most speaker cables have sufficiently little inductance and capacitance that these factors become negligible (unless you do something silly like coiling the wire). So resistance is worth focusing on.

    In general, at any audible frequency, the impedance (hence resistance) of the cable needs to be significantly smaller than the the impedance of the speaker. Speaker impedance is not a single value, of course. A speaker may be rated at 8 ohms, but its actual impedance will vary. My B&W Nautilus 803s, for example, are nominally 8 ohms but can drop to as low as 3 ohms at some frequencies. (This is why they are not the easiest of speakers to drive). You should aim to have the resistance of the wire no more than a few percent of the minimum speaker impedance.

    B&W recommend that you use cables with an impedance of no more than 0.1 ohms with 803s. That's probably a tad on the cautious side, but sensible.

    The main factor that affects the resistance of a wire is how thick it is and how long it is. Longer wires have higher resistance. Thicker wires have lower resistance. So work out how long you need your wires to be, and then choose a cable whose resistance per metre is small enough that this length of it will have a resistance of < 5% of the minimum speaker impedance.

    If one particular wire has too high a resistance, then using a thicker wire will help.

    Most speaker cables are multi-strand - this is usually a good idea, because a solid wire is very rigid - it won't bend easily - and repeatedly bending it can introduce stress fractures which eventually lead to the wire breaking.

    Above and beyond that, I wouldn't worry. And don't get too hung up on that 10% figure....
     
  9. sticker

    sticker
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    Gary,
    I'm getting Kef Reference speakers (203 front, 202c centre, 201 rears) and either Kef TDM34ds or Kef Q2DS for the surrounds. Idemo'ed the reference series both at dealers and at home and was completely taken. The 201's come today and hopefully the 203/202 Monday. I've yet to find a dealer who will be able to do a back to back of the TDM and Q2.

    Nic,
    Thanks for that reply, thats really usefull, especally about the thicker cable over longer lengths (rears arre over 10m away). Do you know why some cable is multi core and some have spacers in the makeup? Additionally does the cable thickness have an impact on bass and treble response.

    Thanks
    John
     
  10. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Don't know, really. Something to do with controlling stray capacitance, possibly. In theory if the capacitance is too high then you will lose treble, but in practice this is rarely going to significant enough to be audible.

    (It can be slightly more of a problem with line-level interconnects, because those are typically shielded - they need to be because even a small amount of intereference can be quite detectable once it has been scaled up by the power amp. By contrast speaker cable usually isn't shielded. For that reason you shouldn't arrange speaker cables and mains leads in parallel, but otherwise interference isn't usually a serious problem. But anyway: shielded cables have slightly more of a tendency to towards stray capacitance than simple wires.)

    I dare say the manufacturers will have a lot of implausible explanations about "skin effect". (This is a very real, measurable phenomenon, but that doesn't mean it's great enough to be actually audible).


    Unlikely, except that if the cable resistance is too high (wire too long and thin), then that can affect the speaker's frequency response because the fraction of the amplifer output that is being dissipated in the speaker rather than the wire varies detectably as the speaker impedance changes. It's for precisely that reason that you need to make the impedance of the cable much smaller than the speaker impedance.
     
  11. Garrett

    Garrett
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    I do think the cable does have an influence on the sound I had some Mission 763 floorstanders. I first used some QED79 cable in the system, but I noticed a difference when I changed to some Furukowa (sorry about the spelling) and notice the music more free flowing. Years later I orders some Castle Harlech speakers and at the same time bought some Tea Track Cable and used them with the Missions I was so impressed with the improvement in sound I was in two minds whether to cancel the Castle speaker.
     
  12. sticker

    sticker
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    Sorry to resurrect this thread, this is mainly a question for NicB

    Is a resistance of 0.00798 per metre a good resistance, I take it that low means good.
    The Kef's that I'm looking at are minimum impedance of 3.2ohm so 5% would be 0.16. If lower is better then the cable I'm thinking about is within that figure for up to each run of 20m?

    Regards
    John
     
  13. Dean

    Dean
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    Forget all that tecno babble and just get something very decent like QED XT400...
     
  14. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    sticker,

    Your maths is quite correct.
     
  15. sticker

    sticker
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    Cheers Nic
     

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